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The opera-based fantasy for the piano flourished during much of the 19th century. In an era when operatic music had a strong and immediate popular appeal, as well as an aura of glamour, yet was not generally accessible to a large part of the musical public, it is not surprising that alternative means were derived for its dissemination, mostly through the most popular domestic instrument. The repertory of operatic adaptations, of one kind or another, was very large, and used not only for domestic music-making but also at concerts by virtuoso pianists.

The simplest form of piano music derived from opera is seen in the variations composed during the Classical era, for example those by Mozart on opera themes by Salieri, Paisiello, Gluck and others, or by Beethoven on themes by Dittersdorf, Grétry, Salieri and others. Chopin continued this tradition in his variations on ‘Là ci darem la mano’ from ...


Maurice J.E. Brown

(Ger. Charakterstück)

A piece of music, usually for piano solo, expressing either a single mood (e.g. martial, dream-like, pastoral) or a programmatic idea defined by its title. The term is usually applied to pieces written since the early 19th century, although a number of harpsichord pieces by Couperin and Rameau and other earlier composers anticipate the genre. An early use of the term occurs in Beethoven, who called his Leonore Overture no.1 a ‘characteristic overture’, by which he must have implied that it was characteristic of operatic overtures and dramatic in style. The two marches by Schubert published posthumously as op.121 (d968 b) were called ‘marches caractéristiques’ by the publisher Diabelli, no doubt to suggest that they were characteristic of Schubert’s marches, many of which had already been published; at that time (1830) the term was still unusual. An early frequent use of the term is in the piano music of Stephen Heller. He gave titles to many pieces, sometimes of a general nature, e.g. Four Arabesques (op.49) or Three Albumleaves (op.157), and others more definite in their implications, as in ...


Giuseppe Gerbino

A melodic-harmonic formula used in the 16th and 17th centuries as an aria for singing poetry and as a subject for instrumental variations. Ex.1 shows the structural notes of the romanesca pattern: a descending descant formula supported by a standard chordal progression whose bass moves by 4ths. This scheme is to be viewed as a flexible framework, rather than as a fixed tune; it provided, though often disguised by elaborate ornamentation, the melodic and harmonic foundations for countless compositions labelled ‘romanesca’.

The origin of the romanesca is uncertain. Although the name would seem to suggest a connection with Rome, the earliest extant musical examples are found in non-Italian sources. The term appears for the first time in 1546, in Alonso Mudarra’s Tres libros de musica en cifra para vihuela (Romanesca, o Guárdame las vacas) as well as in Pierre Phalèse’s Carminum pro testudine liber IV. A set of variations on ...


Thomas B. Payne

(Lat.: ‘songs of Beuren’)

The title given by Johann Andreas Schmeller to his complete edition (1847) of the poems in an early 13th-century German manuscript (now D-Mbs Clm 4660) that had come in 1803 from the Benedictine abbey of Benediktbeuern, about 50 km south of Munich. Since then the manuscript has been known by that title even though it is now generally agreed that it probably did not originate in Benediktbeuren and may have come from Seckau in Carinthia or the Tyrol. The manuscript is perhaps the most important source for Latin secular poetry of the 12th century; there are in addition some Latin sacred lyrics, German poems, liturgical plays and a satirical ‘Gamblers' Mass’. Several of the poems have music in unheighted neumes – a style of notation that is relatively rare at so late a date. The melodies must, for the most part, be reconstructed from concordances in the St Martial and Notre Dame repertories. Orff's cantata ...


Hugh Macdonald

(Ger. symphonische Dichtung; Fr. poème symphonique)

An orchestral form in which a poem or programme provides a narrative or illustrative basis.

The form flourished in the second half of the 19th century and in the early part of the 20th and was generally in one movement; ‘poematic symphony’ is a name sometimes given to the kindred form in more than one movement. Although some piano and chamber works are effectively symphonic poems, the form is almost exclusively orchestral. Though related to opera and sung music in its aesthetic outlook, it is distinct from them in its exclusion of a sung text. In many ways it represents the most sophisticated development of instrumental programme music in the history of music. Like a number of other ephemeral forms, such as the madrigal and the concerto grosso, it had a relatively short life, lasting from its origins in the late 1840s until its rapid decline in the 1920s: it enjoyed the extreme favour of fashion and suffered consequent severe eclipse. It is thus typical of its period in a way that opera and symphony, for example, cannot claim to be, and it satisfied three of the principal aspirations of the 19th century: to relate music to the world outside, to integrate multi-movement forms (often by welding them into a single movement) and to elevate instrumental programme music to a level higher than that of opera, the genre previously regarded as the highest mode of musical expression. By fulfilling such needs it played a major role in the advanced music of its time, and was a vehicle for some of the most important works of the period....


Rudolf Flotzinger

(Lat., from claudere: ‘to close’, ‘to conclude’)

A term used in medieval grammar and rhetoric in a number of senses, all denoting either the concluding of a passage, or the passage itself thus concluded. Its uses in medieval music theory apparently sprang from these, and occupy a similar range of meanings.

Throughout the 11th to 15th centuries the word ‘clausula’ may have had any of the following meanings, depending on the date of writing and the context: (1) a musical ending, in a general sense; (2) an ending specifically on the final of the mode (hence a close connection with the dual ideas of apertum–clausum (Lat.), ouvert–clos (Fr.), or half- and full close); (3) a specific melodic formula for use at a close; (4) a formal section within plainchant; (5) correspondingly, a section within a polyphonic setting of plainchant; (6) as a special case of the last, a polyphonic section that is marked out from its context by its use of a particular technique of composition....


Gordon A. Anderson

revised by Thomas B. Payne

A repertory which, largely because of the nature of poetic transmission in the Middle Ages, comprises much of the earliest surviving European secular song with music. In contrast to the many collections of liturgical chant and Latin sacred songs surviving from the millennium before about 1300, Latin secular songs with music are relatively rare; but secular poems that were probably sung are more plentiful. Of the songs preserved with music, very few notated before the 12th century can be transcribed with any certainty.

From the time of the late Caesars solo song, dance and music for cithara, aulos and lyre accompanied tragedies and pantomimes; other references indicate that the populace would ‘sing and dance in the forum’, and many old musical traditions prevailed throughout the first six centuries of the Christian era, though modified by barbarian invasions and rapidly changing political and social conditions. Christian teaching gradually prevailed over this pagan background, so that by late antiquity the early Church Fathers had considerably curtailed the use of pagan songs, at least among Christians. A new tradition began, issuing from the lyrical hymns and secular songs of writers such as Hilary of Poitiers (...



Alan Brown and Donna G. Cardamone

[morisca] (It.: ‘Moorish’; Sp. morisca)

(1) A dance of exotic character which occurred widely in Europe during the Renaissance. Generally there was a Moorish element in the costumes or action; the dance often took the form of a stylized battle between Moors and Christians, reminiscent of the medieval wars in Spain. Certain recurring features of the moresca, however, are apparently of more ancient origin. Blackening of the face, bells attached to costumes, the presence of a fool (sometimes a man disguised as a woman) and the swordplay element itself have been traced back by Sachs and others to fertility rites. The English morris dance – a variety of the moresca encountered as early as the 14th century – displays many of these features.

In the latter part of the 15th century moresche were danced in carnival processions and (especially in Italy) in intermedi between the acts of courtly dramatic entertainments. Although the dance is mentioned frequently in such connections, no detailed choreographic descriptions from this period survive. Some indication of the character of the ...


Anne Walters Robertson

A 14th-century mass composition in three voices. This incomplete setting of the Ordinary was added to blank spaces in the plainchant missal F-TLm 94 around 1400 (Kyrie, ff.145v, 147; Credo, f.1; Sanctus, ff.225v–26; Agnus Dei, f.226; Ite missa est, f.147v). The mass lacks a Gloria, and the fragmentary Credo, which includes only the tenor voice from the word ‘Crucifixus’ to the end, must be completed from the concordances found in F-APT 16bis, SERc , I-IV , and in the Barcelona Mass. The Agnus, which is also found in a manuscript in the Gerona Cathedral library, may likewise have connections with the repertories of southern Avignon. The Sanctus and Agnus were entered together in the manuscript, and an annotation following the Agnus tells where to find the Ite missa est; these indications suggest that the mass was intended as a unit.

The style of the mass, like that of other 14th-century polyphonic cycles, varies from one movement to the next. The Credo, Agnus and Ite are composed in the manner of solo song: an active upper voice is supported by a slower, untexted tenor and contratenor. The Kyrie and Sanctus, by contrast, look like motets, with the two upper lines moving at about the same rate. These two latter movements also differ in detail: the Sanctus frequently uses voice pairing, while the Kyrie rarely employs it. Both contain hocket passages, however, in contrast with the remaining movements. The Agnus is troped with ‘Rex immense pietatis’, and the Ite with ‘Laudemus Jesum Christum’. The final word (‘gratias’) of the Ite hints that the movement may have been intended as a Benedicamus domino trope. The mass is edited in Harder (...


Sean Hallowell

Originally, a poem in which the passing of an individual is announced and communities to which the departed belongs are called to mourn.

Pioneered by French poets in aristocratic service, the déploration qua literary genre enjoyed a modest lifespan, with eight known works surviving from the 16th century. Longstanding custom, however, recognizes a musical tradition by the same name, one numbering 30 known compositions spanning the late 14th to late 16th centuries. Among composers the déploration ramified from a French mainstream into Spanish, Netherlandish, German, Italian, and English tributaries. Accordingly, déplorations are variably designated in sources by such terms as apotheosis, epicedion, monodia, epitaphium, lamentation, complainte, naenia, madrigale, greghesca, and elegy.

Use of the term “déploration” to denote a musical work in which a composer is commemorated may be traced to Ockeghem (d 1497). This musician, who spent almost a half-century in service to the French royal court, was memorialized by literary counterpart Guillaume Crétin in a poem of 412 lines. A frame-narrative necrology featuring a syncretic cast of characters (among them Orpheus and King David), Crétin’s déploration charges all who held Ockeghem dear with the duty of honoring “celluy qui”—according to Lady Music (another ...


Horst Brunner

A German tradition of songwriting and performance among the emerging bourgeois classes that flourished particularly in the 16th century. It provided the lower and middle classes in the cities with a religious and secular education: whether as active members or as audience at the concerts, they could become aware of matters which would otherwise have been to them unavailable to them or difficult for them to learn. It thereby contributed to the increasing literacy of the bourgeoisie that characterizes the transition from the Middle Ages to the modern era. Wagner’s opera Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg (1868) has given many people at least some idea of German Meistergesang; but of course the romantic-poetic picture Wagner presented bears only partial resemblance to the information collected through research by literary scholars and musicologists. The following brief, general description is an attempt to give an account of the present state of research....


Heinrich W. Schwab

(Ger.: ‘town piper’)

A professional musician employed by civic authorities. The term has been used in German-speaking countries since the late 14th century (der statt pfiffer, 1378, Berne) along with Ratsmusicus (Ratsmusikant), Stadtmusicus (Stadtmusikant), Instrumentist, Kunstpfeifer and Zinkenist and is equivalent to the English ‘town wait’. Earlier titles include speleman dere stat (1227, 1265, Brunswick), figellatori consulum (1335, Lüneburg), des Rades Trometer (1339, Bremen), Stadtspielman or Stad spellude (before 1401, Lüneburg). From the 17th century the Prinzipal of a town band was sometimes also given the title Director der instrumentalen Musik or Stadtmusikdirektor. While in smaller communities the position was usually held by a master together with his apprentices and journeymen, the larger cities had up to ten civic musicians of equal rank.

The earliest evidence of musicians being taken into civic employment in Germany dates from the 14th century: 1335, Lüneburg, and 1348, Frankfurt (outside Germany there is slightly earlier evidence: ...


Meredith Ellis Little

(It. ‘little hop’; Fr. pas de Brabant; Ger. Hoppertanz, Hupfertanz; Sp. alta, alta danza)

A generic term for moderately rapid Italian dances, usually in triple metre and involving jumping movements.

The earliest known use of the term saltarello occurs in a Tuscan manuscript from the late 14th or early 15th century ( GB-Lbl Add.29987, facs. in MSD, xiii, 1965), in which 15 textless monophonic pieces are included under the general heading ‘Istampitta’. The last seven items of the group include four pieces labelled ‘saltarello’, along with a ‘trotto’ and the comparatively well-known dances La Manfredina and Lamento di Tristano. Like the estampies that precede them (see Estampie), the saltarellos consist of several repeated strains, each with a first and second ending (marked ‘aperto’ and ‘chiuso’ in the manuscript). Intriguingly the saltarellos do not share a common metre: two may be transcribed in 6/8 (ex.1), one in 3/4, and one in 4/4, leading Sachs (Eine Weltgeschichte des Tanzes, 1933...


Oliver B. Ellsworth

(Lat., from contra punctum: ‘against note’)

A term first used in the 14th century in counterpoint treatises; before this the term ‘discantus’ had been used. Later, especially in German theoretical writings of the Baroque period, it was applied to a fugal movement or to counterpoint generally; the best-known examples are in J.S. Bach's Art of Fugue.

The term was used around 1330 to describe a note-against-note (punctus contrapunctum) compositional structure intended as the first step to producing a finished ‘discantus’ or upper voice. The earliest known treatises on ‘counterpoint’ are the anonymous Volentibus introduci (c1320), published by Coussemaker in two different versions, one falsely attributed to Philippe de Vitry (CoussemakerS, iii, 23–7) and the other to Johannes de Garlandia (iii, 12–13), and the Quilibet affectans (after 1340), published by Coussemaker (iii, 59–60a) as the first part of the Ars contrapuncti secundum Johannem de Muris. The former begins with a clear definition of counterpoint: ‘If you wish to be introduced to the art of counterpoint, that is, note against note … ’ (‘Volentibus introduci in arte contrapunctus, id est notam contra notam … ’). Another term used to define ‘counterpoint’, and one that shows its clear relationship to ‘discant’, is ...


Lawrence Gushee

revised by Richard Rastall and David Klausner

A professional entertainer of any kind from the 12th century to the 17th, juggler, acrobat, story-teller etc.; more specifically, a professional secular musician, usually an instrumentalist. This article is concerned chiefly with the period between about 1250 and about 1500, the heyday of minstrelsy.

Etymologists agree that the Latin ministerialis, meaning office-holder or functionary, is the source of the Old French ‘menestrel’ and of the English ‘minstrel’. By the 9th century the Latin word had also come to mean craftsman or handworker (cf the French métier from the Latin ministerium). Thus it is not known whether instrumentalists and other musicians came to be called minstrels because of their official or unofficial connections with noble courts or because of their virtuosity and technical specialization. At any rate both the Latin and the French terms were used in fiscal records and literary sources of the first half of the 13th century to designate either craftsmen or musicians, but this ambiguity disappeared by the end of the century. The former sense persisted in the 14th century in countries, such as Spain, that were slow in using the Latin word to indicate musical performers....



Ernest H. Sanders

Medieval term (13th, 14th and early 15th centuries) for the voice immediately above the tenor in motets; it was also used to designate the entire composition, whether it consisted of two or of more voices.

Notre Dame motets developed from some of the discant sections of Notre Dame organa and many of the clausulas. When French poetry began to be applied to their upper voice(s), the voice part above the tenor ceased to be called ‘duplum’. All pre-Franconian writers (Johannes de Garlandia, Anonymus 7, Lambertus, Sowa Anonymus, Amerus, Anonymus 4) used the term motellus, a Latin diminutive of the French word mot, which in the 12th century often denoted a stanza or strophe of French poetry. Probably the invention of short French poems tailored to fit duplum parts of melismatic discant polyphony, as well as the frequent insertion of chanson refrains, caused the change in terminology that eventually gave the genre its name....


Hubert Unverricht

revised by Cliff Eisen

(It.: ‘diversion’, ‘recreation’, ‘enjoyment’; Eng. and Ger. by usage; Fr. divertissement).

A musical genre, prominent in the Classical period.

Following its original Italian meaning, ‘divertimento’ is generally understood, first, to denote a work primarily designed for the entertainment of the listeners and the players, without excluding the possibility of high artistic achievement, such as is found in divertimentos by Haydn, Boccherini and Mozart. Second, a divertimento could serve as background music for some social gathering such as a conversazione or a banquet. H.C. Koch (1802) defined the divertimento as follows: it normally had solo instrumentation; it was neither polyphonic nor extensively developed like the sonata; it was intended to please the ear rather than express different shades of emotion; historically it stood between the parthia and the quartet or quintet. This meaning seems to have crystallized about 1780; before then the term was more variously applied, but almost exclusively to music for solo instruments. Historically, then, it denoted ‘a solo work’ rather than ‘a diverting work’....



Colin Timms

(Fr. tournoi; Ger. T(o)urnierspiel; It. torneo, torneamento)

A musical introduction to a tournament as well as music for the tournament itself. The genre was cultivated particularly in the 17th century at the ducal courts of northern Italy and at Paris, Munich and Vienna. The tournament was presented in a highly stylized form amounting to little more than ballet, usually by small squadrons of horsemen. Some tourneys, however, were for individuals and some (e.g. Il torneo a piedi, 1631, Ferrara) were performed on foot. The performance often celebrated a royal wedding or birthday, with members of the family taking part, and was an occasion for lavish pageantry and feasting.

The quasi-operatic introduction to the 17th-century tournament appears to derive from the divise (‘devices’) of the medieval tournament. The word ‘divisa’ denoted not only a heraldic device but also a short phrase or sentence in poetry or prose (perhaps originally the motto of the knight or his family), declaimed or sung as he entered the arena. During the 15th century the ...


Ernest H. Sanders

A Latin term meaning ‘song’, ‘melody’ and, secondarily, the blending of two or more simultaneous melodic entities (i.e. synonymous with concentus). The term designated a variety of musical phenomena in the Middle Ages. It crops up as a term for plainchant, especially for chants other than psalmody, primarily those which render not biblical prose but poetic texts or texts tending towards poetry (e.g. prosae). From the 9th century onwards cantilena was often associated with non-ecclesiastical monophony. Hence, the term was applied to jongleurs’ songs, as well as to the secular refrain forms that Johannes de Grocheo (1300) identified with music of the people of northern France: rondeau, and (without text) stantipes and ductia. The subsidiary meaning of the word may account for its use – in contrast to cantio – in connection with certain types of polyphony. In the 9th and 10th centuries it could designate the new (parallel) organum (...


Ernest H. Sanders

A technique of composition for three voices cultivated in 13th-century England; also, a piece completely composed in this manner.

The technique is rooted in the compositional device known as Voice-exchange (more accurately, phrase-exchange). There were two ways in which 13th-century English composers applied voice-exchange technique to the three-part texture preferred by them. They either restricted it to the two upper voices, supporting it with a repetitive tenor or pes, or they wrote triple voice-exchange, i.e. a melody consisting not of two, but of three fairly concise elements (ex.1), all of which are combined simultaneously.

This procedure, which as horizontal projection of a simple harmonic scheme depends on 3rds, 5ths and octaves as constitutive intervals, was known by the medieval Latin term ‘rondellus’. The only medieval writer to describe it was an Englishman, Walter Odington (c1300):

And when what is sung by one may be sung by everybody in turn, such a tune is called rondellus, i.e. a rotational or rounded melody … Rondelli are to be composed as follows: contrive a melody, as beautiful as possible … To this melody, with or without text, and sung by each, should be fitted one or two others consonant with it. Each thus sings the other’s part [that is, in alternation]....