Early music is based mainly on the music of the Medieval, Renaissance and Baroque eras. Many people like to define Early Music as ending in 1750, with the death of J.S. Bach. This is a handy date, but it misses the various stylistic changes taking place around that time, i.e. the emergence of the gallant and pre-classical idioms in close proximity to the final flowering of the baroque proper. To add even more confusion, this is also not clear-cut. As with everything else, Baroque music ended gradually and sporadically, if we are to say that it ended all. Perhaps the significant factor defining these eras as early music is that they do not have a continuous performance tradition. In other words, this music ceased to be performed after its time had passed and needed to be revived in our own era. This is not true of the classical music of Mozart, Beethoven, et al. Which possesses a continuous performance tradition. This means that, to some degree, it is this revival which dominates EM (that is, early music as a movement), at least in spirit. Of course, things are not clear-cut here either. For instance, late Baroque composers like Bach, Handel, Vivaldi, and etc. Were revived relatively early and therefore have a fairly long performance tradition which is not dependent on the present early music movement. Now we are seeing an increasingly large number of performances of Mozart, Beethoven, and others in the content of early music; this further muddies the waters. There is the question of pre-Medieval music. While early musicians would undoubtedly be happy to claim it as their own, unfortunately there is very little surviving evidence about music from earlier times. Indeed, there are no music manuscripts from Western Europe at all. Ho…
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