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Ludwig van Beethoven
-Associated with 2 historical periods:
- Classical and Romantic!
- German composer, but based in Vienna, Austria:
- played for Mozart at age 16; studied with Haydn; dazzled
- Viennese audiences as a virtuoso pianist.
- Nobility showered B. with $ gifts; financial independence!
- Never really employed, but taught, performed, had music published.
- 1802: “Heiligenstadt Testament” = suicide note, written because of increasing deafness!
Able to compensate because he possessed “perfect” or “absolute pitch”!
Beethoven and Rondo form
-Rondo form is based on ritornello form and looks like this:
-A-B-A-C-A or A-B-A-C-A-B-A, with….
-A being the main theme (refrain) and
-B and C being other, contrasting themes!
-B. used it, e.g., for last movement of
-string quartets, including SQ op. 18, no. 4 (of 6), movement 4: “Rondo”, 1799-1800; CD
-Op. 18: first set of string quartets B. ever wrote!
-Only piece for Midterm 2 that features 4 single strings instruments.
-Overall structure: ABACABA
-Tr. 1 – A = “gypsy” melody, 1st violins, staccato, minor
-Tr. 2 – B = lyrical, expressive melody, legato, major
-Tr. 4 – C = ascending and descending scales, major
Beethoven’s Symphony no. 5, CD 3, tr. 17-24 or “Fate knocking on the door”
-From 1808, op. 67, c minor, 4 movements,
-SILENCE is as important as SOUND!
-Form: Sonata form!
The Exposition or “Beethoven’s 5th”
-Theme 1, tr. 17:
-Basic rhythmic motive
-Short-Short-Short-Long dominates entire movement !!!! Important:
1) played “in unison” (mon
mode unclear, very mysterious!
2) motive surrounded by rests to increase tension.
-But no rest for the listener:
-Strings immediately repeat SSS-L motive!
-Tr. 18: Transition, fortissimo!
Tr. 19: Theme 2 =multiple melodies:
1) French horn call melody in major:
“Beethoven’s 5th is on” – similar to SSS-L theme!
2) Lyrical melody, legato, piano;
3) Triumphant descending melody follows, ff, violins, tr. 20.
Tr. 21: Exposition repeats
Tr. 22: horn call motive (Beethoven’s 5th is on) “fragmented” (broken up) in strings!
Cellos and basses reply with descending scale: Echoed between WW and strings (at
3:32), then distinct dynamic contrasts lead us to the Recapitulation, but we’ll go straight
The CODA, tr. 24:
“Beethoven’s 5th is on”, SSS-LLL motive back!
At 6’10”: a NEW, rising melody/theme appears in the strings!
B. was first to introduce NEW themes into in any movement in Sonata form!
The 19th century aka the
“Romantic” period in music
-C19 fine arts and literature in general emphasized these “themes”:
1. Emotional subjectivity (“it’s all about me”)
2. Imagination (fantasy, supernatural)
3. Individuality (freedom of expression)
4. Nature (inspired visual artists, authors)
5. Middle Ages (“gothic” revival; castles, knights)
6. The “Wanderer” motive = true happiness only achieved through death!
-Romantic period: louder and longer!
1) Music now more chromatic, expressive, emotionally intense! Main melodies now
appear in ANY instrumental part, including the newly invented “Wagner tuba” and the
saxophone! Gigantic orchestras and choruses, huge opera productions
2. Nationalism and Exoticism embraced by composers: Nationalism: use of folk songs,
dances, legends, history Russia, Finland, Bohemia/Czech Republic; Exoticism =
melodies, rhythms, or instruments that suggest foreign lands (Spanish guitars, Japanese
3. Programme Music increasingly popular, with new genres emerging (more on that after
Midterm 2).
4. Miniature pieces (“Lied”/art song, “character piece” for piano) popular.