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Ariel David Londono.

Podcast.

Enlightenment

The video details how the idea of enlightenment can be conveyed through music. The

Enlightenment period was an intellectual and philosophical movement also called the Age of

reason.

The composer Gluck (1714–1787) was one of the first ones to convey the ideas of

enlightenment ideas in music. He believed that music should serve poetry in its meaning of

expression. He also believed that music should follow the circumstances of history without

interrupting the action with excessive “useless” music ornamentation. He further argued that

music should always look for naturalness and simplicity to achieve beauty in the art.

Enlightenment ideals were also related with the idea that all men are created equal and all men

are born with the rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. The philosopher Rousseau

(1712-1778) was also a big proponent of those ideals strongly criticizing the social inequalities

that were present by the monarchy governments of the time. Another philosopher, Voltaire

(1694-1778), believed that people in society did not need an excessive level of culture refination

to accept one another and live in harmony. He also believed all men should relate like brothers

without taking into account ethnicity, religion or social class. The presence of science and

reason of the enlightenment ideals also made people to become less superstitious. In

consequence, God was seen as a cosmos creator rather than a divine provider. The French

composer Rameau (1683-1764) introduced those ideals into his theory treatise and also

introduced in his works.

The expansion of the middle class in the eighteenth century generated a new market

where people could afford music for themselves and also have the possibility to attend to
concerts. Before the music was restricted to the monarchy and the church. This separation

gave composers the power over their own promotion and encouraged them to be more

independent. Compositionally talking, this also stimulated the music as a really profitable

business, and also implied that composers had to be encouraged to be innovative in order to

attract more public to their concerts, sometimes being themselves the ones that premiere their

own works as a publicitary strategie. Haydn and Mozart were very interested in the potential of

this musical economical power. The public concert came to develop a new kind of music; a kind

of music intended to be listened to instead being background music. This also can be related

with the concept to equality in the enlightenment ideals were all people have the right to enjoy

music instead being a service exclusive for the high classes and monarchies.

In these ideas order Mozart and Haydn were writing music that had to keep people

attention, furthermore the discurs of the music had to have elements that engage the public as

the same way a good book, poetry or painting can engage the it in to a history line.

This idea of music development is also related to the ideals of this time period discussed

before in the way of creative freedom and evolution. Most of the changes were sudden changes

in the music, harmonic and melodic contrast as the case of Haydn’s symphony “The Surprise”.

The idea of suspense was really important and the public needed to feel attracted to “what's

going to happen next”. This can be related with the enlightenment idea of nature. It can be

representing the changes in the life cycle, landscape changes, season changes etc, or the

changes of personality and of the human brain. The melodies of this time are very vocal and

simple; the idea of simplicity makes people remember melodies easier and can bring them to

popularity more easily. Equality for Haydn was really important. His late string quartets are a

representation of this concept in the way that they represent a continuous dialogue between the

the instruments, and also this point is exemplarized in the quartet as a conversation between
four “civilized people” almost in a democratic way were no one has more importance than the

other. Again this reflects back to the very important idea of equality in eighteenth and

nineteenth political thinking. This is seen in the music when all instruments have a place to

show the melody. In a sense, the music becomes “democratic”. In the case of Mozart, he was

one of the ones breaking up with the idea of being a servant, implying he did not have to serve

to anyone and even less for the useless aristocratic class around that time, this reinforced the

idea of equality. Mozart established a very profitable business being a composer, teacher,

conductor and solo performer (evolution of the individual in society). The piano concertos are an

example of a very innovative way he promoted himself and reinforced the ideals of freedom. He

did not depend on a salary from a employer that would restrict his time, music, and productivity.

Mozart also introduced in his operas a quality of “everyday life” and gave important rolls to

servant characters; a very important aspect because this will help him to connect with his public,

making the public feel represented in his opera’s characters. Mozart also was part of the

Freemasonry a organization that promoted enlightenment ideals. Many aspects related to this

organization were incorporated in his last opera, The Magic Flute, and also in many of Mozart’s

songs. Some pieces were written for specific masonic rituals.