Palestrina and Beethoven

David Manning

in Vaughan Williams on Music

Published in print November 2007 | ISBN: 9780195182392
Published online October 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780199851485 | DOI:
Palestrina and Beethoven

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It is always a good plan to revise one's stock of opinions and ideas, and to consider whether they are really correct. Thus, it is always customary to speak of Giovanni Palestrina as “unemotional,” and so engrafted is this idea onto the minds of most musical essayists, that they take it as an axiom and have founded many elaborate theories of musical evolution and the like on the assumption. However, is Palestrina really unemotional? And if he is not emotional, is Ludwig van Beethoven also unemotional, or is there some radical difference between them? This chapter shows what is meant by the word “emotional.” All music, strictly speaking, is emotional, because every impression produced by music is an emotion; but when one talks of emotional music, it means music that produces a very high degree of excitement in the sensibilities. This narrowing of the term emotion has proved a stumbling-block to many writers on music.

Keywords: Giovanni Palestrina; musical evolution; Ludwig van Beethoven; music; emotion; emotional music

Chapter.  1886 words. 

Subjects: Musicology and Music History

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