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The Musical Rhetoric of the Polish Baroque

The Musical Rhetoric of the Polish Baroque


Tomasz Jasinski

This book looks at the rich means of text interpretation in seventeenth and eighteenth century Polish music, a relatively unknown phenomenon. The works of old Polish masters exhibit many ingenious and beautiful solutions in musical oration, which will appeal to wide circles of lovers and experts of old music. One of the fundamental components of baroque musical poetics was music-rhetorical figures, which were the main means of shaping expression – the base and quintessence of musical rhetoric. It was by means of figures that composers built the musical interpretation of a verbal text, developing pictorial, emphatic, onomatopoeic, symbolic, and allegorical structures that rendered emotions and meanings carried by the verbal level of a musical piece.
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Chapter 7 The European Context


The images of Polish musical rhetoric we have sketched in the previous chapters represent merely a small fragment of the wide European panorama. The rhetorical phenomenon emerged from international compositional practice and its accompanying aesthetic thought. It was one of the many branches that grew from the trunk of the Renaissance–baroque poetics and contributed to the colourful and fascinating tree of figures. In our reflection, we must take that perspective into account and look at that Polish “branch.” Does it look like the other parts of that “tree”? Does it display individual beauty in their context or does it remain in their shadow? This, overview, will mostly be based on a comparative analysis, organised in three parts corresponding to the three main thematic areas.

The first circle of comparison shall focus on foreign composers active in Poland, both those residing in the country for an extended period and contributing to Polish music life, and those who only had occasional contact with Poland but left their mark—both as authors of compositions that enriched the Polish repertoire and as conductors and instrumentalists. This group will also include composers of unclear nationality, whose identity is usually determined by their place of birth, education, or early activity. The works of those composers notably contributed to the Old Polish repertoire, serving as a direct context for Polish music and providing it with vital stylistic impulses, as well as music–rhetorical inspirations. Therefore, we need to verify how the art...

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