11-14: Mingus Changes One & Two 1975 - Falla : El sombrero de tres picos | El Amor brujo / Dutoit 1981 - Joseph Allard 78s 1920s-30s

1692 – Christoph Bernhard (German composer & music theorist)
1831 – Ignaz Pleyel (Austrian-born French composer, music publisher & piano manufacturer)
1915 – Theodor Leschetizky (Polish pianist, teacher & composer)
1922 – Carl Michael Ziehrer (Austrian composer)
1925 – Agnes Zimmermann (German pianist & composer, active in England)
1944 – Carl Flesch (Hungarian violinist & teacher)
1946 – Manuel de Falla (Spanish composer)
1947 – Joseph Allard (Canadian folk fiddler & composer)
1977 – Richard Addinsell (English film composer, Warsaw Concerto from Dangerous Moonlight)
1982 – Joachim Stutschewsky [יהויכין סטוצ'בסקי‎] (Ukrainian-born Israeli cellist, composer & musicologist)
1992 – George Adams (American jazz tenor saxophonist, flutist, bass clarinettist & singer)
2002 – Elena Nikolaidi (Turkish-born American operatic mezzo-soprano & teacher of Greek ancestry)
2004 – Michel Colombier (French film composer, songwriter, arranger & conductor)

I'm going to assume that you all know plenty about Manuel de Falla, the great Andalusian master of Spanish music; and that the name of Ignaz Pleyel may ring a bell, if not for his fame as a piano manufacturer, then for the name of the Parisian concert hall named after him, the Salle Pleyel, which serves as the residence for the Orchestre de Paris.

Christoph Bernhard was a figure whose figures we learned about in my graduate studies in music theory. These are contained in the Tractatus compositionis augmentatus (c. 1660), one of a few treatises Bernhard wrote, which were unpublished but circulated widely through manuscripts during his lifetime. These figures illustrate, in a clear and concise form, the differences in the concurrent compositional styles of the 17th century in terms of how it was acceptable to treat dissonances in these styles, which Bernhard labeled stylus gravis, stylus luxurians communis, and stylus theatralis.

The conservative stylus gravis is the 16th-century polyphonic vocal style, represented most iconically by the sacred music of Palestrina - the style which Monteverdi referred to as the prima pratica. In this strict style, the only dissonances allowed are passing and neighboring tones, both unaccented and accented, as well as certain very specific kinds of suspensions, both tied and rearticulated. Of course, by Bernhard's time, the stylus gravis was considered old-fashioned and had largely fallen out of use, but it remained at the very least as a standard against which the more modern styles could be compared.

The stylus luxurians communis is a more progressive style, one which covers a wide variety of both sacred and secular composition, and represents the most common style in Bernhard's day for general compositional use, both vocal and instrumental. In this style, a greater variety of types of suspensions is allowed, and the style accommodates devices such as large melodic leaps, and dissonances such as anticipations and incomplete neighbor tones.

Stylus theatralis is the term Bernhard uses for what Monteverdi had called the seconda pratica. It's the style in which the music becomes subservient to the text, a reversal of the roles assumed in the stylus gravis. For the purpose of illustrating the emotional content of a word or phrase, many more compositional devices are allowed, including extreme chromaticism, the prolongation of a dissonance, the alteration or even omission of a dissonance's resolution, and the use of normally-avoided melodic intervals such as the augmented 2nd.

Well, I realize some of the above might as well have been in Taushiro for those of you not conversant in musictheoryese. Let me just make this point: In the past, there were rules even for how one broke the rules. That's not a familiar concept to us children of the 20th century. We've come to assume that an artist can do pretty much whatever he or she wants, and that the sky's the limit as far as creativity is concerned. Really, that's only been the case for about 100 years, if that long. And it's only been in the most recent decades that advances in technology have made such a concept of artistic freedom truly possible in a practical sense. File under "things we take for granted"!


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