Filipino Classical Music

December 8, 2009

               Filipino classical music evolved from the European art music tradition and its literature representing roughly four historical style periods, the Baroque, Classical, Romantic, and Post-romantic eras. This is not to say that a local concept of classical music or forms of expression of high inventive value did not exist in the Philippine island before the Spanish overthrow. Forms of develop music were in practice and continued to evolve in Philippine societies that were able to stay outside the sphere of influence of Europe and the United States. However, a colonial era ranging more than four hundred years was able to cultivate a national consciousness among the disparate and semi-independent language communities. Among various social and political conventions that were invariably adopted as unifying structures in nation making. Western derived art forms such as music were embedded and later burgeoned in the Christianized population as part of a national culture patrimony, quite distinct from the expressive practices representing ethnic consciousness and identity.

             Time-wise, the growth period of social appreciation for music as an art form may be placed in the nineteenth century, coming into full bloom at the advent of the twentieth century. It was in the 1800s that the Philippines experienced the introduction and spread of music. The introduction of the sarsuwela in 1848 and the opera in the 1860s marked a new musical era, in which Filipino musicians, trained for centuries in the craft of music making. Filipinos found their place of prominence in the secular music practice that had previously been dominated by the comedia and other forms of public enjoyments where music played minor roles.  The period also had musical organizations in the form of small orchestral groups or some bigger ensembles that played for both visiting and local music theater productions. It was through these ensembles that Western classical masterpieces became an important part of the musical life of an emerging local societal group.

              Filipino classical music prospered acceding to social and artistic boundaries taken away and reformulated through the years from the western musical culture and a Filipino self-identity.  


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