composition, dictionary, Dresden, engravings, harmony, Jean Philippe Rameau, Jean-Jacques Rousseau, music, opera, orchestra, Paris, Romantic
DICTIONNAIRE DE MUSIQUE…
Jean-Jacques Rousseau (1712-1778)
Paris: Chez la veuve Duchesne, 1768
Jean-Jacques Rousseau compiled this dictionary as an act of overt, radical departure from previous dissertations on music such as Jean Philippe Rameau’s rigid principles of harmony. Rousseau stressed the need for spontaneity in the composition and performance of music. For Rousseau, music was not to be an imitation of sound in nature, but a reflection of the composer’s feelings in an attempt to touch the audience in a similar sentiment. He valued vocal over purely instrumental works. Rousseau emphasized the moral power of music. Dictionnaire was instantly popular and remained so well into the Romantic period. The text is addended with engravings, including Rousseau’s celebrated plan of the opera orchestra at Dresden.
Mary Johnson said:
Interesting that Rousseau emphasized the moral power of music. He apparently lacked the moral power to care for his own children. His life story shows that he had some rather strange ideas about child rearing, which were considered to be a classic theory and taught in the finest institutions. However, when it came to his own children, I have read that he abandoned them. A talented man, for sure, and a thoughtful one, but a family man, he was not.
Carol Sandberg said: