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Programmatic Elements in Early Baroque Keyboard Music

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Abstract

Program music has been a subject of controversy for over two centuries. When we consider the concept of programmatic elements in music, we often associate it with works from the Romantic Period. Yet in the historical account, there are numerous examples of compositions that were composed before the Romantic period, especially keyboard compositions, that have already attempted to express extra-musical concepts without resorting to lyrics. These keyboard compositions have been overlooked and undervalued for their contribution to the development of programme music. Therefore, this study examines five Baroque composers' keyboard compositions composed during the early Baroque period, in order to analyze the relationship between the given titles and musical representation, and to decipher and interpret the composer's intentions behind the musical notes in terms of modulation, melodic figure, rhythm, texture, form, symbolism (numerical, pictorial, chorale, figure, form), and musical-rhetorical figures (Figurenlehre).This paper examines the following keyboard works by German composers: Johann Jacob Froberger’s Lamentation, faite sur la tres douloreuse Mort de Sa Majeste Imperiale, Ferdinand le Troisieme, et se joüe lentement avec discretion (Lamentation, composed on the very painful Death of His Imperial Majesty, Ferdinand the Third, and played slowly with discretion), FbWV 633, Allemande faite en passant le Rhin dans une barque en grand peril, la quelle se joüe lentement â la discretion Allemande, while crossing the Rhine in a boat in great danger), Suite XXVII, FbWV 627, the first movement; Johann Kuhnau’s First Biblical Sonata, Il Combattimento trà David e Goliath (The Combat between David and Goliath) from Musicalische Vorstellung einiger biblischer Historien in Six Sonaten (Musical presentation of some biblical histories in Six Sonatas, known popularly as the six Biblical Sonatas); and Johann Sebastian Bach’s Capriccio sopra la lontananza de il fratro dilettissimo (Capriccio on the Departure of a Beloved Brother), BWV 992. Moreover, I explore two other French keyboard composers and their keyboard works: François Couperin’s five acts of Les Fastes de la grande Mxnxstrxndxsx (The Splendors of the Grand and Ancient Ménéstrandise) from the Onziême Ordre; Jean-Philippe Rameau’s La Poule (The Hen) from the Troisième Livres de Pièces de Clavecin (1728).

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This item is under embargo until August 19, 2024.