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    Prize-Winning Essays on the Importance of the Netherlands in the History of Music

    R[aphael] G[eorg] Kiesewetter, and François-Joseph Fétis. Verhandelingen over de vraag: Welke verdiensten hebben zich de Nederlanders vooral in de 14e, 15e en 16e eeuw in het vak der toonkunst verworven; en in hoe verre kunnen de Nederlandsche kunstenaars van dien tijd, die zich naar Italien begeven hebben, invloed gehad hebben op de muzijkscholen, die zich kort daarna in Italien hebben gevormd? Bekroond en uitgegeven door de Vierde Klasse van het Koninklijk-Nederlandsche Instituut van Wetenschappen, Letterkunde en Schoone Kunsten. Amsterdam: J. Muller en Comp., 1829. First edition. Quarto (11.9375 x 8.75 inches; 279 x 222 mm.). [2, blank], [6], 120, [2, title], 73 (music), [1, blank], 58, [2, blank] pages. Original gray wrappers printed in black. Uncut and largely unopened. Wrappers chipped and curled a little at the edges; spine neatly repaired; lower corner of rear wrapper renewed. Light to moderate foxing; occasional marginal soiling or smudging. A very good copy, remarkably well-preserved, considering its age and ephemeral nature. From the library of John Carroll Collins, with his booklabel on the inside front wrapper.

    More Information:

    These essays were written for a competition held in the 1820s by the Koninklijk-Nederlandsche Instituut van Wetenschappen, Letterkunde, en Schoone Kunsten (Royal Netherlands Institute of Sciences, Humanities, and Fine Arts, now the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences). Intent on celebrating the importance of the Netherlands in the history of music, the institute wished to identify the contributions of Netherlanders to music written between 1300 and 1600 and their influence on other European composers. Raphael Georg Kiesewetter (1773-1850), of Vienna, and François-Joseph Fétis (1784-1871), of Paris, were awarded, respectively, gold and silver medals, and published their essays, in German and French, respectively.

     

    Kiesewetter's contribution includes a "Verzeichniss der im Fache der Tonkunst als Gelehrte, Schriftsteller, Tonsetzer oder Tonlehrer ausgezeichneten Niederländer, wie auch der aus deren Schule hervorgegangenen merkwürdigen Männer anderer Nationen, bis zum Ende des l6. Jahrhunderts" (a list of scholars, writers, composers, etc. through the end of the sixteenth century) on pages [31]-78; with an "Anhang" (appendix) on pages 79-104; and "Nachtrag: Eingesendet während des Druckes" (supplement sent while the essays were being printed) on pages 105-115; and "Musikalische Beilagen" on pages [1]-73 following his essay.

     

    Austrian musicologist Raphael Georg Kiesewetter's "pioneering achievements were in the field of musicology, which, like Fétis, he came to by way of music history and theory. In his books, many of which he had previously prepared in the form of essays for journals, he dealt with the problems of the music of non-European Mediterranean cultures and of the Ancient Greeks, as well as the history of western music from the early Middle Ages until the Viennese Classical period. His major work, the Geschichte der europäisch-abendländischen oder unsrer heutigen Musik, is particularly noteworthy as the last exposition of the evolutionary concept of history of the Age of Enlightenment. His studies of the music of the Netherlands established him as one of the originators of research into the history of style; his Schicksale und Beschaffenheit des weltlichen Gesanges was written in the early days of topographical music research and the history of genres. In compiling Die Musik der Araber he was the first to enlist the help of an orientalist, Joseph Freiherr von Hammer-Purgstall (1774-1856), which enabled him to base his presentation on the original Arab source material; this book was justly considered unsurpassed until the end of the 19th century. For his scholarly achievements, Kiesewetter was made a corresponding member of the Imperial Academy of Sciences, Vienna, in 1849" (Othmar Wessely in Grove Music Online).

     

    The positive reception of his essay encouraged Kiesewetter to develop his scholarly interests further. His most important publication was the Geschichte der europäisch-abendländischen oder unsrer heutigen Musik: Darstellung ihres Ursprunges, ihres Wachsthumes und ihrer stufenweisen Entwickelung; Von dem ersten Jahrhundert des Christenthumes bis auf unsere Zeit (Leipzig: Breitkopf und Härtel, 1834). It was translated into English in 1848 by Robert Müller as History of the Modern Music of Western Europe, from the First Century of the Christian Era to the Present Day, with Examples, and an Appendix, Explanatory of the Theory of the Ancient Greek Music (London: T. C. Newby, Publisher, 1848). Kiesewetter portrays the history of western music in terms of the achievements of great men; he divides the years from 901 to 1832 into seventeen epochs, which he made a point of naming after prominent composers (or theorists, in the case of a few of the early periods).

     

    Belgian critic, historian, composer, and organist François-Joseph Fétis "came from a musical family and in 1800 entered the Paris Conservatoire, where he developed a special interest in 16th-century contrapuntal music, especially that of Palestrina. After a spell of teaching elsewhere (1811-18) he returned to Paris and from 1821 taught counterpoint at the Conservatoire. In 1833 he became the first director of the Brussels Conservatory. Though a prolific composer who made his living mainly by teaching, Fétis is chiefly important for his critical writing and theoretical treatises. His eight-volume Biographie universelle des musiciens [et bibliographie générale de la musique] (Brussels, 1835-44) was the most comprehensive biographical dictionary of musicians of its time and is still a standard source of information, particularly on French musicians of his own day. Fétis built up an extensive library and a fine collection of instruments. He founded (1827) and for six years edited the famous journal Revue musicale, through which he encouraged interest in music of the past while showing a somewhat conservative attitude to contemporary music" (Judith Nagley in The Oxford Companion to Music Online).



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