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The Importance of Improvisation in Music History When one thinks of jazz ones mind should immediately spring to improvisation It is a true characteristic of the jazz art form but it truly is a rarity when seen in a historical context Improvisation has been an integral part of music since the very beginning of music and it has been a very important element in Western Classical music for most of the past 1000 years The following is a list of examples a When the single voice Plainsong started to develop into the 2 3 or 4 part Organum during the mid Medieval Period 1000 - 1300 one or more of the parts were also commonly improvised weaving free counter lines around the written melody line b Original score notations for Medieval organ music for example commonly include instructions for improvisation and embellishments Scales that were used were selected according to the same improvisation principles now used in Jazz c Improvistional sections were often included in many classical scores The preludes to keyboard suites by Bach and Handel for example consisted solely of a progression of chords The performers used these as basis for their improvisation again like in Jazz In the scores of to day most of these progressions have been translated into full music notations by various editors d Later during the Baroque - 1600 - 1750 Classical - 1750 - 1830 and Romantic - Periods 1830 - 1900 improvisation flourished especially for keyboard players JSBach Handel Mozart Beethoven Liszt and many other distinguished composers and virtuoso pianists excelled in the art of improvisation in those days called extemporisation e Liszt was a famous boy improvisor At age 12 his concert in Manchester was advertised as An Extemporary Fantasie on the Pianoforte by Master Liszt who will respectfully request a written theme from any person present In 1895 Miss Marie Wurm gave a complete recital in
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