A Critical Translation from the Italian of Vincenzo Manfredini's Difesa Della Musica Moderna/In Defense of Modern Music (1788)

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E. Mellen Press, Jan 1, 2002 - Music - 166 pages
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In Defense of Modern Music preserves, almost by accident, a private debate between Esteban de Arteaga, philosopher of the arts, and Vincenzo Manfredini, composer, singing teacher, and champion of Italian heroic opera in the 1780s. The text comprises Manfredini's unfavorable review of Arteaga's History of Italian Opera from its Origins to the Present Day, Arteaga's tetchy response, and Manfredini's scornful reply. The Defence plays a unique role in the debate on opera that raged across Europe at the time. Formidable personalities engaged in the argument, theorists and philosophers as much as practical men of the theatre. Arteaga followed in the footsteps of Algarotti, Diderot, Rousseau, and Brown in analyzing the state of opera in the Age of Enlightenment. Their theories were tested by the composers Gluck, Jommelli, and Traetta; librettists including Calzabiti and Coltellini; two leading choreographers, Angiolini and Noverre; and designers such as the Galliari Brothers. The Defence traces the noble ideas and achievements of these significant personalities in a casual, subjective, sometimes chaotic commentary, that vividly recreates the manner of 18th-century argument - sometimes fulsomely servile, elsewhere witty and ironic, descending occasionally to insults. This, the first English translation of the text, presents a unique account of an important 18th-century controversy, while shedding light on the language and manners of the period.

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