By Knud Jeppesen. This Dover edition, first published in and reprinted in , is an unabridged republication, with corrections, of the second revised and enlarged edition originally published in by Oxford University Press. Palestrina is a composer who has suffered much from indiscriminate admiration. His name is surrounded by a thick mass of tradition and legend which scientific research has only recently begun to clear away. Ecclesiastical interest has exalted his music to a plane on which the listener is expected not to criticize but to adore.

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By Knud Jeppesen. This Dover edition, first published in and reprinted in , is an unabridged republication, with corrections, of the second revised and enlarged edition originally published in by Oxford University Press.

Palestrina is a composer who has suffered much from indiscriminate admiration. His name is surrounded by a thick mass of tradition and legend which scientific research has only recently begun to clear away. Ecclesiastical interest has exalted his music to a plane on which the listener is expected not to criticize but to adore.

This book of Dr. But the study of dissonance in Palestrina involves the study of almost every element that contributes to his general style, and that study further involves a consideration of his predecessors and a consideration of the psychological principles underlying all musical composition.

English readers are as a rule repelled rather than attracted by books which display immense erudition. But Dr. His overflowing footnotes are not the results of mere ant-like industry.

Every one of them suggests a train of new thought; every reference points to some book or article which one ought to read, some principle which one ought to follow up in the hopes of getting a step or two nearer to the solution of the ultimate mystery of musical expression. From Dr. The practical musician who wishes to perform some work of Palestrina may learn much that is new as regards its interpretation.

Teachers and students of counterpoint and composition will do well to read this book and devote careful study to its arguments. It is gratifying to find that Dr. Jeppesen regards Mr. He is not always in agreement with Mr. Nevertheless, Dr.

Jeppesen does full justice to the earlier English influences on mediaeval music; and the more carefully one reads his book, the more deeply one is convinced of his sympathetic insight into the human and expressive aspects of the composers whom he anatomizes.

I have but little to say of this new edition, since I have not found occasion to alter my original exposition on any essential point. But since the first publication there have of course appeared various kinds of literature, both practical and theoretical, which I have been glad to use and embody in my exposition. Further I have completely revised the book with the result that I have made several small emendations, alterations or additions.

Finally I have added at last some observations on the treatment in Palestrina of hidden consecutives which seem to me to be psychologically related to dissonances, and consequently will form a suitable supplement to this exposition. Unfortunately the original translator of the book, Mrs. Leipzig, Leuckart —78, Vol.

V, 2nd Ed. Paris, A. Durand — Blasien, Kongress der internationalen Musikgesellschaft. First part. Vienna, Artaria Second part. Jos I. Smijers, Siegel, Leipzig, Alsbach. Amsterdam Klaagliederen op den dood von Josquin. Annus primus. Romae , Pontif. Institutum Musicae Sacrae. Vienna, Universal edition Series VII. Vienna, Artaria, As a great part of the works of Josquin d. Ambros comprising all the printed masses and quite a number of motets of Josquin. This course, however, required a constant comparison with the older printed part-editions.

In the archives of the papal chapel in Rome are found the following works, which have been scored by the author:. In giving the musical quotations, four figures are generally employed. For instance, P. A d placed after a quotation shows that it is taken from a work of whose authenticity there may be a doubt. This book must be regarded as being merely of a preparatory nature, a preliminary treatise upon the history of dissonance treatment.

Oddly enough this subject, though generally conceded as being among the most important for musical research, has not yet been taken up in any serious, scientific way. That musical scholars up to the present time have refrained from entering this field of work may be partially attributed to the lack of sources.

What is needed here, first of all, is really representative selection as complete as possible of polyphonic musical works of all epochs in new editions. Preliminary studies are altogether, or at least for the most part, wanting. Gratitude is, however, due to the great A. Ambros, who in his History of Music touches incidentally upon this subject in such a manner as to arouse keen interest in it.

Hugo Riemann in his Geschichte der Musiktheorie also contributes some information, but otherwise there does not exist much of importance. It is noticeable, however, that these remarks are almost exclusively based upon a modern theoretical point of view; as a rule they concern the trespassing of the tenets of more recent text-books, false relations, consecutive fifths, etc.

Seldom is there any attempt to regard matters in their historic continuity, to consider them in connection with temporal assumptions. This literature can scarcely be blamed for being void of the genetic point of view, since its office was merely of a practical pedagogic nature.

But on the other hand there are good grounds for criticizing its relation to the basis of style, which, as Fux himself makes perfectly clear, is the music of Palestrina. To this art it has but slight relation. Altogether the contributions of the musical theorists to the history of the dissonance must only be accepted with careful reservations. The history of musical theory and the history of musical style are far from being identical. On the contrary we must take into account the constantly recurring mistakes of the theorists with regard to the description of style.

These inaccuracies may be traced to certain sources of error, among the principal of which the following may be mentioned:. An inclination that is common to these writers to theorize on their own account speculative methods, an exaggerated tendency to systematize. The moment of inertia which causes the theorists to transfer rules from older textbooks to new without proper critical revision. Inability of the theorists, when describing the practices of past times, to discriminate between these and the elements of style typical of their own contemporaries, which was the case with Fux.

Pedagogic considerations, which often tend to a simplification or relaxation of the set of rules belonging to the style, but often also to a stricter rendering of these rules for the sake of exercise.

All of this does not, however, hinder the musical theorists, provided due criticism be exercised by the reader, from contributing valuable material to musical history, or from putting us on the track of new facts and assisting in the establishment of these.

His works might appropriately be called a vast summary of the musical development of the preceding centuries. In them are united all the various currents,—some that spring from sources in a deeply-buried past, traceable through the more primitive phases of polyphony back to the Gregorian age. And it is finally in his music that we inherit all the forms of dissonance treatment that have been handed down from generation to generation, from France to England, from England to the Netherlands, from the Netherlands to Italy,—all fully represented, simplified, refined.

He represents a turning-point in the history of dissonance treatment. Until this epoch the rules became stricter and stricter, after it they gradually relaxed. An ear, accustomed to the finest shades of dissonance treatment, is more peculiarly sensitive to a quick perception and appreciation of elements, wherein the newer music differs from that of Palestrina, than if we proceed, conversely, through the music of Mozart, Scarlatti, Carissimi and Cavalli back to the beginning of the 17th century.

On the whole it is quite evident that the characteristics of any period of art which offers a contrast or has undergone radical change, will stand out in boldest relief when compared with its immediate predecessor. A chronologically ascending method would be the wise course in this case, while it would certainly be less suitable if the question were of an accurate account of the evolution of a period of style.

If, for instance, we would solve the problem before us, and contrary to the manner recommended in this treatise begin the experiment with the first polyphonic period, advancing therefore to Palestrina, we should soon become involved in a wilderness of dissonance forms, hopelessly confusing to the mind. It would only be possible with the greatest difficulty to distinguish between essential and non-essential forms—it being most suitable in this connection to define the essential as those in which the idiomatic vitality has been preserved until the climax of the style, and which therefore are most easily recognizable there.

Likewise the errors of writing and printing, that threaten the explorer into these little frequented regions at every step, will best be discovered by comparison with the typical forms belonging to the culmination of the style.

Other reasons of a more practical nature also conduced to the choice of Palestrina as a starting-point, especially the significance of this music for theoretical instruction in composition.

It is an undeniable fact that the contrapuntal technique of the 16th century is to-day still regarded as the ideal, the model, of nearly every serious, scientific and practical study of this branch of art. At the same time, the rules of textbooks and those regulating the practice of 16th century composers are so little in accord with each other, that an early comparative revision is most necessary.

Cerone, though Italian by birth, was attached to the Court at Madrid for many years as a singer, and wrote his book in the Spanish language.

He was an extremely close observer with a keen eye for details. He had a fine sense of realities, and is able to perceive and reproduce shades of expression that escaped the other theorists of the time. The publication in of the famous textbook Gradus ad Parnassum , by the Austrian Johann Joseph Fux, marks the return to Palestrina as the standard of theoretical instruction.

The last-mentioned symbolizes jenes vortreffliche Licht in der Musik, den Prenestinus, dem ich alles, was ich in dieser Wissenschaft weiss, zu danken habe!

Notwithstanding these drawbacks, we are indebted to Fux for his practical skill and correct judgment concerning the basis of contrapuntal instruction, while his contribution upon the subject of style is of more problematic value. The errors into which Fux falls, whether owing to the too limited amount of material at his disposal, or to his inability to free himself from the influences of the 18th century, nearly all appear still uncorrected in the new 19th century editions of his Gradus. A promising beginning was made here, which, however, up to the present moment has not been continued.

Wilhelm Hohn in his textbook, Der Kontrapunkt Palestrinas undseiner Zeitgenossen , Sammlung Kirchenmusik published by Karl Weinmann, , has derived practical methods of teaching from Nekes and has personally added some observations of consequence about voice-grouping, but nothing whatever on dissonance treatment.

Peter Griesbacher too treats the Palestrina style quite freshly and minutely in his comprehensive work, Kirchenmusikalische Stilistik und Formenlehre , I-IV, , yet omits any mention of the genetic, historic relations of the dissonance. The same omission is noticed in the book of R. Morris, Contrapuntal Technique in the Sixteenth Century , Oxford which, notwithstanding, seems to me the best single treatise hitherto published about 16th century music.

Music is, in its own way, a language.


The style of Palestrina and the dissonance

Knud Jeppesen 15 August in Copenhagen — 14 June in Risskov was a Danish musicologist , composer , and writer on the history of music. Jeppesen demonstrated early musical talent at age 10 when he was first encouraged by Hakon Andersen and Paul Hellmuth , although he was largely self-taught. Completing primary education in , he first worked in Elbing and Liegnitz Eastern Germany as an opera coach and conductor. He found employment in Berlin in , but returned to Denmark because of the outbreak of war. He passed the organist exam at the Royal Danish Conservatory of music in


Style of Palestrina and the Dissonance



Knud Jeppesen


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