HUM 120 Listening Guide Set 3 by xuyuzhu


									Ludwig van Beethoven: Symphony No. 5, Movement I.
        Ludwig van Beethoven (1770-1827) moved to Vienna shortly after the death of Mozart,
and assumed a role similar to Mozart’s as a virtuoso pianist and budding composer. He soon
attained a status far greater than Mozart and was eventually regarded by the public as an artist
whose works illuminated the great spiritual truths of his time. Although he went gradually deaf
during the first decade of the 1800s, he internalized the ability to hear and imagine sounds thus
preserving his career as a composer. His struggle with his medical condition prompted him to
write a note to his brothers, discovered after his death. In this note he states, “But what a
humiliation for me when someone standing next to me heard a flute in the distance and I heard
nothing, or someone standing next to me heard a shepherd singing and again I heard nothing.
Such incidents drove me almost to despair; a little more of that and I would have ended my life -
it was only my art that held me back. Ah, it seemed to me impossible to leave the world until I
had brought forth all that I felt was within me.” Beethoven’s biographer Anton Schindler stated
that the composer said of the four-note musical idea on which the symphony is based, “There
fate knocks at the door!” It is this statement from which the work has acquired the programmatic
interpretation that it communicates Beethoven’s triumph over deafness.

Listening Tips:
       The first movement of this symphony opens one of the most famous rhythmic ideas in all
of music; three short notes of the same pitch are followed by a downward leap to a sustained
tone. This gesture is referred to as the basic motive, a motive being a short musical idea. This
motive and its transformations permeate the entire symphony. In this movement, the first theme
is built from it, the second theme grows out of and is accompanied by it, and the new theme in
the closing coda section is also related.
       The movement in sonata form, a form in which two musical ideas, or themes, are
presented in the exposition, changed in the development, and restated in the recapitulation. In the
first theme, Beethoven maintains excitement by crowding varied repetitions of the motive
together and rapidly shifting the motive to different pitches and instruments. The second theme
combines a “horn-call” motive with a song-like melody while the basic motive appears in the
accompaniment. In the development section, the motive is broken into smaller and smaller
fragments until it is represented by a single tone. The climax of the movement occurs not the in
development, as in most sonata forms, but in the closing section of the recapitulation in which a
new theme is introduced and the dynamic level continues to grow.

Listening Guide:
00:00            Exposition - First Theme and          Built on basic four-note motive
00:40            Second Theme                          French horn introduces song-like melody.
                                                       Basic motive in background grows to
01:19            Repeat Exposition
02:40            Development                           Basic motive is repeated and changed in
                                                       contrasting instruments, at various
                                                       dynamic levels, and on different pitches.
03:58            Recapitulation                        Repeat of exposition with some changes
04:46            Theme II
05:11            New Theme and Closing Section         A new melody is introduced. Closing
                                                       section ends the movement.
06:49            End
Giuseppe Verdi, Rigoletto , “La Donna è mobile,”
       In the middle of his career, Guiseppe Verdi (1813-1901) produced a series of operas
which served to define the Italian bel canto (“beautiful singing”) ideal of the mid-nineteenth
century. Verdi dared to create an operatic hero out of a hunchbacked court jester, Rigoletto,
whose only redeeming quality is an intense love for his daughter Gilda. Rigoletto’s master, the
licentious Duke of Mantua, has won Gilda’s love while posing as a poor student. When the Duke
seduces the innocent girl, Rigoletto plots his death. Gilda loves the Duke even after learning
about his dissolute character, and she ultimately sacrifices her own life to save his.
       Act III of Rigoletto contains one of the most popular pieces in opera, the Duke’s aria “La
donna E mobile” (“Woman is fickle”). The carefree and tuneful aria perfectly expresses the
Duke’s pleasure-loving personality. Even before the premiere of Rigoletto, which was to take
place in Venice, Verdi knew that the aria would be a hit. Afraid that his catchy tune would leak
out during rehearsals and be sung by every Venetian gondolier, he waited until the last possible
moment before giving the manuscript to the tenor who was to sing the aria.

Listening Tips:
       As with many arias of the bel canto tradition of nineteenth-century Italian opera, this
piece contains ample opportunities for the singer to demonstrate vocal prowess. Each verse of
the aria ends with a sustained high note that also allows for improvisatory ornamentation to be
inserted on the final verse. Verdi gives the listener many repetitions of the melody, in the
orchestral introduction, the interludes between verses, and of course in the sung portions, to
create a lasting impression upon the audience. If the opera attendee did not leave the opera
humming this melody, it was not because Verdi did not work hard at impressing it upon the ear.
The aria does not actually have a distinct ending but progresses immediately into the dialog that
follows, prohibiting unnecessary applause from breaking the dramatic flow of the plot at this
Listening Guide:
00:00         Orchestral Introduction                 Orchestra plays first line of melody
00:13         La donna è mobile qual piu ma al        Woman is fickle like a feather in the wind,
              vento, muta d’accento e di              she changes her words and her thoughts.
00:24         Sempre un amabile leggiadro viso,       Always a lovable and lovely face, weeping
              in pianto o in riso, è menzognero       or laughing, is lying.
00:35         La donna, ecc.                          Woman . . .
01:03         È sempre misero chi a lei s’affida,     The man’s always wretched Who believes
              chi le confida Mal cauto il core!       in her, Who recklessly entrusts His heart to
              Pur mai non sentesi felice appieno      her! And yet one who never Drinks love
              chi su quel seno Non liba amore!        on that breast Never feels Entirely happy!
              La donna è mobile, ecc.                 Woman is fickle, etc.
02:11         Orchestral melody
02:35         Dialog: Sparafucile: “È là              Sparafucile: Your man is there . . . Must he
              vostr’unomo . . . viver dee o           live or die?
              morire?                                 Rigoletto: I’ll return later to complete the
              Rigoletto: Più tardi tornerò l’opra a   deed.
02:53         End of excerpt
Richard Wagner: Die Walküre, The Ride of the Walkuries

       Richard Wagner (1813-1883) was perhaps the most influential composer in the history of

German opera. His conception of opera was radically different from his contemporaries in many

ways, one of which was in the area of artistic control. He not only composed the music for his

operas, which he referred to as “music dramas,” but he wrote the libretto (the poem for the

opera), created the set design, designed the costumes, and directed the production. Die Ring des

Nibelungen, a four-opera cycle, was Wagner’s largest conception and consumed most of his

energies over a period of twenty-six years. In it, Wagner creates a world populated by elves,

Germanic Gods, humans, dwarfs, and giants who are driven by lust for the Rhinegold, which

imbues its owner with power while leading to their eventual destruction. Die Walküre (“The

Valkyries”—1857) is the second opera from this cycle.

Listening Tips:

       By this time in Wagner’s development as a composer, the idea of using musical motives

to represent ideas, things, people, or events in the drama (past, present, or future), had matured

into a system of Leitmotifs, leading motives, that permeate the musical structure. This except is

“Brunnhilde’s Battle Cry,” popularly known as “The Ride of the Walküre.” It contains music

associated with the nine daughters of the chief god in the Ring cycle, Wotan. By their father’s

command, these armed maidens ride over every battlefield to select the bravest warriors for

honorable death. The slain heroes are transported to Valhalla, where they become the honored

defenders of the heavenly heights. Except for brief episodes in which either sustained harmonies

or small motives from the Walküre’s theme are heard, the main theme repeats ceaselessly,

building the sense of grandeur of the these noble warrior maidens. The appropriateness of this

particular Leitmotif for the Walküres can be seen in the endlessly rising melody and the

orchestrational choice of the low brass instruments.
Listening Guide:
00:00         Introduction                        Strings create accompaniment texture
00:22         Walküre theme                       Trombones
01:24         Motives from theme alternate with
01:51         Repeat of Walküre theme
02:24         Sustained harmonies with
              descending string gestures
03:21         Repeat of Walküre Theme
04:35         Sustained harmonies
05:21         End

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