As explored in the lives of Arcangelo Corelli and Barbara Strozzi
Valley City State University
Music History and Literature II
Why make music?
Every great composer throughout all of history has asked himself this question. It is this question that sparks the purpose and passion for music that greatness requires. Leonard Bernstein once said, “Music . . . can name the unnamable and communicate the unknowable” (www.goodreads.com). There is a power in music that goes beyond language. When composed with nobility of purpose and passion, its effects are unending. Music composed for the purpose of creative expression and refreshment of man is more enduring than music composed out of a desire for personal gain. Through exploring the works of two composers, we will contrast the effects of their music, one whose purpose is faultless, and the other’s frivolous.
Arcangelo Corelli’s work was exceptional from the beginning. It is said that while he was playing, “It was usual for his countenance to be distorted, his eyes to become red as fire, and his eyeballs to roll as in agony, and he gives in so much to what he is doing that he does not look like the same man” (Hanning, 2010, p. 234). Corelli was the first renowned composer of only instrumental music, most noted for his development of the trio sonata (Hanning, 2010). He was a master of balance. He was able to take commonplace techniques and integrate them into his music in an original, exciting way (Stauffer, 2006). His pieces are characterized by lighthearted pleasure blended with orderly restraint, such as his concerto grosso Op. 6. Listening to this portion, it is evident that this piece was composed with a joyful creativity alongside a deep passion for the music. Corelli loved the violin, and accordingly, played an imperative role in the development of its music (Hanning, 2010). By training Vivaldi, who would...