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The Free Fantasia and the Musical Picturesque (New Perspectives in Music History and Criticism) [Paperback]

Annette Richards

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Book Description

2 Nov 2006 New Perspectives in Music History and Criticism (Book 6)
A crucial category across all the arts in the late eighteenth entury, the picturesque has lost its currency in modern musical criticism, in spite of its rich potential to shed new light on the fantastical elements of instrumental music in general and the genre of the free fantasia in particular. Just as English garden architecture, in which the picturesque found its origins, was changing the landscape of continental Europe, the fantastical elements of irregularity, temporal displacement, ambiguity, interruption, and self-referentiality in the music of Bach, Haydn and Beethoven were both lauded and criticized in terms borrowed from the discourse of the picturesque. This study reaffirms the centrality of the free fantasia and fantastical gesture in late eighteenth- and early nineteenth-century musical culture through an interdisciplinary approach that combines the visual, the literary and the musical.

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'This book is finely produced, with a generous provision of well-researched illustrations and plentiful music examples. The reproduction of extracts from original manuscripts and prints for some of the latter is an additionally attractive feature.' Early Music

'A fascinating study … a thought-provoking book.' The British Clavichord Society Newsletter

'The Free Fantasia and the Musical Picturesque is a major contribution to the study of eighteenth-century music … packed with intriguing insights, appropriate excerpts of music and elegant illustrations. In true picturesque spirit, it keeps the reader curious to find out what unusual perspective will be disclosed on turning over the next page.' Eighteenth-Century Music

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The aesthetic of the picturesque, derived from the controlled wilderness of the landscape garden, provided writers on music with a language in which to describe the free fantasia, and it emerges here as a vital means for understanding the fantastical elements in the music of Bach, Haydn and Beethoven.

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