Kyle Vanderburg Music in the Classical Period September 11, 2010 Music and the Enlightenment In philosophy, the Age

of Enlightenment or the Age of Reason was a move toward an intellectual awakening in the eighteenth century. Originally formed in the late seventeenth century by English philosophers such as Locke, Newton, and the deists, by the 1700s the concept spread to France where it was enhanced by Bayle, Volataire, Descartes, Bayle, and Diderot, and Germany where it was expanded by Mendelssohn and Lessing.1The term ´Enlightenmentµ was defined by the German philosopher Immanuel Kant as ´mankind·s exit from its self-incurred immaturityµ2 which places it as opposition to the irrationality, superstition, and theism that plagued the middle ages. Taruskin quotes Jean-Jacques Rousseau as saying ´Man is born free; and everywhere he is in chainsµ and then defines those chains as ´not only the literal chains of enforced bondage, but also intellectual chains that people voluntarily (or so they may think) assume: religious superstition, submission to time-honored authority, acquiescence for the sake of social order or security in unjust or exploitative social hierarchies.µ3 The Enlightenment·s effect on music is largely seen through the development of opera through the late seventeenth and early-to-mid eighteenth centuries. While ChristophGluck attempted opera reform with his operas OrfeoedEuridice and Alceste, he was largely unsuccessful at fullscale operatic reform. However, Gluck was successful at ´reconstituting music drama along simpler, more elementally human lines.µ4 This view of opera and music resonated with the Enlightenment goal ´to move an audience through representations of its own humanityµ as stated by Wye J.
J. Inwood, ´Enlightenment,µ in The Oxford Guide to Philosophy, ed. Ted Honderich (New York: Oxford University Press, 2005), 252. 2Richard Taruskin,Oxford History of Western Music (New York: Oxford University Press, 2005), 2:461. 3 Ibid. 4Daniel Heartz, "Enlightenment," In Grove Music Online. Oxford Music Online, (accessed September 11, 2010).

Allenbrook.5 Daniel Heartz concurs by saying that ´reform of the libretto brought a turning away from the labyrinthine and often lurid plots of the 17th century towards simpler dramas, where human conflicts were paramount, and the intervention of superhuman powers rare.µ6 This move from the spiritual and supernatural to the natural and human is a musical embodiment of the Enlightenment ideal. Additionally, with the Enlightenment·s focus on knowledge, learning, and improvement, focus in opera began to shift from entertainment to instruction. Perhaps one of the most important effects Enlightenment had on music was what Heartz describes as the ´diffusion of culture.µ7 It was during this time that the public concert began to take hold as an idea and large opera houses and performance spaces were built for the general public. The Enlightenment ideal of improving oneself led to the development of a music publishing industry aimed to the amateur learning and performing at home, which further led to a rise in production of musical instruments.8 The combination of these two factors paves the way for a music accessible to the common people in later years. The age of Enlightenment brought about many important changes in both philosophy and music. In both instances the Enlightenment provided accessibility to the common people, urging them to improve their outlook and their station in life. This focus on members of society other than the nobility proved to have significant effects on the history of continental Europe in the eighteenth century.



TaruskinOxford History of Western Music (New York: Oxford University Press, 2005), 2:460. Heartz. "Enlightenment."In Grove Music Online. Oxford Music Online, (accessed September 11, 2010). 7Ibid. 8Ibid.

Bibliography Heartz, Daniel. "Enlightenment."In Grove Music Online. Oxford Music Online, (accessed September 11, 2010). Inwood, M. J. ´Enlightenment.µIn The Oxford Guide to Philosophy, edited by Ted Honderich, 252-53. New York: Oxford University Press, 2005. Taruskin, Richard. Oxford History of Western Music.Vol. 2. New York: Oxford University Press, 2005.

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