Discuss the article by William Weber titled “The History of Musical Canon.”
1. What is meant by a “musical canon” in relation to this article?
2. What would a typical concert include in Leipzig at the end of the 18th century? What were listeners focusing on (the composer, the performer, the pleasant atmosphere)?
3. After the European revolutions of 1848-9, a new trend emerges, fueled by the industrial revolution, consumerism, and urban growth. What were the effects on the musical canon?
4. When did the focus of orchestral concerts become rigid and narrow, including fewer local and living composers? Is this focus different today, or the same?
Weber argues that the musical canon has historically been shaped by a variety of factors, including cultural and political considerations, the tastes of individual composers and performers, and the changing preferences of audiences. He notes that during the medieval period, the church played a significant role in shaping the musical canon by promo
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During the Renaissance and Baroque periods, the musical canon began to expand to include secular music, and composers such as Bach and Handel emerged as important figures in the canon. However, Weber notes that during the Classical period, the musical canon became more rigid, with a limited number of composers, such as Mozart and Beethoven, being considered truly great.
In the 19th and 20th centuries, the musical canon began to expand once again, as composers such as Wagner, Mahler, and Stravinsky emerged as significant figures. However, Weber notes that the canon has remained largely Eurocentric, with music from other cultures being largely excluded.
Weber concludes his article by noting that the musical canon is constantly evolving and that it is important for scholars and musicians to continue to critically examine the canon and consider the inclusion of works from diverse cultures and traditions. He also notes that the canon is not static and that new works will continue to be added to it over time.
Overall, Weber’s article provides a comprehensive overview of the history of the musical canon and offers insights into the complex factors that have shaped its development. It is a valuable resource for scholars and musicians who are interested in understanding the role of the musical canon in shaping musical traditions and cultures.