Count Francesco Algarotti, Jean-Etienne Liotard, 1745
Count Francesco Algarotti, Jean-Etienne Liotard, 1745. Public Domain.

Om föreläsningen (på engelska)

The lecture is a systematic examination of the contribution of the Venetian philosopher and critic Francesco Algarotti to eighteenth-century culture. Traditionally, scholars have viewed his occupation with musical matters as being confined to the essay Saggio sopra l’opera in musica (1755), in which he figures as the most categorical proponent of the emerging neoclassical movement. In fact, this attitude is much more deeply integrated in his oeuvre, however, which mirrors the wide-ranging intellectual interests of the Age of Enlightenment. Algarotti’s vision of opera as “one regular and harmonious whole, whose beauty should result from all the parts being properly adjusted together” is an example of his ideological syncretism.

Algarotti’s “performances” of Newton’s optical experimentum crucis played a central role in the intellectual life of Northern Italy in the 1720s and 1730s. His bestseller, Il Newtonianismo per le Dame (1737), aimed to popularize optical ideas that prevailed at the time. He applied new scientific methods and discoveries not only to various natural phenomena but also to the world of the arts, maintaining that he had “brought into Italy a new Mode of cultivating the Mind.”

Algarotti explored synaesthetic theories of light and pitch, praising the consanguinity of the “system of Light and Sound, these two new brothers in Natural Philosophy,” and the physical, cognitive-psychological, and expressive dimensions of synaesthesia. His ideal of the unity of nature, which reveals its universal laws in various ways – in optics, acoustics, and other disciplines – was crucial for those music theories of his day that dealt with pitch and tonal-harmonic systems.

These theories represent a coalescence of theoretical observation, practical knowledge, and emotional experience, which reflects the all-embracing impact of the new scientific paradigm on music.

About the Lecturer

Bella Brover-Lubovsky (Ph.D., Hebrew University) is a Professor of Musicology at the Jerusalem Academy of Music and Dance.

Brover-Lubovsky is the author of Tonal Space in the Music of Antonio Vivaldi (Indiana University Press, 2008), The Early Reign of Oleg: Music for the Play by Catherine the Great (A-R Editions, 2018), and of numerous articles published in international periodicals and volumes. She is a recipient of international awards and grants, including the Thurnau Award (Bayreuth University), research grants from the Einstein Foundation Berlin, the Israel Science Foundation, the Italian Academy for Advanced Studies in America (Columbia University), the Vittore Branca Center for the Study of Italian Culture (Fondazione Cini, Venice), the Newberry Library, and the Vigevani and Orzen postdoctoral fellowships. Brover-Lubovsky has served as Senior Research Fellow at the Hebrew University, Visiting Assistant Professor at the University of Illinois, Bar-Ilan and Tel-Aviv Universities, Research Associate at the University of Columbia, and course writer at the Open University of Israel. She served as the Israel Musicological Society Chair in 2008-2011.

Brover-Lubovsky teaches the historical survey of Western music from Ancient Greece to Romanticism (four courses), formal analysis, and graduate seminars on various subjects.