Part 3 – Nineteenth century innovations
Project One – Technical innovation and the orchestra
Musical instrument development
Heinrich David Stolzel – added valves to brass instruments
Theobald Boehm – German woodwind maker
Adolphe Sax – Belgian inventor
Possibly developed in 18th Century France , maybe 1740. The piccolo is a small flute an octave tighter than the concert flute. It is a transposing instrument where its music is written an octave lower than it’s sounding pitch.
Since the time of Beethoven it has been an integral part of the ot=rchestra often being used for special effects. By the end of the 20th Century most large orchestras had a Principal Piccolo Player. It is also used in a military band.
The Cor Anglais
The Cor Anglais was first developed shortly after 1720. It was created when a bilbos bell was added to an oboe de caccia, possibly by JT Weigel of Breslau. It is a tenor oboe in F which is a 5th below that of a standard oboe.
The design reminded people of angels’ horns which were depicted in religious imagery from medieval times onwards, but especially win German speaking Europe. In High German “embellish” meant angelic but in Middle German the word for England was “Engellant” and “engellish” meant English. Over time these became blurred and the Angels’ Horns became the English Horn.
In its early years it was used interchangeably with other tenor oboes.
In 1823, Henri Brod collaborated with the firm of Trieberts to modernise the instrument. It wasn’t until 1881 when a former Trieberts employee, Francois Loree opened his own workshop that we see the design we have today, based on the model devised by Henri Brod.
It wasn’t until the 20th century that the Cor Anglais established itself as a member of the orchestra and had more concertos written for it.
Project Two – Romantic Music
The Artist as “hero”
Exercise – Classical and Romantic
Listening without having researched the pieces
🎼Beethoven Piano Sonata No 1 in F minor, Op2 1795
Crisp clear notes throughout the piece and repeated motifs, with slight variations throughout. Each movement had a crisp clear sound to it, with repeated motifs with slight variations. I also heard some melancholia in this. Very much an established pattern of music. I found this peace easy to listen to but I did feel that it was rigid and devoid of a little emotion when played.
🎼 Beethoven Piano Sonata no 32 in C Minor Op 111 1821 – 22
A complete contrast to the first piece in that it had more of a personality. A very majestic sound which completely hits you when you first listen, however I found it overall more passionate in that, how can I put it, you felt that there was more personality in the piece and feelings were conveyed more. Maybe there was a story or a theme to it that I am currently unaware of. However I did find the overall piece a little to loud for my liking. If I were to coin my own phrase I would say, “too loud and too in my face”. I thought some of the parts were a little messy, I am not sure why but it did not sound right to me, odd to think I am saying this about Beethoven but that is what I heard. It wasn’t as easy a listen as the first piece and not as enjoyable. I preferred the first piece to this one.
What features of the earlier piano sonata might lead you to describe this as a Classical piece?
The piece is a clean, clear straightforward piece. There seems to be a defined structure to the piece and I would say that it is not very adventurous in terms of using the piano to its full extent. There is repeated use of motifs and phrases, albeit slightly different throughout the piece but not varying much
Does the later work retain any of these Classical elements
I do not believe so. I found there was a distinct difference in the way they are both presented and that leads me to the next question.
Why might you describe the later sonata as a Romantic work?
This sonata is so different from the first. The clean structure of the first one is replaced by a much more majestic sonata with very much more passion in it. The range of the piece seems much larger than the first one and there is much more impact. This hits your ears and screams passion in its first bars. I couldn’t hear much repeating of motifs and phrases but there seemed to be a story going on in the music that I am not aware of. I am looking forward to now researching the pieces and seeing what differences there are and whether or not I am on point.
🎼Beethoven Piano Sonata No 1 in F minor, Op2 1795
Having looked at a few sites including the ones that are listed below, I have concluded that I correctly identified the work as being classical and that I had identified the repeated motifs in different chords throughout the piece. I also identified the melancholia. Of course I had no idea that there was the heavy influence of Mozart or that this piece was dedicated to Joseph Haydn
🎼 Beethoven Piano Sonata no 32 in C Minor Op111 1821 – 22
I do think that I did get some of this right when I have looked at a number of sites (listed below) I believe that I have identified that it is a much more intense and passionate sonata than the first putting it firmly in the romantic era. It is a more involved piece which is mentioned and which I knew but I didn’t know that it has been much looked at and has further compositions based on it which is a compliment to Beethoven of course.
Exercise – using notes taken from http://www.hberlioz.com/Scores/fantas.htm
A ball The artist finds himself in the most diverse situations in life, in the tumult of a festive party, in the peaceful contemplation of the beautiful sights of nature, yet everywhere, whether in town or in the countryside, the beloved image keeps haunting him and throws his spirit into confusion.
The events in the second movement are conveyed using strings and harp to begin with, the strings are used to give a delicacy to the movement. Combined with the strings it can convey birdsong and feelings of nature – water running, animals playing. These are then used effectively in a waltz which sounds so happy that you feel that he is in the midst of the waltz enjoying himself but then you get that little frisson of melancholia which to me conveys that the image of his unrequited love has just broken through into his thoughts and he is temporarily sidetracked before he is transported back to what he was doing. The movement ends quite gaily in the waltz style.
March to the scaffoldConvinced that his love is spurned, the artist poisons himself with opium. The dose of narcotic, while too weak to cause his death, plunges him into a heavy sleep accompanied by the strangest of visions. He dreams that he has killed his beloved, that he is condemned, led to the scaffold and is witnessing his own execution. The procession advances to the sound of a march that is sometimes sombre and wild, and sometimes brilliant and solemn, in which a dull sound of heavy footsteps follows without transition the loudest outbursts. At the end of the march, the first four bars of the idée fixe reappear like a final thought of love interrupted by the fatal blow.
Very dour brass is used to start this movement and then comes what I think are maybe the cellos and double basses combined with the deep sounding of woodwind. These convey a heaviness which is a sleepy feeling but the pizzicato strings could be the visions interrupting his poisonous sleep. The procession is heavy on strings and brass but then quite brings with strings which make it lighter, almost elegiac, the footsteps are represented by the timpani and then at the end is the motif coming in, the unrequited love turns up before he is executed in his dream.
Does Berlioz succeed in conveying his narrative to music. Yes I do think that. If I were reading the programme notes and listening to the piece for the first time I would be able to feel the feelings coming through in the various instruments
🎼Symphony No 8, Pt II:XIII Alles Vergangliche
I chose to listen to one piece from the Apple Music Essentials selection and decided on the piece from the Symphony No 8.
This is a beautiful and haunting combination of choir and orchestra and I feel that it is perfectly harmony with the voices sounding like they are part of the orchestra. It feels so emotive and passionate with an added sense of the dramatic. I have certainly experienced something and was completely engaged with the particular excerpt of the piece.
Nationalism in music
Composers associated with nationalism include the following
Exercise – Expressing National Identity
🎼Issac Albeniz – Tango
What an amazing piece played on the piano. The Spanish guitar is widely known and heard of and for me this tango sounds like it could also be played perfectly well on the Spanish guitar. The style fo the piano playing totally mimics the sound that you would hear if you were near to a Spanish guitar. A sound you would know is a Spanish guitar.
🎼Edvard Grieg- In the Hall of the Mountain King
This was a surprise as I have heard of this piece of music and didn’t realise it was Grieg. Does it sound Norwegian? Initially no, however upon reflection I do believe that Norway has been greatly influenced by Russia over the centuries and this has a Russian flavour to it. The squat dance, I have seen performed on countless TV shows by Russian Kosasks and which we possibly refer to as the Kossack dance. So yes it could be Norwegian but to me its heavily Russian influenced.
An English identity . I looked and to me the English identity is expressed in 🎼The Prince of Denmark’s March by Jeremiah Clarke, also known as the Trumpet Voluntary in D Major and certainly not by Purcell. I think a truly English sound needs to be regal and triumphant and I do believe that this song expresses that. It also does sound slightly medieval when you hear it which sounds like a harpsichord. This piece of music has also been heard at many a Royal occasion and I have heard this played at weddings. It sounds, as some would day, prim, proper and quite regal.
Exercise – The Folk tradition
Ring O Roses -my earliest memory of this is from being in the school yard and we were just in a circle dancing around and singing this. I have no memory of who taught me this. I think I may have passed this onto my niece at some point because we use to hold hands and walk in a circle.
How does a new folk song develop? A songwriter will come up with lyrics which reflect something which has happened in the world at the time and they feel they can pass the story on through the medium of music. The songs are repeated and sung and people learn the lyrics like they would a traditional pop song and continue to sing to others. In a world of modern technology like we have today, the new folk songs may be recorded onto different medium and be replayed over and over again. It is up to others to replicate this as they see fit but in essence it would be learning the worlds and the tune and singing it. Also new folk songs could be adapted from prose written by writers old and new and turned into songs telling events and as they are recorded being passed on to the next next generation.
There are many contemporary folk songs and artists who are synonymous with them are Suzanne Vega, Billy Bragg, Bob Dylan and Joan Baez. Billy Bragg for example is especially known for his very political songs and his activism for the Labour Party.
Ring O Roses
Ring-a-ring o’ roses,
A pocket full of posies,
We all fall down.
I would say that this contains 5 phrases – the melody is simple and I think set un a 4/4 time, simple rhyming techniques. It is structured so that it is easy to remember and of course it still is today. It has been said that the song is based on the Great Plague and originated in London but reading about this online it seems that there are many different versions of this song worldwide but adhere to the simple pattern. It could be that the tune is simple enough to remember and teach children and the rhyme such that it is very easy to remember.
Project Three – New audiences
The piano recital
Exercise – Transcribing for the piano
Beethoven’s 5th symphony – the original as compared to the Transcription by Franz Liszt. The main difference is that the original piece has the full orchestration and the Transcription doesn’t. You are comparing a full orchestra with a piano. Whilst you can hear that it is he 5th Symphony when listening to the piano version I hear very little passion compared with the original. The original has mesmerising strings that convey the drama of the piece and you can hear the differences in pitch of the motifs as you move through the movements and whilst you can hear a difference in the piano it lacks the subtle nuances of the orchestra. The piano lacks the feeling conveyed by the full orchestra. I prefer the original for its drama. I think the Liszt version, whilst accomplished diminishes the impact the strings and the brass and percussion have on the original version. I believe that the strings make this first movement what it is, you are straight in there, bam, passion from the first bar, drama, which the List piece lacks.
The public concert
Exercise – Go to a concert.
Unfortunately unable to do so at this time
Project Four – Wagner and Opera
I started out by checking out the Encyclopedia Britannica, as my first go to point and then Wikipedia. Wikipedia is controversial but in my experience it can lead you to links that are official and give the information that you need. Wagner and his anti-semitic leanings are a very controversial subject, and according to Britannica they are well founded and can be widely read. The one piece I have seen referred to is the essay Das Judentum in der Musik; 1850 which is translated to Jewishness in Music. In this essay he attacks Jewish in general and also refers to Jewish composers Mendelssohn and Meyerbeer. I looked further into this essay and found an English translation. I didn’t read much before it became clear to me in the language used that Wagner was anti-semitic and to be honest I cannot read things like that. I found a link which gave excerpts and it is clear from the language used that Wagner was anti-semitic. I have gathered from reading a few things that he quite often blamed the Jewish for misfortunes in his personal life as well as his musical life, which I find alarming. The reasons why he does not like jews is so obvious to me and I find it sickening. However I read that he also maintained Jewish friends throughout his life, complimenting some on their talent. IT is so controversial and I think you could go on and on about it
This essay has been regarded by some as a landmark document in the history of German antisemitism. If this essay was one of the first published then yes I can see it being a landmark and important in this awful subject. I can see why Hitler would have liked him, he was unashamedly and publicly anti semitic and of course so was Hitler so he was going to find favour with this kind of composer and be one of his favourites. It was probably one of the reasons Hitler listened to his music and from there no doubt people have speculated and written about some of the works being anti semitic.
Should audiences concern themselves with political views or judge the music purely on its own merits – I think it depends. You may like an artist who is a dyed in the wool Labour Party supporter and you are a Conservative, does that mean you cannot like the music -No it doesn’t. You should listen to music and judge it for its merits, If that artist comes out with something which is radical and opposed to your own beliefs to an extent that you feel outrage then you make the decision to stay away but you may still love the music produced. It really is up to an individual to decide whether they feel comfortable or not.