View Poll Results: Was Church Music One Of The Greatest Influence For Composers?

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  • Yes, historically one of the most important influence

    15 78.95%
  • Yes, but equally important as other factors

    1 5.26%
  • No, not at all

    2 10.53%
  • Unsure

    1 5.26%
  • Don't know enough to decide

    0 0%
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Thread: Was Church Music One Of The Greatest Influence For Composers?

  1. #1
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    Default Was Church Music One Of The Greatest Influence For Composers?

    It is a historical fact that numerous composers of the great past wrote many beautiful music for the church. Bach dedicated his music to the church and to glorify his religion. The Mozarts were employed by an archbishop. They all wrote enormous amounts of church music.

    It therefore seems sensible to suggest that the church had an important role, almost essential role to play in the history of classical music. Classical music really began with ecclesiastical purpose and branched off into secular entertainment and studies. Many later composers never forgot that. Even opera composers like Verdi and Rossini wrote church music in the form of concert masses. As did Gabriel Fauré for example.

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    I am particularly impressed by this piece written by the twenty-two year old Handel at the time,


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    And of course, even a dedicated symphony composer like Bruckner loved to write church music,


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    If you take the opinion that Bach was first of all a keyboard composer - I do - then he was writing music to be played in church (and instructional works to show other people how to write and play the same), but that isn't quite the same thing.

    By Mozart's time, of course, Italian opera had long since laid eggs inside of church music's brain and taken over its body. The church did make an important contribution to Mozart's music, though: By closing the theaters for Lent, it created a market for his subscription concerts, and thus a reason to write his piano concertos.

    That, I think, is overall the church's most important contribution, by far, to classical music: It constrained people's freedom. When people are free, they listen to pop music.

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    Sr. Moderator Taggart's Avatar
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    Yes and no.

    Simplest thing is to look at Holland and Scotland in the 16th and 17th centuries. Both Calvinist countries, both opposed to frivolous elements in church music. Calvinism believed in the regulative principle and avoided hymns. Both Holland and Scotland initially used the Genevan psalter. Holland had Sweelinck. Scotland suffered because the court had moved to England. Although Scotland used the Genevan psalter, by 1650 the new psalter was a much reduced effort.

    In Scotland, there was little in the way of choir training and much of the singing was led by precentors who lined out the tunes. This in turn led to a heterophonic style which persists in the gaeltacht areas of Scotland and the Appalachians including some black baptist congregations.. Lining out could lead to some unusual results as when a precentor went from psalm 107 into Sir Patrick Spens and the congregation followed along. (Both stories of shipwreck after all!)

    Basically, where society supported musical education through the church and there were good teachers, then it could produce excellent music. Where there was little musical education through the church or no good teachers, then it didn't work. One has only to read Bach's life to see the battles he had with idle students, poor musicians and unsupportive church elders.
    Last edited by Taggart; Jan-25-2016 at 23:27.
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    Interesting about Scotland and Holland but then I admit I don't know any composers from there (classical composers).

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    Hey, if the Church paid you to write religious music, you wrote religious music. Doesn't mean you believed in the dogma.
    Facts don't care about your feelings.

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    I cannot comprehend the question due to the grammatical atrocities at work, so I will answer no.

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    Quote Originally Posted by ArtMusic View Post

    It therefore seems sensible to suggest that the church had an important role, almost essential role to play in the history of classical music.
    True.

    Quote Originally Posted by ArtMusic View Post
    Classical music really began with ecclesiastical purpose and branched off into secular entertainment and studies.
    I suppose so if you're talking about the development of what we call Western Classical music. But there has always been secular music; it's just that the secular music from the early times was improvised and not much was thought enough of to preserve it. I think the power and money which flowed from the church influenced what branched off into the type of secular music which has been preserved.

    Quote Originally Posted by ArtMusic View Post
    Many later composers never forgot that. Even opera composers like Verdi and Rossini wrote church music in the form of concert masses. As did Gabriel Fauré for example.
    Composers wrote sacred music even if they didn't believe it because that was part of their culture. It's notable that Brahms was able to reflect his agnosticism through his sacred music.
    Last edited by Manxfeeder; Jan-26-2016 at 01:58.

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    Senior Member arpeggio's Avatar
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    Manxfeeder,

    Your post goes along with what I recollect from music history class.

    This is another question that is impossible to answer within the context of all Western Classical Music. It appears to me that it depends on the composer. I have read that religion was very important to Elgar and Verdi was an atheist.
    Last edited by arpeggio; Jan-26-2016 at 02:18.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Manxfeeder View Post

    Composers wrote sacred music even if they didn't believe it because that was part of their culture. It's notable that Brahms was able to reflect his agnosticism through his sacred music.
    That's a very good point, which goes to show how influential church music was irrespective of the composer's religious beliefs.

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    sigh

    Yet another poll completely lacking in nuance.

    Since my choices are either, the greatest influence, and equal influence or not influential at all, I'll have to refrain from voting.

    It was the greatest influence in some time periods and has had very little influence in other time periods and in other time periods it had moderate influence.

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    Senior Member Fugue Meister's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by violadude View Post
    sigh

    Yet another poll completely lacking in nuance.

    Since my choices are either, the greatest influence, and equal influence or not influential at all, I'll have to refrain from voting.

    It was the greatest influence in some time periods and has had very little influence in other time periods and in other time periods it had moderate influence.
    Second this, I didn't vote because there is no specification of time period. If the poll was for pre 19th century composers my answer would be an emphatic yes, between 19th and 20th century indication my answer moves down to the "yes but equally" variety, post 20th century I'd say unsure to nah not as much.

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    Senior Member Richannes Wrahms's Avatar
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    Eternal order is prescribed by the sacred equation: all things flow from the sacred equation, all things in their place, all musicians in their section, all music flowing. All heat rising, pays homage to the sacred equation, in its own particular preordained position. So it is. Know your place. Keep your place. not my words

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    Music goes where the money is because composers have to eat. The church had its fangs in Europe's jugular for quite a few centuries, performing a perpetual cashectomy on its flock. Composers lined up for their share and honed their skills in competition for it. Is that what you mean by influence?
    Last edited by EdwardBast; Jan-26-2016 at 06:15.

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