Link Search Menu Expand Document

Lecture Notes


Table of contents
  1. Lecture 3: Chamber Music and Beethoven
  2. Lecture 4: Romanticism
  3. Lecture 5: Modernism
  4. Lecture 10: The End?

Lecture 3: Chamber Music and Beethoven

  • Beethoven plays an important role in concert hall music and culture.
  • Chamber music: instrumental music for soloists or small ensembles. Designed for small-scale public performance.
  • Personal or private compositional statements
  • Major genres of chamber music: sonata, string quartet, piano trio, quintet
  • Multimovement cycle
    1. Allegro – sonata
    2. Andante, adagio – sonata, theme and variations
    3. Allegro, allegretto – scherzo, minuet
    4. Allegro, vivace – sonata, rondo, sonata-rondo
  • Sonata: explore limitations of different forms. Turn towards subjectivity and expression of feeling, inwardsness.
  • String quartet: two violins, viola, and a cello.
    • Generally in four movements
  • Rondo form: recurring melody
  • Beethoven: bridged classical and romantic periods. Born in Germany in a difficult childhood. Sent to Vienna.
    • Three preiods: early, middle, and late
    • Beethoven is synonymous with the symphony
  • Symphony No. 5 in C Minor
    • Fate motive: exposition
    • Medial Caesura – stop! modulation

Lecture 4: Romanticism

  • Music as an innocent luxury: Kant, music as ‘sensations without concepts’
  • Composers sought new modes of epxression and individuality.
  • It becomes difficult to discuss universal stylistic features
  • Expansion of orchestra
  • Tempo rubato: robbed time, hesitation and anticipation
  • Program music: instrumental music with literary associations
  • Absolute music: designed without explicit non-musical associations
  • War of the Romantics: program vs absolute music
  • Concert overtures
  • Felix Mendelssohn – born in Germany
  • Overture to A Midsummer Night’s Dream
  • Incidental music: complimentary, dramatic, evocative – different from melodrama
  • Norweigan Edvard Grieg, studied with Mendelssohn and Schumann
  • Berlioz: French, developed program symphony, wrote first book on orchestration
    • Idolized Shakespeare and Beethoven
  • Symphonie fantastique – unusual and hallucinatory work.
  • Idee fixe: recurrent theme represent obsession
  • Thematic transformation – variation on the idee fixe
  • Symphonic poem: Franz Liszt, single-movement symponic work. Program – a poem, play, narrative. Form from thematic transformation.
    • Strauss
  • Does the program ruin the music?
  • Johannes Brahms – future of Viennese classicism.
  • Symphony in F Major
  • Gustav Mahler

Lecture 5: Modernism

  • Modernism: rejection of Romantic aesthetics, confrontation with realities of modern life
  • Avant-garde, radical modernism
  • Asserting the superiority of the present over the past
  • Instincts over feelings
  • Changing meter, polyrhythm, non-Western syncopations, percussion, rhythmic complexity
  • Melody disintegrates: dissonance and consonance, polyharmony, atonality, new performance techniques
  • Impressionism: momentary effects, perceived light, ambiguity
  • Symbolism: a reaction against realism, detached language-use, effects
  • Debussy: art as sensuous experience, lack of particular clear demarcation or strict structure
  • Primitivism: ‘primitive’ styles, interest in Africa and Oceania. Utopian goals, new modes of expression – but often results in colonialist appropriation
  • Igor Stravinsky: hypnotism, folk song, rhythm. Leaned into reputation for provocation.
  • Expressionism – German, inspired by psychologicla developments, dreamlike and nightmarish
  • Schoenberg – self-taught composer and leading figure of the second Vieneese school
  • Ruth Crawford Seeger – belnded mysticism with radical modernism
  • Mahler: nostalgia for the freshness of early Romanticism, detachment from direct feeling; maximalism
  • William Grant Still, Florence Price

Lecture 10: The End?

  • “The death of classical music is perhaps its oldest continuing tradition.” – Rosen
  • Conservative and backwards-looking culture?
  • What counts as classical changes over time
  • ‘Concert hall tradition’
  • Process music: the gradual elaboration of simple musical ideas.
  • Phase music: combinations of repeating loops at different speeds.
  • Steve Reich and ethnographic work – reductivism?
  • Minimalism: short melodic and harmonic patterns
  • Steve Reich, Philip Glass
  • Psychedelic and hypnotic effect
  • Emphasis on immediacy
  • Film music and John Williams
  • Classical music migrating to a new dimension: Wagner and Mahler, leitmotifs; transformation of narrative
  • John Adams (1947): trained as a serialist but becomes a minimalist.