Author Topic: Florestan´s Romantic Salon  (Read 21444 times)

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Offline Gordo

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Re: Florestan´s Romantic Salon
« Reply #120 on: May 23, 2017, 04:25:49 AM »
So half of middle-period Beethoven, among other things, is out? And what is that time, until around 1820, or the death of Beethoven, then?

I would need a more careful inspection of the dates of his works, but I'm quite sure that around 1809 Beethoven had concluded his "Classical stage."
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Offline k a rl h e nn i ng

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Re: Florestan´s Romantic Salon
« Reply #121 on: May 23, 2017, 04:27:06 AM »
Like [Haydn &] Beethoven before him, Brahms was both a classicist, and a progressive.  Schoenberg knew . . . .


(I added the brackets to retain some decorous relation to the thread)   0:)
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Offline Gordo

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Re: Florestan´s Romantic Salon
« Reply #122 on: May 23, 2017, 04:36:52 AM »
Know what, you're actually right: it might have finished in 1809, but it certainly lived longer than that. She was a still charming enough lady, albeit a little passé, when asiduously courted by Brahms. :laugh:

Right enough, too!

Many of us believe today that Haydn was the greatest genius of the Classical era. But he was also an epigone: after him was impossible to be "a Classical composer" as an entire form of life.

P.S.: I don't know what all of this really means. So for further explanations, please ask to Gurn.  ;D
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Offline Jo498

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Re: Florestan´s Romantic Salon
« Reply #123 on: May 23, 2017, 06:37:29 AM »
I think it is difficult to set a beginning to the "classical era" and almost impossible to set an endpoint. At the beginning we can try to delineate new stylist elements, the vanishing of figured bass (although the latter remained in practice to some extent for most of the 18th century), the changing of meaning of sonata and sinfonia. This started in the 1730s or so and by the 1760s the classical style is recognizable quite easily. Still, even later there would be pieces written that could (almost) have been written in 1720.
But how to draw a line in the early 19th century? People kept composing sonatas and symphonies in the classical sense with very similar structures even until the 20th century. And their "model" was "middle period Beethoven" at least as often as 1790 Mozart or Haydn.
For me Beethoven always was a "classical" composer. Among other things, Beethoven never sounds like "early something" but always like something in a fully fledged style. But it can hardly be denied that during Beethoven's lifetime music was composed that is clearly romantic, mainly Weber's Freischütz (1821) and later operas and Schubert's songs (for most of Schubert's instrumental music one can have an analoguous debate as with Beethoven's about whether it is "classical" or "romantic").
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Offline Gurn Blanston

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Re: Florestan´s Romantic Salon
« Reply #124 on: May 23, 2017, 07:19:37 AM »
This is an interesting angle on what is, really, a very old discussion.  :)

I agree with pretty much all that Gordo has said, but then, we have had this discussion before and ironed out our differing perceptions (as little as they may have been).  I would submit that Beethoven is an anomaly, he doesn't belong to either camp, he is just Beethoven. He is Classical in the sense of formal structure, but his use of 'progressive' harmonics puts him beyond, even, Haydn. Who, in case you don't know it, was in no sense 'normal' in either harmonic choices, sonata structure or pretty much anything else. He was so 'abnormal' that 19th century theorists simply left him out of the discussion when they were retroactively writing the 'rules' for Classical Era music.

Jo's open-ended statement about how difficult it is to tell when Classical became Romantic, or at least that is how I read that statement, is not as arbitrary as it has always been portrayed. Would anyone here agree with me that the real division in music is a question of degree, or radicalism or something  along that line?  One of the hallmarks of Classicism, and what gave it the name to start with, was that it had a solid structure, it had a strong element of concision, it had tonal balance and some inherent direction to it?  I think 19th century music gets away from all of those things. Weber, to start at the beginning, absolutely hated sonata form, and when he felt compelled to use it in a work, he always saved it for last and flogged himself to do it. As the century progressed, the music got longer and more elaborate, the tonal aspects got more diffused to the point where they had to be abandoned by the end of the century. The days of the 25 minute symphony became the days of the 25 minute movement.

BTW, if you want to see two composers (of several I could name) who went over to Romanticism in a traceable way, look at Hummel and Spohr. Their early sonatas (Classical) gave way to their later Potpourris (Romantic). And you can hear the differences.

Sorry, I am at work and I have to abandon this for now. Haydn is Classical, that's all I know... :)

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Offline Florestan

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Re: Florestan´s Romantic Salon
« Reply #125 on: May 23, 2017, 07:44:23 AM »
BTW, if you want to see two composers (of several I could name) who went over to Romanticism in a traceable way, look at Hummel and Spohr. Their early sonatas (Classical) gave way to their later Potpourris (Romantic). And you can hear the differences.

You can safely strike Spohr off this list. He never wrote any early sonatas to begin with (his one and only Piano Sonata op. 125 dates from 1843, when he was 59 --- not surprising, for he was a violinist) and most of his works are solidly Classical in form.  :D
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Offline Gurn Blanston

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Re: Florestan´s Romantic Salon
« Reply #126 on: May 23, 2017, 08:35:18 AM »
You can safely strike Spohr off this list. He never wrote any early sonatas to begin with (his one and only Piano Sonata op. 125 dates from 1843, when he was 59 --- not surprising, for he was a violinist) and most of his works are solidly Classical in form.  :D

He wrote plenty of early chamber music (string quintets and quartets) which are in sonata form. You know, in those days they would most certainly have been called sonatas (á trois, á quatuours, á etc.) since the terms we use today hadn't been invented yet. In his later years he wrote a bunch of potpourris, which are certainly not sonatas. Don't want to rely too much on terminology there, since it has changed so much. Anyway, it is the music itself that changed, not just the names.  :)

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Offline Jo498

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Re: Florestan´s Romantic Salon
« Reply #127 on: May 23, 2017, 08:58:33 AM »
I agree with pretty much all that Gordo has said, but then, we have had this discussion before and ironed out our differing perceptions (as little as they may have been).  I would submit that Beethoven is an anomaly, he doesn't belong to either camp, he is just Beethoven. He is Classical in the sense of formal structure, but his use of 'progressive' harmonics puts him beyond, even, Haydn. Who, in case you don't know it, was in no sense 'normal' in either harmonic choices, sonata structure or pretty much anything else. He was so 'abnormal' that 19th century theorists simply left him out of the discussion when they were retroactively writing the 'rules' for Classical Era music.
The so-called "classical forms" fit best for some classicist romantics like Mendelssohn... They also fit a lot of early and middle period Beethoven and a lot of Mozart very well. And some Haydn ;)

I think one problem is that there are at least 4 dimensions we tend to think about when differentiating classical from romantic (and similarly from baroque). And because they often don't line up, it is hard to draw lines

forms: "strict classical" vs. "free romantic"
harmonics: with classical dominated by tonic-dominant and romantic becoming generally freer and more daring
"form before content" (classical) vs. (extramusical) content dominating or determing the form
courtly vs. bourgeois or even revolutionary

None of them really works, except maybe the second one, narrowly understood.
The 4th point has to take into account that THE revolution was in musically firmly classical times 1789 and that of course pre-classical music was courtly as well (or even more courtly). And there was restoration in the time of the early romantics, but another revolution in 1830, another in 1848 and they don't really line up with stylistic changes in music.
The first point neglects that Haydn and Beethoven can be "freer" in forms than many "classicist romantics" (like Mendelssohn or Brahms or Dvorak) and that almost all important classical forms (both the typically 4 movement sonata/symphony/quartet/... and the typical forms of these movements) remain extremely important throughout the 19th century.
The third point has trouble with lots of "absolute" romantic music (like most Brahms and Chopin, but even a lot of Liszt and Schumann) and programmatic "classical" like Haydn's daytimes or Dittersdorf Ovid symphonies.

Quote
As the century progressed, the music got longer and more elaborate, the tonal aspects got more diffused to the point where they had to be abandoned by the end of the century. The days of the 25 minute symphony became the days of the 25 minute movement.
But such movements were never really the standard. Mahler's and Bruckner's movements are long both compared with Beethoven and with, say Roussel or Hartmann or other 20th century composers. And they can be formally rather strict. The first movement of Mahler's 6th take around 20 min but it is in a rather strict sonata form. Only a little late romantic music exceeds the lengths of Beethoven's and Schuberts most extensive pieces and many early/high romantic pieces are not much longer than late Haydn/Mozart and early Beethoven. A late Mozart or Haydn symphony lasts around 25-30 min., a "typical" Beethoven symphony 35-40 and there are plenty of romantic symphonies within that range. Schubert's Great C major and Beethoven's 9th are long even for late romantic standards.
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Offline Florestan

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Re: Florestan´s Romantic Salon
« Reply #128 on: May 23, 2017, 09:12:11 AM »
Berlioz and Wagner were probably the most fully Romantic: they never wrote "absolute" music.
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Offline k a rl h e nn i ng

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Re: Florestan´s Romantic Salon
« Reply #129 on: May 23, 2017, 09:13:40 AM »
Never?
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Offline Mahlerian

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Re: Florestan´s Romantic Salon
« Reply #130 on: May 23, 2017, 09:14:07 AM »
But such movements were never really the standard. Mahler's and Bruckner's movements are long both compared with Beethoven and with, say Roussel or Hartmann or other 20th century composers. And they can be formally rather strict. The first movement of Mahler's 6th take around 20 min but it is in a rather strict sonata form. Only a little late romantic music exceeds the lengths of Beethoven's and Schuberts most extensive pieces and many early/high romantic pieces are not much longer than late Haydn/Mozart and early Beethoven. A late Mozart or Haydn symphony lasts around 25-30 min., a "typical" Beethoven symphony 35-40 and there are plenty of romantic symphonies within that range. Schubert's Great C major and Beethoven's 9th are long even for late romantic standards.

It follows the outline of sonata form but doesn't employ the traditional content or rhetoric.

- The movement inverts the normal relationship of tension/relaxation throughout.  Traditionally a tonally stable first subject is contrasted with a more active second subject, while here a tonally unstable and turbulent first subject is contrasted with a slightly more stable second subject.  Traditionally the greatest tension is in the center of the movement in the development, but here the greatest tension is in the exposition and recapitulation/coda, and the development moves towards (and then away from) a state of repose and relaxation.

-  The recapitulation doesn't present the second theme group in the tonic key, but rather in the subdominant (initially it had been in the submediant).  The presentation of that theme in the tonic is reserved for the end of the coda.

- Tonic/dominant polarity is de-emphasized, and the stability of traditional moments such as the half cadence that ends the first theme group is weakened by dissonances.  The movement does not end with a conclusive cadence of any kind, but rather a repeated reaffirmation of the tonic.

It should be mentioned in this context that the loosening of dominant/tonic and key relationships is a key factor in allowing movements like Mahler's/Bruckner's/late Beethoven to continue for so long without losing momentum or coherence.  The necessity of closing every period with a clear cadence of some kind would result in utter monotony if carried out over so long a span.
« Last Edit: May 23, 2017, 09:19:49 AM by Mahlerian »
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Offline Florestan

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Re: Florestan´s Romantic Salon
« Reply #131 on: May 23, 2017, 09:16:36 AM »
Never?

Probably an exaggeration. In any case, none which is part of their canonic body of works.
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Offline Jo498

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Re: Florestan´s Romantic Salon
« Reply #132 on: May 23, 2017, 09:23:25 AM »
Of course, Mahler 6th is not some simple neoclassicist piece. (Although I guess one will find several of the "subverting" elements already in earlier music - still it has a classical dimension, it clearly references the classical form even while subverting it in some respects.) Neither are most of Bruckner's movements.
My point was that the sheer length does not say very much about how "free" or "formalist" a piece is and that the very long pieces of Mahler and Bruckner are also long compared to a lot of late romantic or early modernist symphonies. Overall the scale set by Beethoven's 9th was only rarely exceeded and in piano or chamber music most (late) romantic pieces are shorter than Beethoven's op.106 and op.132 or Schubert's last piano sonata and his string quintet.
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Offline k a rl h e nn i ng

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Re: Florestan´s Romantic Salon
« Reply #133 on: May 23, 2017, 09:27:13 AM »
Probably an exaggeration.

I do not think it any exaggeration in Berlioz's case.  But Wagner is famous for having written the most elderly juvenile Symphony in C, at age 19  ;)
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Offline Mahlerian

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Re: Florestan´s Romantic Salon
« Reply #134 on: May 23, 2017, 09:28:38 AM »
Of course, Mahler 6th is not some simple neoclassicist piece. (Although I guess one will find several of the "subverting" elements already in earlier music - still it has a classical dimension, it clearly references the classical form even while subverting it in some respects.) Neither are most of Bruckner's movements.
My point was that the sheer length does not say very much about how "free" or "formalist" a piece is and that the very long pieces of Mahler and Bruckner are also long compared to a lot of late romantic or early modernist symphonies. Overall the scale set by Beethoven's 9th was only rarely exceeded and in piano or chamber music most (late) romantic pieces are shorter than Beethoven's op.106 and op.132 or Schubert's last piano sonata and his string quintet.

True, and I suppose it depends on what we would call a "strict" sonata form.  For me personally, I would require that the tonal outline (key structure) also follow the traditional pattern, at least insofar as balancing an exposition that moves away from the tonic area to a recapitulation that moves back towards the tonic area.
"l do not consider my music as atonal, but rather as non-tonal. I feel the unity of all keys. Atonal music by modern composers admits of no key at all, no feeling of any definite center." - Arnold Schoenberg

Offline k a rl h e nn i ng

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Re: Florestan´s Romantic Salon
« Reply #135 on: May 23, 2017, 09:29:41 AM »
I do not think it any exaggeration in Berlioz's case.  But Wagner is famous for having written the most elderly juvenile Symphony in C, at age 19  ;)

Be fair:  if I had presumed to write a symphony when I was 19, it would have stunk on ice.
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Offline Florestan

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Re: Florestan´s Romantic Salon
« Reply #136 on: May 23, 2017, 09:31:06 AM »
I do not think it any exaggeration in Berlioz's case.

Rêverie et caprice Op. 8, for violin and orchestra is the closest he got to "absolute music".

Quote
  But Wagner is famous for having written the most elderly juvenile Symphony in C, at age 19  ;)

Yes, I had checked and he has quite a bunch of "absolute music" juvenilia.
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Offline k a rl h e nn i ng

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Re: Florestan´s Romantic Salon
« Reply #137 on: May 23, 2017, 09:36:08 AM »
Yes, I had checked and he has quite a bunch of "absolute music" juvenilia.

When I am in Devil’s Advocate mode, I rather wonder if Wagner’s dependence on extra-musical stuff was not an inherent compositional weakness.
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Offline Florestan

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Re: Florestan´s Romantic Salon
« Reply #138 on: May 23, 2017, 09:39:50 AM »
When I am in Devil’s Advocate mode, I rather wonder if Wagner’s dependence on extra-musical stuff was not an inherent compositional weakness.

The same as with Verdi, you mean?  :D
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Re: Florestan´s Romantic Salon
« Reply #139 on: May 23, 2017, 09:41:52 AM »
Verdi wrote a very nice string quartet, so, no.

And while Berlioz wrote no absolute music, he was a master of, erm, "absolute forms."
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