We will spend approximately 4 days on Section 3.
The Enlightenment influenced both art and politics. The baroque and neoclassical styles of art endured, while a more delicate style, called rococo, emerged.
The works of Bach, Handel, Haydn, and Mozart
represented one of the greatest periods in European music. Novels attracted a middle-class audience. The Enlightenment interested the absolutist rulers of Europe. However, only one, Joseph II of Austria, attempted far-reaching reforms based on Enlightenment ideas; they were largely a failure. The reforms of Catherine the Great of Russia and Frederick the Great of Prussia were far more limited. Territorial disputes in Europe and in the colonial empires of Britain and France produced the War of Austrian Succession, followed by the Seven Years' War. In the end, France lost India and most of North America, and Britain emerged as the world's greatest colonial power. Taking Notes Fill out this concept web to help you record information from this section. Add more circles as needed.
*Describe how the Enlightenment affected the arts and literature.
*Understand how philosophes influenced enlightened despots.
*Explain why Enlightenment ideas were slow to penetrate into the larger European scene, how individuals were censored from broadcasting their ideas, and were thus unable to reach most Europeans.
Terms, People, and Places
Frederick the Great
Catherine the Great
One of Mozart's most famous compositions is his Eine kleine Nachtmusik, (Allegro, 8:55).
We can listen to a short selection.
In-class assignment: How does the music make you feel?
That is, does it sound upbeat and happy, or, downbeat and sad?
In a short paragraph, describe the feelings and sentiment expressed in this selection.
You will hear one more selection from Mozart, The Magic Flute, to include in this paragraph after first hearing Eine kleine Nachtmusik.
Mozart, the Musical Genius As a young boy, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart astonished royalty with his musical talent. Although his life was relatively short, he composed more than 600 pieces of music. Many pieces embraced the spirit of the Enlightenment.
“Few have captured the spirit of the Enlightenment, its intellectual and social agenda, as has Mozart in his opera, The Magic Flute, . . .—Isaac Kramnick, historian
The Magic Flute, 5:30
[It] is a series of variations on the triumph of light over darkness, of sun over moon, of day over night, of reason, tolerance, and love over passion, hate, and revenge.”
In-class assignment: Does The Magic Flute evoke a different emotion than Eine kleine Nachtmusik?
What is the difference?
As Enlightenment ideas spread across Europe, what cultural and political changes took place? Paris, France, the heart of the Enlightenment, drew many intellectuals and others eager to debate new ideas. Reforms proposed one evening became the talk of the town the next day. Enlightenment ideas flowed from France, across Europe, and beyond. Everywhere, thinkers examined traditional beliefs and customs in the light of reason and found them flawed. Even some absolute monarchs experimented with Enlightenment ideas, although they drew back when changes threatened the established way of doing things.
New Ideas Challenge Society
Enlightenment ideas spread quickly through many levels of society. Educated people all over Europe eagerly read not only Diderot’s Encyclopedia but also the small, inexpensive pamphlets that printers churned out on a broad range of issues. More and more, people saw that reform was necessary in order to achieve a just society.
During the Middle Ages, most Europeans had accepted without question a society based on divine-right rule, a strict class system, and a belief in heavenly reward for earthly suffering.
In the Age of Reason, such ideas seemed unscientific and irrational. A just society, Enlightenment thinkers taught, should ensure social justice and happiness in this world. Not everyone agreed with this idea of replacing the values that existed, however.
Writers Face Censorship
Most, but not all, government and church authorities felt they had a sacred duty to defend the old order. They believed that God had set up the old order. To protect against the attacks of the Enlightenment, they waged a war of censorship, or restricting access to ideas and information.
They banned and burned books and imprisoned writers. To avoid censorship,
philosophes and writers like Montesquieu and Voltaire sometimes disguised their ideas in works of fiction. In the Persian Letters, Montesquieu used two fictional Persian travelers, named Usbek and Rica, to mock French society.
The hero of Voltaire’s satirical novel Candide, published in 1759, travels across Europe and even to the Americas and the Middle East in search of “the best of all possible worlds.” Voltaire slyly uses the tale to expose the corruption and hypocrisy of European society.
Jonathan Swift published the satirical Gulliver’s Travels in 1726. Here, an illustration from the book depicts a bound Gulliver and the Lilliputians, who are six-inch-tall, bloodthirsty characters. Although Gulliver’s Travels satirizes political life in eighteenth-century England, it is still a classic today.
Arts and Literature Reflect New Ideas In the 1600s and 1700s, the arts evolved to meet changing tastes. As in earlier periods, artists and composers had to please their patrons, the men and women who commissioned works from them or gave them jobs. From Grandeur to Charm In the age of Louis XIV, courtly art and architecture were either in the Greek and Roman tradition or in a grand, ornate style known as baroque. Baroque paintings were huge, colorful, and full of excitement. They glorified historic battles or the lives of saints. Such works matched the grandeur of European courts at that time. Louis XV and his court led a much less formal lifestyle than Louis XIV. Architects and designers reflected this change by developing the rococo style. Rococo art moved away from religion and, unlike the heavy splendor of the baroque, was lighter, elegant, and charming. Rococo art in salons was believed to encourage the imagination. For example, we can consider: "Rococo Art." We will examine this art in more detail (see below). Introduction Rococo art was an important element of French culture during the ancien regime. The style is highly suggestive of the attitudes and atmosphere in the royal court during the period leading up to the French Revolution. In this activity you will read about four rococo painters and how they experienced the shift from rococo to neoclassicism, and from the ancien regime to the era of the French Revolution.
Destination Title: "Ancien Regime Rococo" Directions Start at the Ancien Regime Rococo Web site.
* Read the introductory section, taking notes as you go.
* Click on the links to read about the rococo artists François Boucher and Jean-Honore Fragonard.
After considering the link, "Ancien Regime Rococo," we can pick up the lesson from the previous material. Furniture and tapestries featured delicate shells and flowers, and more pastel colors were used. Portrait painters showed noble subjects in charming rural settings, surrounded by happy servants and pets.
Although this style was criticized by the philosophes for its superficiality, it had a vast audience in the upper class and with the growing middle class as well.
The Enlightenment Inspires Composers
Operas originated in Florence, Italy, in the seventeenth century. First called drama per musica, or drama through music, these musical performances typically involve large casts and elaborate sets and costumes. When Italian operas were performed in France, they emphasized glory and love, and included ballet and lavish stage settings to please the French court. Handel, Mozart, Verdi, Wagner, and Puccini composed some of the world’s most famous operas.
La Scala, Milan, Mid-1800s
Empress Maria Theresa of Austria, whose country ruled Italy by the early 1700s, founded Milan’s La Scala (background image), one of Europe’s oldest and most celebrated opera houses. Built in 1776, this opera house still showcases the great operas of the nineteenth century, including composer Giuseppe Verdi’s masterpieces, Aida and La Traviata. Verdi’s first opera, Oberto, was performed at La Scala, and he was the beloved house composer for many years. After years of care and renovation, the interior of La Scala retains its elegance as operatic performances continue to entertain audiences today.
The “Three Tenors” (from left), Placido Domingo, José Carreras, and Luciano Pavarotti, are some of the best-known opera singers of the modern era. In the hierarchy of the opera stage, the tenor is the highest male voice and usually plays the part of the hero. The female lead is typically sung by a soprano, which is the highest female voice. Singers in the lower ranges (mezzo-soprano and alto for women, baritone and bass for men) generally play villainous or comic roles.
The new Enlightenment ideals led composers and musicians to develop new forms of music. There was a transition in music, as well as art, from the baroque style to rococo. An elegant style of music known as “classical” followed. Ballets and opera—plays set to music—were performed at royal courts, and opera houses sprang up from Italy to England. Before this era, only the social elite could afford to commission musicians to play for them. In the early to mid-1700s, however, the growing middle class could afford to pay for concerts to be performed publicly. Among the towering musical figures of the era was Johann Sebastian Bach. A devout German Lutheran, Bach wrote beautiful religious works for organ and choirs. He also wrote sonatas for violin and harpsichord. Another German-born composer, George Frideric Handel, spent much of his life in England. There, he wrote Water Music and other pieces for King George I, as well as more than 30 operas. His most celebrated work, the Messiah, combines instruments and voices and is often performed at Christmas and Easter.
Handel - Messiah - Hallelujah Chorus, 3:27
From Andre Rieu's "Live From Radio City Music Hall" in New York City 2004, with the Johann Strauss Orchestra and the Harlem Gospel Choir.
In-class assignment: consider different musical styles in regards to their subject. Does Haydn's composition suggest a bird? How does it make you feel?
Haydn, The Bird, 4th movement, (3:34)
Composer Franz Joseph Haydn
In-class, now in contrast, let hear a song about a bird but in a different style, a rock style from 1963. How and in what way does it differ from Haydn?
Trashmen, Surfin' Bird (1963), 5:05
Surfin' Bird" is a song performed by American surf rock band The Tra shme n. It is a combination of two R&B hits by The Rivingto ns, "Papa-Oom-Mow-Mow" and "The B ird's th e Word" and was released in 1963, along with an album of the same name, becoming popular in the Vietnam war era.
In-class assignment: here is one more example of a traditional song updated in a contemporary version and a rock version. Identify the differences in the versions. In the Toys version, listen closely to the melody and hear if you can hear it repeated in the second version.
The Toys - Lovers Concerto, 2:45
A Lover's Concerto (Minuet in C major) on iPlay CG (Most Playable iPhone / iPod Touch music app), 2:15
This composition is actually based the Minuet in G Major from J. S. Bach's Anna Magdelena Notebook, 1:30.
Music is a cultural product that reflects and reveals the time in which it is composed, adapted, and modified. We can interpret the cultural products and thus understand the history.
In 1965, this music was used for a pop song called "A Lover's Concerto" recorded by The Toys which became a hit. The minuet is from 1725 Notebook for Anna Magdalena Bach that Bach prepared for his wife Anna Magdalena. It has been attributed to J.S. Bach but now thought to be by Christian Petzold.
Background on Haydn
Haydn was one of the most important figures in the development of classical music. He helped develop forms for the string quartet and the symphony. Haydn had a close friendship with another famous composer, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. Mozart was a child prodigy who gained instant celebrity status as a composer and performer. His brilliant operas, graceful symphonies, and moving religious music helped define the new style of composition. Although he died in poverty at age 35, he produced an enormous amount of music during his lifetime. Mozart’s musical legacy thrives today. Infographic Rococo Reaction
The Novel Takes Shape
By the 1700s, literature developed new forms and a wider audience. Middle-class readers, for example, liked stories about their own times told in straightforward prose.
One result was an outpouring of novels, or long works of prose fiction. English novelists wrote many popular stories.
Daniel Defoe wrote Robinson Crusoe, an exciting tale about a sailor shipwrecked on a tropical island. This novel is still well known today.
In a novel called Pamela, Samuel Richardson used a series of letters to tell a story about a servant girl. This technique was adopted by other authors of the period.
How did the arts and literature change as Enlightenment ideas spread?
Enlightened Despots Embrace New Ideas
The courts of Europe became enlivened as philosophes tried to persuade rulers to adopt their ideas. The philosophes hoped to convince the ruling classes that reform was necessary. Some monarchs did accept Enlightenment ideas.
Others still practiced absolutism, a political doctrine in which a monarch had seemingly unlimited power.
Those that did accept these new ideas became enlightened despots, or absolute rulers who used their power to bring about political and social change.
Map Enlightened Rulers in the Eighteenth Century
Go online to, PHSchool.com, for an audio guided tour and related questions.
The text in the audio is on the page as well.
Enter web Code: nap-1721, in each of the two boxes listed there.
Easy-to-Use Web Codes Summary:
To use a Web Code: 1. Go to PHSchool.com. 2. Enter a particular Web Code. 3. Click on GO!
There are three questions there, listed below:
Although the center of the Enlightenment was in France, the ideas of reform spread to the rulers of Austria, Prussia, and Russia.
1. Locate (a) Paris (b) Prussia (c) Austria
Which enlightened despot ruled farthest from Paris?
3. Draw Conclusions According to the map, approximately how much of Europe was affected by the Enlightenment?
Frederick II, known as Frederick the Great, exerted extremely tight control over his subjects during his reign as king of Prussia from 1740 to 1786.
Still, he saw himself as the “first servant of the state,” with a duty to work for the common good. Frederick openly praised Voltaire’s work and invited several of the French intellectuals of the age to Prussia.
Some of his first acts as king were to reduce the use of torture and allow a free press. Most of Frederick’s reforms were directed at making the Prussian government more efficient.
To do this, he reorganized the government’s civil service and simplified laws. Frederick also tolerated religious differences, welcoming victims of religious persecution.
“In my kingdom,” he said, “everyone can go to heaven in his own fashion.”
His religious tolerance and also his disdain for torture showed Frederick’s genuine belief in enlightened reform.
In the end, however, Frederick desired a stronger monarchy and more power for himself.
Catherine the Great Studies Philosophes’ Works
Catherine II, or Catherine the Great, empress of Russia, read the works of the philosophes and exchanged letters with Voltaire and Diderot.
She praised Voltaire as someone who had “fought the united enemies of humankind: superstition, fanaticism, ignorance, trickery.” Catherine believed in the Enlightenment ideas of equality and liberty.
Catherine, who became empress in 1762, toyed with implementing Enlightenment ideas.
Early in her reign, she made some limited reforms in law and government. Catherine abolished torture and established religious tolerance in her lands.
She granted nobles a charter of rights and criticized the institution of serfdom. Still, like Frederick in Prussia, Catherine did not intend to give up power. In the end, her main political contribution to Russia proved to be an expanded empire.
Joseph II Continues Reform
In Austria, Hapsburg empress Maria Theresa ruled as an absolute monarch. Although she did not push for reforms, she is considered to be an enlightened despot by some historians because she worked to improve peasants’ way of life.
The most radical of the enlightened despots was her son and successor, Joseph II. Joseph was an eager student of the Enlightenment, and he traveled in disguise among his subjects to learn of their problems.
Fill in a concept web like the one below with information about the enlightened despots and their contributions.
Joseph continued the work of Maria Theresa, who had begun to modernize Austria’s government. Despite opposition, Joseph supported religious equality for Protestants and Jews in his Catholic empire.
He ended censorship by allowing a free press and attempted to bring the Catholic Church under royal control. He sold the property of many monasteries that were not involved in education or care of the sick and used the proceeds to support those that were.
Joseph even abolished serfdom. Like many of his other reforms, however, this measure was canceled after his death.
Why were the philosophes interested in sharing their beliefs with European rulers?
Lives of the Majority Change Slowly
Most Europeans were untouched by either courtly or middle-class culture. They remained what they had always been—peasants living in small rural villages. Echoes of serfdom still remained throughout Europe despite advances in Western Europe.
Their culture, based on centuries-old traditions, changed slowly. By the late 1700s, however, radical ideas about equality and social justice finally seeped into peasant villages.
While some peasants eagerly sought to topple the old order, others resisted efforts to bring about change. In the 1800s, war and political upheaval, as well as changing economic conditions, would transform peasant life in Europe.
Important Composers included in this section: Bach, Handel, and Haydn, among others.
Music is available on Songza.
Bach, Air on the G String (5:21)
Haydn, Deutschland Ueber Alles (3:35), and a bit of trivia about this composition.
Do you know which 20th century German political group adopted this song to represent their movement and point of view?
Traditional German music was transformed for political and propaganda purposes.
During this time, why did change occur slowly for most Europeans?
References: Abuses inherited as a result of a controlling aristocracy may be seen clearly in this work. Whigs and Hunters: The Origin of the Black Act by E.P. Thompson
Pop Art Goes Mozart, Tornados, single released March 1966, 2:33
Falco, "Rock me Amadeus, 4:09