Composers: Romantic through Populist

When they lived, where they worked, pieces/genres they're known for

Romantic 1800-1900

Beethoven 5th Symphony C Minor 1808

1770 - 1827

-Bridged the gap between Classical and Romanticism
-Considered a Romantic icon (withdrawn, misunderstood, living for art & posterity alone, redeemer for society)
-Born in Germany, his father was a court musician (& abusive alcoholic)
-Spent most of his career in Austria
-First musician to make career as composer

Known For:
-Only wrote 9 symphonies
-Music as psychological progression
-Expansion of traditional forms & materials (e.g. Transition from III to IV movement of 5th Symph has 3 trombones in the triumphant portion - this was UNPRECEDENTED)
-SCHERZO replaces Minuet; is faster & more violent
-MOTIVE UNITY da da da daaaa - grows symphony around it
-Broader instrumentation (added trombone, piccolo, contra bassoon

1802 - Heiligenstadt Testiment: Emotional letter written to his brothers; 1/2 proclamation of his artistic ideals and 1/2 suicide note (was becoming deaf by 32)

1813 - HOFFMAN ON BEETHOVEN: 5th Symphony "leads listener into the world of the Infinite."
-Music is the most Romantic of all the arts because it expresses the INFINITE
-Beethoven's music expresses all the emotions (fear, awe, pain) that are the essence of the Romantic. Must study his music to reach the understanding of what is being conveyed

Schubert Erlking 1815

1797 - 1828

Master of the Lied
Composed 630 lieder & Choral songs
1808 Erlking is best known of his Lieds

-Born in Vienna
-Son of lower-middle class schoolmaster
-Never married, never had a job
-Supported by the 'Schubartarians' who funded his teaching & writing; perfect atmosphere for Lied (living room)
-Lived under Beethoven's shadow in Vienna but never met him
-Died @ 31 of Typhoid fever

Berlioz Symph Fantastique 1830

1803 - 1869

1830 Symphonie Fantastique
Opium-induced dream/obsession based around Harriet

-Born in rural France
-Father sent him to medical school in Paris (climbed out window to attend Conservatory)

-Unprecedented orchestral tone color (130 instruments; wanted 200)
-CONDUCTOR BECOMES INDISPENSABLE (wrote treatises on orchestration & conducting)
-IDEE FIXE: repeating image appears throughout
-FORMAL DECONSTRUCTION: Bending of forms for dramatic emphasis (5 movements)
-REAL WORLD TOPOI: Dies Iray (mass for the dead) in V mov
-ONOMATOPOETIC: wind rustling, bird calls, bell tolling in churchyard; tremelo=high winds; polyphonic fugue=witches dancing
-Influenced by:
--Opera (drama; Program=Recitative; Symph=Aria
--Beethoven (5th symphony)
--Shakespeare (linked high drama and humor)

-Berlioz & PM are ahead of their time (others just have to catch up)
-PM cultivates links between music and other art forms; links music to something outside itself
-PM is progression, expands its ability to reach across time
-Music expresses something inexpressible; shackling it to PM limits it and its interpretation
-Constrains music; imposes composer's ideas upon listener

Chopin Nocturne F Sharp 1831

1810 - 1849

CHARACTER PIECE: Nocturne - dreamy depiction of nighttime characters

-Born in Poland, moved to Paris
-Father was private school teacher
-Only wrote for Piano
-Died of TB @ 39

Nocturne's dreaminess caused by:
-chromatic, descending motion
-separated melody & harmony w/broken, simple chords
-presents idea, then ornaments it (gives improv feeling)

Schumann Carnavale 1835, Diechterliebe 1840

1810 - 1856

1835 - Carnavale: Song Cycle
(Florestan/Eusebius Character Pieces)
1840 - Im wunderschönen Monat Mai: Lied
(from Diechterliebe Song Cycle)

-Born in Germany
-Father was writer, Mother wanted him to be a lawyer
-Became virtuoso, injured his hand and could only compose
-Married his music teacher's daughter (Clara)
-Tried to kill himself, was institutionalized & died there

-20 Characters from Commedia dell'arte
-Florestan/Eusebius are Schumann's alter egos & pen names for his critical writing
-Florestan: dramatic, progressive, rapid changes in dynamics & accents
-Eusebius: quiet, pedaling, pull/push of rhythm (intellectually contemplative)

DIECHTERLIEBE (song cycle of 16 poems/Lieds)
Im wunderschön Monat Mai (Lied)
-Most famous of his Song Cycles
-love poems trace a psychological progression from cautious optimism to disillusionment and despair (by Heine)
-unrequited longing shown in how piece ends in "mid air;" no cadence
-STROPHIC (repeated) setting (like folk songs & popular music)

Verdi Rigoletto 1851

1812 - 1901

-Son of a shopkeeper in rural Italy
-Sent to Milan to study music, attained international stature, writing 24 operas (despite not getting admitted to Conservatory)
-Known for tuneful melodies, and contrasting of light/dark for dramatic purpose
-Wife and 2 babies died within first 2 years (may explain his love duets between Rigoletto & Gilda)
-Became figurehead of Liberation movement (against Austrian control of Italy)
-Operas follow the "numbered" structure
-Frequent use of tuneful, conventional phrase structures
-Recitative is melodic & dramatic, accompanied by full orchestra
-Masterful creator of ensemble pieces (e.g. quartet in III)
-Rigoletto, Aida, La Traviata are some of his best known works
-National hero (300,000 people attended is funeral)

Wagner The Valkerie 1870

1813 - 1883

Born in Liepzig during Napoleanic Wars
Father was a writer (died early)
Idolized Shakespeare & Beethoven

-Moved away from 'numbered operas' to MUSIC DRAMAS
-Published essay attacking Mendelssohn & other Jews in music (taken up by Nazi's 50 years later)
-Sponsored by Mad King Ludwig of Bavaria (got his operas produced)
-Mythological subject matter (Norse gods)
-Control freak who built his own opera house that only staged his productions (GESAMTKUNSTWERK=Great Work; ideal union of diverse artistic forms e.g. composing+set design+singing)

The Valkerie is:
-part of a massive, 4-part work (The Ring), meant to be performed over 4 consecutive nights
-took 25 years to complete
-chromatic without a lot of cadences
-large orchestral production w/big orchestral effects and big voices
-contains LIETMOTIVs (like idee fixe, musical representation of character or idea that repeats) representing Siglinde (violins) & Sigmund (cellos)
-example of Romantic grandiosity

20th Century - Pre Modernism

Ives Yale Princeton 1898

1874 - 1954


-Son of a band leader born in CT
-Didn't do well at Yale
-Graduated and moved to NYC to sell insurance
-Nationalist composer
-Experimental (block to hold down 16 keys at a time + play with elbow)
-Not "discovered" until the 1950s
-Precursor to Schoenberg & Stravinsky

-ALEATORIC - choices left to discretion of performer
-Radical use of the traditional de-familiarizes the ordinary
-Found parallels in the Modernist art world (e.g. Picasso's 'Guitar')
-Innovative techniques in his rhythm, harmony, and form

-Incorporates American materials (band marches, folk songs, hymns) among radical Modernist techniques
-Highly dissonant atonal or polytonal (to invoke "real world")
-Collage-like layers of multiple levels of distinct sound (HALLMARK OF IVES WORK)


20th Century - Impressionism

Debussy Nuages 1899

1862 - 1918


-Studied at the Paris Conservatory (from age 10)
-Played in trio in Russia (for patron of Tchaikovsky's)
-Russian, Indonesian & German influences
-Incorporated Symbolists & Impressionist poets into his music

**EMPHASIZES Musical color over form
-Marked the end of Romanticism (backlash against Wagner)
-Focus on COLOR: Subtle, mysterious washes of sound
-Themes and motives are fragmentary and tentative
-Evokes sense of Impressionist painting (e.g. Monet), natural themes with blurry lines
-Parallel motion evokes smooth surface - chords move parallel to each other w/o establishing a sense of tonality

-fluid, overlapping fragments of melody which appear and disappear (like clouds)
-very relaxed meter imbues piece with a sense of stasis

20th Century - Modernism

Schoenberg Pierrot Lunaire 1912

1874 - 1951


-Self taught
-Fled Germany for LA in 1941
-Saw his legacy as pushing his predecessors' works to the limit
-Programmatic (based on poems)
-Early music extended Romanticism
-Later work Modernist: increased chromaticism & tonality; very controversial (cause it's ugly to listen to)
-SERIALISM - set series of 12-tones used only in relation to each other & not to a tonic; used to compose all his pieces; EACH PIECE HAD NEW SERIES

PIERROT LUNAIRE is an example of Middle period of Schoenberg's work
-Atonal (EMANCIPATION OF DISSONANCE: freedom from the need to resolve dissonance into consonance)
-Employs SPRECHTSTIMME: avant garde 'speak/song' form of declaimed speech
-Fragmented, distorted forms; unnerving imagery
-Voice fighting against instruments creates tension
-Sinking motive (evokes descending black butterflies)

Part of 21 miniatures
Scored for solo voice and 5 players playing 8 instruments (voice, piano, flute/piccolo, clarinet/bass clarinet, violin/viola

Parallels EXPRESSIONIST painting (e.g. Munch's 'The Scream')
Pushes limits of inner conflict, fear, subconscious; fragmented, distorted forms

Stravinsky - Rite of Spring 1913

1882 - 1971

Backlash against Romanticism

EMANCIPATED RHYTHM - no regular rhythm or metric patterns; accents and meters changed from measure to measure

-Son of an opera singer
-Studied law; turned to music at 19
-Studied with Rimsky-Korsakov

1913 Rite of Spring Ballet
(Part I)

-Avant garde spectacle (collaboration of new costumes, staging, musical elements)
-marked dissonance (atonal dissonant "tonic")
-free rhythm, amorphous meter
-many fermatas
-layered, fragmented cells
-wind instruments play in strange registers
-fragments of melodies over dissonant ostinatos

20th Century - Jazz (Swing)

Duke Ellington Conga Brava 1940

1899 - 1974

Ellington from DC; son of a White House butler
Called "Duke" due to his regal bearing
Considered being an artist, but started playing in bands then formed his own

-African and European musical traditions brought together in the south
-Vitality and improvisation (jamming)
-Musical layering of complicated rhythmic & textured patterns

RAGTIME was first (Joplin); Left-hand plays rhythmic bass pattern; Right-hand plays displaced melody on top

BLUES came next
Themes of depression and loneliness
Raspy vocal-based style accompanied by instruments (piano)
Call/Response between vocals and instruments

-Jazz originated in New Orleans
-Syncopated popular music and free melody (within square phrases)
-Jamming (collective improv)
-Trumpet in charge (Armstrong)

Great Depression hits
SWING - 30s & 40s Big Band with lots of musicians (cheap due to Depression)
Lots of Brass & Reed Instruments
White leaders (Goodman, Miller)
Ellington best known of Black BB leaders

20th Century - Jazz (Bebop)

Charlie 'Bird' Parker

1920 - 1955

Shift away from Big Band sound to smaller technical instrumental virtuosity gave rise to BEBOP

BEBOP: Avant garde comes to jazz (emancipation of harmony, tonality & rhythm)
Modern-style Jazz after WWII

-Parker is considered the King of Bebop
-Born in KC moved to NYC at 19
-Hooked on heroin/alcohol, died at 34 after failed suicide attempt & institutionalization

-Black musicians found it harder to get work in the 40s (white players were more sought after in Big Bands)
-Formed their own improvisational groups in Harlem
-Improvising around harmonies heard in Big Band
-Bebop is trumpet, sax & rhythm section (incl piano)
-Marked by short, snap rhythms ('bebop')

20th Century - Populist

Copland Appalachian Spring 1945

1900 - 1990

-Born in Brooklyn to Russian immigrant parents
-Trained in Paris in the 1920s
-Influenced by Stravinsky (1930 Piano Variations sounds a lot like him, abstract, cold, sterile)
-Promoted American music showcasing new American scores
-Patriotic works celebrated American values
-Had a large & varied output

-One-act Ballet (Martha Graham) depicting Pioneer celebration of spring, Rewritten as concert piece
-Introduces musical "characters" 1x1
-Low bass with clear notes above
-Very slow unfolding of harmony
-Uses traditional American themes (Simple Gifts)
-Sense of openness and spaciousness of harmony evokes open plains (open 5ths & 4ths)
-High clarinet over low bass