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

Add to Cart

Product Details

PAPERBACK

$50.00 • £40.95 • €45.00

ISBN 9780674155237

Publication Date: 03/15/1994

Short

368 pages

7 x 10 inches

illustrations

World

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
Racism in America: A Reader, edited by Harvard University Press, with a Foreword by Annette Gordon-Reed, available for free download in PDF, EPUB, and Kindle

From Our Blog

Jacket: The Chinese Must Go: Violence, Exclusion, and the Making of the Alien in America, by Beth Lew-Williams, from Harvard University Press

Celebrating Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month, Part II

In celebration of Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month, we’re showcasing titles that document the Asian American experience. Our second excerpt comes from Beth Lew-Williams’s prizewinning book The Chinese Must Go: Violence, Exclusion, and the Making of the Alien in America, which historian Richard White describes as “a powerful argument about racial violence that could not be more timely.” Monday night, Gong was asleep in his tent when the vigilantes returned