Reviewed by George J. Buelow*
2. Part One
1.2 The torso of his book (but in German) was completed as a dissertation at the Albert-Ludwigs-Universität, Freiburg im Breisgau in 1982. It was published as Handbuch der musikalischen Figurenlehre (1985). In that form, in brief comments, Bartel introduced the concept of the "Figurenlehre," and established the relationship between rhetoric and music. The body of the dissertation cited all the musical figures as they were given by fifteen German writers beginning with Burmeister and concluding with Forkel. Also included were pertinent biographical data for each author and salient passages from the treatises dealing with the subject of musical figures. Each figure was defined, given in the language of the source, and (when required) translated into German. Comparisons were made with definitions of the rhetorical figures taken from Quintilian, Susenbrotus, and Gottsched.
2.2 In the third essay Bartel gives a comprehensive summary of the meaning and various musical adaptations of the concept of the affections and its centrality to all Baroque music. The last essay is the most basic in the book with some thirty-three pages of explanations as to how the ancient principles of rhetoric were systematically applied to a developing theory of musical rhetoric. Here Bartel convinces the reader that for Germany this development was closely tied to both the demands for greater humanist attention to poetic expressive dynamics in music but also the Protestant theological concerns that church doctrine, the "Word of God," would instruct as well as move congregations through the power of music. The detailed if also often conflicting ideas about how to make music more affective, more rhetorical, was a distinctly German phenomenon, and by the beginning of the eighteenth century had become a characteristic aspect of German Baroque music.
2.3 This last essay, of great importance and written with clarity by no means easy to achieve, presents the author's views on the differences between German and Italian Baroque music as related to rhetorical principles. Here the author's emphases could mislead some readers. Bartel correctly stresses the uniqueness of the German codifications of musical rhetorical figures, for the Italian, French, and English theorists did not produce such lists, nor do specific references to individual rhetorical figures appear in the treatises of these countries. Yet, it seems to me to be misleading to imply, as Bartel does, that composers of these countries, whose general education was usually grounded on rhetorical discipline, were unaware of the nature and importance of rhetorical figures in language and therefore would not have understood their importance in bringing language to life musically.
2.4 That Italian, French, and English treatises do not explicitly codify musical rhetorical figures and that individual rhetorical figures are not named, does not mean they were unknown. It is, of course, much easier to see the rhetorical influences on German Baroque composers, but the music of the Baroque in other nations often contains strong evidence of employing musical-rhetorical figures. One need think only of studies such as Massenkeil's 1952 dissertation, Die oratorische Kunst in den lateinischen Historien und Oratorien Giacomo Carissimis (Mainz, 1952), or Leslie Brown's discussion of musical-rhetorical figures in the Tragédie lyrique (in her dissertation, The Tragédie lyrique of André Campra and his Contemporaries, University of North Carolina, 1978) as typical examples of previous research that has shown that musical-rhetorical figures were employed in Baroque music outside of the German repertory. While the documentary evidence is slim, more than one non-German writer confirms that music shares with rhetoric comparable figures. To cite only one example, Mersenne, in his L'harmonie universelle (1636) in writing de la musique accentuelle, says "d'user de toutes sortes de figures & de passages harmoniques, comme l'Orateur, & quel l'Arte de composer des Airs, & le Contrepoint ne cede rien à la Retorique." The pervasive influence of rhetorical doctrine on music throughout the centuries in all European culture still remains to be examined in greater detail, even though the evidence must be drawn largely from the music and not from the wealth of theoretical evidence found in Germany.
*George J. Buelow (email@example.com) is Professor Emeritus of Musicology at Indiana University. His career has centered on the history of Baroque music, its performance practices and theoretical documents, as well as the history of opera. His publications include Thorough-bass Accompaniment According to Johann David Heinichen. He is past president of The American Bach Society.
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