Category: Baroque

A Juicy Baroque Murder Mystery

Is there anyone behind me?

Born today, Jean Marie Leclair (also know as the Elder as there were a few other musicians in his family) had a good life as a composer and violinist. He is often considered to have founded the French violin school. He married twice, but his second wife is also rumored to be a suspect in his murder most foul.

After his divorce to his second wife, engraver Louise Roussel, he bought a residence is a seedy part of Paris. Bad idea. Six years later he was found stabbed in the back three times.

Was it his ex-wife, who knew his music as his engraver, and was in financial straits at the time? She was able to sell his house, his stuff, and even publish some of his works. (Um, duh. What, was Jacques Clouseau on the case?)

Others point to his nephew who blamed his uncle for not supporting him enough in his own career. The gardener was also suspected as he was the one who “found” the body.

Nevertheless, it bring a terrible end to an otherwise outstanding musical career any of us would have been happy to have. Enjoy some of Leclair’s fine Baroque music here.

Some other articles about Leclair:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jean-Marie_Leclair

Jean – Marie Leclair (1697 – 1764)

Who murdered Jean-Marie Leclair?

 

You Can Handel It

Think you have it tough? At a scary point in your music career?

George Frederic Handel is of course known for his amazing works like Messiah, Water Music, etc., but do you think it was all gravy?

See if this sounds familiar…

Money trouble. Once one of the top paid musicians for Kings and Queens of England, later in life Handel was facing debtor’s prison since his audiences (and patrons paying the tab) had faded.

Competition. Other goofballs, with obviously less talent were getting all the accolades.

Fickle audiences. Opera was fading from the London scene, and Handel was trying to push his new “oratorio” style, which mixed religious passion plays with opera style production. Churches and ministers were not pleased by this new “outrageous music”.

Health issues. Rheumatism, strokes, and eventually eyesight issues plagued him his last decade.

We current day composers, artists, and musicians live with all these, and so did Handel. In fact, at the very time he was facing debtor’s prison, and in bad health, he was approached to compose the great work Messiah. And even that now-beloved masterpiece was not a hit in England immediately. It took years to win mass audience approval.

He died England’s most beloved composer, and left a hefty inheritance. But like any musician, there were some serious highs and some pretty bad lows.

WHY THIS MATTERS:

Those who make it in art are those who keep working harder than the rest. They believe in themselves, not just in the good times, but the bad also.

When it seems that it’s getting pretty hard to compete in your particular part of the music industry, then maybe it’s time to redefine yourself. Look for new interests, perhaps a new branch of study, a new instrument, or a new job.

It’s a great big music world out there, and maybe you’ve been hiding in your hole too long, or stuck in a rut. Time to pick yourself up and attack again in a new way.

Have a great week!

EC

Eric Copeland is not a musicologist (yet), but does play one on the Internet. For more on his unique twist on Music History and why it matters today, check out http://www.MusicHistoryMatters.com

Why You Are Like Bach, Mozart, or Schoenberg

I think the really amazing thing about studying music history for me has been the way it has shown the similarities between the masters, and myself and other artists I work with daily. While most musicologists focus on musical forms, genres, and theoretical tendencies, what interests me is how I am like Mozart, or Bach, or Miles.

Now, don’t get me wrong, I do not compare myself to them technically or musically. They would all laugh at my MIDI accomplishments and “producer” title. Bach would shake his head, Miles would turn his back, and Mozart would just giggle I imagine.
But comparing how they lived and worked, how they loved and dealt with daily life, that is where we can see who we are. Because we, as current artisans, are just reflections of those before us. They dealt with fame, work, and love (or the lack of them) just as we must.

So whom do you resemble? Let’s use a short list here and see if you fit in one of these three types:

1. Maybe you’re Bach.

Johann Sebastian Bach was the equivalent of today’s modern church music director. If you have a steady music gig at a church or school, then you and Bach have lived similar lives.

Bach served as “Cantor” or music leader of St. Thomas Church in Leipzig, Germany from 1723 until his death in 1750. He was also musical director at the principal churches in town.

As you may know, his output was voluminous, but you would expect him to have written a lot when he had to have music ready for the week’s services for 27 years! Plus he had similar jobs back to 1708. Dude had a resume!

You may work on a lot of songs too every week, getting things ready for Sunday services or for classes. It may seem overwhelming, and it may seem somewhat under-appreciated.

But so was Bach. Although he was highly respected in Europe as an organist during his lifetime, he really didn’t become infamous as “Bach, the composer that defines the Baroque period we all know and love” until a revival of his music in the 19th century.

So take heart, Bach-ites. Maybe somewhere in 2123 is when your genius will be discovered and revered for all time.

(In the meantime, enjoy some Bach and get back to your planning…)

2. Maybe you’re Mozart.

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart was simply the Michael Jordan of music history. I mean yes, you have Bach, and Beethoven, and many that are masters without doubt. But Mozart was the natural. The prodigy that would never be denied even as a child or on his deathbed. His works are varied, and original, and striking.

But despite the unique and powerful works, his financial life and personal life were kinda iffy. Like many musicians, especially the really crazy gifted ones, he put way more emphasis on creating than he did a steady gig. Especially since that meant having to “be” what princes or other possible benefactors wanted from him. He taught piano to rich ladies, and wrote operas and other things on demand for folks, but truly just wanted to write songs to his own liking, not what others wanted.

You may fall into this kind of thinking sometimes. I know I do. My whole creative life has been about doing things my way. I skipped piano lessons, scoffed at a music degree, and never really embraced traditional music gigs or jobs. Instead I built a music business I could totally do my way.

But at what cost!

This kind of attitude, a decision that you want to live as a creative musician doing art your way has it downsides. And one downside is that money can slow to a trickle fast. It did for Mozart. He liked to live with his wife in a big fancy house with servants and buy pianos, but the truth was he went into debt doing it and was still trying to get out of debt at the time of his death.

Being like Mozart is a two-sided coin. You have a talent for music, but yet demand music fit into life the way you feel it should rather than more traditional means.

(Hide your bills, and enjoy some Mozart, and then write something amazing whether it sells or not…)

3. Maybe you’re Schoenberg.

Arnold Schoenberg probably isn’t as known to you, but he is a very important figure in the history of music, not that you’d probably care for his music. Well, maybe you’d feel comfortable with his early music, which just echoed and continued the tradition of Wagner and Brahms.

But Schoenberg developed the “twelve-tone” technique, which kind of put western music on its ear. The random sounding music can kind of sound a little like a horror movie score on acid. It purposely went away from the harmonics and tonality of the previous two centuries. A whole way of thinking (the Second Viennese School) with other composers following Schoenberg’s evolution came next, and the 20th century started out with a crash. At least that’s kind of what it sounded like.

How could this relate to you? I hear folks all the time declaring how music, or any genre, is stale and the same old, same old. So, they break away from what everyone else is doing, and try something radically different, often breaking the established rules of musical taste of the time. At first people may not like it, but sometimes new music has to cause a revolt before it becomes famous. (See Disco.)

Some of his early concerts of the new atonal stuff actually caused fights in the audience. Schoenberg himself tried to physically escort troublemakers out of the concert hall.

Now hopefully you won’t have to do this, but you may come up against criticism or haters when you are trying to do something different.

(Tune them out and listen to some Schoenberg. Or send it to them for torture…)

WHY THIS MATTERS:

Each of us can read the history of the lives of composer and find traits that reflect us today. That’s the beauty, and real value of studying music history. We learn from the masters, who were just real, frail, vulnerable people, like you.

Have a great week!

EC
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Eric Copeland is a producer, composer, and paid artist nurturer. Whether he’s right or not, he firmly believes the knowledge of music history can help musicians and artsy types in the present. Be part of the fun by joining the Blog, Twitter, Facebook, or…Telegram.