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Learning Goal: I’m working on a writing discussion question and need an explanat

by | Apr 26, 2022 | Writing | 0 comments

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Learning Goal: I’m working on a writing discussion question and need an explanation and answer to help me learn.Romantic Music Overview:Remember how the Enlightenment, in LM 5, was all about reason, thought, clarity? The standard classical forms (such as sonata-allegro, for example) grew out of that. Romanticism is a reaction against all that. It’s more about expression, mystery, the individual. Personal expression became more important than sticking to the consistent, established forms. Composers wanted to be more and more expressive. They deviated from standard forms in order to achieve greater emotional depth (remember Beethoven? Composers in the 19th century really followed his lead on that).Music served to portray an image, tell a story. . .————————————————————————————–Schubert: LiedIMPORTANT: When spoken out loud, this is pronounced as “LEED.” Before continuing, please go ahead and review Lied in the book and powerpoint.The textbook covers Schubert’s Erlkönig, which is one of the most popular songs in the Lied tradition, but here’s another great example:Gretchen am Spinnrade (Gretchen at the Spinning Wheel)(Note-there is a full English translation in the drop down menu with video information below the clip, so please follow that as you listen.)Gretchen is working at the spinning wheel (listen for fast-moving notes in piano—they represent the spinning wheel).There aren’t a whole lot of specifics given in this sad little song, but she’s sad because her beloved is gone. When her focus on him becomes more intense, the music shifts from a sad minor key to a happier major key (1:22)Here’s a translation of the lyrics there:For him only, I lookOut the windowOnly for him do I goOut of the house.His tall walk,His noble figure,His mouth’s smile,His eyes’ powerand then what happens? Does the spinning wheel ever stop?YES! When she talks about THE KISS (sein kuss!). The thought of it interrupts her work. (2:04)See what I mean? It’s a relatively small and contained piece, but exhibits some very precise imagery, using only music. Very true to the Lied tradition. ——————————————————————————————Modest Mussorgsky: Pictures at an Exhibition1839-1881; Russian (Notice how composers from all over Europe are becoming important again-not just the ones in Germany and Austria…) —Pictures at an Exhibitiona. Originally written for piano in 1874b. Based on artistic sketches by an architect friend of Mussorgsky, composed after his (the architect’s) death. Each movement musically portrays a different sketch. c. Intended to reflect viewings of the paintings, but even beyond that, the experience of being in the art gallery itself. It uses recurring interludes titled “Promenade” in between several of the larger movements based on paintings.Based on the title, and that information, is this program or absolute music?Transcribed for orchestra in the 20th century by composer Maurice Ravel, it has become a staple of the orchestral repertoire. Especially famous are the last 2 movements, seen in the following clips.Listen to the first part, the penultimate movement of the piece, the very ferocious “Hut on Fowl’s Legs.” It’s just a few minutes long, from 0:00-3:20 in this performance:The abrupt ending of “Hut on Fowl’s Legs” gives way to the glorious finale to the piece, “The Great Gate at Kiev.” In live performance there is no break between movements-quite a dramatic shift! Here’s the “Great Gate” from where it starts in the recording you just heard (3:20-ending):A movement that is continuously regal and moving, the final chords are some of the most powerful statements in all of orchestral music. You should listen to all of it, but for now, fast-forward to about 7:00 and listen to the magnificent ending of the work. I first heard this piece decades ago; it’s one of the first pieces of classical music that I really enjoyed. Even still, I can’t help but have a huge smile when it gets to that part! Chills every time!Here are the original paintings that inspired these two movements.The Hut on Fowl’s Legs:The Great Gate at Kiev:(In my opinion, the music honestly far exceeds the paintings in expression here.)I should mention that the “Kiev” in the title of this example is the same city that has been in the news quite a bit lately, as it is the capital of Ukraine, which has been under attack for several weeks. The history surrounding the “Great Gate” which was the inspiration for this movement is a pretty complicated subject that I won’t dive into here. Most of the stories surrounding the War in Ukraine have been quite horrific, and here’s hoping for a peaceful outcome to happen very soon. Getting back to the music, there are plenty of full live performances and recordings of the complete Pictures at an Exhibition that you easily search for, and it’s always great if you have a chance to hear it in a live performance! It’s also worth listening to the original solo piano version, which is not heard as often, but is some really amazing (and extremely difficult) piano music!Speaking of difficult piano music…———————————————————————————————–Lisztomania!So, this is a surprising and unusual trivia item related to classical music from this time period, centered around the composer/pianist/conductor/teacher, Frans Liszt. He is mentioned a couple times in the textbook and you are hearing one of his works in the Romantic Art Essay assignment. Liszt is one of the most important figures of the Romantic Era. In fact, he is credited with basically inventing the idea of a piano recital: a full-length program of solo piano music. His incredible virtuosic abilities as a piano performer and his compositions for the piano brought the instrument to unprecedented expressive heights. And audiences were obsessed with him! “Lisztomania” was an actual term that was eventually coined to describe the hysteria that would ensue whenever he would show up to perform on tour in a new city. Think “Beatlemania” but in the 1840’s at piano recitals. In some cases, fans would literally swarm him, trying to tear pieces of clothing or locks of hair to keep as mementos. When he would break a piano string during performances, people would try to collect them. And those are just a few ways the audience frenzy towards Liszt came about. Quite the spectacle, a very early and intense form of celebrity worship. This is not how piano recitals typically look!Today, you wouldn’t really think of a classical music performance or piano recital as the scene for such fan excitement and hysteria, but it was a common experience for Liszt and his listeners. What do you think accounts for that? What was the reason for all this hype?Liszt has a lot of wonderful music that I would recommend, not only for piano, but orchestra, and other types as well. Just to provide a brief example, here is a short piano work of his, Liebestraum. The beginning is rather serene, but pretty soon you can hear Liszt’s signature virtuosity on the instrument. This version is performed by Lang Lang, who appeared in an earlier discussion; this one is in a recital at Carnegie Hall. Once again, a very emotional, expressive performance, which Lang Lang is famous for. What do you think of this performance, and how does it compare to the Beethoven sonata from last time? Enjoy!https://youtu.be/2FqugGjOkQE(For some reason, this YouTube channel won’t allow embedding this particular video, so please click the link above to watch the performance. It’s slightly inconvenient but I think this is an ideal example and great music!) ———————————————————————————————————Aside from the items that were brought up above, the main topics I wanted to have you consider for this week’s discussion involve storytelling through music, which has been a major theme for a lot of the examples in this LM. Whether it’s Lied, opera, or instrumental program music, so much of this music tells a story somehow. Which stories were you the most interested in? Which examples do you think did the best job of connecting the music and the story? Why? Do you think any current musicians (any genre) do a good job of telling stories in music? If so, I’d like to hear about some of your favorites.

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