89966 - History of Music of the Seventeenth-Eighteenth Century

Course Unit Page


This teaching activity contributes to the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals of the UN 2030 Agenda.

Quality education

Academic Year 2021/2022

Learning outcomes

By the end of this course students will know: the major musicians of the 17th and 18th centuries and their works, including the listening of their works; genres, styles and musical techniques of the 17th and 18th centuries music history; how to relate musical knowledge to philosophical, theological and literary culture in the historical-social background.


Course contents

Knowledge and comprehension of the History of music implies three different levels:

(1) Listening;

(2) Reading a score;

(3) Situating the musical art work into its aesthetic and historical context.

Special attention will be paid to music listening. Today, more than ever, in a noisy society invaded by often cheap, trivial music, there is a need to learn techniques for listening consciously. It is necessary to learn how to distinguish the different types of music, understand their aesthetic value and be aware of the compositional processes behind them. A guide to listening, deemed as a guide to the pleasure of music (and of the silence which music presupposes), has a high educational value: conscious listening activates the processes of perception, enhancing attention and heightening sensitivity; at the same time, it leads students to “listen to” silence as a privileged moment for reflection and for getting in touch with their inner sphere. In this perspective, History of music is at the base of Citizen education and an indispensable source of culture for Humanities students.

This course's lectures will treat, in summary, the following topics: in the first part, the seventeenth-century madrigal; Monteverdi and the seconda pratica; Monteverdi, the Seventh (Concerto) and the Eighth Book of madrigals (Madrigali guerrieri e amorosi); the music for solo voice: Sigismondo d’India and the Nuove musiche by Caccini; the opera before 1637 (Florence, Mantua, Rome) and Monteverdi, La favola d’Orfeo; the opera after 1637: the last Monteverdi and Cavalli; the opera in German countries and theatrical music in England and Spain; the tragédie lyrique: Jean-Baptiste Lully; Catholic devotional music and the historiae by Giacomo Carissimi; the music of the Lutheran Church (Heinrich Schütz) and sacred music as music of State (France and England); the instrumental music in the seventeenth century: Girolamo Frescobaldi; Arcangelo Corelli; in the second part, Zeno, Metastasio and Italian opera in seventeenth century, also in France and in other european countries; the instrumental music in the first half of the eighteenth century; sacred and devotional music in the eighteenth century; Georg Friedrich Händel; Johann Sebastian Bach: the instrumental music and the last “speculative” works; Johann Sebastian Bach: cantatas, oratorios, passions and other sacred music; the galant style and the empfindsamer style, and italian harpsichordists; the opera seria and the opera buffa in the second half of the eighteenth century, and Christoph Willibald Gluck; the Sturm und Drang and Franz Joseph Haydn; Wolfgang Amadé Mozart: the instrumental music; Wolfgang Amadé Mozart: the musical theatre and the sacred music.


- E. Surian, Manuale di Storia della musica, vol. I: Dalle origini alla musica vocale del Cinquecento, chap. 12-16 (6th rev. ed., Milan, Rugginenti, 2012), and vol. II: Dalla musica strumentale del Cinquecento al periodo classico (5th rev. ed., Milan, Rugginenti, 2010);

- Storia della musica, Turin, EDT, 1991, vol. 5: L. Bianconi, Il Seicento, chap. I (il madrigale e Monteverdi); chap. III, § 16 (le musiche devozionali cattoliche); chap. IV, § 19-26 (l’opera in musica nel Seicento); vol. 7: G. Pestelli, L’età di Mozart e Beethoven, chap. II, § 16-17 (l’opera in musica nella seconda metà del Settecento e Gluck); and chap. III, § 22-24 (Sturm und Drang e Haydn) and 26 (Mozart);

- Handout and related Appendix, with audio examples, available on Virtuale. For the audio examples, students can also visit the Musica e Spettacolo Library (Dipartimento delle Arti, via Barberia 4).

For the final examination, students are expected:

- to demonstrare their knowledge of the topics treated in the texts of history of music;

- to demonstrate their knowledge of the materials included in the Handout and related Appendix, available on Virtuale. Students may get some help by reading Consigli per l'ascolto e per l'esame della partitura, available on Virtuale;

- to demonstrate their knowledge of the rudiments of the Italian versification (cf. teaching materials, available on Virtuale);

- to report on a musicological event (lecture, meeting, conference, etc.) they have recently attended to (candidates shall bring along the relevant program);

- to report on at least five concerts or performances of Western art music they have recently attended to (candidates shall bring along the relevant concert programs).


N.B. (i): Students of Visual Arts, Cinema and Theatre can replace Surian and Storia della musica EDT with:

- M. Carrozzo - C. Cimagalli, Storia della musica occidentale, Roma, Armando, 2014, vol. II: Dal barocco al classicismo viennese, cap. 16-30 (without "approfondimenti").


Assessment methods

The final examination consists of a written test (cf. teaching materials on Virtuale) to be discussed then with the teacher; candidates may choose to complement the result of their written test with an interview. In any case, the written test, the discussion and the optional additional interview will take place within the same day.

The written test will consist in:

- a question, the answer to which shall contain the correct chronological order of three music compositions: 3 points;

- an open-answer question, requiring a short definition of a notion, genre, style, form (including metrical forms), or the description of a concert or musicological event: max 3 points;

- an open-answer question on the 17th century: max 8 points;

- an open-answer question on the 18th century: max 8 points;

- an open-answer question on the listening of an anthology piece (Handout and Appendix): max 8 points.


The time available to complete the test is 100 minutes. Candidates are required to have their institutional username (ex.: xxx@studio.unibo.it) and password to access the on-line exam platform.


N.B. (ii): Students who need to make up for exams are required to follow this program.

N.B. (iii): until the health emergency ceases, the written text will be replaced by an oral examination conducted in the same way (5 questions, same marks for each type of question).


It will be assessed as excellent the performance of those students achieving an organic vision of the course contents, the use of a proper specific language, a structural and historical-contextual understanding of the pieces studied, the originality of the reflection as well as the familiarity with the tools of analysis of the History of Music from the Seven-Eighteenth Century. It will be assessed as discrete the performance of those students showing mostly mechanical or mnemonic knowledge of the subject, not articulated synthesis and analysis capabilities, a correct but not always appropriate language, as well as a scholastic study of History of Music from the Seven-Eighteenth Century. It will be assessed as barely sufficient the performance of those students showing learning gaps, inappropriate language, lack of knowledge of the instruments of History of Music from the Seven-Eighteenth Century. It will be assessed as insufficient the performance of those students showing learning gaps, inappropriate language, no orientation within the recommended bibliography and inability to analyse the History of Music from the Seven-Eighteenth Centuries.

Teaching tools

Supplementary didactic activities

In a.y. 2021/22 the following didactic activities are planned (some promoted by the Department’s Center “La Soffitta”):

· Concerts in the DAMSLab/Auditorium, piazzetta P. P. Pasolini 5/b;

· Conferences.

A detailed calendar of these activities will be communicated during the course; more details are available at the information point of the Dipartimento delle Arti (via Barberia 4) and on the relevant web sites.



For Students of the old system (4- or 3-years) as well as of the new system (3 years-) DAMS:

Students who intend to write the thesis in History of music are required to agree with the supervisor an appropriate subject. They will prepare a short outline of the project (with bibliographic references) and submit it to the supervisor. Once the project has been approved, the supervisor will designate a second advisor (obligatory for the 4-year DAMS) and the student will start working on the thesis and will report periodically on the study progresses. If the supervisor is not reported about the research within a six-months period, she will be free to assign the same subject to a different candidate. The 3-years thesis is different from the old only for a smaller size (40-50 type-written pages of 30 lines per 60 characters a line).

The pre-requisite for being assigned a thesis is an in-depth knowledge of the lecture notes about the criteria for writing a musicological text prepared by the teacher and provided on student request.

Office hours

See the website of Elisabetta Pasquini