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Beethoven and
Beethoven Symphony No. 9
Ode to Joy
Begun in 1794, finally appeared in the last movement of Symphony
No. 9 in 1825.
This melody is sung by voices - unheard of at the time for a
Question: Where was Beethoven going with the
form of the symphony? This was his last. What
did he envision?
Beethoven raised the bar in symphonic
construction, piano solo work (sonatas)
string quartets, and other standard genres
in his time.
This challenged any composer who
followed him to try to avoid
being compared to Beethoven!
After Beethoven
Composers avoided the types of works Beethoven wrote, as he
redefined them.
Young Romantic composers were trying to create their own genres so
that they could not be traced to Beethoven!
Few composers wrote symphonies, fewer still wrote piano sonatas,
and virtually no one wrote string quartets.
Romantic Period: 1820-1900
• Leaving the Common Practice Period,
and the concept of “key”.
• The idea of key was weakened by
adding more and more “wrong” notes to
their music, and having patience for the
ears of the audience to accept them.
Chromatic notes (colored notes),
thickens out the harmony.
• Romantics are extreme!
• Extremely large scale works (4opera cycle performed over 4
consecutive nights)
• Extremely small scale works (the
Miniature: short works for piano
alone or voice and piano)
• Piano solo works - character
pieces. Introduces one
“character”, then ends. Very little
development (to avoid being
compared to how Beethoven
would develop an idea!).
• Works for voice and piano - Lied.
works, based on poetry others had
written. Schubert wrote over 600
Extreme large scale
Hector Berlioz - Symphonie Fantastique.
Program work in 5 movements
tells a story of how the composer “poisoned himself with opium” and
had visions about the women he had a crush on. Eventually, he
murders her in the story, and must forever remain in Hell with witches
and ghouls.
All of these ideas are captured in the music.
Extreme large scale
Wagner Ring Cycle.
Richard Wagner (German composer) who took it upon himself to do
everything in the construction of dramatic vocal works.
Does not like Italian Opera (wrote an essay 376 pages long discussing
why German music drama is better than Italian opera!).
Wrote all the music,
created the story, characters and plot,
wrote his own librettos,
designed his own costumes, staging, scenery, etc.
Went so far as to design a theatre for the production of his works!