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Burney, A History of Music: Introduction

By Alex Drews, Micah Simmons, and Leo Zigmond

Overall Description

A History of Music, Volumes 2-4, is a collection of historical analyses written in the eighteenth century by Charles Burney.  These writings detail how an eighteenth century musicologist would interpret and describe history.

A History of Music


A History of Music

One of the more interesting items in the Riemenschneider Bach Institute (RBI) is A History of Music Vols. 2-4 by Charles Burney. This collection was written and self-published by Burney. The RBI acquired these items from Hans Theodore David, a German-American musicologist. This multi-volume anthology provides an analysis of the progression of Western music starting in the Medieval period up to the author’s present time of the late eighteenth century. Volume I was published in 1776, Volume II in 1782, and Volumes III and IV in 1789. The anthology shows what an eighteenth-century musicologist would have thought was relevant to include in an historical text.