Chapter 23. Revolution and Change

Chapter Outline

 
 

 

The generation born around 1770 came of age in a whirlwind of change. From the French Revolution in 1789 through the end of the Napoleonic Wars in 1815, the old political order in Europe gave way to a new one. At the same time, a new economic order began to emerge, in which the Industrial Revolution and middle-class entrepreneurship would eventually overtake the old wealth of the landed aristocracy. One member of that generation, Ludwig van Beethoven, led a revolution of like importance in the history of music. His creation of works unprecedented in their individuality, dramatic power, wide appeal, and depth of interest to connoisseurs changed society뭩 concept of music and of composers. 

Chapter Outline: 

  1. Revolution and Change
    1. The French Revolution can be seen in three phases.
      1. The first phase (1789-92) sought to reform the monarchy government (see HWM Figure 23.1).
      2. The second phase (1792-94), initiated by Austria and Prussia’s attack on France, witnessed more radical events, including the execution of the king.
      3. The third phase (1794-99) brought about a more moderate constitution and economic hardships.
    2. Napoleon Bonaparte
      1. A war hero, Napoleon became First Consul of the Republic in 1799.
      2. Napoleon crowned himself emperor in 1804.
      3. He expanded France’s political dominance in Europe through military victories.
      4. Napoleon also reformed the French government, making it more efficient.
      5. A failed military campaign in Russia led to Napoleon’s defeat and abdication in 1814.
      6. After escaping exile, Napoleon resumed power, only to be defeated at Waterloo.
      7. Despite the failure, Napoleon spread ideas of democracy and nationalism throughout Europe.
    3. The Revolution had a strong impact on music.
      1. Large choral works were composed for public celebrations.
      2. The government supported French opera, but controlled the content; Revolutionary themes were common.
      3. The French government established the Paris Conservatoire in 1795.
        1. The Conservatoire established a standard curriculum for student musicians.
        2. As the first modern conservatory, it became a model for other schools throughout Europe.
    4. The Industrial Revolution
      1. Technology transformed Western economy from agriculture to manufacturing.
      2. The Revolution began in the British textile industry.
      3. Other industries followed, including instrument-making firms.
      4. Men, women, and children worked at factories and coal mines, often in poor working conditions.
      5. The middle class flourished at the expense of the aristocracy and the poor.
  2. Ludwig van Beethoven (1770-1827): The First Period (1770-1802)
    1. Beethoven’s periods
      1. Beethoven’s career is traditionally divided into three periods (see HWM biography, page 572, and HWM Figure 23.2)
      2. The first period consists of his youth in Bonn and his early years in Vienna.
    2. Bonn (1770-1791)
      1. He studied music with his father and other local musicians.
      2. He entered the service of Maximilian Franz, elector of Cologne.
      3. He attracted attention as a virtuoso pianist and improviser (see HWM Source Reading, page 574).
      4. Haydn praised Beethoven’s music and urged the elector to send him to Vienna.
    3. Vienna (1792-1802)
      1. He studied with Haydn and took counterpoint lessons with Johann Georg Albrechtsberger.
      2. Beethoven established himself as a pianist and composer.
      3. He played in public concerts and taught wealthy students.
      4. Beethoven earned additional income when he began to publish his compositions.
    4. The early pianos sonatas
      1. Most of Beethoven’s earliest works are for piano.
      2. The early sonatas were conceived for amateurs, although the technical demands were increasing.
      3. Like Mozart, Beethoven used strong contrasts of style to delineate form and to expand the expressive range.
    5. Sonate pathétique (Sonata with Pathos), Op. 13 in C Minor (published in 1799)
      1. The title suggests suffering and a tragic mode of expression.
      2. The sonata has three movements.
        1. The passionate first movement begins with a dramatic slow introduction, which returns twice during the movement.
        2. The serene middle movement is in A-flat major.
        3. The finale returns to the stormy mood and key of the first movement.
      3. The third movement (NAWM 108)
        1. The pervasive minor mode conveys the sense of pathos.
        2. It is in a sonata-rondo form: ABACAB’A Coda.
        3. The refrain is a simple period.
        4. The refrain and first episode resemble a sonata-form exposition.
        5. The central episode (C), in A-flat major, is contrapuntal and serves as a development section.
        6. The return of the B material in the third episode is in the tonic, as it would in a sonata form.
        7. The refrain theme recalls the second theme of the first movement.
        8. The finale incorporates the key of the middle movement, A-flat major.
    6. Op. 18 string quartets
      1. Beethoven waited until he was established before composing string quartets and orchestral works.
      2. His first quartets, a set of six works, was published as Op. 18 in 1800.
      3. Although indebted to Haydn and Mozart, these works bear Beethoven’s stamp of individuality.
        1. The tragic final scene of Romeo and Juliet may have inspired the dramatic slow movement of quartet No. 1.
        2. Offbeat accents contribute to the humor in the scherzo of No. 6 (see HWM Example 23.1).
        3. The rondo finale to No. 6 has a slow introduction labeled “La Malinconia.”
    7. Beethoven’s Symphony No. 1 in C Major premiered in 1800.
      1. The work is similar to the late symphonies of Haydn and Mozart.
      2. Distinctive features
        1. A slow introduction that avoids a clear tonic cadence
        2. Dynamic shadings
        3. Prominent woodwinds
        4. A scherzo-like third movement
        5. Lengthy codas for the outer movements
  3. The Middle Period (1803-1814)
    1. Around 1803, Beethoven began to compose in a new style, due in part to support by patrons and publishers.
      1. Several patrons joined together to keep Beethoven in Vienna.
      2. The Archduke Rudolph was Beethoven’s piano and composition student.
      3. Publishers competed for Beethoven’s music.
      4. Beethoven often dodged deadlines, giving him time to revise his works.
    2. Beethoven composed with deliberation.
      1. His output is significantly less than that of Haydn and Mozart.
      2. Beethoven jotted down ideas in notebooks (see HWM Figure 23.3).
      3. These notebooks allow us to follow the progress of his ideas (see NAWM 109 commentary).
    3. Beethoven realized that he was going deaf in 1802.
      1. He considered suicide, but resolved to work for art, as described in his Heiligenstadt Testament (see HWM Source Reading, page 578).
      2. Beethoven appeared less often in public, but kept composing.
    4. Many of Beethoven’s compositions seem to reflect the struggle of his own life.
      1. The themes can be seen as characters in a drama.
      2. Instrumental music was no longer just an entertainment or diversion.
    5. The music of the middle period builds on the models of Haydn and Mozart.
      1. Traditions can be seen in genres, forms, melodic types, phrasing, and textures.
      2. Beethoven expanded the forms to unprecedented lengths.
      3. Despite the expansions, Beethoven is economical in his material.
    6. The Eroica Symphony, No. 3 in E-flat Major (1803-4)
      1. The Eroica is longer than any previous symphony.
      2. The title suggests that the symphony is a celebration of a hero.
      3. Beethoven originally named the symphony “Bonaparte,” but reportedly tore up the title page when Napoleon declared himself emperor (see HWM Figure 23.4).
      4. The first movement of the Eroica can be seen as a story of challenge, struggle, and final victory (NAWM 109).
        1. The main motive of the first theme serves as the protagonist, is triadic, and has a surprising C-sharp at the end (see HWM Example 23.2a).
        2. This motive undergoes numerous transformations during the movement (see HWM Example 23.2b-e).
        3. The principal antagonist theme, which also recurs several times, creates a duple meter with accents on weak beats (see HWM Example 23.3).
        4. The antagonist theme leads to a terrifying dissonant climax in the lengthy development section.
        5. Following this climax, a new theme is introduced that is related to the protagonist theme.
        6. The resolution of conflict can be seen in the recapitulation (see HWM Example 23.4).
        7. The lengthy coda brings back material from the development and reaffirms the resolution.
        8. Beethoven’s sketches provide valuable information about the conception and structure of his music.
      5. The slow movement is a funeral march in C minor.
        1. The march is full of tragedy and pathos.
        2. A contrasting section in C major contains fanfares and celebratory lyricism.
        3. The return of the march is varied.
        4. The movement has links to Revolutionary music in France, including a striking parallel to a march by Fran�ois-Joseph Gossec (see HWM Example 23.5).
      6. The third movement is a quick scherzo with prominent horn calls in the trio.
      7. The finale mixes variations, fugues, development, and marches using a theme from Beethoven’s ballet music in The Creatures of Prometheus.
      8. With this symphony, Beethoven challenged listeners to engage in music deeply and thoughtfully.
    7. Dramatic and vocal works
      1. Beethoven’s only opera, Fidelio, is based on a rescue plot.
        1. The opera glorifies heroism and the humanitarian ideas of the Revolution.
        2. Leonore, dressed as a man, rescues her husband from prison.
        3. Beethoven revised the opera several times.
      2. Beethoven composed other dramatic music, including incidental music for the play Egmont, written by Goethe.
      3. In Beethoven’s Lieder, the music is as interesting as the poetry.
    8. Chamber music
      1. Major works include:
        1. Two violin sonatas, including Op. 47 (the Kreutzer)
        2. The Archduke Piano Trio Op. 97
        3. Five string quartets
      2. Beethoven continued to test the technical abilities of amateurs.
      3. The three quartets of Opus 59 were dedicated to the Russian ambassador to Vienna, Count Razumovsky.
        1. Beethoven introduced Russian themes into two of the movements.
        2. The first movement of Op. 59 No. 1 is particularly idiosyncratic.
    9. Concertos
      1. The concertos of the middle period are on a grander scale than earlier works.
      2. Beethoven expanded the dimensions and expressive range in the Piano Concerto No. 5 in E-flat Major (the Emperor) and in the Violin Concerto in D Major.
      3. The soloist opens the Piano Concerto No. 5 with a cadenza.
    10. Other symphonies
      1. Symphony No. 5 (1807-8)
        1. The work, moving from C minor to C major, symbolizes a struggle for victory.
        2. The first movement is dominated by a famous four-note motive.
        3. This motive is heard in all four movements.
        4. The symphony has a transition between the scherzo and the final movement.
        5. The transition begins softly with the timpani playing the motive.
        6. The entrance of the full orchestra at the beginning of the final movement includes the trombones on a C-major chord.
        7. The finale also adds a piccolo and contrabassoon.
      2. Symphony No. 6 (the Pastoral, 1808)
        1. This work was premiered on the same program as Symphony No. 5 (see HWM Figure 23.5).
        2. Each of the movements has a title describing life in the country.
        3. An extra movement (Storm) precedes the finale.
        4. The woodwinds imitate birdcalls in the coda of the second movement (see HWM Example 23.6).
  4. The Late Period (1815-1827)
    1. In his later years, Beethoven went further into isolation.
      1. His deafness became increasingly profound.
      2. He became suspicious of friends.
      3. Beethoven also suffered from family problems, ill health, and fear of poverty.
      4. Vienna’s postwar depression made it difficult to produce large-scale works.
      5. Vienna suffered from a repressive government instituted by Count Metternich.
      6. Beethoven abandoned the heroic style.
    2. Characteristics of the late style
      1. Beethoven’s late quartets were published in score, suggesting that they were to be studied as well as played (see HWM Figure 23.6).
      2. The mood became more introspective, and the musical language was more concentrated.
      3. Classical forms remained, but were subject to great upheaval.
      4. Variation structures focused on the substance of a theme.
      5. Beethoven emphasized continuity.
        1. He blurred divisions between phrases.
        2. Successive movements are often played without pause.
        3. The songs of An die ferne Geliebte (To the Distant Beloved), which inaugurate the genre of a song cycle, are sung without breaks.
      6. Beethoven explored unusual new sonorities in his late works.
      7. With these works, Beethoven established the tradition that a performer must seek out the composer’s vision (see HWM Source Reading, page 588).
      8. Works featuring imitative counterpoint, especially fugues, are common.
        1. Fugal finales include:
          1. Piano Sonatas Opp. 106 and 110
          2. Symphony No. 9
          3. Grosse Fuge (Great Fugue), originally the finale for the String Quartet in B-flat Major, Op. 130.
        2. Beethoven also used the fugue as the first movement of the String Quartet in C-sharp Minor, Op. 131 (see NAWM 110a and HWM Example 23.7).
        3. The songs of An die ferne Geliebte (To the Distant Beloved), which inaugurate the genre of a song cycle, are sung without breaks.
      9. Beethoven often altered the number and arrangement of the movements.)
    3. String Quartet in C-sharp Minor, Op. 131
      1. Beethoven thought this was his greatest quartet.
      2. Typical of many late works, this quartet appeals primarily to the connoisseur.
      3. The work has seven movements played without breaks.
        1. Fugue in C-sharp minor
        2. Sonata-rondo in D major
        3. Recitative in B minor
        4. Theme and variations in A major
        5. Scherzo in E major
        6. Introduction in G-sharp minor
        7. Sonata form in C-sharp minor
      4. The finale refers to the fugue subject of the first movement (see HWM Example 23.8).
      5. First movement
        1. The slow tempo and fugal form are unusual for a first movement.
        2. The theme begins with a four-note motive ending with a sforzando.
        3. The exposition has four statements of the theme.
        4. The answer form of the theme is on the subdominant.
        5. Later statements of the themes are separated by episodes.
        6. The final entrances are in C-sharp minor and include augmentation.
        7. The movement is extremely emotional and uses unusual harmonies.
        8. The key areas include E major, G-sharp minor, B major, A major, and D major, all of which are keys of later movements.
      6. Second movement
        1. The closing unison C-sharp of the first movement moves up a half step.
        2. The structure is sonata rondo, a form typical of final movements.
        3. The mood is more comic than dramatic.
    4. The late period include two major public works.
      1. Missa solemnis
        1. Originally intended as a mass for the elevation of Archduke Rudolph to archbishop, the work became too long and elaborate for liturgical use.
        2. The influence of Handel can be seen in the choral writing, but the five movements are unified into a symphonic structure.
        3. The work functions as a concert piece.
      2. Symphony No. 9
        1. This work was first performed in May 1824 (see HWM Figure 23.7).
        2. Beethoven did not hear the applause after the scherzo movement.
        3. The first three movements, lasting more than an hour, are on a grand scale.
        4. The most striking innovation of the symphony is the use of voices in the finale, which uses Schiller’s poem Ode to Joy.
        5. The final movement follows an unorthodox format.
  5. Beethoven as a Cultural Hero
    1. His life story defines the Romantic view of the outcast artist.
    2. Many of his works were immediately popular and have remained so.
    3. His late works are now viewed as achieving greatness.
    4. Beethoven’s works are central to the performing repertoires of soloists and ensembles.
    5. Beethoven greatly influenced later composers.
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