Marie Antoinette Online Forum

Tempo di Menuetto
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Author:  cherecoeur [ Wed Nov 04, 2009 11:06 pm ]
Post subject:  Tempo di Menuetto

For my fellow Marie-Antoinette/18th Century enthusiasts whose interest may have begun with an ear for the music of her time, possibly the most ubiquitous musical form was the minuet dance form (menuet, menué, menuetto). With a vogue that lasted probably longer than any other dance in history (from rustic origins to polite society), it was beginning to wear a little thin by the end of the 18th Century; however, the dance form in instrumental music has kept it alive unabated down to our own time. Now to the correct dance tempo: the revival of interest in the actual dance, along with the return of period instruments and forgotten composers, it has returned it to the stage (perhaps ballroom,too, among connoisseurs). The dance never left the instrumental repertory of course, since almost every symphony and chamber work contained at least one. I have read many resources that state the tempo of the minuet in instrumental music was taken faster than the tempo of the danced minuet. When you listen to a Mozart or Haydn symphony, the most readily available in recordings and live programming, don't assume that the minuet movement is merely a dance thrown in nor that the conductor has lost his mind because it is played fast (faster than a waltz often). Beethoven famously substituted a "scherzo" movement for the dance, yet still in 3/4 meter. And of course, that means fast. / Like all matters related to "correct" interpretation, even the 18th Century chroniclers and theorists had to surrender to the reality that "taste" ultimately dictates these matters, and I would argue that we should follow their advice. After all, we must have been born with eyes and ears already made and ready to be drawn into that world. So I feel confident that even today the "taste" written about 200 years ago still exists and is reliable.

Author:  Rosalie [ Sun Nov 08, 2009 11:46 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Tempo di Menuetto

Thank you for your interesting post, Cherecoeur!
Can I just correct the spelling of the Italian? It's minuetto, with an "i"...which is pronounced like the English "e". :rainbow:

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