SEVEN CENTURIES OF
POPULAR AND ART MUSIC
AN AD-FREE SITE FOR LEISURELY BROWSING
Visit MUSIQUEHISTORIQUE.COM for musical itineraries transcending key figures, locations and events in Western history between 1200 and 1900.
A rich musical panorama played on period instruments is accompanied by works of art, handicrafts, architectural masterpieces, iconography and narratives. These “musical treasures” were carefully selected for their value, historical authenticity and power to evoke different eras or historical contexts.
Enjoy your journey through time!
Short video : some extracts of site content
(Duration : 03’53)
A Journey through the Middle Ages
Originally instrumental works or adaptations of vocal pieces, the music of this section covers a through the astonishing repertoire of the 13th and 14th centuries. By the musical evocation of places of great importance (Florence, Oxford, the courts of Avignon), of historical events (the Crusades, the Champagne fairs, the travels of Marco Polo), this “musical journey” brings to life musical treasures of yesteryear.
Please refer to the French version of section 1200-1399 for themes, music titles, composers, instruments used, the identity of the artists and links to audio or video tracks.
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Apocalypse, Renaissance and New World
The fifteenth century saw the end of the medieval world and the emergence of a cultural and artistic movement. The artists of that time call this rupture, il Rinascimento, or the Renaissance. This step was definitively taken in 1453 with the capture of Constantinople by the Turks. Greek scholars fled to Italy, to Florence, and brought with them the foundations of this humanist current: a rediscovery of antiquity.
Please refer to the French version of section 1400-1499 for themes, music titles, composers, instruments used, the identity of the artists and links to audio or video tracks.
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Trade routes, the new world and Artistic Revival
While the Turks had taken control of the eastward trade routes, explorers, privateers and conquistadors were outlining a New World west of the Atlantic. Finally, a continent was taking shape, and in 1507, was officially named “America”.
Spain and Portugal were the forerunners in this quest, and they have built the power of their kingdom through this juicy trade of spices and metals.
The printing press and the democratization of the book prices facilitated idea dissemination. Finally, an Italian wind blew over France. At the court of Francis I of France, under the impetus of this monarch defender of arts and letters, an artistic revival was happening. People enjoyed parties, costume balls, tournaments, and performances.
Please refer to the French version of section 1500-1599 for themes, music titles, composers, instruments used, the identity of the artists and links to audio or video tracks.
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The golden age and misery
The 17th century, despite various difficulties such as epidemics, harsh winters, famines, and wars, was exceptional for the arts.
Inter-European rivalries continued through the colonization of the Americas. Spain had a definite advantage in the quest for El Dorado and was ahead of France, which established itself in Quebec in 1608. The Spanish Empire was the first to experience its Golden Age. Under the impetus of the court patrons, the arts enjoyed exceptional development. While Catholics and Protestants were still tearing each other apart, freedom of worship prevails in the Netherlands. Scientists and scholars from all over Europe settled there, eager for this independence of thought and judgment.
This period, known as the Golden Age, was a time of great commercial hegemony for the Netherlands and has stimulated an intense cultural development. It was really from the reign of Louis XIV, reigning as an absolute monarch, that France experienced its Great Century.
The enthusiasm of the Renaissance fell, a period of doubt set in, but gave rise to a brief and intense moment of artistic revival. This stage will be later called “classicism.”
Please refer to the French version of section 1600-1699 for themes, music titles, composers, instruments used, the identity of the artists and links to audio or video tracks.
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The enlightment and revolutions
After brief, but intense cultural development and Golden Ages appears the enlightenment of the reason, those which will allow the people to think and to judge by themselves and not only under the impetus of a sovereign.
Philosophers, men of letters, scientists, gathered and debated in public places such as lounges, cafés, theaters and operas.
Experience, knowledge, and critical thinking was now leading in arts, sciences, and politics and not a providential truth imposed by outside forces.
This enlightenment will guide the men of the century towards revolutions, provoking the fall of the Old Regime, and the declarations of rights. One after the other, the United States, England, France, they all have known individual liberties, freedom of thought and of the press was recognized.
Please refer to the French version of section 1700-1799 for themes, music titles, composers, instruments used, the identity of the artists and links to audio or video tracks.
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Social transformations and Romanticism
The 19th century has seen new territorial configurations and great social and technical transformations. Life was harsh, sometimes miserable, but of great inspiration for the artists of this century.
The Romantics reshaped a world that they revealed through their states of mind. Without worrying about ideal beauty or conventional forms, they let themselves be guided by a sensibility that only poetic language can express. Whether it was through contrasted sounds in music, or chiaroscuro and warm colors in painting, irregularity was nurtured.
Please refer to the French version of section 1800-1899 for themes, music titles, composers, instruments used, the identity of the artists and links to audio or video tracks.