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Early Romantic Music

CC BY, Elliot Jones Santa Ana College

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Early Romantic Music

  1. 1. The Art Song
  2. 2. Art Song – Old Yet New n Romantic relationship of poetry and music – Profusion of Romantic poetry – Composers sought to capture the poem’s emotional impact in music n The composing of songs was not new but Romantic, particularly German, composers placed great emphasis on the genre due to expressive possibilities
  3. 3. Art Song n Well suited to task of personal expression n Solo voice and piano accompaniment n Many German composers of art songs in Romantic period n German art songs called lieder (sing. lied)
  4. 4. Three Common Forms n Through-composed – Music unfolds without significant repetition – Constantly changing music suited to storytelling n Strophic – Same music for each strophe (stanza) of text n Modified strophic – Strophic with new music for the final strophe, or – Variations on each subsequent strophe
  5. 5. Song Cycle n Multiple art songs or lieder n Thematic connection n Famous examples: – Die schöne Müllerin, Schubert (20 songs) – Winterreise, Schubert (24 songs) – Dicheterliebe, Schumann (16 songs)
  6. 6. Franz Schubert (1797-1828) n Vienna native - sang in Vienna Boy’s Choir n Studied with Antonio Salieri in 1810 n Taught primary school for three years then quit n Lived a bohemian life, eschewing the aristocracy n Substantial compositional output, but was known in his time primarily for his lieder n Songs performed at Schubertiads
  7. 7. Franz Schubert (cont’d) n Suffered from syphilis (no cure at that time) n Torchbearer at Beethoven’s funeral (1827) n Died at age 31 (1828) – buried next to Beethoven n Leading composer of art songs (wrote 600+) n Music bridges Classical/Romantic like Beethoven
  8. 8. Listening Example n Title: Erlkonig n Composer: Franz Schubert n Genre: Art Song/Lied
  9. 9. Notes on Erlkonig n Four characters portrayed by the singer – Narrator – Boy – Father – Elf King n Note the galloping quality of the piano n Through-composed form – no repetition n Performed by a tenor
  10. 10. Robert Schumann (1810-1856) n Studied law but switched to music n Dreams of piano virtuosity crushed by injury n Turned to composing and music criticism n Founded a music journal that still exists – Neue Zeitschrift für Musik (New Journal of Music) – n Married his teacher’s daughter, Clara Wieck, 1840 n That same year he composed approx. 150 lieder
  11. 11. Robert Schumann (cont’d) n Suffered from depression all his life n Became delusional, possibly from treatment for syphilis - mercury n Attempted suicide by throwing himself into the Rhine river in 1854 n Died in an asylum in 1856
  12. 12. Listening Example n Title: Du Ring an meinem Finger n Composer: Robert Schumann n Genre: Art Song/Lied
  13. 13. Notes on Du Ring an Meinem Finger n Rondo form n Common time/quadruple meter n 4th song in Frauenliebe und Leben cycle n Performed by a mezzo-soprano n Slow tempo that gradually increases near end
  14. 14. Early Romantic Piano Music
  15. 15. Evolution of the Piano n Like the orchestra, the piano grows in size and power – Industrial Revolution n Cast iron frame allows for steel strings n This enables wider dynamic contrast n Range of pitches grows: – In Mozart’s day the keyboard spanned 5 octaves – By 1820 it spanned 7 octaves
  16. 16. Evolution of Piano (continued) n Foot pedals added by middle of century – Right pedal sustains the pitch – Left pedal dampens the pitch (softer) n These and other developments bring the piano into its modern form n The instrument’s basic design unchanged since 1850’s, though more pitches added
  17. 17. Character Piece n Broad category of Romantic era piano music based on a single idea n Form of program music on small scale n Short pieces for solo piano n Emphasis on capturing a mood or the feel of a particular moment
  18. 18. Frédéric Chopin (1810 – 1849) n Born in Warsaw, Poland – Father was French, Mother was Polish n Received education in Warsaw – Father taught at elite aristocratic school – Attended the Warsaw Conservatory n Arrives in Paris, France in 1831 n Performs in homes of aristocracy & gives lessons for very high fees
  19. 19. Frédéric Chopin n Associates w/Liszt, Berlioz, and other artists and writers n Roughly 10-yr relationship w/George Sand – Pen name for Baroness Aurora Dudevant – Novelist and iconoclast n Died of tuberculosis at age 39 n Considered a national hero in Poland
  20. 20. Chopin’s Music n Compositions centered around the piano – Works for solo piano – Ensemble works that feature the piano n Use of rubato – Literally means “robbed time” – Generally means freer tempo – Chopin kept LH in strict time, w/rubato in RH
  21. 21. Listening Example n Title: Nocturne in C# minor n Composer: Frédéric Chopin n Genre: Nocturne
  22. 22. Notes on Nocturne n Nocturnes are characterized by a melancholy, bittersweet quality n Note the use of tempo rubato n Rising chromatic line builds tension n Frequent minor and major shifts n Final major resolution releases tension
  23. 23. Program Music
  24. 24. Century of Program Music n Instrumental music that tells a story or paints a picture n Some composers still write absolute music n Programmatic genres: – Overture (Dramatic and Concert) – Incidental Music – Program Symphony – Symphonic Poem (Tone Poem)
  25. 25. Overture n Dramatic Overture – Precedes a staged work: often an opera or play – Encapsulates the essence of the drama in music – One movement, often sonata-allegro form n Concert Overture – Similar but not connected with a staged work – Programmatic music intended for concert hall n Incidental Music – Music during and between scenes of a play
  26. 26. Program Symphony n A symphony with 3 – 5 movements n Movements depict a series of events n Composers did not feel bound by multi- movement cycle rules, but used as a guide n Berlioz Symphonie Fantastique best-known example of a program symphony
  27. 27. Symphonic Poem n Also called a Tone Poem n Very similar to concert overture n Large scale, programmatic orchestral work n One movement, no set form n Often features many contrasting sections n This genre invented in the Romantic Era
  28. 28. Hector Berlioz (1803-1869) n Born in Grenoble, France n Abandoned study of medicine for music n Cut off financially by his father n Couldn’t play the piano well, couldn’t teach n Earned a living as a music critic n Despite lack of training, he became one of the greatest orchestrators
  29. 29. Hector Berlioz n Heavily influenced by literature and drama n Married an English Shakespearean actress n Did not hesitate to alter or mix genres in pursuit of dramatic effect n Berlioz’s music, like the man, marked by extremes of emotional expression n Recognized today as a brilliant orchestrator
  30. 30. Idee Fixe n A recurring theme or “fixed idea” n Theme occurs in each movement n It unifies a multi-movement work n The theme represents something – In Symphonie Fantastique it is the “beloved”
  31. 31. Listening Example n Title: Symphonie Fantastique, 5th mvt. n Composer: Hector Berlioz n Genre: Program Symphony
  32. 32. Notes on Symphonie Fantastique, 5th mvt n Unusual orchestral effects – Col legno – strings playing with the wood of the bow instead of the hair – Pizzicato – string players pluck the strings instead of bowing them – Unorthodox combinations – four bassoons and two tubas initially play the Dies Irae n Parody of the idee fixe
  33. 33. Notes on Symphonie Fantastique, 5th mvt n Use of well known chant: Dies Irae – Played in horns – Slow at first, then in rhythmic diminution n Intensifying counterpoint depicts the ghoulish dance of the witches – The Dies Irae becomes a fugue subject