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					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!

				
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posted:4/16/2011
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