Chapter 22: Classic Music in the Late Eighteenth Century

Chapter Outline



Musicians in the late eighteenth century worked mainly for courts, cities, and churches, but they also made money by teaching, performing, and composing on commission or for publication. As popularity with the public became more important, the most successful composers wrote music that pleased everyone from connoisseurs to those with little learning. 

No one was better at reaching a diverse audience than Haydn and Mozart, whose music has come to exemplify the Classic period. Their careers, though exceptional in many respects, illustrate the circumstances in which professional musicians worked. Through a synthesis of styles and traditions, they created music with immediate yet deep and enduring appeal. Working for a patron in relative isolation, Haydn forged an idiom that brought him great popularity, which he strengthened in his later years by producing masterpieces for the public. Mozart achieved fame as a child prodigy, touring Europe and mastering every kind of music he encountered. In his maturity, working as a freelance pianist and composer, he blended aspects of many styles in music of unique richness. If we view these two composers in their eighteenth-century environments, we can see more clearly the problems that confronted them and the solutions they found. Haydn secured a job with a patron and lived a life of relative stability while Mozart had to find income where he could, yet both produced music that has attracted performers and listeners for over two centuries. 

Chapter Outline: 

  1. Joseph Haydn (1732-1809)
    1. Historical position
      1. Haydn was the most celebrated composer of his day (see HWM Figure 22.1).
      2. He is best remembered for his symphonies and string quartets (see HWM biography, page 526).
    2. Early life
      1. Haydn was born near Vienna.
      2. He was a choirboy at St. Stephen’s Cathedral in Vienna, where he studied singing, harpsichord, and violin.
      3. Dismissed when his voice changed, he worked freelance in Vienna and studied music.
      4. Around 1757, he became music director for Count Morzin and composed his first symphonies for him.
    3. The Esterházy years
      1. Haydn spent most of his career working for the Esterházys, a wealthy Hungarian noble family.
      2. Prince Paul Anton Esterházy hired Haydn in 1761.
      3. Nikolaus Esterházy succeeded his brother Paul in 1762 and became Haydn’s principal patron for nearly thirty years (see HWM Source Reading, page 528).
      4. Haydn’s duties for the Esterházy family:
        1. Compose music
        2. Conduct performances
        3. Train and supervise musical personnel
        4. Keep the musical instruments in good condition
      5. Esterháza
        1. In 1766, the Esterházy family moved from Eisenstadt in Austria to Esterháza, a remote country estate in Hungary (see HWM Figure 22.2).
        2. The estate, which rivaled the splendor of Versailles, had two theaters and two music rooms.
        3. Haydn built an orchestra of about twenty-five performers and gave weekly concerts, occasional opera performances, and daily chamber music sessions.
      6. Nikolaus played a large string instrument with sympathetic strings called a baryton, for which Haydn composed numerous works (see HWM Figure 22.3).
      7. Although Haydn kept abreast of current musical developments, his isolation at Esterháza and the encouragement of his patron helped him to become original.
      8. A new contract in 1779 allowed Haydn to publish his music in major European centers, which further enhanced his reputation.
      9. Prince Nikolaus died in 1790, and Haydn was given permission to live in Vienna.
    4. The London years
      1. Johann Peter Salomon, a violinist and impresario, persuaded Haydn to come to London for concert tours between 1791 and 1795.
      2. For the London concerts. Haydn composed numerous new works, including his last twelve symphonies.
      3. Haydn and his music were received with great acclaim in London.
  2. Haydn’s Style
    1. Although his music relied on contemporary conventions, Haydn frequently introduced the unexpected.
    2. Sources of Haydn’s style (see HWM Source Reading, page 531)
      1. The galant style
      2. The expressiveness of the empfindsam style
      3. Baroque counterpoint
      4. Generic clichés
    3. String Quartet in E-flat Major, Op. 3, No. 2 (The Joke), finale (see NAWM 104 and HWM
      1. The rondo form is ABACA.
      2. The binary opening theme has a playful, unfinished character.
      3. The two episodes do not introduce new material.
      4. Much of the material of the movement is derived from the idea introduced in the first two measures, an indication of Haydn’s sense of economy and novelty.
      5. Haydn heightens drama with extensions and delay.
      6. The exaggerated drama is humorous, creating a witty effect.
      7. The quartet derives its name from Haydn’s playful final cadence of the movement (see HWM Example 22.2).
      8. Haydn’s wit is especially endearing to players and connoisseurs, but also appeals to inexperienced listeners.
    4. Haydn’s compositional process
      1. He began by improvising at the keyboard.
      2. After settling on an appropriate idea, he worked with the keyboard and on paper, writing the melody and harmony on several staves (see HWM Figure 22. 4).
      3. He completed the process by writing a full score.
  3. Symphonies
    1. General
      1. Haydn composed approximately 106 symphonies.
      2. Numbers are used to identify Haydn’s symphonies, ending with 104.
      3. Many of the symphonies also have nicknames, few of which came from the composer.
      4. His symphonies generally have four movements.
        1. A fast sonata-form movement, often with a slow introduction
        2. A slow movement
        3. A minuet and trio
        4. A fast finale, usually in sonata or rondo form
      5. All of these movements are in the same key, except for the slow movement, which is in a related key.
      6. Haydn’s format became standard for later composers.
    2. Early symphonies, 1757-67
      1. Haydn’s earliest symphonies were composed for Count Morzin (1757-61).
        1. Typically, they were scored for two oboes, two horns, and strings.
        2. Most of these are in three movements.
        3. The sonata-form movements tend to use themes that could be broken up and recombined.
      2. Haydn composed about thirty symphonies in his early years with the Esterházy family (1761-67).
        1. The ensemble was often augmented with flute, bassoon, and other instruments.
        2. These diverse works are characterized by novelty and variety.
        3. Three symphonies, with common titles, feature solo passages for a variety of orchestral instruments.
          1. Symphony No. 6, Le Matin (Morning)
          2. Symphony No. 7, Le Midi (Noon)
          3. Symphony No. 8, Le Soir (Evening)
    3. Symphonies of 1768-72
      1. Beginning in about 1768, Haydn’s symphonies were presented in the mirrored concert room in Esterháza (see HWM Figure 22.5).
      2. The twelve symphonies of this period are longer, more rhythmically complex, contrapuntal, and challenging to play.
      3. The character of many of these symphonies has been associated with a literary movement known as Sturm und Drang.
        1. Six of the twelve symphonies are in minor keys.
        2. Dynamic extremes, sudden contrasts, crescendos, and sforzatos are used to startling effect.
        3. The harmonies are richer and more varied.
        4. In general, the symphonies project an emotional, agitated character.
    4. Symphonies of 1773-81
      1. Beginning around 1773, Haydn’s symphonies mixed popular elements with serious, stirring, and impressive qualities.
      2. Symphony No. 56 in C Major (1774)
        1. This festive work encompasses a broad emotional range.
        2. Sturm und Drang elements serve as contrasts to arpeggiations, fanfares, and songlike phrases.
    5. Symphonies of 1781-1791
      1. In the 1780s, Haydn sold his symphonies to patrons and publishers abroad.
      2. Standard orchestration: flute, two oboes, two bassoons, two horns, strings, and sometimes trumpets and timpani.
      3. The Paris Symphonies (Nos. 82-87,1785-6) were his grandest up to this point.
      4. Symphonies Nos. 88-92 were also composed on commission.
      5. These works combine popular and learned elements, giving them immediate and lasting appeal.
    6. Symphonies of 1791-1794, the London Symphonies
      1. The twelve London Symphonies, commissioned by Salomon, are his greatest symphonic achievements.
      2. Distinctive qualities
        1. More daring harmonies
        2. Intensified rhythmic drive
        3. Memorable thematic inventions
        4. Expanded orchestra: trumpets and timpani are standard, and clarinets frequently appear
        5. The woodwinds and string bass are more independent.
        6. The effect is spacious and brilliant.
      3. Haydn employed novel ideas to outdo competition from a rival concert series featuring Ignaz Pleyel (1757-1831).
        1. A fortissimo crash on a weak beat in the slow movement of Symphony No. 94 gave this work the nickname Surprise.
        2. He employed folk-like tunes (see HWM Example 22.5).
        3. “Turkish” effects can be heard in the Military Symphony, No. 100.
        4. A ticking sound is used in the andante of Symphony No. 101 (the Clock).
  4. Symphony, No. 92 in G Major (Oxford, NAWM 103)
    1. Composed in 1789, the work derives its name from a 1791 performance at Oxford when Haydn received an honorary doctorate from that university.
    2. The first movement is in a sonata form.
      1. The slow introduction makes the following allegro sound energetic.
      2. Throughout the movement, the alternation of tonally stable thematic ideas and unstable passages helps us follow the form.
      3. Exposition
        1. The first theme group contains three distinct ideas (see HWM Example 22.3).
        2. Haydn begins the second thematic group with the opening idea and a countermelody in the winds.
        3. The closing subject is repetitive and cadential.
      4. Development
        1. Haydn modulates through several related keys.
        2. The section features sequences, counterpoint, and motivic development.
      5. Recapitulation
        1. Haydn playfully begins the recapitulation with the theme in the flute and with new counterpoint.
        2. In the recapitulation, the second and closing themes appear in the tonic, and the transition is extended and intensified.
    3. The slow movement is in ABA form.
      1. Haydn’s slow movements tend to provide a calm and gentle melody in contrast to the dramatic first movements.
      2. Other common slow-movement forms are the sonata form without repeats and the theme and variations.
      3. The Oxford has a songlike theme, a dramatic middle section in the tonic minor, and an abbreviated reprise.
      4. The coda features woodwind instruments and uses chromatic harmonies.
    4. Minuet and trio
      1. The overall structure is ABA; each of the sections is binary.
      2. The trio (the B section) is often in the same key as the minuet, but may change mode or be in a closely related key.
      3. In general, the trio has a lighter orchestration.
      4. The minuet and trio is shorter and more popular in nature than the other movements of a symphony.
      5. In the Oxford, Haydn creates humor through unexpected harmonies, syncopations, pauses, and changes of dynamics.
    5. The finale is in sonata form.
      1. The final movement of a symphony is generally faster and shorter than the first.
      2. The first theme of the Oxford finale (see HWM Example 22.4) reappears on the dominant to open the second thematic group and at the close of the exposition.
      3. The development is dominated by the first theme.
      4. After 1770, Haydn finales are often rondos, such as the ABACABA form.
      5. Some of Haydn’s rondos are sonata-rondos.
        1. The A and B sections resemble a sonata-form exposition.
        2. The C is largely developmental.
        3. The return of B is in the tonic key.
  5. Other Instrumental Music
    1. String quartets
      1. Although he was not the first to compose string quartets, he was the first great master of the genre.
      2. Many of his quartets were intended for amateurs.
      3. The quartets have been described as conversations between four instruments.
      4. The first quartets resemble divertimentos, Opp. 1 (1764) and 2 (1766).
      5. The next eighteen quartets, Opp. 9 (ca. 1770), 17 (1771), and 20 (1772), established the four-movement structure.
        1. A number of the Op. 20 quartets are in minor keys and exhibit Sturm und Drang qualities.
        2. Three quartets from Op. 20 end with fugues.
        3. These quartets helped establish his international reputation.
      6. Opus 33 was composed in a “quite new and special way.”
        1. The works are lighthearted and tuneful (see HWM Example 22.6).
        2. The minuets are titled scherzo (joke or trick), a title that will be applied to a faster replacement of the minuet and trio.
        3. Haydn uses rondos as finales for the first time in his string quartets.
        4. The works are filled with playful humor (see HWM Examples 22.1 and 22.2 and NAWM 103).
      7. After Op. 33, Haydn composed thirty-four quartets.
        1. The six quartets of Op. 76 incorporate elements of concert hall performance.
        2. Expanded harmonic vocabulary foreshadows Romantic harmony.
        3. Like the late symphonies, serious and popular elements are juxtaposed.
    2. Keyboard sonatas and trios
      1. These were generally written for amateur performers.
      2. Both genres had three movements (fast-slow-fast).
      3. Both genres focused on intimate expression.
      4. The keyboard trio was essentially a keyboard sonata accompanied by strings (see HWM Figure 22.6).
  6. Vocal Music
    1. Operas
      1. Haydn held his vocal works in higher regard than his instrumental works, though his present-day reputation places more value on the latter.
      2. Haydn spent much of his time at Esterháza composing and producing operas.
      3. Armida (1784), a serious opera, is remarkable for its dramatic accompanied recitatives and grand arias.
      4. Haydn’s operas are rarely performed today.
    2. Masses
      1. His last six masses are large-scale festive works, including
        1. Missa in tempore belli (Mass in Time of War, 1796)
        2. Lord Nelson Mass (1798)
        3. Theresienmesse (1799).
        4. Harmoniemesse (Windband Mass, 1802)
      2. They are set for four vocal soloists, chorus, and orchestra with trumpets and timpani.
      3. Haydn retains traditional elements, such as fugal writing.
      4. Haydn also incorporates symphonic elements.
    3. Haydn’s Oratorios
      1. Haydn heard Handel’s oratorios in London and was deeply moved (see HWM Figure 22.7).
      2. Major works.
        1. The Creation (1798), based on the Book of Genesis and Milton’s Paradise Lost
        2. The Seasons (1801)
      3. Both works were published in German and English.
      4. Baron Gottfried van Swieten wrote the German texts.
      5. Haydn’s Depiction of Chaos at the beginning of The Creation is remarkable for its harmonies and drama (see HWM Example 22.7).
  7. Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (1756-1791)
    1. Mozart and Haydn
      1. The two composers were friends and admired each other.
      2. Mozart and Haydn were seen as equals and defined the music of the era.
      3. Fundamental differences between their careers
        1. Mozart achieved international recognition earlier, despite being twenty-four years younger.
        2. Mozart never found a permanent position and worked as a free agent in Vienna (see HWM biography, page 546, and Figure 22.7).
    2. Early Life
      1. Mozart was a remarkable child prodigy.
      2. Mozart’s father was Leopold Mozart (1719-1787) (see HWM Figure 22.8)
        1. Leopold was a performer and composer for the archbishop of Salzburg.
        2. He published a highly regarded treatise on violin-playing in 1756.
        3. Leopold sacrificed his own career to promote the musical lives of young Mozart and his talented sister Nannerl (1751-1829).
      3. Mozart toured throughout Europe (1762-1773) (see HWM Figure 22.9).
        1. He gave performances on the keyboard and violin in aristocratic homes and in public.
        2. He was seen as a wonder of nature.
        3. He composed minuets at age five, a symphony just before turning nine, his first oratorio at eleven, and his first opera at twelve
        4. During these travels, Mozart absorbed local musical qualities, which he synthesized into his own works.
      4. Significant influences
        1. Johann Schobert (ca. 1735-1767) was a prominent keyboard composer in Paris (see HWM Example 22.8).
        2. Johann Christian Bach, whom Mozart met in London, used songful themes, tasteful appoggiaturas and triplets, harmonic ambiguities, and contrasting themes in sonata forms, qualities that appealed to Mozart.
      5. Between 1769 and 1773, Mozart spent much time in Italy.
        1. In Italy, Mozart studied counterpoint with Padre Martini and composed operas and string quartets.
        2. The influence of Sammartini is evident in the symphonies written between 1770 and 1773.
        3. Mozart’s visit to Vienna in 1773 introduced him to current trends, and his six quartets, K. 168-173, reflect Viennese traditions.
    3. The Salzburg years (1774-1781)
      1. In Mozart’s time, musicians earned money either with steady employment with a patron or with freelancing.
      2. Mozart held a position with the archbishop of Salzburg for eight years.
        1. Unhappy with the archbishop, Mozart looked for other employment.
        2. He received a commission to compose the opera seria Idomeneo (1781).
        3. He soon decided to leave the archbishop’s service and go to Vienna.
    4. The Vienna years (1781-1791)
      1. As a freelance musician, Mozart earned an income from several sources.
        1. Mozart’s Singspiel Die Entf�hrung aus dem Serail (The Abduction from the Harem, 1782) was a great success.
        2. He took piano and composition students.
        3. He earned the reputation as Vienna’s finest pianist and performed in private and public concerts.
        4. Acting as an impresario, Mozart organized his own concerts (see HWM Figure 22.10).
        5. He composed on commission and for publication.
        6. In 1787, he was appointed chamber-music composer to the emperor.
      2. Due to his declining income and mismanagement of funds, Mozart seems to have had financial problems following 1788.
      3. Later influences
        1. Haydn spent winters in Vienna, and they became friends.
        2. The music of J. S. Bach was brought to Mozart’s attention through Baron van Swieten, and Mozart responded with increased contrapuntal textures.
        3. Swieten also introduced Mozart to Handel.
  8. Instrumental Music
    1. Piano music
      1. Mozart composed sonatas, fantasias, variations, rondos, and piano duets.
      2. These works were intended for his pupils, domestic music-making, and publication.
      3. Mozart’s nineteen piano sonatas are among his most popular works.
        1. A set of six sonatas (K. 279-284) was composed in Munich in 1775.
        2. Three sonatas were written in Mannheim and Paris in 1777-78 (K. 309-311).
        3. Three sonatas were published in 1784 (K. 330-332) and reflect his mature Viennese style.
      4. Sonata in F Major, K. 332, first movement (NAWM 105 and HWM Example 22.9)
        1. The movement, in sonata form, has repeats for both halves of the structure.
        2. Mozart’s themes tend to be songlike, as seen in the opening theme.
        3. Typically, a contrasting idea is introduced gracefully within the first theme.
        4. Mozart effortlessly employs galant, learned, hunting, and Sturm und Drang styles within the first thirty measures.
        5. The development begins with a new melody.
    2. Chamber music
      1. Mozart composed sixteen string quartets in the early 1770s.
      2. He returned to the genre with six quartets composed in Vienna (1782-85).
        1. Dedicated to Haydn, these quartets are known as the Haydn Quartets.
        2. These works are more developed and contrapuntal.
      3. Some of Mozart’s finest chamber works are the quintets for two violins, two violas, and cello.
      4. Mozart felt that the Quintet for Piano and Winds, K. 452 was his best work.
      5. Mozart composed a number of other works for winds and strings.
    3. Serenades and divertimentos
      1. Mozart composed these works for garden parties and outdoor performances.
      2. Although background music, Mozart gave them serious treatment.
      3. These works appear in a variety of settings, ranging from duets to six or eight wind instruments.
      4. Eine kleine Nachtmusik (A Little Night Music, K. 525, 1787) is Mozart’s best-known serenade and can be played by a string quintet or a string orchestra.
    4. Piano concertos
      1. Mozart composed piano concertos in Salzburg in the 1770s, most notably the Piano Concerto in E-flat Major, K. 271 (1777).
      2. The seventeen piano concertos composed in Vienna are major works in Mozart’s compositional output; each is a masterpiece.
      3. Similar to the works of J. C. Bach, Mozart’s concertos are in three movements, and the first movements combine elements of ritornello and sonata forms.
      4. The first movement of the Piano Concerto in A, K. 499 (1786) (NAWM 106)
        1. The three solo sections resemble the exposition, development, and recapitulation of a sonata form.
        2. The opening orchestral ritornello presents the first theme, transition, second theme, and closing themes in the tonic key.
        3. Ritornellos return to mark the end of the first and third solo section.
        4. The orchestra also punctuates the long solo sections.
        5. The cadenza appears in the final ritornello section.
        6. The orchestral transition material serves as a strong contrast to the lyric themes.
        7. A significant new idea is introduced at the beginning of the development.
      5. The second movement of a Mozart concerto resembles a lyrical aria.
        1. The key is often in the subdominant and sometimes in the dominant or relative minor.
        2. Typical forms are sonata without development, variations, and rondo.
      6. The final movement is usually a rondo or sonata-rondo based on themes of a popular character.
      7. Mozart balanced virtuosic display with colorful orchestral material, as evident in the numerous wind solos.
    5. Symphonies
      1. Mozart composed nearly fifty symphonies prior to moving to Vienna, many of which are in three movements.
      2. Mozart wrote only six symphonies in his Vienna years; each a masterpiece.
        1. Haffner Symphony, K. 385 (1782)
        2. Linz Symphony, K. 425 (1783)
        3. Prague Symphony in D Major, K. 504 (1786)
        4. Symphony in E-flat Major, K. 543 (1788)
        5. Symphony in G Minor, K. 550 (17880)
        6. Jupiter Symphony in C Major, K. 551 (1788)
      3. The G-Minor Symphony opens quietly with an undulating melody.
      4. The finale to the Jupiter Symphony is a contrapuntal masterpiece, in which the coda links five themes together in a passage of ars combinatoria (the art of musical combination and permutation; see HWM Example 22.10).
  9. Operas
    1. Early operas
      1. In 1768, Mozart composed his first operas.
        1. La finta semplice (The Pretend Simpleton), an opera buffa
        2. Bastien und Bastienne, a Singspiel
      2. He composed two opere serie in the early 1770s for Milan.
      3. Two operas were composed for Munich.
        1. La finta giardiniera (1775), an opera buffa
        2. Idomeneo (1781), an opera seria that reflects the reformist trends of Gluck.
    2. Die Enf�hrung aus dem Serail (1782) established his operatic reputation.
      1. Mozart raised the Singspiel to the level of an artwork.
      2. The “oriental” setting was popular at this time, and Mozart uses Turkish-style music (see HWM Source Reading, page 560).
    3. Mozart’s next three operas were based on librettos by Lorenzo Da Ponte (1749-1838; see HWM Figure 22.12).
      1. All three were Italian comic operas.
        1. The Marriage of Figaro (1786)
        2. Don Giovanni (Don Juan, 1787)
        3. Cos� fan tutte (Thus Do All Women, 1790)
      2. Da Ponte and Mozart gave greater depth to the characters.
      3. Mozart’s ensembles allowed characters to express contrasting emotions at the same time.
      4. Mozart’s orchestration, particularly his use of winds, helped define the characters and situations.
    4. Don Giovanni
      1. The opera premiered in Prague.
      2. Da Ponte and Mozart took the legendary character of Don Juan seriously as a rebel against authority.
      3. The opera mixes opera seria characters and opera buffa characters.
      4. All character types are combined in the brilliant dance music in the finale of Act I.
      5. The opening scene of Don Giovanni (NAWM 107)
        1. Leporello complains in an opera-buffa style with an ABCBB’ form.
        2. Donna Anna and Don Giovanni sing in a dramatic opera seria style, while Leporello frets in a buffa style; the form is ABB.
        3. The ensuing duel ends in a death, a shocking scene in a comic opera.
        4. A powerful trio in F minor laments the turn of events.
        5. At the end, Don Giovanni and Leporello revert to comic banter.
      6. Donna Elvira’s aria Ah fuggi il traditor (see HWM Example 22.11)
        1. Her aria depicts herself as a tragic character.
        2. The aria is an out-of-date style, making her sound insincere.
    5. Magic Flute
      1. This Singspiel was composed in the last year of his life, along with the opera seria La clemenza di Tito (The Mercy of Titus).
      2. The story contains symbolism, largely drawn from the teachings and ceremonies of Freemasonry.
      3. Mozart interweaves a wide variety of vocal styles.
  10. Church Music
    1. His early sacred music is not considered to be among his major works.
    2. The masses reflect the current symphonic-operatic idiom with standard fugal sections.
    3. The Requiem, K. 626
      1. The work was commissioned by Count Walsegg in 1791.
      2. Unfinished at Mozart’s death, it was completed by his pupil, Franz Xaver S�ssmayr (1766-1803).

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