Robert Greenberg

Historian, Composer, Pianist, Speaker, Author

Archive for Jean-Jacques Rousseau

Music History Monday: Jean-Jacques Rousseau and Enlightened Opera

240 years ago today – on July 2, 1778 – the Swiss-born philosopher, novelist, educator, music theorist and critic, and composer Jean-Jacques Rousseau died at age 66 in the township of Ermenonville, roughly 25 miles north-east of Paris. Rousseau was one of the greatest and most significant thinkers ever born to our species. According to Will and Ariel Durant, writing in their book Rousseau and Revolution, Rousseau: “transformed education, elevated the morals of France[!], inspired the Romantic movement and the French Revolution, influenced the philosophy of Kant and Schopenhauer, the plays of Schiller, the novels of Goethe, the poems of Wordsworth, Byron, and Shelley, the socialism of Marx, the ethics of Tolstoy, and, altogether, had more effect upon posterity than any other writer or thinker of that eighteenth century in which writers were more influential than they had ever been before.” Rousseau also helped to redefine the role and substance of opera at a time when opera – like movies and television today – was not just a form of entertainment but both a reflection and a driver of the political and social values of its time. A little background Opera was invented in Florence Italy around 1600 as a […]

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