(...) In trying to define the nature and function of music, man's thought has always gravitated towards the sphere of pure play. Even if this primary fact that the essential nature of all musical activity is play is not always explicitly stated, it is implicitly understood everywhere. In the more primitive phases of culture the various properties of music were distinguished and defined with a certain crude naivete. People expressed the rapture caused by sacred music in terms of heavenly choirs, celestial spheres, etc. Apart from its religious function music was then praised chiefly as an edifying pastime, a delectable artifice, or simply a jolly entertainment. It was only quite late that music was appreciated and openly acknowledged as a highly personal thing, the source of some of our deepest emotional experiences, and one of life's greatest blessings. For a long time its function was purely social and ludic, and though the technical ability of the executant was greatly admired the musicians themselves were looked down upon and their art was ranked among the menial occupations. Aristotle calls them low people, and vagrants they remained-on a par with jugglers, tumblers, mummers, etc.-almost up to our own time. In the 17th century a prince kept his musicians as he might keep his stables, and a court orchestra was a thoroughly domestic affair. Under Louis XIV the musigue du roi required the office of a permanent composer. The king's 'vingt-quatre violons' were stage-players at the same time. One of the musicians, Bocan, was a dancing-master too. Everybody knows that even Haydn still wore livery at the Esterhazys and received his orders daily from the Prince. On the one hand the aristocratic public of those days must have been great connoisseurs, but their reverence for the majesty of art and their respect for its executants were, on the other hand, excessively small. Concert manners as we understand them to-day, with their absolute sacramental silence and magical awe of the conductor, are of very recent date. Prints of musical performances in the 18th century show the audience engaged in elegant conversation. Critical interruptions aimed at the orchestra or conductor were a regular feature of musical life in France even thirty years ago. Music was still largely a divertissement and what was most admired about it was virtuosity. (...) Johan Huizinga HOMO LUDENS
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