Montesquieu's climatological theory of character played an important role in English musical criticism in the third quarter of the eighteenth century and helped form an intellectual basis for an English critique of Italian comic opera in the sentimental mode. Critics like Joseph Baretti used Montesquieu's theory to conceptualize relationships between music, audience, and environment. They were drawn to Montesquieu not simply because his political ideas were popular, but also because his thought was directly engaged with midcentury concerns about music's power over the body, its role in climatic determinism, and the important part it could play in a civil society.

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