CHAPTER 10: THE CLASSICAL ERA
Adapted from Introduction to Music Appreciation by Hanse, Whitehouse and Silverman with additional material added
Dr. N. Boumpani and Dr. J. Carteret
ABOUT THE ERA
The Classical period was known as the Age of Enlightenment, or the Age of Reason. The era spanned about seventy years (1750-1820), but in its short duration, musical practices began that have influenced music ever since. Classical period music is by far the most common Western music known today. During this period, public concerts became prominent, instrumental music was further developed, secular music became more prevalent than church music, and opera took a new role as a more important form of vocal entertainment and musical drama. Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart and Franz Joseph Haydn each found a place in the music world and produced music as expression, art, and entertainment. The height of the Classical Era brought the music of Beethoven and, with his music, ushered in the Romantic Era. We will also explore a composer who has been lost to time, until about 20 years ago.
As stated, the philosophy that logic and reason were to govern all intellectual activities, including the arts, had its effect on all life in the era. The architecture of the Baroque, with its ornate buildings covered with sculptures and designs, was discarded in the Classical era for plain, functional buildings based on the ideas of ancient Greece and Rome. This can be seen in our nation’s capital with the Classical style buildings.
The Western world of the mid-1700s had been transformed through intellectual and industrial revolutions. The Industrial Revolution brought agricultural changes, mechanized textile manufacturing, and new power sources like the steam engine. On assembly lines, workers began to specialize in the monotonous creation of only one small part rather than an entire product. In the home, families that had created homespun wool could no longer earn wages by making and selling hand-woven materials. Changes in the structure of work and community paved the way for salon gatherings and public concerts.
The Age of Reason went on to affect all of the arts, and much of the activities of the intellectuals. It was during this time that 1776 by Bavarian Adam Weishaupt, a former Jesuit priest, formed a group of progressive thinkers known as the Illuminati. Weishaupt was opposed to the power and rule of the Church and the Church’s influence on countries and people. One of their goals of the Illuminati was to replace Christianity with reason and logic. The Illuminati also want to replace the monarchs of Europe with a “benevolent dictator.” When countries learned of the goals of the Illuminati, governments reacted. The Bavarian government declared the group illegal and the society was disbanded. Theories have been forwarded that the group only became a secret society by infiltrating and taking over the Freemasons. Many people believe the group exits today, hiding within Freemasonry. We include this here because it has been noted that Mozart may have been an Illuminatus. Mozart was an active Mason and a personal friend of Adam Weishaupt. Could it be that the rational, intellectual side of Freemasonry appealed to Mozart, rather than an interest in the occult, something that people have connected to the Illuminati? Perhaps some of you might be interested in exploring this secret society and the effect it had on Mozart and others of the time.
The Baroque period of 1600 through 1750, was known as the Age of Absolutism, focused on the divine right of kings and other monarchs as chosen by God. During the Enlightenment, however, this philosophy began to change. Despite wars throughout Europe, a few leaders tried to improve the conditions of their people. These monarchs, commonly known as “enlightened despots,” implemented reforms like religious toleration and economic development. Joseph II, a leader in the Habsburg Empire that included Austria and Hungary, set peasants free, suppressed church authority, and promoted education, music, literature, and a free press. This positive atmosphere lured artists from outside areas to Vienna, where they could create freely. Mozart, from Salzburg, Haydn, from Austria, and Ludwig van Beethoven, from Bonn, are a few of the great musicians who moved to Vienna.
At the beginning of the Enlightenment era, courts and noblemen ruled Europe, and European powers governed the American colonies. By then end of the era, though, the United States had fought in the Revolutionary War, created the Declaration of Independence, and adopted the Bill of Rights. Government “by the people” became a theme of the period. Exploration and freedom in the United States allowed creativity and inventiveness to develop. History has shown, many times, that a government that controls power over people, like those of some of the kings, and socialist and communist governments, stifle creativity and free expression.
The Enlightenment was a movement of intellectual and social ideals. Writers and philosophers examined social theories. The phrase “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness” was based on the ideas that English philosopher John Locke (1632-1704) held about human beings having the right to freedom and autonomy. Locke believed that people gained wisdom and knowledge from personal experience. The Swiss philosopher Jean-Jacques Rousseau (1712-78) declared that the shared creation of laws could help people obtain happiness and build a better society. The ideals of these and other philosophers of the era led to societal and governmental changes that placed power in the hands of citizens. General theories of identity shifted from an emphasis on estates, ranks, and nobility to the perception of the individual as the basic unit in society.
As European society gradually changed from farming to a working class and an emphasis was placed on enjoying beauty and pleasure, public concerts became important, and the arts were widely developed. In 1748, the first concert hall was built in Oxford, England, and it is still being used today. People regularly attended concerts and operas for entertainment as music became available to the lower classes. This trend allowed for a gradual shift from the patronage system, where musicians worked for royal courts, to the free enterprise system, where they earned money through commissions, ticket sales, and other performance-related income.
MUSIC IN THE LIFE THE PEOPLE
Amateur musicians became common, with women in particular pursuing music studies. Music involvement was a social activity. Printed music was sold publicly for pianoforte (an instrument much like today’s piano), voice, and small ensembles. Just as learning to play music became widespread, literacy across Europe increased, and the availability of printed materials also increased. Coffee houses grew to become microcosms of academic life and hubs of public information. Debate clubs emerged, meeting in salons and other gathering spots to discuss political matters, philosophy, and other intellectual issues. If a person was to be considered educated during this age, that person was expected to be able to read music, whether to sing from written music, or play an instrument.
THE PATRONAGE SYSTEM
At the beginning of the era, composers found employment either with a church or working for a patron. This was known as the patronage system. The patronage system allowed composers a regular salary as they composed music, but it also had its drawbacks. Composers were not always paid well, and they usually had to perform other duties for their patrons. Most of the time, composers working for a patron had to write music based on what the employer wanted, which sometime stifled creativity. By the end of the Classical Era, the patronage system was mainly gone. The Napoleonic wars had drained much of the wealth from Europe and luxuries and having their own orchestras and composers was not feasible.
MUSIC OF THE CLASSICAL ERA
Although Baroque music was evenly divided between vocal and instrumental music genres and secular and sacred music, composers began to move toward specific trends in the Classical period that followed. Instrumental music grew in popularity during the Classical period because during the Baroque, instruments, tonal systems, and orchestral writing had become more standardized.
In the Age or Reason, it was accepted that all activities were to be governed by the intellect. Logic replaced emotion, even in music and the other arts. Classical music was focused on clarity, precision, and formal structure. Both Haydn and Mozart were able to work within these confines; however, although Beethoven used the same forms, he could not suppress emotion, as we found in the first chapter. Beethoven would, singlehandedly, change the course of music, perhaps more than any composer who ever lived.
CHARACTERISTICS OF CLASSICAL MUSIC
Instrumentation became more standardized during the Classical period. For example, the symphony orchestra was organized into a format with specific instruments and sections, as we recognize orchestras today. During the Classical period, the harpsichord was no longer a prominent instrument, but the piano of the Classica Era (known as the pianoforte) became very popular.
Classical composers used instruments for their traditional sounds; in other words, the string section was used as the most important part of the musical work, with the woodwinds adding color to certain parts of the music, and the brass used mainly for fanfares, loud sections, and musical accents. The percussion section consisted mainly of the timpani and cymbals and often included a snare drum and bass drum.
The long, flowing melodies of the Baroque were replaced with melodies that were balanced and easy to remember. Composers would even use folk music in their compositions.
Texture and Harmony
A lot of Classical period music was homophonic in texture and revolved around melody or melodic statements. Some Classical music included section that were fugue-like, which was polyphonic. Beethoven liked to use polyphonic sections in many of his works; however, composers stopped writing fugues like those of J.S. Bach. Two different types of textures exist in music that may create harmony: homophony and polyphony. One additional musical texture, monophony, does not include any harmony. Monophony was not as common during the Classical period as it was in earlier years.
During the Baroque, regular harmonic progressions were established; however, in the Classical Era composers sought to simplify them and used specific progressions that people would come to understand and recognize, even when they deviated from the expected. Tonality and tonal centers were very clearly defined, with chord progressions helping to define major sections of the music.
Classical works often include tempo changes during a piece of music to add expression, or create contrast. This was in stark contrast to the steady, unchanging tempi found in Baroque music. Sometimes Classical Era composers would gradually change a tempo in a work. Speeding up the tempo is called an accelerando, and slowing down gradually is called ritardando.
The rhythmic components of the music became an important area of focus in Classical music. Although during the Baroque period the rhythms in a work of music were constant and repetitive, music of the Classical age used contrasting rhythms in their musical works.
The range in dynamics during the Classical was much greater than those in the Baroque. During the Classical age, dynamics ranged from pianissimo (pp - very soft) to very loud fortissimo (ff - very loud). Composer freely used crescendos and decrescendos (or diminuendo) in their music.
During the Classical period, new and precise forms were created to help composers produce large quantities of quality music on demand. Some of these forms included the sonata, rondo, theme and variations, and minuet and trio. The multimovement symphony was developed to provide extended performances that entertained audiences for greater lengths of time, as concert halls were built and concert attendance became a public pastime. The larger music forms, like the symphony, string quarter and concertos, included several movements which were written according to specific forms.
A typical four-movement work (like a symphony or string quartet) was organized in the following manner:
A fast movement in sonata form
A slower movement in theme and variation form or some kind of ternary (A-B-A) form
A dance movement, often a minuet and trio (A-B-A) or scherzo and trio
A fast movement, often a rondo (abacada) or sonata form
When a musical work consisted of only three movements, like in many concerti, the third dance movement was left out - a choice commonly made by Mozart.
The term sonata refers to both a piece of music performed by a single instrument, usually the piano or a piano and solo instrument, and also a musical form that was found in the first movement in a large, multimovement work. We will examine a sonata later in this chapter.
CRITICAL LISTENING AND LISTENING GOALS
Several significant works are presented in this chapter, though they are only a small part of the many great works created during the Classical period. As you listen to Classical music, use the key music terms presented in Chapters 2-5 as tools to describe what you hear. Apply your new skills to the listening examples throughout the course and other music you listen to for pleasure.
Identify any Classical period traits in the music (as listed above).
Listen for instruments and timbres, identify the type of ensemble you hear and who is performing, and note whether a harpsichord is present.
Observe patterns, rhythms, melodies, and motives that occur within the form.
Listen for dynamic and tempo changes, including sudden or gradual changes in both dynamics and tempo.
Practice describing these observed concepts using the music terms instrumentation, timbre, texture, tempo, dynamics, and form.
THE SONATA ALLEGRO FORM AND MOZART
The sonata-allegro form (most often referred to as the sonata form) is one that composer of the classical age used countless times. Any given symphony, concerto, sonata, or string quartet usually had at least one movement in this form and sometimes two. In keeping with the Classical idea of simplicity and clarity, the sonata form, like the other forms of this era, allowed the listeners to understand the music when heard for the first time. It must be remembered that audiences of this era expected to hear new works when they attended concerts. This is unlike today where symphony orchestras might premier a new work only once or twice a year. Because they understood these forms, audiences of the age understood what to expect from new music. The sonata-allegro form has three main sections: the exposition, the development, and the recapitulation. Sometimes a fourth section, the coda, was added to bring the work to a close. Let’s examine the form and then listen to an example.
In the exposition, the composer would usually present his first theme, sometimes right away and sometimes after an introduction. A transition would lead to the second, contrasting theme in a different key. Another transition and a short “codetta” would bring the exposition to a close. The codetta is a short passage that brings a section to a cadence and lets the listener know the section is complete. The exposition would then repeat, giving the listeners another chance to hear and remember the themes. The main purpose for the exposition was to present the Composer’s themes so that the listener would remember them.
The next section is called the development and its function is defined by its name. In this section the composer would take one, or sometimes both of the main themes from the exposition, and he would present them in as many different ways as he could without the composition becoming boring. The theme might be played in various keys, on different instruments, or small parts of the melody might be presented and “passed around” through various keys and instruments, and often on different dynamic levels. After the development ends, the original music from the exposition returns, but not exactly as it had before.
The recapitulation returns to the first theme, then the transition leads to the second theme, transition and codetta; however, this time the second theme is usually in the same key as the first. In some cases, the composer may use the original codetta from the exposition and end the movement. Some composers, however, wanted to add more of a definite ending to their work, and therefore wrote a coda. A coda (the word literally means “tail”) would let the audience know that the movement was coming to an end. Some composers would keep their codas rather short, others tended to make them a little longer. As we will see with Beethoven, he would sometime use his codas almost as a second development section.
We will examine one of Mozart’s most famous symphonies, Symphony #40 in g minor K 550, to examine the sonata-allegro form. (The K after the title is a catalogue number and stands for Köchel, who was the person responsible for cataloging Mozart’s music.) Please listen to the complete movement along with the listening guide.
EXAMPLE: Symphony #40 in g minor K.550 W. A. Mozart
SYMPHONY #40 IN G MINOR, K 550 Mvt 1: “Allegro”
W. A. Mozart (1756-1791)
FOCUS: The Sonata Allegro form.
|Time||What is Happening||Notes|
|0:00||Exposition begins – Theme 1||Based on a pattern of three descending notes|
|0:23||Theme 1 begins, but moves into the transition|
|0:48||Theme 2 begins in new key||Mainly in strings|
|0:58||Theme 2 repeated||Mainly in woodwinds|
|1:14||codetta||Uses the 3-note pattern|
|1:52||Exposition repeats exactly.|
|3:45||Development begins using theme 1||Theme 1 motive played three times, each time beginning on a lower pitch|
|3:59||Theme 1 motive continues to be developed||Theme is developed polyphonically|
|4:24||Sudden dynamic change to soft||3-note motive developed|
|4:40||Sudden dynamic change to loud||3-note notice continues to be developed|
|4:49||Sudden dynamic change to soft||3 note motive moves into recapitulation|
|4:55||Recapitulation theme 1 returns|
|5:18||Theme 1 begins and moves into transition|
|5:24||Transition begins||This transition is longer than in the exposition in order to return to the key of g minor.|
|6:00||Theme 2 begins in g minor key||Mainly in strings|
|6:10||Theme 2 repeated in g minor||Mainly in woodwinds|
This is an important point in the study of music appreciation. Before the form was explained to you, this music might not have made much sense to you. Understanding form in music should help you to understand music you have never heard before.
Listen to the work again and discuss how the form of this work helps you to understand what is happening in the music. Does your understanding of the sonata-allegro form make this music more understandable?
WOLFGANG AMADEUS MOZART
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (1756-1791) was born in January 1756, in Salzburg, Austria. Because he was raised in as musical household, Mozart flourished as a young musician; however, his family was not the only source of his amazing talent. Mozart learned quickly and surpassed most of his teachers in a very short time. He learned his first scherzo on pianoforte at age five and performed twice as a singer that year—once in a play and once as part of a children’s group in Munich. His father, Leopold, taught him to play piano as well taught him academic subjects and languages, until young Mozart was better than his father. At that point Leopold found the best possible teacher for young Mozart.
Mozart was a child prodigy. (A child prodigy is one who can do things that are well beyond his age, and do them very well.) Early in his childhood, Mozart showed musical genius, dedication, and creativity. At age five, he composed six keyboard works, all of which were dedicated to his father. His father, realizing his son’s talent, took Mozart and his sister, Maria Anna, on an extensive performance tour across Europe to perform for political leaders and dignitaries. All of Mozart’s family members became ill during the tour, and he himself had scarlet fever during the trip. Despite the hardship, Mozart composed more than fifteen varied musical works and performed in many royal courts and public venues while traveling.
When he turned twelve, Mozart’s father took him back to Vienna to build his musical career. By this time, his second symphony had already been completed. In Vienna, he was commissioned to write an entire opera buffa (an Italian comic opera), which was completed but not performed in Vienna. At the age of 16, Mozart was hired as the Salzburg Konzertmeister (concert master, or conductor) and given a salary. Mozart was an energetic and brilliant but arrogant teen who thought he could find better opportunities for more pay. He and his mother traveled to Paris in 1778 hoping that he would find more desirable employment. Unfortunately, no offers appeared, and his mother became ill and died during the trip.
Mozart settled in Vienna and married at age twenty-six. He and his bride moved constantly. They had six children, though four died as infants. Mozart was constantly unemployed and poor, wielding an arrogance and impulsivity that angered potential employers. Over the course of his life, Mozart composed more than six hundred works, including over 40 symphonies, operas, and concertos. His opera The Magic Flute (Die Zauberflöte, K. 620) premiered shortly before his death. Mozart died at thirty-five from rheumatic fever in 1791.
DISCUSSION: Considering that, as a very young boy, Mozart was paraded around Europe as a young “star,” why do you think he had trouble working for someone after that? Make sure you reply to at least one post.
THE THEME AND VARIATIONS FORM AND HAYDN
In a theme and variation form, the composer first presents a theme which is usually fairly simple, balanced and easy to remember. (Remember that “simple” and “balance” are important concepts in the Classical Era.) The theme is usually presented and repeated in some way, and then the composer takes that theme, usually in its entirety and begins to create variations. Please note, by “theme”” in this situation, we are not discussing a short theme as used in symphonies. The themes in this form can be a complete A-B song form. The variations that follow might change the overall character of the theme, or add a countermelody, change the key, or change dynamic levels, tempo, meter or rhythm, or any combination of the above. As you listen to this work with the listening guide, you will see and hear how Haydn created each variation. First listen to the theme section, which is in an A-B song form that repeats itself. From that point on, each variation tends to follows the same A-B form with repeats. Haydn was known for his sense of humor, so he decided to add a little surprise to the music.
The theme and variations we are going to use is from the second movement of Franz Joseph Haydn’s Symphony #94 in G Major, Hob I:94. This work is one of his most famous symphonies. It has been given the name of the “Surprise” symphony for a reason that will become obvious when you hear it.
EXAMPLE: Symphony #94 in G Major, Hob I:94 Mvt II F. J. Haydn
SYMPHONY #94 IN G MAJOR. HOB. 1:94. MVT. II “ANDANTE”
FOCUS: form, how the music is varied
Form: Theme and Variations
Key: E flat Major
|0:00||Theme begins, A section||Staccato strings (very short notes)|
|0:22||A section repeats, softer||Includes the surprise|
|0:43||B section of theme begins|
|1:03||B section repeats||adds woodwind instruments|
|1:23||VARIATION 1||A second melody is added in the violin and upper woodwinds|
|2:40||VARIATION 2 (only for the A section)||Played in minor mode – alternates dynamics in phrases, loud, then soft.|
A theme first time – each melody note is divided into 4 repeated notes
A theme second time played in strings while flutes play a smooth countermelody
|4:43||VARIATION 3 B theme|
B theme continues in strings while flutes continue their countermelody
B theme is repeated in same manner
A theme first time – played in grand manner with countermelody in high strings
A theme second time in low strings while violins play countermelody above
|6:01||VARIATION 4 – B theme||Violins play B theme in smooth, legato manner B theme 2nd time – grand manner as before|
FRANZ JOSEPH HAYDN
Franz Joseph Haydn (1732-1809), was born in Rohrau, Austria. He was called Joseph rather than Franz by those who knew him and had been born into a large, musical family of twelve children. His father was a master wheelwright (a person who builds wagon wheels) and a magistrate who played the harp well, but did not read music. Haydn’s mother worked in Harrach castle (an estate in Rohrau) as a cook prior to marrying Haydn’s father, and she was an excellent singer. As a child, Haydn was invited to live with a cousin in Hainburg, where the cousin directed a church choir and worked as the principal of a school. While there, Haydn learned to read and write, sing, and play string, wind, and percussion instruments. When he was seven years old, he became a choirboy in Vienna, singing soprano for the next ten years. His voice earned him a free education at a fine school; however, at age seventeen his voice changed from that of a boy to that of a man during puberty. (The musical way of saying this is that “his voice broke.”) Haydn, unable to sing the high pitches of a soprano, was forced to leave the choir and the school. He was replaced by his younger brother, Michael. Basically, Joseph Haydn became homeless.
Hayden struggled for around a decade by performing, teaching, and writing music when he was paid to do so. Finally, in his later 20’s, Haydn was hired as a composer by the Prince Esterházy in Austria. Haydn remained at this job for thirty years, until the prince died. As part of his service to the prince, Haydn wrote music for every occasion. He had the luxury of an in-house orchestra and opera company. After the prince died, Haydn became an independent musician and composer, and began selling his music privately. He was a tough businessman, who negotiated dishonestly at times, but he also shared his wealth freely with those he cared about. Also, after he left the Esterhazy family, he made two trips to London where he composed and presented new works. History records that Haydn made more money on his trips to London than he had over his entire career with the Esterhazys.
Over the course of his life, Haydn was an interesting example of the cultural change from the patronage system, in which composers served courtly nobles, to the free enterprise system in which composers created music to “sell.” Throughout his life, Haydn was affectionately called Papa Haydn. He was a conservative man who cared for others but also was known for his sense of humor. The term Papa referred both to his concerns for others and to his contributions to the music discipline. Haydn lived to be seventy-seven years old. He was a man of virtue and character who patiently taught younger students and directed performers. At the same time, Haydn was proud of his own works and let others know it.
Haydn composed polite, dignified music that pleased audiences immensely; however, his music never conveyed the emotion that Beethoven’s would. Haydn contributed much to music during the Classical era. He composed just fewer than 300 works, including 104 symphonies, 35 concertos, 60 piano sonatas, 82 string quartets, two oratorios, and several masses.
THE MINUET AND TRIO FORM
The minuet and trio form was used by almost all composers in the third movement of their symphonies, string quartets and other works, but it was also used as a form in and of itself. Mozart wrote a great many minuets and trios. The form is an A-B-A form where the A is the minuet, and the B is the trio. The name “trio” came from the fact that., in many works, the B section of this form might use fewer performers than the A section, and sometimes that meant 3 performers. Even when used in a symphonic setting, the term trio is used regardless of the number of performers. In this form the A section (the minuet), usually had 2 themes (sometime more), which were repeated in some way, and the B section (the trio) would usually have 2 themes that differed from the themes of the A section. The use of repetition throughout both sections is clear, and the contrast is created between the A and B sections. The two themes in the A section might sound very similar and might even share phrases, and the same holds true for the two in the B section. After the A and B sections are complete, the A section returns exactly as before; however, it might or might not be repeated in the last A section.
We will use a Mozart minuet for our example. In this minuet there will be no repeats when the A section returns. Pay close attention to the listening guide. If you listen carefully, you will hear the cadences that end each theme. For clarity, the two themes in the A section will be labeled a and b, and the two themes in the B section will be labeled c and d. Your instructor may assign a short minuet to each person and ask that a listening guide be created.
EXAMPLE: Minuet No. 1 from 12 Minuets, K.568 W. A. Mozart
12 MINUETS K. 568 – “MINUET 1 IN C MAJOR”
FOCUS: Themes, repetition and contrast
Form: Minuet and Trio (ABA)
Key: C Major
|0:00||A SECTION theme a|
|0:13||Theme a repeated||Repeated exactly|
|0:24||Theme b||B theme begins softly then ends loud|
|0:35||Theme b||Repeated exactly|
|0:47||B SECTION theme c|
|0:59||Theme c repeats||Repeated exactly|
|1:10||Theme d||The second phrase of the d theme is the same as the second phrase of the c theme.|
|1:23||Theme d repeats||Repeated exactly|
|1:34||A SECTION theme a||No repeat|
|1:45||Theme b||No repeat|
Many of Mozart’s trios follow this same form and he often uses the second phrase of one theme as the second theme of the next; however, this only happens if both themes are in the same section (either the A or B). If your instructor assigns a Mozart minuet as an assignment, it will usually follow the above form.
THE RONDO FORM AS PRESENTED IN THE SOLO CONCERTO
The concerto-grosso of the Baroque was refined in the Classical Era to become the concerto. The concerto is not a form, it is the name for a multi-movement work written for orchestra and soloist. Composers often used the same forms in their concerti as in the symphonies, although the sonata-allegro is usually modified and the minuet and trio is often omitted. Within any concerto, the rondo form was very popular. For our example we are going to hear a rondo form within a famous trumpet concerto. Haydn wrote one of his most famous concerti after the invention of keys for the trumpet. The Baroque trumpet did not look like our present-day trumpet, but it worked in much the same way, with three keys on the sides of the instrument instead of the modern valves. This trumpet concerto proved to be such a masterful composition that it is still played quite often today. Any college music major who majors in trumpet must perform this work at some time during their college career.
THE RONDO FORM
Many symphonies, string quartets and concerti include a movement in the rondo form. The rondo form is similar to the ritornello form we learned about in the Baroque. There is a main theme that continues to return throughout the work, separated by contrasting sections in between. In its simplest form the rondo might be built on the form: A-B-A-C-A-B-A where A is the rondo theme and the other letters are new sections. This can be expanded to A-B-A-C-A-D-A-E-A-D-A-C-A-B-A, or many other combinations. The important concept is that the rondo theme repeats, at least in part, between the contrasting sections.
Music Appreciation classes usually use Haydn’s Trumpet Concerto in Eb to demonstrate the rondo form. Although we will use it here as well, it must be noted that it is really not a true rondo, but more of a “sonata-rondo.” This is because it has elements of both forms. There is an exposition that is repeated, but the trumpet only plays on the repeat. As you listen with the listening guide, keep in mind that the main thing you need to focus on is the return of the rondo theme. For this reason, the listening guide mainly focuses on the return of the rondo theme, or “A” section. The performer on the Naxos recording is among finest trumpet performers in the world, Mr. Wynton Marsalis. The link below the Naxos link is to a YouTube video that features Mr. Wynton Marsalis, should you wish to see him perform.
EXAMPLE: Trumpet Concerto in Eb Hob.VIIe:1 F. J. Haydn
TRUMPET CONCERTO IN Eb HOB. VIIe:1 MVT 3, “ALLEGRO”
F. J. Haydn
FOCUS: Rondo Form
Key: E flat Major
|0:00||Exposition: Main theme A|
|0:37||A theme in trumpet|
|1:50||A theme returns|
|2:15||C section||This is more like the development of a sonata section|
|2:39||A theme returns|
|2:55||B section returns|
|3:29||A theme returns|
|3:46||Coda begins||The A theme is used to bring the piece to a close|
At the beginning of the Classical Era many composers worked for wealthy families under the patronage system, as discussed earlier. For large gatherings the composer might write a symphony or concerto, or even an opera: however, when there were smaller gatherings where an orchestra would be too large, music for smaller groups would be written. These included the piano sonata, the instrumental sonata, string quartet, instrumental quartets, string quintets, and others. Music for small ensembles came to be known as chamber music.
The piano sonata was a chamber music work written for a solo piano. It was usually written in 3 or 4 movements and used the same forms used in the symphony. Chamber music written for piano and another instrument would be called a sonata, but defined by the solo instrument. For example, a sonata for piano and flute would be known as a flute sonata. If written for piano and violin, the music would be a violin sonata. In these sonatas where there are two performers, both parts were equal in importance to the work.
Mozart and Beethoven wrote quite a few piano sonatas. Among Mozart’s most famous is Piano Sonata No.11 in A, K.331 ('Alla turca'). The last movement of this work is in rondo form. The opening theme is quite easy to remember. This work has most recently been used in the 2019 movie Rocketman, about famous musician Elton John. Beethoven wrote quite a few piano sonatas that have become standard repertoire over the centuries. These include the piano sonatas listed below. We have selected movements from each of the sonatas. Your instructor may assign one or more of these as a listening assignment to be discussed at some time in the future. Piano sonatas can be, at times, difficult to understand for the average music appreciation student. We will not use a listening guide for any of these, but you should hear at least one movement for one of these. The one assigned for this text is first (unless your instructor changes it). This is Mozart’s “Rondo alla turca” from his piano sonata Alla Turca. It is also the shortest of the three works. As you listen to this, notice how it follows the rules for balance and simplicity. The work starts out with the rondo theme. Listen for how many times it occurs on this piece.
EXAMPLE: Piano Sonata No.11 in A, K.331 ('Alla turca’) Mvt. III “Rondo alla turca” Mozart
EXAMPLE: Piano Sonata No.8 in C minor, Op.13 ('Pathétique'), Mvt. II “Adagio cantabile” Beethoven
EXAMPLE: Piano Sonata No.21 in C, Op.53 ('Waldstein'), Mvt. I “Allegro con brio” Beethoven
THE STRING QUARTET
The idea for the string quarter has often been attributed to Joseph Haydn. Like the word “chorus,” “string quartet” has two different meanings. A group of 4 specific string performers is called a string quartet, but “string quartet” also refers to a piece of music written for those four performers. We can say that Beethoven wrote works that are called “string quartets” and those works are performed by a group of instrumentalists called a string quartet. As a group, the title is very self-descriptive. The ensemble includes a 1st violin, a 2nd violin, a viola and a cello. Most string quartets were written in 4 movements and followed the same tempo map as the symphony – fast, slow, dance-related, fast. Also, they usually began with a movement in the sonata allegro form. Like the symphony, the works features a minuet and trio in the 3rd movement, although Beethoven would use a scherzo and trio, as explained in chapter 1.
In a symphony orchestra there are multiple performers on each part. Although there are no set numbers, a typical orchestra might have 16 1st violins, 14 2nd violins, 7 or 8 violas, 6-8 celli and 5-9 double basses. As discussed earlier, this gives the overall timbre of the orchestra fullness and “warmth.” The string quartet has only one player on each part. This gives the ensemble a “thin” timbre when compared that of a full orchestra. For the purposes of this class we will hear a string quarter written by Haydn. The third movement of this work is a minuet and trio. The listening guide will focus on the form; however, the main focus of the entire work is the timbre of the string quartet. List to how thin the music sounds and compare it to the symphonic works you have heard in this class. Please listen all the way through.
EXAMPLE: String Quartet in C, Hob.III:77, Op.76, No.3 Mvt 2
STRING QUARTET IN C, HOB. III:77, “EMPEROR” MVT 3 “MINUET AND TRIO”
Joseph Haydn (1732-1809)
FOCUS: Timbre, minuet and trio form
Key: C Major
|0:00||A Section theme a|
|0:23||a theme repeats||Repeats exactly|
|0:57||a’ theme||This theme is slightly different from the original a theme, this is why it is called a’|
|2:01||B Section c theme||Notice how this section is different. Here Mozart uses the themes c-d-c-d|
|3:32||Segment of c theme returns|
|3:40||A Section a theme|
As explained in the first chapters, the timbre of the string quartet sounds much “thinner” than that of the symphony. Did you notice something in the B section of this work that created contrast? Your instructor may want to discuss this with the class, or assign it as homework.
Opera in the Classic Era included the works of Mozart and Haydn, and Beethoven’s one opera, Fidelio. Although Haydn wrote over 16 operas, few are performed today. Mozart wrote over 20 operas, some of which are still performed today, including The Magic Flute and The Marriage of Figaro. Among these three composers, Mozart’s operas are performed the most, although Fidelio is also performed regularly. Mozart wrote two types of opera: opera seria and opera buffa. Operas in the opera seria style were the based on more serious subjects whereas opera buffa works were usually comical or satirical.
Among Mozart’s most famous operas is Don Giovanni, based on the story of Don Juan the notorious Spanish womanizer. In Mozart’s opera, the womanizing swordsman, Don Giovanni is challenged to a duel by the father (the Commandant) of a young maiden whom Giovanni had just seduced, Donna Elvira. In the duel the Don kills the Commandant and flees the region. Eventually he returns to Donna Elvira where, as he travels through a cemetery, he finds a statue of the Commandant. As he and his sidekick, Leporello, are waiting by the statue, the statue comes to life and demands Don Giovanni repent of his sinful ways. Don Giovanni laughs and, in turn, invites the Comandante’s statue to dine with him and Donna Elvira that night. Later in the evening, while the Don was enjoying the meal and the company of Donna Elvira, the Statue joins the party, demanding that the Don repent of his womanizing. After the Don laughs one too many times, the Commandant grabs the Don and pulls him down into hell.
The music we will hear comes from Act I, Scene 5 of Mozart's opera Don Giovanni. In the scene Leporello is tasked with explaining his master’s lascivious, lecherous history as a womanizer to Donna Elvira, who has searched long for Don Giovanni. Don Giovanni arrogantly assumes the young woman seeks him out of the insatiable desire to be with him again. The Don hopes his confession will discourage her. Little does he know she has sought him out of scorn, and not desire. Don Giovanni quickly flees, leaving his servant to sing “Madamina, il catalogo è questo” where he describes the hundreds of lovers Don Giovanni’s has had in the various countries. Leporello also claims that, in Spain alone, Don Giovanni has had 1003 lovers! NOTE: since the Naxos library only has recordings of these works, please use the YouTube link below.
EXAMPLE: Act I Scene 5: Aria: “Madamina, il catalogo e questo” (Leporello) from Don Giovanni, K 527 W. A. Mozart
|1st Section||2nd Section|
Young lady, this is the catalogue
Of the beautiful women loved by my master
It is a catalogue I drafted myself
Look, read with me.
In Italy, six hundred and forty;
In Germany, two hundred and thirty-one;
A hundred in France, ninety-one in Turkey;
But in Spain, they're already one thousand and three.
Among these, peasants
Maids, city dwellers
There are countesses, baronesses
There are women from every level
Every shape, every age.
His custom is to praise
The blonde for her kindness,
The brunette for her loyalty,
The white for her sweetness.
He wants a tubby woman in winter
A slim woman in summer;
[He says] tall women are majestic
Small women, always charming.
He seduces old women
For the pleasure of having them in his list;
His main passion
Is the young inexperienced.
He doesn't care if she's rich
If she's ugly, if she's beautiful:
As long as she wears a skirt,
You know what he does...
Hmm, hmm... You know what he does..
BEETHOVEN’S SYMPHONY NO. 5 IN C MINOR, OP 67
You were introduced to this symphony in Chapter 1; however, here we will study the entire symphony. You will not have to hear each movement in its entirety, but please listen as requested. We will, however, listen to the entire 1st movement of this monumental work.
SYMPHONY No. 5 IN C MINOR, OP 67. MOVMENT #1, “ALLEGRO CON BRIO”
Ludwig van Beethoven
FOCUS: Sonata-Allegro form
Tempo: Allegro con brio
Key: c minor
Theme 1 (and repeats)
SHORT-SHORT-SHORT – LONG
In the key of c minor
|0:49||Theme 2 (does not really repeat)|
Strings start, answered by woodwinds
In the key of C Major
|1:09||Transition and codetta to end of Exposition|
Theme 1 again
|2:15||Theme 2 again|
|2:36||Transition and Codetta|
|2:54||DEVELOPMENT begins||Listen how the 4-note theme is used, over and over, in new ways, different timbres, different pitch levels, etc.|
|3:39||Two notes of the theme||Two high, two low|
|3:50||Soft – I note||High-low, and soft,|
|4:03||4-note theme interrupts loudly before going back to the 2-note, high-low exchanges|
|4:12||Transition begins from development into Recapitulation|
Theme 1 – but bolder, louder, a little slower
|Theme in c minor|
|4:35||New theme here, solo||This was also something unexpected. This is another way that Beethoven “broke the rules.”|
|4:50||Theme 1 picks up into transitions to theme 2|
|5:12||Theme 2 – BUT IN THE SAME KEY AS BEFORE||The “rules” of sonata-allegro form were that the 2nd theme in the recapitulation was supposed to be in the same theme as theme 1. Theme 1 was in c minor, theme 2 here is in C Major.|
|5:56||An end is expected here, but Beethoven has not finished “saying” all he has to say.|
|6:00||CODA||Beethoven treats this like a second development section|
|6:55||Theme 1 returns one more time|
As we have stated before, back in chapter 1, the symphony was like nothing people had heard prior to the time. The first performance, however, was not as spectacular as Beethoven would have liked it; as a matter of fact, the first performance was a disaster. This symphony premiered in Vienna on the freezing night of December 22, 1808. This symphony did not start until 2 hours into the performance, after the premier of Beethoven’s 6th Symphony and other Beethoven works! The orchestra performed so poorly that night that Beethoven was forced to stop one of the works and start it again from the beginning. It must have been really bad at the point because Beethoven was nearly deaf at the time. Still, over 200 years later, it is, without a doubt, the most recognized piece of music in the world.
Beethoven’s music has been used in movies, television, and documentaries. One might ask what makes Beethoven’s music so memorable? Why is his music so widely recognized? When NASA sent Voyager I out into space in the late 1970s, the spaceship included a Golden Record of some of the music representative of Earth. The first movement of Beethoven’s 5th symphony was included.
Your instructor may assign all of parts of the 2nd, 3rd, and 4th movements, as outlined below. Included are simple listening guides for each movement. It is suggested that you listen to at least the recommended section part of each movement, unless you want to hear more. As you hear the beginning of the second movement, notice the contrasting mood of the beginning of this movement from the end of the first movement. Please listen up to the 4:00 minute mark with the guide.
SYMPHONY No. 5 IN C MINOR, OP 67. MOVMENT #2, “ANDANTE CON MOTO”
Ludwig van Beethoven
FOCUS: Theme and Variations
Tempo: Andante con moto
Key: A flat major
|0:57||Theme 2 soft and gentle||Includes the SHORT-SHORT-SHORT-LONG motive.|
|1:17||Theme 2 repeats boldly|
|4:00||VARIATION 2||PLEASE LISTEN AT LEAST TO THIS POINT|
This is not too long, and rather easy to follow; please listen through completely.
SYMPHONY No. 5 IN C MINOR, OP 67. MOVMENT #3, “SCHERZO”
Ludwig van Beethoven
FOCUS: Scherzo and Trio (ABA)
Meter: Triple Meter
Key: C minor
Theme 1 (Rocket theme)
|0:27||Theme 2 driving forward||SHORT-SHORT-SHORT-LONG motive|
|1:08||Theme 2 returns|
|1:28||Theme 1 is developed||Theme 1 is developed and leads to the end of the scherzo|
This is a very polyphonic section where Beethoven introduces a theme and brings it to a cadence with a fast short-short-short long ending.
Theme is played 3 times, then the 4th time it enters it decrescendos back to the return of the Scherzo.
|3:47||Theme 2 returns||Short (staccato) soft sounds|
|4:06||Theme 1||Same short, soft sounds|
|4:34||Bridge into 4th movement||This was another 1st for Beethoven – connecting the 3rd and 4th movements with a bridge. In a concert, the 3rd movement would continue right into the 4th.|
As stated in the table above, in a concert, the 3rd movement would lead directly into the 4th, without any pause. Beethoven felt that it was important to not simply end the 3rd movement and start the 4th, and, once you have heard this symphony a few times, it makes perfect sense for these two movements to be combined. As we stated in Chapter 1, Beethoven “broke the rules” again by having the 4th movement in C Major instead of c minor, the key of the first movement. Again, as stated earlier, many musicologists have long believed the theory presented in chapter 1; however, there are those who believe this was written about the French revolution. Beethoven simply never told us.
The last movement of the symphony, for this recording, has been shortened. This is a sonata allegro movement, and Beethoven wrote the exposition to be repeated; however, it is not on this recording. This is interesting because it is a recording of the NBC Symphony Orchestras with Arturo Toscanini conducting. Toscanini was known as one of the top interpreters of Beethoven’s music. Please listen through until the development begins at 2:10.
Please listen to the first 2:10 minutes of this movement
SYMPHONY No. 5 IN C MINOR, OP 67. MOVMENT #4, “ALLEGRO”
Ludwig van Beethoven
FOCUS: Sonata Allegro
Meter: Quadruple Meter
Key: C Major
|Bold, triumphant, passionate|
|1:08||Theme 2||Here is the short-short-short long motive, but played very fast.|
|1:37||Theme 3||Here the 4-note motive comes at the end of the 2nd measure with three short notes and the long note starts the third measure|
|3:50||The 2nd theme from the third movement returns||This is also something that previous composers had not done.|
*Some musicologists claim that the section from 0:39-1:08 is the second theme; however, since the section is responsible for moving to a new key, others believe this to be a transition.
Although the premier of the symphony was a disaster, a performance a year and a half later caught the attention of the music critics. One such critic, E. T. A. Hoffmann, wrote this:
Glowing beams shoot through this realm’s deep night, and we become aware of immense shadows, which rise and fall, close in on us, and wipe us out but not the ache of unending longing, in which every pleasure that has surged in sounds of celebration sinks and goes under, and only in this ache—the love, hope, joy (self-consuming but not destroying) that wants to burst our breast with a full-voiced harmony of all passions—do we live on as delighted visionaries!”
Every educated person should, in the least, have some understanding of the importance of this work of music in the history of the world. The composers that came after Beethoven took his lead and, during the Romantic Era, gave the world more memorable music. Beethoven ushered in the Romantic Era, but the composers of the Romantic Era would pave the way for the film composers of the last 100 years, all because Beethoven defied the “rules.”
JOSEPH BOLOGNE, CHEVALIER DE SAINT-GEORGES, THE “BLACK MOZART”
Most music appreciation texts miss an important composer of the Classical Era, the man who was known as “The Black Mozart.” It has been written that Mozart himself was jealous of this man because this man had the financial means to hire the best musicians to perform his works, unlike Mozart. This text will present this unique man, his accomplishments, and his music. Joseph Bologne, Chevalier de Saint-Georges was quite an excellent composer, and, had he been able to devote his life solely to composing, who knows what musical masterpieces he might have given the world. He was also a virtuoso violinist and a great conductor, and, at one time, the best fencer in all of Europe. The word “Chevalier” means “Knight” in French, and was reserved for members of nobility. Because he was of African descent, he could not inherit his father’s title; however, years later it would be bestowed on him based on his own merits.
He was born on Christmas Day, 1745. His mother was a slave, and his father was the owner of the plantation on which Joseph lived. Not much is known of his early life, but his father did spend quite of bit time with Joseph and a lot of money to educate him. His father even took his wife, Joseph and Joseph’s mother on trips to France together. His father was very generous and proud of Joseph. Through his father’s contacts, Joseph was able to study with some of the best teachers in France. As Joseph grew his father sent Joseph to some of the best boarding schools in Paris.
In 1775, he was appointed the music director to Marie Antoinette and remained at that post until the French Revolution. He was also the first person of African descent to join the Masonic Lodge in France. In 1789, he joined the pro-Revolution National Guard, the same year the Declaration of the Rights of Man was issued by the General Assembly in France. When a group of men of African descent asked the General Assembly if they could fight for France, the Assembly authorized a 1000-man squadron with Saint-Georges as their coronel. Even while in the Guard, he built an orchestra and gave regular concerts. Later Saint-Georges would be falsely accused of misuse of funds and spent 18 months in jail before being acquitted and released. After being released he fought in Haiti to free slaves.
During his lifetime, due to his violin virtuosity, he was often hired to premier many of Haydn’s symphonies. In spite of his father’s generous backing, and all of ways Joseph excelled in France, and even in the face of the revolution that claimed “Liberty, Equality, Fraternity,” Joseph was discriminated against from all levels of society because of his African background, even more so after the revolution. He was very close to Marie Antoinette, but even she could not always help him.
After Saint-Georges retired he spent more time practicing his violin and became the director of a new orchestra called Le Cercle de l'Harmonie (The Circle of Harmony). Large crowds came to the performances because of his fame. His orchestras were known for their precision and energy. Saint-George died on June 10, 1799.
Although slavery had been abolished in 1794, it was reimposed by Napoleon Bonaparte. Because of this, Saint-George and his music were removed from orchestra repertoires and essentially from the history books, not to be rediscovered for nearly 200 years. Listen to the 1st movement of his Symphony in G Major, Op. 11, No, 1, without listening guide.
SYMPHONY IN G MAJOR, OP. 11, NO. 1 MOVEMENT 1: “ALLEGRO”
Joseph Bologne, Chevalier de Saint-Georges
EXAMPLE: Symphony in G Major, Op.11, No.1 J. Bologne, Chevalier de Saint-James
In the years commonly recognized as the Classical era, the aristocratic conditions of Austria produced three of the world’s most significant composers Haydn, Mozart, and Beethoven. During their lives, these men experienced the decline of the patronage system and the growth of free enterprise, which included commissions, concerts, and personal music sales. Throughout Europe, the middle class became more influential as the Industrial Revolution began. With this revolution, the musical world also experienced a revolution of sorts. A new musical style emerged that produced hundreds of great works, including string quartets, symphonies, concertos, and operas along with several new forms such as the sonata and rondo forms.
An important musician, composer, virtuoso performer, and master swordsman who had been lost to history until about 20 years ago was Joseph Bologne, Chevalier de Saint-Georges. He was a man of extraordinary talents who often performed for Haydn and knew Mozart well, but also composed some exceptional compositions. Unfortunately, few have been made available or studied as thoroughly as the other composers in this text. Perhaps musicologists will take more time in analyzing his works and publishing papers on his compositional style.
The most important composer of this era, and some will argue of all music history was Ludwig van Beethoven. Beethoven was born into the Classical Era, but, as we have discussed, ushered in the Romantic Era while giving the world some of the most famous musical works ever to be composed.