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The Roots of Classical Music Pt 3

On January 2, 1567, to mark the anniversary of the surrender of Granada, Spain issued a decree giving the Moors three years to definitively abandon written and spoken Arabic, forbidding the use of Henna and Moorish names and ordering them to change the way they dress. Moreover, this decree included the demolition of all public and private baths. Because the church deemed bathing un-Christian behavior. This measure, which came into effect immediately, constituted a violation of the principles and the terms of the capitulation, under which the Moors were allowed to retain their property, their customs, their religion, and their religious system. But for many it was an excellent way for the church to steal the remainder of the Moors wealth.

Given the severity of this approach, the religion, culture, and traditions of the Moors were doomed to disappear altogether. From that point, the Moors realized that nothing could save their religion and that no agreement would be honored by a people who valued money and power over everything, even God. They believed nothing could save their way of life except an armed struggle. When all else fails, force prevails.

In this hostile environment, the Moors began to prepare their desperate response. On Christmas Eve 1568, they launched the uprising of the Alpujarras, which lasted until 1571. During the uprising, this minority attacked all symbols of the oppression of the Spanish state: Priests, monks, nuns, churches, and holy images. After a struggle that lasted nearly three years, and because of the little support they received from the Turks and Morocco that seemingly had embraced their European masters, the Old Christians decimated them and deported them en masse within Spain. Following this mass deportation, the Moors were stripped of all their lands and all their goods were sold or leased to the “Old Christians.” The expulsion of the Moors took place between 1609 and 1614. Within a five-year span, the new Spanish state expelled between 300,000 and 700,000 Moors. The majority of those remaining settled in Morocco, and to a lesser extent in Algeria, Tunisia, and Turkey.

After the uprising of the Alpujarras, many churchmen such as Torrijos, Martín de Salavatierra, Alonso Gutierrez, etc., following the failure of the assimilation programmed against the Moorish minority, advocated that they be subjected to a genocide. They proposed doing so not through physical elimination but through other, more subtle and “less violent” and expensive means. To achieve the progressive elimination and expulsion of the Moors, they considered a series of inhumane measures.

Among the measures aimed at curbing the reproduction of the Moors, some clergymen advocated the prohibition of marriages between them, which would lead inevitably to celibacy and the decrease in their number. Others advocated going even further by simply advocating their castration.

After the deportation and dispersal of the Moors in Spain, the only large Moorish community that still worried the Spanish Crown was that of Valencia. After more than three quarters of a century during which this community somehow survived the ferocity of the inquisitors and Old Christians, it was their turn to be killed, persecuted, and compelled by force off their land. This time informed some of the greatest pieces of classical opera. yet against the background of the Spanish inquisition, Don Carlos is Verdi's blackest work. Its rich colors are glimpsed out of the darkness like a Velázquez painting. It is also his longest, though the essence of the story is simple: a cautionary tale about fomenting rebellion and falling in love with one's stepmother in a society that condemns heretics to the bonfire. In the most general sense, classical music, when it was written actually was the pop music of that time period.

Mozart was born in Austria, but there is significant evidence that he had Moorish ancestry. This is supported by his physical appearance, which was described as “dark and swarthy again meaning dark skinned.” Furthermore, his family name, “Mozart,” is derived from the German word “moor,” which means “black.” There is also evidence that Mozart was exposed to Moorish culture during his travels.

Also In 1769, he visited the city of Bologna, which was then under Papal was dangerous to be associated with Moors during this time While there, he met a group of Moorish musicians who were performing at the local court. This experience may have influenced his later composition, “The Marriage of Figaro,” which includes a number of Moorish musical elements. Whether or not Mozart was actually of Moorish descent, there is no doubt that he was influenced by Moorish culture. This is evident in his music, which is characterized by its beauty, technical mastery, and emotional power.

Mozart once had a violin duel according to legend with Joseph Bologne Chevalier de Saint George who was known as the “Black” Mozart as it was common for many people of the time to hide their Black ancestry even though many of the finest families received their wealth from their Moorish ancestors that assignation did not go to Mozart despite the rampant rumors of his lineage.

Joseph Bologne, Chevalier de Saint-George (25 December 1745 – 9 June 1799) was a French virtuoso violinist, conductor and master composer. A Creole free man of color, the son of a slave master and his slave servant, he is considered the first classical composer of African descent to receive widespread critical acclaim. He composed string quartets, sonatas, violin concertos, symphonies, sinfonia concertantes and stage works (opéra comique) of exceptional quality and his work and playing was often compared to that of Mozart. Saint-Georges was also a champion fencer known as“ the god of arms” for his skill with the sword ,being a man of intellect as well as an athlete he was quite popular with the women of the time. He also counted Queen of France Marie Antoinette as one of his personal friends.

Saint-Georges was born in the French colony of Guadeloupe. His father, Georges Bologne de Saint-Georges, was a wealthy, white planter, and his mother was one of his slaves. At the age of seven, he was sent to France for his education but being the child of a slave when his father died he received no money or land. As a young man he won a fencing contest and was appointed "gendarme de la garde du roi" by the French king, Louis XVI. Having received music and musical composition lessons, he joined the orchestra Le Concert des Amateurs; he succeeded Gossec as the orchestra's conductor in 1773 and became very prosperous.

In 1776, Saint-Georges was proposed to be the next conductor of the Paris Opera, but was denied this role when some of the performers objected to being led by a person of color. Forcing him to shift his focus to composing operas. In 1781, he joined a new orchestra Le Concert de la Loge Olympique. By 1785, he had stopped composing instrumental works altogether. Upon the outbreak of the French Revolution in 1789, Saint-Georges left for England but returned shortly thereafter to France, joined the Garde Nationale, but even his duties couldn’t prevent him from giving concerts to feed the poor and fund the revolution. He built an orchestra and reportedly gave concerts every week.

In 1794, he became colonel of the first cavalry brigade of “men of color” – the St. Georges’ Legion – which was also the first all black regiment in Europe. He lead 1,000 volunteers of color and halted what became known as “The Treason of Dumouriez”. Because of his friendship with Marie Antoinette and the Duke of Orléans despite his brave deeds, he became a victim of the Reign of Terror, and was imprisoned for almost a year Saint Georges was a contemporary of Mozart and has sometimes been dubbed the “Black Mozart” Saint-Georges' life and career are the subject of the 2022 biographical film Chevalier, where he is portrayed by Kelvin Harrison Jr.

Nowadays we study everything written in that era, whether it was a folk song or a symphony, as though it were classical music. Mozart would probably be pretty confused to see The Magic Flute performed in opera houses—that just wasn’t its purpose. Bach wrote the vast majority of his music for church every Sunday—this wasn’t intended as classical music, it was church music. But if you were an average citizen of Leipzig during the early-mid 18th century, you probably heard dozens of Bach premieres, and if you were basically anywhere in Germany at the same time you were hearing new classical music composed for church that’s less famous today.

Sure, not everyone could afford a ticket to hear Liszt play, but there was a ton of popular opera for the masses, for instance. In Italy, during the Risorgimento, the term Viva VERDI (as in the composer—but also an acronym for “Viva Vittorio Emanuele, Re d’Italia”) became a rallying cry for reunification, and people considered Va Pensiero a kind of anthem of populism.

Musical engagement was also just a different thing before the advent of recording technology. Of course there was plenty of great music that never got to the masses (btw, this is more complicated but no less true today), but whole families would sit around with musical scores and play/sing through them after dinner. Not just wealthy families—this was popular entertainment. What they chose to play/sing through was definitely socially stratified, but it’s pretty easy to make that argument with today’s popular and art music as well. what we call “classical music” is really just orchestra music from western Europe in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. The works we call “classical” all belong to one particular genre of music from one particular part of the world and one particular time period. It is also worth reminding everyone that the music we today are so accustomed to calling “classical” really is not very old at all.

Beethoven died in 1827, which was not even two hundred years ago. Meanwhile, the oldest surviving musical composition with musical notation that we can interpret is Hurrian Hymn No. 6 “To Nikkal,” which was written sometime around 1400 BC. The “Hurrian Hymn” is the earliest known song to be recorded in writing, dating to around the 13th century BCE. The text of this hymn is concerned with the promotion of fertility. It refers to the making of offerings and libations to the Sumerian moon goddess, Nikkal. They the European classical pieces are beautiful works, but we should not pretend like they are the end-all be-all of all music. They were greatly influenced by those who came before and each brought a piece of themselves to the puzzle that we now can see and hear a little more clearly as the ROOTS of Classical Music.


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