Author Topic: Florestan´s Romantic Salon  (Read 38378 times)

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Offline Cato

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Re: Florestan´s Romantic Salon
« Reply #160 on: December 20, 2018, 01:45:22 PM »
If one takes the first half of the 20th century as a time when late (sometimes too late or overripe ;)) romanticism was still alive, I think the impression is somewhat skewed. With the Russians it seems obvious that "modernists" and "romantics" (both very rough and clicheed terms) existed in parallel, sometimes (like Prokofieff) in one person. Among the German/Austrian composers it seems mainly that the big names overshadow the others. But Korngold, Schmidt, Schreker, Joseph Marx, Hausegger and others did exist and they would probably be as well known as some of the British composers if there had not been Mahler, Strauss, Schönberg etc. To put it somewhat malignantly, if there is no first tier in a region, it is obvious that the second tier will be more famous than someone else's second tier.

Another point could of be that the German/Austrian composers of the late 19th century had "exhausted" romanticism to such an extent that more of their immediate successors looked for new, sometimes more extravagant ways of composition. Russian music had a much shorter history but it was also rich enough to produce its "own brand" of both modernism and late/postromanticism (similarly probably for the Czech). But British music was really dormant between ca. 1700 and the late 19th century. (The most important "British" composers between Purcell and Elgar were Handel, Haydn and Mendelssohn...)

There was far more "space" for Elgar and the somewhat younger composers like RVW to do their own particular version of later romantic or also modern music than for a German/Austrian born in ca. 1870.


It is interesting to listen across the decades and think about such things.  Certainly in the 1960's, when I first heard e.g. Prokofiev's Second Symphony, Third Symphony, Chout, etc.   (i.e. pre-Soviet Prokofiev), I would have automatically described him as a "Modernist" and an example of someone breaking away from Romanticism.

Now I am doubtful about that seemingly too easy classification.  To be sure, Rachmaninov's works are more recognizable as 19th-century (post- ?) Romantic efforts, and he would not have agreed (and did not agree) with the younger composer's pushing of tonality.  Yet it is difficult to find a more emotional and even emotionally hysterical (in the unpleasant sense of insanity) work than The Fiery Angel along with its hybrid offspring Symphony #3.  (Think of it as Carl Maria von Weber's "Wolf's Glen" scene from  Der Freischuetz on steroids  ;)   ). In fact more and more I hear Mahler in pre-Soviet Prokofiev, especially given the extremes toward which both composers seemed to gravitate. No, I am not saying that Prokofiev knew of or studied MAhler, simply that great minds  act in parallel m

Shostakovich famously found inspiration in Mahler, and the entire symphonic oeuvre of Karl Amadeus Hartmann, who was nearly a generation younger than Prokofiev, is very "Romantic" in its expressivity, works which often push against boundaries with nearly manic energy.  Hartmann is often seen as the greatest descendant of the central European symphonic tradition. 

Brahms the Progressive is the title of a famous essay by Arnold Schoenberg, who saw himself as at least a partial descendant of Brahms, as well as Mahler and Bruckner.  (See Dika Newlin's famous book Bruckner, Mahler, Schoenberg) and who  brought the art movement of German Expressionism into music.  But was not German Expressionism the further development of Romanticism, a variation into unknown keys, so to speak?  Are not Erwartung and even the later Moses und Aron full of the DNA of earlier "Romantic" operas, despite the "mathematical coldness" of the 12-tone system?   And if Romanticism is about death, love, yearning, and inchoate desires to express things inexpressible, does not "composing with 12 notes" open up new possibilities to explore precisely those things?

« Last Edit: December 20, 2018, 03:16:27 PM by Cato »
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Offline Irons

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Re: Florestan´s Romantic Salon
« Reply #161 on: December 21, 2018, 01:14:09 AM »
Just what has "hegemony of the proletariat" got to do with Romanticism / romanticism? And what do you make of the firmly anti-Bolshevik yet unabashedly romantic Russian émigrés Rachmaninoff, Medtner and Bortkiewicz?

Good point. I was more thinking of the problems encountered by Shostakovich. His music and up to a point, Prokofiev's was influenced by state intervention. It took 25 years for Shostakovich's 4th Symphony to be premiered. A symphony I find to be his  least romantic.
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Offline Cato

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Re: Florestan´s Romantic Salon
« Reply #162 on: January 12, 2019, 09:16:28 AM »
If one takes the first half of the 20th century as a time when late (sometimes too late or overripe ;)) romanticism was still alive, I think the impression is somewhat skewed. With the Russians it seems obvious that "modernists" and "romantics" (both very rough and clicheed terms) existed in parallel, sometimes (like Prokofieff) in one person. Among the German/Austrian composers it seems mainly that the big names overshadow the others. But Korngold, Schmidt, Schreker, Joseph Marx, Hausegger and others did exist and they would probably be as well known as some of the British composers if there had not been Mahler, Strauss, Schönberg etc. To put it somewhat malignantly, if there is no first tier in a region, it is obvious that the second tier will be more famous than someone else's second tier.

Another point could of be that the German/Austrian composers of the late 19th century had "exhausted" romanticism to such an extent that more of their immediate successors looked for new, sometimes more extravagant ways of composition. Russian music had a much shorter history but it was also rich enough to produce its "own brand" of both modernism and late/postromanticism (similarly probably for the Czech). But British music was really dormant between ca. 1700 and the late 19th century. (The most important "British" composers between Purcell and Elgar were Handel, Haydn and Mendelssohn...)
There was far more "space" for Elgar and the somewhat younger composers like RVW to do their own particular version of later romantic or also modern music than for a German/Austrian born in ca. 1870.

It is interesting to listen across the decades and think about such things.  Certainly in the 1960's, when I first heard e.g. Prokofiev's Second Symphony, Third Symphony, Chout, etc.   (i.e. pre-Soviet Prokofiev), I would have automatically described him as a "Modernist" and an example of someone breaking away from Romanticism.

Now I am doubtful about that seemingly too easy classification.  To be sure, Rachmaninov's works are more recognizable as 19th-century (post- ?) Romantic efforts, and he would not have agreed (and did not agree) with the younger composer's pushing of tonality.  Yet it is difficult to find a more emotional and even emotionally hysterical (in the unpleasant sense of insanity) work than The Fiery Angel along with its hybrid offspring Symphony #3.  (Think of it as Carl Maria von Weber's "Wolf's Glen" scene from  Der Freischuetz on steroids  ;)   ). In fact more and more I hear Mahler in pre-Soviet Prokofiev, especially given the extremes toward which both composers seemed to gravitate. No, I am not saying that Prokofiev knew of or studied Mahler, simply that great minds act in parallel ways at times.

Shostakovich famously found inspiration in Mahler, and the entire symphonic oeuvre of Karl Amadeus Hartmann, who was nearly a generation younger than Prokofiev, is very "Romantic" in its expressivity, works which often push against boundaries with nearly manic energy.  Hartmann is often seen as the greatest descendant of the central European symphonic tradition. 

Brahms the Progressive is the title of a famous essay by Arnold Schoenberg, who saw himself as at least a partial descendant of Brahms, as well as Mahler and Bruckner.  (See Dika Newlin's famous book Bruckner, Mahler, Schoenberg) and who  brought the art movement of German Expressionism into music.  But was not German Expressionism the further development of Romanticism, a variation into unknown keys, so to speak?  Are not Erwartung and even the later Moses und Aron full of the DNA of earlier "Romantic" operas, despite the "mathematical coldness" of the 12-tone system?   And if Romanticism is about death, love, yearning, and inchoate desires to express things inexpressible, does not "composing with 12 notes" open up new possibilities to explore precisely those things?



Bump! 

To quote myself: "And if Romanticism is about death, love, yearning, and inchoate desires to express things inexpressible, does not "composing with 12 notes" open up new possibilities to explore precisely those things?"

I think again of Schoenberg's Moses und Aron, not to mention the String Trio and Berg's Lulu, in connection to this question.
"Meet Miss Ruth Sherwood, from Columbus, Ohio, the Middle of the Universe!"

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Offline North Star

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Re: Florestan´s Romantic Salon
« Reply #163 on: January 12, 2019, 02:12:19 PM »
I have also thought for some time of the Epressionism of Schönberg, Berg etc as the height of Romanticism, instead of as a breaking from it. Much of early Modernism is also a kind of urban Romanticism, treating factories and streets as the previous generations treated forests and rivers.
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Offline Cato

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Re: Florestan´s Romantic Salon
« Reply #164 on: January 12, 2019, 03:52:16 PM »
I have also thought for some time of the Epressionism of Schönberg, Berg etc as the height of Romanticism, instead of as a breaking from it. Much of early Modernism is also a kind of urban Romanticism, treating factories and streets as the previous generations treated forests and rivers.

Fascinating idea, although my first impression is that it needs to be placed on its head, i.e. is not early urban Modernism critical of the urban life it finds, rather than nostalgic or laudatory?  I am thinking primarily of the critical/satirical novels of Sinclair Lewis of the 1910's and 1920's, along with things like The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald.

On the other hand, Thomas Mann's Buddenbrooks and The Magic Mountain along with Hermann Hesse's early works like Knulp and Beneath the Wheel would seem to have a variation of the Romantic spirit, albeit also rather critical and/or satirical. 

Early 20th Century Science Fiction can be viewed as having a "Romantic" connection I would think: fantasy, optimistic and pessimistic, themes on human life: here I would mention the works of H.G. Wells, and the movies Metropolis, Just Imagine, and King Kong.

"Meet Miss Ruth Sherwood, from Columbus, Ohio, the Middle of the Universe!"

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Offline North Star

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Re: Florestan´s Romantic Salon
« Reply #165 on: January 12, 2019, 04:52:49 PM »
Fascinating idea, although my first impression is that it needs to be placed on its head, i.e. is not early urban Modernism critical of the urban life it finds, rather than nostalgic or laudatory?  I am thinking primarily of the critical/satirical novels of Sinclair Lewis of the 1910's and 1920's, along with things like The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald.

On the other hand, Thomas Mann's Buddenbrooks and The Magic Mountain along with Hermann Hesse's early works like Knulp and Beneath the Wheel would seem to have a variation of the Romantic spirit, albeit also rather critical and/or satirical. 

Early 20th Century Science Fiction can be viewed as having a "Romantic" connection I would think: fantasy, optimistic and pessimistic, themes on human life: here I would mention the works of H.G. Wells, and the movies Metropolis, Just Imagine, and King Kong.
True, there's certainly also a criticizing/mocking tone to many of these portrayals of urban life in modern art.
"Everything has beauty, but not everyone sees it." - Confucius

My photographs on Flickr

 

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