CHAPTER IX - BEGINNINGS OF MODERN INSTRUMENTAL MUSIC  pp. 193-212


By C. Hubert H. Parry

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It would have been an eminently pardonable mistake for any intelligent musician to have fallen into, in the third quarter of the eighteenth century, if he concluded that J. S. Bach's career was a failure, and that his influence upon the progress of his art amounted to the minimum conceivable. Indeed the whole course of musical history in every branch went straight out of the sphere of his activity for a long while; his work ceased to have any significance to the generation which succeeded him, and his eloquence fell upon deaf ears. A few of his pupils went on writing music of the same type as his in a half-hearted way, and his own most distinguished son, Philip Emmanuel, adopted at least the artistic manner of working up his details and making the internal organisation of his works alive with figure and rhythm. But even he, the sincerest composer of the following generation, was infected by the complacent, polite superficiality of his time; and he was forced, in accepting the harmonic principle of working in its Italian phase, to take with it some of the empty formulas and conventional tricks of speech which had become part of its being, and which sometimes seem to belie the genuineness of his utterances, and put him somewhat out of touch with his whole-hearted father.