Bach & His Musical Contemporaries

[Presentation slides (as pdf files) are attached below.]

The early 18th century was a time of profound change. Bach consolidated the glories of his solid Christian faith. Vivaldi explored new individual lyricism. Handel celebrated the English royal presence. Rameau added elegant refinement to the French court. And there was regular musical commerce between Germany, Italy and England, with occasional side trips to France and Spain.

This course will explore well-known, and not so well-known, musical examples from the period. The individual was coming into his (and sometimes her) own. The music of the period echoed this emerging enlightenment. The revolutions would come later in the century, but the stage was being set. We'll touch on the major European composers from the period. We'll also explore some of the less well-known composers. There are vast, largely hidden, musical treasures which we are only now beginning to appreciate. Most of the musical examples will be drawn from the YouTube library, giving class participants the ability to review the music in the privacy of their own home. It was an interesting and important time. The course will sketch the musical backdrop that was being created in the first half of the 18th century in Europe.

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