Sample Essay: Baroques Orchestras in Music

Searching for a good sample essay about music? Here’s one of them!

The twentieth century gave to the human culture the examples of new art, in which the expression of artist’s feelings, his own understanding of world and the theme of art with philosophy prevails. One of these examples is the baroque music, particularly the baroque orchestra.

OrchestraFor a full understanding  of baroque style of music it will be profitable to turn to the sense, sources and ideas of baroque art as a style. The baroque style spreads in music starting from the beginning of the XX century, and its main particularities are the specific composition technique (the emerging of major-minor system, implementation of harmonic vertical line, dispensation of the strong and weak parts, appearance of new music genres and forms. For another hand, the significant features of the baroque style are the greatness, the splendour, the plenty of decorative elements, the expression of the strong effects etc. Hence, the turn to the baroque music style in the orchestra practice of XX century is caused by some similar features of the common philosophy of this period, of this form of life and of baroque foundations.

Nonetheless the baroque orchestras appear very late, and now there is a little bit of them. So, it was a lack of knowledge of early music performance practice that sparked the creation of the Harvard Baroque Chamber Orchestra.

“When I first arrived at Harvard, I was frustrated by this lack of knowledge when I would engage student orchestras to accompany the Harvard University Choir in concerts at the Memorial Church,” says Murray Forbes Somerville, University organist and choirmaster. “It surprised me, as Boston is the only U.S. city with two professional baroque orchestras.” Initially, Somerville and chamber orchestra co-founder Robert Mealy hoped to be able to afford one bow a year. “This gift has enabled us to realize our dreams much faster, and the Church and orchestra are very grateful,” says Somerville.

“Baroque bows are the sophisticated technology that was designed to play baroque music,” says Mealy. Baroque bows are lighter, more flexible, and can easily realize the highly inflected musical rhetoric of their time; they bring out all the spirited gestures that make up this music. The donated bows are constructed after an 18th-century design and are made of snake wood, a wood with a speckled brown and black grain (hence the name). The major physical differences between these and modern bows are the wood, the lighter weight of the stick, the narrower horsehair, and the lighter tip, which features an elegant  “swans head” on the end.

The design of violins has changed over time as the style of music has changed. For example, modern violins evolved because of the change in concert venues. “The ‘modern’ bow that we all recognize from symphony orchestras was invented in the 19th century to play the modern music of the time,” explains Mealy. “It was created to realize an aesthetic of long, seamless melodies, with a brilliant carrying power necessary to fill the new large symphony halls.

Tis Marang, the bow maker, is a resident of the Netherlands, and makes between 50 and 100 baroque bows each year. Players in many top European and American period orchestras use the bows.

This gift of bows is exciting because it allows a group like the Harvard Baroque Chamber Orchestra to play early music as the composer intended it.

“Any string player truly interested in Bach, Vivaldi, Corelli, Purcell, and dozens of other great composers will want to see how it feels, and how it sounds, to try the music with the equipment for which it was written,” says Thomas Kelly, professor of music. “These bows are a resource that ought to have the widest possible utility.” The bows are an especially important resource as Boston is known as a centre of early music in this country, but surprisingly little in the way of early music performance education is available at local universities.

It is an especially important resource as Boston is known for being a centre of early music in this country, but there is surprisingly little in the way of early music performance education at local universities. “Having the appropriate tools for music-making is an important part of the early music movement,” says Wesley Chinn, founding president of the Harvard Early Music Society and a baroque violinist. “Advancing early music at Harvard can play a key role in fostering the future of this genre in America.”

“Having the appropriate tools for music-making is an important part of the early music movement,” says Wesley Chinn, founding president of the Harvard Early Music Society and a baroque violinist. “Advancing early music at Harvard can play a key role in fostering the future of this genre in America.”

The baroque orchestra is a kind of the high-level art, and we must also admit not only the importance of this phenomenon, but also a simple beauty of baroque orchestra music. This phenomenon is highly particular in its own right; it is the example of new music professional culture. The next issue to study is an influence of baroque orchestra music on the average person, or simply the spread of it.

Bibliography

  1. “Baroque-Style Bows, Authentic Sound Donation of handmade bows enrich early music” – the article in the Harvard University Gazette, 1999.
  2. “Baroque bows” – an article in the Harvard University Choir, 1999.
  3. “About the artist of baroque ensemble” – Wendy Gillespie, Thomas Binkley, 2003.
  4. “Courtly delights: Costumed Dances of the Baroque” – by Anna Mansbridge, 2003.

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