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Author Topic: Classical Discussions III - Debussy: La mer  (Read 8735 times)

MaestroUGC

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Re: Classical Discussions III - Beethoven: Symphony No. 5
« Reply #30 on: October 01, 2012, 06:56:20 AM »

Chopin's piano works are fantastic, but his two Piano Concerti are my some of my personal favorites of his works. Chopin wasn't much of an orchestrator, so they're really just piano pieces with some orchestral ligaments.
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Re: Classical Discussions III - Beethoven: Symphony No. 5
« Reply #31 on: October 02, 2012, 12:37:41 PM »

Yeah... those two piano concertos are amazing. I am going to see his 1st piano concerto performed by the vienna philharmonics and Barenboim. This will be an epic concert.
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Re: Classical Discussions III - Beethoven: Symphony No. 7
« Reply #32 on: October 10, 2012, 04:56:58 AM »

Symphony No. 7 in A, Op. 92
Ludwig van Beethoven


Performed by Leonard Bernstein, Weiner Philharmoniker
Score

Picture this: The year is 1813. Napoleon is busy laying waste and leaving a bloody trail in his attempt to conquer Europe. His warpath leads him to a little town called Hanau in an attempt to flee to France after a failed attack on Leipzig. While the Bavarian and Austrian forces tried to block Napoleon's escape, Napoleon arrived with reinforcements and defeated the resistance.

The casualties and losses were great, so a charity concert was organized for the wounded soldiers. The concert featured some of the most prominent musicians of the day and premiered two new Beethoven compositions. The first was a patriotic work called Wellington's Victory, and the second was Beethoven's 7th Symphony.

I -Poco sostenuto – Vivace
II - Allegretto
III - Presto – Assai meno presto (trio)
IV - Allegro con brio

I -Poco sostenuto – Vivace
The Symphony begins with a long, expanded introduction that features a lot of ascending scales and applied dominants that facilitates modulations to C and F major. That is a brief codetta in the introduction that features 61 repeats of the note E, that bring us into the Vivace of the movement. The Vivace is in Sonata Form, 6/8 meter, and is dominated by lively dance-like rhythms (such as the dotted patterns), sudden dynamic changes, and abrupt modulations. The first theme is centered around the lively rhythms, and is one of Beethoven's most vivacious pieces of music (hence the tempo indication); the second theme is a bit subtler, and is built around large, drawn out chords and sweeping scales in contrast to the jumpy nature of the first theme. The development is marked by a modulation to C major and is centered around the dotted rhythmic pattern, and often takes the primary theme into F major, giving greater stress to the rhythm. The recapitulation is mostly the same, the second theme is delayed by exploring the first theme a bit more with the winds.

The coda features what I like to call "Mad Beethoven", and is also one of my most favorite moments in one of his works. After the familiarly like the development did, but instead Beethoven has the base line slowly work its way down chromatically under the primary theme until it reaches a pedal point of E. Here we see a 20 bar passage of a single motif in the violins, accented by the winds on horns, over suprsingly atonal ostinato in the low strings; the upper voices are jumping around in A major, while the bass line is hovering around between D, C# and B#, each time resolving on C#. The tension slowly rises until the orchestra explodes with a final triumph of harmonious sound. Fighting it's way past one more chromatic barrier, the movement finally concludes on the most brilliant horn passage.

II - Allegretto
The most famous movement of the work, and one of Beethoven's most popular moments. It has a tempo marking of Allegretto (meaning a little lively) making it slower only in comparison to the other movements. A somber A minor chord is played, and we a given a darkly beautiful melody, centered around a quater-eighth-eighth-quarter-quarter pattern. The melody is presented 4 times, first with the violas and cellos over an ostinato bass line; the second time the second violins take the moelody and the violas and cellos play an equally important second melody. The third time the first violins take over with the seconds playing the second melody, and the violas and cellos play counterpoint; the final time the winds play the first melody, the first violins play the second melody, the seconds play counterpoint, and the violas and cellos play a triplet figure, mimicked by the ostinato bass.

After this we are presented with a new theme in A Major, and is legato throughout, in contrast to the march-like rhythm in the first section. This new melody is presented by the clarinets over a triplet figure in the strings and is calmer and brighter than the former melodic material presented. This brief section is concluded by loud descending scales in A minor and gives way to the first section in which the main melody is presented in a strict fugato. Following this we return to the second section again, but it is hollow and serves to bring us to the main material again. The final section is marked by strong chords and features the main melody played very darkley over pizzicato strings. The movement ends with a depressing resolution on the tonic of A minor.

This movement was so successful that it was encored immediately at its premier.

III - Presto – Assai meno presto (trio)
The third movement is a scherzo in F Major, with the trio in D Major. The scherzo starts with a bang, and the lively nature of the Symphony returns with greater vigour than before. The primary theme is a very fast experience and in general seems as if the entire atmosphere is one of inebriated joy, the section features stark contrasts in dynamics and the melody jumps around all over the place. The trio is actually repeated in the movement, expanding the scherzo structure the A-B-A-B-A. The trio itself could not be more polar to the primary theme. It has a slower melody; features big, drawn out chords; and the dynamic contrast is a bit subtler than the former. However, at the climax it is considerably louder and stronger than the former section, and the melodic material features a heightened use of chromatics, reminiscent of the first movement. The trio is begun a third time at the end of the movement, but it is cut off by an abrupt conclusion.

IV - Allegro con brio
The finale. Oh boy, the finale. Right from the start you are knocked off of your seat in a blast of chords and timpani strikes, and then you are swept away by a flurry of furious strings. Written in sonata form, the finale presents a celebratory atmosphere fit for only the Gods themselves. The second theme takes the energy back a notch, presenting us with a different rhythmic pattern that bounces far more than the constant motion of the first theme. The development leads a vicious swarth through the presented material, and at several times building up to near fugato sectins of the the primary theme.

The coda features "Mad Beethoven" again, this time we are given a straight brilliant presentation of the first theme's motif in a cannon by the upper strings, accented by the winds and brass over yet another chromatic bass line; this time the bass line hovers around three chromatic notes while slowly descending, before stopping around a low E/D#. We are presented with the accented pattern again over this hovering bass line that just won't ever quit. The coda gives of two moments of tense joy before finally giving us a complete conclusion, without being harrased by that pesky base line anymore.

Afterthoughts
This, with the exception of the 9th, is my absolute favorite Beethoven Symphony, not that that's really saying much over his others. The second movement is one of the most quoted pieces of music in modern media, often used to underscore great tragedy. I adore the codas of the first and final movements, those chromatic bass lines have managed to work their way into my mind in a way that will never leave me. They are just "off" enough for my own personal taste to really drive this work home.

Next time we look at Beethoven's 8th Symphony, reffered to by the composer as "my little Symphony in F." Though while light-hearted in nature, the work is anything but lightweight.
« Last Edit: October 29, 2012, 05:37:16 AM by MaestroUGC »
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Re: Classical Discussions III - Beethoven: Symphony No. 7
« Reply #33 on: October 28, 2012, 07:07:50 AM »

Expect an update tomorrow night...like, late tomorrow night. I'll finally have some time to sit down and type out the analysis by then.
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Re: Classical Discussions III - Beethoven: Symphony No. 8
« Reply #34 on: October 29, 2012, 07:13:48 AM »

Symphony No. 8 in F, Op. 92
Ludwig van Beethoven


Performed by Leonard Bernstein, Wiener Philharmoniker
Score

Beethoven's "Little Symphony in F". This is reffering to his earlier Pastoral Symphony in the same key; though the work is very lighthearted, it is anything but lightweight, prvoing to be weightier than the aforementioned work.

Composition of the Symphony began after the completion of his 7th Symphony in the summer of 1812. At the time, Beethoven was interfering in his brother Johann's love life, a matter which would ultimately result in Beethoven becoming the legal guardian of his nephew, Karl. The work was premiered February 27, 1814, with the composing conducting the orchestra. Beethoven was growing increasingly deaf at the time, but he neverless led the premiere. Reportedly, "the orchestra largely ignored his ungainly gestures and followed the principal violinist instead." The work was well received at the premiere, but it did not, "as the Italians say - create a furor," a fact which angered Beethoven, who considered the work to be better than his earlier 7th Symphony.

Overall the work is far subtler than the earlier7th, and lends itself well to some musical jokes.

I - Allegro vivace e con brio
II - Allegretto scherzando
III - Tempo di Menuetto
IV - Allegro vivace

I - Allegro vivace e con brio
The first movement is in the home key of F major and is in a fast 3/4, setting up the overall tone of the entire work. It starts off without and introduction, instead the orchestra just bursts forth with a bright and jovial theme. Typical for Beethoven, the movement is in sonata form; the first theme is comprised of juxtaposed periods of forte-piano-forte phrases and is characterised by the rhythmic vigour of staccato and dotted-note patterns. The second theme is a bit more fluid, comprised of a flowing, legato melody; this is then built up in a crescendo characterised by staccato notes and brings the exposition to a vibrant close with rapid, tremolo scales and is ended by octave jumps in the strings.

The octave jumps carry over into the development and serve to establish the overall pulse of the section. Moving back and forth between phrases where the winds explore the first theme quietly, and phrases of bold tremolo scales; the meat of the development occurs once the cellos begin to explore the first theme, backed by tremolo violins over accented chords by the rest of the orchestra. Interestingly, the music doesn't reach a dark climax (like most Beethoven Symphonies) until the onset of the recapitulation. Here the recapitulation begins with the first theme fff, with the lower strings carrying the melody underneath tremmolo strings and suspended winds. The music continues mostly the same, with the exception of briefly clamxing in F, as oppsed to C earlier. The second theme is repeated here, first inverted by the violins, then normally before building to the coda.

The coda explores the first theme some more, before concluding rather quietly and subtly.

II - Allegretto scherzando
You know that tick of a metronome? Just imagine that for about 5 minutes. What, you want me to say more? Fine.

Uncharacteristically for a slow movement, the tone of very bright and playful (scherzando) and is fairly quick in its presentation. Written in the subdominant key of B-flat major, it is in somewhat in a sonatina form; that is to say there is no development after the second theme is presented, instead on a brief modulation back to B-flat. The first theme is a largely clipped melody over a steady tick-tock rhythm. The second theme has a canon-ic tone to it, punctuated by fortissimo 64th notes.

There's a story in which Beethoven supposedly wrote the movement as an affectionate parody of a metronome which was recently invented (more corrrectly, improved) by his friend Johann Maelzel. While this is believed to not be true, most people believe it to be an affectionate parody of Joseph Haydn's "Clock" Symphony.

III - Tempo di Menuetto
A nostalgic invocation of the old minuet, outdated by the time of this composition. However, unlike typical flowing, lyrical minuets, this one is characteries by loud, thumping accents; making it line up more in tone with the other movements. Written in ternary forn, the trio is special because it features solos for the Horn and Clarinet. The Clarinet solo is significant because it reaches a G6, the G above a high C on the treble clef. After the brilliant solos, we return to the primary section, which is an exact repeat of the first time we heard it.

IV - Allegro vivace
This is the most substantial movement in the entire work, and takes off for high heaven from the word "go." Written in a sonata rondo form, the opening theme reappears three times: the start of the development, the start of the recapitulation, and during the coda. This is the first symphonic movement in which Beethoven has the Timpani tuned to octave-F's, foreshadowing a similar use in the 9th. The entire movement is a blistering affair, with the strings constantly playing rapid, tremolo passages during the melodic material. Strangely, the primary theme is interupted each time it is heard by a loud, blaring, C#, which is the tritone above F, the tonic note. The exposition features a similar approach with the second theme as the first movement, in that it is first restated in the wrong key briefly before being played correctly in the tonic key.

The coda is one of Beethoven's most elaborate and substantial of all of his works. Firstly, the earlier C# is now explained. It turns out to be the root of the dominant chord of the remote key of F# minor, in which the main theme is played loudly in this key.Stunningly, a modulation occurs a few measures later in which the this foreign key is hammered down back to the tonic F Major. This is followed by bold chords and jumping octaves before the music dies down, leaving nothing but thirds echoing throughout the winds before a quick rise into the final passage. Here we see theour favorite Beethoven, mucking about with some chords before deciding to resolve the work. Final tally, 27 final chords, interspersed by some tremolo passages by the orchestra tutti.

Afterthoughts
And there you have it, Beethoven's Eighth Symphony, and boy was it a ride. The work moves along at a brisk pace, never really slowing down for much of anything. Even the "slow movement" moves along at a chipper tempo. Beethoven's "Little Symphony in F", if by which you mean short, then yes, standing at about a 25 minute performance time. Though this is one of Beethoven's bigger works, as far as scale, just barely surpassing his earlier 5th and 7th Symphonies in both orchestration and granduer. One of his happiest pieces, but it would also prove to be the beggining of Beethoven's reclusion, a period in which he worte barely any music.

This would prove to be Beethoven's last Symphony, or so we thought. In ten years time, that all too familiar orchestra would tune up again to premiere Beethoven's greatest achievement, and one of mankinds most shining moment in western culture.
« Last Edit: November 06, 2012, 12:10:23 AM by MaestroUGC »
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Re: Classical Discussions III - Beethoven: Symphony No. 9, Mvts. I -III
« Reply #35 on: November 05, 2012, 10:41:39 PM »

Here it is, the Grand Finale. This one Symphony, this hour long work, is one that stands at the peak of Western Art and has proven that it will outlive anyone of us alive now. A testament to mankind, an exclamation to rejoice and join hands as friends, not enemies. A monumental work, often regarded as one of the greatest pieces in the Classical repertoire, and for good reason. But enough gushing, let's get down to business.

In 1814, Ludwig van Beethoven premiered his 8th Symphony to a decent success, certainly not the reaction he wanted. But then nearly silence for 10 years. Following his custody battle for his nephew, Beethoven's output was little but is commonly regarded as his greatest. Aside from the last sonatas and his late string quartets, Beethoven produced no large scale works. In 1817, the Philharmonic Society of London comissioned the composer for a Symphony, however work on the Symphony didn't begin until 1822. Sketches for the work can be dated back as far as 1811, and a proto-example of the work is the composer's earlier Choral Fantasy, Op. 80, which featured a similar exposition of the chorus and melody.

Beethoven was set on having the Symphony premiere in Berlin as he was convinced that the musical taste of the Viennese was dominated by Italian composers, notably Gioachino Rossini; however, upon hearing this, his friends and financiers urged him to premiere the work in his home in Vienna. The concert was rather under-rehearsed, with only two full rehearsals, and was a mammoth of an event, which also featured the Consecration of the House Overture and the first three parts of the Missa Solemnis. Although the performance was officially directed by Michael Umlauf, the theatre's Kapellmeister, Beethoven shared the stage with him. However, two years earlier, Umlauf had watched as the composer's attempt to conduct a dress rehearsal of his opera Fidelio ended in disaster. So this time, he instructed the singers and musicians to ignore the almost totally deaf Beethoven. At the beginning of every part, Beethoven, who sat by the stage, gave the tempos. He was turning the pages of his score and beating time for an orchestra he could not hear.

And so we arrive at the theatre, and take our seats. The orchestra begins to tune up...

Symphony No. 9 in D minor, Op. 125, Choral
Ludwig van Beethoven


Performed by Leonard Bernstein, Wiener Philharmoniker
Gwenyth Jones (Soprano), Hanna Schwarz, (Contralto), Rene Kollo (Tenor), Kurt Moll (Bass)
Konzertvereinigung Wiener Staatsopernchor (Chorus Master, Norbert Balatsch)

I - Allegro ma non troppo, un poco maestoso
II - Scherzo: Molto vivace – Presto
III - Adagio molto e cantabile – Andante moderato – Tempo primo – Andante moderato – Adagio – Lo stesso tempo
IV - Presto

I - Allegro ma non troppo, un poco maestoso
Score
The Symphony begins on a pianissimo open fifth, A and E, resembling the tune up of the orchestra as the violins "tune" to their open A strings. Then the orchestra comes in tutti in the tonic key of D minor. This stormy opening is an idea that works its way throughout the work, and settles itself on the first theme of the movement. This soon gives way to a modulation to B-flat Major and a brighter melody. After some slight turbulence, the music builds to a brief call and response before climaxing in stark contrast to the opening. The repeat builds up the original opening by introducing winds to the open fifth and having them "tune" in counterpoint to the strings, all in the sub-dominant of G minor. The first theme's secondary motif is echoed alone by the winds, before a softer repeat of the same material. The development takes these ideas and run with them nonstop, creating a chaotic, fugue-like atmosphere while throwing the open fourths and fifths around while developing the secondary motif. The secondary motif is seen again in F, building inexorably towards the recapitulation.

The recapitulation takes the opening theme and presents it in D Major, in contrast to the tonic key of D minor, and in fortissimo to bbot, making it a total flip. Here the brass really take center stage as they feature some absolutley chilling trumpet calls as the music makes an abrupt transition back to D minor. The music continues largely as before, the second theme in D Major, with hints of it's parallel minor. The descending pattern from the end of the exposition is now at home in D and slams us into the openeing theme again, just like before, but this time with a longer holdout before the true climax. The winds get their turn in the spotlight as the get to develop the primary motif a good bit over sustained strings. A brief climax later brings us to the coda.

The Coda is a truly terrific and terrifying event. It begins with a descending chromatic bass line, a chromatic fourth (going from D down to A), rising up from A on a major scale (B-natural and C-sharp, instead of the expected B-flat and C-natural). This line is repeated 7 times before developing to something else entirely. Over this, a dark, somber, funeral-like march plays; all building to a dark and chilling conculsion with a final repeat of the opening fifths.

II - Scherzo: Molto vivace – Presto
Score
Deviating from the standard form of the Symphony, the second movement is a Scherzo and Trio. This is not the first time Beethoven as done this in similar works (his sonatas and string quartets) and it is something Haydn did as well. It opens much like the first movement did, but with a bigger bang. Set at a great tempo, Beethoven indicated the music to be performed, ritmo di tre battute ("rhythm of three bars"), and one beat every four bars with the direction ritmo di quattro battute ("rhythm of four bars"). This was an answer to critics, who criticised that the composer didn't adhere to the standard form in his compositions. Normally scherzi are written in triple time (1-2-3, 1-2-3, etc.) but the rhythmic pulse, combined with the great speed, gives the illusion of quadruple time (1-2-3-4, etc.) with each bar being a beat.

Written in ternary form, the movement has a great internal structure, developing in sonata form. In the key of D minor, the movement stands apart as it highlights the timpani and has a greater focus of rhythm over melody; though the melody is still an important force.
The exposition is a very lively affair, featuring octave jumps for nearly every occaision. The development takes this theme and absolutely runs with it. There's very few chance for you to breath, there a lovely fugato passage in the winds, punctuated by the timpani and strings. The recapitulation arrives with a fury, the whole orchestra is partaking in this madness, with the timpani hammering away on its top F. The transition to the Trio picks the tempo up and changes the meter into Cut Time, a duple meter.

The Trio is in D Major and introduces the trombones to the movement. The Trio keeps up the vigor of the movement, and has an even greater focus on the winds. Markedly shorter than the outer sections, the Trio presents itself in a great hurry, giving little development. The transition back the the Scherzo is a brief arpeggio in G minor, the repeat is largely unchanged from the first appearance. The movement is ended by a brief codetta that hints at a repeat of the trio, before cutting it off in a rage.

III - Adagio molto e cantabile – Andante moderato – Tempo primo – Andante moderato – Adagio – Lo stesso tempo
Score
The third movement is a lyrical slow movement, in B-flat Major, and is a loose variation form. Each variation elaborates on the rhythm and melody; the first variation is in 4/4, the second in 12/8. The variations are separated by passages in 3/4, the first in D, the second in G. The first variation features a bright arpeggios in the violins, with the winds holding most of the sustained melody. The second 3/4 passage recieves a similar treatment in that the winds have a similar arpeggio pattern. The second variation has the winds carrying the melody of pizzicato strings playing counterpoint; it also features a brief solo for the fourth horn. The variation then continues into 12/8 time proper, with the violins playing the melody, doubled by the winds again, over the pizzicato strings. The conclusion of the variation is interrupted by a loud fanfare, answered at the octave each time by the first violins. The variation continues and redevelops before being interrupted again by anoth fanare, this time it resolves in C. The music then modulates back home, with a brief climax, before resolving boldy.

Then from the silence, comes absolute discord...
« Last Edit: November 06, 2012, 12:10:04 AM by MaestroUGC »
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Re: Classical Discussions III - Beethoven: Symphony No. 9, Mvt. IV
« Reply #36 on: November 06, 2012, 12:09:21 AM »

Symphony No. 9, in D minor, Op. 125, Choral
Ludwig van Beethoven


Performed by Leonard Bernstein, Wiener Philhamoniker (Timed to the Fourth Movement.)
Gwenyth Jones (Soprano), Hanna Schwarz, (Contralto), Rene Kollo (Tenor), Kurt Moll (Bass)
Konzertvereinigung Wiener Staatsopernchor (Chorus Master, Norbert Balatsch)

The Finale is a Masterpiece in orchestration, form, composition, and a testament to Universal Brotherhood. Because of its length and complexity, it has been characterised as a symphony with a symphony, and we will look at it as such.

IV - Presto; Allegro molto assai (Alla marcia); Andante maestoso; Allegro energico, sempre ben marcato
Score
Introduction
It begins with a violent opening, separated only by a recitative in the cellos and basses; an idea that will be seen in greater detail later. We are then presented with a musical summary of the whole Symphony up to this point, quoting each movement between the recit cellos and basses. From here, the winds tease the main melody, while the cellos and basses try to finish their thoughts.

First Movement
A Theme and Variations. Here we see that familiar melody, first established by the cellos and basses. We are then given a series of variations that just build on this familiar tune, with each new voice offering a different opinion on the theme. The last variation is a full and total summary of the tone, and bright, majestic statement, ending with a playful run through the idea of joy. It all ends with a repeat of that opening turblence.

Chorus
Baritone: O Freunde, nicht diese Töne! Sondern laßt uns angenehmere anstimmen, und freudenvollere.
Freude! (men's chorus: Freude!)
Freude! (chorus again: Freude!)

In a repeat of the above material, the chorus comes into view, with a cry from the Baritone: "Oh friends, not these tones! Rather, let us raise our voices in more pleasing And more joyful sounds! Joy!"

The rest of the soloists and chours then come in and we a presented with a message for joy, for brotherhood over all!

Freude, schöner Götterfunken* Tochter aus Elysium, Wir betreten feuertrunken, Himmlische, dein Heiligtum! Deine Zauber binden wieder Was die Mode streng geteilt; Alle Menschen werden Brüder, Wo dein sanfter Flügel weilt.
Joy, beautiful spark of the gods* Daughter of Elysium, We enter, drunk with fire, Heavenly one, your sanctuary! Your magic reunites What custom strictly divided. All men become brothers, Where your gentle wing rests.

Wem der große Wurf gelungen, Eines Freundes Freund zu sein; Wer ein holdes Weib errungen, Mische seinen Jubel ein! Ja, wer auch nur eine Seele Sein nennt auf dem Erdenrund! Und wer's nie gekonnt, der stehle Weinend sich aus diesem Bund!
Whoever has had the great fortune To be a friend's friend, Whoever has won a devoted wife, Join in our jubilation! Indeed, whoever can call even one soul His own on this earth! And whoever was never able to, must creep Tearfully away from this band!

Freude trinken alle Wesen An den Brüsten der Natur; Alle Guten, alle Bösen Folgen ihrer Rosenspur. Küsse gab sie uns und Reben, Einen Freund, geprüft im Tod; Wollust ward dem Wurm gegeben, Und der Cherub steht vor Gott. Vor Gott!
Joy all creatures drink At the breasts of nature; All good, all bad Follow her trail of roses. Kisses she gave us, and vines, A friend, proved to the end; Pleasure was given to the worm, And the cherub stands before God. Before God!

Second Movement
A 6/8 Scherzo style military march, "In the Turkish Style". Features the Tenor soloist and Men's Chorus:

Froh, wie seine Sonnen fliegen Durch des Himmels prächt'gen Plan, Laufet, Brüder, eure Bahn, Freudig, wie ein Held zum Siegen.
Glad, as His suns fly Through the Heaven's glorious design, Run, brothers, your path, Joyful, as a hero to victory.

The music then departs into a lengthy development of the main theme, mirroring the run just described. As if a messenger is making his way to carry this massage of peace on Brotherhood forthe world to hear! After a small pause to hint at a flase letdown, the orchestra explodes with the glorious chorus, repeating the earlier sentiments:

Freude, schöner Götterfunken* Tochter aus Elysium, Wir betreten feuertrunken, Himmlische, dein Heiligtum! Deine Zauber binden wieder Was die Mode streng geteilt; Alle Menschen werden Brüder, Wo dein sanfter Flügel weilt.
Joy, beautiful spark of the gods* Daughter of Elysium, We enter, drunk with fire, Heavenly one, your sanctuary! Your magic reunites What custom strictly divided. All men become brothers, Where your gentle wing rests.

Third Movement
Seid umschlungen, Millionen! Diesen Kuß der ganzen Welt! Brüder, über'm Sternenzelt Muss ein lieber Vater wohnen. Ihr stürzt nieder, Millionen? Ahnest du den Schöpfer, Welt? Such' ihn über'm Sternenzelt! Über Sternen muss er wohnen.
Be embraced, millions! This kiss for the whole world! Brothers, above the starry canopy Must a loving Father dwell. Do you bow down, millions? Do you sense the Creator, world? Seek Him beyond the starry canopy! Beyond the stars must He dwell.

The third movement is slow, medatative, with an entirely new theme. This new theme reach into both the deep infinity within us, and the great infinity beyond us. The music envelops you, carrying you into a realm beyond mere comprehension. The loftiest plains imaginable, and even more.

Fourth Movement
Seid umschlungen, Millionen! Diesen Kuß der ganzen Welt! Brüder, über'm Sternenzelt Muss ein lieber Vater wohnen. Seid umschlungen, Diesen Kuß der ganzen Welt! Freude, schöner Götterfunken Tochter aus Elysium, Freude, schöner Götterfunken Götterfunken!
Finale repeats the words: Be embraced, you millions! This kiss for the whole world! Brothers, beyond the star-canopy Must a loving Father dwell. Be embraced, This kiss for the whole world! Joy, beautiful spark of the gods, Daughter of Elysium, Joy, beautiful spark of the gods Spark of the gods!

A fugato finale which works with both the main theme and the medatative theme. Thefirst section is a fierce work, a blistering passage for the strings and a great workout for the vocalists. The sopranos reach a top note of A5, matched by the tenors A4. The next section begins with the soloists as they introduce a new development passage. It is paused first by the chorus exploring the meditation; the chorus then picks it back up as it slams into both a key change and a second explorative medation by the soloists. This one is more complex and as each voice rising upward into the infinite void, resolving back towards D major.

The final section is a heart racing finale, a quick build from broken strings until the orchestra and chorus just slam into it, with the full force and fury of the gods themselves. The tempo then slows down for one final exclaimation:

Freude, schöner Götterfunken, Götterfunken!

The Symphony then concludes with a breathtaking passage of virtuosity and temperament. Alight with the spark of the gods!

Five. Five standing ovations at the premiere. Beethoven had to be turned around to accept them by the contralto, as he couldn't hear them and he was still conducting the orchestra.One of the greatest pieces of music ever produced by man, and one in which man has chosen to represent themselves repeatedly, being used today as the anthem for the European Union. One of the most recorded piece of music ever, an anecdote has it that the size of CDs attributes it to being able to hold a recording of Furtwängler's Performance of the work (74 minutes) on the disc, uniterrupted. This isn't true, of course, but it makes for a nice story.

And there you have it, all Nine of Lugwig van Beethoven's Symphonies summed up for the nubile listener. I hope you enjoyed these as we will move on to more works after this. Our first batch of works are all centered around Death. That sounds fun, doesn't it?
« Last Edit: November 06, 2012, 12:11:34 AM by MaestroUGC »
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Re: Classical Discussions III - Beethoven: Symphony No. 9
« Reply #37 on: November 22, 2012, 08:23:48 AM »

Happy Thanksgiving, let's talk about Death!

This is a brief intro to our next batch of discussions, all centered around death. I wanted to take this time to tell you what we will be discussing and see if any of you have any particular pieces you want to bring up.

- String Quartet No. 14, "Death and the Maiden" - Franz Schubert
- A collection of Funeral Marches - Chopin, Shostakovich, Purcell, Beethoven
- Totentanz - Franz Liszt
- Symphony No. 2 in C Minor, "Resurrection" - Gustav Mahler

I recommend looking up these pieces as they a re quite heavy and very deep compositions that take multiple listens to appreciate. Oh, and please keep in mind, NO REQUIEMS! We will get to Requiems in good time, but I want to save those as there are some great examples to choose from.
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Re: Classical Discussions III - Schubert: "Death and the Maiden" Quartet
« Reply #38 on: December 04, 2012, 07:43:08 AM »

There's a slight chill in the air, can you feel it? It's the icy grip of Death closing in around you. ...Ok, so I'm being a little dramatic, but you have to be when dealing with these darkly inspired pieces. Let's begin with a popular motif in the arts: Death and the Maiden.

Death is a fascinating subject for us, mainly because we all experience it in some capacity through the loss of loved ones or coping with our own demise. We are all aware of our own death, and a few of us decide to either fight it, accept it, or pay it homage. Some of us strive for immortality through the arts, aiming to live forever through their works; others simply take it in stride and use it to fuel their works. Side-stepping the religious connotations of death and afterlife (we'll get to it later), death is a popular motif composers like to turn to.

One motif that grew popular in the Renaissance was "Death and the Maiden", and off-shoot of an early motif "Dance of Death" which gave the idea that "No matter one's station in life, the Dance of Death unites all", an idea that Death is the one thing everybody knows and experiences. "Death and the Maiden" evolved mainly as an erotic subtext of the same idea, the even beauty can die; this idea had a certain popularity during the Romantic Era through art, literature, and music. The most popular example is Franz Schubert's Death and the Maiden Quartet. Let's take a look, shall we?

In 1817, Schubert wrote a lied (song, or art song, alternately) "Der Tod und das Mädchen", a setting of a poem of the same name by Matthias Claudius. The theme of the lied is used in the second movement of the quartet, but the quote itself establishes the overall tone of bleakness and unremitting foreboding. The quartet itself was written between 1823-1824, a period in which Schubert was sick with an outburst of tertiary stage syphilis, and in May had to be hospitalized.[1] He was broke: he had entered into a disastrous deal with Anton Diabelli to publish a batch of works, and received almost no payment; and his latest attempt at opera, Fierabras, was a flop. Earlier in 1820, Schubert returned to the quartet form for the first time since he was a teenager, all the while composing light and tuneful music that made him the toast of Vienna. However, he realized that instead of writing quartets to order or for the home, he could use the form to express his inner struggles. Since the medium offered him a bridge between the lyrical and dramatic, he could reconcile these vast differences in his own music.

Completed in 1824, Schubert paints a highly dramatic picture of death and beauty. The recording I've picked is played by a String Orchestra, arranged by Gustav Mahler, because I feel it offers a greater depth and a fuller, richer timbre, lending itself to a much greater dramatic picture.

String Quartet No. 14 in D minor, D. 810, Death and the Maiden
Franz Schubert


Performer information unavailable

A String Quartet follows the same form conventions as the Symphony, so I'm going to assume you all have done your reading.

I - Allegro, in D minor and common time
II - Andante con moto, in G minor and divided common (2/2) time
III - Scherzo: Allegro molto, in D minor and 3/4 time
IV - Presto, in D minor and 6/8 time

I - Allegro
The 14-bar introduction establishes the dramatic nature of the work with the juxtaposed fortissimo and pianissimo dynamics as well as the elements that will make up the movement, and the work as a whole. It begins on a unison D, followed by a triplet figure that will become a running motif; followed by the pp chorale.

The first theme continues the chorale motif with the lower voices playing the triplet motif in an endless, unremitting stream. This triplet motif transmutes itself into a connecting theme of its own bringing us to the second theme in F Major. The second theme still preserves the triplet under current, while the violins play a more rhythmically lively theme than the first, albeit much softer in tone. This theme is steadily explored until the first violin opens up with a 16th-note passage, one that would accompany the melody as it modulates to A. Once in A, the second theme, triplet figure, and 16th accompaniment are heard simultaneously in a busy context. The exposition ends with a violent transformation of the second theme in a wretched outburst in A minor.

The development explores the second theme in its two forms: the quiet, lilting version; and the violent inverted form. This section fluctuates between a fading relaxation and the fortissimo outbursts. Towards the end of the development Schubert reintroduces the triplet motif, leading the the recapitulation. Here the opening theme returns with variants as the music moves to a relaxed D Major for the recap of the second theme, before returning to the stormy D minor. The second theme is heard once more in F major before calming into the chorale, but the tension doesn't relax as it is interrupted by a sudden fortepiano. The opening theme returns, indicating a resurgence of life, growing to a climax that suddenly breaks off. The triplet motif is played at the original tempo as the movement slowly dies away.

II - Andante con moto
The second movement is a theme and five variations, based on Schubert's earlier lied. The theme is much like a death march, in G minor, ultimately resolving in G Major. Schubert does not deviate from the basic harmonic and senctence structure of the 24-bar theme, allowing the variations to express profoundly different emotions.

The first variation gives us a lilting violin above the pulsing theme, now in triplets, bringing forth the triplet motif.
The second variations give the cello a solo while the first violin plays a pulsating role in 16ths.
The third variation brings us back to the sturm und drang character of the work, juxtaposing a galloping fortissimo and a soft piano. The first violin plays a variant of the theme in a high register while the inner voices continue the gallop.
The fourth variation is lyrical with the viola carrying the melody underneath long violin line in triplets; this is the only variation in a major key, G Major.
The final variation has the second violin playing the melody, the first violin playing a 16th-note arpeggiated theme, and the cello playing a triplet figure in the bass line. The music grows from pp to ff and the fades and slows down into a repeat of the theme in the major key of G major.

III - Scherzo: Allegro molto
Designed as a classical minuet, the Scherzo has two repeated sections in 3/4, followed by a slower Trio in D Major, ending with a recapitulation of the two opening strains. The movement again deals with the dramatic leaps from fortissimo and pianissimo, with the Trio being the only real respite from the compelling pace of the movement. The shortest movement of the quartet, it acts more of an interlude before the frenetic finale.

IV - Presto
The Finale is a tarantella in sonata-rondo form. The tarantella was a quick Italian dance in 6/8 that, according to tradition, that was a treatment for a bite by a tarantula spider. In other words, a "dance of death". The movement is built in sections, with the main section occuring between each of the subsequent sections. The main section opens with a rondo in unison, with a theme based on a dotted figure that is traditionally bowed in reverse direction of normal dotted figures. This moves the accent to the off-beat, giving the theme a limping feel.

The theme develops characteristically, with sudden lurches from loud to soft and running triplets, leading to the second second section of the rondo; a broad, chorale-like theme. The second theme is reminiscient of Schubert's Der Erlkönig, a lied about a child who dies at the hands of the king of the forest. This motif continues, with a flowing triplet accompaniment the recalls the fourth variation in the second movement.; leading to a restatement of the main theme. Here the triplet motif appears in a disguised form, leading back to the choral theme. After another statement of the main theme, the third section begins.

This section is a complex, involuted section with chromatic swirls of triplets and hemiolas that cause the listener to lose all sense of downbeat. This leads into a recapitulation of the second section, and then a return of the main section of the rondo. A crescendo leads to the Prestissimo coda of the movement and of the piece. The coda begins in D major, suggesting a triumphant end, a device common in classical and romantic quartets; but in this case, the coda suddenly returns to D minor, for a tumultuous and tragic conclusion.

And with that, our dear Maiden is dead. One down, six to go. Next time we will look at some Funeral Marches that have become pretty popular. Most of these are actually from larger works, but I plan on just discussing the movements themselves. If you know of any Funeral Marches you'd like to talk about, Classical or otherwise, please bring them up and their context if it is not widely known.
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Re: Classical Discussions III - Funeral Marches, Pick your favorite!
« Reply #39 on: December 22, 2012, 07:45:48 AM »

Welcome back, and Happy Holidays! Let's talk more about that wonderful holiday topic of Death. This time we will be looking at a collection of Funeral Marches; processional music written for funerals. Death is a frequent subject in music, and it is often composed on commission to celebrate a monarch or otherwise important or influential person. So why don't we go down my little list chronologically, death through the ages!

Music for the Funeral of Queen Mary, Z. 860 - Henry Purcell, 1695
Written for Queen Mary II of England

Performed by Jean Tubery, La Fenice

Purcell wrote this piece especially for the funeral ceremony of Queen Mary II, based on music he had composed earlier. Written for an  orchestra and choir, the piece is in three secionts; a march, canzona, and anthem. It isn't clear what was actually performed at the ceremony, as there is no autograph score and Purcell left no accounts of the performance.

The work begins with a somber march with pounding drums and flatt trumpets playing the procession. The music is hauntingly beautiful, and features some great and surprising tension. The second section (Yet, O Lord) features some startling chromatic rises, deviating briefly from the typical late-renaissance tonalities and tropes. A largely soft and somber work, the piece ends in a quiet and serene manner.

1. Man that is born of a woman
 hath but a short time to live,
 and is full of misery.
 He cometh up, and is cut down like a flower;
 he fleeth as it were a shadow,
 and ne'er continueth in one stay.
 
2. In the midst of life we are in death:
 of whom may we seek for succour,
 but of thee, O Lord,
 who for our sins art justly displeased?
 
Yet, O Lord, O Lord most mighty,
 O holy and most merciful Saviour,
 deliver us not into the bitter pains
 of eternal death.
 
3. Thou knowest, Lord, the secrets of our hearts;
 shut not thy merciful ears unto our pray'rs;
 but spare us, Lord most holy, O God most mighty.
 
O holy and most merciful Saviour,
 thou most worthy Judge eternal,
 suffer us not, at our last hour,
 for any pains of death, to fall from thee. Amen.

Piano Sonata No. 2 in B-flat minor, Op. 35, III - Marche funèbre: Lento - Frederic Chopin
Performed by Yundi Li

Chopin's "Funeral March" is a staple in modern media, frequently used to under score death and has been used in funerals by prominent leaders such as John F. Kennedy and Leonid Brezhnev.

The third movement of Chopin's Piano Sonata No. 2, the actual title "Funeral March" only refers to the outer sections of the movement, stylised as a true march. The interlude is in D-flat and is more of Chopin's typical style being much lighter and more of a fantasy. I reccomend listening to the full sonata, but we might take a detailed look at it some other time.

Songs and Dances of Death - Modest Mussorgsky
Performed by Mstislav Rostropovich, London Philharmonic, Galina Vishnevskaya
Orchestrated by Dmitri Shostakovich

Based on four poems by Arseny Golenishchev-Kutuzov, a relative of the composer, the song cycle deals with for types of death: Child Death, Death in Youth, Drunken Misadventure, and War. The song cycla was written for voice (usually bass or baritone) and piano, but it has been subject to numerous orchestrations.

Text

I. Lullaby (Колыбельная) (1875) (in D-sharp minor)
 A mother cradles her sick infant, who grows more feverish. Death appears, disguised as a babysitter, and rocks the infant to eternal sleep.
 
II. Serenade (Серенада) (1875) (in D-sharp minor-E-flat minor)
 The figure of Death waits outside the window of a dying woman, in the manner of a wooing lover.
 
III. Trepak (Трепак) (1875) (in D minor)
 A drunken peasant stumbles outside into the snow and becomes caught in a blizzard. As he freezes to death, he dreams of summer fields.
 
IV .The Field Marshal (Полководец) (1877) (in E-flat minor-D minor)
 The figure of Death is depicted as an officer commanding the troops after a dreadful battle. She asserts her enduring remembrance of them all.

Götterdämmerung, "Siegfried's Funeral March" - Richard Wagner
Performed by Georg Solti, Wiener Philharmoniker
Taken from the final "music drama" in Wagner's Epic Ring Cycle, this is the Funeral March of Siegfried, the love interest of Brünnhilde, who is the leader of the Valkyries and is the Daughter of Wotan, king of the Gods and plays a central role in his downfall, but not before being responsible for Siegfried's death after she found out he was going to wed Grtrune, Gunther's sister who wishes to wed Brünnhilde and actually kills Siegfried, leading to Brünnhilde to take over and build a pyre and dear god this is a complicted mess.

It's no wonder it took Wagner four operas to tell this massive tale. We're only concerned with a small section though, which is lifted entirely from the final act in the final opera Götterdämmerung in which Siegfried is stabbed in the back by Gunther. That's all you need to know, trust me.

We might talk about this massive work...in about 10 years. And it will be abhorently abridged.

Pavane pour une infante défunte (Pavane for a Dead Princess) - Maurice Ravel
Performed by Seiji Ozawa, Boston Symphony Orchestra

Envisioned as "an evocation of a pavane that a little princess might, in former times, have danced at the Spanish court". This work doesn't pay tribute to anybody in history, , but rather expresses a nostalgic enthusiasm for Spanish customs and sensibilities, which Ravel shared with many of his contemporaries (most notably Debussy and Albéniz) and which is evident in some of his other works such as the Rapsodie espagnole and the Boléro. Originally written as a piano solo, Ravel later orcheatrated the work (as he was often wont to do) in 1910.

String Quartet No. 15 in E flat minor, Op. 144, V - 5.Funeral March: Adagio molto - Dmitri Shostakovich
Performed by St. Petersburg String Quartet

Shostakovich's last string quartet, it is alos his slowest and longest, with all six movements marked with an Adagio. The work it is an introspective meditation on mortality, like most of the composer's late works. Most of his quartets were premiered by the Beethoven Quartet, and Shostakovich told them to play the first movement "so that flies drop dead in mid-air, and the audience start leaving the hall from sheer boredom". The march in question is a pretty straight foward funeral march, just as written by Shostakovich, so expect some biting dissonance and a dark timbre.

Well, I hope you all have picked out which funeral march you want played at your funeral, I know I have. Here are some other marches of note that we will either address in full later, or have already discussed:

Symphony No. 3 - II. Marcia Funebre: Adagio Assai - Beethoven
Peer Gynt Suite No. 1, Op. 46 - II. 2.The Death of Åse - Grieg
Romeo and Juliet - Romeo at Juliet's Tomb - Prokofiev
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Re: Classical Discussions III - Funeral Marches, Pick your favorite!
« Reply #40 on: December 22, 2012, 01:15:15 PM »

We could also talk about "theme & varations", like Grieg's ballade, Rachmaninoff's Chopin (op.22) and Corelli (op.42) varations, Mendelsohn's Variations sérieuses, etc...
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Re: Classical Discussions III - Funeral Marches, Pick your favorite!
« Reply #41 on: December 22, 2012, 04:35:47 PM »

That's a good idea, I'll file that away for later.
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Re: Classical Discussions III - Funeral Marches, Pick your favorite!
« Reply #42 on: December 22, 2012, 06:04:42 PM »

Cool!

By the way, this topic os really interesting, I've learned a lot of new things that I didnt know, good work :)
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Re: Classical Discussions III - Funeral Marches, Pick your favorite!
« Reply #43 on: December 23, 2012, 04:22:16 AM »

Thanks, I feel if I can teach something or give someone an appreciation for this great art, then I must be doing something right.
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Re: Classical Discussions III - Funeral Marches, Pick your favorite!
« Reply #44 on: December 30, 2012, 05:24:47 PM »

Good thread. Not much of a discussion it seems but hopefully that can change.
Anyways, time to discuss the funeral marches. I've actually came across the march from Henry Purcell's funeral music by watching A Clockwork Orange which in turn came across by comments on a Youtube video of Beethoven's 9th a while ago. A Clockwork Orange is a quite wierd and unique movie but speaking of funeral march I first thought that it was a piece composed for the movie (especially as it was so synthy, see: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HI-mDTdeKR8) but later I found out it actually was by Purcell. Either way the funeral march is very powerful. I also like Maurice Ravel's Pavanne but I don't get any associations with funerals. It's just a calm amazingly beautiful piece. I also love the "funeral march" from Mahler's first symphony. I don't think of it as a funeral march either. To me it sounds like folklish (jewish?) music for some kind of celebration.
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