Music and Society, from Renaissance to Romantic

Course Material 2024/25

The historical social uses of music are very varied, with different music’s being part of many kinds of collective, liturgical and individual experiences. While appreciation of and access to the finest ‘art’ music of the early modern period was usually conditioned by educational and class-based access, especially before the rise of the public concert, musical education also offered the talented a special form of social mobility throughout the period, in exactly the same way as for some of the painters and architects described by Vasari in his Lives of the Artists (1568).

This course includes music from European and related colonial traditions from about 1530 to 1830, examining methods, materials, concepts and interpretations relevant to the creation, dissemination and use of music in many different high and low culture contexts and places. The content is supported by extensive visual and aural examples, together with exploration of the varied spaces within which music was practiced and performed, including the home, social gatherings and celebrations, the church, court, theatre, concert hall and opera house. The relationship with visual arts and literature will also be considered, and detailed bibliographical and discographical resources will be provided.