Music in History

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English and German Opera

English opera during 17th century

According to Willi Apel , the English opera evolved through the masque. Initially, it ran into difficulties due to the bias for stage events during the period of the English Commonwealth (1649-1660). "Venus and Adonis" by John Blow is considered the first opera of that periodHenry Purcell is considered the major representative of the English opera. His "Dido and Aeneas" (1689) is considered a masterpiece. After Purcell's death there  were not productions of serious opera in England until  20th century.(Technically,  most of  G.F. Handel's operas are considered to be Oratorios.)

German Opera during 17th and  18th century

Basically, the story of early opera in Germany is the history of Italian composers in the German courts, with the exception of "Daphne" by Heinrich Schutz (1627: the music has been lost). Italians were so influential that during the next 100 years even German composers liked to write in Italian style and Italian librettos. (J.J. Fux, J. A. Hasse, Gluck, Mozart). Hamburg was the only important opera  "school". The main representative was Reinhard Keiser with clear effects on Handel, who wrote his first operas in Hamburg.

Willi Apel Harvard dictionary of music , second edition, eighth printing


                                                   Heinrich Schütz

                                            Purcell - Dido and Aeneas

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