Symphony-- A symphony is a musical composition, often extended and usually for orchestra. "Symphony" does not imply a specific form. Although many symphonies are tonal works in four movements with the first in sonata form, and this is often described by music theorists as the structure of a "classical" symphony, even some symphonies by the acknowledged classical masters of the form Joseph Haydn, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart and Ludwig van Beethoven do not conform to this model.
Origins-- The word "symphony" derives from Greek Συμφωνία, meaning "sounding together". Isidore of Seville was the first to use the Latin word symphonia as the name of a two-headed drum, and from ca. 1155 to 1377 the French form symphonie was the name of the organistrum or hurdy-gurdy. In late medieval England, symphony was used in both of these senses, whereas by the sixteenth century it was equated with the dulcimer. In German, Symphonie was a generic term for spinets and virginals from the late 16th century to the 18th century (Marcuse 1975, 501). In the sense of "sounding together" the word also appears in the titles of some works by 16th- and 17th-century composers including Giovanni Gabrieli (the Sacrae symphoniae ) and Heinrich Schütz (the Symphoniae sacrae ).
In the 17th century, for most of the Baroque period, the terms symphony and sinfonia were used for a range of different compositions, including instrumental pieces used in operas, sonatas and concertos—usually part of a larger work. The opera sinfonia , or Italian overture had, by the 18th century, a standard structure of three contrasting movements: fast; slow; fast and dance-like. It is this form that is often considered as the direct forerunner of the orchestral symphony. The terms "overture", "symphony" and "sinfonia" were widely regarded as interchangeable for much of the 18th century.
Early symphonies have three movements, quick-slow-quick. They are distinguishable from Italian opera overtures in that they were written to stand on their own in concert performances, rather than to introduce a stage work—although a piece originally written as an overture was sometimes later used as a symphony , and vice versa.
Symphonies at this time, whether for concert, opera, or church use, were not considered the major works on a program. At the time most symphonies were relatively short, lasting between 10 and 20 minutes.
The "Italian" style of symphony, often used as overture and entr'acte in opera houses, became a standard three movement form: a fast movement, the "allegro"; a slow movement; and then another fast movement. Mozart's early symphonies are in this layout. The early three-movement form was eventually replaced by a four-movement layout which was dominant in the latter part of the 18th century and most of the 19th century. This symphonic form was influenced by Germanic practice, and would come to be associated with the "classical style" of Haydn and Mozart.
The first known symphony to introduce the minuet as the third movement is a work in D major of 1740 by Georg Matthias Monn, while the first composer to consistently add a minuet as part of a four-movement form was Johann Stamitz.
The composition of early symphonies was centered on Vienna, Austin and Mannheim, Germany. Symphonies were written throughout Europe, however, with examples by Giovanni Battista Sammartini, Andrea Luchesi and Antonio Brioschi from Italy, Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach from northern Germany, Leopold Mozart from Salzburg, François-Joseph Gossec from Paris, and Johann Christian Bach and Karl Friedrich Abel from London.
The most important symphonists of the latter part of the 18th century are Joseph Haydn, who wrote at least 108 symphonies over the course of 36 years and Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, who wrote at least 56 symphonies in 24 years.
With the rise of established professional orchestras, the symphony assumed a more prominent place in concert life between approximately 1790 and 1820. Ludwig van Beethoven's first Academy Concert advertised "Christ on the Mount of Olives" as the featured work, rather than his performances of two of his symphonies and a piano concerto.
Beethoven dramatically expanded the symphony. His Symphony No. 3 (the Eroica ), has a scale and emotional range which sets it apart from earlier works. His Symphony No. 9 takes the unprecedented step of including parts for vocal soloists and choir in the last movement. Beethoven, together with Franz Schubert, replaced the usual genteel minuet with a livelier scherzo.
http://www.stormfront.org/forum/showthread.php/beethoven-symphonies-mp3-cds-454855.html Ludwig Van Beethoven Beethoven studied first with his father, Johann, a singer and instrumentalist in the service of the Elector of Cologne at Bonn, but mainly with C.G. Neefe, court organist. At 11 ½ he was able to deputize for Neefe; at 12 he had some music published. In 1787 he went to Vienna, but quickly returned on hearing that his mother was dying. Five years later he went back to Vienna, where he settled. He pursued his studies, first with Haydn, but there was some clash of temperaments and Beethoven studied too with Schenk, Albrechtsberger and Salieri.
Until 1794 he was supported by the Elector at Bonn but he found patrons among the music-loving Viennese aristocracy and soon enjoyed success as a piano virtuoso, playing at private houses or palaces rather than in public. His public debut was in 1795; about the same time his first important publications appeared, three piano trios, Op. l and three piano sonatas Op.2. As a pianist, it was reported, he had fire, brilliance and fantasy as well as depth of feeling. It is naturally in the piano sonatas, writing for his own instrument, that he is at his most original in this period; the Pathetique belongs to 1799, the Moonlight ('Sonata quasi una fantasia') to 1801, and these represent only the most obvious innovations in style and emotional content. These years also saw the composition of his first three piano concertos, his first two symphonies and a set of six string quartets Op.l8.
A Younger Beethoven http://www.sequenza21.com/uploaded_images/Beethoven-764449.jpg
1802, however, was a year of crisis for Beethoven, with his realization that the impaired hearing he had noticed for some time was incurable and sure to worsen. That autumn, at a village outside Vienna, Heiligenstadt, he wrote a will-like document, addressed to his two brothers, describing his bitter unhappiness over his affliction in terms suggesting that he thought death was near. But he came through with his determination strengthened and entered a new creative phase, generally called his 'middle period'. It is characterized by a heroic tone, evident in the Eroica Symphony (no.3, originally to have been dedicated not to a noble patron but to Napoleon), in Symphony No.5, where the sombre mood of the c Minor first movement ('Fate knocking on the door') ultimately yields to a triumphant C Major finale with piccolo, trombones and percussion added to the orchestra, and in his opera Fidelio . Here the heroic theme is made explicit by the story, in which (in the post-French Revolution 'rescue opera' tradition) a wife saves her imprisoned husband from murder at the hands of his oppressive political enemy. The three string quartets of this period, Op.59, are similarly heroic in scale: the first, lasting some 45 minutes, is conceived with great breadth, and it too embodies a sense of triumph as the intense f Minor Adagio gives way to a jubilant finale in the major embodying (at the request of the dedicatee, Count Razumovsky) a Russian folk melody.
Fidelio , unsuccessful at its premiere, was twice revised by Beethoven and his librettists and successful in its final version of 1814. Here there is more emphasis on the moral force of the story. It deals not only with freedom and justice, and heroism, but also with married love, and in the character of the heroine Leonore, Beethoven's lofty, idealized image of womanhood is to be seen. He did not find it in real life he fell in love several times, usually with aristocratic pupils (some of them married), and each time was either rejected or saw that the woman did not match his ideals. In 1812, however, he wrote a passionate love-letter to an 'Eternally Beloved' (probably Antonie Brentano, a Viennese married to a Frankfurt businessman), but probably the letter was never sent.
Beethoven composing http://www.musicwithease.com/beethoven-06.jpg
With his powerful and expansive middle-period works, which include the Pastoral Symphony (No.6, conjuring up his feelings about the countryside, which he loved), Symphony No.7 and Symphony No. 8, Piano Concertos Nos.4 (a lyrical work) and 5 (the noble and brilliant Emperor ) and the Violin Concerto, as well as more chamber works and piano sonatas (such as the Waldstein and the Appassionata ) Beethoven was firmly established as the greatest composer of his time. His piano-playing career had finished in 1808 (a charity appearance in 1814 was a disaster because of his deafness). That year he had considered leaving Vienna for a secure post in Germany, but three Viennese noblemen had banded together to provide him with a steady income and he remained there, although the plan foundered in the ensuing Napoleonic wars in which his patrons suffered and the value of Austrian money declined.
The years after 1812 were relatively unproductive. He seems to have been seriously depressed, by his deafness and the resulting isolation, by the failure of his marital hopes and (from 1815) by anxieties over the custodianship of the son of his late brother, which involved him in legal actions. But he came out of these trials to write his profoundest music, which surely reflects something of what he had been through. There are seven piano sonatas in this, his 'late period', including the turbulent Hammerklavier Op.106, with its dynamic writing and its harsh, rebarbative fugue, and Op.110, which also has fugues and much eccentric writing at the instrument's extremes of compass; there is a great Mass and a Choral Symphony, No.9 in d Minor , where the extended variation-finale is a setting for soloists and chorus of Schiller's Ode to Joy; and there is a group of string quartets, music on a new plane of spiritual depth, with their exalted ideas, abrupt contrasts and emotional intensity. The traditional four-movement scheme and conventional forms are discarded in favor of designs of six or seven movements, some fugal, some akin to variations (these forms especially attracted him in his late years), some song-like, some martial, one even like a chorale prelude. For Beethoven, the act of composition had always been a struggle, as the tortuous scrawls of his sketchbooks show; in these late works the sense of agonizing effort is a part of the music.
Musical taste in Vienna had changed during the first decades of the 19th century; the public were chiefly interested in light Italian opera (especially Rossini) and easygoing chamber music and songs, to suit the prevalent bourgeois taste. Yet the Viennese were conscious of Beethoven's greatness: they applauded the Choral Symphony even though, understandably, they found it difficult, and though baffled by the late quartets they sensed their extraordinary visionary qualities. His reputation went far beyond Vienna: the late Mass was first heard in St. Petersburg, and the initial commission that produced the Choral Symphony had come from the Philharmonic Society of London. When, early in 1827, he died, 10,000 are said to have attended the funeral. He had become a public figure, as no composer had done before. Unlike composers of the preceding generation, he had never been a purveyor of music to the nobility he had lived into the age - indeed helped create it - of the artist as hero and the property of mankind at large.
" Beethoven is the friend and contemporary of the French Revolution, and he remained faithful to it even when, during the Jacobin dictatorship, humanitarians with weak nerves of the Schiller type turned from it, preferring to destroy tyrants on the theatrical stage with the help of cardboard swords. Beethoven, that plebeian genius, who proudly turned his back on emperors, princes and magnates - that is the Beethoven we love for his unassailable optimism, his virile sadness, for the inspired pathos of his struggle, and for his iron will which enabled him to seize destiny by the throat. "
Robert Schumann and Felix Mendelssohn were two leading German composers whose symphonies added the expanded harmonic vocabulary of Romantic music. Some composers also wrote explicitly programmatic symphonies, such as the French Hector Berlioz and the Hungarian Franz Liszt. Johannes Brahms, who took Schumann and Mendelssohn as his point of departure, composed symphonies with very high levels of structural unity; other important symphonists of the late 19th century included Anton Bruckner, Antonín Dvořák and Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky.
Robert Schumann http://www.karadar.com/Jpg/Schumann_Robert_and_Wieck_Clara_01.jpg Robert Schumann The son of a bookseller, publisher and writer, Robert Schumann showed early abilities in both music and literature, the second facility used in his later writing on musical subjects. After brief study at university, he was allowed by his widowed mother and guardian to undertake serious study of the piano with Friedrich Wieck, whose favorite daughter Clara Wieck was later to become Schumann's wife. His ambitions as a pianist were thwarted by a weakness in the fingers of one hand, but the 1830s nevertheless brought a number of compositions for the instrument. The year of his marriage, 1840, was a year of song, followed by attempts in which his young wife encouraged him at more ambitious forms of orchestral composition. Settling first in Leipzig and then in Dresden, the Schumanns moved in 1850 to Duesseldorf, where Schumann had his first official appointment, as municipal director of music. In 1854 he had a serious mental break-down, followed by two years in the asylum at Endenich before his death in 1856. As a composer Schumann's gifts are clearly heard in his piano music and in his songs.
Mendelssohn’s grandfather was a noted philosopher and mathematician. His father was a prominent Jewish banker who added Bartholdy to the family surname after his conversion to Christianity. When Mendelssohn was 2 years old, the family moved to Berlin where they became widely known for their artistic and musical activities.
Mendelssohn was a child prodigy and made his first public appearance as a pianist when he was only nine. He was associated with the revival of public interest in the music of Johann Sebastian Bach. In the early 1830s he began a three year grand tour through Europe and he visited England, where he was warmly received, and conducted the London Philharmonic Orchestra.
Mendelssohn also journeyed through Scotland which inspired his idea for the Hebrides Overture. He later became conductor of the Gewandhaus Orchestra in Leipzig, and helped to found the Leipzig Conservatoire. Continuing frequent visits to Great Britain, in 1847 he visited the country for the tenth time.
Mendelssohn’s significance lies in the unusual quantity of good music he wrote in relatively few years. Although he wrote only four symphonies during his lifetime, he was considered to be the finest example of a symphonic composer. His style of composition combined something of the economy of means of the classical period with the Romanticism of a later age.
Felix Mendelssohn-Bartholdy http://www.karadar.com/PhotoGallery/mendelssohn.html Das Gewandhaus where Mendelssohn was conductor. http://www.burgmueller.com/FMB.JPG Felix Mendelssohn-Bartholdy
Gustav Mahler, at the beginning of the 20th century, wrote large-scale long symphonies (his eighth is nicknamed the "Symphony of a Thousand" because of the forces required to perform it). The twentieth century also saw further diversification in the style and content of works which composers labeled as "symphonies". Some composers, including Sergei Rachmaninoff and Carl Nielsen, continued to write in the traditional four-movement form, while other composers took different approaches: Jean Sibelius' Symphony No. 7 , his last, is in one movement.
Gustav Mahler was born in Kalischt. He was the son of a poor Jewish peddler and in later years he referred to himself as a thrice homeless man: a Bohemian among Austrians, an Austrian among Germans and a Jew among the people of the whole world.
He began to study piano at the age of six and was already an accomplished pianist when he entered the Vienna Conservatoire at the age of 15. Much of his career was spent as an opera conductor working in Budapest, Hamburg, and finally in Vienna, where his energy and competence as artistic director soon made the Vienna Court Opera the finest company in Europe.
Mahler resigned from this post in 1907 when he was unable to sustain the workload any longer due to heart problems and the death of his eldest daughter. He spent the last years of his life conducting in Europe and the United States.
Mahler’s compositions received little acclaim during his lifetime and it was not until the 1950s that his work became popular. He was a prolific composer and tried to write music so varied and grandiose that the whole world was reflected in it.
There remained, however, certain tendencies: symphonies were still on the whole orchestral works. Symphonies with vocal parts, or parts for solo instrumentalists, were the exception rather than the rule. Designating a work a "symphony" still implied a degree of sophistication, and seriousness of purpose. The word sinfonietta came into use to designate a work that was "lighter" than a "symphony" (Leoš Janáček's Sinfonietta is one of the best known examples).
The 20th century saw an increase in the number of works which could reasonably have been titled symphonies, but which the composer gave another designation. Concerto for Orchestra by Béla Bartók, and Mahler's Das Lied von der Erde are sometimes analyzed as symphonies.
Arguably the greatest composer of his nation and a proficient pianist, Bartok started a systematic collection of Hungarian folk music and neighboring regions, often collaborating with his friend Zoltan Kodaly. Together they traveled throughout the area, working to record native songs and music using the only recording device available at that time--wax cylinders, a pre-cursor of the LP record.
His work in this field deeply influenced his style of composition, which is, however, very much more severe in its apparent mathematical organization than much of what Kodály wrote.
He was out of sympathy with the government that replaced the immediate post-1918 Republic in Hungary, where he was less appreciated than abroad.
In 1940 he emigrated to the United States and died of leukemia in 1945.
http://www.karadar.com/PhotoGallery/bartok.html Bartok listening to a recorded cylinder.
Text Sources: Sadie, Stanley, ed. “Europe”, The New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians , Vol. 9. Macmillan Publishers, Ltd. London.1980. P. 295-315. Wade, Bonnie C., Thinking Musically: Expressing Music; Expressing Culture , Oxford University Press, Oxford, England. 2004. P. 50, 58, 98. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Music_of_Europe http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ballet http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Opera http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Symphony http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Salon_music http://www.karadar.com/PhotoGallery/schumann.html http://www.karadar.com/Dictionary/bartok.html http://www.karadar.com/PhotoGallery/mahler.html Sadie, Stanley, ed. “Waltz”, The New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians , Vol. 20. Macmillan Publishers, Ltd. London.1980. P. 200-206. Sadie, Stanley, ed. “Polka”, The New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians , Vol. 15. Macmillan Publishers, Ltd. London.1980. P. 42-44. www.musicwithease.com http://w3.rz-berlin.mpg.de/cmp/beethoven.html