[Marxism] Comedy as commodity

Lance Murdoch lancemurdoch at gmail.com
Sun Nov 12 18:56:34 MST 2006


On the subject of art as commodity, a music professor explained to me
today how the transition from feudalism to capitalism around the time
of the French Revolution had a direct effect on music.  During the
Baroque and early Classical period, aristocrats could afford to keep a
composer on the payroll, and could also afford a full orchestra to
play their music.  As the 18th century went into the 19th century,
this became less and less feasible.  Haydn was probably the last
composer covered completely by an aristocratic patron.  After him,
Mozart had some problems with regards to this, Beethoven had even
larger problems with regards to this, and after him the system pretty
much completely broke down.

After this the only patrons were really the bourgeoisie, none whom at
this time had the funds to themselves pay for a composer and full
orchestra.  However, they all had a piano in the house and wanted
their children to know how to play it.  Art songs which could be done
with a piano and one voice became popular, and composers could make
money selling their sheet music which would be played in bourgeois
homes.  The transition from Classical music to Romantic music is
almost perfectly correlated to the transition from feudalism to
capitalism.  Beethoven is seen as the transitional artist, and his
music began changing as not only the political scene changed, but as
his direct method of earning a living changed.




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