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Contents

Music from the Earliest Notations to the Sixteenth Century

CHAPTER 16 The End of Perfection

Palestrina, Byrd, and the Final Flowering of Imitative Polyphony

Chapter:
CHAPTER 16 The End of Perfection
Source:
MUSIC FROM THE EARLIEST NOTATIONS TO THE SIXTEENTH CENTURY
Author(s):
Richard Taruskin

Richard Taruskin

Before turning our attention to the many other ingredients in the seething cauldron that was sixteenth-century music, it will make sense to pursue the ars perfecta to the end. For indeed, the perfected art had an end, and it was near at hand. It had to be, for anything perfect, in this world, is doomed. Perfection cannot change, yet nothing in human history stands still. The only way to preserve the perfected art was to seal it off from history. This was done, but the price was high. The ars perfecta, as we shall see, still exists, but not in a way that matters anymore. In the sixteenth century it claimed all the greatest musical minds in Catholic Christendom. Later, it harbored nonentities, and the church that maintained its artificial life-support system gradually lost its significance as a creative site for music. The sixteenth century was the last in which the music of the Catholic church made history. From then on it was history.

Citation (MLA):
Richard Taruskin. "Chapter 16 The End of Perfection." The Oxford History of Western Music. Oxford University Press. New York, USA. n.d. Web. 16 Apr. 2014. <http://www.oxfordwesternmusic.com/view/Volume1/actrade-9780195384819-chapter-016.xml>.
Citation (APA):
Taruskin, R. (n.d.). Chapter 16 The End of Perfection. In Oxford University Press, Music from the Earliest Notations to the Sixteenth Century. New York, USA. Retrieved 16 Apr. 2014, from http://www.oxfordwesternmusic.com/view/Volume1/actrade-9780195384819-chapter-016.xml
Citation (Chicago):
Richard Taruskin. "Chapter 16 The End of Perfection." In Music from the Earliest Notations to the Sixteenth Century, Oxford University Press. (New York, USA, n.d.). Retrieved 16 Apr. 2014, from http://www.oxfordwesternmusic.com/view/Volume1/actrade-9780195384819-chapter-016.xml
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