Classics[ edit ] The first application of the phrase is to a kind of Latin or Greek dictionary , in which the quantities of the vowels are marked in the words, to help beginners to understand the principles of Latin verse composition, in relation to the values of the metrical feet. The difference in meaning teaches one to observe the difference in vowel quantity between two forms which look the same but have different grammatical properties, and so to pronounce the title of the dictionary correctly. Therefore, the whole expression Gradus ad Parnassum is not just a title but an epitome of the work itself, combining declension , construction, scansion and figure. The Gradus ad Parnassum made famous under the name of Jesuit Paul Aler — ,  a schoolmaster, published in , presented anew an earlier Thesaurus attributed to Pierre Joulet, sieur de Chastillon —
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Life[ edit ] Fux was born to a peasant family in Hirtenfeld , Styria , Austria. Relatively little is known about his early life, but likely he went to nearby Graz for music lessons. In he was accepted at the Jesuit university there, where his musical talent became apparent. From until he served as organist at St. Moritz in Ingolstadt.
Sometime during this period he must have made a trip to Italy, as evidenced by the strong influence of Corelli and Bolognese composers on his work of the time. By the s he was in Vienna , and attracted the attention of Emperor Leopold I with some masses he composed; the emperor was sufficiently impressed by them to assist him with his career after this point. In , Leopold hired him as court composer.
Fux served Leopold I until his death, and two more Habsburg emperors after that: Joseph I , and Charles VI , both of whom continued to employ him in high positions in the court. Fux was famous as a composer throughout this period, his fame being eclipsed only later in the 18th century as the Baroque style died out.
Although his music until recently never regained favor, his mastery of counterpoint influenced countless composers through his treatise Gradus ad Parnassum Haydn largely taught himself counterpoint by reading it and recommended it to the young Beethoven. Mozart had a copy of it that he annotated. Fux dedicated it to Emperor Charles VI. The work is divided into two major parts. In the first part, Fux presents a summary of the theory on Musica Speculativa, or the analysis of intervals as proportions between numbers.
This section is in a simple lecture style, and looks at music from a purely mathematical angle, in a theoretical tradition that goes back, through the works of Renaissance theoreticians, to the Ancient Greeks. Fux explains that intervals in exact mathematical proportions result in larger and smaller half tones , and he also mentions that some organists added extra keys split halves to use smaller and bigger half tones , but that adding extra keys on a keyboard was problematic and for this reason they divided every note in "zwei gleiche Theile" two equal parts , resulting in equal temperament.
The second part, on Musica Pratica, is the section of this treatise where the author presents his instruction on counterpoint , fugue , double counterpoint, a brief essay on musical taste, and his ideas on composing sacred music , writing in the a cappella and in the recitativo style. At the outset, Fux states his purpose: "to invent a simple method by which a student can progress, step by step, to the heights of compositional mastery Thus, his book stresses practice over theory. While Gradus ad Parnassum is famous as the origin of the term " species counterpoint ", Fux was not the first one to invent the idea.
In , Girolamo Diruta , a composer of the Venetian school , published Il Transilvano, which presented the Renaissance polyphonic style as a series of types: one note against one note, two notes against one note, suspensions , and so forth.
In any event, Fux presented the idea with a clarity and focus which made it famous as a teaching method. The species are, in order, note against note; two notes against one; four notes against one; ligature or suspensions one note against one, but offset by half of the note value ; and florid counterpoint, in which the other species are combined freely. Once all the species are mastered in two voices, the species are gone through again in three voices, and then in four voices.
Occasionally, in modern counterpoint textbooks, the third and fourth species are reversed with suspensions being taught before four notes against one. Fux expressed the intention of adding sections on how to write counterpoint for more than four parts, indicating that rules in this area were to be "less rigorously observed". However, citing his poor health as a result of gout and age, he chose to conclude the book as it stood.
Gradus ad Parnassum
Gradus ad Parnassum (Fux, Johann Joseph)
Gradus Ad Parnassum