Dufay, Guillaume (1400-1474) Northern France
Artusi, Giovani Maria (1540-1613) Italian composer in 1600 stated: “They…ruin the good old rules handed down…by theorists and excellent musicians… These moderns…create a tumult of sounds, a confusion of absurdities.”
Byrd, William (1543-1623) Lincolnshire England.
Vivaldi, Antonio (1675-1741) Venice Italy Composer. Most prolific and inventive of the Baroque period. Earliest music lessons from father who was in orchestra at St. Mark’s cathedral. Later studied with Giovanni Legrenzi composer and leader of orchestra of St. Marks. Ordained and called “Red and priest” because of red hair. 1703 or 4 became teacher, later conductor and director at conservatory of the Ospedale DellaPieta in Venice. Conservatory also orphanage for girls. Orchestra of young girls that he wrote over 400 concertos. 40+ Operas for Venice and other cities in Italy and Germany. Last year of life moved to Vienna, didn’t work out, died poor. Used clarinet. Most music remains unpublished. Goberman publisher died 1963 before completion.
Handel, George Frideric (1685-1759) Halle Germany. Wrote “The Messiah.” Traveled widely. Baroque period. Father wanted him to be a lawyer. At 7 he played so well on church organ that duke of province convinced father. Studied under organist Friedrich Wilhelm Zachau. By 11 composing sonatas and church services. 1702 while student, appointed organist at Calvinist church. Hamburg joined opera orchestra as violinist. Most we know is from friend Johann Mattelson. Before 20 opera “Almira.” 1707 went to Italy the home of Opera. Immersed himself in the operatic world. Instrumental duel against Domenico Scarlatti. Lost improves, organ won. Offered in 1710 job in Hanover Germany at court. November on way to London, 6 months, “Rinaldo” opera well received. Back in London 1712. Well paid. Rest of life there. April 12 1742 Messiah in Dublin Ireland first performance, instant success, but failed in England. Became success there in 1750. Had become England’s favorite composer.
Bach, Johann Sebastian (1685-1750) Eisenach Germany 3/31/1685. Both parents died before he was 10. Liked French ornamental melodies and rhythms. Sang in choir. 1703 after sojourn in Weimar playing violin, organist in Lutheran church of St. Boniface in Arnstadt. 1705 left to Lubeck to hear Danish organist Buxtehude nearly 70. Congregation mad he returned 3 months late. 1707 packed harpsichord and all in hay wagon for Muhlhausen as uncle died leaving him money. Marred Maria Barbara. 1708 to Weimar became member of orchestra. Then promoted to Duke’s organist. To 1717 he wrote most of his organ music. Expert in church organs – called as expert all over central Germany. Early works influenced by Reinkel and Buxtehude.. At court learned and heard Italians like Vivaldi, Corelli and Albinoni. Arranged their string concertos for solo harpsichord, ornamenting them. Concertmaster of Duke’s orchestra. New compositions every month for Dukal chapel. Dukal court of Cortan employed him as conductor but got in trouble – didn’t give notice. Director for Prince Leopold’s orchestra. Cortan period composed bulk of secular instrumental music. After son Willlhelm Friedemann old enough to study music, wrote “teaching pieces.” 20 preludes for keyboard, then others to teach son. Well-Tempered Clavier book one. Intellectual and expressive. New style combined German, French and Italian. In the midst of success, wife died in 1720 and went back to the church. 1721 married Ana Magdalena Wilcken for whom he wrote the little pieces in the notebook. 1723 – he was 38, next 25 years dedicated to the congregation of St. Nicholas church in Leipzig. Age sixty still taught and led choir.
Haydn, Franz Joseph (1732-1809) Rohrau Austria. Composer of classical – end of Baroque period. Pre-romanticism. Established “Classical.” Musical construction made him “Father of the symphony and the string quartet.” Viennese music made express deepest emotions. At 8 singing voice heard, joined choir in St. Stephen’s church in Vienna. At 17 voice broke. Made living playing and teaching. Nicola Porpora taught him Italian and composition. Prince Anton Estrahzy heard him and made him assistant musical director. 1962 Anton died, next prince Nicholas kept him, promoted him, 30 years in employ. Wife hated music, used his music for hair curlers. Made Estrahzy’s best known in Euroope. Compositions played in the world at large. By 1771 composed deeper in feeling than previous. Wrote daring keys like sharp ones, introduced touches of Hungarian gypsy music. 1781 met with Mozart who admired him. Pushed Mozart more than his own. Mozart opened Haydn’s ears to new delicate melodic writing. From Haydn Mozart learned the craft of putting together symphonies and quartets. Played together whenever possible. 1790 Nicolas died, next prince more into painting. 1791 went to England to cheers. 1.5 years returned with small fortune. 1794 4 new symphonies and returned to London symphony. Even King George 3rd wanted him to stay. Back in Vienna started teaching Bethovan. Requiem was by Mozart.
Mozart, Wolfgang Amadeus (1756-1791) Salzburg Austria. Pianist, violinist and conductor. Most compositions were commissioned. From simple peasant life to elegance. Father Leopold famous teacher and composer. Sister Maria Ana toured with him. Started music at 4. At 6 skilled on Organ, Harpsichord and Violin. Father took on tours Paris, London, Italy. Greeted as wonder child. Absorbed music from all countries. London wrote first symphony. 1771 returned to Salzburg to be concert-master of archbishop’s orchestra. Archbishop died and next Herionymus cared less about music. 1773 discovered Haydn’s string quartets. 1773-1776 wrote much. 1777 went with mother toured in Germany, France too competitive, but stayed there and composed. Paris 1778 mother died, he returned to Salsburg. 1781 finally commissioned for Opera: Idomeneo. Settled in Munich, then called back to Salsburg. Mozart and archbishop fought. Moved to Vienna – composed, performed and taught. Met Idol Haydn. Haydn helped Mozart. Played together. Emporor Joseph II commissioned “The Abduction from the Seraglio” comic romantic opera. In Vienna 1782 it was a success. Next married Constanze. Lived in gypsy fashion, gay carefree life. Dedicated 6 string quartets to Haydn. Emporor Joseph II gave consent to make “The Marriage Of Figaro.” First performed in Vienna 1786. Prague Che… was Figaro-crazy! Prague Symphony (#38 in D) was success. Next wrote “Don Guivani.” His greatest, “The Perfect Opera!” Later Vaugner followed idea of orchestra to underline the drama, but at that time it was too heavy for Vienna. Appointed Court Composer after Gluck’s death. Paid little. Now father frenzy of composing. “A Little Night Music” “Eine Kleine Nacht Musik.” “Musical Joke” full of funny forms. “The Magic Flute” written in last year, brilliant. Commissioned for “Requiem Mass” interruptind Magic Flute. Convinced Requiem was for his own death. Works listed with “K-number” for ordering in chronological order. Early works followed strict patterns of early classical period, dances, sonatas, rondos and variations are clear cut. Later forms, more personal feelings, more complex. Forms sprawl as though he were thinking out loud. Composer of Romantic period, born 50 years ahead of his time. Like 19th century composers, many colors. Concertos and sonatas did much to establish the basic style of piano writing. Long before Chopin he played with free and expressive rhythm Rubato. His piano smaller than that of today. Handling of voice never surpassed.
Beethovan, Ludwig Van (1770-1827) Bonn Germany. Master composer of symphonies, sonatas, concertos and string quartets. Father (drunkard) wanted a prodigy to make money for family. First concert at 8. 1792 sent to Vienna. Studied under Haydn. Lessons stormy because he inquired about rules. Phenominal improvisor. After leaving Bonn no regular music work since mainly freelance composer and works for friends. Prices for various forms. Deaf he didn’t give up. Conversation became difficult – people wrote down discussion. Listen to ‘inner ear’ for composing. In the arts stormy passion, simple directness and warm tenderness began to take the place of aristocratic elegance and grace. Music different – dramatic – from others. Soft to loud explosively. Key changes untraditional. Hammered percussive chords. Bold arpeggios. Added picallo and trombones in 5th, contrabassoon in the 9th. Clarinette replaced oboe. It was the musical form of the sonata that Bethovan changed more than anything else. Connected themes, not only 4. Foreshadowed the cyclic form of later composers. Titles made statements, music should make statements about mankind, not just idle dreams of upper classes. One of his convictioins: “Man should be free!” “All mankind are brothers.” His scarchzos are all musical jokes. Opera Fidelio 1805 did poorly. Life was 3 periods: youthful—first 50 opus numbers 20+ piano sonatas.. second period: greatest single step by music made by an individual composer in the history of the symphony and the history of music in general. Third period: standards people still use. Solo piano, string quartet, combination of voices and orchestra. Last works most extraoidinary of all mankind. Torment brought forth some of the most sublime music. Old classical forms left far behind. Never composed quickly and easily. Many sketches in notebooks. Months even years on one theme.
Schubert, Franz (1797-1828) Vienna Austrian. The last of the classic composers, first of the romantics. Wrote classical patterns but changed to suit his own purpose and nature. Established a new form of chamber music. 600+ songs.
Mendelssohn, Felix (1809-1847) Hamburg Germany.
Brilliant composer of the early Romantic period. Family of Moses Mendelssohn philosopher. “Scottish symphony / Number 3” “Italian symphony / Number 4.”
Chopin, Frederic (1810-1849) Near Warsaw Poland. “The poet of the piano.” Father French mother Polish. At 20 left for Germany and never returned (heart buried in Poland, the rest in Paris). Most successful in Paris. Famous love affair with Georges Sand. Iin 1948 left for England. After a collapse returned to Paris. All piano pieces except 2 concertos focused on the piano. “Could make the piano sing” using rhythm called Rubato. In Rubato melodies are sped or slowed while tempo is constant. Must use the pedal a lot to play his music. Exploited the pianos sustaining pedal. Brought into European music dances of Hungarian music Mazurkas and Polonaise. Prelude in A Major, Opus 28 – play it!
Schumann, Robert (1810-1856) Zwikau German composer and critic. Torn between music and poetry. Mother wanted his to study law. Lost right ring finger. Untraditional styled of teaching composition. 1834 founded a newspaper for music, fighting for the highest standards of musical criticism. Edited it for 10 years under different names, “Davidsbunbler” who were ready to tear down philistines in the arts who were against new ideas. Liszt recognized his genius. He wrote about music and musicians in an informed manner. Wife Clara (daughter of Wieck his teacher whom he took to court to marry) was loved by Brahms. Eight children.
Liszt, Franz (1811-1886) Raiding Hungary. Composer, teacher and the greatest piano virtuoso. At 9 Hungarian nobleman funded studies in Vienna. Student of Czerny. Paris conservatory refused the foreigner. In Paris became friends with all the young revolutionary writers and composers who were taking part in the arts. Paginini inspired his composition style. Enormously successful. Improvised on themes given him by the audience. Support benefits for Hungarian flood victims and the statue of Bethovan in Bonn. He made Weimar the musical capital of Europe. The first to write symphonic poems for orchestra – compositions that told a story dramatically or suggested a philosophical theme. Restless experimenter in new sounds melodically and harmonically. Later music was dissonant and atonal. Whole step scale and Hungarian scales. Later lived in Rome, became A.B. Liszt.
Wagner, Richard (1813-1883) German. Excessive four-hour-long music dramas.
Foster, Stephen Collins (1826-1864) Lawrenceville near Pittsburgh Pennsylvania USA. Many of America’s favorite songs. Little training. Nearby Negro churches inspired him. Father wanted businessman, at 14 wrote his first composition “Tioga Waltze” At 18 first song published. 1848 sold group including “Old Susana” to publisher for $100, became favorite of 49ers in SF. Publisher got 10,000, he decided to be publisher. Wrote many for E. P. Christy’s Minstrels. Ashamed to be known as the composer of what he called Ethiopian songs. Married 1850 but unhappy for wife and daughter – drank heavily and always in debt. When in need would sell rights to all songs for whatever he could get. “Camptown Races” and 15 other songs sold outright for $200. Wife left often. Over 200 great songs, thought of as Folk rather than composed songs. Many well known titles.
Tchaikovsky, Peter Ilyitch (1840-1893) Votkinsk (Ural mountains) Russian composer. When 10 family moved to St. Petersburg. Clerk in ministry of justice. Studied in school of Rubinstein, still working. To surprise of all he resigned to be musician. Nicholas Rubenstein hired him as professor of music theory 12 year post. His aim were compositional rather than pedagogical. Nervous collapse from overwork. Countess von Meck supported him for 13 years. Mother in law of niece. Relationship to sponser was only by correspondence. Wed unstable young woman. Tried to catch pneumonia – caught cold. Became morbid and melancholy. Madame von Meck supported him going to Switzerland, France and Italy. Wrote much gay music there. Settled down to creative life – Moscow and the country. Voratous reader. Met many bitter disappointments. Swan Lake was too symphonic. Sleeping Beauty and Nutcracker weren’t well received. Piano concerto number 1 Rubenstein said unplayable, premiered in Boston in 1875. Came into demand as conductor of his own works. In 1891 was invited to conduct in NY opening of Carnagie Hall. Philadelphia, Baltimore…Returning to Russia plunged into completely different type of symphony composition.
Brahms, Johanes (1833-1897) Hamburg Germany. Late Romantic German composer. Son of all around musician. At 7 played piano. At 10 Edward Marxsen piano teacher. He became teacher. Helped family financially. Played in taverns and theatres. When at 20 Remenyi discovered him, invited to accompany. Remenyi taught Hungarian gypsy music. Remenyi introduced him to Jochim, violinist and great friend from then on. Liszt liked Brahms. Schuman proclaimed Brahms’ genius in his magazine. Clara Schuman’s wife made him famous playing his works at her recitals. Clara died in 1896. Life not a dramatic one. Occasional tours of Germany, Austria and Switzerland where he played and conducted. Liked long walks. 1850 his piano concertos burst upon the scene. Brought “thunder and lightning” for the piano. Brahms never wrote difficult music merely for the sake of glittering effect. 1860s wrote “Variations On A Theme By Handel” also “Variations On A Theme By Paganini.” Requiem Mass successful. Later also “Variations On A Theme By Haydn.” Because he showed much could still be developed, critics like Hugo Wolf and Nietze the philosopher. Never replied to attacks. Defended by Edward Hanslick, influential critic. 1881 University of Breslauv awarded honorary degree of Doctor of Philosophy, because of works had examples of his sense of humor. Instead of solemn material, several jolly German songs. After 1881 no more large instrumental groups music. 1891 turned to dark quality of clarinet. Style difficult to analyze. Unique way of saying things. Un-classical chord movements. Accused of old fashioned in his time, nowadays seen as true romantic composer who wrote poetic charged music within the old forms he loved so much.
Monet, Claude (1840-1926) French. Pioneer of Impressionist painting.
Dvorak, Antonin (1841-1904) Near Prague Czechoslovakia. Best known for Symphony in E minor “From The New World.” Father butcher / innkeeper wanted him to keep family business. At 16 went to Prague. Played violin and viola in cafes and theatres to support studies. Brahms, Liszt and Smetana older folks interested and helped him get published. 1874 prize for symphony – enabling all time to composition. Home country was the old Slavic province of Bohemia, then part of Austria. Slavonic dances following Smetana following folk roots. So successful arranged for orchestra! 1876 death of oldest child, wrote “Stabat Mater.” Large and small works. Touch of sweetly sad dances of homeland. 1892 to NY to become director of National Conservatory of music. Many best works written. Cello concerto beautiful. Summer in Spillvale, Iowa where there were many Czech farmers. There wrote his famous symphony “From The New World” where he tried to catch the spirit of American folk songs and spirituals. Often called #5, it was #9, arguments about whether he had really used folk melodies in it. Thrilled with the US also wrote contata to US flag, offered to write new National Anthem. A great admirer of Stephen Foster, one of the few who appreciate him. After 3 years in US homesick, returned to teach in conservatory in Prague. 7th humoresque written then. Back in Prague member Austrian House Of Lords. Symphonic poems based on the legends of Bohemia, and his opera “Rusalka” (“The Water Nymph”) established him as Czechoslovakia’s. most authentic musical voice. Sly little counter-melodies but never obscured clarity of music. Balanced phrases.
Edison, Thomas Alva (1847-1931) USA invented the phonograph in 1877.
Debussy, Claude (1862-1918) French. Blurred harmonies and atmospheric moods – Impressionism in music.
Sibelius, Jean (1865-1957) Finnish.
His symphonic poem Finlandia in 1900 roused patriotism and he became known as “Finland’s greatest son.” In Etude magazine in 1948 he stated: “Things are not good because they are old, nor bad because they are new…we must be open-minded about new experiments in music, always remembering the only standard in music is beauty.”
Marconi, Guglielmo (1874-1937) sent a trans-Atlantic wireless radio message in 1901.
Bernstein, Leonard (1918- ) Lawrence Massachusetts USA
Selected Music Styles at the Turn of the 20th Century
- Post-Romantic—The Romantic tradition continued with some individual changes.
- Impressionism—Associated most with the music of Claude Debussy, its vague and atmospheric tone paintings frequently violated traditional rules of composition.
- Pointillism—Written in a fragmented style, the ear is required to blend the tones.
- Exoticism and Primitivism—Inspired by primitive cultures and works of art, rhythm was revitalized and superseded melody in importance.
- Neo-Classicism—More contrapuntal textures and 18th-century forms reappeared (suites, toccatas, sonatas) using 19th –century harmonies.
- Humor and Satire—Some composers satirized the pretentiousness of Romantic music and poked fun at everything, including themselves.
- Expressionism—Intensely personal feelings were expressed with focus on dark, even weird and twisted emotions that are usually hidden from others.
- Atonality—Increased chromaticism and dissonance make tonal centers unclear to the listener, or the use of a tonal center or key is rejected by a composer.
- Nationalism and Folk Influence—Research into folk elements of various regions and countries gave greater harmonic and rhythmic variety to the musical language.
- Cakewalk and Ragtime—The music for the cakewalk became associated with ragtime with its “ragged,” uneven, syncopated melodies over a march-like bass.
The Golden Encyclopedia Of Music, Norman Lloyd, 1968 Western Publishing Company
Beyond the Romantic Spirit 1880-1922, Nancy Bachus, 2003 Alfred Publishing Co.