Chapter 16: The Early Romantics Early Romantic Program Music Key Terms Program music Concert overture Program symphony Idée fixe Dies irae Col legno Early Romantic Program Music Program music = instrumental music associated with poems, stories, etc. • Grew up in opera overtures • Important program genres – concert overture, program symphony, & symphonic poem Franz Liszt (1811-1886) Hungarian composer • Learned music from his father at the Esterházy estate (Haydn’s employer!) • Played for Beethoven at age eleven Career as virtuoso pianist based in Paris • Dazzled audiences with incredible technique • And with dashing looks, personality, & affairs • Wrote reams of fiercely difficult piano music 2nd career as conductor in Weimar • Wrote symphonic poems, championed Wagner Felix Mendelssohn (1809-1847) From upper-class family of bankers Pursued career as successful composer • And as pianist, organist, conductor, educator • Founded Leipzig Conservatory of Music • Led first performance of Bach’s St. Matthew Passion in nearly a century His music keeps a firm foundation in Classical technique Wrote concert overtures, oratorios, piano works, symphonies, violin concerto, etc. Fanny Mendelssohn (1805-1847) Felix was very close to older sister Fanny • Fanny showed as much talent as Felix Married painter Wilhelm Hensel Fanny also a highly prolific composer • Wrote music of all kinds, including oratorios, piano works, chamber music, etc. • Weekly performances at Mendelssohn home Women composers not taken seriously • Little of her music was published, and it was rarely performed except for family The Concert Overture: Felix Mendelssohn An important step from opera overture to symphonic poem Concert overture resembles an opera overture, but without the opera! • A single-movement orchestral work intended for concert performance • Structure rooted in sonata form • Often based on a play, long poem, or novel Mendelssohn wrote some popular ones • A Midsummer Night’s Dream & the Hebrides Overture (Fingal’s Cave) Hector Berlioz (1803-1869) Son of a country doctor in south France • Went to Paris for medical school, but ended up at Paris Conservatory instead Unprecedented, ambitious ―grandiose‖ program symphonies • Extraordinary imagination for orchestral color • Inspired by literature – Shakespeare & Virgil Supported himself as a writer on music • Wrote music criticism, orchestration treatise Toured as a conductor of his own music The Program Symphony: Hector Berlioz A more radical approach to program music than the concert overture An entire symphony with a program • Several movements – each one tells part of the ―story‖ • ―Story‖ often published in the program The Romantic era’s most ―grandiose‖ orchestral genre Berlioz, Fantastic Symphony Program symphony in five movements Story was lurid autobiographical fantasy • Music encouraged listeners to think it was written under influence of opium • Inspired by his unrequited love for Shakespearean actress Harriet Smithson Bold music of unprecedented originality • Imaginative colors drawn from huge orchestra • An idée fixe recurs in every movement Movement Format (1) Related to Classical symphony format • Middle two movements reversed • Movements IV & V unprecedented I – Fast tempo, sonata form, slow intro II – Moderate tempo, triple meter dance • Waltz instead of minuet or scherzo III – The slow movement IV – Moderate tempo; a march V – Fast tempo, free form follows the story Idée Fixe (1) Fixed idea – a term popular in medical literature of the day Here it is a theme that represents the composer’s beloved (Harriet Smithson) • Starts as a passionate, Romantic melody Idée Fixe (2) It recurs in all five movements • Symbolizes each appearance of the beloved • Transformed into a raucous parody at the witches’ sabbath in the 5th movement The Program Program of the Symphony A young musician of unhealthy sensibility and passionate imagination poisons himself with opium in a fit of lovesick despair. Too weak to kill him, the dose of the drug plunges him into a heavy sleep attended by the strangest visions, during which his sensations, emotions, and memories are transformed in his diseased mind into musical thoughts and images. Even the woman he loves becomes a melody to him, an idée fixe, as it were, that he finds and hears everywhere. The Program: I 1st movement: Reveries, Passions First he recalls the soul-sickness, the aimless passions, the baseless depressions and elations that he felt before first seeing his loved one; then the volcanic love that she instantly inspired in him; his jealous furies; his return to tenderness; his religious consolations. The Program: II 2nd movement: A Ball He encounters his beloved at a ball, in the midst of a noisy, brilliant party. The Program: III 3rd movement: Scene in the Country On a summer evening in the country, he hears two shepherds piping in dialogue. The pastoral duet, the location, the light rustling of trees stirred gently by the wind, some newly conceived grounds for hope— all this gives him a feeling of unaccustomed calm. But she appears again … what if she is deceiving him? The Program: IV 4th movement: March to the Scaffold He dreams he has killed his beloved, that he is condemned to death and led to execution. A march accompanies the procession, now gloomy and wild, now brilliant and grand. Finally the idée fixe appears for a moment, to be cut off by the fall of the axe. The Program: V Finale: Dream of a Witches’ Sabbath He finds himself at a Witches’ Sabbath … Unearthly sounds, groans, shrieks of laughter, distant cries echoed by other cries. The beloved’s melody is heard, but it has lost its character of nobility and timidity. It is she who comes to the Sabbath! At her arrival, a roar of joy. She joins in the devilish orgies. A funeral knell; burlesque of the Dies irae. Fourth Movement: March to the Scaffold Exciting, riotous march to the guillotine Unusual form uses two main themes • Doesn’t use usual March–Trio–March format • Theme 1 a gloomy, wild downward scale • Theme 2 a grand, blaring military march Many unusual tone colors used Coda uses opening motive of idée fixe • The condemned composer’s final thought • Cut short by the fall of the axe! Fifth Movement (1): Dream of a Witches’ Sabbath The most audacious movement yet • Depicts a Witches’ Sabbath • Orchestral sound effects reign supreme Idée fixe now treated as vulgar parody • On piccolo clarinet with carnival ornaments • His beloved is the guest of honor! Fifth Movement (2): Dream of a Witches’ Sabbath Composer’s funeral occurs simultaneously • Solemn Dies irae chant ridiculed by witches Fifth Movement (3): Dream of a Witches’ Sabbath Raucous Witches’ Round Dance is a fugue • Round Dance & Dies irae combine at climax Conclusions Typical early Romantic ―grandiose‖ work Program symphony for large orchestra • Blurs the lines between music, literature, theater, & autobiography Cyclic work, unified by idée fixe Fascination with supernatural, macabre New orchestral colors, expressive effects The often unusual forms follow the story Only 39 years after Haydn’s Symphony 95!