Charles Burney

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Charles Burney in 1781

Charles Burney (April 7, 1726April 12, 1814) was an English organist, travel writer and music historian.


  • He certainly over-heated himself at Venice by walking at a season when it is said that only Dogs and Englishmen are seen out of doors at noon, all else lie down in the middle of the day.
    • Music, Men and Manners in France and Italy, 1770 (1969) p. 94.
  • Now, as discord is allowable, and even necessarily opposed to concord, why may not noise, or a seeming jargon, be opposed to fixed sounds and harmonical proportion? Some of the discords in modern music, unknown till this century, are what the ear can but just bear, but have a very good effect as to contrast. The severe laws of preparing and resolving discord, may be too much adhered to for great effect; I am convinced that provided the ear be at length made amends, there are few dissonances too strong for it.
    • The Present State of Music in France and Italy (1771) pp. 152-3
  • With respect to excellence of Style and Composition, it may perhaps be said that to practised ears the most pleasing Music is such as has the merit of novelty, added to refinement, and ingenious contrivance; and to the ignorant, such as is most familiar and common.
    • A General History of Music ([1776-89] 1935) vol. 1, page 22
  • The umbrage given to Cuzzoni by her [ Faustina Bordoni's] coming hither, proves that as Turkish monarchs can bear no brother near the throne, an aspiring sister is equally obnoxious to a theatrical Queen.
    • A General History of Music ([1776-89] 1935) vol. 2, page 736

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