Music societies have historically been organizations that promoted music in various ways. The concept of categorizing music as one type versus another is a relatively contemporary perspective (e.g. classical, jazz, world, etc.), and so the diverse societies that support different types of music are a relatively modern setup.
Music societies typically known as guilds of the master singers were popular in the renaissance period in Germany, without regard to a particular style of music. At that time the differentiator in Western music was whether music was sacred or secular. The secular type was supported by guild of the troubadours, whereas churches had their own respective organizations.
The birth of opera in Italy gave the need to another type of society, supporting this new performing art. The Florentine Camerata in the late 16th century gave shape to discussions of what opera should be, and more importantly where it should be performed. Once a street performance, this new form of music making deserved a space, which at first were brothels. As the art form developed, the venues moved into more luxurious establishments demanding more care and organization around the music making.
Concert halls were being built around the world, giving the societies proper stages for their music making, and making it possible for big symphony orchestras to have their homes.
Later in the 17th and 18th centuries early universities gave birth to first music clubs (“Collegium Musicum”), and their aim was simple–to organize concerts. At that time concerts were still part of the offering to the general public, and these clubs grew in big centers such as London, Paris, Vienna, and even Boston (see ‘Stoughton Musical Society’) in the 18th century. As the concert offerings grew, so did the composers’ demands for bigger and better attention to their work, which brought forth the need for induction of the concept of high art, separating music for the people from music for the stage.
In the 19th century the concept of a music society truly flourished. The “Society of Friends of Music” was founded in 1812 in Vienna, giving birth to the famous Musikverein, together with Parisian Philharmonic Society, were the turning point for exploring concepts of luxurious concert halls. At this point concert halls were being built around the world, giving the societies proper stages for their music making, and making it possible for big symphony orchestras to have their homes. Parallel to this, societies celebrating composers were erected, such as the Purcell Society (1876), the Bach Society (1850), and many more.
In the 20th and 21 centuries music societies are supporting music worldwide, celebrating its diversity both in style and heritage. Societies such as ASCAP protect copyrights of authors, while musicological societies explore centuries past. All in all, societies are here to cater music to the world, one way or the other. A society can be big or small, so if you want to present some music to your friends, you can even form your own society!
We hope this article was a fun read! Wishing you a happy and musical New Year 2023 from the Metronome Online Team!