Musical Style

By Peter Coraggio
Illustrated by Jon. J. Murakami

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A Note from the Author

The spirit of an era expresses its unique distinguishing characteristics in every aspect of a society, including a culture's visual and performing arts, dance, drama, and music. Most artists and composers of a particular era conform to the general fashion of their time and share common values. Yet, even within a period's fashion, each artist develops an individual identity or style. Style is what makes an artist special, and it often changes and evolves during an artist's lifetime.

The standard keyboard repertory that we play today was created over the past three hundred years. Western civilization has gone through significant changes during this time. Although musicologists identify numerous musical periods, introductions to musical style usually include three major eras: Baroque, Classical and Romantic. Since artists do not suddently decide collectively at one moment to throw away all ideas of the past and immediately begin something new, the distinction between one era and another is often blurred. The works of some great composers, such as J.S.Bach and Mozart, are representative of particular periods, while the creative lives of other composers, such as Haydn and Beethoven evolved over two or more eras.

Musical Style views the Baroque, Classical and Romantic eras from different perspectives, including the spirit of the time, the characteristics of the keyboard instruments and their varied playing techniques, the leading keyboard composers, the performance venues, and the basic elements of music and interpretation that give the music of each era its distinctive character.

Historical traditions do not just belong in a musical museum. Every new insight into musical traditions will give us more satisfaction as teachers as we pss on the practices of the past to our students. And the joy of discovering new knowledge of a musical era's fashion and a composer's unique style will result in increased pleasure as we practice and perform.

Peter Coraggio