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Posted on July 31st, 2012, by

The 18th-19th centuries were characterized by the rapid development of music. In this respect, it is worth mentioning works of two major composers of that epoch Wolfgang A. Mozart and Franz Schubert, who influenced consistently the development of music of that epoch.

The Renaissance period was marked by the gradual decline of the sacred music and appearance of new styles and movements, though religious motives still remained quite strong. Josquin des Prez was one of the prominent composers of that epoch whose music original and different from traditional music. Unique characteristics of his music were the extensive use of “motivic cells”¯ in his compositions, short, easily-recognizable melodic fragments which passed from voice to voice in a contrapuntal texture, giving it an inner unity. Among his most outstanding works, it is possible to name “Missa L’homme arme super voces musicales”¯, “MissaĀ  de Beata Virgine”¯, and “Missa Pange Lingua”¯.

Another composer of the Renaissance period was Giovanni de Palestrina, who was consistently influenced by the Roman Catholic Church music and whose work was a summation of the Renaissance polyphony. He developed a unique style which was based on the following principles: the flow of music is dynamic, not rigid; melody should contain no leaps between notes; dissonances are either passing not or off the beat. His most famous works are “Missa Brevis”¯, “Missa Emendemus”¯, and “Missa Inviolata”¯.

The Renaissance period was followed by the Baroque period when the religious motives became weaker in music, which became closer to the audience. One of the most popular composers of the Baroque period was Claudio Monteverdi. He was famous as one of the first composers who started to create operas. His most popular and renowned works are “L’Orfeo”¯, “L’Arianna”¯, and “Il Ritorno D’Ulisse in Patria”¯. Another prominent composer of this period was George Handel, who is also famous for his operas but he also successfully experimented and also created oratorios and concerti grossi. His most famous works are “Messiah”¯, “Water Music”¯, and “Music for Royal Fireworks”¯. It is worth mentioning that “Messiah”¯ became one of the most popular music works in choral music.

Moreover, Handel introduced new instruments, such as the viola d’amore and violetta marina, harp, and many others.

The Classical period was marked by the work of such prominent composers as Mozart and Schubert.

Wofgang A. Mozart is famous for his works which are related to classical era. His major works are renowned as pinnacles of symphonic, concentrate, chamber piano, operatic, and choral music. He is traditionally perceived as a representative of classical style. The classical traits of the classical style of Mozart can be indentified in his music.

Clarity, balance and transparency are hallmarks of his work. A more simplistic notion of the delicacy of his music obscures the exceptional power of some of his most popular masterpieces, such as the “Piano Concerto No 24”¯ in C minor, K.491, the “Symphony No 40”¯ in G minor, K. 550,Ā  and the opera “Don Giovanni”¯. Charles Rosen has written:

“It is only through recognizing the violence and sensuality at the center of Mozart’s work that we can make a start towards a comprehension of his structures and an insight into his magnificence. In a paradoxical way, Schumann’s superficial characterization of the G minor symphony can help us to see Mozart’s daemon more steadily. In all Mozart’s supreme expressions of sufferings and terror, there is something shockingly voluptuous.”¯ (1997, p.125).

During his last decade, Mozart explored chromatic harmony to a degree rare at the time. The slow introduction to the “Dissonance”¯ Quarter K.465 rapidly explodes a shallow understanding of Mozart’s style as light and pleasant.

Franz Schubert also produced a profound impact on the development of music in his time. He created two operas that appeared in Vienna’s Karntnethor theater “Die Zwillingsbruder”¯ and “Die Zauberharfe”¯. It is worthy of mention that at the beginning his works were restricted to amateur orchestra at the Gundelhof, a society which “grew out of the quartet-parties at his home”¯ (McKay 1996, p.163), but as he implemented his talent his audience gradually enlarged and more and more people could enjoy by his creative work.

In 1823, Schubert created his first song cycle, “Die Schone Mullerin”¯ that, together with the later cycle “Winterreise”¯, is considered to be one of the most significant and talented works of the composer and of the German Lied at large.

The next year he wrote the magnificent Octet in F, “A Sketch for a Grand Symphony”¯, and “Divertissement a l’Hongrois”¯, and the String quartet in A minor. The same year he completed the Mass in A flat.

At this point, it is possible to refer to the probably most difficult period in his creative work preceding the “Unfinished symphony”¯, when Franz Schubert worked hard but was not published.

Speaking about Franz Schubert creative work at large and his “Unfinished Symphony”¯ in particular, it is necessary to point out that they were not only original and harmonic but they were also, to a significant extent, innovative. For instance, it should be said that some of his works preceding “The Unfinished Symphony”¯, notably “Fierabras”¯, “Die Verschworenen”¯ and “Rosamunde”¯, being practically unknown to the wide public during the composer’s lifetime, were written on a scale which would make their performance exceedingly difficult. To put it more precisely, “Fierabras”¯ contained over 1000 pages of manuscript score that was quite unusual for that time.

In such a situation, it seems to be quite natural that Franz Schubert’s “Unfinished Symphony”¯ was also quite original and innovative and could be viewed as the continuation of his experiments, though this was probably one of the most fundamental works created by the composer, regardless the fact that it was never finished. Speaking about this symphony, it is primarily necessary to point out that, although Schubert began to work on this symphony in 1822, he gave the two completed movements in 1823 to his friend, Anselm Huttenbrenner, as the representative of the Graz Music Society which had given him an honorary diploma as a recognition of his talent and importance of his work.

The key of the symphony was virtually unprecedented since none of the leading composers of that time, including Mozart, Haydn, and Beethoven wrote no symphonies in B minor. Nowadays, it is believed that they avoid it because the key is a very difficult one for valveless brass instruments which were extremely popular at that time. At the epoch there was no B natural crook for horns and trumpets. Remarkably, Schubert had managed to solve this problem partly by writing for trumpets in E. His first movement starts in B minor and modulates to a second subject in G major a surprisingly short four measures of transition.

The symphony’s first movement is in sonata form, opening softly in the strings followed by a melody sounded by the oboes and clarinets. A transition, typical for the style of Franz Schubert, consists of just four measures, effectively modulating to the sub-mediant key of G major. The second subject group is one of Schubert’s most famous. This group is played by the celli and repeated by the violins. An emphatic closing theme features heavy sforzandi, and is based on a continual development of the second subject. Commentators on the symphony reaching back as far as Brahms have noted the highly dissonant chord that ends the exposition (Chusid 1968). Here Schubert superimposes a tonic B in the bassoons over the dominant F chord, creating the mixture of the two tonalities that evokes the end of the development in Beethoven’s “Erotica Symphony”¯ (Chusid 1968).

Furthermore, it should be said that the development section is extended and features a reworking of the primary theme group. Near the end the flutes and oboes recapture their melodic role from the movement’s beginning, preparing the transition to recapitulation. The recapitulation follows the standard sonata from principles, except for somewhat unusual modulation for the second subject. Instead of the conventional employment of the tonic (B minor), Schubert composes the second subject in D major. The closing theme reaches the threshold where the exposition had repeated, but leads instead to a coda in the tonic that recalls the opening theme.

Thus, taking into account all above mentioned, it is possible to conclude that Mozart and Schubert were the prominent composers of their epoch and they contributed consistently to the development of music.

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