Author Topic: Gurn's Classical Corner  (Read 506394 times)

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Offline Gurn Blanston

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Re: Gurn's Classical Corner
« Reply #260 on: March 14, 2009, 06:47:41 PM »
2 different with some well crafted bridgework in between, but not always.  ;D

Ah, the Master Tapdancer from Colorado is heard from... ;D

8)

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Offline SonicMan46

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Re: Gurn's Classical Corner
« Reply #261 on: March 14, 2009, 07:18:50 PM »
Gurn - as you already know, responding to your post in this forum format of the differences of the 'Classical vs. Romantic' era is impossible since even the experts writing on the topic don't agree - so, how are us 'amateurs' going to give a lucid explanation?  :) ;D

But, just some considerations:  First, what is the definition of the 'Classical Period' - the end of the Baroque period is usually dated by the death of JS Bach, i.e. 1750; of course, this is just a convenience, and the transition was much longer, i.e. early to later 18th century.  Second, the end or transition into the so-called 'Romantic Period' is generally accepted as early 19th century, i.e. 1820 is an average; so, one can define the 'Classical Period' as extending from 1750 to 1820, but a simplification.

Thus, what other events where occuring @ the times that impacted on these definitions; e.g. the 18th century was looking back into the more ancient Roman & Greek civilizations as 'classic' examples; these became models in art, architecture, and other areas including music; however, by the early 19th century, the concept of 'Romaticism' was entering the influences of the times, including literature and music.

Of course, yet another consideration is that these 'musical periods' were defined in retrospect, i.e. Mozart & Haydn did not considered themselves as part of the 'Classical Period', which was defined 'after the fact', and the same for the early Romantic period. So, these terms are in a way 'artificial' and applied by later historians trying to fit these periods of music into a 'timely course' that may (or may not) be true?

Now, beyond the cultural & artistic (i.e. other than music) changes that were occurring, the change in music is important, including other factors, such as dramatic evolution of the orchestras in these times, evolution of the instruments (e.g. woodwinds & the keyboards), and the change in 'sponsorship' of muscians & composers, i.e. those dependent on aristocracy/church sponosors to those becoming 'performers & free-lancers' - just so many factors that enter into this whole discussion.

Finally, another consideration is the evolution of the 'sonata form' - in the Baroque Period, instrumental music revolved around suites w/ mutliple movements often based on 'dance' formats; Haydn & Mozart as the 'supreme' examples of their times wrote & evolved the 'sonata form' in which the previous binary forms and dance forms of works were put into the more standard (from our modern perspective) into the 3 or 4 movement pieces w/ the 'sonata form' being the standard - this seems to be of major importance in the mid- to later 18th century, which continued at least into the early compositions of Beethoven.

Now, the transition from Mozart/Haydn through Beethoven/Schubert into the early 19th century is just a more difficult period to explain, and likely the reason that the 'expert writers' on this topic disagree; again, non-musical changes at the times in the arts & the literature may be the keys to how composers responded, e.g. Schubert & Schumann in their lieders (not an area of my expertise); but later Beethoven (i.e. the 3rd Symphony & beyond), Berlioz (Symphonie Fantastique), and others from that era appear on the scene, the music has changed.

Obviously, these issues & questions raise further thoughts & considerations, and there likely will never to a clear concensus regarding your original question - but will be interested in the responses of others.  Dave  :)

P.S. May be 'stirring up the pot' - but will in interesting!  ;)

Offline Sorin Eushayson

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Re: Gurn's Classical Corner
« Reply #262 on: March 14, 2009, 08:27:49 PM »
...many of his best works are fantasias so they don't adhere to a particular form...

It just so happens that I love fantasias!   :)  Any recommendations?  ;D

« Last Edit: March 14, 2009, 08:31:56 PM by Sorin Eushayson »

Offline Gabriel

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Re: Gurn's Classical Corner
« Reply #263 on: March 15, 2009, 05:14:40 AM »
I would be interested to know your thoughts on whether the Classical and the Romantic were 2 different eras in music history, or whether they represent a spectrum of one style that stretched from the (putative) end of the Baroque through the advent of atonalism.  Obviously I have an opinion, which I have expressed here a couple of times already, but I would like to hear what champions of both points of view have to say to maintain their points of view. Clearly we won't get far without a definition of terms, so if you are a believer in a Romantic Era, then it would be a good start to define precisely what it entails... :)

Thanks for your interest,
8)

Very hard topic, as is any discussion on "boundaries" between musical periods. There is nothing like that, from my perspective; I guess it is much more appropriate to say "this is music from about 1830" than to say "it is classical" or "it is romantic". I was reading yesterday an interview to the Chilean pianist Alfredo Perl where he described Mendelssohn as "the last of the classics". He's not completely right, but at the same time he's not completely wrong.

CPE Bach and Gluck, for example, have several common traits with baroque, and it is natural that it is thus. But if you compare, for example, an early opera from Gluck and Iphigénie en Tauride, you will notice an evident difference. The same happens with Beethoven, Weber or Schubert. But to my ears it is incredible to see that the arguments about "baroque", "classicism" or "romanticism" are focused on CPE Bach or Beethoven, while we have one composer, Haydn, who travelled almost transversally from baroque to romanticism. Maybe it is an intuition of mine, but I have the feeling that among future musicologists there will be even further attention over the magnitude of what Haydn did during his musical life. Haydn was born in 1732, so all his musical training was essentially baroque: it is not a coincidence that him and Albrechtsberger (if I remember correctly) were trained in (and trained) Fux's Gradus ad Parnassum. Listening to early works by Haydn (for instance, the early masses) illustrate appropriately about this background. Jump then half a century towards Die Schöpfung or, most of all, Die Jahreszeiten. I cannot claim these to be "romantic" works, but Haydn was clearly leading music to a style that was not exactly the same of, to say, the London symphonies. Had he been really active from 1801 to 1809 (his last big work was the Harmoniemesse), I'm sure he wouldn't have been a conservative composer: it was not his nature.

Well, all this unnecessary development was to say that in Haydn (a composer traditionally qualified as "classical") you can find baroque, classical and even romantic features.

In that way, Gurn is not necessarily wrong when he describes classical and romantic music as a single era. It depends on what. If you take, for example, the prevalence (not universality) of two modes (major and minor), then baroque-classical-romantic could be described as one era. But if you take the existence of a continuo, baroque and early classical would be separated from late classical and romanticism. And so on.

This means that strict qualifications will be often inaccurate. However, even if they are not precise, they can be useful for explaining certain attributes. It is just in this instrumental purpose that I believe the famous "eras" can be rightly defended. I myself have a kind of "recipe" for qualifying works as classical: I consider as such the works composed between 1760 and 1830 by composers born before 1800. But I wouldn't dare to make it universal, for it is a flexible parameter which I know can provide many failures (for example, Cherubini's last 4 string quartets are classical to me, but composed after 1830; Mendelssohn's overture to A Midsummer Night's Dream is mostly classical to me, but he was born in 1809; Arriaga was born in 1806, but all his works sound classical to me).

Summarizing, these qualifications must be granted their proper value: an introduction for understanding the main features in musical history. Music does not leap from one "period" to another, but evolves progressively.

Offline SonicMan46

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Re: Gurn's Classical Corner
« Reply #264 on: March 15, 2009, 07:16:22 AM »
C.P.E. Bach (courtesy of bach-cantatas.com)
Born: March 8, 1714 - Weimar, Thuringia, Germany
Died: December 14, 1788 - Hamburg, Germany

Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach was a German musician and composer, the second son of J.S. Bach and Maria Barbara Bach. He was a founder of the Classical style..................

........but a clavichord in action, Miklos Spanyi has done a great many of the sonatas and fantasias on BIS, and they are available for download (at 320kbps MP3) at eclassical.com. I might recommend the Württemberg Sonatas set as a first choice. Some others of his works which are more generally known are his cello concertos and sinfonias. Very recommendable. :)

Gurn - thanks for the bio information & comments on CPE Bach - he was indeed a prolific & versatile composer, and an important bridge between his father's sytle of music and that developed later in the 18th century.  For those not familiar w/ his works, one excellent 'bargain' introduction to his orchestral output is the 2-CD set of Cello Concertos & Symphonies w/ Bylsma & Leonhardt; but he wrote a lot of more 'intimate' music, esp. for the flute (since that was the instrument played by his 'boss', Frederick the Great) - if interested in the flute, the 2-CD set below w/ Barthold Kuijken on a period flute is another outstanding bargain (if not OOP?).

Q has been applauding those Miklos Spanyi recordings for a while now - on my 'wish list' but there are SO MANY!  Where to start - love the clavichord, but have few discs w/ that instrument featured -  :-\


 

Offline Gurn Blanston

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Re: Gurn's Classical Corner
« Reply #265 on: March 15, 2009, 11:08:33 AM »
Dave & Gabriel,
Excellent posts. Lots of information there, almost too much to address point by point. So let me just expand a bit on my own ideas and see if it rebuts or supports your POV's. :)

Well, the Baroque is not hard to define, or at least to separate from the periods on either side of it. Polyphonic (carried over from earlier times), but different instruments (at least you see the development of later instruments evolving through the period; viol family to violins, virginal to harpsichord etc.), and great development of triadic, major/minor contrasts. But little in the way of dynamics. By the end of the period, lutes are gone, flutes are transverse instead of bec, the entire violin family is featured (although the gamba bass hung on for a while). And many woodwinds have been improved or even introduced (chalumeau (clarinet) and great improvement in bassoon and oboe). But the music itself undergoes the greatest change. Polyphony is hugely reduced (disappearing altogether for a little while (except in church music)), sonata form comes into prominence, orchestral dynamics take center stage and keyboard dynamics become possible through the use of the new fortepiano, melody is king. Early on, many of the dance forms of the Baroque disappear, only the minuet is retained and it assumes a form not suitable for dancing to. And new genres develop as old ones disappear. It is fair to say that you can pick out a Bach or Händel work from an early Haydn one, yes? :)

But look at the differences between "Classical" and "Romantic" now. The same genres persist right up until the end. The music is still homophonic, melodic, tonal (major/minor, triadic, tonal center). Even such classical oddities as the sinfonia concertante live til the end (Brahms' double concerto is a late example). In fact, there isn't any difference that you can single out to say "this is Romantic music now". At various times throughout the period, call it neo-classical or neo-romantic or whatever, the trend has gone back and forth towards more unusual key changes, or more or less density, or whatever other "hallmark" of one or the other that you want to assign, but these are nothing more than fads of the times, and they swing back the other way just as often.

Even Gabriel's assignment of a birthdate to a composer doesn't hold up (IMO) because you have composers early on who were born well back in the 18th century. One example I can think of easily is IMO the first "Romantic" composer, Carl Maria von Weber who was born in 1786. And I discovered that HE tended to write more in fantasia form because he absolutely had a block about writing in sonata form. All of his compositions that have a classical sonata-allegro opening movement, he wrote the other movements first and then went back and struggled through the first movement until he finally got it. So he avoided it whenever possible. :)   

Anyway, I believe that there is no justification for breaking the Homophonic Era into two parts. You had early composers who wrote more "romantically", and later composers who wrote more "classically". So the real justification is to call the entire era from the Age of Polyphony to the Age of Cacophony the Classico-Romantic or Age of Homophony.

That's my story and I'm sticking to it. ;D (unless you give me a reason to do otherwise, of course)

8)


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Offline Gabriel

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Re: Gurn's Classical Corner
« Reply #266 on: March 15, 2009, 03:02:19 PM »
Great post, Gurn. Some comments on it:

Quote
Polyphonic (carried over from earlier times), but different instruments (at least you see the development of later instruments evolving through the period; viol family to violins, virginal to harpsichord etc.)...

I don't think the instrumental argumentation is really important for explaining the change of style.

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But little in the way of dynamics.

This is indeed an important difference between baroque and classical.

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It is fair to say that you can pick out a Bach or Händel work from an early Haydn one, yes?

Yes, but the comparison is not quite fair. If you compare early Haydn with Italian composers of the era, like Sammartini, there would be some more problems for drawing a line.

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Even Gabriel's assignment of a birthdate to a composer doesn't hold up (IMO) because you have composers early on who were born well back in the 18th century.

I already said that the utility of the rule I explained was merely instrumental and is not intended to be always right.

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In fact, there isn't any difference that you can single out to say "this is Romantic music now". At various times throughout the period, call it neo-classical or neo-romantic or whatever, the trend has gone back and forth towards more unusual key changes, or more or less density, or whatever other "hallmark" of one or the other that you want to assign, but these are nothing more than fads of the times, and they swing back the other way just as often.

This argument is interesting, but in my opinion not completely accurate. In fact, harmonic evolution is not just the one of "unusual key changes", but also considers different tonal functions for the key changes. Subordinate sections are not mainly written in the dominant or sub-dominant, but in other keys related to the tonic. And this, Gurn, is not just theory, but sounds different to most listeners. You will tell me that it had begun in the classical era, and I will answer that it is true, but in romanticism it was much more evident than in classicism.

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Anyway, I believe that there is no justification for breaking the Homophonic Era into two parts.

Unfortunately for your nomenclature, the Homophonic Era has a lot of polyphony inside. I would say that the strongest rejection of polyphony was during the period 1750-1775 for the style galant, but was never absolute. The reduction of strict counterpoint doesn't mean that there is no counterpoint. In fact, one of Chopin's most acid criticisms against Beethoven was that - sometimes - "he had turned his back towards the eternal principles". Those were the ones of counterpoint.

To end this post, already too long: as I explained, all these criticisms I develop "against" your position are not radical; it is just that I think that "eras" can qualify in different senses. As you talk about the "homophonic era" including classical and romantic, I can talk about the "tonal era" including those two plus baroque. These qualifications are not strictly correct, nor strictly incorrect, but they can be useful for our understanding of music.

Offline Gurn Blanston

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Re: Gurn's Classical Corner
« Reply #267 on: March 15, 2009, 04:30:18 PM »
Great post, Gurn. Some comments on it:

I don't think the instrumental argumentation is really important for explaining the change of style.

Thanks for your reply. I love it when I have to think. :)

Instrumentation's importance is relevant by the possibilities that were opened up. Orchestral playing was especially affected by the improvements in staying in tune, for example. And tone color began to be of some importance too. Many Baroque pieces were composed for unspecified instruments. Many times, it didn't matter, as long as you could get them all in the same room and somewhat in tune with each other... ;)

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This is indeed an important difference between baroque and classical.

:)

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Yes, but the comparison is not quite fair. If you compare early Haydn with Italian composers of the era, like Sammartini, there would be some more problems for drawing a line.

But Sammartini's sinfonias were always homophonic, AFAIK. And Haydn actually started out with church music (thanks to Reutter), so he did indeed learn and use counterpoint early on (with much thanks to Fux, of course). Italian sinfonias and opera overtures and en'tractes were the model for the Germans. And Italian composers in Germany (especially Jomelli) were major players with people like Johann Stamitz in Mannheim. If you are saying that it would be hard to tell early Haydn from Sammartini, yes, I agree with you. But Sammartini wasn't Baroque, at least not by 1745 or so... :-\


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I already said that the utility of the rule I explained was merely instrumental and is not intended to be always right.

Yes you did, my bad.  0:)

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This argument is interesting, but in my opinion not completely accurate. In fact, harmonic evolution is not just the one of "unusual key changes", but also considers different tonal functions for the key changes. Subordinate sections are not mainly written in the dominant or sub-dominant, but in other keys related to the tonic. And this, Gurn, is not just theory, but sounds different to most listeners. You will tell me that it had begun in the classical era, and I will answer that it is true, but in romanticism it was much more evident than in classicism.


I submit that this is simply evolutionary and not a cause for declaring a new era in music. Schubert (to pick one on the cusp) often made cadences out of changes from major to minor instead of tonic to dominant. His contemporaries thought that he was a bit strange, but they didn't really object to it as rule breaking. Certainly, music changed and evolved over time. Even Brahms at his most classicizing doesn't sound just like Mozart at his most romanticizing. :)  But I contend that this is simply evolution and not a wholesale change.

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Unfortunately for your nomenclature, the Homophonic Era has a lot of polyphony inside. I would say that the strongest rejection of polyphony was during the period 1750-1775 for the style galant, but was never absolute. The reduction of strict counterpoint doesn't mean that there is no counterpoint. In fact, one of Chopin's most acid criticisms against Beethoven was that - sometimes - "he had turned his back towards the eternal principles". Those were the ones of counterpoint.

True enough. But you won't find a true, strict fugue written in this time, for example. Even Beethoven's Große Fuge, is not the sort of fugue that a Baroque composer would have tossed out. Counterpoint was rescued from the oblivion it was consigned to by the galant composers because it was found to be necessary to make music interesting to listeners. Haydn's 4th movement canons in Op 20 were a major part of that, of course. But I wonder at the accuracy of Chopin's statement. I guess the "sometimes" is a necessary qualifier, since Beethoven was a master of counterpoint when it suited him to be. :)

Quote
To end this post, already too long: as I explained, all these criticisms I develop "against" your position are not radical; it is just that I think that "eras" can qualify in different senses. As you talk about the "homophonic era" including classical and romantic, I can talk about the "tonal era" including those two plus baroque. These qualifications are not strictly correct, nor strictly incorrect, but they can be useful for our understanding of music.

Yes, I won't argue the utility. What bothers me is the useless (and vituperative!) arguments that are raised over things like "was Beethoven a Classical or Romantic composer?" or Schubert, or whoever. I think that these terms, which are literary rather than musical, cause people to waste way too much time arguing things that have no meaning, almost as though they DID have meaning. :)  If you stipulate up front that the Classical and Romantic were 2 different extremes of the same phenomenon, and that between the extremes there is a good blend of both, then those arguments become moot. ;)

Cheers,
Gurn 8)


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Offline Gabriel

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Re: Gurn's Classical Corner
« Reply #268 on: March 15, 2009, 05:10:52 PM »
Quote
But you won't find a true, strict fugue written in this time, for example. Even Beethoven's Große Fuge, is not the sort of fugue that a Baroque composer would have tossed out.

There are examples for sure, but they are not very frequent. On counterpoint in general, for example both Mozart and Cherubini left pages in which they proved that they were perfectly capable of composing in stile antico. On the other hand, the most radical one was Rejcha: when Beethoven read the fugues op. 36 composed by his exact contemporary, he exclaimed that those were no longer fugues. In fact, Rejcha comes as a very good example of "personal" counterpoint during the classical period. His music is filled with inventive and surprising contrapuntal pages.

Quote
But I wonder at the accuracy of Chopin's statement. I guess the "sometimes" is a necessary qualifier, since Beethoven was a master of counterpoint when it suited him to be.

Yes, "sometimes" is the proper meaning. I guess Chopin didn't doubt of Beethoven's genius, but he expressed his concern about what was "obscure" in Beethoven's music.

Offline Lethevich

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Re: Gurn's Classical Corner
« Reply #269 on: March 16, 2009, 09:33:23 AM »
I don't want to interrupt the conversation with silliness, so I'll keep this short...

In tagging ripped CDs, especially of Haydn, my obsession with uniformity of units has been serverely tested at times. The biggest confusion is: why do some symphonies generally have all sources (printed media, online, CD booklets, etc) prefix the tempo marking of the final movement with "finale", eg "IV. Finale: Allegro", wheras the same sources are all in agreement on not adding this prefix to the final movements of certain other works, eg "IV. Presto". Also, in modern use, would using the finale term be redundant (as we know what is coming anyway) or is there a logic behind its application?

...I get the feeling I just asked something very dumb :P
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Offline Gurn Blanston

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Re: Gurn's Classical Corner
« Reply #270 on: March 16, 2009, 11:34:54 AM »
I don't want to interrupt the conversation with silliness, so I'll keep this short...

In tagging ripped CDs, especially of Haydn, my obsession with uniformity of units has been serverely tested at times. The biggest confusion is: why do some symphonies generally have all sources (printed media, online, CD booklets, etc) prefix the tempo marking of the final movement with "finale", eg "IV. Finale: Allegro", wheras the same sources are all in agreement on not adding this prefix to the final movements of certain other works, eg "IV. Presto". Also, in modern use, would using the finale term be redundant (as we know what is coming anyway) or is there a logic behind its application?

...I get the feeling I just asked something very dumb :P

Not dumb at all, and unfortunately, my answer is based on circumstantial evidence.

Up until Beethoven, who wrote out everything down to the smallest detail, it was very common for composers to only write out a tempo indication when it was something other than "Allegro" for a first movement, and they also allowed the musicians to infer the tempo for the last movement by simply writing "Finale". Last movements were frequently Allegro also. If it was something else, it would be written out, but if it was Allegro, then they would just write Finale, OR (and here my lack of musical knowledge to bolster my historic knowledge plays me foul) they let the tempo be dictated by the time signature. Maybe a musician will help here. I know what I want to say but lack the technical knowledge to say it correctly. :-\

8)
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Offline Gabriel

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Re: Gurn's Classical Corner
« Reply #271 on: March 16, 2009, 12:20:34 PM »
Quote
Up until Beethoven, who wrote out everything down to the smallest detail...

This remark reminds me on an evolution during the classical period that, as much as I can remember, has not been touched in previous posts: the role of improvisation. Until the end of mid-classical (so until 1805 or so) it was quite an important part of any perfomance, in vocal or in instrumental music. Late classical began with the trend of indicating more precisely - sometimes obsessively - dynamics, tempi and other musical aspects. There are many examples for this. Beethoven is quite evident, but, for example, the fioriture that Hummel wrote in his piano scores are a sign of the same movement: in other times, that ornamentation would have been left freely to the discretion and good taste of the performer.

On improvisation in itself as an independent artistic expression, I cannot comment too much, for I don't know accurately what happened after 1830. Before 1830, the most distinguished soloists, and I think mainly about pianists, would normally offer an improvisation during a concert: Mozart, Beethoven and Hummel were all very fond of this practice. But the fact that Chopin labeled as such written compositions can give a certain clue on a change in mentality. What to say nowadays: to my knowledge, solo performances almost never delight the audience with improvisation.

Quote
I get the feeling I just asked something very dumb.

On the contrary, I think it's a very good question. Gurn exposed the most important points. It is not strange, in music before 1800 or so, to find movements without any tempo indication; if it was a concerto, and the middle movement had no precision on this point, you had to play it slowly. A finale was to be simply an allegro... but if it was following the typical Italian pattern, because, for example, a French influence on the work could make it be Tempo di menuetto. Anyway, these cases - to my experience - were generally described as that. I agree with Gurn that a professional musician or musicologist could help us a lot in this aspect.

Offline Gurn Blanston

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Re: Gurn's Classical Corner
« Reply #272 on: March 16, 2009, 05:49:43 PM »
This remark reminds me on an evolution during the classical period that, as much as I can remember, has not been touched in previous posts: the role of improvisation. Until the end of mid-classical (so until 1805 or so) it was quite an important part of any perfomance, in vocal or in instrumental music. Late classical began with the trend of indicating more precisely - sometimes obsessively - dynamics, tempi and other musical aspects. There are many examples for this. Beethoven is quite evident, but, for example, the fioriture that Hummel wrote in his piano scores are a sign of the same movement: in other times, that ornamentation would have been left freely to the discretion and good taste of the performer.

On improvisation in itself as an independent artistic expression, I cannot comment too much, for I don't know accurately what happened after 1830. Before 1830, the most distinguished soloists, and I think mainly about pianists, would normally offer an improvisation during a concert: Mozart, Beethoven and Hummel were all very fond of this practice. But the fact that Chopin labeled as such written compositions can give a certain clue on a change in mentality. What to say nowadays: to my knowledge, solo performances almost never delight the audience with improvisation.

Yes, it was a big change, and not necessarily one for the better. Although as you say, taste was of the ultimate importance, even (especially?) with cadenzas, and Beethoven, for one, simply didn't trust the average performer to improvise a cadenza that didn't detract from the effect rather than adding to it. As for modern performers performing their own cadenzas, and adding other improvisations, I can name exactly one, that is, Robert Levin. And he gets a fair amount of flak for it by the greater share of ignorant critics and other fans because he doesn't "play it as written". But what the heck, Mozart only wrote out a few, and they probably weren't what he played himself, just some things for students and amateurs. I am very fond of Levin's playing, and particularly his improvisations. Anyone who complains about them (unless he doesn't do one well) doesn't know anything about Classical music... :)

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On the contrary, I think it's a very good question. Gurn exposed the most important points. It is not strange, in music before 1800 or so, to find movements without any tempo indication; if it was a concerto, and the middle movement had no precision on this point, you had to play it slowly. A finale was to be simply an allegro... but if it was following the typical Italian pattern, because, for example, a French influence on the work could make it be Tempo di menuetto. Anyway, these cases - to my experience - were generally described as that. I agree with Gurn that a professional musician or musicologist could help us a lot in this aspect.

I have made approaches. Hoping to get some help here. :)

8)


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Offline Lethevich

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Re: Gurn's Classical Corner
« Reply #273 on: March 16, 2009, 09:58:46 PM »
Thank you very much - this also explains another oddity in music from this era (and the Baroque) which is some movements having the allegro marking in brackets.

A final question in this vein - excluding any additional markings, are the different spellings used by the same sources for the various minuets in Haydn's symphonies indicative of differences in style, or are they relics from different translations/editions? Examples (all from the Goodman cycle):

No.42: Menuet. Allegretto
No.43: Menuetto
No.49: Menuet
No.77: Menuetto. Allegro

From what I gather, menuetto is the Italian form of the word, menuet the French - could this indicate a subtle difference in the way they should be interpreted?

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Offline springrite

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Re: Gurn's Classical Corner
« Reply #274 on: March 16, 2009, 10:04:28 PM »
No.42: Menuet. Allegretto
No.43: Menuetto
No.49: Menuet
No.77: Menuetto. Allegro

From what I gather, menuetto is the Italian form of the word, menuet the French - could this indicate a subtle difference in the way they should be interpreted?

Sorry hehe, I am just a control freak...

Menuet IS a menuet while minuetto is like saying "in the style of a minuet". The difference is subtle.
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Offline Lethevich

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Re: Gurn's Classical Corner
« Reply #275 on: March 16, 2009, 10:07:55 PM »
Menuet IS a menuet while minuetto is like saying "in the style of a minuet". The difference is subtle.

Oh, that makes a lot of sense, thanks! :)
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karlhenning

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Re: Gurn's Classical Corner
« Reply #276 on: March 17, 2009, 05:25:39 AM »
Finally, another consideration is the evolution of the 'sonata form' - in the Baroque Period, instrumental music revolved around suites w/ mutliple movements often based on 'dance' formats; Haydn & Mozart as the 'supreme' examples of their times wrote & evolved the 'sonata form' in which the previous binary forms and dance forms of works were put into the more standard (from our modern perspective) into the 3 or 4 movement pieces w/ the 'sonata form' being the standard - this seems to be of major importance in the mid- to later 18th century, which continued at least into the early compositions of Beethoven.

I am confused by the qualification at least into the early compositions here;  Beethoven employed sonata design practically to his last score. (To say nothing of Brahms and later . . . .)  Or am I misreading you?

ChamberNut

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Re: Gurn's Classical Corner
« Reply #277 on: March 17, 2009, 05:29:16 AM »
For the last few weeks, I've been going through the 11 CD box set of Mozart's complete Serenades & Divertimenti for strings and wind, which includes performances from the Academy of St Martin-in-the-Fields, the Hollinger Wind and Netherlands Wind Ensemble (Philips).  There is such glorious, bright music that at times puts a smile on my face that I cannot hide.  It includes one of my favorite works of Mozart......no (not Eine kleine Nachtmusik, but that is a good one ;)), but the Serenade for Winds in B flat, K.361 Gran Partita.  This Mozart masterpiece moves me unlike anything else, with the only near equal being the Requiem.

Today, I'm finishing off the cycle by listening to disc 5, which includes the March for strings in D, K.445 and the mammoth Divertimento for strings in D, K.334   :)

When people discuss the greatness of Mozart, yes....we mention the great operas, symphonies, piano concerti, sacred works, string quartets and quintets, and even the orchestral serenades......but don't ignore the string and wind serenades and divertimenti!  It is much, much more than just Eine kleine Nachtmusik!!   :)


ChamberNut

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Re: Gurn's Classical Corner
« Reply #278 on: March 17, 2009, 05:31:47 AM »
On the subject of the minuet, or menuet, or the 'ole classical scherzo', as I like to call it.  I seem to greatly prefer Haydn's to Mozart's in this regard.  :-\

karlhenning

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Re: Gurn's Classical Corner
« Reply #279 on: March 17, 2009, 05:52:49 AM »
On improvisation in itself as an independent artistic expression, I cannot comment too much, for I don't know accurately what happened after 1830. Before 1830, the most distinguished soloists, and I think mainly about pianists, would normally offer an improvisation during a concert: Mozart, Beethoven and Hummel were all very fond of this practice. But the fact that Chopin labeled as such written compositions can give a certain clue on a change in mentality. What to say nowadays: to my knowledge, solo performances almost never delight the audience with improvisation.

Likewise, I wait on the word of one who knows better.  One notion that comes to mind is that, many of Chopin's appearances were in salons, and there would not have been any printed program.  Part of his aesthetic was that the composition should cohere well (be a composition) and yet have a sense of spontaneity.  To his audience, it would not have made a great difference, perhaps, if one of the works he performed had been 'genuine improvisation' or a consideredly-composed Impromptu (Schubert wrote Impromptus as well, of course).

To an extent, I think this is as much continuum as any break from (say) JS Bach.  Recall Old Bach's visit to Sans Souci, and Frederick's request that he improvise a fugue on the famously chromatically tortuous theme.  When Bach afterwards sent The Musical Offering, it was bookended with the Ricercars . . . one in three voices, the other in six.  IIRC it is understood that the six-voice fugue Bach composed at his desk as a belated compliance with the regal request, and that the three-voice fugue was largely based on his impromptu performance while at court.  As such, the three-voice Ricercar is a tour-de-force, no question . . . but (from a compositional perspective) there is a certain reliance of figuration-filler . . . nothing musically 'wrong' with that (of course), and yet an element which does not make it quite so distinctive, compositionally.

I suppose that part of the shading into the Romantic from the Classical, is the allied idea of making every note count, in a sense.  A resistance to repeating oneself;  not that Mozart or Haydn (any more than Vivaldi or Bach) were 'churning out copy', of course.  But a sort of attitude adjustment over time.