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2 - From pastoral to picturesque: nature, art, and genre in the later eighteenth century

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  22 September 2009

Matthew Gelbart
Affiliation:
Boston College, Massachusetts
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Summary

The principle of “imitating” or “following” or “keeping close to nature” was primarily the maxim of neo-classicism; but it was also fatal to that creed, since nearly all forms of the revolt against neo-classical standards invoked the same catchword. The justification of new tendencies by the old rule was made possible partly by the substitution (conscious or unconscious) of other meanings of the multi-vocal terms “nature” and “natural,” partly by the emergence of latent logical implications of certain already accepted neo-classical senses of the formula.

If the new attention to creative origins brought about by cultural nationalism was a necessary prologue to the ideas of “folk music” and “art music,” a deeper foundation for the new categories began with the redefinitions of “nature” in the later eighteenth century. The words “nature” or “natural” lurk around every corner of eighteenth-century musical discourse, yet between 1720 and 1790 the connotations of these words for writers on music – even writers in the same geographical location – shifted radically. Scottish music was already linked especially closely with the idea of “nature” at the turn of the eighteenth century, and events in the 1760s thrust the country into an even greater association with the natural. As nature changed meanings, so did Scottish music.

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Chapter
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The Invention of 'Folk Music' and 'Art Music'
Emerging Categories from Ossian to Wagner
, pp. 40 - 79
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2007

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