Cover: Compositional Theory in the Eighteenth Century, from Harvard University PressCover: Compositional Theory in the Eighteenth Century in PAPERBACK

Compositional Theory in the Eighteenth Century

Product Details

PAPERBACK

$50.00 • £43.95 • €45.95

ISBN 9780674155237

Publication Date: 03/15/1994

Short

368 pages

7 x 10 inches

illustrations

World

Add to Cart

Media Requests:

Related Subjects

This ambitious study offers a panoramic survey of musical thought in the eighteenth century and, at the same time, a close analysis of the important theoretical topics of the period. The result is the most comprehensive account ever given of the theory behind the music of late Baroque and early Classical composers from Bach to Beethoven.

While giving preeminent theorists their due, Joel Lester also examines the works of over 100 seventeenth- and eighteenth-century writers to show how prominent theories were received and applied in actual teaching situations. Beginning with the influence of Zarlino and seventeenth-century theorists, Lester goes on to focus on central traditions emerging from definitive works in the early eighteenth century: species counterpoint in the writings of Fux; thoroughbass as presented by Niedt and Heinichen Rameau’s harmonic theories; and Mattheson’s views on melodic structure. The author traces the development and interactions of these traditions over the remainder of the century, through the writings of Albrechtsberger, C. P. E. Bach, Kirnberger, Koch, Marpurg, Martini, Nichelmann, Riepel, and many others. This historical overview is leavened throughout with accounts of individual composers grappling with theoretical issues—Haydn’s careful study of Fux’s treatise, Mozart’s instructions on harmony to his composition students, Beethoven’s own student exercises.

The links between various theoretical traditions, the pervasive influence of Rameau’s harmonic thinking, and the harmonic theories of Koch are just some of the numerous topics given their first full treatment here. Many of the theorists Lester cites are either unknown or often misunderstood today. By bringing their contributions to light and placing them within the context of theoretical tradition, Lester offers a fresh perspective, one that will inform and enhance any future study of this magnificent era in Western music.

Awards & Accolades

  • 1993 Wallace Berry Award, Society For Music Theory

Share This

Holiday Sale / 30% off sitewide with code HOL22
The China Questions 2: Critical Insights into US–China Relations, edited by Maria Adele Carrai, Jennifer Rudolph, and Michael Szonyi, from Harvard University Press

Recent News

Black lives matter. Black voices matter. A statement from HUP »

From Our Blog

Composite photograph showing (top) entrance to the Prudential Center in Boston and (bottom) an internal construction partition/wall printed with the words 'Opening Day 2023' and other decorative text

A New Chapter for Harvard Book Store

Starting in the summer of 2023, for the first time in almost thirty years, Harvard Book Store will have two locations: the flagship store in Harvard Square, and a large new store in the Prudential Center in Boston. For University Press Week we wanted to show some bookseller love, so we reached out to Rachel Cass, General Manager of the Harvard Book Store, to see what’s planned for their exciting new location