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Music in Elizabethan England and St Mark's Cathedral in Venice

Categories Cat, Cathedral, English, Music

Essay, Pages 3 (718 words)



Essay, Pages 3 (718 words)

Music was an important form of entertainment during the Elizabethan era and was widely regarded as a symbol of class to the point that one was not considered a gentleman if could not read music and sing tolerably. The Elizabethan era marked a time when English music developed to a level that demanded respect from the rest of the western world. Music in this era became so popular that every nobleman employed his own musician.

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Even the middle class employed at least one servant who could play an instrument.

Queen Elizabeth is partially responsible for the popularity of music during this period as she was an admirer of music and an accomplished musician. As she was a particularly popular monarch her example was followed by the English people. Queen Elizabeth encouraged composers and musicians, employing over 70 musicians and singers. Queen Elizabeth’s avid support of music is an excellent example of the importance of music during this era as it showed that music popular with even the most important figures.

Theatre was a prominent form of entertainment in Elizabethan England and this fact can partially be attributed to the accompaniment of music. Theatre music was a vital component in many plays, primarily used to enhance the atmosphere of various scenes. The importance placed on music in theatre is evident as effort was placed to strategically place musicians in the best place in order to convey the mood of their piece. Musicians were situated in ‘Lord Rooms’ and even under the stage.

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As the theatre grew more popular, especially after the rise of William Shakespeare, theatre music was given more exposure and helped develop the popularity of music, in turn the effect that music had on the popularity of theatre is also evidence of the importance of music in this period as it suggests that the support of music could help dictate the popularity of various activities.

As attending Church was compulsory in this era hymns became particularly popular. Many of these hymns are still played today. Puritans attempted to do away with all church music but they were dominated by the will of the people to sing and church music became even more predominant.

By far the most famous example of music from this era is Greensleeves. While this song is often attributed to Henry VIII there has been no proof and evidence suggests that the piece is Elizabethan in origin as it takes inspiration from an Italian style of composition not introduced to England until after his death. This tune is very recognisable even today, and is often referenced in pop culture and is used by ice cream vans. Well known modern songwriters such as Jacques Brel and Leonard Cohen used a modified version of this tune when writing Amsterdam and Leaving Greensleeves respectively.

Of the many prominent English composers in this era the most celebrated was William Byrd. He was Queen Elizabeth’s favourite composer and was the leading composer of religious music. He contributed many pieces to the ‘Fitzwilliam Virginal Book’ and wrote the music manuscript the ‘My Ladye Nevells Booke’ which are considered to be the two most important collections of keyboard music of the renaissance.

St. Mark’s Venice

The Patriarchal Cathedral Basilica of Saint Mark, more commonly known as St Mark’s Basilica is the cathedral church of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Venice. It’s peculiar structural design inspired the development of a Venetian polychoral style one the major stylistic developments which led to formation of the baroque style.

Due to the distance between opposing choir lofts choirs would suffer from sound delay as such it was required for composers to exploit this peculiarity and used it as a special effect. As getting widely separated choirs to sing simultaneously proved to be difficult composers such as Adrian Willaert wrote antiphonal music where opposing choirs would sing successive, contrasting phrases of music. This style proved to be popular and other composers imitated it. This style would eventually be used in large cathedrals throughout Italy.

‘In Ecclesiis’ by Giovanni Gabrieli is a prime example of the polychoral style. Gabrieli represented the culmination of the style and the transitional period between Renaissance to Baroque and ‘In Ecclesiis’ was his most famous piece. This piece was designed specifically to take advantage of the structural design of St Mark’s Basilica.

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Music in Elizabethan England and St Mark’s Cathedral in Venice. (2020, Jun 02). Retrieved from https://studymoose.com/music-elizabethan-england-st-marks-cathedral-venice-new-essay

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