Thursday, November 20, 2008

Baroque - In Our Time podcast review

BBC's In Our Time discussed today The Baroque. Much of the program was spent on defining the Baroque. If at all it was supposed to render some additional meaning, somewhat tentatively it was maintained Baroque was an expression of the counter-reformation. And with the counter-reformation Baroque came to its end.

Hence, most of the program engages in discussing the examples and the characteristics of Baroque. Somehow this indulged mainly in discussion of architecture and the visual arts. At this point, Baroque seems to start in Italy, but is taken over by the French of Louis XIV and continues in Habsburg Vienna and Prague when it eventually peters out in Bavaria and Scandinavia. If at all music is discussed, opera is mentioned and then mostly because of the scale of it. Because that is what Baroque is, wherever you find it: ornamental, huge, indulgent and impressive. My first association with Barogue is with music. Handel for example (listen to inserted player - IE only).

In the end, Baroque kept striking me as a pre-romanticism, both in its exaltation as well as in the fact that Baroque was much less self-conscious. Oddly, during the Romantic age, Baroque comes to be defined - so I learned on the show. Another fact that stuck me, was that the anti-thesis of Baroque, if it was the austere Protestantism, or Jansenism or the rationalism of Descartes, was always around. As if Baroque and Romanticism are one side, an exuberant, exalted, inspirational side of the Western identity throughout the ages and it is always juxtaposed by the sober, rationalist, restrained side.

More In Our Time:
Simon Bolivar,
The Translation Movement,

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