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Counterpoint: From the bees or for the birds? Telemann and early eighteenth-century quarrels with tradition

Chapin, Keith 2011. Counterpoint: From the bees or for the birds? Telemann and early eighteenth-century quarrels with tradition. Music and Letters 92 (3) , pp. 377-409. 10.1093/ml/gcr036

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In his autobiography of 1718, Georg Philipp Telemann distinguished between the Ancients, who had no art of melody, and himself, who cultivated a ‘singing’ manner appropriate to his own time. He thereby showed his debt to conceptual categories born of the Querelle des Anciens et des Modernes. Yet if Telemann thought of himself as a Modern, he drew upon a mode of thought developed above all by the champions of Antiquity (that is, the Ancients). This article examines this heritage, identifying particularities of the debate in France and Germany and in literary and musical spheres. The article identifies a strain of galant aesthetics and practice championed by seventeenth-century French salon participants with close ties to the Ancients. It follows this strain through the writings of the German academic Christian Thomasius and examines its centrality to Telemann’s self-image. In his insistence on good judgement, proper choice of models, and relative autonomy from his chosen traditions, Telemann took up modes of thought formulated by the Ancients but applied them to modern styles. Telemann owed more to the Ancients than he was willing to profess.

Item Type: Article
Date Type: Publication
Status: Published
Schools: Music
Subjects: M Music and Books on Music > M Music
Publisher: Oxford University Press
ISSN: 0027-4224
Last Modified: 04 Jun 2017 02:59

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