During this music appreciation class many genres of music were discussed along with many composers. There are so many composers that were discussed who have paved the way for modern music. Listening to the way music has changed over the centuries is actually quite amazing. The seven different periods that are discussed were the Medieval and Renaissance Periods, the Baroque Era, the Classical Era, the Romantic Era, the Early Twentieth Century, the American Innovations in the Arts, and the Twentieth Century Internationalism. In this paper I will provide research on one composer from each period respectively; Francesco Landini, Arcangelo Corelli, William Billings, Louis Moreau Gottschalk, Charles Griffes, W.C. Handy, and Tania Leon.
Francesco Landini was born in Fiesole, Italy in 1335 and died in Florence, Italy on September 2, 1397, spending his whole life in Italy. (Britannica, 2018) Landini did not have any formal training as a composer or musician but he did study with Giovanni da Cascia and Jacopo da Bologna who were in. (Britannica, 2018) Landini was known mostly for his skills playing the organ, but he also played the rebec and the flute. (Britannica, 2018) He was a composer of the 14th-century and contributed to the Medieval and Renaissance Period genre of music. Landini’s songs were very distinguished because of elaborate patterning, roulades, syncopations, and lack of emotional connection between the music and the words. (Britannica, 2018)
Landini has composed many pieces throughout his life but his most famous works are “Ecco la primavera”, “Donna”, “Cara mie donna”, and “Benche ora piova, pur buon tempo”. As a child, Landini survived a bad case of smallpox which caused blindness but went on to learn a lot and achieve many great things throughout his lifetime. (Britannica, 2018) Landini was known for a cadence formula in which the scale before the final tone note would drop the sixth scale, this became known as the Landini cadence. (Britannica, 2018) Arcangelo Corelli was born on February 17, 1653 in Fusignano, Italy and died on January 8, 1713 in Rome, he was buried in the Pantheon. (Pannain, 2019) Corelli studied at the Philharmonic Academy of Bologna and not only was he a composer, but he was a famous violinist. (Pannain, 2019)
Corelli contributed to the baroque era and made the concept of Concerto Grosso popular, he was the inspiration and paved the way for other composers like Bach, Handel, and Vivialdi. (Pannain, 2019) Corelli was said to have studied with the violinist at the chapel of San Peternio in Bologna, Giovanni Benvenuti, and studied under Leonardo Brugnoli. (Pannain, 2019) Corelli was also a teacher who may have taught at the German Institute in Rome, but in fact had many famous musicians who took classes from him such as Antonio Vivaldi and Francesco Geminiani. (Pannain, 2019) Corelli composed twelve violin and continuo sonatas, forty-eight trio sonatas, and twelve concerti grossi throughout his life and popularized the passing of musical material between a small group of soloists and a full orchestra. (Pannain, 2019)
He had many famous works like “Christmas Concerto”, “Twelve concerti grossi”, “Preludio”, “Suite of Strings”, and “Concerto Grosso”. (Pannain, 2019) Corelli was rumored to be a homosexual and during that time period it could have been a great challenge for him but not sure if that affected his work. William Billings was born in Boston, Massachusetts on October 7, 1746 and died in Boston, Massachusetts on September 26, 1800, he never left his home town except to teach in Rhode Island for a time. (Britannica, 2018)
Billings did not receive any musical training and was self-taught but was possibly given lessons from a choirmaster by the name of John Barry. (Stevenson) Besides composing and singing, Billings did not play any musical instruments. He contributed to the Classical Era and was a composer of Early American primitive style. (Britannica, 2018) Some of Billing’s most popular works are “The Continental Harmony”, “The New-England Psalm-Singer”, and “The Singing Master’s Assistant”. (Britannica, 2018) Billings was said to have only one leg and one eye, he became famous for a time but in the final decade of life he had a decline and died forgotten and poor. (Britannica, 2018)
His music was known for its freshness, direct harmonies, and rhythmic strenght but also the emotions the music ranges embodied such as humor, grief, and glory. (Britannica, 2018) Louis Moreau Gottschalk was born in New Orleans, Louisiana on May 8, 1829 and died in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil on December 18, 1869. (Britannica, 2018) Gottschalk traveled and composed not only all over the U.S. but also in many parts of the world such as Europe, the West Indies, Cuba, other areas of the Caribbean, and South America. (Britannica, 2018) Gottschalk had no formal musical training but he was taught by many musicians such as Miolan, Letellier, Halle, Stamaty, and Maleden. (‘Gottschalk, Louis Moreau.’, 2019) Gottschalk started studying music at the age of four, he was a prodigy of many instruments such as the violin and organ, but he is well-known for playing the piano and contributed to the Romantic Era. (‘Gottschalk, Louis Moreau.’, 2019)
He was not only inspired by the Creole songs and dances of his childhood, but he was influenced by composers such as Chopin and Liszt. (‘Gottschalk, Louis Moreau.’, 2019) One challenged that Gottschalk faced was in 1853 when his father passed away leaving his mother and six siblings with no income, so he was forced to increase the number of concerts he performed in order to support them. (‘Gottschalk, Louis Moreau.’, 2019) Some of his most famous works include “The Banjo”, “Souvenir de Porto Rico”, “Symphony No. 1”, “Grande Tarantelle”, “Bambaula”, and many more. (Britannica, 2018)
Not only was Gottschalk the first American composer to use the rhythms and themes of Creole and Latin American folk but he was also America’s first pianist to be recognized internationally. (Britannica, 2018) Charles Griffes, aka Charles Tomlinson Griffes, was born in Elmira, New York on September 17, 1884 and died in New York City, New York on April 8, 1920. (“Charles Griffes,1884-1920”) At age fifteen Griffes was taught by a piano teacher at Elmira College, Mary Selena Broughton, then in 1903 he went to study music at the Stern Conservatory in Berlin. (“Charles Griffes,1884-1920”) Griffes was not only a composer but played the piano and organ, he even taught music at the Hatley School Boys and eventually became director of the school until his untimely death. (“Charles Griffes,1884-1920”)
Griffes composed during the Early Twentieth Century and was the first composer from the U.S. to write impressionist music. (“Charles Griffes,1884-1920”) His influences in the music world were Modest Mussorgsky and Aleksandr Scriabin but he also studied the music of Maurice Ravel and Modest Debussy. (Britannica, 2018) Griffes voice was very distinctive even to this day and he was able to fuse text and music unlike anyone else. (“Charles Griffes,1884-1920”) Some of his most famous works were “The White Peacock”, “The Pleasure Dome of Kubia Khan”, “Poem for flute and archestra”, “Sho-Jo”, “The Kairn of Koridwen”, and “Piano Sonata in F Major”. (Britannica, 2018)
Though teaching at Hackley gave him a stable life he was often frustrated while working there, and he also had some major health issues that ultimately ended his life very early. (“Charles Griffes,1884-1920”) Griffes was famous for his vocals and orchestral compositions, he was also one of the most important songwriters in America. (“Charles Griffes,1884-1920”) W.C. Handy, aka William Christopher Handy, was born in Florence, Alabama on November 16, 1873 and died in New York, New York on March 28, 1958. (Britannica, 2018) Handy composed throughout the Midwest and even traveled the country to places like Cuba to perform. (“W.C. Handy”, 2015)
He received a degree in 1892 in Huntsville, Alabama from the Teachers Agricultural and Mechanical College and began a teaching career but before that time he only took some organ lessons. (“W.C. Handy”, 2015) Handy was not only a composer but he played the organ, piano, guitar, but was especially skilled in playing the cornet and trumpet. (Britannica, 2018) Handy became famous during the American Innovations in the Arts Era and contributed to folk, jazz, and blues but was most known for blues, his nickname was “Father of Blues”. (“W.C. Handy”, 2015) He was said to have possibly been influenced by his father and grandfather who were Methodist ministers and was supported by his grandmother but there is no mention of specific teachers or influential composers in his life. (“W.C. Handy”, 2015)
Handy took the harmony of the arrangements in his orchestra and added blues vocals from African American folklore and by doing this he helped develop a realization where improvisation could be added to blues. (Britannica, 2018) His most famous works were “Memphis Blues”, “St. Louis Blues”, “Aunt Hagar’s Blues”, and “Beale Street Blues” among others. (“W.C. Handy”, 2015) In 1893 his band Lauzette Quartet broke up and Handy found himself broke and homeless, but he continued with his dreams, he was later hired as a musician and finally had his big break a couple years later. (“W.C. Handy”, 2015) Handy was an African American composer who integrated blues and ragtime music and innovated the course of music. (“W.C. Handy”, 2015)
Tania Justina Leon was born on May 14, 1943 in Havana, Cuba and is still alive and composing in New York. Though she was born in Cuba she didn’t become famous until she moved to New York in 1967 but has composed all over the world. Leon studied at the Carlos Alfredo Peyrellade Conservatory in 1963 and the National Conservatory in 1964, after moving to New York she continued her education in music at New York College of Music. (Ink, 2018) Leon started playing and studying the piano at age four but she is more known for being a composer, conductor, advisor, and teacher. (Ink, 2018) Leon is a composer of the Twentieth Century Internationalism period and contributes to contemporary concert music. (Ink, 2018) Leon’s teachers and influences include Laszlo Halasz, Ozawa, and Bernstein. (Ink, 2018) Some of Leon’s most famous works are “Tones”, “Scourge of Hyacinths”, and “Four Pieces for Cello” among many others. (Ink, 2018)
Leon faced many challenges in her life including being from Cuba and not speaking English when she first moved to the U.S., being a woman in a mostly male dominated profession, coming from a poor family, and racism since she was from a mmultiracialbackground. (Ink, 2018) Leon’s work is innovative because she uses all aspects of her mmulticulturalbackground to bring different influences into the music that she creates.
In conclusion, there are many periods of music and many composers that have attributed to each one. I have only talked about seven different composers in this paper but there are so many more that have made a mark on history. Without some of the brilliance of these people, music wouldn’t be where it is today.