10 milestones in the history of western music

From Monteverdi's "ravishingly sensuous" opera to Leona Lewis's triumph in the multi-media extravaganza The X Factor, Tim Blanning chooses 10 moments in music history that have struck a chord with western ears

George Frederick Handel married opera's passion with the respectability of biblical texts, says Tim Blanning. (Photo by The Print Collector/Print Collector/Getty Images)

This article was first published in the January 2013 issue of BBC History Magazine

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Drama and spectacle

Claudio Monteverdi bows out with The Coronation of Poppaea, 1642

First performed during the 1642–43 season in Venice, this was Monteverdi’s last opera and probably his last work too. Its ravishingly sensuous music perfectly complements Busenello’s libretto (text), recounting the beautiful but amoral Poppaea’s successful campaign to ensnare the Emperor Nero – at his wife, Octavia’s, expense.

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