One of Bach’s librettists observed in 1725: “anything one can see, hear, smell, taste, feel, sense or in any other way experience or imagine has to be described as galant, totally galant, and completely galant.” This controversial word was closely associated with luxury, a product of Germany’s quickly evolving economic prosperity. New wealth inspired developments in aesthetics, philosophy, and science and the cultivation of expensive leisure time activities. Playing the keyboard increased in popularity over the course of Bach’s lifetime. The composer’s contemporaries associated themselves with galant music, especially minuets, bourrées, and gavottes of French origin, in order to establish social positions that had implications well beyond music. The merits of doing so were hotly debated by theorists such as Buttstedt and Mattheson.
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