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Late Romantic Music

CC BY, Elliot Jones Santa Ana College

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Late Romantic Music

  1. 1. Symphonic Poem
  2. 2. Symphonic Poem n Born of desire to express a dramatic narrative using instruments only n Evolves out of concert overture n Single movement, contrasting sections – The contrasts heighten the drama – The more striking the contrasts, the more intense the story or depiction
  3. 3. Peter Tchaikovsky (1840-1893) n Left career as civil servant to pursue music n Graduated from St. Petersburg Conservatory n Became professor at Moscow Conservatory n Supported by wealthy patrons – Nadezhda von Meck, widow of railroad baron – Tsar Alexander III, ruler of Russia n Troubled personal life, questions surround his death – cholera or suicide
  4. 4. Peter Tchaikovsky n Best known for large orchestral works – 1812 Overture – concert overture – Ballets: Swan Lake, Sleeping Beauty, Nutcracker n Like Berlioz, Tchaikovsky found inspiration in Shakespeare n Very cosmopolitan, European sound n His nationalism expressed itself in subjects
  5. 5. Listening Example n Title: Romeo and Juliet n Composer: Peter Tchaikovsky n Genre: Symphonic Poem
  6. 6. Notes on Romeo and Juliet n Captures spirit, not literal plot, of the play n Three themes: – Friar Lawrence (priest trying to unite lovers) – Feud (the contenious Capulets and Montagues) – Love (Romeo and Juliet themselves) n Note the contrast and interplay of themes n Follows a rough sonata-allegro form
  7. 7. Symphonies and Concertos
  8. 8. Symphony n Romantic composers compare all symphonies against Beethoven’s n Composers wrote fewer symphonies – Only Dvorak, Bruckner, and Mahler wrote 9 n Many composers avoided the genre entirely n Brahms seen as the successor to Beethoven n Classical form loosely observed
  9. 9. Concerto n Classical form generally observed n Levels of virtuosity continually rising n Violin concertos more widely composed in late Romantic period than piano concertos n Orchestral accompaniments become more important and symphonic
  10. 10. Johannes Brahms (1833-1897) n Born in Hamburg – father was musician n Initially taught music by his father n Earned money for the family playing in bars n Meets Joseph Joachim while on 1893 concert tour as accompanist for violinist Remenyi n Joachim introduces Brahms to the Schumanns who take him into their home
  11. 11. Johannes Brahms n Robert so impressed with Brahms’ talent, he writes glowingly of him in the Journal n After Robert’s death Brahms moves to Vienna where he spends the bulk of his career n Lifelong relationship with Clara Schumann n German Requiem cements his reputation as a master composer in the vein of Beethoven n Composes four symphonies between 1876-85 n Buried in Vienna near Beethoven
  12. 12. Johannes Brahms n Conservative composer with Romantic voice – Absolute music with Classical structures n Leading figure in the War of the Romantics – Schumanns, Brahms vs. Liszt, Wagner n Works include: – 4 symphonies, 4 concertos – 200+ lieder – Extensive chamber music and choral part songs
  13. 13. Listening Example n Title: Violin Concerto, 3rd mvmt. n Composer: Johannes Brahms n Genre: Concerto
  14. 14. Notes on Violin Concerto, 3rd mvmt. n Composed in 1878 n Rondo form n Mostly duple meter, occasional triple meter n Main theme inspired by Gypsy music n Extensive use of double stops – Double stops: violinist plays two strings at once
  15. 15. Brahms’ Ein Deutsches Requiem n Written in 1868 n Not strictly a Requiem Mass – Brahms uses various scriptural and poetic texts n Written for 2 soloists, chorus, and orchestra n 7 movements with arch structure
  16. 16. Listening Example n Title: Ein Deutsches Requiem, 4th mvmt. n Composer: Johannes Brahms n Genre: German Requiem
  17. 17. Notes on Ein Deutsches Requiem, 4th movement n Rondo form A-B-A’-C-A’ n Changes in mode and texture – Major and minor modes – Homorhythmic and polyphonic textures n Lyrical melody in A section n Emotional expression
  18. 18. Musical Nationalism
  19. 19. Musical Nationalism n Prompted by social/political conditions n Nations coming into being (Germany, Italy) n Struggle of conquered nations/ethnic groups – Examples: Poles, Hungarians, Czechs n Different ways of expressing nationalism – Basing music on folk songs or dances – Nationalist subjects for operas, symphonic poems, etc.
  20. 20. Antonin Dvorak (1841-1904) n Struggled in early career as orchestral musician (viola) and organist n Despite struggling to make a living, he composed extensively n Won the Austrian State Prize for composition through Brahm’s influence n With Brahms’ help his Slavonic Dances were published to great success
  21. 21. Antonin Dvorak n Commissions and performances followed n Came to New York in 1892 n Directed the National Conservatory of Music – Substantial salary promised but not always paid – Influenced American composers n Nationalist: made use of folk material n Internationally famous at his death
  22. 22. Listening Example n Title: Symphony No. 9 “From the New World,” 2nd mvmt. n Composer: Antonin Dvorak n Genre: Symphony
  23. 23. Notes on “New World Symphony” n Slow tempo (largo) n Quadruple meter (common time) n Begins with series of chords in woodwinds n Main melody inspired by American experiences (landscape, poetry) n The main melody was newly composed material, not a Native American tune
  24. 24. Transition to Modern Era
  25. 25. Gustav Mahler (1860 – 1911) n Born to Jewish, Bohemian family n Admitted to Vienna Conservatory, age 15 n Career as conductor and composer – Conducted Vienna Opera,Vienna Philharmonic, Metropolitan Opera, New York Philharmonic – Composed 9 symphonies (10th unfinished) n Felt the symphony should encompass all genres (oratorio, motet, lied, cantata)
  26. 26. Gustav Mahler n “The symphony is the world” n His works are grandiose in length and scale – 2nd symphony is 95 minutes – longest in rep. – 8th symphony premiered with 1000+ performers n Obsessive artist, tyrannical conductor n Legacy still subject of scholarly debate
  27. 27. Symphony No. 8 n First entirely choral symphony – Previous symphonies used them only in certain movements, often near end n Called “Symphony of a Thousand” because of enormous performance forces n Two movements – I based on Latin hymn: “Veni creator spiritus” – II based on closing scene of Goethe’s Faust
  28. 28. Listening Example n Title: Symphony No. 8, Finale n Composer: Gustav Mahler n Genre: Orchestral Song
  29. 29. Notes on Symphony No. 8, Finale n Finale is the final portion of the 2nd movement of the symphony n Begins with hymn-like passage for choir n Soprano soloist’s line floats above choral texture n Massive triumphant conclusion drives home the piece’s message of hope and redemption

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