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Anukriti Arora, Monam Nishat STUDIO 8
Sam Kennedy Suhita Dharamjit First American Edition, 2018
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Sourabh Challariya original styling by


British cellist, lecturer, and examiner Dr. Steve Collisson has taught Early music expert Keith McGowan has worked with most of the
at the Royal Birmingham Conservatoire, the University of Birmingham, major early music ensembles in the UK and was Master of Music
and the Open University. He has adjudicated at many music festivals and on several productions at Shakespeare’s Globe in London.
competitions, including the BBC Young Musician competition.
Adjunct Associate Professor in Music at Connecticut College, Kumi
Founder of the Chilingirian Quartet with the pianist Clifford Benson, Ogano is an authoritative performer of the work of Japanese composers
renowned violinist Levon Chilingirian performs worldwide and Toru Takemitsu and Akira Miyoshi.
teaches at London’s Royal Academy of Music and Guildhall School
of Music & Drama. SOPHIE RASHBROOK
MATTHEW O’DONOVAN Sophie Rashbrook writes and presents on classical music for Sinfonia
Cymru and the Royal College of Music.
Head of Academic Music at Eton College, in the UK, Matthew
O’Donovan writes extensively about music. He is also a founding DR. CHRISTINA L. REITZ
member of the vocal ensemble Stile Antico and a published arranger.
Dr. Christina L. Reitz is an Associate Professor of Music at Western
GEORGE HALL Carolina University (North Carolina), where she teaches courses in
music history and American music.
A former editor for Decca and the BBC Proms, George Hall is now a
full-time music critic. He writes for a wide range of UK music publications, TIM RUTHERFORD-JOHNSON
including The Stage, Opera, and BBC Music Magazine.
A teacher at Goldsmiths College, University of London, Tim Rutherford-
MALCOLM HAYES Johnson blogs about contemporary music and is the author of Music
after the Fall: Modern Composition and Culture since 1989.
Composer, writer, and broadcaster Malcolm Hayes has written
biographies of Anton Webern and Franz Liszt and edited The Selected HUGO SHIRLEY
Letters of William Walton. His Violin Concerto premiered at the BBC
Proms in 2016. Hugo Shirley is a music journalist and critic based in Berlin. He is a
regular contributor to Gramophone and Opera magazines.
Educated at the Royal College of Music, Michael Lankester enjoys
an international conducting career. He has been Music Director of Host of the BBC Radio 3 programs Sound of Dance and In Tune, Katie
the Hartford Symphony Orchestra, Connecticut, and Conductor-in- Derham is one of the station’s best-known voices. She has
Residence of the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra. been the face of the BBC Proms since 2010 and hosts the weekly
magazine show Proms Extra during the season. Katie also fronts
KARL LUTCHMAYER television documentaries, including The Girl from Ipanema: Brazil,
Bossa Nova, and the Beach for the BBC, and hosted the programs
An international concert pianist, Karl Lutchmayer holds a professorship All Together Now: The Great Orchestra Challenge and Fine Tuned.
at Trinity Laban Conservatoire in London and is guest lecturer at In 2015 Katie was a finalist on Strictly Come Dancing, and she
various music colleges, including the Juilliard and Manhattan Schools. won the Christmas Special in 2017.

12 INTRODUCTION 36 Music is a science that
makes you laugh, sing,
55 This feast … did even
ravish and stupefie all
and dance those strangers that
EARLY MUSIC Messe de Notre Dame, never heard the like
1000–1400 Guillaume de Machaut Sonata pian’ e forte,
Giovanni Gabrieli

22 Psalmody is the weapon

of the monk
RENAISSANCE 56 My lute, awake!
Lachrimae, John Dowland
Plainchant, Anonymous 1400–1600
24 Ut, re, mi, fa, sol, la
42 Not a single piece of
music composed before
Guido D’Arezzo the last 40 years … 1600–1750
is worth hearing
26 We should sing psalms Missa L’homme armé, 62 One of the most
on a ten-string psaltery Guillaume Dufay magnificent and
Ordo Virtutum, expensefull diversions
Hildegard of Bingen 43 Tongue, proclaim Euridice, Jacopo Peri
the mystery of the
28 To sing is to pray twice glorious body 64 Music must move
Magnus liber organi, Missa Pange lingua, the whole man
Léonin Josquin Desprez Vespers,
Claudio Monteverdi
32 Tandaradei, sweetly sang 44 Hear the voyce
the nightingale and prayer 70 Lully merits with
Le Jeu de Robin et de Marion, Spem in alium, good reason the
Adam de la Halle Thomas Tallis title of prince of
French musicians
46 The eternal father Le bourgeois gentilhomme,
of Italian music Jean-Baptiste Lully
Canticum Canticorum,
Giovanni da Palestrina 72 He had a peculiar
genius to express
52 That is the nature of the energy of
hymns—they make us English words
want to repeat them Dido and Aeneas,
Great Service, Henry Purcell
William Byrd
78 The object of churches
54 All the airs and madrigals is not the bawling
… whisper softness of choristers
O Care, Thou Wilt Despatch Ein feste Burg ist unser Gott,
Me, Thomas Weelkes Dieterich Buxtehude

80 The new Orpheus 128 The most tremendous

of our times genius raised Mozart
Concerti grossi, Op. 6, above all masters
Arcangelo Corelli Symphony No. 40 in
G minor, K. 550,
82 The uniting of the Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
French and Italian
styles must create the 132 The object of the
perfection of music piano is to substitute
Pièces de clavecin, one performer for
François Couperin a whole orchestra
Piano Sonata in F-sharp
84 What the English like minor, Op. 25, No. 5,
is something they can Muzio Clementi
beat time to 108 Bach is like an astronomer,
Water Music, who … finds the most 134 We walk, by the
George Frideric Handel wonderful stars power of music,
The Art of Fugue, in joy through death’s
90 Do not expect any Johann Sebastian Bach dark night
profound intention, The Magic Flute,
but rather an ingenious Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
jesting with art
Sonata in D minor,
CLASSICAL 138 I live only in my notes
K. 9 “Pastorale,” 1750–1820 Symphony No. 3 in E-flat
Domenico Scarlatti major, “Eroica,” Op. 55,
116 Its forte is like Ludwig van Beethoven
92 Spring has come, thunder, its crescendo
and with it gaiety a cataract
The Four Seasons,
Antonio Vivaldi
Symphony in E-flat major,
Op. 11, No. 3,
Johann Stamitz 1810–1920
98 The end and final
aim of all music 118 The most moving act 146 The violinist is
should be none in all of opera that peculiarly
other than the Orfeo ed Euridice, human phenomenon …
glory of God Christoph Willibald Gluck half tiger, half poet
St. Matthew Passion, 24 Caprices for Solo Violin,
Johann Sebastian Bach 120 We must play from Op. 1, Niccolò Paganini
the soul, not like
106 Telemann is above trained birds 148 Give me a laundry
all praise Flute Concerto in A major, list, and I will set it
Musique de table, WQ 168, Carl Philipp to music
Georg Philipp Telemann Emanuel Bach The Barber of Seville,
Gioachino Rossini
107 His whole heart and 122 I was forced to
soul were in his become original 149 Music is truly
harpsichord String Quartet in C major, love itself
Hippolyte et Aricie, Op. 54, No. 2, Hoboken III:57, Der Freischütz,
Jean-Philippe Rameau Joseph Haydn Carl Maria von Weber

174 I love Italian opera—it’s would not bother

so reckless saying it in music
La traviata, Giuseppe Verdi Das Lied von der Erde,
Gustav Mahler
176 Who holds the devil, let
him hold him well
Faust Symphony,
Franz Liszt
178 And the dancers
whirl around gaily in the 206 My fatherland means more
waltz’s giddy mazes to me than anything else
The Blue Danube, The Bartered Bride,
Johann Strauss II Bedřich Smetana

179 I live in music like 207 Mussorgsky typifies

a fish in water the genius of Russia
150 No one feels another’s Piano Concerto No. 2 in Pictures at an Exhibition,
grief, no one understands G minor, Camille Saint-Saëns Modest Petrovich Mussorgsky
another’s joy
Die schöne Müllerin, 180 Opera must make 208 I am sure my music has
Franz Schubert people weep, feel a taste of cod fish in it
horrified, die Peer Gynt, Edvard Grieg
156 Music is like a dream. The Ring Cycle,
One that I cannot hear Richard Wagner 210 I wanted to do
String Quartet No. 14 in something different
C-sharp minor, Op. 131, 188 He … comes as if sent Requiem, Gabriel Fauré
Ludwig van Beethoven straight from God
Symphony No. 1, 212 The music of the
162 Instrumentation is at Johannes Brahms people is like a rare
the head of the march and lovely flower
Symphonie fantastique, 190 The notes dance up there Symphony No. 9,
Hector Berlioz on the stage Antonín Dvořák
The Nutcracker,
164 Simplicity is the Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky 216 Music is a language
final achievement of the intangible
Préludes, Frédéric Chopin 192 A symphony must Woodland Sketches,
be like the world. It must Edward MacDowell
166 My symphonies would contain everything
have reached Opus 100 if Also sprach Zarathustra, 218 The art of music above
I had written them down Richard Strauss all the other arts is
Symphony No. 1 (The expression of the soul
“Spring” Symphony), 194 Emotional art is a kind The Dream of Gerontius,
Robert Schumann of illness Edward Elgar
Tosca, Giacomo Puccini
170 The last note was drowned 220 I am a slave to my
… in a unanimous volley 198 If a composer could themes, and submit
of plaudits say what he had to their demands
Elijah, Felix Mendelssohn to say in words, he Finlandia, Jean Sibelius

222 Spanish music with 258 Life is a lot like jazz … 274 Real music is always
a universal accent it’s better when revolutionary
Iberia, Isaac Albéniz you improvise Symphony No. 5 in D minor,
Rhapsody in Blue, Op. 47, Dmitri Shostakovich
223 A wonderful maze of George Gershwin
rhythmical dexterities 280 My music is natural, like
El sombrero de tres picos, 262 A mad extravaganza at a waterfall
Manuel de Falla the edge of the abyss Bachianas brasileiras,
Les Biches, Francis Poulenc Heitor Villa-Lobos

MODERN 263 I come with the

youthful spirit of
282 Never was I listened to
with such rapt attention
1900–1950 my country, with and comprehension
youthful music Quartet for the End of Time,
228 I go to see the shadow Sinfonietta, Leoš Janáček Olivier Messiaen
you have become
Préude à l’après-midi d’un 264 Musically, there is not 284 I must create order
faune, Claude Debussy a single center of gravity out of chaos
in this piece A Child of Our Time,
232 I want women to turn Symphonie, Op. 21, Michael Tippett
their minds to big and Anton von Webern
difficult jobs 286 The music is so knit …
The Wreckers, Ethel Smyth 266 The only love affair that it takes you in very
I ever had was strong hands and leads
240 An audience shouldn’t with music you into its own world
listen with complacency Piano Concerto for the Left Appalachian Spring,
Pierrot lunaire, Op. 21, Hand, Maurice Ravel Aaron Copland
Arnold Schoenberg
268 Science alone can 288 Composing is like driving
246 I haven’t understood infuse music with down a foggy road
a bar of music in my life, youthful vigor Peter Grimes,
but I have felt it Ionisation, Edgard Varèse Benjamin Britten
Le Sacre du printemps,
Igor Stravinsky 270 A nation creates music.
The composer only
252 And ever winging up arranges it
and up, our valley is his String Quartet No. 6,
golden cup Béla Viktor János Bartók
The Lark Ascending,
Ralph Vaughan Williams 272 I detest imitation. I detest
hackneyed devices
254 Stand up and take your Romeo and Juliet,
dissonance like a man Sergei Prokofiev
Symphony No. 4,
Charles Edward Ives 273 Balinese music retained
a rhythmic vitality both
256 I have never written primitive and joyous
a note I didn’t mean Tabuh-Tabuhan,
Parade, Erik Satie Colin McPhee

316 In music … things 324 Volcanic, expansive,

CONTEMPORARY don’t get better or
worse: they evolve and
dazzling—and obsessive
Études, Gyorgy Ligeti
transform themselves
298 Sound is the vocabulary Sinfonia, Luciano Berio 325 My music is written
of nature for ears
Symphonie pour un 318 If you tell me a lie, let L’Amour de loin,
homme seul, Pierre it be a black lie Kaija Saariaho
Schaeffer/Pierre Henry Eight Songs for a Mad King,
Peter Maxwell Davies 326 Blue … like the
302 I can’t understand why sky. Where all
people are frightened of 320 The process of possibilities soar
new ideas; I’m frightened substituting beats blue cathedral,
of the old ones for rests Jennifer Higdon
4´33˝, John Cage Six Pianos, Steve Reich
328 The music uses simple
306 He has changed our 321 We were so far ahead … building blocks and
view of musical time because everyone else grows organically
and form stayed so far behind from there …
Gruppen, Einstein on the Beach, In Seven Days,
Karlheinz Stockhausen Philip Glass Thomas Adès

308 The role of the musician 322 This must be the first 329 This is the core of who
… is perpetual exploration purpose of art … to we are and what we
Pithoprakta, Iannis Xenakis change us need to be
Apocalypsis, Alleluia, Eric Whitacre
309 Close communion R. Murray Schafer
with the people is the
natural soil nourishing 323 I could start out from the 330 DIRECTORY
all my work chaos and create order
Spartacus, in it
Aram Khachaturian Fourth Symphony, 340 GLOSSARY
Witold Lutosławski
310 I was struck by the
emotional charge of
the work
Threnody for the
Victims of Hiroshima,
Krzysztof Penderecki 351 QUOTE ATTRIBUTIONS
312 Once you become an ism,
what you’re doing is dead 352 ACKNOWLEDGMENTS
In C, Terry Riley

314 I desire to carve … a

single painful tone as
intense as silence itself
November Steps,
Toru Takemitsu

Music has a certain magic. It can transport us to a You might know that Beethoven was deaf later in life,
different world, drive us to dance, or remind us of lost but learning which of his works he composed yet never
loved ones. A single chord can reduce us to tears. Far actually heard adds a poignancy and an increased
from being an exclusive, elite preserve, the kind of sense of wonder to the listening experience. Realizing
music that provided people in the Western world with that Mozart was effectively an 18th-century pop star
pleasure and inspiration for most of the past 1,000 might convince you to give the Marriage of Figaro
years—and now commonly known as classical another try. Power, patronage, and censorship have
music—is still delighting listeners today. It toys with each played a part in the genesis of some of the best-
our emotions in our favorite movies; its symphonic loved pieces of music. As you will discover, the real-life
swells add drama to the action of computer games; drama and scandals often kept pace with the musical
and it hides in the structure and melodies of everyday dramatics on the stage and in the score.
pop songs. Its magic is of a very special sort—one that
has grown and evolved over the centuries, shaped These, then, are the worlds that the book you are
by politics, geography, religion—and the particular holding invites you to explore. It will be an invaluable
genius of a multitude of great composers. companion as it takes you on a journey through the
different periods of musical history, deepening your
Sometimes it’s enough just to listen and let the understanding and appreciation of some of classical
music wash over and through you without asking music’s greatest works. It will delight those of you who
why, when, or how, this piece originated. However, already love classical music but may have never—until
the classical music canon can seem intimidatingly now—come to grips with the component elements of
vast, encompassing many different styles and genres. musical vocabulary and theory. And best of all, it will,
For example, the early music of the medieval church— I hope, encourage endless hours of new listening.
plainsong and chant—is a sonic world away from
the waterfalls of sound created by the 19th-century Classical music, like all music, has passion at its heart.
symphony orchestras employed by romantic composers, It’s why the great works of the past have endured for
such as Tchaikovsky and Brahms, or the atonal centuries, why contemporary composers still strive to
experimentation of Schoenberg in the early 20th match and challenge that beauty, and why millions of
century. At times exploring new sound worlds can us love to play, listen, and be transported by it today.
be unfamiliar, or even a little uncomfortable, as the There is so much wonderful, passionate music out
composer may have intended. there—let this book open your eyes and your ears to it.

With The Classical Music Book, you will discover the

context of the great musical works of the last 1,000
years. Understanding who the composers were and
why they were writing can be a revelation and can add
a new layer of enjoyment and insight to your listening.
A familiar piece such as Vivaldi’s Four Seasons takes on
a whole new resonance when you learn that Vivaldi
demonstrated the true potential of the concerto form
for the first time and that his reputation spread from
Italy to Germany, where he inspired a young organist
named Johann Sebastian Bach. Katie Derham
Classical music commentator

vital part of human culture, disregard for Classical conventions, The first of these was the Church.
at least since Neolithic just as Igor Stravinsky’s Le Sacre Western classical music originated
times, music has been du printemps (Rite of Spring) in a Europe dominated by the
a feature of every civilization, astounded those who attended Church. In addition to wielding
as cave paintings, frescoes, and its Paris premiere a century later. considerable political power, the
archaeology show. What is loosely Such leaps have defined the clergy provided the only source
referred to as “classical music” is main periods of classical music— of learning in society. For the
the music of Western civilization Early Music, Renaissance, Baroque, educated, music was part of an
as it evolved from medieval times Classical, Romantic, Nationalist, act of worship, not entertainment.
to the present day. In its broadest Modern, and Contemporary— It was sung by monks without
sense, it covers a wide spectrum though these are broad distinctions, instrumental accompaniment.
of music and not just the orchestral with different styles within each
or piano music that some people one, and the dividing lines are The “New Art”
imagine. This book explores how not clear-cut. For hundreds of years, the Church
classical music developed as an resisted any change to the simple
essential part of European culture The role of the Church chanting of sacred texts, the rise
and then spread across the world, Like other art forms, music has and fall of which was represented
delighting, surprising, and sometimes been shaped by external influences on manuscripts by “neumes”
perplexing audiences as it evolved as well as by brilliant individuals. (inflective marks). Eventually,
through the centuries. however, new ideas found their
way in. With the invention of
Bold leaps a system of notation by Guido
The development of a musical d’Arezzo, a monk in 11th-century
tradition, from medieval church Italy, choristers began to sing
music and courtly trobadors to simple harmonies to the tunes.
the avant-garde music of the Music is the social act They later embellished them with
21st century, was often incremental, of communication other melodies, creating polyphony,
but it has also been punctuated among people, a gesture a new sound that, in the 14th
by exciting innovations. The of friendship, the century, was hailed as the Ars
first operas, staged at the end of strongest there is. nova, the “New Art.” Composers
the 16th century, for example, Malcolm Arnold soon introduced other innovations,
revolutionized sacred as well as such as an organ accompaniment.
secular music, while Beethoven’s The Church began to lose its
“Eroica” Symphony shocked early control over music, and culture
19th-century audiences with its in general, a process helped along
groundbreaking structure and by the birth of a new cultural

movement, the Renaissance. As continued to act as patrons to symphony, the solo concerto,
the taboo surrounding secular composers and performers, but and the string quartet. Music
music disappeared, composers there was also an increasing public also became popular in the home
expressed themselves more freely, demand for opera and music in as the swelling middle class
and their music spread through general, prompting investment in acquired leisure time and musical
Europe, especially after the opera houses, concert halls, and instruments, including the piano,
invention of a method for printing public theaters. became more affordable.
and therefore distributing music. As the Baroque period
No longer controlled by the Church, progressed, composers such as The Romantic period
musicians sought employment J.S. Bach and George Frideric Despite its enduring influence, the
in the aristocratic courts of Italy, Handel created works of increasing Classical period gave way to a new
France, Britain, and the Netherlands, complexity, taking advantage of cultural movement almost as soon
where they made a comfortable the orchestras provided by their as it had begun. As Romanticism,
living providing entertainment. aristocratic patrons. The music with its emphasis on the individual,
The Church still wielded some of the “High Baroque” era was swept through Europe, expression
power, however, and after the particularly expressive, often took precedence over clarity.
Reformation, a more austere musical ornamented with trills and other Composers stretched the Classical
style was imposed on the Protestant embellishments, and sometimes forms to their limits in the quest
churches in northern Europe, and dazzlingly virtuosic. for new sounds. They looked to
even the Catholic authorities looked For a while, the concertgoing extramusical sources of inspiration,
to curb the complexity of polyphony. public flocked to hear the latest such as art, literature, landscapes,
Composers thus developed a simpler orchestral showpieces, operas, and human experience. ❯❯
yet more expressive harmonic and choral works, but then the
style. Monteverdi’s Vespers of 1610 Enlightenment, the Age of Reason,
broke new ground for sacred music dawned, and fashions changed.
by incorporating elements of this There was suddenly a demand for
exciting new style. more elegant music emphasizing
balance and clarity, leading to
Musical explosion the Classical period from which What passion cannot
Around the same time, in Florence, “classical music” gets its name. music raise and quell.
a group of intellectuals called the In a short time, Classical John Dryden
Camerata de’ Bardi came up with composers, such as Mozart, Haydn,
a new form of entertainment, and Beethoven, established the
combining music and drama to musical forms that are the staple
create opera. This was a success of modern concert repertoires,
in the aristocratic courts, which including the four-movement

Romanticism was essentially rock music, whose rhythmic pitch of an individual note, how
a Germanic movement, yet its beats had instant appeal, causing high or low the sound is, especially
emphasis on the individual audiences to turn away from the in relation to others, is represented
provoked a wave of nationalist unfamiliar sounds of new classical by a letter (A, B, C, and so forth),
composers who wanted to music, and even classical music sometimes modified by “accidentals”
distance themselves from Austro- in general. Nonetheless, popular (sharp or flat) that raise or lower the
German dominance of the musical music also influenced and inspired note by a half step. For much of the
ancien régime and champion classical composers, producing history of classical music, melodies
the music of individual nations. a cross-fertilization of ideas that (patterns of notes) were composed
Russian and Czech composers brought new life to classical forms, using the notes of the major and
began to integrate elements of folk as did the harnessing of modern minor scales, or keys, which help
music and themes into their work, technology. Composers such as to determine the mood of a piece
a trend later explored by composers Karlheinz Stockhausen exploited of music. The key also governs
in other parts of Europe. the potential of the electronic the harmony, when two or more
By the end of the 19th century, studio and the huge advances notes are played at the same time.
the excesses of German Romanticism in recording equipment. Certain combinations of notes—
also precipitated a breakdown of Today, some composers, more chords—are consonant, or
the very foundations of Western conscious of public tastes, are harmonious, and others more
music—a structure based on the writing in a more accessible style dissonant, harsher; major chords
harmonies of the major and minor than was the case 50 years ago, but tend to sound brighter, while minor
keys. What followed was a century composers continue to experiment, chords are more mournful.
of composers seeking not just a producing music incorporating
fresh style but a completely new video, theater, and global influences.
musical language. Two of the
many strands that emerged were The elements of music
particularly influential: 12-note In order to understand the ideas
“serialism,” pioneered by Arnold and innovations described in this
Schoenberg and refined by Pierre book, it is useful to be familiar Rhythm and harmony find
Boulez, and “aleatoricism”—in with the “building blocks” of their way into the inward
which chance played a role in the Western classical music, many places of the soul.
composition or performance of music. of which were devised by medieval Plato
monks, drawing on concepts
New influences formulated by the Ancient Greeks.
These musical experiments Notes are the fundamental
coincided with the evolution of jazz material of all music, either sung
and later the explosion of pop and or played on an instrument. The

A feature of the Baroque, Classical, For listeners, the most noticeable woodwind, brass, and percussion
and Romantic periods was the difference between a Renaissance instruments, and—since the
system of major-minor tonality in song and a full-blown 19th-century 1950s—electronic technology.
which a key note, called the tonic, symphony is the sound of the voice
is the gravitational center around and/or instruments. Throughout This book
which a composition revolves— history, new musical instruments How composers put these musical
moving away from the tonic to have been invented and existing elements together to develop
create tension and toward the ones refined, giving composers different genres of classical music,
tonic to resolve it. and musicians new sounds with and the factors that influenced
which to work. them, is explained in this book.
Musical forms Each of these instrument has It presents significant milestones
Different styles of music emphasize its own distinctive timbre, or in the history of Western classical
particular aspects of its structure. tone, and different combinations music: not only the great composers
Some focus on melody, perhaps of instruments and voices have and their works but also some
with a harmonic accompaniment, evolved over time. These range lesser-known figures whose music
as was common during the Early from a cappella (the unaccompanied exemplifies a style or period. They
Baroque period; others employ voice), through solo instruments, are arranged in chronological order,
counterpoint, the interweaving like the piano, and small chamber placing them in a wider historical
of two or more melodies in a groups, such as the string quartet, context to show how they reflect
complex form of polyphony that is to the full concert orchestra of more society and culture.
one of the defining characteristics than 70 players of stringed, Each article focuses on a piece
of Western classical music. of music that illustrates a particular
Also important is the musical development in music, discussing
form, or shape, of a piece of music: its salient features and its
it may comprise recognizably significance in relation to other
different sections, perhaps in works by the same composer, or
contrasting keys. For example, in the same style. An “In Context”
in a simple “ABA” form, a musical The time is past when sidebar and a “See also” section
idea is presented, followed by a music was written for a refer to other pieces of music that
second idea, and then the opening handful of aesthetes. are relevant to the one under
idea is repeated. Musical forms Sergei Prokofiev discussion. As not every major
range from simple songs, such composer, let alone all the great
as the Lieder, made popular pieces of music, could be featured,
by Franz Schubert and Robert a Directory section at the end of
Schumann, to the complexity the book details other significant
of a multimovement symphony. composers and their work. ■

Pope Gregory I Frankish ruler The anonymous treatise Hildegard of

gathers plainchant Charlemagne instructs his Musica enchiriadis is Bingen’s musical play
traditions from musicians to employ the published, the first Ordo Virtutum depicts
across the Church nuances of Roman singers, publication to name a war between the
in an attempt to leading to the development musical pitches with Virtues and the Devil
unify them. of neumatic notation. the letters A to G. over the human soul.

C.600 C.800 C.875 C.1151

C.750 C.850 C.1026

Gregorian chant, a The development of Guido d’Arezzo

synthesis of Roman and the sequence, text pens his treatise
Gallican chants, is associated with a Micrologus and
commissioned by French particular chant melody dedicates it to Tedald,
Carolingian rulers. of the Latin Mass, Bishop of Arezzo, in
redefines liturgical music. Tuscany, Italy.

hat is now known it was exclusively vocal music, the melody. At this point, some
as Western Classical without accompaniment, and time in the ninth century, the pace
music evolved from consisted of a single line of music, of change began to accelerate: a
the music of the medieval Church known as monody, which could be standardized form of church
in Europe, which in turn had its sung by one voice or a choir singing service, the Mass, was established,
roots in Jewish religious music and in unison. The tunes they sang are and specific plainchants were
the music of classical Rome and called “plainchant,” and each assigned to its various sections.
Greece. Our knowledge of this early region had its own collection of Notation also became more
music is limited, however, as it was chants. At the beginning of the sophisticated, with a horizontal
an oral tradition, memorized by seventh century, however, Pope line to clarify the pitch of the notes,
musicians and passed down from Gregory attempted to collect, showing how high or low they are.
generation to generation. The little categorize, standardize, and Most significant musically was
that is known for certain comes teach these regional variations the introduction of “organum,”
from contemporary accounts, which of plainchant as part of his efforts a simple form of harmony. Where
almost exclusively describe sacred to unify liturgical practice. plainchant had consisted of a single
music, as the Church effectively In order to guarantee that line of music, organum had two, and
had a monopoly on literacy. performance of these plainchants later three or even four, lines. One
was standardized across the whole voice would sing the plainchant,
The role of the Church of Christendom, a form of music and the other a parallel line of
The story of classical music begins notation was developed. This used music a few notes higher or lower.
with sacred Latin texts sung by symbols, known as “neumes,” As the music became more
monks as part of acts of worship. written above the text to give a complex over the years, the means
The performance was simple— graphic indication of the shape of of writing it down also evolved,
EARLY MUSIC 1000–1400 21

Adam de la Halle’s The Tournai Mass, French composer

Le Jeu de Robin et composed by several Guillaume de
de Marion, regarded anonymous authors, is the Machaut’s
as the first secular first known polyphonic polyphonic mass
French play, is setting of a Mass Messe de Notre
premiered in Naples. transcribed to a manuscript. Dame is composed.

C.1280–1283 C.1320 C.1360–1365

C.1170 C.1300 C.1350

In Paris, Léonin Music theorist The Toulouse

bridges the gap Johannes de Mass assembles
between plainchant Garlandia’s De polyphonic Mass
and polyphony in his mensurabili musica movements adapted
Magnus liber organi. explains modal from existing motets
rhythmic systems. for three voices.

and in the 11th century a system of the plainchant, was succeeded By the mid-14th century, polyphonic
of differently shaped dots written by a more complex style, polyphony, music with interweaving vocal
on a staff of four or more horizontal in which each voice has its own lines had become known as Ars
lines was established this way— melody. This new technique was nova, the “New Art,” and composers
the forerunner of our modern pioneered by Léonin and Pérotin who had mastered the technique
system of music notation. in Paris and rapidly caught on were commissioned to write
across Europe. Masses for the cathedrals.
Music spreads At the same time, secular The new style was not
Notation not only helped standardize music was flourishing, too, in the exclusively developed for the
performance but also enabled form of traveling minstrels who Christian Mass. Composers also
musicians to write new music, entertained in the aristocratic wrote shorter settings of words in
which they did from the 12th courts and on the street. Known the same polyphonic style called
century onward, marking the as trobadors, trouvères, or similar “motets.” Some were settings of
beginning of classical music as regional variations, they were sacred texts, but a number of
it is known today. Music was no poets as well as composers and “serious” composers were also
longer anonymous and passed performers and, unlike church writing polyphonic motets on
on orally, and this led to the musicians, sang their songs with secular poems. As the medieval
emergence of composers and an instrumental accompaniment. period drew to a close, and the
compositions. This new breed It is likely that these entertainers Renaissance got under way,
of composer was keen to try out also played purely instrumental the Church’s monopoly on music
innovatory techniques. The simple music for dancing, but as such was on the wane. Sacred and
harmony of organum, with voices secular music was still an oral secular music were about to
singing in parallel with the melody tradition, none has survived. flourish side by side. ■


he early Christian Church into the Divine Office or Liturgy
IN CONTEXT began as a Jewish sect, of the Hours—the basis of Roman
so the evolving liturgy, or Catholic worship.
forms of service, of the new faith
shared many traits with Jewish The singing of rites
BEFORE worship, including the repeated As Christianity spread from
c.1400 bce A clay tablet from speaking, or chanting, of scripture the Holy Land, so did its rites
the ancient city of Ugarit in and prayer. Specifically, Christian and ceremonies, celebrated in
northern Syria records the aspects focused on particular the languages of the communities
hymn of a religious cult, with types of observance, such as the where it took root, such as Aramaic
fragmentary musical notation. reenactment of the Last Supper in Palestine and Greek in Rome.
(later to become the Mass) and As a result, different chant styles
c.200 bce–100 ce Found psalm-singing, scripture readings, evolved, including the Mozarabic in
on a tombstone in a town and prayer to mark the new Iberia, the Gallican in Roman Gaul,
near Ephesus, in Turkey, Church’s holy days and feasts. and Ambrosian, after St. Ambrose,
the “song of Seikilos” is the Over time, these rites evolved a 4th-century bishop of Milan.
earliest complete, notated Of these earliest liturgies, only
musical composition. the Roman and Ambrosian chants
have survived in a recognizable
AFTER form. They became known as
1562–1563 The Catholic “plainsong” (a direct translation
Church’s Council of Trent bans of the Latin cantus planus) for the
the singing of the medieval simplicity of their unaccompanied
embellishments of plainchant melodies, which were sung in a
known as “sequences.” free, speechlike rhythm, reflecting
the unmetrical prose of prayers,
1896 The monks of the psalms, and the scriptures. This
Benedictine Abbaye de music, though unstructured, largely
Solesmes publish their Liber
usualis, an attempt to restore
Gregorian chant, distorted by A wooden sculpture of St. Ambrose
(c.1500) shows him in his study. The
centuries of use, to a more Roman bishop championed the hymn,
pristine and standardized text. or “sacred song,” as a key part of
church worship.
EARLY MUSIC 1000–1400 23
See also: Micrologus 24–25 ■ Magnus liber organi 28–31 ■ Messe de Notre
Dame 36–37 ■ Canticum Canticorum 46–51 ■ Great Service 52–53
The Mass
It took until at least the 11th
century for the Mass to reach
a final form. Its music became
known as the Gradual, a book
divided into the Ordinary (the
elements that remain the same
every week) and the Proper
(the parts that are particular
to the time and day in the
Church calendar).
The Ordinary of the Mass
has five parts. The first, Kyrie
eleison (“Lord, have mercy”),
is an ancient text in Greek (the
language of Roman services
until about the 4th century);
the second, Gloria in excelsis
Deo (“Glory to God in the
highest”), was introduced
in the 7th century; the third,
the Credo (“I believe”) was
adopted in 1014 (though is
believed to date from the
4th century); and the fourth,
followed the ancient Greek modal This Gregorian chant, Hodie the Sanctus (“Holy”), rooted
system of seven-note octaves made Cantandus (“today we must sing”), by in Jewish liturgy, had become
up of five tones and two semitones, St. Tuotilo, a 10th-century Irish monk, part of the Roman rite before
has neumes on the upper lines and the reforms of Pope Gregory I.
and consisted of two types of Latin script underneath.
chant: the responsorial and the The fifth section, Agnus Dei
antiphonal. The former involved (“The Lamb of God”), was
more elaborate, solo chants, with a Gregory consolidated the music of added to the Roman Mass in
response from the choir. Antiphonal the Roman rite and is said to have the 7th century, originating
from a Syrian rite.
chants, where singing alternated instigated a papal schola cantorum
between choir and congregation, (“choir school”) to do justice to the
consisted of simpler melodies. evolving repertoire.
These forms were shared by
Roman and Ambrosian plainsong, Expanded repertoire
but Ambrosian chant was smoother Under the rule of Charlemagne
in its note progression and more (742–814), the first Holy Roman
dramatic than Roman chant. It also Emperor, Roman chants were
made greater use of melisma, in synthesized with elements of the
which a string of notes was sung Gallican style, which was also
on one syllable—a style still used in common use. This expanded
in Middle Eastern and Asian song. collection formed the basis of
By the middle of the first Gregorian chant, which remains at
millennium, thousands of chants the heart of Catholic Church music.
existed across the different rites. Plainsong was also the foundation The ritual of the Mass was
The sheer variety of unique styles for medieval and Renaissance based on the Last Supper, shared
by Christ and His disciples,
and traditions was addressed by music and its notation, based on seen here in this detail from
Gregory I (Pope 590–604 ce), who the staves and neumes, or notes, a 6th-century manuscript.
wished to unify liturgical practice. of written chants. ■



odern Western musical
IN CONTEXT notation has its origins
in Europe’s monasteries
at the end of the first millennium.
Early music notation
The earliest musical symbols,
BEFORE called neumes, were written aids
500 ce Boethius, a Roman for chants that used simple pen
senator and philosopher, writes strokes to remind the monks if
De institutione musica, which the music moved up or down, or
was still in use as a music remained on the same tone.
primer in the 16th century. Diastematic, or “heightened,”
neumes brought more clarity
935 ce In France, Odo of to notated chant by formalizing
Cluny’s Enchiridion musices the note shapes and imagining
becomes the first book to a single horizontal line across
name musical pitches with the page. This gave a “horizon”
the letters A to G. against which the singer could The Guidonian Hand was a system
work out the pitch. Nonetheless, invented to teach monks the easiest
AFTER heightened neumes were open way to reference the 20 notes of
1260 German music theorist to misinterpretation and greater medieval liturgical music.
Franco of Cologne writes precision was needed.
Ars cantus mensurabilis, pitch was now not only fixed from
which adds refinements to Invention of the staff note to note, but the singer knew
Guido’s notation. The solution, credited to Guido at a glance on which note to start.
d’Arezzo, an Italian monk and Guido’s treatise Micrologus
1300 In Paris, Johannes music theorist (though he may (c.1026) describes the singing
de Garlandia writes De have only formalized what was aid for which he is best known, the
mensurabili musica, describing then current practice) was to draw Guidonian Hand. If a modern singer
the six rhythmic modes. four lines across the page, allowing has to describe a particular note,
the singer to precisely gauge the they might picture the continuous
melody’s movement. Guidonian row of notes using seven letters
notation sometimes has one of the from A to G, repeated over the
lines in yellow ink to show the note seven octaves of a piano. To specify
C, and one in red to show F, so a particular “C,” the singer might
EARLY MUSIC 1000–1400 25
See also: Plainchant 22–23 ■ Ordo Virtutum 26–27 ■ Le jeu de Robin et de Marion 32–35 ■ Great Service 52–53 ■

Monteverdi’s Vespers 64–69 ■ St. Matthew Passion 98–105

his thumb’s middle joint, his voice

ascended to A, and so on up the
scale, spiraling his finger around
the joints and tips of his fingers to
indicate all 20 notes (going into
I have determined to falsetto as the spiral tightened
notate this antiphoner, and the octaves ascended).
so that any intelligent
and diligent person Solmization syllables
can learn a chant. Guido backed up these seven
Guido d’Arezzo letter names with six “solmization”
syllables—ut, re, mi, fa, sol, la—a
system of talking about melodies
in an abstract way. This was the
precursor to today’s more familiar
sol-fa (doh, re, mi, fa, sol, la, ti), but Italian monk and music theorist
Guido’s syllables differ in that his Guido d’Arezzo wears a laurel wreath
say “middle C” (in the middle of solmization did not use the note in a portrait painted by Antonio Maria
the keyboard). However, if that ti, so it has only six notes—a Crespi in the early 16th century, some
600 years after Guido’s death.
is not the one they had in mind, hexachord. As the range went
they might have to say clumsily, beyond the six notes, the hexachord
“C, the octave above middle C.” had to be repeated in overlapping “C sol-fa-ut” on the Guidonian
Guido, requiring only 2.5 patterns over the extent of the Hand and the lowest G, using the
octaves (20 notes) to cover the 20 notes of Guido’s Hand. Each Greek letter name, was “gamma
vocal range of the chants, used note then ended up with both a ut,” hence the expression still in
the same seven note names we use base letter name and a secondary use today “running the gamut.”
today (A to G) for his singing aid. coordinate, derived from the The monk could now easily
The novice monk would point to note’s unique position on the specify any of the 20 notes in
the tip of his left-hand thumb and hand, to designate the octave. conversation, in writing, or by
sing a low G. Sliding his finger to Modern “middle C” translates to simply pointing to his hand. ■

The modes developed soon after) were minor scale). (The mode on “B,”
categorized. Modes helped sometimes called “Locrian”
monks remember the many mode, was not used in the
liturgical works. Western music of the Middle
Modes can be played by Ages as it was too dissonant.)
using only the white notes on Music was organized
a piano. If you were to play six according to this modal theory
Western music inherited a complete seven-note scales, until, by the time of 18th-
theoretical foundation based on starting on each of the following century Baroque composers,
early church musical practices notes, that would give an idea such as Bach and Handel, the
in Greece, Syria, and Byzantium. of how each basic corresponding “major” and “minor” principle
Sometime in the 10th century, church mode would sound: C of tonal harmony essentially
the principle of musical “modes” (Ionian mode, corresponding reduced the number of scales
(groupings or “scales” of notes) with the major scale); D (Dorian); to just two. From then on,
developed, by which the various E (Phrygian); F (Lydian); G music was considered to be
melodies of plainchant (the basis (Mixolydian); A (Aeolian, in a particular “key” and
for “Gregorian” chants that corresponding with the natural not in any given “mode.”


Early female composers
c.920 The surviving two
stanzas of Jórunn Skáldmaer’s
Sendibítr (“A biting message”)
represent the longest skaldic
verse (a type of Norwegian
poem possibly sung in
performance) by a woman.
1150 In Paris, Abbess Héloïse
possibly composes the Easter
music drama Ortolanus
and the Easter sequence
Epithalamica, attributed to
theologian Peter Abelard.

AFTER ne of the most original Hildegard receives a divine
1180 Beatriz Comtessa de voices in sacred music of vision in an image from a 13th-century
Dia writes a collection of five the early Middle Ages was manuscript. She is accompanied by
Volmar of Disibodenberg (left) and
troubadour songs. The song that of the female cleric Hildegard her confidante Richardis von Stade.
A chantar m’er de so qu’eu no of Bingen in Germany. Her musical
volria survives with notation. output is also one of the largest of
any single identifiable medieval Hildegard grew up under the
1210 Juliana of Liège may composer. Her collection entitled tutelage of a young visionary
have written music for the Symphonia armonie celestium called Jutta of Sponheim. With
Feast of Corpus Christi, revelationum (“The symphony of support from Jutta and a monk
which is said to have come the harmony of celestial revelation”), named Volmar at the abbey of
to her in a vision. for example, includes more than Disibodenberg, Hildegard learned
70 plainchant compositions. the psalms and practiced the
EARLY MUSIC 1000–1400 27
See also: Le jeu de Robin et de Marion 32–35 ■ Messe de Notre Dame 36–37 ■

Missa l’homme armé 42 ■ The Wreckers 232–239 ■ blue cathedral 326

chant repertory of the church

year, studied the playing of the
psaltery (a stringed instrument),
and learned to write Latin. Like
Jutta, Hildegard professed to be
divinely inspired, claiming to have Heaven was opened and a
“never learned neumes, or any fiery light of exceeding
other part of music.” While the brilliance came and
truth of this assertion is unknown, permeated my whole brain …
it may have been an attempt to and immediately I knew the
disassociate herself and Jutta from meaning of the exposition Hildegard of Bingen
an education that ordinarily would of the Scriptures.
not have been available to women. Hildegard of Bingen Born in 1098 as the youngest
For women in the 12th century, to child in a large family of
profess knowledge of the trivium lesser nobility, Hildegard
(the rhetorical arts) or quadrivium spent her early childhood in
(the sciences and music theory) Bermersheim, south of Mainz,
or to provide interpretation of the in Germany. She suffered
Bible might be considered a direct from ill health, and even
threat to male authority. becomes more expressive and before the age of five began
animated, the sweeping vocal to see visions, drawing the
Magnum opus lines of Humilitas (Humility), Fede family’s attention to her
spiritual acuity by predicting
The earliest extant morality (Faith), and Spes (Hope) inspiring
the color of an unborn calf.
play, and one of the first musical the sister Virtues to respond
At about the age of eight,
dramas to be recorded, Hildegard’s with ardor. However, the original she was placed in the care of
most well-known work, Ordo notation is little more than the Jutta of Sponheim, a visionary
Virtutum (“The play of the Virtues”), barest of bones: recordings with who lived as a recluse in a
contains more than 80 melodies fiddles, flute, and harmonized hermitage near the abbey
that form a musical drama most accompaniments represent at Disibodenberg.
likely intended to be performed by the modern interpretation of The women’s hermitage
the nuns of Hildegard’s order. The this sketch. was later opened to monastic
play calls for a cast of more than aspirants, and at the age of
20 singing roles and concerns Writings and divinity 14 Hildegard devoted her life
the struggle for a soul (Anima) Hildegard’s letters reveal her to God as a Benedictine nun.
between 17 “Virtues” (Humility status as “seer and mystic,” which On the death of Jutta in 1136,
is the Queen of the Virtues) and allowed her not just the freedom and at the age of 38, Hildegard
their adversary, Diabolus (the to offer stern advice (even to the was elected to lead the
religious community. She
Devil). Diabolus, perhaps originally pope) but opportunities for musical
performed this role until her
spoken by Hildegard’s friend expression. She often emphasized death in 1179 but also found
and scribe Volmar, lacks all the transcendent origin of her time to write three volumes
harmony and articulates in works. Music connected her to of visionary theology, scientific
spoken interjections. a lost Eden, before Adam and Eve works, and religious verse.
The accompanying melodies precipitated the Fall of humankind
in the manuscript indicate when by eating the forbidden fruit. She
Other key work
the Virtues sing as a chorus and envisaged her texts being at the
gives more florid music to the solo service of the music, so that “those c.1150s Symphonia armonie
voices. As the Virtues step forward who hear might be taught about celestium revelationum
to introduce themselves, the music inward things.” ■

The rise of vocal harmony

c.1000 More than 160 organa,
probably written by Wulfstan,
the Cantor of Winchester
Cathedral, are collected in
the Winchester Troper.

c.1140 The Codex Calixtinus
mentions a certain Magister
Albertus Parisiensis as
composer of the first notated
work for three voices.
LÉONIN c.1200 Pérotin improves and
expands on Léonin’s work in
the Magnus liber organi.

he development of
polyphony (richly layered
music for multiple voices)
in the mid-12th century is closely
linked to Notre Dame in Paris,
the lavish new cathedral built by
Maurice de Sully when be became
Bishop of Paris in 1160. Around
this time, a French composer
called Léonin was creating fresh
embellishments for two voices, in
order to enhance the traditional
plainchant. Under the patronage of
the cathedral, Léonin and a number
of other innovative composers
formed what later became known
as the Notre Dame School.

Composing organa
There are no records of Léonin
until nearly a century after he
was active, when an Englishman
studying in Paris (known to
musicology as “Anonymous IV”)
wrote about Master Léoninus.
EARLY MUSIC 1000–1400 29
See also: Plainchant 22–23 ■ Micrologus 24–25 ■ Messe de Notre Dame 36–37 ■ Canticum Canticorum 46–51 ■

Monteverdi’s Vespers 64–69 ■ Ein feste Burg ist unser Gott 78–79

The nave of Notre Dame de Paris shifting the single note to an

was completed shortly after the death adjacent pitch, to make a more
of Maurice de Sully in 1196. Léonin and pleasant relationship with the
Pérotin created their music in or close
to the new cathedral.
chant before moving back to the
finalis. Traditions involving a fixed
note accompaniment are still heard
century, but the stages in the today, in Sufi Muslim Qawwali
development of harmony-singing music from India and Pakistan,
are unclear. The papal Schola and in bagpipe music.
cantorum (choir) of the 7th century
maintained a total of seven singers, A sinful sound
including three scholae (scholars) The move toward polyphony was
as well as an archiparaphonista not universally welcomed. Some
(the fourth-ranking singer) and within the church objected to the
three paraphonistae, a Greek term new methods—notably the English
meaning “one who sings alongside cardinal Robert of Courçon, who
the chant.” Some musicologists criticized the writers of organum
believe this may suggest the on the grounds that this new music
presence of singers who specialized was effeminate. In his Summa, he
in a harmonizing role. wrote that “If a wanton prelate
He described Léonin as the The simplest harmonizing gives benefices to such wanton ❯❯
optimus organista (best composer technique was for a singer to hold
of organa, or vocal harmonizations) the finalis (principal note) of the
Cistercian monks at Zwettl Abbey,
and the author of the Magnus liber mode of the piece as a sustained Austria, practice choral singing in this
organi (Great Book of Organum), an note underneath the chant. This miniature accompanying notation for
anthology of music used by the would be sung to an open vowel the Graduale Cisterciense (c.1268). A
cathedral to solemnify the liturgy. sound, perhaps occasionally graduale is a liturgical chant or hymn.
Anonymous IV writes that
Léonin’s Great Book was used until
the time of Pérotin (c. 1160–1205),
who was known as the best
composer of discants—an organum
with countermelodies on top of the
plainsong. Pérotin shortened and
improved Léonin’s organa, wrote
better clausulae (musical episodes
inserted in the chant), and also
composed organa for three and four
voices. According to Anonymous
IV, Pérotin’s music was still in use
at Notre Dame in his time (c.1280).

Early harmony
Before the time of Léonin,
vocal harmonies were far simpler.
Theorists took a certain interest
in the practice of singing in parts
from the latter half of the 9th
Pérotin’s Alleluia nativitas was
written for three voices. As seen here,
the number of lines in a staff was not
fixed at this time; they merely gave a
rough idea of the “height” of the notes.

singers in order that this kind of

minstrelish and wanton music may
be heard in his church, I believe
that he becomes contaminated
with the disease of simony.”
Attitudes such as Courçon’s, which
associated the intertwined male
voices of polyphony with sodomy,
sought to discredit the new musical
style by associating it with sin.

Two handbooks
The first works that attempted
to explain vocal harmony were
Musica enchiriadis (“The Music
Handbook”), c.900, and its
companion text Scholia enchiriadis.
The simplest harmonizing method
illustrated by the writer of the
handbooks was singing in octaves.
This technique was known as
“magadizing” in ancient Greece
and occurs naturally when men and also suggests a hybrid method, describe this technique as
boys sing in unison. The method of whereby the vox organalis a version of “heterophony”
utilizing a basic harmony, parallel (“accompanying voice”) either (embellishing a single line).
to the original chant, was called holds a pitch or moves in parallel
“simple organum” by the writer of harmony with the vox principalis Scattered examples
the enchiriadis. Scholia enchiriadis (“main voice”) before returning A short piece of organum for two
to a unison with the chant at the voices moving independently came
ends of phrases. to light in 2014 on the back leaf of a
Although simple organum manuscript in the British Library
involves more than one voice, this that can be dated to c. 900. It
singing in octaves is not normally appears to demonstrate that some
Masters of organum … set described by modern writers as singers in northwest Germany were
minstrelish and effeminate “polyphony,” because the two parts quite adept at this hybrid style of
are not independent. Creating organum by the end of the 9th
things before young and
harmony by simply following the century. Although it is a single
ignorant persons. melody at a different octave (or isolated example, the piece (Sancte
Robert of Courçon other harmonic interval) makes the Bonifati martyr, “St. Boniface the
English cardinal
(c.1160–1219) harmonizing part a slave to the Martyr”) is agreed to be the
chant’s shape and movement. The oldest existing notated piece of
effect is to enrich the sound of the polyphonic music for performance.
chant, but the technique of finding The Winchester Troper (c.1000),
this added harmony has little a manuscript copied into two books
finesse. Musicologists prefer to at Winchester Cathedral from
EARLY MUSIC 1000–1400 31
Development of indication of pitch, either of the
vocal harmony original chant melody or in the
harmonizing vox organalis, making
accurate transcription of these
Plainchant: pieces difficult.
A single unaccompanied A century after the Winchester [Pérotin] notated his books
vocal line in free rhythm, Troper, The School of St. Martial of very faithfully according to
like speech. Limoges explored polyphony in 90 the use and custom of his
pieces in four French manuscripts master, and even better.
(c. 1120–1180), and the Codex Anonymous IV
Calixtinus (c. 1140) from Santiago
de Compostela, in northwest Spain.
The notation of this “Aquitanian
Organum: polyphony” was less ambiguous in
Addition of a second pitch than the Troper and suggests
voice at a different that most of the repertoire was
octave paralleling sung to a rhythm. The pieces are to one of six metrical patterns
the first voice. mostly for two singers in a more (trochaic, iambic, and so forth, akin
melismatic style, in which the to Classical poetic meter). These
upper voice sometimes has many are indicated by two note shapes,
notes, sung over a less active lower longa and brevis (long and short),
voice. The Codex Calixtinus the duration of the note depending
contains what may be the first on context. Léonin’s development of
Counterpoint: composition notated for three organum in the discant style owed
The interweaving of voices, the Congaudeant Catholici. much to this innovation.
simultaneous playing or Pérotin, Léonin’s successor in
singing. Also known as
The Notre Dame School the Parisian style of discant, went
As the Cathedral of Notre Dame one better, composing organum
rose up on the Île de la Cité in Paris, triplum, and even organum
the discant style emerged, which quadruplum, for three and four
allowed the upper voice of organa voices respectively. Proclaiming
more freedom. The roles of the two their magnificence, the Bishop of
Harmony: singers diverged into that of the Paris decreed in 1198 that Pérotin’s
Three or more musical notes florid soloist and an accompanying four-voice works Viderunt omnes
sung simultaneously to voice holding long notes. This and Sederunt principes should be
create a chord. distinction was reflected in the performed on Christmas Day,
new titles of tenor (“one who holds”) St. Stephen’s Day (December 26),
and duplum (“second voice”). and again on New Year’s Day. ■
At this time, Léonin introduced
French sources a few decades a greater degree of rhythmic
after Sancte Bonifati martyr, gives organization to his compositions,
a snapshot of monastic musical regulating the flow of the meter in
life in England prior to the Norman an early form of “modal rhythm.” In
Conquest. Although the second its mature iteration, modal rhythm
volume contains 174 organa sets the line in motion according
(making it the first substantial
corpus of composed polyphony),
Pérotin, called Perotin Magister
the notation assumes that the (“Pérotin the Master”) by Anonymous
singer already has some knowledge IV, is believed to have lived from
of the repertoire. The unstaffed c.1160–1230. He is pictured here with
neumes do not give a precise church bells at Notre Dame de Paris.

Secular medieval music

c.1160 Festum stultorum
(Feast of Fools) appears in
Paris and Beauvais as an

opportunity around Christmas
for clerics to indulge in a
parody of the liturgy.
c.1230 Ludus Danielis (The
LE JEU DE ROBIN ET DE MARION (1280–1283), Play of Daniel) is written in
ADAM DE LA HALLE Beauvais as a liturgical drama
in Latin.
Late 14th century The
annual cycle of Mystery Plays
(performances of biblical
scenes set to music) begins in
York and Wakefield, England.

iverse musical traditions
are known to have
flourished in European
towns and villages in the Middle
Ages, as they did in the courts of
noble families, yet almost none
of this popular music survives in
notation. While the Church used
scribes to regulate and record its
own repertoire for posterity, much
secular music was passed on orally.
However, the lack of written
sources among common people is
not just the consequence of poor
literacy. For many dance musicians
and the singers of epics, a written
text would not have reflected the
skilful, improvisatory nature of their
profession, honed by generations
of hereditary entertainers.
Furthermore, by recording their
works in a manuscript, they
risked handing their cherished
repertoire to rivals.
EARLY MUSIC 1000–1400 33
See also: Missa l’homme armé 42 ■ Water Music 84–89 ■ Musique de
table 106 ■ The Magic Flute 134–137 ■ Die schöne Müllerin 150–155
Adam de la Halle
French musician Adam de la
Halle was born in the cloth-
working city of Arras in 1222,
and grew up learning about
music as part of his theological
education at the abbey of
Vaucelles, founded only a
century before. De la Halle’s
father expected him to enter
the Church, but he chose a
different path. After a short-
lived marriage, he enrolled at
the University of Paris, where,
among other things, he learned
the polyphonic techniques
that he would later apply to
popular musical genres.
De la Halle initially used
his verse to speak out against
the corrupt administration of
Arras but later entered into
noble service. It was in the
service of Charles of Anjou,
who became king of Naples,
Le Jeu de Robin et de Marion was (where oïl meant “yes”). Each of that he wrote Le jeu de Robin
performed in St. Petersburg, Russia, these languages had its own et de Marion. Halle died a few
in 1907. Its set design was recorded in bardic tradition: the south had the years later, sometime between
watercolor by Mstislav Dobuzhinsky. 1285 and 1288.
music of the trobador and female
trobairitz, while the north used
The sources of European secular the word “trouvère,” both of which Other key works
music tended to be found where may have come from the Early
Date unknown Mout me fu
popular styles aroused the interest French word trobar, meaning
grief/Robin m’aime/Portare
of the Church or nobility. The “to find or invent” (a song). An (Great was my sadness/Robin
crusading knights of southern alternative root may be the Arabic loves me/Portare)
France found the highly developed word tarab, meaning “source of joy.” Date unknown A jointes
styles of instrumental and vocal One of the earliest troubadours, mains vous proi (Take my
music they encountered on William IX, Duke of Aquitaine, hand, I pray)
Crusades in the Holy Land was said to have sung “in verse
particularly appealing, this being with pleasant tunes” about his
a period of great cultural exchange experience of leading the so-called Le jeu de Robin et de Marion (“The
as well as of conflict and hostility. “Crusade of the Faint-Hearted” Play of Robin and Marion”) for his
into Anatolia (now Turkey) in 1101. fellow Frenchmen as part of a
Languages and influences His songs are clearly influenced Christmas celebration in Naples
Medieval secular music features by Arabic poetic conventions, in in 1284. The French noblemen had
distinct poetic identities linked to particular the popular song-forms taken refuge there after the island
regional languages. Two medieval of muwashah and zajal. of Sicily had overthrown the rule of
French languages emerged from Charles I of Anjou (Adam’s patron)
Latin: langue d’oc or Occitan in A play with music in a bloody Easter coup. The Jeu
Southern France and Northern The 13th-century musician Adam tells the story of a country maid
Spain (where oc meant “yes”); and de la Halle has been described as a who is wooed by a lustful knight
langue d’oïl, north of the Loire trouvère. De la Halle probably wrote yet remains true to her lover ❯❯
Robin. The titular characters identify the piece as pantomime etiquette between a knight and
perform the bulk of the music, in (drama of spoken text with songs). an idealized lady, based on the
monophonic songs that de la Halle Halle’s comedy knew no limits—he principles of allegiance and fealty
created by setting his own lyrics poked fun at the church and its that defined a noble life. De la
to tunes in a popular style. corrupt clerics, at the people of Halle’s Robin and Marion played to
Some have called it the “first Arras, where he lived and worked, this idea, as a depiction of a knight
comic opera,” although modern and even his own family and life. trying to woo his love, but was
audiences might more readily also influenced by the French
Chivalric tales pastoral storytelling tradition.
Henry of Meissen performs at court The songs of both trobadors and Trobador verse has survived
in the Codex Manesse (1300). The trouvères—have their roots in the well: there are more than 2,000
musician was called Frauenlob (“praise medieval culture of fin’amor (courtly extant poems composed by more
of women”) for his chivalric songs. love)—the chivalric code of than 450 known poets. However,
transmission of the musical
accompaniment for these songs is
patchy, with barely 10 percent of
the poems having their associated
melodies relayed in notation.
Trouvère activity in northern
France began with the 13th-century
poet Chrétien de Troyes, about 70
years after the first trobador in the
south. The number of surviving
trouvère songs is similar to that of
the southern corpus, but more than
60 percent of trouvère songs have
music—albeit without precise
information concerning rhythm.

Southern Europe
While trobadors and trouvères were
a distinct group of courtly poets
writing in specific poetic genres,

When I see the lark

Set flight for joy
toward the sun …
It’s a marvel that my heart
Does not melt with
longing at the sight.
Bernart de Ventadorn
EARLY MUSIC 1000–1400 35
lesser entertainers were manifold, is the main surviving source of Medieval instruments
and their activities were varied. In goliard song. The title ménestrel
Many of the instruments
southern Europe, a musician might (minstrel) meanwhile refers to
associated with European
go by the title of joglar or joglaresa, one who is a “little minister,” in
medieval music have their
while their northern counterparts service perhaps at court, or to roots in North Africa, Central
were called jongleurs. The skillsets a city. Armed with finely honed Asia, and the Balkans. These
of these musicians encompassed musical skills and a claim to a included the lute (a string
feats of dexterity, fluency in any patron’s protection, a minstrel instrument with a back
instrument required for dancing, might hope to escape some of shaped like the shell of a
singing songs of love and heroes, the opprobrium that was often tortoise), the rebec (a spoon-
or simply playing the fool. Yet, levelled at a jongleur. By the shaped bowed instrument),
in spite of the joy they brought, 14th century, however, the term and the shawm, the precursor
itinerant entertainers were not ménestrel was increasingly used of the oboe. The European
only on the lowest rung of the social in France as a term to describe all tabor (drum) is akin to the
order but were also outside of the urban musicians—many of whom Indian tabla while nakers
protection of the law. One example played in taverns or on the streets. were related to the Asian
of joglar song is the work of Martin naqqara (kettledrums). The
English word “fanfare”
Codax (c.1250), written in the style Songs in German probably derived from Arabic
of cantiga de amigo, a genre that The genre of courtly love extended anfar, meaning trumpets.
told stories from a woman’s point all the way from Latin Europe to the Early poets often
of view. Codax, for example, evoked German-speaking peoples, where accompanied themselves on
the emotions of a woman left on the the Minnesinger sang songs about the vielle, a bowed string
shore in Vigo (a fishing town in chivalric romances. Like his French instrument supported on the
Galicia, Spain), waiting for her counterpart, the Minnesinger was collarbone. A vielle could have
beloved to come home from sea. normally welcome in noble houses anywhere from three to six
as a social equal, and examples of strings passing over a flat
Tavern players early Minnelieder (“love songs”) bridge, or string support. This
Another type of medieval musician suggest that trouvère songs were favored a harmonic style of
at this time, the goliards, had a lot in known in Germany. By 1200, the playing with many strings
common with traveling musicians, style asserted a stronger identity sounding at once—unlike the
but were, in fact, unemployed characterized by the work of Walther arched bridge of the modern
violin, which allows individual
clerics known for playing bawdy von Vogelweide—but, compared to
strings to be sounded, thus
songs in taverns that satirized the works from Spanish and French favoring melody.
society at all levels. The Carmina traditions, few Minnelieder survive
Burana Manuscript (c.1200–1300) with contemporary melodies. ■

Europe’s secular

Musicians fitted
into distinct
categories that
Troubadours Poets and Jongleurs Low-born Goliards Traveling Minstrels Musicians
were defined by composers who performed itinerant storytellers, songsters who were former who initially performed
social status songs for the nobility that jugglers, and acrobats, clerics. They often sang for the nobility and later
and their typical were inspired by the who also danced bawdy and satirical verses on street corners and in
audience. culture of courtly love. and sang. in Latin “a cappella.” public taverns.

MESSE DE NOTRE DAME (c.1360–1365),

he 14th century was one compositions based on one melody
IN CONTEXT of the most turbulent and text, with other voices bringing
periods of medieval history. in different words and melodies).
The “Little Ice Age,” which began Each of Vitry’s motets, only 12
Polyphony and the
around 1300, resulted in crop of which survive, displayed
notation revolution failures and famines, including different aspects of a technique
BEFORE the Great Famine of 1312–1317, known today as isorhythm (from
c.1320 The Tournai Mass is and the Black Death killed up to the Greek for “same rhythm”),
the first known Mass that uses 60 percent of Europe’s population. which aimed to give structure
polyphony—“many sounds.” Such extreme social, economic, to extended compositions.
and environmental upheaval shook
c.1350 The Toulouse Mass religious certainties. Scholars,
assembles polyphonic such as the French scientist-cleric
Mass movements arranged Nicole Oresme (c.1320–1382), began
from existing motets (short, to envision a more complex
unaccompanied choral pieces). universe than the faith-based
view of the natural world. Music,
AFTER already embracing polyphony,
1415–1421 The Old Hall was also influenced by this way
Manuscript contains several of thinking and exploded into
polyphonic settings of the new metrical complexity when
Kyrie to suit the English Oresme’s fellow Frenchman, the
fashion for elaboration of mathematician-composer Philippe
that section of the Mass. de Vitry (1291–1361), devised a
1440s Missa Caput is an early precise method to notate rhythm.
Mass by an English composer
A new order of rhythm
using a cantus firmus (“fixed
The new style became known
song”) around which other as Ars nova after de Vitry’s treatise
melodies are based. It includes Ars nova notandi (“The New Art
a bass voice below that of Musicians illuminate a 1316
of Notation”), published in 1322. manuscript of Le Roman de Fauvel,
the tenor—one of the first Vitry composed vocal pieces to a French poem by Gervais du Bus,
compositions with a bass part. demonstrate the novel notation which is interspersed with some
in the form of motets (polyphonic of the first Ars nova music.
EARLY MUSIC 1000–1400 37
See also: Magnus liber organi 28–31 ■ Missa l’homme armée 42 ■ Missa Pange
lingua 43 ■ Canticum Canticorum 46–51 ■ Monteverdi’s Vespers 64–69

(“even more subtle art”). Ars nova

had become established and
went on to form the basis for the
development of rhythmic notation
in Western music.
Certain disciples of the
new art are preoccupied Changing the Mass
with their measured De Vitry’s ideas found perhaps
dividing up of beats … We their greatest flowering in the
forbid these methods. music of Guillaume de Machaut,
Pope John XXII a 14th-century composer and Guillaume de Machaut
poet. Machaut used the same
isorhythmic techniques in his own Born in the Champagne
motets and in the Kyrie, Sanctus, region of France around 1300,
Agnus Dei, and Ite, missa est Machaut spent much of his
movements of his Messe de Notre life in and around the nearby
Dame, the first known setting of city of Reims. After taking
Vitry took a series of notes in the polyphonic music for a complete holy orders, in 1323 he joined
tenor voice (called the color) and Mass cycle by a single composer. the household of John of
applied a rhythmic pattern (called As well as using isorhythm to Luxembourg, King of Bohemia,
a talea) to it. The talea (rhythm) unify elements of the Mass, traveling with him around
was usually shorter than the color Machaut also employed a plainsong Eastern Europe and Italy as
his chaplain and secretary.
(melody) so it might require several cantus firmus (“fixed song”) as a
Through King John, Machaut
cycles of the talea to equal one linking melody for each movement,
acquired lucrative benefices
repetition of the color. from which other melodies develop, as canon of the cathedrals at
The Church was not enamored and added a contratenor to raise Verdun in 1330, Arras in 1332,
of Ars nova, and Pope John XXII the number of voices from three and in Reims in 1337.
condemned it in a decree of 1323. (the traditional number) to a richer After King John’s death
The clergy were alarmed by the and more expansive four. at the Battle of Crécy in 1346,
style’s role in the secularization Machaut secured his artistic Machaut found further
of the once purely sacred motet, heritage by carefully managing his patronage from Bonne of
which was now appropriated as a own output, collecting his works Luxembourg, the second
way to comment on events of the in manuscripts that he compiled daughter of King John the
day. The satirical poem Le roman during his lifetime. Besides Blind, and Charles II, King
de Fauvel (c. 1316), for example, his importance as a composer, of Navarre in Spain. The
contains 130 musical works, Machaut was one of the greatest composer’s final years were
including five motets by de Vitry. French poets of the medieval spent in Reims, overseeing
the compilation of his works.
Despite the religious opposition, period, producing extensive poetic
He died in 1377 and was
the precision of the new notation narratives in the form of lais (lines buried in Reims cathedral.
opened the door to experiments of verse with eight syllables) and
in rhythm and meter. These can dits (verse without music). He
be heard in the intricate and also developed shorter poetic Other key works
shifting rhythms of the songs of genres with repeated phrases,
c.1330s Douce dame jolie
the Italians Matteo da Perugia or refrains, such as the ballade,
and Philippus de Caserta and the rondeau, and virelai, which became c.1340s Rose, liz, printemps,
French composer Baude Cordier popular vehicles of expression verdure (rondeau)
(all working around 1400), in a style for poets and composers of c.1340s Voir dit
that is now known as Ars subtilior subsequent generations. ■

Missa Rex seculorum is Franco-Flemish Thomas Tallis’s

written as a cantus firmus composer Josquin 40-part motet
Mass in the influential Desprez sets music to Spem in alium, is
English style, attributed the Ordinary of the composed, featuring
either to John Dunstaple Mass in his Missa eight choirs of five
or Leonel Power. Pange lingua. voices each.

C.1430 C.1515 C.1570

C.1460 1568 1572

Guillaume Dufay Italian composer and Spanish composer

composes the Mass diplomat Alessandro Tomás Luis de
L’Homme armé, Striggio premieres Victoria writes his
employing the third his motet Ecce first collection of
interval in the scale to beatam lucem in motets while working
create a sweet sound. Munich, Germany. in Rome.

he cultural movement plainchant melody. Echoing medieval times was being
known as the Renaissance the Renaissance trend toward challenged, and in 1517 Martin
emerged in Italy as early increasing secularization, he Luther triggered the Reformation.
as the 14th century. However, a started to use secular melodies Much of northern Europe converted
distinctively Renaissance style of instead of plainchant as a basis for to the Protestant Church, which
music did not manifest itself until his Masses, which were in a richly had a very different attitude to
some years later. It first flourished expressive polyphonic style. He and music for their services, preferring
in the Netherlands, at the court other composers at the Burgundian simple hymns and melodies for
of Philip the Good of Burgundy court, including Gilles Binchois, the congregation to sing rather
(1396–1467). The composers there, Johannes Ockeghem, and one of than polyphonic Masses sung only
although Franco-Flemish by birth, the finest composers of the early by the choir. Such music became
were cosmopolitan by nature. The Renaissance, Josquin Desprez, did the foundation of a distinctly
leading light of the Franco-Flemish not restrict themselves to sacred Germanic musical tradition.
school, Guillaume Dufay, inspired music and also wrote secular The Reformation had, however,
by the Ars Nova polyphony that motets and chansons. provoked a reaction in the Catholic
he had heard while in Italy, found world—the Counter-Reformation—
a way to break with the medieval New challenge in which the Church defended
style and began to redefine The Franco-Flemish school of some of its practices while
Renaissance music. polyphony dominated the music examining and reforming others.
One of Dufay’s innovations of the early Renaissance, but in One of the things that came under
was his use of the cantus firmus, the 16th century, things changed scrutiny was the music for church
the technique of composing dramatically. The power that the services. Many in the Catholic
a polyphonic piece around a Catholic Church had wielded in Church were uncomfortable
RENAISSANCE 1400–1600 41

William Byrd composes Venetian composer Thomas Weelkes

Great Service for use on Giovanni Bassano pens O care, thou wilt
state occasions at publishes his four-part despatch me as part
Her Majesty’s Chapel collection Ricercate, passaggi of his most famous
Royal at Hampton et cadentie, to be played in work—his collection
Court Palace. the style of an étude. of madrigals.

C.1580–1590 1585 1600

1584 1597 1604

Giovanni Pierluigi da Italian organist John Dowland’s

Palestrina writes the Giovanni Lachrimae uses
Canticum Canticorum, a Gabrieli uses dissonance to
collection of motets based loud and soft conjure an
on excerpts from the dynamics in Sonata atmosphere of
biblical Song of Songs. pian’ e forte. melancholy.

with the complex polyphony that In England, it was adopted by either in consorts of instruments,
had become fashionable, as so composers such as Thomas such as viols or recorders, or for
many voices singing different Tallis and William Byrd. solo keyboard instruments, such
lines of melody made the words as the harpsichord. Thanks to
unintelligible. Composers were Instrumental music the development of a mechanical
told to moderate their style, It was not just church music that technique for printing, sheet music
precipitating the adoption of a was changing. By the end of the was readily available, and the new
relatively simple polyphony that 14th century, traveling minstrels style spread through Europe.
avoided the sometimes dissonant had all but disappeared thanks Madrigals, for small groups of
harmonies that occur in polyphonic to the ravages of the Black Death. singers, became a popular form
music and emphasized the clarity They gravitated instead to the of home entertainment, especially
of the words. This clearer and aristocratic courts, where they in Italy and England.
sweeter-sounding style characterized provided entertainment, singing However, composers and the
what came to be regarded as the chansons and playing instrumental public were experimenting with
musical “High Renaissance.” music for dancing and for civic another form by the end of the
Among the first composers to ceremonies, such as the installation 16th century, and a dramatic new
adopt the style was Giovanni of a new Doge in Venice. style was heralded by the works
Pierluigi da Palestrina, who wrote In a more secularized society, of Giovanni Gabrieli in Venice. The
numerous motets and Masses for instrumental music became last great works to be composed
churches in Rome. Composers from popular not only in the courts in the Renaissance style were
across Europe gravitated to Italy but also among an increasingly Tomás Luis de Victoria’s Officium
to absorb the new sound, before educated middle class, creating defunctorum and John Dowland’s
taking it back to their native lands. a demand for music to play at home, Lachrimae, fitting ends to an era. ■



rom Franco-Flemish layering of voices. Following the
IN CONTEXT composer Guillaume Dufay lead of English musicians, who had
onward, the harmonic already embraced the use of third
language of music begins to sound intervals, Dufay allows the music
New harmonies
more familiar to modern listeners. to dwell on the interval’s sweet,
BEFORE Earlier composers had followed the less hollow sound. This extended
1430 Englishman Leonel harmonic ideals worked out by the the harmonic vocabulary and
Power composes Alma ancient Greek philosopher and created room for more voices. ■
redemptoris mater, possibly mathematician Pythagoras, based
the first Mass to use an on the “perfect” consonance of
identified cantus firmus—a octaves and fourth and fifth
“set song”—as the basis for intervals. Dufay’s innovation was
its melodic framework. to use chords featuring the third
interval in the scale as a harmony
1430 Rex seculorum is written note (mi in the sol-fa singing scale,
as a cantus firmus Mass in the following do and re). Historically,
English style, either by John the harmony of third intervals had
Dunstable or Leonel Power. been seen as somewhat dissonant,
to be used sparingly.
1570 Italian Giovanni Secular sounds in church
Palestrina publishes a five- Dufay’s masses made much use of
voice setting of the Mass on the cantus firmus technique, which
the L’homme armé melody. built a piece around an already
existing melody, such as a well-
1999 Welsh composer Karl known sacred composition or a
Jenkins incorporates the plainchant. In L’homme armé,
L’homme armé folk song into Master of melody Guillaume Dufay
Dufay chose a popular French folk stands beside a portable organ in an
the first and final movements song with a distinctive melody that illumination from the 15th-century
of his Mass The Armed Man. lent itself well to a polyphonic poetic work, Le champion des dames.

See also: Micrologus 24–25 ■ Magnus liber organi 28–31 ■ Missa Pange
lingua 43 ■ Canticum Canticorum 46–51 ■ St. Matthew Passion 98–105
RENAISSANCE 1400–1600 43


osquin Desprez, born in Desprez’s contemporary, the
IN CONTEXT France around 1450, was Italian printer Ottaviano Petrucci,
an early beneficiary of the perfected a method for printing
printing press. Until the invention music in three passes: the staves,
Dissemination of music
of the technology in the mid-15th followed by notes, and then the
BEFORE century, music was copied out by words. Petrucci’s first publication,
c.1415–1420 The largest hand, by professional copyists. Odhecaton, a selection of nearly
collection of 14th-century According to the 16th-century 100 secular pieces, mostly by
Italian music, the Squarcialupi Swiss music theorist Heinrich Franco-Flemish composers,
Codex illuminated manuscript, Glarean, Desprez “published his including Desprez, Alexander
is compiled in Florence. works after much deliberation Agricola, Antoine Busnois, and
and with manifold corrections.” Jacob Obrecht, appeared in 1501.
1457 The Codex Psalmorum, This care and attention made To meet the challenge of a first
produced in the German his compositions a favorite in the collection of polyphonic music for
city of Mainz, is the first emerging music publishing market. the Mass with underlayed text,
printed book to contain Petrucci chose to devote his Misse
music, although the notation (1502) to works solely by Desprez.
is handwritten.
A late Mass
Missa Pange lingua was one
c.1520 English printer John
Now that Josquin is dead, of Desprez’s final compositions,
Rastell produces the first taking its central melody from
music where the staves, he is putting out more works
than when he was alive! a hymn for the Feast of Corpus
notes, and text are printed Christi written by the 13th-century
in a single impression. Georg Forster
German composer (1510–1568) Italian friar and theologian Thomas
1710 The Statute of Anne, Aquinas. The work was not ready
enacted in Britain, gives in time for Petrucci’s final book
authors copyright over their of masses in 1514, but it survived
printed work for the first time, in manuscript form and was
a right finally extended to finally published in 1532. ■
music composition in 1777.
See also: Messe de Notre Dame 36–37 ■ Missa l’homme armé 42 ■

Canticum Canticorum 46–51 ■ St. Matthew Passion 98–105



he composition of the great mission from the Medici court in
IN CONTEXT 40-voice motet Spem in Florence, bringing with him the
alium by Thomas Tallis parts for his recent compositions
marked a pinnacle of early English for 40 or more independent voices.
Large-scale choral music
Renaissance choral music and These were musical manifestations
BEFORE was an inspired response to a of influence and power, and some
c.1500 French composer continental challenge. In 1567, the wondered what the result might
Antoine Brumel writes a composer Alessandro Striggio had be if an English composer were
Mass in 12 parts, Missa Et arrived in England on a diplomatic to attempt such a composition.
ecce terrae motus, known They turned to Tallis, who had
as the “Earthquake Mass.” been the foremost court composer
under four monarchs—Henry VIII,
1568 Alessandro Striggio’s Edward VI, Mary I, and Elizabeth I.
motet Ecce beatam lucem for Tallis’s Roman Catholic patron,
40 voices with instruments Thomas Howard, Fourth Duke of
is performed in Munich. Norfolk, commissioned the work.
AFTER A long choral tradition
1682 Heinrich Biber composes The English had long excelled
his Missa Salisburgensis in 53 at choral music. In the 15th century,
parts arranged in six choirs of John Dunstable established the
singers, strings, recorders, contenance angloise (“English
cornetts, and sackbuts, with manner”), a distinctive, richly
two ensembles of trumpets harmonic polyphonic style.
and timpani, and at least Flemish music theorist Johannes
two organs—probably the Tinctoris described Dunstable
largest work in the Colossal as “the fountain and source” of
Baroque style, the name musical innovation.
given to large-scale, poly- A generation before Tallis,
choral works. Robert Fayrfax was the leading
A chapel choir sings from sheet
music displayed on a lectern in the English composer and a favorite
frontispiece of Practica musicae by of Henry VIII. He was the organist
the Italian music theorist Franchini and Master of the Choristers at
di Gaffurio, published in 1512. St. Albans Abbey from 1498 to 1502
RENAISSANCE 1400–1600 45
See also: Messe de Notre Dame 36–37 ■ Missa l’homme armé 42 ■ Missa Pange lingua 43 ■ Canticum Canticorum 46–51 ■

Great Service 52–53 ■ St. Matthew Passion 98–105

and composed the complex five- statement of the Nunc dimittis

voice Mass O quam glorifica for chant running through the work
his doctorate in 1504. adds to its impact.

Masters of sacred music An extraordinary response

In the early 16th century, John The Duke hearing of the Thomas Tallis was a member of the
Taverner emerged as a significant song [Spem in alium] took his Chapel Royal when Striggio visited
composer of English sacred music chain of gold from of his neck and unfurled his multipart scores.
after his appointment in 1526 as and put it about Tallis his The Italian’s works were in the
Master of the Choristers at Thomas neck and gave it him. polychoral style, with voices
Wolsey’s newly founded Cardinal Thomas Wateridge grouped into self-contained choirs
College, Oxford (the future Christ Letter (1611) that came together in a grand
Church). There he composed three sound at crucial points in the score.
six-voice Masses, Corona spinea, Tallis’s response in his motet
Gloria tibi Trinitas, and O Michael. Spem in alium was quite different:
The tenor part from the “In nomine it dipped back into the soaring
Domini” section of the Benedictus sound of Taverner’s and Sheppard’s
of his Gloria tibi Trinitas became music to create an unmistakably
widely used by other composers as Protestant monarchs. He was the English piece. The 40 voices of
the basis of vocal and instrumental choirmaster at Magdalen College, Spem in alium seldom gather in the
arrangements. This was the origin Oxford, for three years, and then, same groupings, but each follow
of the English fantasia genre known from 1552, a Gentleman of the their own paths. One voice may
as In nomine, which was popular Chapel Royal under Edward VI maintain a steady pace on the beat
until the late 17th century. and Mary I. He died on the eve but will have a counterpart that
Taverner moved back home of Elizabeth’s succession in 1558. achieves something similar in
to Lincolnshire after Wolsey’s Much of Sheppard’s Latin-texted syncopation, adding a scintillation
downfall and produced little more church music survives. His to the steady voice. Like a gradual
music. John Sheppard was perhaps responsory Media vita for six murmuration of birds, the voices
more adept at tailoring his output voices is a Lenten work of gather, separate, and finally
to the tastes of Roman Catholic and monumental status: the slow assemble to exhilarating effect. ■

Thomas Tallis Little is known of Tallis’s early life, was also one of the first to
but by 1532 he was the organist set English words to psalms,
of Dover Priory, on England’s canticles, and anthems.
south coast. After the priory’s Centuries later, his setting of
dissolution three years later, he Psalm 2 was used by Vaughan
worked at the church of St. Mary- Williams for his Fantasia on a
at-Hill in London, Waltham Abbey, Theme of Thomas Tallis (1910).
and Canterbury Cathedral, before Tallis died peacefully at
becoming a member of the choir home in 1585. It is thought he
(“Gentleman”) of Henry VIII’s was around 80 years of age.
Chapel Royal, where he later
became the organist. Other key works
Queen Elizabeth granted Tallis
and William Byrd a patent to print 1560–1569 The Lamentations
music in 1572, and in 1575 they of Jeremiah
jointly published Cantiones sacrae, 1567 Nine psalm settings for
a collection of Latin motets. Tallis Archbishop Parker’s Psalter.

he Protestant reformer instrumental brilliance of Roman
IN CONTEXT Martin Luther influenced Catholic music. Its simple appeal
sacred music not only in spoke directly to many who felt
the new Protestant churches, but alienated by the Church’s love
Simplification of polyphony
also, as a result of the Counter- of wealth and lavish ritual.
BEFORE Reformation, in Roman Catholic Popular, accessible music
c.1540 In the motet Inviolata, rites. The Council of Trent, an became a potent vehicle for
integra et casta es Maria, the ecumenical meeting of senior spreading ideas and rallying
Italian composer Costanzo members of the Church in the support and was also the hallmark
Festa uses canonic Flemish northern Italian town of Trent of services in the new reformed
style to great effect. Festa was between 1545 and 1563, issued church. Luther and the French
much admired and imitated guidelines for sacred music that Protestant reformer John Calvin
by Palestrina. restrained dissonance, curbed encouraged the singing of hymns
excessive ornamentation, and to tunes that everyone knew.
1545 Franco-Flemish refined liturgical polyphony. The
composer Nicolas Gombert composer who responded most Old traditions
publishes Musae Jovis, a exquisitely to this new call for This emphasis on simplicity was in
deliberately archaic piece, as purity was Giovanni da Palestrina. sharp contrast to Roman Catholic
a tribute to Josquin Desprez. practice. The less educated would
New demands have had the greatest difficulty in
AFTER Luther was an accomplished singer following the Masses in a cathedral
1610 Claudio Monteverdi and loved music, which, together or ducal chapel of the time. This
returns to polyphony and with the power of the printing was a problem that the Roman
the stile antico (“old style”) press to disseminate his ideas, was Catholic churchman, humanist,
with Missa in illo tempore. key to the success of his reforms. and scholar Bernardino Cirillo
In 1524, his first published hymn, recognized. In 1549, he wrote:
c. 1742 J.S. Bach performs his “Ein newes Lied wir haeben an” “In our times musicians have put
arrangement of Palestrina’s (“We’re raising a new song”) was a all their work and effort into the
Missa sine nomine (1590). street ballad about the death at the composition of fugues (where the
stake in Brussels of two adherents voices make staggered entries), so
to Protestant reform. Set to a that while one voice sings ‘Sanctus’
familiar tune, it was far removed another has ‘Sabaoth,’ and yet one
from the rich polyphony and more sings ‘Gloria tua.’ Howling,

Giovanni da Palestrina Probably born in the Italian dedicated his Missa Ecce
town of Palestrina in 1525, sacerdos magnus to Julius in
Giovanni Pierluigi da Palestrina 1554. The next year he gained
had strong family connections to a place in the papal choir at the
nearby Rome. After his mother’s Sistine Chapel and went on to
death when he was about 11, he hold several top musical posts.
became a chorister at the city’s His music includes madrigals
Santa Maria Maggiore church. and more than 105 masses and
In his late teens, Palestrina 50 motets.
returned to his hometown to
become the organist at the Other key works
cathedral. When the Bishop of
Palestrina, Cardinal Giovanni 1562 Missa Papae Marcelli
Maria del Monte, was elected 1570 Missa brevis
Pope Julius III in 1550, the 1572 Missa Tu es Petrus
composer went back to Rome as 1584 Pulchra es (motet)
director of the Capella Giulia: he 1590 Stabat Mater (motet)
RENAISSANCE 1400–1600 49
See also: Messe de Notre Dame 36–37 ■ Missa l’homme armé 42 ■ Missa Pange lingua 43 ■ Spem in alium 44 ■

Great Service 52–53 ■ Ein feste Burg ist unser Gott 78–79

bellowing, and stammering, they

more closely resemble cats in
January than flowers in May.”
The reform of notation in the
14th century had, for the first time,
given composers the ability to set
down almost any musical idea with
precision. Since then, the Catholic
Church had at times encouraged,
and at other times censured, their
tendency to embellish music and
add ever-increasing degrees of
complexity and subtlety.
At the end of the 15th century,
the daily Mass was usually sung
to plainchant. However, if the
institution hosting the service had
the resources, the Ordinary of the
Mass (the Kyrie, Gloria, Credo,
Sanctus, Benedictus, and Agnus
Dei) might be treated to many
varieties of embellishment. In the
1490s, several writers noted the
presence of a cornett player at
High Mass as part of the chapel
of Philip IV of Burgundy. They do
not mention what he played; his
mere presence, as a wind player
in the chapel, was enough to be so that by the 1530s their presence The Council of Trent met 25 times
remarkable. Wind players, who had at a polyphonic High Mass became in 18 years to discuss its response to
previously improvised, began to less unusual to congregants. the “heresies” of Protestantism and
to clarify Catholic doctrine and liturgy.
hone their skills in reading music While the contribution of wind
and accompanying such choirs, players to church music would have
been impressive, the resonance of Cirillo was not always uppermost
a brass ensemble, if badly handled, in a composer’s mind. Franco-
might hinder the clear delivery of Flemish musicians often paraded
the text. The Spanish composer their skill in handling complex
Francisco Guerrero encouraged his polyphonic structures in
cornett players to improvise florid compositions of extraordinary
[Palestrina’s] Stabat ornaments but to take turns, as virtuosity. In a Mass in four parts,
Mater … captivates the “when they ornament together it for instance, certain sections might
human soul. makes such absurdities as would be written in the manuscript
Franz Liszt stop up the ears.” with only three parts notated, so
that the singer had to “find” the
Little thought for the text fourth part by following the logic of
Even when a Mass was sung as the other three parts—effectively
unaccompanied polyphony, the solving a riddle. The composer
clarity of expression favored by might make the singers’ job even ❯❯
Musical textures
Degrees of
composers, aided
by more precise
notation methods
and encouraged
by wealthy
patrons, produced Monophony Homophony Polyphony
increasingly Sung by a single singer Melody supported by chordal Several parts, which are
multilayered music. or single choir in unison. harmony and solid bass in the independent and of equal
Examples include plainchant same rhythm. Often used in importance. Forms include the
and most troubadour songs. the singing of hymns. canon, fugue, and motet.

harder by writing canonic voices clear that reconciliation between with polyphony and with organ,
that moved at different speeds from Rome and the Reformers would let nothing profane be intermingled,
the original. The tour de force here be impossible. but only hymns and divine praises.”
is Johannes Ockeghem’s Missa Yet the Protestant reforms had Composers needed to respond to
prolationum, in which each of forced the Roman Catholic Church this new directive.
the four movements of the Mass to introduce changes to doctrine
explores a different canonic and practice, which included Enhancing the words
scenario. The interval separating purifying its sacred music. In 1562, Giovanni Pierluigi da Palestrina
the voices of the canon becomes a resolution of the Council of Trent had published his first book of
progressively longer in each laid down guidelines for musicians. Masses in 1554 and had returned
consecutive movement This stated: “All things should to Santa Maria Maggiore, where
Josquin Desprez’s Missa indeed be so ordered that the he had first served as a choirboy, as
l’homme armé super voces Masses, whether they be celebrated maestro di cappella (music director)
musicales provides only one with chant or chorally, may reach in 1561. The story runs that he
line of music for an elegant and the ears of listeners and gently anticipated complete papal
varied three-voice setting of the penetrate their hearts, when censure. Fearing the reduction
second repeat of the Agnus Dei. everything is executed clearly and of music in Catholic liturgy to
The result of three voices singing at the right speed. In the case of plainchant alone (a reform a few
polyphony woven from a single those Masses, which are celebrated zealots had called for), he stood
melody sung at different speeds is ready with a Mass in four voices to
extraordinary for its audacity, but demonstrate that polyphony could
the emphasis is not on easily serve the text in a way that would
discernible words. please even the harshest critics.
The Missa Papae Marcelli does
An official response The Renaissance fostered the appear to date from 1562, the
The Catholic Church dealt with the growth of personality, an idea year of the Council’s resolution
mounting crisis precipitated by fundamentally opposed to the concerning music. It is said that
Luther’s reforms with a series selflessness and objectivity the cardinals found this Mass
of meetings to decide what the especially pleasing, approval that
of the old polyphony.
official response should be. After gave Palestrina status as the savior
many delays, the Council convened
Zoë Kendrick of polyphony. It seems, in fact, that
Biographer of Palestrina
in the town of Trent in northern the Mass was probably written for
Italy in 1545. By the time of the Holy Week and complied with Pope
final meeting (1562–1563) overseen Marcellus II’s desire for a restrained
by Pope Pius IV, positions had setting that could be clearly
reached a deadlock, and it was understood in mind.
RENAISSANCE 1400–1600 51
Palestrina’s work fulfils much of Palestrina was even more daring. The German states were greatly
what was expected of polyphony While he referred to it as a sacred split in their religious allegiance;
in the era after the Council of Trent, piece, he unashamedly embraced the Southern principalities still
with his targeted approach to a more passionate style, explaining adhered to Rome. Duke Albrecht V
dissonance, clarity of declamation, in his dedication to Pope Gregory of Bavaria, a leading figure of the
and refined command of polyphonic XIII that this was in keeping with German Counter-Reformation, for
writing. Yet Palestrina did not shy its subject matter. example, employed many musicians
away from taking the new precepts including Orlande de Lassus, a
to their limits: his Missa repleatur Elsewhere in Europe Flemish composer renowned as
os meum in five voices, published Palestrina was one bright star in a a child for the beauty of his singing
in 1570, shows complete control constellation of great polyphonists voice. Under generous ducal
of the virtuoso “canonic” style of the Counter-Reformation. In patronage, Lassus directed the
favored by the Franco-Flemish Spain, the orthodox zeal of Philip II Hofkapelle, combining voices,
composers but with such clear encouraged a strong school of violins, viols, lute, a variety of
handling of the text that even polyphonic composition in its brass and woodwind instruments,
Cirillo might have approved. cathedrals. Tomás Luis de Victoria, and even a rackett (a newly
In his Canticum Canticorum, a prolific composer of sacred works, invented, gently buzzing bass
composed in 1584, an acclaimed was renowned for the intense reed instrument). Such a large
cycle of 29 motets based on the drama of his music. He had been ensemble of almost orchestral
Old Testament’s “Song of Solomon,” a choirboy and organist in Ávila, ambition would have been highly
before going to Rome, where he unusual for the time. If the Catholic
Palestrina spent five years as may have studied with Palestrina. Church looked askance at such
maestro di cappella (music director) Later returning to Spain, he spent instrumentation, its guidelines
at St. John Lateran in Rome, depicted most of his working life at Madrid’s were obviously open to a degree
in this 17th-century Dutch print. convent of the Descalzas Reales. of local interpretation. ■



lthough William Byrd is Mary died in 1558, Elizabeth I
IN CONTEXT believed to have been a returned England to Protestantism.
Catholic for most, if not all, However, Elizabeth was tolerant of
of his life, he composed music for Catholicism among the country’s
English Protestant
the Anglican Church in addition to gentry if they were loyal and
church music
motets and Masses in Latin for the practiced it discreetly. She
BEFORE Catholic rite. He lived through three sanctioned the use of Latin for
1558 John Sheppard eras of religious revisionism in services at the Chapel Royal, and
composes his Second Service, England. Under Henry VIII and then
a setting for five voices of the Edward VI, the country had been
The seeds of Protestantism in
“full” service (rather than Protestant since 1534, but in 1553 England were sown by Martin Luther,
the customary short service Mary Tudor acceded to the throne the architect of the Reformation in
comprising only settings of the with her husband Philip II of Spain Germany, shown here playing music
and reinstated Catholicism. When with his children.
Magnificat and Nunc dimittis)
and precursor to Byrd’s
10-voice Great Service.
c.1570 William Mundy
composes his Evening Service
In medio chori for a choir in
nine parts, expanding to 11
parts at times.
c.1620 Thomas Weelkes
publishes Evensong for Seven
Voices, a Great Service in up
to 10 parts.
c.1630 Thomas Tomkins’s
Third or Great Service for 10
voices is the grandest work
in the genre.
RENAISSANCE 1400–1600 53
See also: Missa l’homme armé 42 ■ Missa Pange lingua 43 ■ Canticum
Canticorum 46–51 ■ Ein feste Burg ist unser Gott 78–79

the first publication of Latin “sacred

songs” in 1575 was lukewarm,
perhaps because of the Catholic
sentiment of some of the texts.
In spite of his Catholicism,
To a man thinking about Byrd’s loyalty to queen and country
divine things … the most appears to have taken precedence
fitting measures come, over his religious adherence. In
I know not how, as if by thanksgiving for the victory of the
their own free will. English fleet over the Spanish
William Byrd Armada in 1588, Elizabeth William Byrd
composed a song titled “Look,
and Bow Down Thine Ear, O Lord.” Born into a large merchant
It is thought that she chose William family in London in 1540,
Byrd to set it to music. Although William Byrd most likely
the anthem is now lost, it would gained his musical training
have been a clear demonstration as one of 10 boy choristers
composers were permitted to of her high regard for him. at London’s St. Paul’s Church
use Latin as well as English when (the Gothic predecessor of
writing liturgical music. Last Anglican work St. Paul’s Cathedral), before
Byrd flourished under In 1580, Byrd published his going on to sing for Catholic
Elizabeth’s patronage. By 1565, Great Service, his last work for ceremonies at the Chapel
Royal under Queen Mary.
he was the organist and master the Anglican rite. A monumental
Later, in 1572, during
at Lincoln Cathedral, where he composition, the Great Service
Elizabeth I’s reign, Byrd
produced his Short Service, comprises seven sections for an became a Gentleman of the
settings for Matins, Communion, Anglican celebration of the mass Chapel Royal, a post he held
and Evensong, amounting to the in English for two five-voice choirs. for more than 20 years.
greater part of music in English for It is not known if Byrd wrote his While Byrd composed
the Anglican liturgy. Later, when Great Service with any particular much secular music, including
Byrd was a Gentleman of the choir or occasion in mind. However, works for virginals, he is best
Chapel Royal, Elizabeth granted the sheer scale of the piece and the known for his religious music.
Byrd and his fellow composer technical requirement of the writing In 1575, he and Thomas
Thomas Tallis, who was also a would have put it beyond the reach Tallis published a first volume
Catholic, a monopoly on music of all but the largest choirs. Some of Latin motets, Cantiones
production in England. hear it as a farewell to colleagues, Sacrae (Sacred Songs). After
or a last act of contrition to a Tallis’s death, Byrd continued
God and queen monarch who had chosen to the series with two volumes of
his own Cantiones in 1589 and
Concern about Byrd’s religious overlook Byrd’s Catholicism.
1591. Byrd published his last
adherence did become an issue, In 1605, a messenger carrying work, Psalmes, Songs, and
however, in 1577, when Byrd’s wife, a copy of Byrd’s newly published Sonnets in 1611, 12 years
Julian, was accused of failing to Gradualia (a collection of settings before his death in 1623.
attend a service by the Bishop of of movements of the Mass for the
London, John Aylmer, a rigorous Catholic church year, for three
Other key works
enforcer of the Act of Uniformity to five voices) was apprehended
of 1559, which aimed to unify the and thrown in Newgate gaol. 1589 Cantiones sacrae, Book 1
Anglican Church. From then on, The composer, however, avoided 1591 Cantiones sacrae, Book 2
Byrd did not make a secret of his imprisonment, facing only pressure 1605 Gradualia
Catholic faith, and the reception for in the courts and heavy fines. ■



n 1544, at a time when England transalpina, a collection of Italian
IN CONTEXT was hungry for Continental madrigals reworked with English
fashions, the composer and texts, whetting an appetite for
poet Thomas Whythorne toured homegrown songs sung in parts.
Europe and wrote sonnets that
BEFORE he later set to music in Songs, the Illustrating the words
1571 Thomas Whythorne first book of English madrigals. Many English collections followed,
publishes Songes, the first In Italy, the masters of the often arranged for voices and viols
collection of English madrigals. madrigal style included Philippe to satisfy a growing middle-class
Verdelot and Jacob Arcadelt, whose taste for after-dinner music
1594 Thomas Morley works appeared in the earliest book making. In 1595, Thomas Morley
publishes his First Book of of Italian madrigals, published in introduced the ballett, a rustic
Madrigals to Four Voices, Rome in 1530. In 1588, Nicholas madrigal with a fa-la-la chorus
the first collection to use the Yonge published his Musica in imitation of an instrumental
Italian description of the style. refrain. Thomas Weelkes, among
others, began to use musical effects
AFTER to illustrate the text—known as
1612 Orlando Gibbons “word painting.” In O Care, Thou
publishes his First Set of Wilt Despatch Me (1600), Weelkes
Madrigals and Motets; it describes the poet’s disturbed
includes “The Silver Swan,” Madrigal … music made state of mind in sliding semitones
a short madrigal but one of upon songs and sonnets … (chromaticism) at odds with the
the best known today. to men of understanding cheerful fa-la-la refrain.
most delightful. In Italy, the madrigals of Carlo
1620–1649 The fashion for Thomas Morley Gesualdo da Venosa use extreme
the English madrigal waned,
harmonic shifts and dissonance to
giving way to the lute song, paint words, while the Madrigali
and the style vanished with guerrieri et amorosi (1638) of
the establishment of the Claudio Monteverdi lift the form
Commonwealth of England to theatrical heights. ■
from 1649.
See also: Le jeu de Robin et de Marion 32–35 ■ Musique de table 106 ■

Die schöne Müllerin 150–155

RENAISSANCE 1400–1600 55



he Basilica of St. Mark’s Gabrieli, appointed organist of
IN CONTEXT in Venice provides a St. Mark’s in 1566, and his nephew
dramatic setting for Giovanni Gabrieli, employed the
composers exploring instrumental Venetian ensembles of pifferi
Renaissance wind bands
timbre and the use of space. The (civic wind players) both to
BEFORE Flemish composer Adrian Willaert reinforce a vocal ensemble or for
c.1480 A choir book prepared was the first to exploit its potential purely instrumental purposes.
as a gift for Isabella d’Esté on when he became musical director
the occasion of her marriage, there in 1527. His chori spezzati Dramatic impact
contains part of the repertoire (“split choirs”) style divided the In the past, civic trumpeters had
of the wind ensemble of the ensemble around the galleries, mostly just sounded the curfew and
Duke of Ferrara, one of the giving performances a greater played for dances. As Renaissance
most accomplished of the day. theatricality. Learning the chori cities and nation-states jostled
spezzati style from Willaert, Andrea for power, the role of their
1582 Florentio Maschera instrumentalists became more
publishes the first collection of important. Music making of the
canzoni, Italian instrumental highest order was encouraged, and
pieces for violins, or cornetts in this Venice became preeminent.
and sackbuts. Giovanni Gabrieli’s Sonata pian’
e forte (1597), for six trombones,
AFTER a cornett, and a viola da braccio
1585–1598 Venetian (early violin), was the first work for
cornettist Giovanni Bassano specific brass instruments and the
publishes his book of passaggi, first to include dynamic indications
virtuosic ornamented versions of loudness and softness for the
of motets and popular songs. players, adding dramatic light and
Renaissance recorders were often
used to accompany songs. This image shade effects. In the shimmering
1661 In England, the shadows of St. Mark’s, such an
from Musica getutscht (1511), a treatise
“Sagbutts and Cornetts” of the intense sonata might accompany
on music theory by Sebastian Virdung,
Royal Wind Musick play suites illustrates fingering on the instrument. the consecration of the Host. ■
by Matthew Locke for the
coronation of Charles II. See also: Canticum Canticorum 46–51 ■ Water Music 84–89 ■ The Four
Seasons 92–97 ■ St. Matthew Passion 98–105 ■ Elijah 170–173


usical instruments plectrums that then plucked
IN CONTEXT developed rapidly from strings. Zwolle also described the
the late 14th century dulce melos, a keyboard instrument
onward, as musicians refined their in which the strings were struck by
skills and emulated court style to metal mallets, the earliest recorded
instrumental music
attract patronage. The first organ use of a piano-style action.
BEFORE with pedals and 12-note chromatic
1507 Francesco Spinacino’s keyboard was recorded in the The rise of the lute
Intabulatura de lauto is German town of Halberstadt in Beyond these innovations, the more
published in Venice—the first 1361. Around 1440, while working portable lute evolved to become
printed collections for solo lute. in the Burgundian court, Dutch the emblematic instrument of the
organist Arnaut van Zwolle drew a Renaissance. Pietrobono, a much-
1545 The appointment of diagram of the earliest harpsichord, feted musician to the Este family
“Mark Anthony Gayiardell and with keys that lifted vertical pieces of Ferrara around 1450–1470, had
George Decombe, viallines” of wood, called jacks, fitted with played virtuosic streams of melody
as court musicians marks the (not unlike fast electric guitar solos)
debut of the violin in England. with a quill plectrum, while an
accompanist called a tenorista
AFTER played the slow, accompanying
1611 Giovanni Girolamo lower parts on another lute. The
Kapsberger publishes his addition of gut frets, tied around
Libro primo d’intavolatura de Blame not my lute, the neck of the lute, facilitated
lauto, music for the theorbo—a for he must sound left-hand speed and accuracy.
lute with an extended neck to Of this or that as liketh me; A more significant stylistic
hold additional bass strings. For lack of wit with change occurred when the lutenist
the lute is bound put down the plectrum. Stroking
c.1630 English composer John To give such tunes as the strings with the thumb and
Jenkins produces his pavans pleaseth me. fingers of the right hand, the
and In nomines for viol consort Thomas Wyatt soloist could play all the voices
in up to six parts, continuing of a polyphonic piece. By the late
an English interest in music for 15th century, the lute was no longer
viol consort that lasts into the simply the companion of minstrels
time of Henry Purcell. but had moved to the heart of
court music and composition.
RENAISSANCE 1400–1600 57
See also: Le jeu de Robin et de Marion 32–35 ■ Gabrieli’s Sonata pian’ e forte 55 ■ Le bourgeois gentilhomme 70–71 ■

Stamitz’s Symphony in E-flat major 116–117

Renaissance consort instruments,

including the lute and strings, are
shown in Hearing (c.1617–1618), a
collaboration between Jan Brueghel
the Elder and Paul Rubens.

(1604) develops the composer’s

own Lachrimae pavan (a dance
with stately music often treated to
instrumental elaboration) to create
seven melancholy variations, scored
for a string ensemble with solo lute.
Renaissance ensembles usually
comprised consorts of the same
instrument, but Dowland imagined
for his Lachrimae pavans either six
viols or six violins, including the
bass violin, forerunner of the cello.
The 16th-century lute at first had a lute with nine courses. England Dances like the pavan and the
six courses (a single string for the excelled in the new style of lute triple-time galliard were used by
highest note, then five pairs of playing, which was also popular keyboard players and composers
strings tuned in unison or octaves), with amateur players, including to show their skill at improvisation,
then gained extra courses in the Elizabeth I, who is shown playing usually playing “divisions”
bass called diapasons, tuned the instrument in a miniature (variations) on the repeat of a
diatonically (by steps of one tone). painted by Nicholas Hilliard. section. My Ladye Nevells Booke
Dowland composed around (1591) by the English composer
The English connection 90 works for the lute alone but also William Byrd contains 10 pavan—
By the turn of the 17th century, incorporated the instrument into galliard pairs with variations for
John Dowland was one of a number a wider ensemble, known as a the virginal, an instrument related
of composers who were writing for consort. His collection Lachrimae to the harpsichord. ■

John Dowland It has been variously claimed Although his son, the composer
that Dowland was born in 1563 in and lutenist Robert Dowland,
Westminster (London) or Dalkey described his father in 1610 as
(Ireland), and his early life remains “being now gray, and like the
obscure. He spent his late teens in Swan, but singing toward his
service to the English ambassador end,” Dowland was, within two
in France, where he embraced years, made one of the lutenists
Catholicism, later claiming that of King James I of England
this conversion prevented his and Scotland. Between that
appointment as lutenist at the appointment and his death, in
English royal court in 1594. 1625, few compositions survive.
Dowland then set off for three
years on a European tour, before Other key works
finding an appreciative patron
in Christian IV of Denmark. The 1597 Firste Booke of Songes
relationship later soured, and or Ayres
Dowland was dismissed in 1606. 1612 A Pilgrim’s Solace

The earliest surviving Jean-Baptiste Lully’s Danish-German composer Handel premieres his
opera, Jacopo Peri’s Le bourgeois gentilhomme Dieterich Buxtehude’s suite of short pieces
Euridice, is composed in satirizes social climbing organ prelude Ein feste Water Music on a
honor of King Henry IV of and the snobbish Burg ist unser Gott barge on the Thames
France and his marriage aristocracy of France greatly influences the River, hosted by
to Maria de’ Medici. under Louis XIV. chorale genre. King George I.

1600 1670 C.1690 1717

1610 1689 1714

Claudio Monteverdi’s Henry Purcell’s The publication of

Vespers incorporates opera Dido and Aeneas Arcangelo Corelli’s
polyphony and monody, relates the mythical love Twelve concerti grossi,
bridging the affair between the Queen Op. 6, establishes the
Renaissance and of Carthage and the concerto grosso as a
Baroque styles. Prince of Troy. style of composition.

he Baroque period of music accompaniment was of particular built their music on major and
started dramatically, with significance: in the recitative minor chords. Dramatic and
the performance of the sections of early opera—the freely contrasting effects were achieved
world’s first opera, Jacopo Peri’s composed expositions of the plot by varying the loudness and tempo,
Dafne, staged in Florence in 1598. that connected the arias—the voice moving the music between keys and
The opera illustrates the dramatic was accompanied by a single bass instruments, and sometimes adding
change in musical style from instrument, such as a cello, and embellishments such as trills.
polyphony to something more an instrument capable of playing The revolutionary new style
expressive—a change exploited chords, such as a harpsichord and the idea of a drama set to
to great effect in Monteverdi’s or lute. This accompaniment, music proved very popular,
Vespers, which contrasts sections known as the “basso continuo,” especially among the aristocracy
in the old and new styles. or simply continuo, became a in Italy and France, who employed
key feature of music in the Early a staff of musicians and a resident
Key developments Baroque period. composer to provide entertainment
One of the main features of the The importance of the continuo in the courts. In addition to operas,
Early Baroque period, and one that was that it provided a harmonic they performed instrumental
must have been startling at the base for the melody. While music, and in the royal court at
time, was a rejection of polyphony Renaissance music had been Versailles, Jean-Baptiste Lully
in favor of a single line of melody characterized by polyphony, the assembled an orchestra to provide
with a simple accompaniment. new style was defined by harmony. incidental music and dances for
This “monody,” as it was called, In place of interweaving melodies the performance of the latest
was an attempt to reproduce the based on the ancient Greek scales comedies by playwrights such
style of Classical Greek drama. The or modes, early Baroque composers as Molière. This form of light
BAROQUE 1600–1750 61

Antonio Vivaldi’s Georg Philipp In the last decade

Le quattro stagioni (The Telemann handles of his life, J.S. Bach
Four Seasons) is published a diverse range of writes The Art of
with accompanying musical genres in Fugue, comprising
program notes to his celebrated 14 fugues and
critical acclaim. Musique de table. four canons.

1725 1733 C.1742–1750

1717–1723 1727 1733

François Couperin, of J.S. Bach’s sacred The success of

the renowned Couperin oratorio St. Matthew Jean-Philippe
family of musicians, Passion sets Rameau’s Hippolyte
publishes four volumes of chapters 26 and 27 et Aricie challenges
harpsichord orders in the of the Gospel of the dominance of
Pièces de Clavecin. Matthew to music. Italian opera.

entertainment caught on elsewhere of the instrumental chorale prelude, itself had been hijacked, appearing
and influenced the development of a sometimes florid setting of a instead as unstaged choral works
the musical drama known as a chorale melody, usually for organ. such as the secular cantata and
“masque” in England. the sacred oratorio.
Since the Reformation, opera High and Late Baroque The Late Baroque period was
had been frowned upon by As time passed, many elements dominated by three composers
Protestants, and in the Germanic of the Early Baroque period born in Germany in 1685. The
countries, musical activity was disappeared. By about 1700, the first, Georg Philipp Telemann
largely restricted to the Church. period referred to as the “High is often overshadowed by his
Gradually, though, a distinctly Baroque” had begun. What had contemporaries but was by far
German Baroque style, very been a small accompanying group the most prolific. The second was
different from the Italian and for opera singers had taken on a George Frideric Handel, a populist
French, evolved from the chorale, life of its own as an orchestra of who made his name in England
the hymn tunes of the Lutheran stringed, woodwind, and brass with his oratorios and orchestral
Church, uniting the harmonic instruments, playing a new form of music. The third, regarded by
treatment of the new style of vocal music, the “concerto grosso,” made musicians as the greatest of the
music with some elements of the popular by Arcangelo Corelli and three, was Johann Sebastian Bach:
old Italian polyphony. Antonio Vivaldi. The continuo, a conservative composer but a
This hybrid style was more while still acting as the harmonic consummate craftsman. During a
suited to the northern European backbone of the orchestra, had also lifetime of employment by courts
temperament and soon became become an independent chamber and the Church, Bach’s sacred and
accepted into Protestant church ensemble, playing a form of music secular music represented the high
music. It inspired the development known as the “trio sonata.” Opera point of the Baroque period. ■



Early opera
c.700 bce Ancient Greek
drama incorporates music.
Greek myth identifies Orpheus
as the “father of songs.”
1598 Peri collaborates with
Jacopo Corsi on La Dafne,
the first opera, to a libretto by
Ottavio Rinuccini, staged at
the Palazzo Corsini, Florence.
1607 Monteverdi’s first opera,
L’Orfeo, is staged in Mantua.

1637 The first public opera he conditions for the Orpheus and Eurydice climb out
birth of opera were of the Underworld in Edward Poynter’s
house—the Teatro San painting of 1862. The Greek myth was
right in Florence in
Cassiano in Venice—opens a particularly apt subject for opera
the 1590s. Large-scale theatrical
with Francesco Manelli’s because Orpheus was a musician.
entertainments utilizing music,
L’Andromeda (now lost).
known as intermedi, often
1640 Monteverdi composes performed as interludes during introduction of recitative (recitar
Il ritorno d’Ulisse in patria, his spoken plays, were commissioned cantando), the art of speaking in
first opera written for a public for dynastic celebrations, such song, that defined opera.
theater in Venice. as weddings and baptisms. Their Florentine intellectual societies,
musical sections—songs (or “arias”), most notably the Camerata de’
dances, and choruses—were Bardi, which met at the house of
themselves interspersed with patron, playwright, and composer
spoken dialogue. It was the Giovanni de’ Bardi, had included in
BAROQUE 1600–1750 63
See also: Le bourgeois gentilhomme 70–71 ■ Dido and Aeneas 72–77 ■
Orfeo ed Euridice 118–119 ■ The Magic Flute 134–137 ■ The Barber of Seville 148

their humanist debates discussions

about the nature of Greek drama,
which they concluded was sung
throughout. Peri wrote La Dafne
(1598) with composer Jacopo Corsi
and poet Ottavio Rinuccini in an Singing his works
attempt to revive this practice. composed with the
greatest artifice … moved
Elements of opera and disposed every stony
While only fragments of La Dafne heart to tears.
exist today, Peri’s second work, Severo Bonini Jacopo Peri
Euridice, survives intact. The
libretto of Euridice tells the Greek Born into a noble family in
myth of Orpheus, who enters the 1561, Jacopo Peri grew up
Underworld to retrieve his wife in Florence. As a teenager,
Eurydice after her death from he played the organ and
snakebite. Euridice offers the sang at various churches
standard intermedio combination instruments may also have been and monasteries in the city
of songs alternating with choruses used. The performance included before beginning a lifelong
and instrumental passages, but sections composed by Peri’s rival association with the Medici
these are linked by recitatives— at court, Giulio Caccini, who had court as singer, accompanist,
the new style of sung speech. In his trained several of the singers. and composer. In 1598, he
produced La Dafne, followed
preface to the work, Peri described Caccini even made his own
two years later by Euridice
his intention of “imitating speech musical setting of the libretto
for the wedding festivities of
with song,” which was the bedrock and had it printed prior to Peri’s. Maria de’ Medici and Henry IV
of the new genre. He also listed The publication of these scores of France. Peri also composed
some of the instruments played ensured the opera’s survival. for the musically distinguished
in the original production, such as Mantuan court.
harpsichord, chitarrone (bass lute), In Peri’s footsteps Peri often collaborated
violin, lyre, and lute, although other The new form represented by with other composers, such as
Euridice was repeated in Florence the brothers Giovanni Battista
and emulated elsewhere. In Mantua da Gagliano and Marco da
in 1607, Claudio Monteverdi, master Gagliano. While only a small
of music at the city’s ducal court, handful of these works survive
produced L’Orfeo, which is regarded as testament to Peri’s talent,
as the first operatic masterpiece. they nonetheless laid down
It creates a coherent world, Monteverdi later composed three the template that later opera
highly charged with a composers would follow.
further works for the Venetian
distinctive atmosphere. Peri died in Florence in
opera houses—Il ritorno d’Ulisse 1633. His gravestone in the
It is simple without being in patria, L’incoronazione di Poppea, Florentine church of Santa
vapid, and dignified without and one now lost—exemplifying Maria Novella describes
being portentous. the new style. Soon Monteverdi’s him as the inventor of opera.
Stephen Oliver followers, such as Francesco Cavalli
and Antonio Cesti, were producing
Other key works
operas in Italy and abroad, with
the basic construction blocks of 1598 La Dafne
recitatives and arias holding the 1609 Le varie musiche
structure together. ■

onteverdi’s Vespers for known as seconda pratica (“second
IN CONTEXT the Blessed Virgin of practice”), with its emphasis on
1610 is one of the most solo voice. In the latter, harmonies
influential collections of sacred became more adventurous, with
Birth of the Baroque
works for voices and instruments greater use of monody, in which
BEFORE of the 17th century. No larger choral a melody was underpinned by an
1587 Andrea Gabrieli work had been written before, and instrumental “continuo,” or bass
publishes Concerti, a collection none as long nor as innovative line, in the form of the organ,
of sacred ceremonial music appeared again until J.S. Bach’s harpsichord, or lute. The bass
for voices and instruments, Passions and Handel’s oratorios lines also became more melodic.
introducing the cori spezzati in the 18th century. Embellishments, which had
(“separated choirs”) style. previously been improvised by the
Choral leap performer, were more elaborate and
1602 Lodovico Viadana Written for vespers, the early often fully notated by the composer.
publishes Concerti evening service in the Catholic These developments led to the
ecclesiastici for one to Church, in particular vespers distinct musical characteristics
four voices, the earliest in honor of the Virgin Mary, of the Baroque period, in which
composition with a basso Monteverdi’s Vespers marks the irregularity and extreme expression
continuo—a chordal transition from the old polyphonic sometimes disturb the smooth
instrumental accompaniment. (“many voices”) style known as musical flow, compelling the
prima pratica (“first practice”) of the attention of listeners. Contrasts of
December, 1602 Giulio Renaissance, in which all voices melody, texture, timbre, tempo, and
Caccini premieres Euridice are equal, to the freer Baroque style rhythm abound in Baroque music.
based on the same libretto In addition, instruments assumed a
as Jacopo Peri’s Euridice, Cremona Cathedral, where the more important role and their music
introducing stile recitativo (a young Monteverdi is thought to was more idiomatic, reflecting
declamatory style between have studied composition under the greater technique and better-made,
speaking and singing), choirmaster Marc’Antonio Ingegneri. more reliable instruments.
inspired by the dramas
of the Ancient Greeks.
1607 Monteverdi composes
his groundbreaking first
opera, L’Orfeo, based on the
Greek legend of Orpheus.
1619 Heinrich Schütz, a pupil
of Giovanni Gabrieli, publishes
Psalmen Davids, a collection
of psalm settings. He goes on,
in 1629, to produce three sets
of Symphoniae Sacrae, which
give equal importance to
voices and instruments.
BAROQUE 1600–1750 67
See also: Plainchant 22–23 ■ Magnus liber organi 28–31 ■ Messe de Notre
Dame 36–37 ■ Missa Pange lingua 43 ■ Canticum Canticorum 46–51

new style called concertato style,

contrasting multiple choirs and
instrumentalists, developed in
Venice and spread to Germany.
In England, this new trend was
The end of all good music reflected in the verse-anthem,
is to affect the soul. in which “verses” for solo voices
Claudio Monteverdi alternated with choral passages.

A virtuosic vespers
Monteverdi’s Vespers was one of Claudio Monteverdi
the first pieces of sacred music
to exploit the rich possibilities of Born in Cremona in 1567,
seconda pratica, but the composer Monteverdi began composing
The new style was taken up in did not forget the advantages of music while still a teenager,
most forms of music. The greater prima pratica and set the texts that producing a collection of
use of figured bass (numerals and are strictly liturgical in traditional three-part motets and a
symbols, indicating the harmonies plainsong. The usual musical book of madrigals. These
to be played by the continuo player) sequence for the vespers service achievements enabled him
lent themselves to opera and consisted of eight movements, to leave Cremona to become
oratorio. In vocal music, the melody starting with an opening “versicle” a string player at the court
projected the thoughts, emotions, that began with the words “Deus of Duke Vincenzo Gonzaga
in Mantua, where he was
actions, and reactions of a in adjutorium meum intende” (“God
influenced by the court’s
character in an opera, or even make speed to save us”). The
maestro di cappella (music
in an accompanied song. original 1610 edition of Vespers director), Giaches de Wert,
The new emphasis on character contains 13 movements, and and started writing operas.
led to the development of the includes a version of the Magnificat In 1607, his first opera, L’Orfeo
accompanied sonata (including the for six voices and organ. In addition was performed in Mantua,
trio sonata, comprising two violins to music for vespers itself, the followed by L’Arianna in 1608.
and a cello), the solo recitative and volume includes an a cappella (“in After Gonzaga’s death
aria, and the concerto—indeed, the chapel,” or unaccompanied) in 1612, Monteverdi went to
any musical form showcasing one Mass setting—Missa in Illo Rome, where he presented
particular performer among a Tempore—based upon a motet of his Vespers to the Pope. The
group. This stylistic development the same name by the Renaissance following year he became
emphasized contrast, allowing composer Nicolas Gombert. (Mass maestro di cappella at St.
for wider emotional expression in and vespers were the two services Mark’s, Venice. His final opera
vocal music and for more rhythmic of the Roman Catholic liturgy most L’incoronazione di Poppea was
performed in 1642, the year
variation in expressing and elaborately set in late 16th- and
before he died.
projecting the text. It stimulated early 17th-century Italy.)
experimentation among composers, Within the 13 movements
who explored increasing of Vespers, Monteverdi sets five Other key works
instrumental virtuosity. psalms that honor the Virgin Mary,
together with Ave Maris Stella 1605 Fifth Book of Madrigals
1607 L’Orfeo
Sacred music (Hail Star of the Sea), an eighth-
1640–1641 Selva morale e
While the old polyphonic style century hymn to Mary that spirituale
continued to be widely used in precedes the Magnificat in the 1642 L’incoronazione di
European church music during the official set of daily prayers, and Poppea
first half of the 17th century, a the Magnificat itself. Monteverdi ❯❯
uses plainsong (single line when they had slightly different
unaccompanied Latin chants, meanings and usage from today.
associated today with monks Until around 1650, “sonata” was
and monasteries) as the basis of used interchangeably with
the seven sections. The repeated “canzona,” an instrumental
return to plainsong provides a composition employing repetition,
compositional thread that connects while “concerto” simply meant
the very different Renaissance and an ensemble piece for voices
early Baroque styles. It also helped and instruments.
ensure that his work would not
alienate the Church. Monteverdi’s intentions
It is not known whether Monteverdi
Sacred concertos expected to hear the Vespers
In addition to Monteverdi’s five Monteverdi dedicated and presented sung as a complete work. There is
psalm settings, the Ave Maris Stella his Vespers to Pope Paul V, a member little evidence that any of the 1610
setting, and the Magnificat, he set of the powerful Borghese family, publication was actually performed
four antiphons—short sentences possibly in the hope of commissions. during his lifetime and it is not
sung or recited before or after a known whether the vesper
psalm or canticle. The first two creating an other-worldly effect. For movements were ever performed
(non-liturgical—not part of the example, the first singer’s “gaudio” together. Some scholars have
service) antiphons come from the (joy) is echoed as “audio” (I hear). suggested that Vespers is simply
Old Testament’s Song of Solomon. Devices such as repeated phrases a collection of religious settings
They are Nigra Sum, sed Formosa for emphasis might have appeared honoring the Virgin Mary,
(I am Black but Comely) and Pulchra in an opera. which were published together
Es (Thou Art Fair), sung by two The vesper settings are for convenience. The publication
sopranos whose lines interweave completed by the Sonata sopra may have been intended by the
as if in a love duet. Sancta Maria (“Sonata on [the composer as two works—Vespers
In the third antiphon, Duo plainsong] Holy Mary, Pray for Us”). and Mass—complete in their own
Seraphim, two angels call across Together, the four antiphons and right, and also as a compendium
the heavens, and in the fourth, the Sonata were described by of sacred music from which to
Audi Coelum (Hear, O Heaven), Monteverdi as “sacred concertos.” draw movements for different
the endings of the words sung by “Sonata” and “concerto” are terms occasions when expert singers
one tenor are echoed by another, that date from the 18th century, and instrumentalists were

Music in Venice opening of the world’s first

opera house, the Teatro di
Few other cities in Europe have San Cassiana, in 1637.
a longer or more glorious musical In the 19th century, Rossini
tradition than Venice. In the saw some of his greatest
Baroque age, it was a major center triumphs in Venice, while
of the arts and a powerful trading Wagner, a regular visitor who
hub, with a great tradition of later died in the city, composed
church and state ceremonies Tristan und Isolde here, and
requiring music. The fame of Verdi premiered Rigoletto (1851)
Venetian composers, such as and La traviata (1853) at Teatro
Andrea and Giovanni Gabrieli, La Fenice, the chief opera house
Monteverdi, and Vivaldi, rivals from 1792. In the 20th century,
The Family in Concert, c.1752, that of the city’s artists—Bellini, Stravinsky’s The Rake’s Progress
by the Venetian artist Pietro Longhi, Titian, Veronese, Tintoretto, and (1951) and Benjamin Britten’s
who specialized in contemporary Tiepolo. Opera first found a mass The Turn of the Screw (1953)
domestic scenes. following in the city, with the were also premiered here.
BAROQUE 1600–1750 69
some performances contrast large From the Renaissance
choirs with smaller ensembles to the Baroque
using the cori spezzati (separated
choirs) technique to create a
“stereo” effect. Instruments are The Monteverdi
I would rather be only specified for certain sections Vespers builds on
moderately praised for of the work: the opening fanfare traditional Gregorian
plainchant structure.
the new style than borrowed from Monteverdi’s opera
greatly praised for Orfeo of 1607; the Sonata; and
the ordinary. sections of the Magnificat.
Claudio Monteverdi
Voices and instruments
Contemporaries were sometimes It adds virtuoso music
critical of Monteverdi’s change in for solo singers, creating
style from the traditional prima a more emphatic,
pratica to the more operatic expressive effect.
seconda pratica technique he
available, such as at a court like used in the sacred concertos and
Mantua, St. Peter’s in Rome, or also in his madrigals. They may
St. Mark’s in Venice. A minimum have found this sort of writing too
of ten voices is required to perform ostentatious for religious music. This freer expression is
Vespers, and instrumental and One writer, Giovanni Artusi, supplemented by
vocal parts require enormous attacked the Baroque style, improvisational flourishes
dexterity. For the more “choral” quoting madrigals by Monteverdi and dramatic devices.
sections, such as Laudate Pueri, in support of his arguments.
Dixit Dominus, and the closing He found the use of dissonance,
movement of the Magnificat, unorthodox key changes, and
irregular cadences objectionable.
However, Monteverdi did not see
A page from a manuscript shows A greater emphasis on
the two techniques as radically
Monteverdi’s handwritten notation harmony leads to a freer
for L’incoronazione di Poppea (“The different: they were both ways of compositional technique.
Coronation of Poppea”) of 1642, his setting a text expressively and
last work before his death in 1643. of being faithful to it. ■

The ultimate effect

is a grand
public sound …

… that builds
upon traditional
structures to create
a new choral style.



he 1670 comédie-ballet grandeur, is told through a mixture
IN CONTEXT Le bourgeois gentilhomme, of spoken dialogue written by
devised by the French Molière, interspersed with lively
composer Jean-Baptiste Lully and orchestral interludes and dances
French Baroque
the playwright and actor Molière, by Lully. The choruses and solo
BEFORE represents the high point of this arias were the work of both men.
1626 Les vingt-quatre violons specifically French genre. It was
du roi, the King’s orchestra, the culmination of a series of Dramatic skill
is founded—an ensemble in comedy-ballets by the two men Lully was a skilled musician,
which Lully later performs. who were known as Les deux dancer, and actor, and this is
Baptistes (Molière’s real name evident in his compositions.
1647 The premiere is held of being Jean Baptiste Poquelin). The Instead of merely accompanying
Luigi Rossi’s opera Orpheus, comédie-ballet genre mixed spoken the singers, Lully’s orchestra
the first opera commissioned drama with music and dance, enhances the drama of his works,
by the French court. ballet having long been enjoyed commenting on the actions of the
at the court of King Louis XIV. characters and creating a sense
AFTER The story of Le bourgeois of place and occasion. His earlier
1691 Henry Purcell composes gentilhomme, the foolish Monsieur Ballet des Muses (1666) anticipated
his opera King Arthur, with Jourdain, who has delusions of the rise of the concerto, by pitting
“shivering” effects in the solo instrumental passages against
violins, allegedly influenced alternating orchestral responses.
by Lully’s opera Isis. Examples of virtuosity and
complexity are often evident
1693 Marc-Antoine
in Le bourgeois gentilhomme,
Charpentier’s opera Médée
I do not believe there is any particularly in the quickfire
is indebted to Lully’s style. exchanges between characters,
sweeter music under the
1733 Jean-Philippe Rameau’s heaven than Lully’s. in the whirling violin and flute
Hippolyte et Aricie is the first ornamentations of the Spanish
Madame de Sévigné
French opera to depart from French aristocrat (1626–1696) tunes, and in the stately flourishes
Lully’s style and the first of the overture. Over the course of
piece of music to be described five acts, Lully uses every tool at
as “Baroque.” his disposal, from popular dance
forms, such as jigs and minuets,
to drinking songs and even a
BAROQUE 1600–1750 71
See also: Le jeu de Robin et de Marion 32–35 ■ Euridice 62–63 ■ Hippolyte et Aricie 107 ■ Orfeo ed Euridice 118–119 ■

The Magic Flute 134–137 ■ The Barber of Seville 148 ■ Der Freischütz 149 ■ La traviata 174–175 ■ Tosca 194–197

A skilled violinist, Lully performed the timing of both singers and method of musical direction that
in his own works. He is thought to be orchestra. Indeed, there is an precipitated his untimely demise.
the man holding the violin in François etching of Lully’s later opera, In March 1687, he died from a
Puget’s painting of 1688.
Alceste, premiered in 1674, that gangrenous wound that developed
shows a man “beating time” on after a blow to his toe while
grandiose “Turkish” march with the floor with a staff. Unfortunately beating time as he conducted
lively percussion. Although Lully for Lully, it was this vigorous his own Te Deum. ■
was not the innovator of musical
“orientalism,” he is widely credited Jean-Baptiste Lully
with spreading its influence in the
18th century. His use of a scene- Born into which point he gallicized his
setting overture—an orchestral, a family of name. Lully’s monopoly on
marchlike introduction usually Florentine French opera enabled him to
to allow for royal pageantry and millers in 1632, produce multiple works of his
homage to be paid—became Giovanni own creation. His prolific output
a standard musical feature for Battista Lulli before his early death in 1687
almost all subsequent operas. began his rise through French also included chamber music
society when he gained a and sacred works.
Enter the conductor position as a servant at the
Lully’s increased instrumentation, French court at the age of 14. Other key works
He attracted the attention of
with five-part strings, woodwind,
Louis XIV, with whom he later 1663 Miserere mei Deus
and percussion, meant that danced in courtly spectacles. 1674 Alceste
Le bourgeois gentilhomme was By 1661, he had been placed 1677 Te Deum
one of the earliest pieces of music in charge of court music, at 1686 Armide
to require a conductor to coordinate

DIDO AND AENEAS (c.1683–1689),

Baroque opera in England
1617 Lovers Made Men, a
masque by Ben Jonson, is set
to music by Nicholas Lanier in
the Italian recitative style.
1656 The Siege of Rhodes, by
five composers, is considered
the first English opera, but is
called “recitative music” to
avoid the Puritan ban on plays.
c.1683 John Blow’s Venus

and Adonis is premiered at he greatness of Dido and Puritans show disdain for the
Charles II’s court. Aeneas by Henry Purcell flamboyantly dressed Cavaliers in a
(1659–1695) lies in the 17th-century tavern scene. Cromwell
1685 Albion and Albanius, closed many inns and theatres, which
with a libretto by John Dryden perfection of its characterization he called bastions of “lascivious mirth.”
and musical depth. Although
set to music by Louis Grabu, is
conceived on a miniature scale, it
the earliest full-length English
is the most significant early English tradition could develop, due to the
opera to survive in its entirety. opera and a masterpiece of the exile of the future King Charles II
AFTER entire Baroque musical era. following the defeat of the Cavaliers
1705 Jakob Greber’s Gli amori In the late 17th century, when (Royalists) in the English Civil War
d’Ergasto is the first Italian Dido and Aeneas was composed, (1642–1651) and the establishment
opera produced in London. opera was still in its infancy in of a Protectorate under the rule of
England. It had evolved in Florence the Puritan Oliver Cromwell. During
1711 Handel premieres the in the 1590s from a form of private this period, English composers
Italian opera Rinaldo, his first entertainment organized by groups were often not exposed to foreign
work for the London stage. of artists and musicians known as influences and their music tended
“academies” (see pp.62–63). From to retain a strong national identity.
there, it had spread throughout Italy Forms such as the verse anthem,
with performances in one or other in which solo voices and choir sang
of the many small courts. Only in alternate verses, were favored in
1637, with the opening of the Teatro Anglican liturgy. Secular music
di San Cassiano in Venice, was included “catches”—simple, often
opera performed for a wider public. bawdy rounds or canons, usually
Dido and Aeneas is The new genre had reached sung in taverns—which had no
one of the most original Germany by this time and France direct continental equivalents.
expressions of genius by the 1640s, quickly taking root
in all opera. in both countries. A mysterious genesis
Gustav Holst In England, opera advanced The Restoration of the monarchy
more slowly, partly because of a under Charles II in 1660 brought
prejudice against sung drama in a England closer to Europe and its
country where spoken drama was musical repertoire. This would have
dominant. England also lacked a influenced Purcell as he developed
royal court around which operatic his skills composing masterly
BAROQUE 1600–1750 75
See also: Euridice 62–63 ■ Orfeo ed Euridice 118–119 ■ The Magic Flute 134–137 ■

The Barber of Seville 148 ■ La traviata 174–175 ■ Peter Grimes 288–293

anthems and songs from the age some suggest that it was
of 16. Many of these early works commissioned originally for the
show the depth of imagination that court of Charles II. There is,
would later make Dido and Aeneas however, no evidence of any
such a powerful work. performance in the proposed period
Surprisingly little is known (1683–1684). Priest himself was a
about the creation of Dido and choreographer and dancing master
Aeneas. The earliest surviving who knew Purcell from stage
manuscripts date from several productions on which they had
decades after Purcell’s death, both worked. John Blow’s Venus
and some material, such as music and Adonis, the model for Dido and Henry Purcell
for his librettist Nahum Tate’s Aeneas and also an opera with a
prologue, has been lost. There is prologue and three acts, had been Born in 1659, when court life
also a mystery about when and revived by Priest and his pupils and was about to be restored with
where the work was first performed. premiered at court around 1683. the accession of Charles II,
Although it was staged at Josias Purcell was a thoroughly
Priest’s Boarding School for Young The continental influence trained musician. In his
Ladies in Chelsea in the late 1680s, While Purcell drew on the style relatively brief career, he
of his English predecessors and acquired the range of skills
contemporaries such as Matthew needed to succeed in every
Dido entertains Aeneas in a scene available genre. He was a boy
by an unknown 18th-century Italian Locke and Blow, European musical
models are evident in Dido and chorister in the Chapel Royal,
artist. While based on Virgil’s epic and, as an adult, held a series
poem, Purcell’s opera used witches, Aeneas and other works. During
of court appointments, writing
rather than gods, to separate the lovers. his years in exile, Charles II had ❯❯
music for state occasions in
addition to works for church
and chamber, songs, and
harpsichord suites. As the
organist of Westminster
Abbey from 1680, he worked
close to London’s West End
and wrote incidental music
for dozens of plays. He also
collaborated on a series of
dramatic or semi-operas with
substantial musical content,
including King Arthur and The
Fairy Queen. He died in 1695
during the composition of
The Indian Queen, leaving his
brother to complete the work.

Other key works

1691 King Arthur

1692 The Fairy Queen
1694 Come, Ye Sons of Art
1695 Funeral music for
Queen Mary

A musical revival (“The king’s 24 violins”) at

the court of Louis XIV. It played
The creative foundations for for church services and court
England’s music and drama were occasions, performing birthday
in a poor state when Charles II odes by Purcell and others. The
came to the throne in 1660. The post of “Master of the King’s
Puritans had closed London’s Musick” was reinstated with
theatres from around 1642 and, the reappointment of Nicholas
abhorring music in places of Lanier. Foundations such as the
worship, had even disbanded Chapel Royal, which trained
cathedral choirs. Charles’s professional musicians, were
interest in the arts and his also renewed. New theatres
subsequent support for them were opened and thrived,
was part of a wider policy of producing what is now called
encouraging entertainment. Restoration drama—often
As a child, Purcell served as a This influenced music in bawdy comedies—for which
chorister of the Chapel Royal at several ways. Charles created a songs and incidental music
Hampton Court, England, a training royal string orchestra modeled on were required, frequently
ground for young musicians. the Vingt-quatre violons du roy supplied by Purcell himself.

acquired a taste for French and counterpoint, as well as a structural the classical hero of Virgil’s epic
Italian music. Such preferences device by which sections are poem, the Aeneid. Having escaped
influenced aspiring musicians repeatedly built up from a short from the burning city of Troy at the
eager for royal patronage. aria, followed by a chorus, and end of the Trojan War, he had sailed
French influences are noticeable then a dance. The opera included with his followers to North Africa.
from the start of Dido and Aeneas. several dances, a feature common There he woos the Carthaginian
Act One starts with a typical for French and English operas of the queen Dido—a wary widow who
French overture, its slow, stately time. Such dances would no doubt finally submits to his advances.
introduction based on intense have pleased the dancing master, Wicked witches plot against her,
dotted rhythms (which divide Priest, when the opera was staged however, sending an imp in the
the beat between a long note and at his school. likeness of Mercury to call Aeneas
a short one). The second part of Equally noticeable is the impact away to his glorious destiny as the
the overture is fast, using imitative of Italian opera—and specifically of founder of Rome. In despair at his
Didone, another opera about Dido departure, Dido commits suicide.
and Aeneas by Francesco Cavalli. Purcell masterfully employs
Both operas employ a ground bass stirring motifs and deft word-
or passacaglia, in which the bass painting to express the fluctuating
line is repeated throughout with moods that shape the action.
changing melodies and harmonies Throughout the opera’s varied
As poetry is the harmony above it. Purcell uses this to great movements, Purcell’s text and
of words, so music is dramatic effect for two of Dido’s music work together in perfect
that of notes; and as arias, including her lament, which synergy to evoke the necessary
poetry is a rise above comes close to the end of the score emotions of sadness, joy, or the
prose … so is music the and provides a natural climax to evil intent of the witches—music
exaltation of poetry. the whole drama. and poetry “walking hand in hand
Henry Purcell support each other,” an ideal Purcell
Dramatic effects expressed in the dedication of his
As it has survived, Dido and semi-opera Dioclesian (1690).
Aeneas consists of three short His use of melismas—setting
acts telling the story of the arrival one syllable on several notes—is
in ancient Carthage of Aeneas, striking, enhancing the effect of
BAROQUE 1600–1750 77
descriptions of “valor,” “torment,” Compositional devices in 
and Dido “languishing” in grief in Dido’s Lament
her recitative “Whence could so
much virtue spring.” Purcell also
intentionally creates dissonance
(disharmony between notes) in
the string parts during Dido’s
lament, to express the queen’s
extreme anguish in one of the
most moving musical statements of A five-bar bass “Remember me” motif
grief ever composed. The last death repeated throughout lends a sense
scene is remarkable, too, in an era suggests inevitability. of yearning.
when operatic heroes or heroines
seldom perished. In Cavalli’s
Didone, Dido is saved from herself
and marries someone else.

A lasting legacy
Little is known about performances
of Dido and Aeneas in Purcell’s
Appoggiatura Falling phrases and
lifetime. It was revived on the (short “leaning” note) dissonance to
London stage in 1700 and again in suggests sobbing. indicate anguish.
1704, yet these productions seem
to have been the last until the
late 19th century. Increasingly Queen Mary until 1694. Theatre and Aeneas suggests, however,
performed ever since, it is now work dominated Purcell’s last years. that, but for his early death at the
regularly presented by schools and Here the chief form was that of age of 36, Purcell could have laid
amateurs as well as in the world’s dramatic or semi-opera. This very the ground for an English operatic
great opera houses. English type of entertainment tradition. That space would
The accession of William III to comprised a play with interludes of eventually be filled by the German-
the throne in 1689 diminished songs, dances, and choruses at the born George Frideric Handel, who
court patronage, although Purcell ends of acts; these had little direct would compose his own operas in
wrote fine odes for William’s consort connection to the play and were London between 1711 and 1741. ■
performed by a separate company
of singers and dancers. The best
known examples are King Arthur
(1691), to a text by the poet John
Dryden, and The Fairy Queen
(1692), whose spoken text is an
adaptation by the actor-manager Music is yet but in its
Thomas Betterton of Shakespeare’s nonage, a forward child,
A Midsummer Night’s Dream. which gives hope of what it
Purcell’s other works ranged may be hereafter in England,
from church and chamber music when the masters of it shall
to songs and formal odes. His Dido find more encouragement.
Henry Purcell
The score of Dido and Aeneas uses
a simple bass line which may have
been provided by cello, bassoon, double
bass—or bass viol, as shown here by
Dutch artist Caspar Netscher (1639–84).


hen, in 1517, Martin organ piece to introduce the melody
IN CONTEXT Luther penned the of the chorale so that people would
95 theses that would know what tune to sing.
trigger the Reformation, his main
Lutheran hymn tunes
objections had little to do with Signature trait
BEFORE music: they rather concerned The chief pioneer of the chorale
1529 Martin Luther composes the selling of indulgences and the prelude was Dieterich Buxtehude.
the hymn Ein feste Burg. question of papal authority. As His practice was to present the
the Reformation got underway, chorale melody in an ornamented
1624 Samuel Scheidt however, church music was to be version in one single upper voice,
publishes his Tablatura nova, profoundly affected. For centuries, projected by the right hand on a
a collection of keyboard singing in church had been the separate manual (organ keyboard),
music containing eight sets preserve of monks and trained while the left hand and pedals
of chorale variations. singers and, being in Latin, it was provided an accompaniment,
incomprehensible to the average normally on softer-sounding stops.
AFTER person in the congregation. Buxtehude drew some influence
1705–1706 J.S. Bach walks Luther placed particular from the works of earlier composers,
from Arnstadt to Lübeck—a emphasis on congregational such as the keyboard variations of
distance of 235 miles (378 km) participation and on the use of the the Dutch organist Jan Pieterszoon
to meet and hear Buxtehude. vernacular, so that everyone could
1726 J.S. Bach completes understand what they were hearing
the final chorales in his and singing. The chorale—a
congregational hymn—was key
Orgelbüchlein (“Little Organ
to this. Luther himself composed
Book”), his largest collection
many of the earliest chorales, of
of chorale preludes. which perhaps the most famous is [I wanted] to comprehend
1830 Felix Mendelssohn his Ein feste Burg, based on Psalm one thing and another
bases the finale of his 46—“A mighty fortress is our God, about his art.
“Reformation” Symphony a tower of strength never failing.” J.S. Bach
(No. 5) on Luther’s Ein By the Baroque period, chorale
feste Burg. melodies formed the basis for
many different genres of music in
the Lutheran church. One of these
was the chorale prelude, a short
BAROQUE 1600–1750 79
See also: Plainchant 22–23 ■ Magnus liber organi 28–31 ■ Great Service 52–53 ■ Pièces de clavecin 82–83 ■

St. Matthew Passion 98–105 ■ The Art of Fugue 108–111 ■ Elijah 170–173

An Allegory of Friendship by Dutch them, or is presented as the first them imitatively, while at other
artist Johannes Voorhout shows (and “strongest-sounding”) of a times opting for a chordal approach.
Buxtehude leaning on his elbow. collection of four notes. In this manner the tune is
Among the other musicians is the
harpsichordist Johann Adam Reincken.
The accompaniment in the presented once from beginning
left hand and pedals is generally to end. This particular style of
in two- or three-part harmony, setting influenced J.S. Bach,
Sweelinck (1562–1621) and his pupil sometimes using motifs from the who followed a similar model
Samuel Scheidt (1587–1654), but chorale melody and interweaving in his Chorale Preludes. ■
while Scheidt often presented
the tune of the chorale in slower, Dieterich Buxtehude
unornamented notes and wove the
variations around it, Buxtehude It is uncertain exactly when position of organist at St. Mary’s
made the chorale melody itself the and where Dieterich Buxtehude in Lübeck. Tradition held that
clearest and most ornamented line, was born, but by his early new organists should marry a
with the variations being simpler. childhood, his family was living daughter of their predecessor,
Buxtehude’s prelude on Ein feste in Helsingborg (in modern-day an obligation that Buxtehude
Burg ist unser Gott, composed Sweden), from where they later fulfilled within weeks of taking
around 1690, is a perfect example moved to Helsingør in Denmark. up office. He retained his role as
of this approach. The right hand It was there that Buxtehude organist of Lübeck until his
presents a spontaneous-sounding learned his musical craft from death in 1707.
his organist father.
solo melody that follows the contour
After working at his father’s Other key works
of the chorale tune. The chorale
former church in Helsingborg
itself is made clearer by the fact and then at St. Mary’s church in 1680 Membra Jesu Nostri
that each of its notes is either Helsingør, in 1668 Buxtehude c.1680 Praeludium in C major
held for longer than the decorative, accepted the prestigious 1694 Trio Sonatas, Op. 1
improvisatory notes that connect



he Italian term “concerto” the modest setup of a small
IN CONTEXT was initially used to group of soloists and a string
describe any music for ensemble with continuo (bass
voices and added instruments, with line), as developed by the Italian
The concerto grosso
a distinction evolving in the early composer Arcangelo Corelli around
BEFORE 17th century between concerti the turn of the 18th century.
1610 The publication of ecclesiastici (church music) and
Giovanni Cima’s Sonate concerti di camera (chamber
Corelli’s early Concerti Grossi were
a Tre for violin, cornet, and music). By the late 18th century it premiered in Rome’s Palazzo Pamphilj,
continuo—an early example had evolved into the much grander a dazzling example of Italian Baroque
of secular Italian chamber showcase for virtuosity that is architecture that reflected the order
music for three instruments. familiar today, but its roots lie in and playfulness of the music.

1675 The first performance

of Alessandro Stradella’s
Sonata di Viole No. 25, which
contrasts a soloist with an
ensemble. Corelli is likely
to have heard this during
his time in Rome.
1721 J.S. Bach puts together
his Brandenburg Concertos,
several of which experiment
with the instrumentation of
both solo and ensemble groups.
1741 Handel’s Twelve Concerti
Grossi, Op. 6, are published,
in direct homage to Corelli’s
Concerti Grossi.
BAROQUE 1600–1750 81
See also: The Four Seasons 92–97 ■ Musique de table 106 ■ Saint-Saëns’ Piano
Concerto No. 2 in G minor 179

The music ranges from serene

adagios (in slow time) wrought
with exquisite suspensions, to
allegros (fast time), peppered
with quickfire exchanges between
It is wonderful to observe the large and small ensembles.
what a scratching of Corelli Corelli’s use of harmony in these
there is everywhere—nothing concerti was in keeping with a
will relish but Corelli. more general shift in Italian
Roger North Baroque music away from the
Writer and musician myriad lines of Renaissance Arcangelo Corelli
(1653–1734) polyphony toward the use of
chord sequences and cadences Born into a prosperous family
to create a stable tonal center. in the small Italian town of
Corelli’s work immediately Fusignano, in 1653, Corelli
attracted the admiration of patrons was accepted into Bologna’s
and fellow musicians. Among the Accademia Filarmonica
Op. 6 concerti, No. 8 in G minor, orchestra at the age of 17.
Corelli’s masterful Op. 6, Concerti subtitled “Fatto per la Notte di His mastery of the violin,
Grossi, published posthumously Natale,” was commissioned by his combined with the rigor
as a set of 12, epitomize the form. patron of the 1690s, Cardinal Pietro of his teaching methods and
Each of Corelli’s concerti Ottoboni. Known as the Christmas his many pupils, who included
Antonio Vivaldi and Francesco
consists of four to six movements, Concerto, the work has enjoyed
Geminiani, caused his
played by a trio concertino—three long-lasting popularity.
reputation to grow.
soloists comprising two violins In the mid-1670s, Corelli
and a cello continuo—and the Harmony and balance moved to Rome, where he
ripieno, a larger string ensemble Although Corelli had previously entered the service of Queen
with harpsichord accompaniment. written for the concertino Christina of Sweden, who
Confusingly, Corelli often expanded combination of instruments in had a home in Rome, and later
the concertino section to four his 48 trio sonatas, it is impossible served as Music Director to
musicians. The basso continuo to dismiss the Concerti Grossi Cardinal Pamphili. His last
(cello and harpsichord) provided as a mere inflation of these patron was Cardinal Pietro
a continuous musical framework, small-scale chamber works. Ottoboni, who was himself
or foundation, over which the Some performances involved as a musician and librettist.
melody and harmony of both the many as 80 musicians—a huge Corelli died in 1713. Despite
soloists and the accompanying number, especially in Corelli’s day, his relatively modest output,
group, or ripieno, were constructed. when orchestras more usually his most active composing
years coincided with a boom
numbered around 20 musicians.
in music publishing at the
Dynamic expression In 1789, more than 70 years turn of the 18th century. As
By employing these contrasting after Corelli’s death, the English a result, his influence spread
instrumental forces, Corelli musician, composer, and music across Europe, even during
explored the possibilities for historian Dr. Charles Burney his lifetime.
dynamic expression, enlivening wrote of the Concerti Grossi:
the exchanges between the “The effect of the whole … [is]
Other key works
sections through dramatic so majestic, solemn, and sublime
juxtapositions—often enhanced that they preclude all criticism.” 1694 12 Trio Sonatas, Op. 4
when the concertino ensemble Even today, their melodies 1700 12 Violin Sonatas, Op. 5
joins in with the ripieno sections. continue to resonate. ■



ntil François Couperin’s technical virtuosity and the formal
IN CONTEXT Ordres, or suites, French modulation of melodies, rather than
keyboard music had largely changes of mood and feeling.
taken the form of Baroque popular
French Baroque
dances, such as the allemande, Ornamental flourishes
harpsichord music courante, and sarabande. However, Although he used the sonata
BEFORE in part due to his connections at structure in his music, Couperin
1670 Jacques Champion de the French court, Couperin was concentrated on grace and gesture,
Chambonnières publishes also familiar with Italian music, swayed by the prevailing French
Les pièces de clavessin (“Pieces including the sonata, a piece in view of music as a sophisticated,
for Harpsichord”), the first major several movements for a small elegant, and even frivolous pastime.
French work on harpsichords. group of instruments, which Many of his works have descriptive
involved no dancing or singing. titles, which he claimed were ideas
1677 Nicholas-Antoine Sonatas of this period usually that occurred to him as he was
Lebègue writes Les pièces had a two-part structure, with each writing. The careful balance he
de clavessin, the first dance half repeated. As seen in the more struck between the lighthearted
suites published in France. than 500 sonatas of Domenico French sensibility and the more
Scarlatti, they tended to focus on formal, structured Italian approach
AFTER gave his work wide appeal.
1725 J.S. Bach includes The keyboard works were
Les bergeries (from Sixième written entirely for harpsichord or
Ordre 1717) in his Notebook spinet. On these instruments, the
for Anna Magdalena under player has no control of volume.
the title of Rondeau. Couperin incorporated subtle
I like better what embellishments into his music to
1753 C.P.E. Bach pens volume touches me than control its flow and intensity and,
1 of Versuch über die wahre what surprises me. unusually for the period, expected
Art das Clavier zu spielen, François Couperin performers not to add to, or
a treatise influenced by Pièces de clavecin (1713) improvise around, what he had
Couperin’s L’art de toucher le written. Furthermore, he published
clavecin (“The Art of Playing detailed instructions for these
the Harpsichord”). “ornaments,” marking the notes
precisely as they should be played,
thereby codifying such signs for
BAROQUE 1600–1750 83
See also: Micrologus 24–25 ■ Scarlatti’s Sonata in D minor 90–91 ■
Musique de table 106 ■ Clementi’s Piano Sonata in F-sharp minor 132–133

later generations. His style was a complete course, but advice for
not to everyone’s taste—while J.S. the player on body postures and
Bach arranged some of Couperin’s technical issues. It included a
works, he is said to have found series of eight preludes for study
them overly fussy. and fingerings for some of
Such reliance on ornamentation Couperin’s published pieces.
tends to mean that Couperin’s Particularly forward-looking
music translates less well onto the are his suggestions that children
modern piano, which, with its fuller should master a few pieces before
and more sustained sound, makes learning to read music and that
the decoration too prominent. This, practice should be supervised. François Couperin
coupled with his dislike of overt These ideas anticipated some
virtuosity and harmonic daring modern approaches to music Even within the dynasty of
(such as sudden key changes or education, such as the Suzuki great musicians into which
clashing notes), may explain why method in the mid-20th century. ■ he was born in 1668, François
his music has been eclipsed by Couperin was extraordinary.
Scarlatti’s in the concert hall. Appointed on the death of
A young girl learns to play the his father, Charles, to take
Although not the first treatise on harpsichord in The Music Lesson
keyboard playing, Couperin’s L’art over the role of organist at
by Jean-Honoré Fragonard. François
de toucher le clavecin was one of St. Gervais Church in Paris
Couperin taught music to Louis XIV’s
the most important, offering not children at Versailles. at the tender age of 11, he
went on to become one
of the most sought-after
performers and teachers in
France. In 1693, Couperin
was appointed by Louis XIV
as organist at the Royal
Chapel. He became court
harpsichordist to Louis XV in
1717 and composed works for
the royal family. He died in
Paris in 1733.
Couperin’s series of
Ordres for keyboard are
considered some of the most
significant contributions to
Baroque harpsichord music.
Players of the instrument
today still study L’art de
toucher le clavecin in order
to inform their performances.

Other key works

1713–1730 24 Ordres (in

four books)
1714–1715 Les concerts
royaux (The Royal Concerts)
1724–1725 Apothéoses

WATER MUSIC, HWV 348–350 (1717),

ntil the late 19th century,
IN CONTEXT England was often known
as the land without music.
Even though London had a thriving
An international style
concert life, with the earliest
BEFORE tradition of public concerts in Handel is the greatest
1660s Following the Europe, the fashion was to promote composer that ever lived …
restoration of the monarchy in foreign composers and performers I would uncover my
England, Charles II reinstates rather than native musicians. Both head and kneel down
music to the English court. Handel and Johann Christian Bach on his tomb.
He favors the French style (known as the English Bach) moved Ludwig van Beethoven
and particularly promotes to London to make the most of its
dancing, a passion he acquired opportunities, and composers
such as Mozart and Haydn often
during his exile in France.
visited the city as well-paid and
1670s A group of professional feted musicians.
musicians called the Music
Meeting open a concert hall Music as pleasure of some of the florid excesses of
near Charing Cross, London. When Handel arrived in London in High Baroque counterpoint that
1711, he already had a distinctive were favored by Bach.
AFTER style that was rooted in his North Handel was soon appointed
1727 Handel composes the German upbringing and influenced director of music to the Duke of
anthem Zadok the Priest for by his time in Italy. He had met Chandos, who introduced him to
George II’s coronation. Arcangelo Corelli and Domenico other members of the English
Scarlatti in Italy and achieved aristocracy. While employed by the
1800s Composers turn away success with Italian operas and duke, Handel honed a new, more
from an international style to religious works there. He was also forthright style, which can be heard
highlight the individuality of familiar with the work of Jean- in his Chandos Anthems and the
nations, finding inspiration Baptiste Lully, who dominated masque Acis and Galatea. It was
in folk dance rhythms and French music, and England’s Henry also at this time that he wrote
nationalist themes. Purcell. This cosmopolitanism Esther, the first of his English
appealed to London concert-goers, oratorios, a genre for which he
who welcomed Handel’s avoidance would become renowned.

George Frideric Handel Born in Halle, in northeastern there for the rest of his life.
Germany, in 1685, Handel received He later found fame with his
his earliest musical training from oratorios, especially Messiah,
a local organist. While still a and set a seal on his career with
teenager, he moved to Hamburg the Music for the Royal Fireworks
to work as a composer and from in 1749. Handel died a wealthy
there went to Italy. He developed man and was buried with the
his dramatic talent in the comic great and the good in London’s
operas Rodrigo (1707) and Westminster Abbey.
Agrippina (1709) and the psalm
setting Dixit Dominus (1707). Other key works
Returning to Hanover in
1710, Handel became Kapellmeister 1725 Rodelinda, HWV 19
(music director) to the Elector of 1742 Messiah, HWV 56
Hanover (later George I of Great 1749 The Music for the Royal
Britain and Ireland). He relocated Fireworks, HWV 351
to London a year later and lived 1751 Jephtha, HWV 70
BAROQUE 1600–1750 87
See also: Gabrieli’s Sonata pian’ e forte 55 ■ Euridice 62–63 ■ The Four Seasons 92–97 ■ The Magic Flute 134–137 ■

Elijah 170–173 ■ La traviata 174–175 ■ The Ring Cycle 180–187 ■ Tosca 194–197

Handel presents Water Music to very different from the hunting founded a century later) under
George I in a painting by the Belgian horns familiar to English audiences. a charter from the King. It was a
artist Edouard Hamman. According to Along with bassoons and trumpets, commercial venture, formed as
newspaper reports, the whole river was
filled with small boats and barges.
these helped the music carry in a joint-stock corporation, with
the open air. the aim of commissioning and
Essentially, Water Music is a performing new Italian operas in
In 1717, George I asked Handel blend of popular European styles. Britain. Handel was one of its three
to compose the music for a barge It starts with an overture in the composers as well as its musical ❯❯
trip down the Thames. The music uneven rhythms of the French style,
needed to be sensational: the incorporates dances that were
King wanted to make a big public fashionable across Europe at the
statement to draw attention away time, and includes the most English
from his son, the Prince of Wales, of music—the hornpipe—which
who was forming an opposing became the signature tune of
political faction. Handel had to the work. I should be sorry if I only
balance a desire for novelty with entertained them. I wish to
the need for broad popular appeal. Opera in London make them better.
While a concert in a barge with In 1719, the Duke of Chandos and George Frideric Handel
some 50 performers was a novelty his friends, taking advantage of
in itself, Handel added to the the growing interest in opera in
occasion by importing Bohemian England, inaugurated the Royal
horn players, whose elegant Academy of Music (unrelated to
fanfares would have sounded the conservatoire of the same name
Public music and director. He traveled to Europe
concert-going to engage the finest orchestral
musicians and the most celebrated
London was the first city to singers, including the Italian
establish public concerts with castrato Senesino, and the
paying audiences. The trend
began around 1672, when the
soprano Francesca Cuzzoni. He saw men and women
violinist and composer John Handel understood the where others have seen only
Banister organized a paying audience’s continual hunger for historical-mythical busts.
concert in his own house. By novelty. When London audiences Paul Henry Lang
the time Handel arrived in became used to these artists, Music critic
London, there were purpose- he brought in another soprano,
built venues for chamber Faustina Bordoni, who built a rival
music concerts. In addition, fan base among the audience,
theatres in Drury Lane and reinvigorating interest in the opera
the Haymarket offered Italian for a few more seasons. The high
and, later, English opera to fees paid to such luminaries may
London’s beau monde. have been part of the reason that was unusual at the time. He also
From around 1740, pleasure the company went out of business understood the importance of
gardens sprang up across the in 1728 with debts of around spectacle, and a number of his
capital, most famously in
£20,000 (over $5.5 million today). operas required elaborate stage
Vauxhall. Here visitors
would stroll, dine, and be
machinery. In Alcina, which was
entertained by live music from Master of stagecraft written for the new opera house
wind bands and orchestras. Handel wrote a series of 13 operas at Covent Garden, the stage
A rehearsal of Handel’s Music for the Royal Academy of Music, directions include “with lightning
for the Royal Fireworks in which had 235 performances in his and thunder, the mountain
Vauxhall Gardens, in 1749, lifetime. Masterpieces in the Italian crumbles, revealing Alcina’s
attracted some 12,000 people, style, they included Giulio Cesare delightful palace.” Such stage
each paying two shillings in Egitto (“Julius Caesar in Egypt”, effects attracted audiences just
and sixpence, and causing 1724) and Alcina (1735). Although as much as the music.
a three-hour traffic jam on he used the operatic conventions of
London Bridge. the day—recitatives and arias—to A new direction
unfold the narrative, he gave the When Italian opera went out
operas a dramatic structure that of fashion in London after the
extraordinary success in 1728
of John Gay’s The Beggar’s
Opera, which satirized the form,
Handel used his skills to create
and popularize oratorios in English.
Starting with Deborah (1733),
Handel understands these thrillingly dramatic works for
effect better than solo singers, chorus, and orchestra
any of us—when he told biblical stories with English-
chooses, he strikes like language librettos, but were
a thunderbolt. performed unstaged in theatres. To
Wolfgang Amadeus some extent influenced by operatic
Mozart traditions, and even Greek tragedy,
The band plays music from Handel developed a directness of
an illuminated bandstand in style and a new kind of robustness
London’s Vauxhall Gardens, UK,
while visitors stroll and dance that appealed to British audiences.
in the open air. The public flocked to hear works
such as Messiah (1742), Samson
BAROQUE 1600–1750 89
Some of the dances in Water Music

English hornpipe
Bouncy, moderately paced
Minuet dance in duple time (two Bourrée
French court dance in beats to the bar). A lively French dance
triple (waltz) time. with folk roots.

A lively Baroque
A slow stately dance
dance (jig) of Italian or
of Spanish origin.
French origin.

Handel knew how to please an audience.

Water Music contains popular dance forms
from different parts of Europe.

(1743), and Belshazzar (1745). Lenten period, when its depiction

Messiah was so popular that men of adultery caused consternation.
were asked to attend performances Works such as this were essentially
without their swords to create more operas in English and are usually
room for the audience. performed as such today.
Handel often presented these
works himself, renting theatres and National yet international
hiring performers, and often netting During a period when music was
a good profit. When a rival company considered ephemeral and works
provided stiff competition, Handel were seldom heard in the years
wrote a number of organ concertos after their first performances,
which he performed as interludes Handel was considered a major
during the performances. Unusual composer in his lifetime. He was
as this was, it provided a rare probably the first composer whose
opportunity to hear his great work did not suffer a fall in popularity
keyboard virtuosity in public after his death. In England, he
and was therefore something helped to broaden interest in
of a marketing masterstroke. music beyond the confines of the
The Handelian oratorio became aristocracy and created a national
so popular that Handel wrote musical identity in an international
secular works in the same style. style that lasted until Edward
He designated Semele (1744), Elgar in the late 19th century. His
Louis François Roubiliac’s memorial
which was based on classical anthem Zadok the Priest, composed to Handel stands above his tomb in
mythology, as a musical drama for the coronation of George II, is Westminster Abbey, UK. Just three
“after the manner of an oratorio” still used in the crowning of British days before his death, Handel said
and even presented it during the monarchs today. ■ that he wished to be buried there.



he Italian virtuoso originality of their content belies
IN CONTEXT harpsichord player and their seemingly mundane and
composer Domenico practical purpose.
Scarlatti published his first edition A contemporary of both J.S.
Italian Baroque sonata
of Essercizi per gravicembalo Bach and George Frideric Handel,
BEFORE (“Exercises for Harpsichord”) in 1738. Scarlatti’s dazzling skills on the
1701 Baroque composer As the title of the collection suggests,
Arcangelo Corelli publishes the 30 sonatas were intended to A family poses with their harpsichord
his Violin Sonatas, Op. 5— be études (studies) for students in a 1739 work by Cornelis Troost. The
an early example of solo of the harpsichord—although by instrument’s popularity would soon
instrumental writing. Scarlatti’s own admission, the wane in favor of the piano.

1709 Antonio Vivaldi

publishes Twelve Sonatas for
Violin and Basso Continuo,
Op. 2, again showcasing
the virtuosic abilities of a
solo instrument.
1784 Mozart publishes Piano
Sonata No. 1, K279, following
in Scarlatti’s footsteps with his
focus on solo keyboard writing.
1795 Beethoven publishes
Piano Sonata No. 1, Op. 2,
continuing Scarlatti’s
experimentation with
the genre.
BAROQUE 1600–1750 91
See also: Pièces de clavecin 82–83 ■ Musique de table 106 ■ Clementi’s Piano
Sonata in F-sharp minor, Op. 25, No. 5 132–133 ■ “Eroica” Symphony 138–141

their sonatas tended to consist

of three to four movements of
contrasting moods. However,
Scarlatti’s sonatas for the solo
harpsichord—at that point, a
For bold playing of the relatively neglected instrument—
harpsichord … [s]how yourself typically follow a two-part, single-
more human than critical, and movement structure, often pivoting
thus increase your own around a central “crux,” or pause,
pleasure. … LIVE HAPPILY. and tending to be of shorter
Domenico Scarlatti proportions, lasting only around Domenico Scarlatti
three to four minutes in total.
The son of the prolific
The Pastorale opera composer, Alessandro
Although he was influenced by Scarlatti, Domenico Scarlatti
the sarabandes and courantes was born in Naples in 1685.
(both courtly dances) of his A talented musician himself,
keyboard were legendary, his contemporaries, Scarlatti’s music he followed his father into a
dancing fingers described by one of this era is unique in its use of musical career of wide-ranging
astonished British observer as folk idioms taken from his Iberian commissions and royal
resembling “a thousand devils.” surroundings. The Sonata K9 in patronage. At 16 he became
Scarlatti allegedly once had a D minor is nicknamed the Pastorale composer and organist to the
royal chapel in Naples before
public contest of keyboard skills (Pastoral). This is in part due to the
going on to serve the exiled
with Handel, a musical duel that, deceptive simplicity of its melody
Polish queen, Maria Casimira,
by all accounts, ended in a draw. but also owing to the traditional in Rome. He later became
Scarlatti put his talents to use at music it evoked, including elements maestro di cappella (music
the highest level of royal service, of Spanish folk dance music such director) at St. Peter’s.
tutoring Maria Barbara when she as the strumming, percussive In 1721, Scarlatti joined
was both princess of Portugal and effects of Spanish guitar. This the Portuguese court in
later queen of Spain. It was her addition of country stylings to the Lisbon, where he gave music
aptitude for the instrument and her formal courtly influences was to lessons to Princess Maria
continuous employment of Scarlatti continue to define Scarlatti’s music. Barbara. When the princess
that provided the conditions for his He broke down the expectations of married Fernando VI of Spain,
groundbreaking Essercizi. Baroque chamber music convention, she summoned Scarlatti to
experimenting with dissonance be her music tutor. He served
Scarlatti’s sonata style and syncopation in his later sonatas. the queen until his death in
The term “sonata” derives from the It is such playful “jesting with Madrid in 1757. Scarlatti is
mainly known for his 555
Italian verb suonare, meaning “to art” that places Scarlatti as a
keyboard sonatas, although
sound,” and generally denotes solo master of both Baroque music he also produced a huge
instrumental music—that is, music and the evolving classical style. quantity of chamber and
which is “sounded” as opposed Scarlatti helped pave the way sacred vocal music.
to sung (or “cantata”). In the early for the still more radical sonata
18th century, Italian composers experiments of Mozart and
Other key works
such as Arcangelo Corelli, Antonio Beethoven that followed and that
Vivaldi, and Tomaso Albinoni further emphasized the importance 1724 Stabat Mater for
had written widely for solo of freestyle, expressive melody lines 10 voices
instruments—the violin being a over the more formal structure of 1757 Salve Regina
particularly popular choice—but Baroque music. ■

Italian Baroque solo
1692 Giuseppe Torelli, based
in Bologna, publishes the first
of three collections of concertos
that give a new prominence to
the solo violinist.
1707 Concertos published by
the Venetian Tomaso Albinoni
use the three-movement
(fast–slow–fast) structure that
will become the standard.
1721 J.S. Bach’s six
Brandenburg Concertos use
the structure and principles
standardized by Vivaldi in
his concertos.
1773 Mozart composes his
first violin concerto using the
three-movement structure.

n Italy, in the 1720s, Vivaldi fluidly to describe works written The Ospedale della Pietà, a
was best known as a composer for combined ensembles, whether foundling hospital on the Grand Canal
of operas, but in northern of voices and instruments or in Venice, where Vivaldi became violin
master in 1703. The ospedale had an
Europe—as well as after the comprising different groups of
all-female choir and orchestra.
composer’s death—his fame instruments. In Rome, for example,
rested on his concertos, a form he Arcangelo Corelli wrote concerti
shaped, developed, and made his grossi for an ensemble of two violinist and composer Giuseppe
own, perhaps most famously in violins and keyboard. These Torelli wrote works for solo violin
Le quattro stagioni (The Four instruments could be joined by a and a larger instrumental ensemble,
Seasons) of 1725. larger string ensemble, the role of while in Venice, wealthy amateur
Since Vivaldi’s day, the word which was more to augment than Tomaso Albinoni composed
“concerto” has found a clear to stand in musical contrast to the beautiful oboe concertos. Written
meaning as a piece for one or smaller group. for one or two oboes and a larger
more instrumental soloists and ensemble, they were among the
an orchestra: a solo concerto The concerto develops first notable solo works written
showcases one musician; a It was in Northern Italy, and Venice for the instrument.
concerto grosso (“big concerto”) in particular, that the concerto In the works of both Torelli and
has two or more. Before Vivaldi, started to take the form that Vivaldi Albinoni, a contrast was starting to
however, the term was used more would come to use. In Bologna, emerge between the solo sections
BAROQUE 1600–1750 95
See also: C.P.E. Bach’s Flute Concerto in A major 120–121 ■ Saint-Saëns’ Piano Concerto No. 2 in G minor 179 ■

Ravel’s Piano Concerto in D for the Left Hand 266–267

and the parts played by the larger helped to change the course of
ensemble, as if two voices were musical history. Yet he was never
being heard simultaneously within a revolutionary. Instead, he took
the same piece. These were the existing trends and modified them,
foundations upon which Vivaldi creating a new musical language
built his body of work. that exhilarated both musicians He can compose a
Slightly younger than Albinoni, and contemporary audiences. Many concerto more quickly
his fellow Venetian, Vivaldi wrote his of his borrowings were from opera, than a copyist can write.
first known concertos when he was another genre that found new life in Charles de Brosses
in his mid-20s. Overall, during the the Baroque period and with which French scholar and politician
next 40 or so years, he would write Vivaldi was heavily involved as a
around 500 concertos, many of composer. Following in Albinoni’s
which were published in collections footsteps, he took the basic fast-
such as Il cimento dell’armonia e slow-fast structure of the operatic
dell’inventione. Others were sold overture and transformed it into
in manuscript—a form that the the standard three-movement
commercially minded Vivaldi found structure of the concerto: a fast or musical idea played, repeated,
was more profitable. Of these first movement, filled with musical and modified over the course of
concertos, more than 200 were for action as solo and ensemble the movement by the orchestra.
solo violin; Vivaldi himself was a sections alternate with one another, Typically in Vivaldi’s work,
renowned and flamboyant violinist. followed by a slow, more meditative a fast movement starts with the
Others were for solo bassoon, cello, middle movement, succeeded by orchestra making a full statement
flute, oboe, mandolin, and recorder. a renewed burst of activity in the of the ritornello. This gives way to a
Vivali wrote nearly 50 double final movement. solo section, in which the musician
concertos (composed for two solo merely receives background
instruments), along with other The ritornello accompaniment from the orchestra.
variations, including one concerto Within the fast movements, Vivaldi The full orchestra then returns,
that included solo parts for 16 borrowed the key structuring restating part of the ritornello in
different instruments. Through device from opera—he used the a new key. Ritornello and solo
his astonishing oeuvre, Vivaldi ritornello (“little return”), a refrain sections then alternate, typically ❯❯

Antonio Vivaldi Vivaldi was born in 1678, the son other concertos, as well as
of a violinist in the orchestra of some 50 operas and numerous
St. Mark’s in Venice. He initially religious vocal works, sonatas,
trained for the priesthood and and cantatas. His popularity
was ordained in 1703, but he soon had declined by the late 1730s.
ceased to practice as a priest. His He died in Vienna in 1741,
break as a musician came when while trying to restore his
he was appointed violin master fortunes, and was buried in
at Venice’s Ospedale della Pietà. a pauper’s grave.
Vivaldi’s first published
collection of concertos, L’estro Other key works
armonico (“Harmonic Inspiration”),
printed in 1711, made his name 1711 L’estro armonico, Op. 3
internationally known, especially 1714 La stravaganza, Op. 4
in Germany, where the young J.S. 1725 Il cimento dell’armonia e
Bach was one of its admirers. He dell’inventione, Op. 8
went on to compose hundreds of 1727 La cetra, Op. 9

The concerto
The main attraction of the
concerto for composers
and musicians is the sheer
dramatic potential of the
form, as soloist and orchestra
alternately compete and
collaborate with one another.
Many composers have been
inspired to write concertos
by the talents of particular
performers, such as the
cellist Antonín Kraft, for
whom Haydn wrote his
Cello Concerto No. 2 in D
and Beethoven his Triple
Concerto. Mozart wrote his
famous Horn Concertos for
the horn player Joseph
Leutgeb. Concertos soon
four to six times, culminating in The score of “Spring” from The
a final orchestral restatement of Four Seasons, part of L’estro armonico
became a showcase for (Harmonic Inspiration), a collection of
virtuoso performers, such the ritornello.
12 concertos whose lively flamboyance
as the violinist Paganini and The solo sections, meanwhile,
transformed the stately form.
the pianists Liszt and Chopin. can also be seen in opera. Baroque
Around the turn of the 20th operas gave new prominence to the
century, Rachmaninov wrote aria, which allowed singers to show moods and states of mind, as
his piano concertos—and off the power, range, and expressive their titles made clear—for
Dvorak and Elgar their much- nature of their voices. Similarly, example, Il piacere (Pleasure),
loved cello concertos. Later, the solo sections of concertos L’inquietudine (Anxiety), L’amoroso
fans of the concerto grosso allowed instrumental soloists to (The Lover), and Il riposo (Rest).
included Michael Tippett in display their virtuoso skills. In an Le quattro stagioni, however, along
his Fantasia Concertante on age characterized by theatricality, with a cycle of three concertos
a Theme of Corelli. Vivaldi brought a dose of dramatic called La Notte (Night), took this
virtuosity to the concerto. a step further, and used the music
to relate a simple musical narrative
Four Seasons known as a “programme,” a form
Vivaldi allowed his theatricality that was taken up by many
free rein in The Four Seasons, first composers in the Romantic era.
published in Amsterdam in 1725. In the published version, Vivaldi
Earlier versions of the pieces had made the programme explicit by
been circulating for a number of including four sonnets of unknown
years in manuscript form, and were authorship, often theorized to have
already widely known and admired. been written by Vivaldi himself.
Le quattro stagioni represented These sonnets each tell the story
the first four in a collection of 12 of one of the four seasons. The
violin concertos entitled Il cimento sonnet for spring, for example,
Violinist Nigel Kennedy records dell’armonia e dell’inventione (“The starts by describing how birds
The Four Seasons with the English Contest of Harmony and Invention”), salute the new season “with joyous
Chamber Orchestra in 1989. The
recording sold more than two all written between 1723 and 1725. song” and how brooks fanned by
million copies. Many of Vivaldi’s concertos sought soft breezes flow “with sweet
to evoke or describe particular murmurings.” All this Vivaldi
BAROQUE 1600–1750 97
describes musically in the first Painting pictures with music
movement of the “Spring” concerto,
where the opening ritornello is a
dance representing the celebratory
joy of returning spring, succeeded
by three solo violins conveying
birdsong and other characteristics
of the season.

High praise Spring Summer

In Italy, Vivaldi’s popularity Three solo violins mimic chirruping Tranquil sounds speak of summer heat,
birds and babbling brooks. An upbeat with buzzing insects, a cuckoo, and
had waned by the end of his life
third movement suggests a spring a lark. Minor chords and dramatic
due to rising interest in a new festival with dancing. undertones convey a summer storm.
Neapolitan style of opera. North
of the Alps, however, Vivaldi’s
concertos, and Le quattro stagioni
in particular, made him one of the
most famous composers of the
day. Vivaldi’s patrons included the
Bohemian nobleman Count Wenzel
von Morzin, to whom Vivaldi
dedicated Il cimento dell’armonia
Autumn Winter
e dell’inventione, the collection The fast first movement captures Fast violins convey chattering
that contained Le quattro stagioni. the drama of a harvest festival. The teeth and stamping feet, and rapid
“I beg you not to be surprised,” orchestra is interrupted by a solo violin scales and dissonance suggest
he wrote, “if among these few and representing a “swaying drunkard.” winter chills and gales.
feeble concertos Your Illustrious
Grace should find the Four Seasons
which, with your noble bounty, commanded a performance of to his earliest biographer, Johann
Your Illustrious Grace has so long the “Spring” concerto, played by Nikolaus Forkel, it was this
regarded with indulgence.” an orchestra assembled entirely experience that taught him the
Another illustrious endorsement of musically gifted nobles and importance of “order, coherence,
came from King Louis XV of courtiers. Another lover of the and proportion” in music.
France, who in November 1730 “Spring” concerto was philosopher According to modern scholars,
Jean-Jacques Rousseau, who Forkel’s assessment may be
in 1775 arranged the piece for an exaggeration, but Vivaldi’s
unaccompanied flute. influence on Bach is clearly evident
in, for example, Bach’s use of the
Influence on composers ritornello form. Equally evident is
Vivaldi played a splendid Most remarkable, however, was the fact that Vivaldi gave the three-
solo … Such playing has not the legacy of Vivaldi’s concertos movement (fast-slow-fast) concerto
to his fellow musicians. One a place among the most important
been heard before and can
notable devotee was J.S. Bach. music forms, inspiring countless
never be equalled. His patron, the Duke of Saxe- future composers from Bach,
J.F.A. von Uffenbach Weimar, returned from a trip to the Haydn, and Mozart to Beethoven
German traveler
(1687–1769) Netherlands with a copy of Vivaldi’s onward. Moreover, the concerto
first concerto collection, the L’estro was a major influence on another
armonico (“Harmonic Inspiration”), emerging form, one that soon
published in Amsterdam. Bach became the supreme form of
transcribed six of the concertos instrumental expression for
for solo harpsichord, and according composers—the symphony. ■



the final development of the used it to control the flow of their
IN CONTEXT Baroque aesthetic known work by modulating between
as the High Baroque was different keys. Increasingly complex
underway by around 1680. The new counterpoint, combining distinct
High Baroque religious
tonal system, in which music was melodic lines, one of the defining
choral music built from notes forming major and characteristics of Baroque music,
BEFORE minor scales, was fixed by this was employed to create vivid
1471 The Flemish composer time, and High Baroque composers dramatic effects; coupled with
Jacob Obrecht writes a Passio such as Johann Sebastian Bach incisive rhythmic features, the
secundum Matthaeum music achieved an unprecedented
(Matthew Passion). emotional power.
The Crucifixion, often depicted in
Renaissance art, as here by the German In earlier periods, vocal art
1620s In Rome, Giacomo painter Lucas Cranach the Elder, music had been preeminent; now
Carissimi produces oratorios became a subject for composers, too, increasing interest in instrumental
on Old Testament subjects to as music grew ever more descriptive. music offered composers another
satisfy the demand for operatic
entertainment during Lent.
1718 Handel composes
the first version of Esther,
about the Old Testament
queen. Eventually, in 1732,
this piece would be revised
into the first English oratorio.
1829 Felix Mendelssohn
conducts the Berlin premier
of the St. Matthew Passion—a
key moment in the revival of
interest in Bach’s music.
1846 Mendelssohn premieres
his oratorio Elijah, depicting
the life of the Prophet Elijah.
1850 The Bach–Gesellschaft
is formed in Leipzig by Moritz
Hauptmann (Cantor of the
Thomaskirche), Otto Jahn
(a biographer of Mozart),
and the composer Robert
Schumann, in order to publish
the complete works of Bach.
1963–1966 Polish composer
Krzysztof Penderecki writes
the St. Luke Passion, an atonal
orchestral-choral setting of the
Passion story.
BAROQUE 1600–1750 101
See also: Ein feste Burg ist unser Gott 78–79 ■ The Art of Fugue 108–111 ■

Elijah 170–173 ■ The Dream of Gerontius 218–219

dramatic resource. Breaking the Many of the genres heard in choral

bounds of pure accompaniment, music of this time are the same as
the ever-more prominent orchestra those found in secular music. As
could play a far more varied and church composers were required
expressive role, which helped to to write music for more than 60
fuel the popularity of Baroque services a year, it was not unusual
opera. This tended to flourish in for them to remodel secular pieces,
mercantile centers, where wealthy as Johann Sebastian Bach did
individuals joined the nobility to (1685–1750) when writing his
enjoy the spectacle, offering rich Christmas Oratorio (1734–1735).
opportunities for composers such
as George Frideric Handel. Most Evolving choral genres
citizens, however, experienced the During the High Baroque period, Johann Sebastian Bach
new musical developments during the form of the Mass in north
church services. Germany evolved from the Born in Eisenach, Germany,
prima pratica (“first practice”), in 1685, Bach was the most
Dramatizing church music characterized by a polyphonic prominent of a long line of
Composers soon realized that the setting of the most important musicians. Taught music first
operatic techniques and music parts of the church service (Kyrie, by his father, then his brother,
that infused classical myths with Gloria, Credo, Sanctus, Agnus Dei) Bach was appointed as a court
contemporary relevance could with a choir and an instrumental musician in Weimar on leaving
serve liturgical purposes equally, accompaniment, into a much school in 1703. His reputation
as an outstanding keyboard
bringing life to the biblical texts, grander entity. This was due
player quickly spread. He had
which many in the congregation partly to the influence of Italian
soon written the first of more
could not themselves read. Since traditions, which, after 1712, Bach than 200 cantatas.
operas were not permitted to be encountered through the music of In 1717, Bach moved to
staged during the six weeks of Antonio Vivaldi. The orchestra Köthen to take up a postion as
Lent, composers would present grew in size and, especially with Kapellmeister and wrote many
performances of oratorios on obbligato (essential, fully written) instrumental works, including
biblical themes instead. accompaniments, made a much the Brandenburg Concertos.
greater musical contribution. Solo In 1723, he took up his last
voices were also more common. post as cantor of St. Thomas
Bach wrote five Masses, but Church in Leipzig, where he
the B minor Mass (1749) stands remained until his death in
apart as one of the most important 1750 at the age of 65. During
works in the Western music canon. this period, he became the
Not “brook” [in German: It was written at the end of his life preeminent composer of High
Bach], but “sea” should he Baroque music, with a skill
and unperformed before his death.
be called because of his for counterpoint that has
Unusually for the Lutheran tradition, arguably never been equalled.
infinite, inexhaustible richness it presents a complete setting of
in tone combinations the Latin Ordinary in 25 separate
and harmonies. movements over some two hours. Other key works
Ludwig van Beethoven Although on the wane by this
1723–1732 Six Motets,
period, the motet (sacred verses set
BWV 225–231
to music) was still an important 1733 Magnificat, BWV 243
choral genre, particularly in France, 1749 Mass in B minor,
where two distinct styles had BWV 232
been established. The petits ❯❯
Oratorio Oratorio versus Opera Opera

Plots are inspired by

Takes religious text as
stirring myths, history,
its subject matter.
and literature.

Performed as musical
Performed as a concert
theatre, with sets,
piece without props.
scenery, and costumes.

In later operas,
Uses a singing narrator
characters advance
to advance the plot.
the plot.

Singers are static and

Characters move and
characters do
not interact.

motets were accompanied only The anthem was prevalent in and accompaniment continued to
by continuo, whereas the grands England, as a sectional dramatic be popular in the Baroque period.
motets, such as those of Jean- work placing instrumental sections The subtle word-painting that the
Baptist Lully, included soloists with solo passages, recitatives, and madrigal engendered influenced
and an increasing number of full choruses. Purcell was a gifted other genres and is found in many
instruments. They were less exponent of the form, and Handel sacred choral works of the period.
common in Germany; the best- took it to even greater heights. His
known examples today are by four ceremonial anthems include St. Matthew Passion
Heinrich Schütz and Bach. Bach’s the renowned Zadok the Priest, For a musician such as Bach who
motets, which strongly influenced written for the coronation of King was principally concerned with
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart George II in 1727. church music, the Passion, which
(1756–1791), were virtually the The Magnificat, sung at vespers set the biblical events from the Last
only works of his to be regularly and evensong, is the canticle (hymn) Supper up to the Crucifixion, was
performed after his death until of the Virgin Mary from Luke’s an opportunity to use the dramatic
the Bach revival in the early Gospel, first set in the Renaissance. techniques of opera within a
19th century. Each was arranged Monteverdi and Vivaldi produced religious setting. Bach wrote at
for different sized choirs, and it is important Baroque settings, but least three such works (only two
unclear how they were used within Bach’s Magnificat for five parts have survived); for its mastery of
church services, although some and orchestra is probably the best emotion, imagination, and power
were written for funerals. known today. of expression make the St. Matthew
Other choral forms of the High Although the madrigal is more Passion a towering monument of
Baroque period include the anthem, usually associated with earlier human creativity. It was written
the Magnificat, and the madrigal. periods, this secular form for voices to be performed either side of the
BAROQUE 1600–1750 103
sermon at the Good Friday service
(in either 1727 or 1729). Bach also Cantatas and oratorios such as recitatives, arias, and
collaborated with the Leipzig poet choruses, but the cantata tends
The oratorio had traditionally to use them more subtly in
Picander to create a libretto, which
been a concert piece for order to imply the drama.
both presented the biblical drama
orchestra, choir, and soloists, By the High Baroque period,
and offered contemplations upon it is difficult to differentiate the
depicting a biblical episode or
the content. The St. Thomas Church the life of a saint. It differed from cantata from the oratorio. Bach’s
for which it was written added an opera only in being unstaged Christmas Oratorio, for example,
extra layer of drama to proceedings; and lacking interaction between is actually a cantata. Bach,
by using its two organ lofts, Bach characters. The cantata often whose cantatas are considered
was able to distribute his forces used similar forces but was to be some of the most sublime
as a double choir across the venue. performed in church before religious music ever written,
Although he had employed such and after the sermon and was also wrote secular works in
techniques in other works, such as a series of reflections on the the genre, such as the Coffee
the motets, its use here with the service’s biblical texts. Both Cantata, which is essentially
addition of two orchestras and genres used operatic elements a short comic opera.
organists allowed for the widest
variety of dramatic textures. in four-part harmony, but three devastating pathos of abandonment.
In addition to the original are referenced as accompanying However, in the hands of Bach, this
material, Bach also inserted a elements in other movements. In same absence of strings in the
number of Lutheran chorales. this way, Bach was able to mix the soprano aria “Aus Liebe will mein
When Martin Luther had started known with the new—essential for Heiland sterben” (“Out of Love My
translating services into German, a congregation first experiencing Saviour Is Willing to Die”) suggests
new melodies had been required. such an intense, large-scale work. a different, almost plaintive mood.
These formed well-known hymns Throughout the work, Bach is
that became the mainstay of Musical characterization clearly aware of the need to use
congregational worship. Bach Rather like an opera, the key the orchestra to ensure that his
harmonized many hundreds of roles in the St. Matthew Passion congregation receives the full ❯❯
such melodies, regularly using are taken by soloists, but in the
them as the basis of cantatas or absence of physical drama and
chorale preludes. In the St. Matthew costumes, Bach often gives them
Passion, the chorale melodies date distinct musical characterizations.
from between 1525 and 1656, and The tenor Evangelist, the narrator,
would therefore have been familiar always uses recitative secco with
to his audience. Most are presented continuo (speechlike solo singing
with a sparse bass accompaniment)
to deliver the Gospel texts. This
allows the narrative to be strong,
clear, and unambiguous. The words
of Jesus, however, are recitatives
accompanied by the strings from
One who has completely the first orchestra. In playing
forgotten Christianity sustained notes and highlighting
truly hears it here key words, they add an unworldly
as Gospel. sound to the Vox Christi (voice of
Friedrich Nietzsche Christ)—often likened to a halo.
Such characterization is perhaps
Bach played the organ and taught
most strongly heard when, almost for 27 years at the St Thomas School
operatically, Jesus utters his last in Leipzig, as shown here in an 1882
words without the accompaniment engraving. He and his pupils supplied
of strings, resulting in the truly music for the city’s four main churches.
impact of the text. This attention two maids, although they are
to orchestration, which was far not usually all taken by different
more prevalent in stage works soloists. In many performances
of the time (which were often of the minor soloists are also members
similar length to the Passion), can of the choirs. With such a diverse
be seen in the use of the oboes da cast and discursive text, it was He demands that singers
caccia (a low oboe similar to the also possible for Bach to break from should be able to do with
cor anglais) to underpin the eerie the oratorio tradition of avoiding their throats whatever he
description of Golgotha in “Ach interaction between soloists; he can play on the keyboard.
Golgotha.” No less vivid is the included duets and crowd scenes Johann Scheibe
moment in “Buss und Reu” (“Guilt with passages that simulate Critic and composer (1708–1776)
and Pain”) where the alto describes simultaneous and interjecting
his tears to the sound of flutes speakers. So, in “Weissage uns,
playing staccato notes. Christie” (“Prophesy Christ”) the
two choruses alternate in a style
A large, varied cast known as cori spezzati, which was
The piece also has parts for Judas, first developed at St. Mark’s in
Peter, two priests, Pontius Pilate Venice, while in “Herr, wir haben freedom of the prisoner Barrabas,
and his wife, two witnesses, and gedacht” (“Lord, We Thought”) they they then embark on a series
sing simultaneously to represent of complex musical structures
the power-hungry Pharisees. notoriously difficult to perform.
The St. Thomas Boys Choir, Leipzig,
still flourishing today, dates back more The real glory of the choruses is An earlier, particularly poignant
than 800 years to 1212. With Bach as in the contrapuntal writing, notably moment follows Jesus’s capture in
Cantor (1723–1750), the church and city when, after singing in excruciating the garden, where after a sighing
became the center of Protestant music. dissonance as they call for the orchestral introduction, the soprano
BAROQUE 1600–1750 105
and alto bemoan Jesus’s fate
in resigned tones. In contrast,
the chorus demands his release,
creating an extraordinary tension
between the two moods. While the
resignation continues, the chorus,
which may depict the disciples
or the congregation, gets more
agitated, and the orchestra drives
the music forward to a breathless
conclusion. The ending of this
section in the major key might
seem surprising, underpinning as it
does the words “murderous blood.”
It is suggested, however, that the
music might be reminding the
listener that while the story is one
of suffering, without the capture of
Jesus, his Crucifixion—and thereby
salvation—is not possible.
Elsewhere, many of the more
contemplative texts, such as the
chorale “Ich bin’s ich sollte büssen”
(“It is I who should suffer”) or the
bass aria “Mache dich, mein Herze,
rein” (“Make thyself clean my betrayal of Jesus, as he repeats Bach and three of his sons pose for
heart”), encourage listeners to feel the 17 words of the text with a portrait (1730) by Balthasar Denner.
the emotion and identify with the increasing anguish. Bach had 20 children, and from the early
1500s to the late 1700s, his family
drama. The most striking example The St. Matthew Passion produced more than 70 musicians.
is perhaps the aria “Erbarme dich, received only a handful of
mein Gott” (“Have mercy Lord, my performances in Bach’s lifetime.
God”). The simplicity of the lilting The newer Classical style had Passion existed only in hand-
rhythm, accompanied by a begun to revolutionize musical copied examples within a very
lamenting violin, underpins and composition and enjoyment, and small circle of admirers, some of
emphasizes the intensity of Peter’s the composer was considered to whom had been his students.
sense of horror and guilt at his be behind the times in writing It was through such a group that
contrapuntal music of this kind. Mendelssohn came to study Bach’s
works in the early 19th century
Bach’s legacy and put on a performance of the
By the end of Bach’s life, his music St. Matthew Passion in 1829. This
was called “learned” in the most performance, although a landmark
The most beautiful piece pejorative sense; the music of his in the revival of Bach’s music, was
of music ever written son Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach was neither complete nor authentic, but
for the violin. better known. Very little of Bach’s it did help to raise awareness of
music was printed, although the Bach’s work. It was not long before
Yehudi Menhuin
Describing “Erbarme dich, mein Gott” keyboard works were sometimes societies were created to publish
studied; Ludwig van Beethoven and perform his work. Today, the
(1770–1827) often performed fugues St. Matthew Passion is frequently
and preludes from Bach’s The Well- presented as a staged work; with
Tempered Clavier. However, major its similarities to opera, it can have
works such as the St. Matthew a powerful effect on audiences. ■


he demand for Tafelmusik evening’s entertainment and
IN CONTEXT (table music)—background contains meticulously crafted
music for banquets—grew music that is always memorably
steadily from the mid-16th century melodious—even evoking popular
onward. Musique de table, a folk songs at times.
BEFORE collection of such music by Georg Handel, who was among the
1650 Joachim von Sandrart’s Philipp Telemann, a prolific collection’s 206 subscribers,
painting Das Friedensmahl German composer who relished appears to have borrowed some of
(“The peace meal”) depicts the assimilation and mastery its musical ideas. Themes in his
musicians performing of different musical styles, draws oratorio The Arrival of the Queen of
Tafelmusik at a banquet for together a range of chamber genres Sheba bear resemblance to material
a diplomatic conference. that lent themselves to Tafelmusik. from the Concerto in the second
Telemann marketed the collection “production” of Musique de table. ■
1680s Printed collections of as a prestige product that could be
Tafelmusik, mostly by German purchased by subscription.
composers of the day, become Telemann’s collection divides
more common. into three “productions,” each one
containing an orchestral dance
AFTER suite, a concerto, a quartet, a trio
1770s The genre of Tafelmusik sonata, and solo sonata, finishing He [Telemann] could
is gradually replaced by other with an orchestral “conclusion.” write a church piece in
types of “light” musical Apart from the dance suites, eight parts with the
entertainment such as the considerable use is made of the same expedition another
divertimento and serenade. slow-fast-slow-fast four-movement would write a letter.
pattern of the traditional Sonata da George Frideric Handel
1820 An engraving by Johann Chiesa (a genre of instrumental
Wunder depicts a performance chamber or orchestral music
of Tafelmusik at a municipal sometimes performed at church
banquet in “Krähwinkel”—an services). Each “production”
invented place name intended provides enough music for an
to suggest old-fashioned,
small-town parochialism. See also: Corelli’s Concerti Grossi 80–81 ■ Water Music 84–89 ■ The Four
Seasons 92–97 ■ C.P.E. Bach’s Flute Concerto in A major 120–121
BAROQUE 1600–1750 107



alant music was born
IN CONTEXT out of opposition to the
perceived complexity of
Baroque music. While the latter
The style galante
was often characterized by
BEFORE seriousness and grandeur, the
1607 Monteverdi’s L’Orfeo, style galante was elegant, light,
the earliest opera still in the and immediate.
current repertoire, is premiered One of the most lauded
in Mantua. advocates of this style was the
French composer Jean-Philippe
1673 The French operatic Rameau, whose first opera,
tradition was born with the Hippolyte et Aricie, premiered in
premiere of Jean-Baptiste Paris in 1733. Rameau cast his
Lully’s Cadmus et Hermione, opera in the conventional five-act US mezzo-soprano Jennifer Holloway
the first of Lully’s tragédies form of a tragédie en musique that plays Diane during a rehearsal of
en music (tragedy in music). was established by Jean-Baptiste Rameau’s Hippolyte et Aricie in the
Lully. In every other way, however, Théâtre du Capitole, Toulouse, in 2009.
AFTER he broke Lully’s mold, using daring
1752 A performance of dissonances, longer phrase The debate between Lullistes and
Giovanni Battista Pergolesi’s structures, and an ornate approach Ramistes raged for several years,
opera buffa (comic opera) to melodic writing that came to during which Rameau released a
La serva padrona (“The typify the style galante. further four operas. In time,
servant turned mistress”) however, his music became more
ignites the Querelle des War of words accepted, and by the time of the
Bouffons, a dispute between Hippolyte et Aricie drew harsh Querelle des Bouffons in 1752, a
supporters of serious and criticism from so-called “Lullistes,” two-year dispute about the relative
comic opera. who feared that Rameau’s Italianate merits of French and Italian opera,
music threatened the iconic status Rameau’s music was considered
1774 Having reformed Italian of Lully’s operas in French culture. typically French. ■
opera, Christoph Willibald
Gluck composes Iphigénie See also: Le bourgeois gentilhomme 70–71 ■ Orfeo ed Euridice 118–119 ■
en Aulide for the Paris stage. The Magic Flute 134–137 ■ The Barber of Seville 148 ■ La traviata 174–175


Baroque counterpoint

c. 1606–1621 Sweelinck
composes the Fantasia


chromatica, one of the first
works to demonstrate
contrapuntal development

STARS of a single subject.
1725 Fux publishes Gradus
ad Parnassum (“Steps to
Parnassus”), which includes
JOHANN SEBASTIAN BACH exercises in how to write
fugues. Mozart later studied
this work.
1837 Mendelssohn publishes
Six Preludes and Fugues,
Op. 35, demonstrating the fugue
as a viable Romantic genre.
1910 Busoni publishes the
Fantasia contrappuntistica, a
homage to The Art of Fugue
which includes a postmodern
completion of its last fugue.

n contrast to later music that
frequently depended on a
single melody line over a series
of harmonies, Baroque music was
often constructed by combining
a number of independent and
interlacing melody lines, or
voices. This technique, known as
counterpoint, allowed composers
to create works of overwhelming
complexity and drama, reflecting
the richness of other contemporary
art forms. However, it also required
consummate skill to compose long
spans of music with sufficient
variety and interest.
The rise of the Classical style,
and its emphasis on simplicity and
preference for more slowly changing
BAROQUE 1600–1750 109
See also: Missa l’homme armé 42 ■ Ein feste Burg ist unser Gott 78–79 ■ St. Matthew Passion 98–105 ■ Elijah 170–173 ■

Fauré’s Requiem 210–211 ■ The Dream of Gerontius 218–219

The second fugue of Bach’s The

Well-tempered Clavier is in C minor.
Both sets of 24 preludes and fugues are
arranged in the 12 major and minor
keys between C and the B above it.

harmony, reduced the need

for musicians to master such
complex techniques. However,
Bach, the preeminent practitioner
of counterpoint in the Baroque
period, considered the skill to be
so vital that he attempted toward
the end of his life to organize and
display the results of his knowledge
in works such as The Art of Fugue,
a cycle of some 20 fugues. then transferred to the other parts experience a satisfying musical
(or “voices” as they are known, performance. While these works
Principles of counterpoint even in instrumental music) while abide by the strict Baroque rules
Much earlier, Bach had published the first part continues with a that govern dissonance when
didactic works to teach keyboard complementary melody. it is permitted (for instance, on
players counterpoint. These For the performer, the difficulty passing notes on weak beats),
included two collections of special of such works is not just to be able their structure is relatively free.
significance—the 15 Inventions to play the often swiftly flowing
in two parts and the 15 Sinfonias in parts with ease but also to be able Building a fugue
three parts. In each of the pieces, to balance the relative importance Bach was best known for his
a simple opening melody is of the voices, so that the listener fugues, which follow the same
presented unaccompanied and can appreciate the interplay and principles but organize them ❯❯

Preludes, fugues, and well-tempered tuning

Bach’s two books entitled The Frequency ratios between other
Well-Tempered Clavier each notes are more complex, so
contained 24 preludes and tuning to a C major scale,
fugues in all the major and keeping all the intervals pure,
minor keys. These provided would make other scales sound
models that keyboard players out of tune to slightly different
could use to develop their degrees. The mean-tone system,
proficiency and also celebrated used from c.1570 and based on a
the range of keys that could be pure third interval, worked well
employed using the tuning only for 10–15 of 24 keys. The
methods of his time. well-tempered system was a
Tuning, or “temperament,” compromise, tuning to intervals
was always a tricky issue. sufficiently equidistant to allow When tuning a piano, such as this
A note one octave apart from for performances in all keys. The Schimmel concert instrument from
another sounds similar because modern equal temperament Germany, the tuner uses a tuning
the sound frequency can be system divides the octave into fork or an electronic device to adjust
reduced to a simple 2:1 ratio. equal, mostly impure intervals. the strings to the required pitch.
Structure: The fugue




In a fugue, a word derived from the Key

Latin for “flight,” each of three or more S = Subject—The principal theme of the fugue.
voices enter one after the other, imitating A = Answer—The subject, repeated a fifth (5 notes) higher.
and modifying the initial theme. The CS = Counter-Subject—A contrasting secondary theme.
structure illustrated here has many FP = Free Part—Material based on the first theme.
other possible variants. TP = Tonic Pedal—Sustained final bass note.

within far more rigorous structures, same note in a different octave, although they are often performed
which allow for very rich listening while the second voice now in concert halls, they are not as
experiences. The basic structure of performs the counter-subject and powerful as his organ fugues or
a fugue requires a melody known the first voice will usually play free those found in his sacred music.
as the “subject” to be presented by material derived from the subject. However, they had a considerable
the first voice in the home key. The This continues in the same way influence on later composers, who
next voice then presents the same until all the voices have entered, dubbed them the “Old Testament”
melody but starting on the fifth creating an exposition that of music (the Beethoven sonatas
note of the scale being used, and moves rapidly from simplicity to were the New Testament) and paid
this is known as the “answer.” complexity, while using limited tribute to them; Shostakovich, for
When replying to this, the original musical material. instance, composed 24 Preludes
voice plays a “counter-subject,” The fugue will then progress and Fugues. Even now, pianists
which may be very contrasting. by adding mood-changing study Bach’s The Well-Tempered
The third voice then enters with “episodes,” again often derived Clavier as part of their training.
the “subject” again, starting on the from the opening material. The Bach’s fascination with
middle section, in turn, presents counterpoint did not merely focus
the subject in different keys and on the fugue. His suites of dance
formats until the work returns to movements rely on an understanding
the opening key. However, further of counterpoint for their inner
variants heighten this journey, such energy; even when the music is for
as the “stretto,” where subjects and solo violin or cello, it often hints at
Ceaseless work, analysis, answers enter before the previous what the other voices would play
reflection, writing much, ones have been resolved. if there were more instruments by
endless self-correction, injecting notes and phrases in
that is my secret. Teaching tools different registers.
Johann Sebastian Bach In writing the 48 fugues of The Bach was similarly attracted
Well-Tempered Clavier, Bach offered to canons, where one voice follows
a compendium of techniques to be the exact melodic contour of the
studied by both keyboard players other but slightly later (the round,
and composers. These were “London’s Burning” is an example
designed as teaching tools, and of this). His use of this technique is
BAROQUE 1600–1750 111
particularly evident in the Goldberg In The Musical Offering, his last
Variations, a set of 30 keyboard major keyboard work, written for
variations published in 1741, which the newly invented piano, Bach
were, he said, for “connoisseurs to wrote a collection of 14 canons
refresh their spirits.” and fugues based on a theme
Based on a repeating base purportedly composed by the King It’s the most difficult thing
line, Bach composed every third of Prussia, Frederick II. Rather than I’ve ever approached. You’ve
variation as a canon, but with one always writing out the music in full, got to keep it going; how
extra dimension. The first canon here Bach presents some musical do you do that? … There’s
begins with both voices starting conundrums that have come to be never been anything more
on the same note. In the next canon, called “riddle fugues.” In these, he beautiful in all of music.
however, although the second voice writes out only the main melody, Glenn Gould
is playing the same tune as the sometimes as an acrostic, and Pianist (1932–1982)
first, it plays it one note higher; here then, in Latin, briefly states what
incredible skill is required to create kind of canon it should be and in
melodic material that works and how many voices. The performer
sounds pleasing to the listener’s has to work out how to play the
ear. The next canon presents the piece. He even includes a so-called
second voice two notes higher, “crab canon” where the theme is
and this continues until, in the last played backward and forward at presented The Art of Fugue in the
canon, the voices are nine notes the same time. Interestingly, the same way, perhaps to suggest that
apart. Apparently not content with six-part fugue from this work, it was pure music without being
this plethora of canons, Bach had known as the “Ricercar a 6” is tied to any particular instrument.
14 more sketched out in his copy written on six staves—one staff
of Goldberg Variations, built on the per voice—rather than in an Unfinished legacy
first eight notes of the bass line. arrangement for two hands. Bach The Art of Fugue is the culmination
of Bach’s contrapuntal interests.
Written as 14 fugues and four
canons, each one uses the same
principal theme in some way
to generate music of extraordinary
subtlety and variety. The last
fugue, or “contrapunctus” as he
calls them, presents a series of
three different subjects, each
worked out in four voices before
moving to the next. The final one
presents one of the most poignant
moments in the history of music.
Bach introduces a four-note theme
that spells out his name (in German
notation B = B-flat and H = B, so
BACH = B-flat A C B), but before
he finishes working it out, the
manuscript trails off. ■

Glenn Gould, a brilliant 20th-century

Canadian pianist, seen here recording
Bach’s keyboard music, was noted for
his skill in clearly articulating the
texture of the preludes and fugues.

The court composer Italian composer The opera Doktor

of Frederick of Prussia, Domenico Scarlatti und Apotheker, a
Carl Philipp Emanuel publishes 30 Essercizi Singspiel (“sing-play”)
Bach composes (“Exercises”) as part of by Carl Ditters von
his Flute Concerto more than 500 sonatas Dittersdorf opens
in A major. written for keyboard. in Vienna.

1753 1758 1786

1755 1762 1787

Johann Stamitz’s In Vienna, Christoph Antonio Salieri

Symphony in E-flat major Willibald Gluck’s Orfeo ed premieres his
transforms the symphony Euridice overturns the Tarare, a tragédie
form with its sudden conventions of Italian opera, en musique, set to
changes in dynamics and creating a more dramatic and a French libretto,
new fourth movement. integrated entertainment. in Paris.

he 18th century was the was so influential that the term artificial nature of Baroque opera,
“Age of Enlightenment” “classical music” is widely used to began a series of “reform operas,”
in Europe, a time when refer to long-established musical simplifying the music and aiming
the old political order was giving traditions in general. Among the for a more realistic drama.
way to a new, more inclusive first to adopt the new style were
society. The aristocratic courts two of J.S. Bach’s sons: Carl Philipp The Viennese scene
continued to provide patronage Emmanuel, a court musician who As the Classical style became
for the arts, but the rise of an bridged the gap between Baroque established, composers and
urban middle class created a and Classical styles of music, and performers tended to gravitate
new concert- and operagoing his brother Johann Christian, who toward Vienna, which was
audience with different tastes. made his name in London, staging becoming the cultural as well as
The music of the period also public concerts and popularizing geographical center of Europe,
reflected Enlightenment values the newly invented piano. Some with a prosperous population
of rationalism and humanism that of the most exciting developments, eager to hear new music. Three
looked to the aesthetic ideals of however, were happening in composers stood out from the
Ancient Greece, rejecting the Mannheim, Germany, where the others: Joseph Haydn, Wolfgang
extravagant counterpoint of the court orchestra enabled composers Amadeus Mozart, and Ludwig
Baroque era in favor of a more such as Johann Stamitz to explore van Beethoven.
detached style that emphasized new musical forms, including the Haydn, although a central figure
elegance and proportion. symphony and concerto. in the formation of this Viennese
The Classical period in music Opera was undergoing a similar musical scene, was not initially a
history began around 1750. It lasted transformation. Christoph Willibald part of it. He took a conventional
not much more than 50 years yet Gluck, dissatisfied with the stilted, job as Kapellmeister (musical
CLASSICAL 1750–1820 115

Inventor of the string Muzio Clementi In London, the Czech

quartet, Joseph Haydn publishes his Piano piano virtuoso and
composes his Opus 54, Sonata in F-Sharp composer Jan Ladislav
three string quartets minor, Op. 25, No. 5, Dussek publishes an
whose originality introducing innovations influential treatise on
transforms chamber music. to the sonata form. piano playing.

1788 1790 1793

1788 1791 1803

Wolfgang Amadeus Singspiel reaches Beethoven releases his

Mozart composes its zenith with “Eroica” Symphony to
Symphony No. 40 in the highly successful widespread acclaim,
G minor, the high point premiere of Mozart’s paving the way for
of the symphony in the The Magic Flute the music of the
Classical period. in Vienna. Romantic period.

director) at the Esterházy family’s style as he toured Europe. Realizing did not make it as a child prodigy,
rural estate in Hungary, producing he was not suited to life as a court at the age of 13 he got a job as a
music for twice-weekly concerts. musician, he decided to try to earn a court musician in Bonn and then
Isolated from the wider musical living as a freelance composer—one became a freelance composer,
world, Haydn developed his own of the first to do so—in Vienna. Here performer, and teacher in Vienna.
particular style. He had a staff of he met Haydn on one of his trips to He settled there in 1792, too late
talented musicians (who referred the capital from Esterházy, and the to meet his hero, Mozart, who had
to him as “Papa Haydn”) and was two became friends. Mozart was died the year before, but he took
able to both hone his skills and inspired to develop his symphonies lessons in composition from Haydn.
refine musical forms, such as the and string quartets along the same Beethoven’s early compositions,
symphony, string quartet, sonata, lines as Haydn had, but he also symphonies, piano sonatas,
and solo concerto. Despite the made a living—and a reputation— and chamber music were in the
remoteness of the Esterházy estate, as a composer and performer of style established by Haydn and
news of his music spread to Vienna piano music. He later became Mozart but showed signs of a
and beyond, once it was published. known as the foremost opera more passionate temperament
As Haydn was starting his composer of the period. that differed from the Classicism
career as a court musician, a young of his elders. In 1803, Beethoven’s
musical prodigy from Salzburg was Enter Beethoven Third Symphony, the “Eroica,”
being paraded around the courts While Haydn and Mozart were extended the form of the symphony,
and concert halls by his ambitious at the height of their fame in the developing and expanding
father. A precocious genius, 1770s, another ambitious father expressive musical language and
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart learned had aspirations for his gifted son. heralding the beginning of a new
the elements of the new Classical Although Ludwig van Beethoven period of musical history. ■

(1754–1755), JOHANN STAMITZ

Expanding the scope
of the orchestra
1720s Composers of
Neapolitan operas, such
as Leonardo Vinci, write
“sinfonie” (symphonies) in
three movements as preludes
to their dramatic works.
1732 Italian composer
Giovanni Battista Sammartini
begins to write a series of
three-movement symphonies.

n 1741, the composer Johann Stamitz’s musical home Mannheim,
AFTER Stamitz moved from his home seen here in an engraving of 1788
1766 In Paris, Mozart in Bohemia (now the Czech showing the Elector's castle, court
befriends the Mannheim church (Hofkirche), and armoury
Republic) to Mannheim, capital became a center of music innovation.
composer and conductor of the Electoral Palatinate, a
Christian Cannabich, a pupil German territory. There he became
and follower of Stamitz. court violinist and, in 1745, was group, not from the keyboard, as had
appointed concertmaster of the previously been the norm, but from
1772 Haydn, in his Sturm orchestra. Stamitz raised the his desk at the head of the violin
und Drang (“Storm and Stress”) standards of orchestral playing, section, using his bow to signal the
symphonies, further explores hiring talented musicians, some start of the piece and to indicate
the emotive style of orchestral of whom were also composers rhythm and tempo. Under Stamitz,
music pioneered by the in their own right, and extended the Mannheim orchestra became
Mannheim composers. the orchestra by adding wind renowned for the superb quality
instruments, such as oboes and and precision of its playing and for
horns. He directed this diverse the new soundscape that it created.
CLASSICAL 1750–1820 117
See also: Mozart’s Symphony No. 40 in G minor 128–131 ■ Symphonie fantastique
162–163 ■ Schumann’s Symphony No. 1 166–169 ■ Faust Symphony 176–177

with the first movement concluding

on a recapitulation of the second
theme, this time in the home key.
This sonata form (usually with a
recapitulation of the first theme)
The wind instruments could became the template for symphonic
not be used to better writing in the Classical period,
advantage; they lift and carry, particularly in first movements.
they reinforce and give life to
the storm of the violins. Musical fireworks
C.F.D. Schubart An even more striking feature of Johann Stamitz
Poet, organist, and composer Stamitz’s symphonies, including
the E-flat—and of the Mannheim Born in Německý Brod (now
school in general—was the use Havlíčkův Brod), Bohemia, in
of strong, dynamic contrasts. 1717, Stamitz learned music
Sometimes a sudden fortissimo from his father, an organist
appears in a passage of soft music, and choirmaster, before
sometimes a dramatic crescendo, attending a Jesuit school in
Many of the works played by in which the orchestra’s sound Jihlava and university in
Stamitz’s Mannheim orchestra gets gradually louder and louder, Prague. He probably worked
were symphonies, a form that had to exhilarating effect. Another as a violinist before arriving
in Mannheim in the early
originated in Italy as the prelude, favorite mannerism was the
1740s, rising rapidly to the
or overture, to operas but had now “Mannheim rocket,” a rapidly rising court post of director of
become part of the Baroque concert melody or phrase accompanied by orchestral music in 1750.
repertoire. These works usually a crescendo. Combined with the Stamitz lived most of his
consisted of three movements: Mannheim orchestra’s varied working life in Mannheim,
one slow between two fast. instrumental palette of strings and although he also spent a year
wind instruments, symphonies like in Paris, in 1754–1755, where
The symphony reinvented those of Stamitz thrilled audiences he was already celebrated as a
In the Symphony in E-flat, and other and pointed the way to a more composer and performed in
works, Stamitz took hold of the dramatic, emotional music. a series of successful concerts.
symphony form and transformed The E-flat symphony was one Stamitz wrote church music
it, creating many of the features of Stamitz’s last orchestral works, and many chamber works,
that distinguish its musical style. but his legacy lived on through but he is best remembered for
He added an extra movement: a his two composer sons, Carl and his orchestral pieces, which
include violin concertos and
minuet with a contrasting section, Anton. They and others, such as
many symphonies, of which
called a “trio” because it was Christian Cannabich (1731–1798),
58 survive. He returned from
originally meant to be played by who led the Mannheim orchestra Paris to Mannheim in 1755
three musicians. He also adopted after Stamitz’s death, developed and died there in 1757.
the sonata form, used in the his style, and soon court composers
opening movement of the E-flat all over Europe were writing new
symphony, in which the first symphonies to entertain their Other key works
theme, played in the home key employers. The Mannheim
c.1745 Three Mannheim
(E-flat) by the full orchestra is composers impressed the young
Symphonies (in G major,
contrasted with a second theme, Mozart, who admired their
A major, and B-flat major)
here played by the oboes, in the orchestra and adopted some of c.1750 Mass in D major
dominant key (B-flat). This is Stamitz’s compositional techniques 1754 Flute concerto in C major
followed by a development section, in his own music. ■


he opera Orfeo ed Euridice involving and more real. He also
IN CONTEXT by Christoph Willibald humanized his characters and
Gluck was first performed their arias by making them
in Vienna in 1762. It is based express emotions more directly.
Classical opera seria
on a familiar tale from classical
BEFORE mythology, the story of Orpheus’s Opera seria
1690 Composers such as journey to the underworld to In the mid-18th century, the most
Alessandro Scarlatti create a rescue his wife, Eurydice. Unlike fashionable type of opera was
new style of opera derived from the original myth, but in line with what is now called opera seria
Baroque vocal works—the contemporary taste, Gluck’s opera (serious opera). This type of opera
Neapolitan School—rapidly has a happy ending. features recitative—passages sung
popularizing the genre. Even if the opera’s story was in the rhythm of speech with many
largely familiar, Gluck’s style was syllables on the same note that are
1748 Gluck’s fame is quite new. He transformed opera usually accompanied only by
enhanced when his opera to integrate the music and drama continuo instruments (typically
La Semiramide riconosciuta more fully than before, streamlining harpsichord and cello alone),
(“Semiramis Revealed”) is distracting elements that slowed up playing an improvised added bass
performed in Vienna for the the action, making the work more line—and arias, accompanied by
birthday of Habsburg empress full orchestra. The arias have a
Maria Theresa. distinct structure, called da capo
(“from the top”), with three sections,
1752 Gluck and librettist the third being a repeat of the first,
Pietro Metastasio produce with ornamentation to show off the
the highly successful opera, singer’s ability. In between, the
La clemenza di Tito (The There is no musical second section introduces a new
Clemency of Titus). rule that I have not melody or develops the initial tune.
willingly sacrificed Meanwhile, features such as rich
AFTER to dramatic effect. and varied stage sets and elaborate
1781 Mozart’s opera Christoph W. Gluck ballets, often enliven the event.
Idomeneo premieres. It Gluck believed that the lavish
shows the influence of spectacles and the long showy
Gluck, particularly in the arias tended to get in the way of
accompanied recitatives. the drama and that the difference
in musical texture between the
CLASSICAL 1750–1820 119
See also: Euridice 62–63 ■ St. Matthew Passion 98–105 ■ The Magic
Flute 134–137 ■ Der Freischütz 149

arias and recitatives interrupted This improved the flow and made
the flow. Gluck and his librettist, the music more expressive of
Ranieri de’ Calzabigi, wanted to character and emotion. In the
reform opera by putting the drama Act One aria in which Orfeo
center stage, sweeping away sings of his grief, the composer
absurdities of plot and making the inserts moving recitatives before
music serve the action. Musically each verse, further integrating
this meant doing away with the the elements.
repeats in the da capo arias and
developing a simpler, clearer style. Outcomes and effects
A good example is Orfeo’s Act III The effect of these changes was Christoph
aria “Che farò senza Euridice” to make operas more focused on
Willibald Gluck
(“What shall I do without Eurydice”), character and action—in other
an aria in rondo form in which the words, if not fully realistic, more The son of a forester, Gluck
opening theme returns at the end real and more emotionally moving. was born in Erasbach, Bavaria,
but without the direct da capo The plots tended to be more in 1714. Largely self-taught,
repetition. Gluck also integrated coherent and the characters and he traveled widely, learning
the arias and recitatives, using the situations—even when drawn from the organ and cello in Prague.
whole orchestra to accompany mythology—more credible. At He studied with the composer
the latter as well as the former. the same time, there were fewer Giuseppe Sammartini in Milan,
opportunities for singers to make before heading to London in
the sort of virtuosic displays that the 1740s, where he composed
Gluck’s opera Il Parnasso confuso operas for the King’s Theatre.
premiered in 1765 at the marriage
could interrupt the action. Later
composers, especially Mozart, There, he met Handel, who
of Emperor Joseph II. Johann Franz famously stated that his own
Greipel’s painting shows Archduke further developed these ideas to
cook (bass singer Gustavus
Leopold on the harpsichord. produce operatic masterpieces. ■ Waltz) knew more about
counterpoint than Gluck.
Gluck eventually settled in
Vienna, where he worked with
librettist Ranieri de’ Calzabigi.
The pair aimed to “reform”
opera by integrating the music
and the action. They made
operas inspired by classical
mythology, including Orfeo
ed Euridice (1762) and Alceste
(1767). Gluck’s fame grew
with further works, including
French versions of Orfeo and
some of his other operas. He
retired after suffering a stroke
in 1779 and died in 1787.

Other key works

1767 Alceste
1777 Armide
1779 Iphigénie en Tauride



n 1738, the young C.P.E., or status of servants, and had to write
IN CONTEXT Emanuel, Bach was appointed and play music that suited their
court harpsichordist in the employer’s tastes.
household of the Crown Prince
A new freedom
Frederick of Prussia. Two years later The king calls the tune
of expression the prince acceded to the throne Frederick was an accomplished
BEFORE and became known as Frederick flautist. Emanuel was therefore
1750 C.P.E. Bach writes a the Great as his power increased. junior to the much better paid court
setting of the Magnificat in Emanuel, as Bach was known, flautist Johann Joachim Quantz
a style like that of J.S. Bach, traveled with the court to Berlin, and had the task of accompanying
possibly in a bid to secure his where he lived as a court musician the king in court concerts. He was
father’s former job as cantor of for 28 years. The best keyboard also expected to compose music for
the Thomasschule in Leipzig. player of his generation, he Frederick to play—pieces such as
attracted widespread admiration his Flute Concerto in A major. To
AFTER but never felt truly valued. Court save time, Emanuel took concertos
1772 Joseph Haydn writes his musicians of the time had the that he had written for another
Symphony No. 44, the “Trauer”
(Mourning) symphony, a Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach
masterpiece of the portrayal of
emotion in orchestral music. The second keyboard instruments. He is,
surviving son however, best known for the
1777 Johann Christian Bach, of Johann symphonies and concertos in a
Emanuel’s younger brother, Sebastian highly personal and emotional
publishes his Op. 13 Keyboard Bach, Emanuel style that were written later
Concertos, almost the musical was born in in his career. Emanuel died in
opposite of Emanuel’s Weimar, Germany, in 1714. His Hamburg in 1788, aged 74.
dramatic, emotional music. father nurtured his son’s gift
for the harpsichord. Other key works
1779 C.P.E. Bach begins to Emanuel studied law before
publish his series of rondos devoting all his time to music. 1749 Magnificat in D, Wq 215
and other solo keyboard works In the service of Frederick the 1775–1776 Symphonies, Wq 183
Great from 1740, he composed 1783–1787 Keyboard Sonatas,
that mark the high point of his
works for the court musicians Fantasias and Rondos, Wq 58,
“emotional” musical style. and wrote a treatise on playing 59, 61
CLASSICAL 1750–1820 121
See also: Great Service 52–53 ■ Water Music 84–89 ■ Musique de table 106 ■ Hippolyte et Aricie 107 ■

The Art of Fugue 108–111 ■ Beethoven’s String Quartet No. 14 in C-sharp minor 156–161

Patronage during the 18th century

Grand Prince The Esterházy Habsburg ruler Diplomat Baron

Ferdinando de’ Medici family of Hungary Emperor Joseph II Gottfried van Swieten
(1663–1713) (from 1761) (1741–1790) (1733–1803)

Invites Employs
Domenico Helps Salieri Sponsors Commissions Mozart on
Scarlatti to Commissions Employs Commissions become Mozart’s Die C.P.E. Bach’s various
his court in Handel ’s Haydn Beethoven’s director of Entführung six symphonies musical
Florence in opera Rodrigo for life from Opus 1 Piano the Italian aus dem Serail for string projects
1702 (1707) 1761 trios (1795) opera in 1774 (1788) orchestra (1773) (1782–1790)

A small circle of noble patrons supported composers in

the 1700s. As music became more popular, musicians gained
a greater independence, but patronage still played a crucial role.

instrument and transcribed them emotion. In this he was following a principal churches. He still had to
for the flute—like others, the A fashion known as Empfindsamkeit write to order, but he had time
major concerto began life as a (sensibility) that was a reaction to compose the music he wanted to
harpsichord concerto. against the rationalism of write, either to perform himself or
Although Emanuel Bach studied Enlightenment philosophy. In his for patrons who were willing to give
composition with his father, Johann bid to create expressive music, full rein to his emotional style. Later
Sebastian, their styles are very Emanuel developed a distinctive composers such as Mozart and
different. The father’s music was style that featured sudden, dramatic Beethoven worked increasingly
based on counterpoint, while his changes in harmony, dynamics, in this freelance way, carving out
son was interested in conveying and rhythm, giving his works a role that was less like that of
(especially in the fast movements) servant and creating music that
a spontaneous quality; he also was more personal. ■
created affecting, melodic slow
movements. Some strong rhythmic
and dynamic contrasts appear in
the outer movements of the A major
Keyboardists whose chief Flute Concerto, and Emanuel would
asset is mere technique … no doubt have heightened the
overwhelm our hearing drama had he not had to consider A musician … must feel all
without satisfying it and stun what Frederick would want to play. the emotions that he hopes
the mind without moving it. to arouse in his audience.
C.P.E. Bach Seeking independence C.P.E. Bach
The king did not like Emanuel’s
more dramatic, unpredictable
pieces; he preferred simpler works.
In 1768, Emanuel left to become
music director of Hamburg’s five
NO. 2, HOBOKEN III:57 (1788–1790),

oseph Haydn invented the Rugeri, and the Guarneri family.
IN CONTEXT string quartet. Why he More responsive violins, violas,
settled on the combination and cellos were exciting both to
of two violins, viola, and cello is not composers and players. Haydn was
Development of the
certain, but it may be that their also interested in the advances in
string quartet individual pitch registers closely bow-making. Earlier bows had to
BEFORE reflect the voices in a choir. The stay close to the string, releasing
1198 Pérotin’s motet instruments, and the musicians to sounds in a sustained manner; by
Viderunt omnes establishes play them, would also have been “bouncing” the new bow off the
the practice of composing readily available at the Hungarian string, a quick, almost percussive
for four voices—the basis court of the Esterházy family, where sound could be produced, as Haydn
of the string quartet. Haydn was composer-in-residence. shows in the finale of his Op. 33, C
The standard chamber music major quartet (1781).
16th–17th centuries Early grouping before Haydn was the The sound-carrying qualities
pieces for string quartets trio sonata, in which a keyboard of these new instruments and
include Gregorio Allegri’s instrument was joined by two high- techniques eventually spurred the
four-part Sinfonia and melody instruments (violin or flute), composition of chamber music that
Alessandro Scarlatti’s Sonate a with a continuo instrument, such could be performed in large concert
quattro, but the standard form as a cello, doubling the bass line of halls and not just in private salons.
of chamber music was the trio the keyboard. Haydn’s inspired use
sonata, usually for two violins of four instruments of the string Original, emotive works
and basso continuo. family effectively modernized an The emotional expressiveness of
older tradition that Henry Purcell Haydn’s mature work links it to the
AFTER had developed a century earlier German Sturm und Drang (Storm
1890s Inspired by Haydn, with his String Fantasias for up to and Stress) artistic movement.
London concert promoter six voices, performed on viols. For Haydn, the string quartet was
Johann Peter Salomon brought the perfect vehicle for extreme
string quartets out of private Enhanced sound emotional contrasts designed to
drawing rooms and into public Haydn benefited from the great shock the audience. His early
concert halls. strides that had been made in accomplished quartets include
instrument-making, epitomized Op. 9, which he later declared
in Italy by the Amati family, was the true starting point of
Antonio Stradivari, Francesco his quartet compositions, and

Joseph Haydn Spanning the Baroque and capitals, most notably to London
Classical periods, Joseph where his compositions were in
Haydn was a key figure in great demand. After the London
the development of the Classical Symphonies (93–104), Haydn
style. Born in Lower Austria in wrote only six Masses and two
1732 to parents of modest means, oratorios. In his last public
he was a musically gifted child appearance, he conducted The
and attended a cathedral choir Seven Last Words in December
school in Vienna from the age of 1803. He died quietly at home
eight. His early music, including in Vienna in 1809.
some string quartets, was first
published in Paris in 1764. Other key works
Haydn’s employment from
1761 to 1790 at Esterházy 1768 Symphony No. 49
Palace, in Hungary, cemented 1795 Piano trio No. 24 in D major
his reputation as a composer. He 1797–1798 The Creation
later traveled to many musical 1798 Nelson Mass
CLASSICAL 1750–1820 125
See also: Corelli’s Concerti Grossi 80–81 ■ C.P.E. Bach’s Flute Concerto in A major 120–121 ■ Clementi’s Piano Sonata
in F-sharp minor 132–133 ■ Die schöne Müllerin 150–155 ■ Beethoven’s String Quartet No. 14 in C-sharp minor 156–161

Op. 20, in which the gradual

liberation of the four parts into
solo voices within the quartet
framework marked a new
development of the genre.
Op. 20, No. 2 is particularly
interesting, as it reverses the more
usual form of a quartet, in which
the first violin dominates, by
casting the cello as top voice, the
second violin and viola below it,
while the first violin is initially
silent. The minuet third movement
of Op. 20, No. 4, is also innovative.
The standard pulse for minuets is
three, but here accents make it
sound as though it is in the rhythm
of two. Likewise, in three of the
finales (Op. 20, Nos. 2, 5, and 6),
Haydn uses a well-established
form, a fugue, to develop new ideas,
such as interrupting long stretches
of sotto voce (very soft) playing by the Austrian Carl Ditters von At the Esterházy Palace, shown
sudden bursts of forte (loud). Dittersdorf on first violin, and the here in an 18th-century image, Haydn
Czech Johann Baptist Vanhal on had a secure but onerous post—not
only composing, but also managing
European acclaim cello, the four composers would musicians, manuscripts, and events.
Haydn is thought to have first met often play quartets together and
Mozart in the early 1780s, and they experiment with each other’s
became close friends. With Haydn compositions. This led Mozart to quartets. He experimented with
on second violin, Mozart on viola, dedicate his first six mature string almost all possible tonalities
quartets to Haydn. (changes in pitch, and major and
As the demand for Haydn’s minor modes), as well as Classical
music spread through Europe, his forms (sonata, fugue, variations,
quartets were performed in concert minuet, scherzo, and rondo).
halls as well as in private salons, There are quartets that are more
When we invoke the name and he adjusted their style consistently virtuosic and more
Haydn, we mean one of accordingly. By making the first brilliantly projected, and there
violin parts ever more brilliant, are also earlier compositions,
our greatest men … Every
with higher notes and displays of such as the slow movement of
harmonic artifice is at virtuosity, he naturally made the his Op. 20, No. 1, that perhaps
his command. lower three voices more athletic, better convey the perfect intimate
Ernst Ludwig Gerber too. The performers also had to sound of a quartet, but the extreme
Organist and composer
(1746–1819) learn to project their sound. contrasts between the movements
of Op. 54, No. 2, as well as Haydn’s
A memorable, daring work inspired and brave decision to
Haydn’s Op. 54, No. 2 in C major, end with a slow movement, single
composed in 1788, is one of his this out as a truly memorable
many exceptionally inventive piece of music. ❯❯

Second violin Viola

Often plays in Plays notes in the
harmony with the first mellow middle range
violin, but sometimes corresponding with
with the viola. the alto voice.

First violin Cello

Often leads and Plays the bass line,
plays the highest the foundation for
notes and the most the high-melody
difficult parts.  instruments.

Anatomy of a string quartet

The Op. 54, No. 2 quartet was turn in the development section, creation of what appears to be a
among those that Johann Tost, a while the recapitulation is marked quintet, when the lower three play
violinist much admired by Haydn by the cello’s exuberant arpeggio on with occasional double stops,
and a wily merchant, took to Paris and interjections from the first freeing up the first violin to present
to promote and sell. Its brilliantly violin. When the movement should a lament that sounds as if it is
soloistic writing for first violin was head to its conclusion, Haydn—like totally improvised. The freedom
aimed at a musical audience that other great Classical composers, of Haydn’s notation gives every
preferred the quatuor concertant, a such as Mozart, Beethoven, and violinist an opportunity to present
string quartet genre fashionable in Schubert—ignores compositional an individual and uninhibited
the French capital from around 1775 conventions by ending with a interpretation of this passage,
to the French Revolution of 1789. It huge climax. With both violins at which Brahms emulates in the
must also have suited Tost’s talent their loudest, the viola and cello slow movement of his Clarinet
for playing in very high registers. join in before the movement ends Quintet Op. 115.
almost reflectively but for its final The sadness of the ending—
An exuberant opening two upright chords. on a quiet chord—is deliberately
The key of C major that Haydn unresolved. Instead of the normal
chose for the quartet is traditionally Surprising contrasts break (and even the tuning of
an indication of happy, optimistic The ensuing adagio (slow) in instruments between movements
music. The piece begins with C minor is highly introspective that often occurred), the piece
bright and brilliant opening in mood. A sad gypsy melody is moves straight on into the minuet,
bars and a fast and vivaciously pitched in the lowest registers of all which starts hesitatingly and then
improvised melody in celebratory four instruments. The miracle of gradually emulates the optimism
mood. Each instrument leads in this movement is the imperceptible of the first movement. In the
CLASSICAL 1750–1820 127
reassuring melody. Yet even here Chamber groups
the cello behaves unusually,
In the 18th century, as
climbing into the pitch of the first
education widened and the
violin. After a fast interlude, the
middle class expanded,
quartet ends peacefully. appreciation of music spread
It can safely be beyond the court and church.
suggested that there is Haydn’s legacy The number of amateur
no more original Haydn It is not known how well the musicians with money and
quartet [Op. 54 No. 2], nor quartet was received, and indeed, leisure time rapidly increased,
any that contains more the much less imaginative works and musical friends would
prophetic innovations. of a fellow Austrian, Ignace Joseph get together in a “chamber,”
Hans Keller Pleyel, were more popular in Paris or room, to make music at
at the time. However, less than 20 home. This created a market
years later, when Beethoven for musical compositions
produced his Op. 18 quartets in suited to an intimate setting,
1800, a revival of Haydn’s quartets especially for strings, which
occurred. The style of Haydn’s blended harmoniously and
were more affordable and
83 quartets had revolutionized
widely available, following
contrasting trio sections, this all chamber music. Schumann studied improvements in the
changes as a dissonant A-flat note them before embarking on his three manufacture of instruments.
is repeatedly accented on a weak Op. 41 quartets, and all future While string quartets were
beat, sounding like screams of composers of quartets would take the most popular form of
anguish. The conventional repeat inspiration from Haydn. ■ chamber ensemble during
of the minuet plays a critical role the Classical and Romantic
in restoring an optimistic mood. periods, composers also wrote
Haydn often visited Vienna as part
The finale, however, produces for quintets, with an extra
of Prince Esterházy’s retinue. In this
the biggest surprise. Instead of the 19th-century painting, he is shown (in viola, cello, or the addition
conventional fast movement, Haydn light blue) directing a quartet from his of a double bass, and
presents an adagio with a calm and preferred second violin position. eventually works featuring
other “fifth” instruments,
such as the clarinet, creating
a richer sound. Work for
woodwind quintets (flute,
oboe, clarinet, bassoon, and
horn) also appeared.
As many middle-class
households acquired a piano
in the late 18th century,
composers produced chamber
music for the piano—the piano
trio (piano, violin, and cello),
quartet (piano trio and viola),
and quintet (string quartet
with piano). The piano duet for
two players at one instrument
also became popular for
domestic and concert
performances, and a number
of composers wrote works for
four hands, including Mozart
and Schubert.


Innovation in the Classical

1759–1795 Joseph Haydn

composes more than 100
symphonies in the four-


movement format.
1764 Aged eight, Wolfgang
Amadeus Mozart composes
SYMPHONY NO. 40 IN G MINOR, K. 550 (1788), his First Symphony in E-flat
major, K.16.
1803 Ludwig van Beethoven
completes his stormy, political
“Eroica” symphony.
1824 Beethoven finishes his
symphonic project with the
Ninth Symphony, including a
final movement featuring vocal
soloists and chorus.

y the beginning of the
1780s, Mozart had written
more than 30 symphonies.
These works were influenced by
both musical and extra-musical
factors, including his work in the
archbishop’s court in his home city
of Salzburg, his tours of Italy’s
musical centers, his search for
employment in Munich and Paris,
and his visits to Mannheim, the
capital of the symphony during
the 18th century.

Classical zenith
After he settled in Vienna in
1781, Mozart wrote relatively few
symphonies, focusing instead on
piano concertos, chamber music,
and works for the theatre. Yet in
the summer of 1788, he wrote his
CLASSICAL 1750–1820 129
See also: Stamitz’s Symphony in E-flat major 116–117 ■ The Magic Flute 134–137 ■

“Eroica” Symphony 138–141 ■ Der Freischütz 149 ■ The Ring Cycle 180–187

final three symphonies, Nos. 39–41, minor keys, syncopated rhythms,

including the Symphony No. 40 in melodic leaps, and other flourishes,
G minor, K.550, possibly composed all of which characterize Mozart’s
for a projected concert series in “Little” G minor symphony (No. 25,
a central Viennese casino. These K. 183/173dB), completed in 1773.
works represent the culmination This moody music often went
of the symphonic genre during hand in hand with the virtuoso
the Classical period—though they playing associated with the city
also look ahead to the music of of Mannheim in Germany, which
the 19th century, with its emphasis Mozart visited in both 1763,
on a broad range of harmonies, when he was seven years old, Wolfgang Amadeus
along with concert programs and again in 1777–1778, at age 21.
ascribing distinct narratives and Mannheim’s instrumentalists
themes to musical pieces. were famous for creating dynamic Born in Salzburg, then part
shifts and thrilling crescendoes. of the Holy Roman Empire,
Expressive forces But it was not just the style of the in 1756, Mozart followed in
As a young man, Mozart had been Mannheim symphony that was the footsteps of his father,
influenced by the Sturm und Drang new. Its structure also differed from Leopold, a musician and
(“storm and stress”) movement that its counterparts, consisting of four composer in the archbishop’s
emphasized emotion and creative rather than three movements. The court. Yet Mozart’s brilliance
individuality. This style, which symphony’s previously dancing ❯❯ as a violinist, pianist, and
took its lead from contemporary composer meant that Salzburg
literature, is also evident in works often seemed stifling, even
Mozart often composed music provincial, and he tried to
by the pioneering and prolific in segments before fleshing them find employment elsewhere.
“father of the symphony,” Joseph out as finished manuscripts, such In 1781, he settled in the
Haydn. In music, Sturm und Drang as the one below of his Symphony city of Vienna, the seat of
found expression in the use of No. 40 in G minor. Habsburg pomp and power.
Working as a freelance
composer, he perfected genres
such as the symphony, the
concerto, and the string
quartet, and wrote a handful
of highly successful operas.
Mozart died of mysterious
causes in late 1791, at the age
of 35, leaving behind some
600 musical works and an
extraordinary legacy for the
generation that followed.

Other key works

1773 Symphony No. 25

in G minor
1779 Krönungsmesse
1786 The Marriage of Figaro
1790 Cosi fan tutte
1791 Requiem (incomplete)
(and somewhat frivolous) finales of this was designed to impress
were also given greater weight by the worldly Viennese, as were the
these court composers, further audacious tonal choices that
revolutionizing the genre. Mozart made across all four
movements. These often require
The 40th symphony feats of musical ingenuity across
While several of Mozart’s early the scale, particularly at the
works flaunt these Mannheim- beginning of the development
influenced, dramatic musical section of the energetic finale.
characteristics—for example, Here, Mozart uses 11 out of the
juxtaposing the woodwind and 12 notes of the chromatic scale
string sections to powerful (leaving out only G, the tonic—or
effect—his later “Great” Symphony, central note—of the symphony),
No. 40 in G minor is characterized creating a complex and sometimes
by a more integrated instrumental dissonant sound. It is little wonder
palette. This style is typical of that Arnold Schoenberg, known for
works from Vienna, which along employing all 12 notes in a scale,
with Mannheim was the city most would later be drawn to this work
strongly associated with the in particular.
symphony as a genre in the 18th The home key, G minor, is also
century. While ostensibly more an important component of the Mozart created a second version
subdued, harmonic color and work. It was, for Mozart, the of Symphony No. 40 that included
melodic drama are in plentiful musical channel through which clarinets, which had only recently been
supply here as well. he frequently expressed pain or invented. These were created by the
18th-century craftsman Jacob Denner.
Beginning with a sighing figure tragedy, not just in complete works
in the strings, Symphony No. 40 but also in arias such as Pamina’s
in G minor features a number of “Ach, ich fühl’s” (“Oh, I feel it”) in first movement, which starts as if
bold, stormy passages, as well The Magic Flute. In addition to in mid-flow. Equally complex—and
as virtuoso writing for the entire Symphony No. 40’s harmonic twists sometimes quite confrontational—
orchestra. Indeed, the whole work and turns, its feeling of emotional is the orchestral texture. Although
has the feeling of an unspoken, unpredictability stems from the it never breaks out into a full fugue,
tragic drama and often echoes varying lengths of its musical as in the final movement of
Mozart’s music for the stage. All phrases, as at the beginning of the Mozart’s “Jupiter” Symphony

A musical hub Schubert (who was born in

Vienna), the Strauss family,
As capital of the Habsburg Brahms, Bruckner, Mahler,
Empire, Vienna was the center Schoenberg, and Webern.
of European music for two As the public interest in
centuries. It was home to many music expanded, new theatres
of the great Classical composers, and concert halls were built to
including Mozart, Haydn, and cater for them. Empress Maria
Beethoven. They converged on Theresa built the Burgtheater
the city in search of patronage close to the royal palace in 1741,
and audiences, the first in a and in 1833, the composer and
long list of composers, including conductor Franz Lachner
founded the Künstlerverein,
The Burgtheater on Michaelerplatz, the forerunner of the Vienna
Vienna, was operated by the Habsburg Philharmonic Orchestra, rival to
court. A number of Mozart’s operas the Berlin Philharmonic for the
were premiered here. title of world’s top orchestra.
CLASSICAL 1750–1820 131
in C major (No. 41) that followed, mold with radically different works,
counterpoint—alternate melodic such as “Eroica” in 1804, and the
lines played above or below the Ninth Symphony of 1824.
main melody—is apparent
throughout. Even the minuet Romantic developments
and trio of the symphony’s third Mozart’s music is so The tonally (and expressively)
movement, normally an exercise pure and beautiful that diverse music of Beethoven’s
in pleasant repetition, prove rather I see it as a reflection contemporary Franz Schubert
heated, more in the manner of a of the inner workings also found its model in Mozart’s
quarrel than a courtly dance. of the universe. final works. Those who followed
Together, the symphony’s four Albert Einstein these Viennese masters, such as
movements move us far beyond Hector Berlioz and Franz Liszt,
the balance and poise of Mozart’s continued to adapt the Classical
earlier works—as well as those symphony to their own Romantic
of his contemporaries. They look ends, introducing new dramatic
ahead to the more turbulent effects and elements, such as
music of the Romantic period. program notes to help the audience
After Mozart’s death, his final three interpret the music, as in Berlioz’s
Mozart’s legacy symphonies, a magnificent triptych Symphonie fantastique and
It is not clear if Symphony No. 40 with the G minor at its heart, were Liszt’s symphonic poems.
was premiered during Mozart’s repeatedly held up as the pinnacle Collectively, these gave the
lifetime, and many commentators of the Classical symphony. These symphony an even greater sense
claimed that it was not written works—along with Haydn’s own of theater and formed the basis
for Vienna at all, but for posterity. great body of symphonies—no for Richard Wagner’s “symphonic”
However, the presence of a second doubt provided the benchmark for operas, with their emphasis on
version of the score, including the young Ludwig van Beethoven. recurrent motifs and the changing
parts for two clarinets, probably Born in Bonn, Beethoven arrived role of the orchestra—Wagner was
written for Mozart’s friends, in Vienna the year after Mozart’s the first to place the orchestra out
the clarinetists and basset horn death and became one of Haydn’s of sight of the audience, focusing
players Anton and Johann Stadler, pupils, initially emulating the attention on the stage. The roots of
indicates that Mozart must have music of both his teacher and his such bold innovations are found in
heard at least one performance idol Mozart. Eventually, however, the symphonic works Mozart wrote
before he died in 1791. Beethoven would break their toward the end of his short life. ■

The first movement of a The second

symphony presents several themes and movement presents lyrical
develops the sections in different keys, ending melodies. It usually has a ternary form,
in the main key, usually in a fast-pace with three sections, the third
sonata-allegro form. repeating the first.

The fourth movement is

fairly fast and often in a rondo form, in Two brisk minuets separated by a
which the first section is repeated and there contrasting trio section in ternary form
is a different new section between make up the third movement.
each repetition.



he development of the became commonplace. Composers
IN CONTEXT instrumental sonata also began structuring their music
mirrored a change in the into large-scale arcs called sonatas,
function of music in the Classical which allowed the audience to
The instrumental sonata
period. Music was no longer an experience a more varied musical
BEFORE accompaniment to dance or prayer journey. Anglo-Italian composer
1758 Domenico Scarlatti but a focus in its own right, and Muzio Clementi was an important
publishes his 30 Essercizi per composers thus worked to find innovator in this evolving structure,
Gravicembalo, which form new ways to engage the audience. his Sonata in F-sharp minor being
part of his more than 500 With the rise in popularity of the a prime example of the form.
sonatas for keyboard. newly invented piano, one way
of achieving this was through the A Clementi & Co. square piano
1771 Joseph Haydn drama of juxtaposing loud and soft from London, where Clementi’s
specifically names a piano passages, which had not been piano manufacturing company
piece a “sonata” rather than possible on the harpsichord. This flourished in the early 18th century.
a divertimento.
1818 Beethoven completes
his Hammerklavier Sonata,
Op. 106, which takes the
sonata to new heights of
complexity and virtuosity.
1853 Franz Liszt writes his
piano Sonata in B minor and
redefines the genre for the
Romantic age.
CLASSICAL 1750–1820 133
See also: Scarlatti’s Sonata in D minor 90–91 ■ Haydn’s String Quartet in
C major, Op. 5, No. 2 122–127 ■ “Eroica” Symphony 138–141 ■ Préludes 164–165

Generally, sonatas were formed of The Sonata Principle

three or four movements, the first
of which was structured according
to what is now called the Sonata Exposition
Two themes are presented
Principle. This was usually the
in two different keys. The first
longest and most dramatic of the theme is in the tonic key.
movements and the one in which
the composer was expected to
demonstrate his dexterity in
musical discourse to move and grip
the audience. Usually a fast, driving Development Muzio Clementi
movement, the first movement of The themes are
Clementi’s Sonata in F-sharp minor manipulated, fragmented, Born in Rome in 1752, Muzio
is unusual in that it portrayed a extended, and transformed. Clementi came to the notice
slower, more meditative mood of of the English patron, Sir Peter
considerable pathos, distinguishing Beckford, at the age of 14.
it from other works of the time. Taking Clementi to his estate
A sonata’s second movement in Dorset, England, Beckford
was usually slower, giving the Recapitulation sponsored Clementi’s musical
composer a chance to demonstrate Both themes are replayed, education for the next seven
his finer sensibilities, and often had now both in the tonic key. years. At his debut, Clementi
songlike sections. In his F-sharp was possibly the most
accomplished keyboard player
minor sonata, Clementi goes one
in the world, and he was the
step further: sometimes the treble
first true piano virtuoso.
has a single line, resembling a In 1780, Clementi began
singer’s aria, accompanied by the Coda a two-year tour of Europe,
light repeated chords found in Rounds off the movement. during which he met Mozart
operatic string writing. By using in Vienna. (While Clementi
such a technique, Clementi was was impressed by Mozart’s
perhaps attempting to steal a little “spirit and grace,” Mozart in
limelight from the opera—the most turn called him a “charlatan.”)
public forum for music at the time. The sonata principle Back in London, Clementi
became a celebrated composer
creates a musical and teacher. He was also a
Minuet/trio and finale argument that creates
In four-movement sonatas, it was very successful publisher and
tension and resolution. piano manufacturer, and he
then traditional to include a minuet
and trio as a throwback to the helped to found the Royal
Philharmonic Society. He
Baroque dance suites, and this
died in 1832 and is buried
provided a kind of respite amid the audience and often great acclaim in Westminster Abbey.
stronger movements—although for the performers. In this sonata,
Beethoven would soon exchange Clementi enjoyed showing off his
this respite for a vigorous “scherzo” technique of playing two passages Other key works
(Italian for “to joke”), whose mood a third apart with one hand—a skill
Before 1781 Piano Sonata
might range from irony to terror. for which he was famous. This was
in B-flat minor, Op. 24 No. 2.
The finale was usually lighter in beyond the ability of amateurs (and 1800 12 Waltzes for Piano,
substance but far more brilliant in most performers), thereby setting a Triangle, and Tambourine
terms of technical display, thus seal on this work as a piece worthy 1826 Gradus ad Parnassum
allowing a satisfying ending for an of the concert hall. ■


Opera in German

1770 Johann Adam Hiller’s
comic opera Die Jagd (“The

Hunt”), one of the most popular
18th-century singspiels opens.


1789 The premiere of Oberon,
König der Elfen (Oberon, King
of the Elves) by Czech Paul
THE MAGIC FLUTE (1791), Wranitzky sets a trend for
Zauberoper (“magic opera”).
1805 Beethoven’s only opera,
Fidelio, a singspiel, has its
first performance in Vienna.
1816 E.T.A. Hoffmann’s
Undine, a Zauberoper about
a water spirit, opens in Berlin.
1821 Carl Maria von
Weber’s Der Freischütz
(“The Marksman”), a Romantic
singspiel with a supernatural
theme, premieres in Berlin.

ozart’s The Magic Flute,
a two-act opera first
performed in Vienna in
September 1791, marked the peak
of the development of singspiel
(“sing-play”), a uniquely German
opera genre that combined music
with spoken word.
Based on a libretto by Mozart’s
friend Emanuel Schikaneder, the
opera is set in ancient Egypt and
tells the story of a prince, Tamino,
who strays into the realm of the
mysterious Queen of the Night
where he is attacked by a serpent.
Rescued by the queen’s three
ladies-in-waiting, he falls in love
with a portrait they show him of
the queen’s daughter, Pamina, who
CLASSICAL 1750–1820 135
See also: Orfeo ed Euridice 118–119 ■ C.P.E. Bach’s Flute Concerto in A major 120–121 ■ Mozart’s Symphony No. 40 in G
minor 128–131 ■ The Barber of Seville 148 ■ Der Freischütz 149 ■ Tosca 194–197

Mozart’s The Magic Flute remains Mozart’s Idomeneo (1781) and La songs. John Gay’s The Beggar’s
hugely popular. The opera drew more clemenza di Tito (1791)—often drew Opera (1728) was the most famous
than 400,000 spectators at Austria’s its stories from the mythology and ballad opera, but it was Gay’s
Bregenz Festival during a two-year
run in 2013 and 2014.
history of ancient Greece and Irish contemporary Charles Coffey
Rome. Opera buffa was comic, who had the greatest impact in
with Mozart’s The Marriage of 18th-century Germany. His ballad ❯❯
has been abducted by Sarastro, Figaro (1786) an outstanding
high priest of the gods Isis and example of the genre.
Osiris. Tamino vows to rescue Singspiel had its roots in early
Pamina. He, his comic companion, 18th-century Vienna, where the
Papageno (the queen’s bird- imposing Theater am Kärntnertor
catcher), and Pamina undergo a specialized in popular musical
series of ordeals, armed only with dramas. Unlike the Italian operas I’ve just got back from the
a magic flute and magic chimes. performed for the court and nobility, opera; it was as full as ever …
Light eventually triumphs over these entertainments were for you can see [it] continuing to
darkness, bringing a happy ending. Viennese of all social backgrounds. rise in people’s estimation.
From Vienna, singspiels spread to Wolfgang
Popular appeal Germany, where in the mid-century Amadeus Mozart
Mozart wrote 20 operas in all, in they gained in popularity due to
three genres: opera seria, opera the influence of French opéra
buffa (both sung throughout), and comique and English ballad opera.
singspiel. Opera seria, the grandest Both these genres mingled spoken
form of opera—a style that includes dialogue, often satirical, with

Mozart and Freemasonry many attractions—it offered a

free-thinking and enlightened
On December 14, 1784, Mozart approach to religion; espoused
was admitted to one of Vienna’s the virtue of justice, which for
eight Freemason lodges. The city many Masons meant active
at that time had more than 700 opposition to abuses of state
Masons, including “brethren”— and clerical power; and provided
then, as now, only men could be a place where men of different
Masons—drawn from the highest status could mix on terms
nobility, officialdom, and even of relative equality. Mozart
clergy, but also from the ranks remained a devoted Mason
of the middle classes: doctors, the rest of his life and wrote
Freemasons swear in a new merchants, booksellers, and several pieces for performance
member in a colored copper musicians, including Mozart’s at Masonic occasions, notably
engraving of c. 1750. Mozart was librettist for The Magic Flute, 1785’s Masonic Funeral Music in
similarly initiated into Vienna’s Emanuel Schikaneder. For men C Minor in memory of two of his
“Beneficence” lodge in 1784. like Mozart, Freemasonry had recently passed brethren.

opera The Devil to Pay, a huge numbers added for atmosphere and Vienna’s Burgtheater in 1778.
success in Britain, became a to convey character. In works such as One of its biggest successes was
success in translation in Berlin, in Hiller’s Die Jagd (“The Hunt”) (1770) Mozart’s The Abduction from the
the 1740s. Two adaptations of other and Benda’s Walder (1776) and Seraglio (1782).
operas by Coffey inspired the Romeo und Julie (1776), the singing In the spring of 1791, Emanuel
Leipzig-based Johann Adam Hiller, parts became the dramatic core of Schikaneder commissioned Mozart
regarded as the father of singspiel, the piece. Official recognition to write another singspiel—this
to begin his career in the 1760s. of such works as examples of a time for the Theatre auf der Wieden
popular and distinctively German in Vienna, where Schikaneder was
National genre genre, to be encouraged in the face the director. Oberon, the King of
In the hands of composers such as of the all-dominant Italian opera, the Elves, with music by Mozart’s
Hiller, Georg Anton Benda, Karl came when Habsburg Emperor friend Paul Wranitzky, was a recent
Ditters von Dittersdorf, and Ignaz Joseph II, a lover and patron of the hit for Schikaneder’s company
Umlauf, singspiels were no longer arts, established a short-lived and an example of a new breed
simply spoken dramas with musical National-Singspiel company at of singspiel, sometimes called

The Magic Flute’s characters expressed through music

The Queen of the Night Papageno (bird-catcher) Tamino and Pamina Sarastro (high priest)
Soprano, whose vocal Baritone, who sings upbeat Tenor and soprano, Bass, whose slow and dignified
dexterity culminates and bouncy folk melodies respectively, whose performance, with speechlike
in a staccato aria that with prominent use of pan romantic and deeply felt delivery in parts and heightened
represents instability, pipes, suggesting his arias represent enlightened by grand orchestral flourishes,
greed, and duplicity. happy-go-lucky nature. principles of light and joy. suggests justice and wisdom.
CLASSICAL 1750–1820 137
Zauberoper (“magic opera”), which
mingled comedy with supernatural
elements and impressive spectacle.
Keen to repeat the success of
Wranitzky’s work, Schikaneder
himself wrote the libretto for the
new opera, although it is likely that
Mozart collaborated as well. The
two men took a fairy tale by August
Jacob Liebeskind, Lulu, oder die
Zauberflöte (Lulu, or The Magic
Flute), as their starting point but
transformed it almost beyond
recognition. Among other things,
they added Masonic elements
(Wranitzky, Schikaneder, and
Mozart were Freemasons), such
as in the initiatory ordeals that
the protagonists endure.

The Magic Flute

Mozart died in 1791, just two
months after The Magic Flute
premiered. It was not only his last Night to the touching comedy of Opera-goers in London watch from a
major completed work but also one the duet, “Pa-pa-pa-Papagena,” box in a 1796 painting by an unknown
of his most sublime. In all Mozart’s in which Papageno and his mate artist. Opera became fashionable in
the early 18th century, with new operas
operas, he showed an unsurpassed Papagena imagine a blissful future commissioned for each season.
gift for creating the right music to together. Only such a perfect
fit each character, situation, or command of musical expression
emotion. In The Magic Flute, this enabled Mozart to hold together The Magic Flute’s influence on
ranges from the deep solemnity of convincingly the often unsettling the development of singspiel and
the priest Sarastro’s songs and two ambivalences and reversals of the German Romantic opera was
powerful arias of the Queen of the opera, such as the point when the fundamental. It carried singspiel
Queen of the Night unexpectedly into the 19th century, when the
turns from grieving mother to spite- genre developed in two directions.
filled ally of her daughter’s worst One strand led to Beethoven’s
enemy, Monostatos. opera Fidelio (1805), and—more
The opera’s premiere on formatively—to further “magic
September 30, 1791, started badly operas,” such as E.T.A. Hoffmann’s
Salieri listened and watched but ended well. During the first act, Undine (1816) and Carl Maria von
with total attentiveness … the audience was muted in its Weber’s Der Freischütz (1821) and
there wasn’t a number that response. Perhaps, despite the Oberon (1826). These were the
didn’t call forth from him recent success of Oberon, King of precursors of full-blown German
a “bravo” or a “bello.” the Elves, they were baffled by the Romantic opera, best exemplified
Wolfgang Amadeus Zauberoper’s strangely magical in the works of Richard Wagner.
Mozart qualities. In the second act, The other strand of singspiel stayed
however, the audience came true to its lighter-hearted origins,
alive and at the end called Mozart leading to the Viennese operettas
onto the stage to applaud him. of Johann Strauss the younger
The Magic Flute has remained (Die Fledermaus) and Franz Lehár
perennially popular ever since. (The Merry Widow). ■

Breaking the mold of
the classical sonata

1759 Joseph Haydn writes
his First Symphony—in three
1793 The German theorist
SYMPHONY NO. 3 IN E-FLAT MAJOR, Heinrich Christoph Koch
is the first to describe how
“EROICA,” OP. 55 (1804), LUDWIG the sonata form works.

VAN BEETHOVEN 1800 Beethoven completes

his First Symphony.
1810 Critic E.T.A. Hoffmann
describes Beethoven as
“a purely romantic composer”
in a review of Symphony No. 5.
1824 Beethoven’s Symphony
No. 9 amazes audiences by
adding voices to a previously
purely instrumental genre.

eethoven’s “Eroica” broke
boundaries and audience
expectations on its public
premiere in 1805, representing a
radical reworking of what was
understood by a “symphony.” The
composer’s daring expansion of
sonata form, his rebalancing of
musical structure, and even his
ordering of the work’s movements,
met with puzzlement and outrage.
The seeds of the symphony
were sown, surprisingly, with a
dance. In March 1801, a new ballet,
Die Geschöpfe des Prometheus
(The Creatures of Prometheus) had
its first performance at the Vienna
Burgtheater. Beethoven provided
the music, which ended with a jolly
theme in E-flat major. The melody
CLASSICAL 1750–1820 139
See also: Stamitz’s Symphony in E-flat major 116–117 ■ Mozart’s Symphony
No. 40 in G minor 128–131 ■ Symphonie fantastique 162–163 ■ Schumann’s
Symphony No. 1 166–169 ■ Dvořák’s Symphony No. 9 212–215

with a dedication to Prince Franz

Joseph (who paid Beethoven
handsomely for it) and given the
subtitle “composed to celebrate
the memory of a great man.” The
I’ll give another most likely candidate for the
kreuzer if the thing “great man,” and the source of
will only stop! the title “Eroica” (Italian for
Audience member “heroic”), is Louis Ferdinand,
Public premiere of the “Eroica” (1805) Prince of Prussia, who was killed
in battle against the French in Ludwig van Beethoven
1806 and to whom Beethoven
had dedicated his Third Piano The son of an obscure court
Concerto, Op. 37, in 1803. musician, Beethoven was born
in Bonn in 1770. He moved to
Tearing up the rule book Vienna in 1792 and studied
obviously appealed to him, as Symphony No. 3 begins with briefly with Haydn and
around the same time he included a movement that was stretched Antonio Salieri. A prodigiously
it in a collection of 12 orchestral and expanded far beyond anything talented pianist, he made his
Contredanses (country dances) that Viennese audiences had name first as a virtuoso and
and Fifteen Variations and Fugue heard before. Instead of the acquired a number of wealthy
for solo piano, which would later carefully balanced proportions of noble admirers, who aided his
establishment as a composer.
form the basis of the “Eroica” finale. the classical sonata form, where an
In every musical genre he
“exposition” and “recapitulation”
explored, Beethoven was a
A symphony takes shape match each other around a short radical innovator, constantly
Beethoven began to plan his Third “development” section, with a surprising audiences. After
Symphony in autumn 1802, had brief “coda” (“tail” in Italian) to ❯❯ Haydn’s death in 1809, he was
a complete piano score by October the preeminent composer of
1803, and had an orchestrated his generation and a leading
version by early summer 1804. The figure in the new Romantic
work was first performed privately age. In a cruel twist of fate,
at the home of Prince Franz Joseph Beethoven started to lose his
von Lobkowitz, one of Beethoven’s hearing in his late 20s, and by
patrons and sponsors, and then 1818 he was nearly completely
given its public premiere at the deaf. Nevertheless, after this
Theater an der Wien, in Vienna. date, until his death in Vienna
The composer had intended in 1827, Beethoven wrote
some of his most inventive
to dedicate his work to Napoleon
and radical works.
Bonaparte. But when the general
declared himself the Emperor of
France, Beethoven crossed his Other key works
name from the manuscript.
1808 Symphonies No. 5 and
Removing the dedication made
No. 6, Op. 67 and Op. 68
political sense: once Napoleon’s
The herioc deeds of Napoleon 1818 Piano Sonata in B-flat,
invasion plans became clear, it Bonaparte, depicted in Napoleon Hammerklavier, Op. 106
would have been career suicide to Crossing the Alps by Jacques-Louis 1824 Symphony No. 9 in D
celebrate him in a new symphony. David (1748–1825), inspired Beethoven minor, Op. 125
The work was eventually printed to write the “Eroica” symphony.
The Lobkowitz Palace, in Vienna,
in a colored etching by Vincenz Reim
(1796–1858), was the site of the first
performance of Beethoven's Symphony
No. 3 in August 1804.

The third movement is lighter—a

lively scherzo (Italian for “joke”).
Like most scherzo symphony
movements, it includes a trio
middle section based on three
instruments. Beethoven innovated
here by using French horns more
prominently in a symphony than
ever before. These instruments had
no valves in the early 1800s, so they
could play arpeggios only in a single
key, which made them sound
especially martial, like a battle call.
The main theme of the scherzo
round off the movement, Beethoven Beyond the thematic manipulation, starts in an unexpected key. The
composed a hugely extended the music of the first movement is music has already changed key,
development, falling between a full of syncopations that distort from E-flat to B-flat, before the oboe
long exposition and recapitulation, the listener’s sense of the rhythm. finally begins the theme. Once
and ending with a coda of more Also, strong dissonances—ugly again, Beethoven was deliberately
than 100 measures. to listeners in the early 1800s— catching his audience by surprise.
Not only was the extreme leap out, where major and minor
duration and balance of the first seconds (notes two semitones and The end and beyond
movement unusual, but Beethoven one semitone apart, respectively) The finale of “Eroica” is a set of
also introduced an entirely new grate against each other. variations on a theme. Although
theme after the exposition (where this was not the first symphony to
all themes were traditionally first Constant surprises
stated) had ended. This new theme Beethoven followed the huge
was in E major, a key very far from structure of the first movement,
the home key of the piece. with its surprising tonal twists and
The shape of the opening theme turns, with a slow movement, cast
of the “Eroica” is also atypical. as a Marcia funebre, or funeral This strange and
It includes a C-sharp, a rogue note march. It is an intensely dramatic thundering work, the
that does not belong in the key of piece, with the minor-key opening most extensive and
E-flat major, and so pulls the music theme eventually giving way to
richly artistic piece of
away from its home key and a blazing, more hopeful C major,
unsettles it. As a result, Beethoven before the opening theme returns
all those created by
had to rewrite this subject in the and is presented as a fugato—a
Beethoven’s original
recapitulation to get rid of the short fuguelike piece, where the and wondrous spirit.
C-sharp and create a satisfactory theme is imitated simultaneously Opening of a review
Allgemeine musikalische Zeitung
resolution. This defied the rules by different instruments as if they (February 18, 1807)
of sonata form, in which the are chasing each other. To have
recapitulation is meant to contain such rich and intricate musical
the work’s musical ideas in the textures woven so extensively
same form as they appeared in into more than one movement
the exposition. was groundbreaking.
CLASSICAL 1750–1820 141
Expressive grandeur in Beethoven’s “Eroica”

More developed first movement

than any symphony to date,
and longer than many
Opens with two entire symphonies. A second movement
powerful chords. that opens with a sombre
funeral march in C minor.

“Eroica” is
Use of triadic An energetic scherzo in
(three-note) themes.
revolutionary the third movement.

Huge range Harmonic tensions

of keys. and surprises.
Prominent use
of brasses to
produce “heroic” end.

use a theme-and-variation form as subtly interlinked. He was to

its closing movement, Beethoven venture even further in his later
broke with tradition by failing to symphonies, and by the time he
start with the theme itself. Instead, reached the Ninth, in 1824, what
the movement begins with a bass had once been four separate units
line, from which Beethoven builds linked only by a common title,
the orchestral texture until we had become a musical narrative
finally reach the theme melody. He brilliantly interwoven across the
was turning the form on its head by old sonata structure.
effectively writing variations before Those who witnessed the early
he had even got to the theme. Also, performances of the “Eroica” found
rather than the variations being it a difficult work to understand—it
based on a single melody, the whole was simply too far from their idea
orchestra is involved in exchanging of how a symphony should work,
and developing interweaving lines both in terms of its length and its
of material, ending in an elaborate structure. But it was soon accepted
fugato that brings the music firmly as a work of profound genius and
and finally to the home key. was to exert a huge influence on Symphony No. 3 was already known
Beethoven had created a four- later generations of symphonists, as the “Eroica” by the time it was
movement journey through keys, from Schumann and Brahms to published, as this frontispiece of
themes, and ideas, cleverly and Bruckner and Mahler. ■ the first edition shows.

Niccolò Paganini Franz Schubert’s In Paris, Hector Intended to convey a

composes the first of his song cycle Die schöne Berlioz premieres longing for springtime,
24 Caprices for Solo Müllerin marks Symphonie fantastique, Robert Schumann
Violin, which are among the high point in one of the most writes his Symphony
the most difficult violin the German Lied influential works in the No. 1 over four days
pieces of all time. (song) form. programmatic genre. in January.

1805 1824 1830 1841

1821 1826 1839 1846

Based on a German folk Epitomizing Frédéric Chopin’s The colorful

legend, Carl Maria Beethoven’s late style, cycle of 24 preludes, orchestration of Felix
von Weber’s opera his String Quartet covering all major Mendelssohn’s Elijah
Der Freischütz No. 14, Op. 131 abandons and minor keys, breathes new life
explores German the quartet’s traditional defies conventional into the oratorio, a
national identity. form and development. thematic structure. Baroque genre.

he Romantic movement bohemian clothes replaced the wigs example, are in a more Classical
arose largely as a reaction and formal costumes of the Classical style. Yet Schubert was inspired by
to the rationalization and period, and the lifestyles of the the subjects of German Romantic
urbanization of European society Romantic composers were often poetry in the songs, or Lieder, for
following the Industrial Revolution. as colorful as their music. which he is best known. This
From the end of the 18th century, Beethoven developed a more aspect of Romanticism, especially
writers, artists, and composers personal style of music from 1803. the love of nature, later inspired the
turned away from the formal In what is regarded as his “middle work of Robert Schumann, whose
elegance of the Classical period period,” he produced groundbreaking symphonies and piano pieces were
in favor of personal expression piano sonatas, string quartets, often programmatic (painting a
and a fascination with nature. In other forms of chamber music, and, picture or telling a story in music),
music, this manifested itself in a above all, symphonies. In his “late a genre begun by Beethoven’s
gradual expansion of the harmonic period,” a final burst of creativity, “Pastoral” Sixth Symphony, which
and instrumental palette to appeal when he was isolated from the depicts a series of rural scenes.
to the emotions rather than the world by profound deafness, he Hector Berlioz relished the
intellects of the audience. produced work of extraordinary possibilities offered by a larger
intensity, such as his last piano orchestra and extended harmonic
The new style sonatas, string quartets, and language. His operas, orchestral,
Beethoven fulfilled the stereotype the Ninth Symphony, with its and choral works, all on a grand
of the Romantic musician, as innovative choral finale. scale with large orchestras, were
did the violinist Niccolò Paganini Not every composer joined the expressive and highly personal. He
and some other virtuoso performer- Romantic tide. The instrumental continued the drift away from the
composers. Long unkempt hair and works of Franz Schubert, for abstract to the programmatic in his
ROMANTIC 1810–1920 145

The premiere of Johann Strauss II

Giuseppe Verdi’s writes The Blue Johannes Brahms’s The brutal plot of Giacomo
La traviata in Venice Danube, a waltz First Symphony premieres Puccini’s opera Tosca
shocks audiences by with a rich symphonic in Karlsruhe, Germany, typifies verismo (“realism”),
taking a fallen woman sound that takes recalling the Classical a form of opera popular in
as its subject matter. Europe by storm. style of Beethoven. Italy and France.

1853 1867 1876 1900

1857 1876 1896 1908

Franz Liszt’s Faust The fourth part of Inspired by Nietzsche’s Gustav Mahler
Symphony, inspired by Richard Wagner’s Ring novel, Richard Strauss writes Das Lied
Johann Wolfgang von Cycle opens in Bayreuth, composes Also sprach von der Erde, a
Goethe’s play of the marking the end of his Zarathustra, a symphonic contemplation on
same name, premieres “total artwork,” composed poem that rejects the inevitability
in Weimar, Germany. over 26 years. Romantic conventions. of death.

symphonies, a trend that was Johann Strauss I and II, father and matter and aiming for a more
taken up later by many composers, son, played on this nostalgia with convincing form of dramatic
especially Franz Liszt, who their waltzes, but other composers representation. Others followed his
developed a form known as the also felt the lack of discipline in lead: Bizet in France, the giants of
symphonic poem, or tone poem. Romantic music. Foremost among Italian opera, Verdi and Puccini,
Liszt was also famous as a them was Johannes Brahms, who pursued a new kind of realism
young man for his virtuosity when who moderated expression within in opera, and in Germany, Richard
performing his own piano pieces, stricter Classical forms. Another Wagner, whose operas were on the
and he gained a large and devoted was Felix Mendelssohn, whose grandest of scales and stretched
following. These solo piano recitals oratorios harked back to the musical language. With his
were popular entertainment of the Baroque period, reviving German innovatory harmonies, Wagner
period, especially when given by and English choral traditions laid challenged the idea of tonality,
Romantic characters such as down by Handel and Bach. which had been the foundation
Liszt or Frédéric Chopin, whose of musical form since the end of
more delicate and lyrical style of Romantic opera the Renaissance.
composition appealed particularly Opera, with its combination of Wagner inspired what is now
to French audiences. literature and music, was ideally known as the late Romantic style,
suited to portraying Romantic exemplified by composers such as
Exceptions to the rule themes and ideas. Carl Maria von Anton Bruckner, Gustav Mahler,
Despite the popularity of Romantic Weber established the template and Richard Strauss. This heralded
music, some composers missed for Romantic opera by choosing the beginning of modern music in
the elegance of Classicism. In German folklore rather than which the old rules of harmony no
fashionable Vienna, for example, Classical mythology as his subject longer applied. ■



iolinist-composer Niccolò that he had struck a deal with
IN CONTEXT Paganini’s career as an the devil in return for his gifts.
international performer His greatest triumphs were
lasted just six years, from 1828 to in Paris, which was in thrall to
The rise of the virtuoso
1834, but his influence on music grand spectacle, new technology,
BEFORE was immense. Setting out to and brilliance in every field.
1733 Pietro Locatelli publishes entertain, he introduced new
L’arte del violino, which inspires playing techniques and raised Technical innovations
Paganini’s own Caprices. the expectations of audiences, Paganini had studied and honed
performing feats no one had his art in Italy. It is thought that
1740 The violinist Giuseppe achieved before him. He owned he started composing his 24
Tartini, known for his fast and numerous violins, including a Caprices in the early 1800s, even
exciting playing, epitomized by handful by perhaps the greatest though he did not publish them
his violin sonata Devil’s Trill, maker of all, Antonio Stradivarius. until 1820. In these showpiece
makes a concert tour of Italy. Chronic illness, thought to be works, and numerous others, he
Marfan syndrome, left Paganini challenged every aspect of existing
looking gaunt. This led to rumors violin technique and introduced
1834 Hector Berlioz completes
new ideas designed to showcase
Harold en Italie, a symphony the performer’s skills. The pieces
featuring a solo viola part are peppered with breakneck
composed for Paganini. passage work, double- or even
1838 Franz Liszt publishes triple-stopping (bowing two or
an early form of his technically three strings at the same time), as
Easter Sunday; in the well as new tricks such as left-hand
demanding Études d’exécution evening I heard Paganini.
transcendante d’après pizzicato (using the fingers of the
What ecstasy! In his hands left hand to pluck the strings) and
Paganini (“Transcendental the driest exercises flame up ricochet (bouncing bowing).
studies after Paganini”), in like bithium pronouncements.
which he transcribed six of Robert Schumann Inspired by Paganini
Paganini’s violin caprices for As a 19-year-old, in 1831, the
solo piano. Hungarian composer Franz Liszt
heard Paganini in Paris and was
inspired to achieve the same level
of virtuosity on the piano and to
ROMANTIC 1810–1920 147
See also: The Four Seasons 92–97 ■ Faust Symphony 176–177

cultivate an equally dramatic Paganini’s and Liszt’s talent

persona. His career coincided pushed the boundaries of existing
with technical advances in piano techniques for both violin and
manufacturing that made the piano. The concerto became a
instrument reliable, versatile, and stage for soloists to excel on these
loud enough to fill the large concert instruments, while the theme and
halls that catered for the growing variations form, in which a simple,
middle classes. Liszt was the most often well-known melody would
highly gifted of a new breed of be submitted to increasingly
composer-pianists who competed impressive reworkings, became
for prominence—sometimes in popular among concert-goers Niccolò Paganini
piano-playing duels. His celebrity and composers. The theme of
status helped establish the piano Paganini’s Caprice No. 24 inspired Born in the Italian port town
recital in its present form, thereby works by Liszt, Johannes Brahms, of Genoa in October 1782,
benefiting other composers. and Sergei Rachmaninoff. Paganini learned the violin
Later virtuosos included the and guitar from his father,
Belgian composer-violinist Henri who was an outstanding
The First Triumph of Paganini, amateur musician. The young
by Annibale Gatti, c.1890, possibly Vieuxtemps and composer-pianists
Louis Moreau Gottschalk in the US, Paganini supplemented his
depicts a performance at the court
at Lucca, where Paganini built his Leopold Godowsky in Poland, and training with a strict regimen
reputation during the early 1800s. Rachmaninoff in Russia. ■ of practice, later claiming
he became a virtuoso after
hearing a performance by the
Polish-born French violinist
August Duranowski.
In 1809, Paganini left a
court appointment in Lucca
to pursue a solo career. He
traveled in Italy, composing
and performing works that
displayed his skills. Health
problems, including syphilis,
delayed him until 1828, after
which he went first to Austria,
Bohemia, and Germany and
then, in 1831, to Paris, where
his 10 concerts at the Opéra
caused a sensation. In 1834,
continuing ill health forced
him into semi-retirement in
Italy, where he died in 1840.

Other key works

1813 Le Streghe (The Witches)

1816 Violin Concerto No. 1
1819 Sonata “a Preghiera”
1826 Violin Concerto No. 2
in B minor


urviving a disastrous first marry her himself. Central to
IN CONTEXT night in Rome in 1816, the plot is the barber Figaro, a
Il barbiere di Siviglia (The “fixer” in Seville. Its songs include
Barber of Seville) by Gioachino Figaros’s “Largo al factotum della
Italian opera buffa
Rossini quickly won universal città” (“Make way for the factotum
BEFORE acclaim. Rossini had already of the city”) and Rosina’s “Una voce
1782 An earlier operatic written 16 operas, but this was his poco fa” (“A voice has just”).
version of Il barbiere di Siviglia first opera buffa (“comic opera”) as
(The Barber of Seville) by the opposed to an opera seria (“serious Operatic realism
Italian composer Giovanni opera”). It relates the attempts of The low-life settings and street
Paisiello is performed for the the Count Almaviva to win the language of the opera buffa brought
first time in St. Petersburg. beautiful Rosina, ward of the much fresh realism to musical drama, and
older Dr. Bartolo, who intends to its popularity spread throughout
1786 Mozart’s The Marriage Europe. Mozart’s The Marriage of
of Figaro receives its first Figaro and Così fan tutte are other
performance in Vienna. examples of the comic opera genre.
Beethoven admired The Barber
AFTER of Seville, as did Verdi and Wagner.
1843 Gaetano Donizetti’s Yet, apart from a one-act farce,
comic opera Don Pasquale is Dear God, here it is finished, Rossini wrote no other comedies.
performed for the first time at this poor little Mass. Is this In the 1820s, he became director
the Théâtre Italien in Paris. sacred music … or music of of the Théâtre Italien, in Paris,
the devil? I was born for opera where he wrote five more operas,
1850 Crispino e la comare buffa, as you well know. culminating in Guillaume Tell
(“The cobbler and the fairy”) Gioachino Rossini (William Tell) in 1829. After this,
by the brothers Luigi and his output declined. One of his few
Federico Ricci is one of the last large-scale pieces in the last three
examples of true opera buffa. decades of his life was his Petite
messe solennelle (“small solemn
mass”) of 1863. ■

See also: Le bourgeois gentilhomme 70–71 ■ The Magic Flute 134–137 ■

La traviata 174–175 ■ Tosca 194–197

ROMANTIC 1810–1920 149


The magic bullets used in the

IN CONTEXT shooting contest in Der Freischütz
are fired in the spooky Wolf’s Glen,
FOCUS depicted here in an aquatint of the
German Romantic opera opera scene.

1791 Mozart’s The Magic Premiered in Berlin in 1821, Der
Flute, the supreme example Freischütz propelled its composer
of the Singspiel tradition, is to stardom. Its success was partly
performed in Vienna. because it was grounded firmly
in German culture, using easily
1816 The premiere of E.T.A. recognizable characters, settings,
Hoffmann’s Romantic opera folklore, and folk music. Weber had
Undine, about a water spirit envisaged a great new German
who marries a human, takes opera tradition.
place in Berlin. The combination of national
pride, emotional content, and the

AFTER n example of a Viennese depiction of the supernatural
1833 Heinrich Marschner’s Singspiel (“play in song”), impressed the young Richard
opera Hans Heiling, like his which links songs with Wagner, who saw Der Freischütz at
earlier success Der Vampyr, spoken dialogue, Carl Maria the age of nine. At the same time,
contrasts the real and von Weber’s Der Freischütz (The Weber’s innovative orchestration,
supernatural worlds. Freeshooter) tells the story of Max, especially the evocative use of
a young huntsman from Bohemia woodwinds and horns, influenced
1834 Richard Wagner
who is persuaded by the wicked Berlioz, Mahler, and Debussy.
completes his opera Die Caspar to take part in a shooting Weber wrote two more operas.
Feen (The Fairies), which is contest that will win Max the He was in London to conduct the
heavily influenced by Weber’s hand of Agathe. To ensure victory, premiere of his last work, Oberon,
Der Freischütz. Caspar gives him magic bullets in 1826, when he died of
forged in the Wolf’s Glen. tuberculosis, aged 39. ■

See also: The Magic Flute 134–137 ■ The Barber of Seville 148 ■

La traviata 174–175 ■ The Ring Cycle 180–187 ■ Tosca 194–197



he composer Franz Beethoven were introduced to the
IN CONTEXT Schubert is most often medium when commissioned to
linked to the German art produce arrangements of folk songs,
song (or Lied; plural, Lieder). He did while the songs of Mozart, who
Lieder and song cycles
not invent the genre. Several major reserved his most sophisticated
BEFORE composers had written songs word setting for opera, are small-
1816 Beethoven composes before him, such as Beethoven, scale and modest in their scope.
An die ferne Geliebte (“To the Mozart, and Haydn, as well as Writing songs was a sideline rather
distant beloved”), considered lesser-known figures. It is not than a central part of any of these
to be the first song cycle. even true to say that Schubert composers’ activities.
produced the first “song cycle,”
1821 Wilhelm Müller the term used later for a set of Piano and song
publishes his poems of Die songs with an overarching Schubert came of age in a world
schöne Müllerin (including narrative or theme. Beethoven’s of increased poetic sensibility, of
six not set by Schubert) as An die ferne Geliebte, composed emphasis on subjective experience.
part of an anthology. in 1816, was the first important The piano, still a relatively recent
work to fit such a description. invention, had grown both in
AFTER Schubert, however, transformed technical capacity and availability.
1840 Robert Schumann the genre. Before Schubert, Lieder Domestic performances were on
composes several major song were predominantly naïve or the rise, especially in Vienna,
cycles, including Frauenliebe straightforwardly lyrical. The form whose middle class, held back in
und Leben and Dichterliebe. tended to be strophic, the same many ways by a strictly controlled
melody repeated for each verse society, sought private outlets
1856 Baritone Julius
of the poem; the music engaged
Stockhausen gives the first
with the text only as far as
complete public performance capturing its general mood, and
Schubert’s art songs, or Lieder, were
of Die schöne Müllerin usually played in the private homes of
the keyboard accompaniment his friends. Large-scale public concerts
in Vienna. was often formulaic, functional, were typically reserved for more
and without expression. Haydn and sweeping orchestral works.
ROMANTIC 1810–1920 153
See also: Symphonie fantastique 162–163 ■ Schumann’s Symphony No. 1 166–169 ■

Faust Symphony 176–177 ■ Also sprach Zarathustra 192–193

whose dilemma is summed up

in the song’s final line: “There,
where you are not, is happiness!”
Schubert would also compose
songs that espoused folkish
My compositions spring simplicity, and throughout his
from my sorrows. Those short but intensely creative life, he
that give the world would alternate between complex
the greatest delight were and more straightforward forms.
born of my deepest griefs. His output for voice is remarkable
Franz Schubert for the variety and richness of his Franz Schubert
melodic inspiration, but the role
of the piano accompaniment also Born in a poor district of
developed greatly in Schubert’s Vienna in 1797, Schubert
hands. It grew from offering was the son of a well-known
straightforward support to include schoolmaster and music
sophisticated reflections of, and teacher who taught him to
for their artistic impulses. This reactions to, the content of the play the piano and violin. He
amateur form of music making, poem he was setting. composed from an early age
away from the formal courts and and soon found favor with
concert societies, was reaching Song cycles prominent figures in Vienna,
new levels of sophistication. The complete array of Schubert’s such as Antonio Salieri.
Despite this, success in
In his all too brief life, Schubert art is evident in his first song cycle,
large-scale “public”
composed some 600 songs. The Die schöne Müllerin (“The beautiful
composition eluded him.
first to be published, “Erlkönig” miller’s maid”), published in 1824. Schubert managed to
and “Gretchen am Spinnrade” For the cycle’s 20 songs, Schubert make a respectable living with
(“Gretchen at the spinning wheel”), selected poems from a collection works aimed at the amateur
composed when Schubert was just by Wilhelm Müller, a contemporary market, such as compositions
17, remain among his most popular. poet whose verses Schubert also and songs for piano. Although
Set to texts by Johann Wolfgang used for Winterreise (“Winter a few of his chamber pieces
von Goethe, they offered a new sort journey”), his second song cycle, were performed in public,
of song: both are “through-composed” three years later. Die schöne many of his best works—piano
(without strictly repeated verses) Müllerin loosely follows the story sonatas and symphonies
and present powerful miniature of a young miller boy’s infatuation among them—were only
dramas moving inexorably toward with the beautiful daughter of rediscovered years after his
their climaxes. a mill owner, from his early death in 1828, at 31. This led
“Erlkönig” features a narrating obsession, through jealousy to a reappraisal that cemented
his reputation as a master
voice as well as the voices of a and resignation to, listeners
composer of instrumental
father, his son, and the titular are left to assume, suicide. music as well as song.
Erlking—a malevolent goblinlike The narrative is presented
creature who inhabits the dark largely through suggestion, with
forest of the Romantic imagination. the poems giving snapshots in Other key works
Gretchen, meanwhile, is the tragic time, presented primarily in the
1822 Symphony in B minor
heroine of Goethe’s masterpiece, voice of the miller boy himself.
(“Unfinished”), D759
Faust. In 1816, Schubert composed Together the songs encapsulate 1822 Mass No. 2 in G major,
“Der Wanderer,” one of many songs many of the quintessential themes D167
focusing on another quintessential of Romantic poetry, not least the 1828 String Quintet in C, D956
figure of German Romanticism, solitude of the outsider and the ❯❯
Lied and Song Cycles

Written for voice and piano for performance in homes or

concert halls, sometimes as a cycle of three or more songs
linked by a story or theme.

They appear in three major forms

Strophic: Modified strophic: Through-composed:

all verses are sung to the music varies each verse has different
the same music, as in in some verses, such as music to match the words.
Schubert’s “Der Fischer” “Der Lindenbaum” in Schubert’s “Erlkönig” is
and “Heidenröslein.” Schubert’s Winterreise. through-composed.

desire, in the face of rejection, cycle, push the genre even further Schubert would give with his
to find solace in nature. These and can be shocking in their friends, known as Schubertiads,
ideas would be explored with an expressionistic power. and they were not initially
even greater level of intensity in published together as a cycle.
Winterreise, in which the poems Private to public The first public performance
chart the progress of a lovelorn, The songs of Die schöne Müllerin of the cycle as a whole was not
solitary wanderer through a bleak were, like so much of the music by until 1856. As the 20th century
wintry landscape. The songs of Schubert that was disseminated approached, the Lied also became
Schwanengesang (“Swan song”), during his lifetime, originally an increasingly public form, even
published together after Schubert’s designed primarily for private if many composers continued
death but never conceived as a performances, such as those to use it for some of their most
personal works.

Romantic vehicle
Schubert’s influence, in terms of
the later development of the Lied, is
difficult to overestimate. What had
been a peripheral activity for earlier
composers became a major area of
activity for several composers who
came after him. The genre’s unique
mix of music and poetry proved
particularly attractive to the

Schubert set several of Goethe’s

poems to music, including his tragic
1778 work “An den Mond” (“To the
moon”). This handwritten manuscript
of Schubert’s dates from 1815.
ROMANTIC 1810–1920 155
and beyond. The songs of such
French Romantic chanson composers as Antonín Dvořák
and Modest Mussorgsky often
The story of the art song in following works by composers have a nationalistic coloring.
France was largely colored such as Hector Berlioz, whose
At the turn of the 20th century,
by the cultural landscape in Les Nuits d’été (Summer Nights,
Paris, where song—mélodie or 1841), a setting for six poems Gustav Mahler firmly put the
chanson—designed primarily for by Théophile Gautier, count genre in the public sphere, not
performance in private salons, among the first songs for voice least because he was one of the
existed in the shadows of opera. and orchestra in the repertoire, first composers to orchestrate his
French song faced an additional although they were written songs himself, as would Richard
problem: the irregular emphases for piano accompaniment Strauss. Several of Mahler’s songs
and rhythms of the language originally. While subsequently also found their way into his
made it difficult to set words influenced by German composer early symphonies, either complete
to music with naturalness. Richard Wagner, a uniquely or reworked as instrumental
Nevertheless, the genre in French branch of art song movements. Strauss, meanwhile,
France became more ambitious developed in the hands of composed songs throughout
and sophisticated toward Gabriel Fauré, Claude Debussy, his long life and wrote his
the end of the 19th century, and Francis Poulenc. valedictory masterpiece, The
Four Last Songs, for soprano
Romantics. Subsequent song the scene for his songs, as well as voice and orchestra, in 1948.
cycles often represented attempts postludes to summarize the mood. The art song also flourished
to build on Schubert’s legacy. Although Johannes Brahms wrote in France, Great Britain, and the
Robert Schumann was greatly two song cycles, both he and United States, especially in the
influenced by Schubert. His the Austrian composer Hugo 20th century, with such composers
own song cycles, many of them Wolf concentrated on grouping as Ralph Vaughan Williams, Gerald
composed in a burst of inspiration their songs into combinations Finzi, Charles Ives, and Benjamin
in 1840, the year of his marriage that were suitable for publication, Britten, who, as a fine pianist,
to pianist and composer Clara which did not necessarily imply made a speciality of performing
Wieck, tend to be on a smaller that they should be performed Schubert’s song cycles. ■
scale, offering a series of poetic together. Wolf, in particular, was
impressions or, in the case of remarkable for composing Lieder
Frauenliebe und Leben (“A woman’s almost exclusively. In his works,
love and life”), a broad picture of he successfully incorporated
a relationship. Schumann often Wagnerian harmonic complexity
wrote short piano preludes to set and psychological insight into the
form on the most intimate scale.

Song legacy
Schubert’s wider influence was
enormous, too, and a greater desire
to raise song to a higher artistic
There is no song plane coincided, in the second half
of Schubert’s of the 19th century, with attempts
from which one cannot to assert and define nationhood,
learn something. both in the German-speaking world
Johannes Brahms
Hugo Wolf wrote several hundred art
songs, often with deeply romantic and
personal themes, as captured on this
postcard depicting a song from his
Spanish Songbook of 1891.
MINOR, OP. 131 (1826), BEETHOVEN

1781 Haydn, the inventor of
the string quartet, publishes
his Op. 33 quartets.
1782–1785 Mozart writes six

quartets, which he dedicates eethoven’s music divides Increasing deafness from the age
to composer Joseph Haydn. into three stylistic periods: of 30 led Beethoven to commission
the early (up to 1802), the hearing devices from Johann Nepomuk
1824 Franz Schubert writes middle (1803–1813), and the late
Maelzel, inventor of the metronome,
String Quartet No. 14, known including this “ear trumpet.”
(1817–1827). He was born in 1770,
as “Death and the Maiden.” and by the age of 27, he had written
AFTER a variety of works. However, for Beethoven’s middle period included
1827–1829 Felix Mendelssohn much of this period, he avoided the his “Heroic Phase” of 1803–1808,
composes his string quartets territory dominated by Haydn and during which he wrote the “Eroica”
Op. 12 and Op. 13. The Op. 13 Mozart—the string quartet. It was Symphony for and about Napoleon
quartet in particular has not until the end of the 1790s, by Bonaparte. The middle period was
which time he was no longer being a time of energy and positive
echoes of Beethoven’s Op. 95
compared to Mozart, that Beethoven commitment to Beethoven’s
and Op. 132.
wrote his first quartets, the Op. 18. humanistic and political beliefs.
1828 Schubert’s last wish These six works show such energy The period is often considered to
on his deathbed is to hear and technical mastery that had have begun in the wake of his
Beethoven’s Op. 131 quartet. his life been cut short at this point, “Heiligenstadt Testament” of 1802—
he would still be placed among a letter he had written to his two
1873 Johannes Brahms the world’s great composers. The brothers describing his despair
publishes String Quartet shadow of Mozart mixes with the at his profound loss of hearing.
No. 1 in C minor and String spirit of Haydn through his first five Only his music, Beethoven wrote,
Quartet No. 2 in A minor, quartets, but in the sixth Beethoven held him back from suicide.
comprising his Op. 51. These sowed the seeds of his later work. Beethoven’s violin concerto
are Brahms’s 20th attempt at (Op. 61) is an outstanding example
writing quartets. of the productive middle period, in
which he began to turn away from
1934 Michael Tippett classical conventions—developing
composes the first of his five a bolder individual style and
quartets, all inspired by producing many of his most famous
specific Beethoven works. No composer before compositions. The beginnings of
Beethoven ever disregarded Romantic music can be found in
the capacities of both his the slow movements of Beethoven’s
performers and his audience middle quartets. These five quartets
with such ruthlessness. stretched the boundaries of the
Charles Rosen form, first by extending the length,
in his Op. 59 and Op. 74, and then
by compressing it in the concise
Quartetto Serioso, Op. 95. In all five,
four players evolve into soloists,
each with virtuoso passages
ROMANTIC 1810–1920 159
See also: Haydn’s String Quartet in C major, Op. 54 122–125 ■ “Eroica” Symphony 138–141 ■ Brahms’s Symphony
No. 1 188–189 ■ Pierrot lunaire 240–245 ■ Shostakovich’s Fifth Symphony 274–279

worthy of a concerto, while Op. 74, Variations on a theme in the fourth movement
known as the “Harp” quartet, has
Violin 1 Violin 1
movements in both the heroic and
classical moods.

The late period

Between 1813–1816, Beethoven
experienced major emotional Violin 2 Violin 2
upheavals, from financial troubles
to the struggle to gain custody Violins Cello
of his nephew. These years saw
The theme is In the second
a decline in his production, with first played in a variation, the
those works Beethoven did produce dialogue between tempo is faster,
showing him to be struggling to the first and and the melody
second violins. alternates between
develop his style further. However, In the first the high phrases
he emerged from these years of variation, the of the first
refinement with unparalleled ability theme is played violin and the
by the lowest low phrases in
to imagine melodies, forms, and three instruments. the cello.
harmonies that would serve him
well during his late period.
Beethoven’s indifference to Subsequent variations share the developing
theme between the different instruments, in
contemporary social conventions varying time signatures.
and his passionate belief in his
own ideas created a unique set
of circumstances that would lead forms in concerti, symphonies, 14 minutes to less than one minute,
to the composition of his five late sonatas, and chamber works, he totaling around 40 minutes and
quartets. He was determined to was ready to experiment further. performed without a break, are in
push the boundaries of composition Opus 131 (1826) is the most an unconventional sequence that
to new limits; having successfully unorthodox of Beethoven’s five late at the time seemed unlikely to
extended the length and developed quartets, all written in 1825–1826. succeed as a major work.
the structure of the conventional Its seven movements, ranging from Conventional quartets follow a
four-movement formula: they begin
Music as self-expression with an allegro in sonata form, in
the tonic key; they slow down in
The cultural and literary world and placed a high value on the second movement; they employ
of Germany and the small states personal freedom and heroic a minuet and trio as the third
that surrounded it at the time resistance to oppressors. It movement; and they end in rondo
of Beethoven’s birth were advocated a synthesis of form. In Op. 131, however, the first
strongly influenced by the Sturm Romantic, Classical, and movement—a sombre, extended
und Drang (Storm and Stress) Enlightenment ideas. fugue (a piece in which a melody is
movement. Led by the poet and Like literature and art, the strictly imitated by the other
philosopher Johann Gottfried musical world began to reflect voices)—is followed by a very short
von Herder, it was expounded these ideals, giving them dance in the second movement.
by writers and artists, such as expression in symphonies and
The third movement (just 11
Johann Wolfgang von Goethe vocal music, with Beethoven
measures) concludes with a florid
and Friedrich Schiller. The himself later setting Schiller’s
movement emphasized national poem An die Freude (“Ode to solo harking back to an earlier
identities, language, and arts, Joy”) in his Ninth Symphony. musical period, while the fourth
presents a powerful theme and ❯❯
Differences between the Classical quartet the theme has undergone several
and Beethoven’s Op. 131 transformations of rhythm as well
as texture. The second variation
Typical Classical quartet begins as a gentle dance in which
Beethoven’s Op. 131 melodic eighth-note phrases pass
VERY QUICK from one instrument to another,
accompanied by detached chords,
but as the variation progresses,
the running eighth notes take over

and build to a climax with all four

MODERATE instruments playing in octaves—
a different sound world altogether
from the variation’s opening. The
SLOW variations continue, punctuated by
a couple of cadenzalike first violin
1 2 3 4 5 6 flourishes recalling the “archaic”
MOVEMENTS third movement.
Thematic development also
Classical quartets generally had four movements. After takes place on a large scale. As in
Beethoven, some Romantic quartets had more (or fewer)
many of Beethoven’s works (most
movements and abandoned the usual pattern of development.
famously the Fifth Symphony of
1807–1808), the quartet begins with
variations. The fifth jumps in with Beethoven’s output; it cemented his a short four-note motif, which also
an extensive scherzo (a fast dance). great legacy and ensured praise for preoccupied Beethoven in his
A 28-measure adagio (leisurely) his late quartets. Op. 132 quartet, although the
sixth movement leads to an intense pitches are presented here in a
and energetic seventh movement of Natural variations slightly different order, to unsettling
the kind that is generally placed A good example of Beethoven’s effect. This motif forms the first half
first in more conventional works. structural ingenuity can be seen of the opening fugue subject,
Building a structure with such in his handling of the theme and which, in turn, provides many of
unconventional foundations was a variations in the fourth movement the motivic ideas from which the
challenge that Beethoven set for (which builds on techniques other movements are developed.
himself. Some consider Op. 131 to developed in his Diabelli variations,
be the greatest composition of Op. 120). The traditional problem Rousing ending
faced by composers in this form The fifth movement’s key of E major is
was how to create a feeling of the optimistic sister to the sad home
natural continuity instead of the key of C-sharp minor, and, following
formulaic repetition of a set theme. convention, a light-hearted scherzo
Beethoven’s approach is to allow alternates with a contrasting trio.
constant evolution of the music, Unusually, however, Beethoven not
[Beethoven’s quartets] even from the very outset of the only extends the conventional “A-B-A”
stand … on the extreme theme. It begins at the top of the form with a further repeat of the trio
boundary of all that has texture, as a dialogue between the and scherzo (as he does in several
hitherto been attained by first and second violin; it is then other works) but finishes with a
human art and imagination. doubled in 10ths, before moving curtailed repeat of each theme.
Robert Schumann down toward the middle of the This repetition allows him
texture. When the first variation to explore various moods and
begins with the theme in the three techniques, not least in a passage
lower strings, it feels like a natural played sul ponticello (with the bow
continuation of this development, near the bridge of the instrument),
but by the end of this variation, creating a glassy, delicate sound.
ROMANTIC 1810–1920 161
A powerful crescendo then leads before one of Beethoven’s most
to two sets of three chords, each Romantic themes appears, free in
followed by a dramatic silence its pacing and encompassing
heralding the sixth movement. In expressive leaps. After the theme
this short adagio, led by the viola, reaches its culmination, a “ghost”
the four-note motif from the first appears, recalling the melody first To play a wrong note is
movement is transformed by heard at the very start of the work. insignificant. To play without
denying the use of its fourth and After this, the music begins to passion is inexcusable.
most expressive note. An optimistic reflect the drained physical state of Ludwig van Beethoven
upward motion is always repelled by the players after continuous playing
a sad, descending answer. for almost 40 minutes. The music
In the seventh movement, the dissipates as the tempo gets slower,
previous ideas come to a satisfying yet the expected soft ending to the
musical conclusion. As the music piece does not appear. In one last,
progresses, fragments of the first defiant gesture, the energies of the
movement begin to surface until players are revived for a last push were his final gift to the world
the four-note motif reappears. Many to end on three affirmative chords. before his death in 1827. With
dark and menacing sounds follow them, Beethoven transformed
Lasting influence the string quartet—influencing
Beethoven’s late quartets—which Schumann, Mendelssohn, Brahms,
A statue of Beethoven was erected,
in 1880, on the Beethovenplatz in start and end with four movement Bartók, Schoenberg, Shostakovich,
Vienna, Austria. The figures sitting structures (Op. 127 and Op. 135) and Tippett—and became an
below the composer are allegorical but experiment with five, six, and imposing mentor and inspiration
representations of his symphonies. seven movements (Op. 130–132)— to all those who came after. ■


hroughout his career, Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet
IN CONTEXT French composer Hector starring the Irish actress Harriet
Berlioz explored the format Smithson as Juliet. It proved to be
of the programmatic symphony— a fateful encounter, because Berlioz
The programmatic
a mood-evoking work influenced fell in love with Smithson and
symphony by subjects outside of music, such would expend much energy over
BEFORE as literature and art. It was his the next few years pursuing her.
1808 Beethoven premieres Symphonie fantastique, however, During the course of this
his Sixth Symphony, the composed early in his career, that infatuation, he felt compelled to
“Pastoral,” which the composer proved to be his most successful write a piece that would describe
insists is “more expression of and enduring work in the genre. his heightened passion and its
feeling than tone-painting.” attendant joys and sorrows. He
Berlioz’s inspiraton intended its performance to launch
1824 Beethoven’s Ninth In 1827, as a 23-year-old music his career with a bold stroke and
Symphony ends with a choral student, Berlioz went to see at the same time dazzle Smithson.
setting of a text taken from a performance in Paris of The resulting piece Symphonie
German poet Friedrich fantastique premiered at the Paris
Schiller’s “Ode to Joy.” Conservatoire on December 5, 1830,
and a printed synopsis of the “plot”
AFTER was supplied.
1848–1849 Liszt composes
Ce qu’on entend sur la Love and death
montagne, the first symphonic No one who hears this The title suggests a symphony
poem, based on a poem by symphony here in Paris, of the imagination, while its
Victor Hugo. played by Berlioz’s orchestra, subtitle—“Episode in the life of
can help believing that an artist”—hints at the work’s
1857 First performance he is hearing a marvel autobiographical element, although
of Liszt’s Faust Symphony, without precedent. its descriptive program (which
which he dedicated to Berlioz. Richard Wagner Berlioz provided to audiences)
focuses more on fantasy than
reality. In the first movement, a
young musician awakens to find
love in the shape of an unknown
beautiful woman. Her image
ROMANTIC 1810–1920 163
See also: The Four Seasons 92–97 ■ Faust Symphony 176–177 ■ The Ring
Cycle 180–187 ■ Also sprach Zarathustra 192–193 ■ Das Lied von der Erde 198–201

(represented by a recurring melody Scaffold,” he is executed. In the

Berlioz called the idée fixe) imposes second nightmare, he dreams
itself upon his vision everywhere that he is at a Witches’ Sabbath
he goes, such as at a ball and even and sees his beloved joining in
in the country, where the sound of the grisly spectacle.
thunder seems to symbolize his
gloomy state of mind. Lasting influence
Determined to poison himself Other composers emulated Berlioz’s
with opium, he finds instead combination of music and story-
that the dose merely induces telling, notably Franz Liszt in A
nightmares. In the first of these, he Faust Symphony and 12 symphonic Hector Berlioz
imagines he has been condemned poems (one-movement pieces in
to death for murdering his beloved: the programmatic genre), including The son of a doctor, Berlioz
at the end of the “March to the Mazeppa and Hamlet. Although was born at La Côte-Saint-
some major composers, including André, in southeastern
Bruckner and Brahms, avoided the France, in 1803. At 12, he
Hector Berlioz conducts a deafening
orchestra in a caricature published form, others such as Tchaikovsky, began studying music, and
by the French newspaper L’Illustration, César Franck, Elgar, and Richard at 17, he moved to Paris to
in 1845. Behind him, members of the Strauss mined its possibilities study at the Conservatoire.
audience hold their ears. inventively and exhaustively. ■ In 1833, on his fifth attempt,
Berlioz won the Prix de Rome
(a prestigious scholarship).
By then, he had produced his
Symphonie fantastique to
impress the actress Harriet
Smithson, whom he later
married. In Paris, he enjoyed
limited success as a composer
and so also worked as a
journalist. From 1842, he
toured abroad, finding
audiences in Russia, England,
and Germany more receptive.
He longed for success in the
opera house, but his opera
Benvenuto Cellini (1838)
failed, and his masterpiece
Les Troyens (1858) had only
a partial production during
his lifetime. Suffering
from Crohn’s disease and
depression, he died in 1869.

Other key works

1837 Grande Messe des morts

1839 Roméo et Juliette
1856–1858 Les Troyens


hile Chopin was one of evocation of moods. Every one
IN CONTEXT the supreme composers of his compositions includes the
of the early Romantic piano, and the vast majority are
period, he was in some respects for piano alone, yet within this
Solo piano music
untypical of the age he has come precisely defined area the breadth
BEFORE to embody. Unlike fellow musicians of his musical thought is vast.
1812 John Field, an Irish Robert Schumann and Franz Chopin created an unparalleled
composer based in Liszt, Chopin had little interest in intensity of melody, harmony, and
St. Petersburg, publishes using music to express narratives expression. Writing in a style that
the first Romantic piano piece inspired by Romantic art and seemed to represent the soul of
to be called a “nocturne.” literature, or in producing grandiose
works with huge orchestras in
Chopin plays for Prince Radziwiłł
1833 In Paris, Chopin’s the manner of Hector Berlioz. during a trip to Berlin, in 1829. The
Nocturnes, Op. 9, are the Instead, Chopin perfected his art same year, he composed the Polonaise
composer’s first nocturnes within circumscribed confines, brillante for the prince (a cellist) and his
to be published. tending toward brevity and the daughter (a pianist) to practice.

1834–1835 Robert Schumann

composes Carnaval, a collection
of 21 piano movements, one of
which is titled Chopin.
1892–1893 Brahms publishes
four collections of small piano
pieces, including intermezzos,
fantasias, and capriccios.
1910–1913 Debussy, who
described Chopin as “the
greatest of us all,” writes his
two books of Préludes.
ROMANTIC 1810–1920 165
See also: Pièces de clavecin 82–83 ■ Die schöne Müllerin 150–155 ■
Prélude à l’après-midi d’un faune 228–231 ■ Ravel’s Piano Concerto in D for
the left hand 266–267

rain at Valldemossa, on the island

Preludes, nocturnes, of Majorca, where she and Chopin,
and études who was then her lover, spent the
winter of 1838–1839 together.

Short introductory Polish dance

movement often Chopin’s interest in dance was
preceding a partly a conscious homage to his
larger piece.
Polish heritage. The polonaise
(meaning “Polish” in French)
Expressive and was used by many composers Frédéric Chopin
tranquil compositions across Europe, and Chopin wrote
inspired by the night,
following no set form.
more than a dozen examples, Born near Warsaw in 1810,
his first when he was just seven Chopin studied the piano
years old. Like the polonaise, in the Polish capital and
Pieces designed for the mazurka was a traditional performed at musical soirées
Études practice, to perfect dance form to which Chopin in its greatest houses. He
musical skills. returned regularly on no fewer visited Paris at the age of 20
than 50 occasions. and settled there, making a
Chopin mainly used the waltz living by teaching, publishing
the instrument itself, Chopin had a dance form for lighter salon music. his music, and appearing at
profound effect on piano technique The so-called “Minute Waltz” salons. Chopin disliked
concerts, and performed in
and helped push the instrument and the Waltz in E-flat, Op. 18
few, yet his influence was
to the forefront of 19th-century (Grande valse brillante) are rapid
huge, founded on works that
music. Preferring to compose in pieces. In contrast to the showy embraced the folk music of his
miniature rather than on a large waltzes, Chopin’s 20 nocturnes native land, as well as other,
scale, he produced three four- are predominantly intimate and more conceptual forms that
movement piano sonatas and many introverted in mood, slow and lifted piano technique to new
short “character” pieces, especially dreamy, as their title suggests. levels. Initially composing in
preludes, nocturnes, études, and The nocturnes enjoy an enduring a style that favored virtuosity
dances, such as the mazurka, legacy as some of the most popular in the tradition of composers
polonaise, and waltz. solo works ever written for piano. Johann Nepomuk Hummel,
The term “nocturne” and its style Friedrich Kalkbrenner, and
Mood and style were the invention of the Irish Carl Maria von Weber, he later
Between 1835 and 1839, Chopin composer and celebrated pianist absorbed within his piano
composed a set of 24 preludes— John Field, whose work Chopin textures the influence of Bach.
one in each of the major and minor knew and admired. His most durable personal
relationship, with the novelist
keys—using J.S. Bach’s Preludes Like Field, Chopin was a
George Sand, ended in 1847.
from the Well-Tempered Clavier virtuoso pianist, and his interest He died of tuberculosis two
(1722) as his model. For Chopin, the in the extension of piano technique years later in Paris.
prelude was essentially an abstract is demonstrated in his 27 études
form, although some of his pieces (“studies”), which he began writing
were prescribed titles by his in his teens. In these pieces, Chopin Other key works
publishers that suggested specific managed to combine technical
1830 Piano Concerto No. 1
influences. The “Raindrop” Prelude, advances with great expressive 1835 Ballade No. 1 in G minor
for example, earned its (inauthentic) and musical quality. They have 1844 Sonata No. 3 in B minor
nickname from the French novelist remained both a challenge and 1846 Barcarolle in F-sharp
George Sand’s account of incessant a joy to pianists ever since. ■

The Romantic symphony


1824 First performance of
Beethoven’s Symphony No. 9


in Vienna.
1838 Schumann “discovers”


Schubert’s “Great” C major
Symphony in Vienna.
SYMPHONY NO. 1, THE “SPRING” SYMPHONY (1841), 1876 Premiere of Brahms’s
ROBERT SCHUMANN Symphony No. 1, which
Hans von Bulow dubs
“Beethoven’s Tenth.”
1889 Mahler’s Symphony
No. 1 premieres in Budapest.
It marks the beginning of
a cycle that redefines the
symphony as a form.

t the end of the Classical
age, Beethoven’s Ninth
Symphony, with its
revolutionary message, inclusion
of a choir and soloists, and many
narrative musical features, offered a
bold new vision of what a symphony
might be. Yet many other Romantic
composers, such as Chopin and
Wagner, felt that Beethoven had
taken the symphony to such
heights with his Ninth that they
could go no further with developing
its form, and they turned to other
genres instead. This led to a dearth
of symphonic writing until the
second half of the 19th century.
Nonetheless, the symphonies
that were produced by the most
successful Romantic composers
were among the greatest music
written in the 19th century. These
ROMANTIC 1810–1920 167
See also: “Eroica” Symphony 136–139 ■ Die schöne Müllerin 148–153 ■

Symphonie fantastique 162–163 ■ Faust Symphony 176–177

a visit to Vienna after Schubert’s

death. Schumann took a copy of the
manuscript back to Leipzig, where
Felix Mendelssohn conducted its
premiere in 1839.
Nothing right in art can While Beethoven’s works
be accomplished focused on an intense musical
without enthusiasm. argument and inner drive, Schubert
Robert Schumann approached the form as a more
gentle and discursive structure,
reminiscent of the romantic novels Robert Schumann
of the period. In Schubert’s Ninth
Symphony, unexpected and Born in the Saxon city of
nontraditional keys are used to Zwickau (now part of
produce a greater range of moods. Germany) in 1810, Schumann
works include Hector Berlioz’s Taking some 55 minutes to began composing music as a
Symphonie fantastique, Franz perform, a long work for the period, young boy. No less interested
Liszt’s Faust Symphony, and Robert the piece extends many traditional in literature, he wrote a
Schumann’s Symphony No. 1, features of the symphony, such as number of youthful novels
known as the “Spring” Symphony. the introduction to the first before heading to Leipzig to
movement (almost a complete study law. Schumann gave up
Schubert’s influence sonata in itself) and the numerous his studies in order to become
a concert pianist, but a hand
At the same time that Beethoven thematic elements in the last.
injury prevented him from
was writing his last symphony,
achieving his goal. Instead,
Schubert was also working on his Taking up the baton he focused on composition and
mature works in the genre. In 1822, It was only after hearing Schubert’s musical criticism, becoming
he started on his Ninth Symphony, Ninth Symphony that Robert editor of the New Journal for
now known as the “Great C Major” Schumann was inspired to begin Music, through which he
Symphony. Unperformed in his working on his own first symphony, introduced the world to the
lifetime, it was discovered by in 1841. Until then, he had mainly music of Chopin and Brahms.
Schubert’s friend Schumann, on been known as a composer of His novel piano works, often
piano pieces. For the most part inspired by literature, quickly
eschewing large-scale works, he became popular. After
had concentrated on collections or marrying Clara Wieck, a
cycles of smaller pieces, cementing famous pianist herself, he
his reputation as a miniaturist. began to concentrate on other
As such, writing a symphony was musical genres. His last years
were plagued with mental
a new challenge for Schumann.
illness, and he died in an
Extraordinarily, he sketched the asylum in 1856.
whole work in just four days.
Five weeks later, the fully
orchestrated work premiered in ❯❯ Other key works

1838 Kreisleriana, Op. 16

Schumann’s wife, Clara, was the 1840 Dichterliebe, Op. 48
daughter of his first piano instructor, 1845 Piano Concerto in
Friedrich Wieck. Both Clara and her A minor, Op. 54
father were celebrated for their skills 1850 Symphony No. 3, Op. 97
on the keyboard.
New era, new aesthetics

Classical Romantic

Inspired by the Inspired by nature,

Enlightenment and the poetry, and myth.
Age of Reason.

Emphasis is on
Emphasis is on elegance emotional expression.
and structure.

Era of the symphony, New styles of melody,

instrumental sonata, harmony, and
and string quartet. rhythm emerge.

Music is largely the Growing audiences

preserve of the court and expand to include the
the wealthy. middle classes.

Leipzig, with Mendelssohn as its score for the symphony, he gave a symphony of the Romantic period.
conductor, and was well recieved each of his movements titles: Full of contrast and surprise, its
by its audience. “Beginning of Spring,” “Evening,” quickly shifting moods keep
“Jolly Playmates,” and “Spring listeners in suspense. Avoiding
A Romantic symphony Replete.” However, by the time the both the musical arguments of
The title of the “Spring” Symphony symphony was published, he had Beethoven and the discursive
was taken from a poem by Adolf removed them. approach of Schubert, Schumann
Böttger that ends with the lines, It is clear from the opening found a way to direct the music’s
“Oh turn and turn and change your brass fanfare, with its intense energy through juxtaposition and
course, In the valley Spring blooms feeling of expectation, that this is repetition, while still conveying
forth,” which inspired the opening subtle emotions. He also avoids
of the symphony. The poem is using traditional key structures
about a melancholy lover whose so that the second subject—or
pain is heightened by the arrival of melodic theme—is in a minor key,
spring, but Schumann claimed that adding a note of melancholy.
a longing for spring in general The symphony’s second
inspired the work. In a letter to the To send light into the movement often seems as if it were
conductor William Taubert in 1843, darkness of men’s hearts— originally written for the piano—
he wrote, “I should like the very first such is the duty of the artist. a criticism frequently leveled at
trumpet call to sound as though Robert Schumann Schumann’s orchestral works—
proceeding from on high and like a but this brings an original, almost
summons to awaken. … It might be improvisatory quality to the piece
possible to feel the world turning that marked a departure from
green; perhaps … a butterfly classical strictures. Meanwhile,
fluttering.” In Schumann’s first in choosing to write the third
ROMANTIC 1810–1920 169
considerable acclaim. In using Form gives way
programmatic titles and literary to expression
references, as well as in the very
sounds of the music he produced, The music composed by the
Romantic generation strove to
Schumann helped to define the
reflect the importance of the
I feel so entirely in my element early Romantic ethos. individual. Taking their cue in
with a full orchestra; even if The early Romantic symphony part from Beethoven—whose
my mortal enemies were … paid more attention to orchestration Ninth Symphony had broken
before me, I could lead them, than the classical symphony had; the mold—composers sought
master them, surround it used a wider palette of orchestral to create music free from
them, or repulse them. timbres and combined instrumental well-established structures,
Robert Schumann forces in new ways. Instruments such as the minuet and trio
that had previously been less and the rondo, and develop
popular—such as the harp, tuba, other forms, such as the
and trombone, as well as a number sonata principle and fugue.
of percussion instruments—also Their innovations gave
became standard features. the music of the Romantic
Composers of this period seldom composers an immediacy that
enabled it to be more easily
movement as a scherzo and trio, thought of themselves as markedly
understood by middle-class
Schumann was influenced by different from their classical
audiences, who were generally
Beethoven, who had created this forebears and were essentially untrained in music but wished
structure out of the older minuet trying to bring the new “Romantic” to enjoy it as entertainment.
and trio, but here, too, Schumann’s spirit of revolutionary politics to In the same vein, Romantic
composition contains further life, using quite traditional means. works were often given titles
innovation: there are two trios However, as the wider Romantic to help new listeners grasp
instead of the usual one, and they movement gained traction, some the mood and story of the
are in different time signatures. innovative composers—such as music. Some musicians, such
The last movement of the “Spring” Berlioz and Liszt—experimented, as Berlioz and Liszt, would
Symphony is traditional in its not always successfully, with new even provide a written
structure but full of a humor that approaches to harmony, rhythm, program to explain the
seems to anticipate Tchaikovsky and structure. It was this spirit of intended narrative of the
in his lighter moments. Toward experimentation that paved the music to their audience.
the end, Schumann has one last way for late Romanticism. ■
surprise in store—a theme from his
piano piece Kreisleriana suddenly
appears in a slightly altered form.
Although it is not known why he
did this, such self-quotation was
not unusual for Schumann.

New approach
Almost entirely self-taught as
a composer, Schumann brought
an originality and freshness to
the symphony that earned him

The German city of Leipzig became

Schumann’s home from 1828. He wrote
many works at the house he shared
with his wife, Clara Wieck. Situated on
Inselstrasse 18, this is now a museum.


19th-century sacred

choral music
1741 Handel composes his

oratorio, Messiah.
1829 Felix Mendelssohn

conducts Bach’s St. Matthew
Passion for the first time since
the composer’s death in 1750.
1857 The Handel Festival at
the Crystal Palace in London
includes a performance of
Messiah with a choir of 2,000
people and an orchestra of
500, creating a vogue for very
large choral performances
in England.
1900 Edward Elgar composes
The Dream of Gerontius—a
setting of an 1866 poem by
Cardinal Newman—for the
Birmingham Music Festival.

horal music had started
to wane in popularity by
the 19th century. The
Classical period had heralded a
new philosophy that deemed
music to be at its purest when it
was self-contained and referenced
nothing outside itself. Instrumental
music—especially the symphony—
had become the most important
genre. While church musicians kept
the choral tradition alive to some
extent, they were increasingly
amateurs. Secular choirs began to
flourish, but because they were not
professional musicians, the prestige
of choral music suffered, compared
to other types of music. In the
absence of a market for choral
ROMANTIC 1810–1920 171
See also: Magnus Liber organi 28–31 ■ Canticum Canticorum 46–51 ■

Monteverdi’s Vespers 64–69 ■ St. Matthew Passion 98–105

Oratorios, such as Elijah, were

regularly performed with huge choirs
and crowd-drawing soloists at the
Crystal Palace, London, and elsewhere
in England during the Victorian era.

professional conductor and defray

concert expenses. It started as an
educational venture for wealthy
ladies, then went on to include men
in 1791, and thereafter gave regular Felix Mendelssohn
concerts. It was here that the young
Felix Mendelssohn, whose father Born into a wealthy German-
was a member of the choir, first Jewish family in 1809, the
came across the works of J.S. Bach young Mendelssohn was a
and was inspired to conduct a child prodigy. He excelled
performance of the St. Matthew not only at the piano, violin,
Passion, which helped to establish conducting, and composition
the Bach revival in Germany. but also at painting, fencing,
Further choral societies sprang up and riding. At the age of 20,
throughout Europe and America, he conducted a performance
and publishing choral music of the St. Matthew Passion—
the first since Bach’s death.
sacred music, there was also little became a lucrative concern, as
Mendelssohn’s visit to
incentive for composers to write some choirs needed in excess of
England in 1829 was well
new choral works. As a result, the 300 copies of a vocal score for a received and made a great
choral music performed tended to single performance. impression on him, resulting
draw on works from the past. It was almost certainly through in nine further extended trips
attending performances of Handel’s and invitations to Buckingham
An appetite for oratorios oratorios in London in the 1790s Palace. As well as composing
In England, regular renditions that Haydn was inspired to create and performing, Mendelssohn
of Handel’s oratorios in the late a similar work in the Classical style. conducted the Leipzig
1700s marked the start of a trend The Creation, based on the Book of Gewandhaus Orchestra and
that continued through the 19th Genesis, was published in 1800, also founded the Leipzig
century. Among the first works and curiously in a bilingual edition Conservatoire. Following
to be revived after the composer’s in both German and English— ill-health, possibly due to
death, they were often updated probably because Haydn had an overwork and the death of
for large, grandiose performances. eye on the British market, in which his beloved sister, he suffered
a series of strokes and died in
At later music events, such as the he was very successful. The Creation
1847, at the age of 38.
Three Choirs Festival (instituted was an instant success and was
by the cathedrals of Hereford, performed throughout the Western
Worcester, and Gloucester), world in Haydn’s lifetime. Even as Other key works
choirs could number more than his other music dropped out of the
1826 Overture “A Midsummer
a thousand singers—a far cry from standard repertoire, this oratorio
Night’s Dream,” Op. 21
the composer’s original intentions. remained one of the core works
1833 Symphony No. 4 in
The Berlin Singakademie was for choral societies and festivals. A major (“Italian”), Op. 90
one of the first choral societies to be It was within this cultural 1844 Violin Concerto in
established, with amateurs paying climate that Mendelssohn E minor, Op. 64
a regular subscription to engage a composed his oratorio St. Paul in ❯❯
1836. Its subsequent performance it still reflects the Early Romantic
(in an English translation) in period in its colorful orchestration
Liverpool, England, and later in and subtle lyricism. The chorales
the US gained him a reputation as mark structural divisions in the
a composer who was sympathetic music, as found in the Bach
to the possibilities of amateurs Never before was anything Passions. Also, unlike other works
performing his works. like this season … I got of the period, a surprisingly wide
Mendelssohn had conducted through more music in variety of styles and textures can
St. Paul for the Birmingham two months than in all be heard, which is reminiscent of
Triennial Music Festival in 1837, the rest of the year. Handel. However, Mendelssohn
and its organizers requested a new Felix Mendelssohn also uses innovative forms, such
oratorio for 1846, the year before he as including the choir in certain
died. The composer at first declined recitatives for dramatic effect, and
the invitation but was persuaded to he attempts to bring a sense of
write Elijah when told that the unity to the whole work by linking
festival could provide as many movements and using recurring
performers as he requested. Its motifs, both of which were musical
premiere featured an orchestra of Eventually, she sang the soprano devices of his own era. Of special
125 players and a chorus of 271 role of Elijah in London in 1848, interest are the fugues in the
singers. The organizers even tried after Mendelssohn’s death, in a overture and finale, which clearly
to engage the famous Swedish charity concert that funded the demonstrated to the Romantic
opera singer Jenny Lind, for whom Mendelssohn Scholarship, which generation that this Baroque form
Mendelssohn had tailored the still exists today. could be revived to great effect.
soprano part. However, because Elijah itself has a curious hybrid Elijah was immediately
this would have been her British quality. Although clearly influenced successful, especially in its English
debut, she declined, preferring an by the Baroque and modeled on version, and became a mainstay
opera to showcase her vocal skills. the oratorios of Bach and Handel, of choral concerts throughout the
19th century. Later commentators,
however, often found it too
conventional and considered it a
product of mid-Victorian values.

Grand sacred works

While many composers of the
period were not very interested in
choral music, Hector Berlioz created
two of the grandest choral works
in the repertoire. With their
extraordinarily large forces, his
Requiem of 1837 and his Te Deum,
first performed in 1855, are vivid
examples of the excesses of
High Romanticism; the Requiem
requires four off-stage brass
ensembles while the score of

The prophet summons the Israelites

in the bass recitative “Draw near all ye
people” from the oratorio Elijah. This
page, handwritten by Mendelssohn, is
from an original 1846 score of the work.
ROMANTIC 1810–1920 173
since, opinion has been divided
as to whether it is a religious work
Elijah’s curse Somber or an outpouring of rather more
Four strong woodwind and
chords introduce drama than sacrament.
brass are used. The
drama and brighter strings
foreboding. are silent. A “human” requiem
Brahms’s German Requiem was
perhaps the most singular sacred
choral work of the period. It was his
first major composition and brought
him international acclaim. He
Descending avoided the traditional requiem
tritones, A final drum roll Mass text, instead creating his
signaling danger, imparts a sense own from the Lutheran Bible. There
are capped by a of doom. is a focus in the work on comforting
trombone blast.
the living, no reference to the Day
of Judgment, and no mention of
Jesus. Brahms thought of it as a
Mendelssohn’s Elijah begins with the prophet’s curse on King “human requiem” rather than
Ahab and the Israelites. Their punishment for corrupt governance
and the worship of false idols will be a terrible drought.
belonging to any particular
theological outlook, which is
perhaps why it is still so frequently
the Te Deum specifies 12 harps. As between secular operatic and performed. Written in seven large
a result, performances were—and sacred choral works. Verdi sections, the musical material
still are—rare and impractical, and composed it in the operatic style, is tightly organized around the
so this music had little opportunity with immense drama, especially opening notes sung to Selig sind
to affect the genre. Composers in the powerful “Dies Irae,” and (“Blessed are”). This creates a very
such as Rossini wrote a number wrote parts for female voices at unified whole, in which Brahms
of cantatas, but these tended to a time when the Catholic Church seems to have avoided using any
be overshadowed by their more used only men in its choirs. The previous models. A work of subtle
popular operas and are seldom Requiem’s first performance was majesty, the German Requiem
heard. It was Verdi’s Requiem at St. Mark’s in Milan, but its stands in sharp relief to most
that managed to bridge the gap second was at La Scala. Ever choral music of the 19th century. ■

Music in Victorian Britain

Between industrial innovation wealthy background, and even
and empire building, the arts— feted by the Queen, became
especially music—were rather ubiquitous. Meanwhile, the brass
marginalized in early Victorian band movement in northern
Britain. Although there was a England and music halls in the
thriving concert culture, it was cities were both thriving musical
predominated by foreign artists. outlets for the working classes.
Yet, with a rapidly expanding, Later in the century, the search
wealthy middle class, there for a cultural identity inspired
were many amateurs—young British classical musicians, which
women especially—who needed also led to the creation of British
socially acceptable music to conservatoires. Figures as diverse Prince Albert plays the organ for
play. In this climate, Songs as Sullivan and Elgar emerged Mendelssohn as Queen Victoria looks
Without Words by Mendelssohn, from this new, so-called “English on. The composer enjoyed several
a “respectable” composer from a Musical Renaissance.” visits to Buckingham Palace in 1842.


Italian opera
1829 Rossini shocks the
musical world by retiring
from opera after his final
stage work, William Tell,
premieres in Paris.
1848 Composer Gaetano
Donizetti dies, 13 years after
his compatriot Vincenzo
Bellini, leaving Verdi as the
leading light of Italian opera.

1887 Milan hosts the premiere t was usual in the first decades Italian tenor Francesco Meli
of Verdi’s Otello, his first opera of the 19th century for Italian performs as Violetta’s lover, Alfredo,
since Aida in 1871. opera to be concerned with in the brindisi drinking song in a 2016
production of La traviata. His love for
the tragedies of the great and
1890 Italian composer Pietro Violetta brings shame upon his family.
noble. Giuseppe Verdi challenged
Mascagni’s masterpiece
this and produced operas about
Cavalleria rusticana premieres ordinary people as well. However, it wasn’t until well into
in Rome and ushers in the Verdi enjoyed notable early Verdi’s creative life that he fulfilled
naturalistic, melodramatic successes, such as Nabucco (1842), his democratic ambitions with
“verismo” style of opera. based on the biblical story of three masterpieces composed in
Nebuchadnezzar II. Its chorus quick succession—Rigoletto (1851),
“Va pensiero,” in which the Hebrew Il trovatore (1853), and La traviata
slaves lament the loss of their (1853). Rigoletto focuses on the
homeland, would later become an eponymous character—a hunchback
anthem for Italian independence. who, in trying to protect his
ROMANTIC 1810–1920 175
See also: The Magic Flute 134–137 ■ The Barber of Seville 148 ■ Der Freischütz 149 ■ Tosca 194–197 ■
The Wreckers 232–239 ■ Peter Grimes 288–293

daughter, unwittingly brings about censors, so the opera was set in the
her undoing; Il trovatore tells the 1700s for the premiere. La traviata
melodramatic tale of the beautiful was nonetheless unique as it boldly
Leonora who is caught between confronted society’s hypocritical
two men and a gypsy woman’s treatment of women.
vengeance; and in La traviata (“The Although some of La traviata’s To copy the truth can
fallen woman”), a courtesan named most famous numbers—especially be a good thing, but to
Violetta sacrifices her love and, the brindisi drinking song in Act invent the truth is better,
ultimately, herself, for the sake of One—feature crowd scenes, La much better.
the patriarchal society that seeks traviata is an opera remarkable for Giuseppe Verdi
to control her. These three operas its moments of intimacy. Verdi
confirmed Verdi’s break away from draws us into the world of his
what he described as his galley heroine, and this groundbreaking
years: time spent producing works focus on a female protagonist paved
to order for the “opera industry.” the way for others, such as the
gypsy heroine of Georges Bizet’s
Bending the rules Carmen (1875)—a character from written for the opening of the new
Verdi managed to manipulate and French opera, who is similarly opera house in Cairo in 1871, marked
subvert operatic conventions to drawn from the literary world (from a break for Verdi, who was unhappy
achieve a synthesis of tradition and a story by Prosper Mérimée) and with the importation of French and
innovation. With La traviata, he similarly exposed the hypocrisy German opera to Italy. Verdi began
took a subject drawn from a well- of 19th-century sexual mores. to focus on other aspects of his
known novel, La Dame aux camélias life and composed little after the
(The Lady of the Camellias) by Final masterpieces Missa da Requiem of 1874, written
Alexandre Dumas, and, in a step Verdi’s many subsequent works in memory of the nationalist poet,
unprecedented then, set the saw the composer tackle the Alessandro Manzoni, until his
drama at the time of composition. different conventions of grand final two pieces, which were both
Ultimately, the portrayal of a fallen opéra in such masterpieces as based on works by his beloved
woman in modern society was Don Carlos, composed for the Paris Shakespeare: Otello (1887) and
rejected as too risqué by the Italian opera in 1867. However, Aida, Falstaff (1893). ■

Giuseppe Verdi Verdi was born in Busseto, become the most successful
northern Italy, in 1813. His father, opera composer of his day, and
an innkeeper of modest social from the 1850s his music was
standing, encouraged his son’s embraced by the nationalist
early education, and a wealthy Risorgimento movement.
merchant in the town, Antonio In 1859, Verdi married the
Barezzi, paid for the young Verdi operatic soprano Giuseppina
to study in Milan. Strepponi, staying with her until
In 1836, Verdi married Barezzi’s her death in 1897. Verdi himself
daughter, but both she and their died four years later, in 1901.
two young children died four
years later. In spite of this tragedy, Other key works
Verdi’s career began to take off.
His breakthrough came with 1842 Nabucco
Nabucco in 1841. Over the 1867 Don Carlos
following decade, he produced 1874 Missa da Requiem
13 operas. The 1850s saw him 1887 Otello



he central myths of
IN CONTEXT European art can often
be traced back to sources
thousands of years old. Unusually,
The Faust legend and
the Faust legend is a more recent
German Romanticism phenomenon, based on a real
BEFORE person. The original Johann
1830 The premiere of Berlioz’s Faustus was a late 15th-century
Symphonie fantastique, with magician-illusionist, who claimed
the young Liszt in the Paris to be in league with the devil. His
audience, sees the debut of the dubious career traveling through
Romantic symphony orchestra, the southeast German region
much more colorful than those of Thuringia even secured him
a doctorate from Heidelberg
that came before.
University. The Faust story had
1846 Berlioz conducts already become part of folklore
the first performances of The when the literary doyen of the
Damnation of Faust, based on German Romantic movement,
Goethe’s Faust Part I. Johann Wolfgang von Goethe,
began to explore the character
AFTER in the 1770s.
1861 Liszt arranges a piano
version of his Mephisto-Waltz Powerful appeal
No. 1, which was originally Romanticism had multiple roots in
written for orchestra. the political and social upheavals of
its time. With industrialism came
1906 Mahler composes his the rise of a middle-class less
Eighth Symphony; its main beholden to the Church and the
movement is a huge setting of aristocracy, and in this more
the closing “Chorus mysticus” liberated climate, Goethe’s verse-
scene of Goethe’s Faust Part II. play Faust developed a potent
Mephistopheles holds a mirror up
to Faust in a poster created by Richard appeal. Faust concerns the
Roland Holst for a 1918 Dutch National corruption of a secular, rational
Theatre production of Goethe’s play. mind. Goethe’s hero is a brilliant
ROMANTIC 1810–1920 177
See also: Stamitz’s Symphony in E-flat major 116–117 ■ Mozart’s Symphony No. 40 in G minor 128–131 ■ “Eroica” 138–141 ■

Symphonie fantastique 162–163 ■ Schumann’s Symphony No. 1 166–169 ■ Brahms’s Symphony No. 1 188–189

agnostic philosopher, whose A frontispiece of sheet music for

intellectual disillusionment leads Lizst’s Faust Symphony, published
him to be waylaid by the demon in Leipzig, Germany, lists the main
characters of the symphony and the
Mephistopheles’s offer of a world type of orchestral arrangement.
of sensual and sexual satisfaction.
In the poem’s first part
(published in 1808), Faust is added the finale, with its tenor
introduced to the trusting young soloist and male-voice choir, for the
Gretchen, whom he seduces, first performance three years later.
impregnates, and abandons to Rather than following Goethe’s
madness and death. The second complex narrative, each of the
part (completed in 1831) finds the symphony’s first three movements
remorseful Faust applying his presents a portrait of one of the
powers to the cause of human main characters. The long first
good; as Faust’s death approaches, movement portrays the multiple
Gretchen’s soul intercedes for him, layers of Faust’s restless nature
and angels carry Faust aloft to a in a complex, chromatic musical
higher world. The legend was taken language (based on all 12
up in Charles Gounod’s grand opera semitones in an octave). While
Faust, Robert Schumann’s oratorio Gretchen’s movement is Faust’s
Scenes from Goethe’s Faust, and by Berlioz. Enthralled, he sketched out opposite in its sweet winsomeness,
Wagner in his Faust Overture. The some ideas first for an opera, then a Mephistopheles has a diabolic
most significant musical version, symphony, but the idea remained Scherzo, in which each theme is
however, is the one by Hungarian on hold until he had settled in a distortion of one already used
virtuoso Franz Lizst. Goethe’s adopted hometown of to portray Faust. The finale is a
Weimar. In 1854, over a period radiant choral setting of the poem’s
Liszt’s Faust of two months, he composed concluding “Chorus mysticus,” as
The young Liszt was introduced to and orchestrated the first three Gretchen’s theme leads Faust’s
Faust Part I (in Gérard de Nerval’s movements of his Faust Symphony. soul, much like in Goethe’s version,
French translation) by his friend Dedicating the work to Berlioz, he into a transfigured musical world. ■

Franz Liszt In 1848, Liszt moved with the

Ukrainian Princess Carolyne
Born in Raiding, eastern Sayn-Wittgenstein to Weimar,
Austria, in 1811, Liszt showed where he composed principal
early talent as a pianist. He works of the Romantic era. Later,
studied in Vienna, where he he took minor Catholic orders
played to an amazed Beethoven, in Rome. In 1886, Liszt died of
and his subsequent teenage pneumonia in Bayreuth, Germany.
years in Paris consolidated his
standing as the supreme pianist Other key works
of his time. At 24 years old, he
eloped to Switzerland with 1842 Années de pèlerinage
Countess Marie d’Agoult; later, (Years of Pilgrimage)
in Italy, they had three children 1853 Piano Sonata in B minor
but drifted apart as Liszt 1856 Dante Symphony (choir
pursued a relentless concert and orchestra)
schedule throughout Europe. 1868 Christus (choral oratorio)



ne of the most instantly Europe’s ballrooms. Couples held
IN CONTEXT recognizable waltzes ever one another face to face as they
written, An der schönen, twirled around the floor, in contrast
blauen Donau (By the Beautiful to the stately minuets and other
19th-century waltz music
Blue Danube) was first performed in French-style court dances that
BEFORE Vienna in February 1867 as a choral the waltz was starting to replace.
1819 Carl Maria von Weber’s piece, conducted by its Austrian By the early 1800s, the waltz had
Invitation to the Dance is composer, Johann Strauss II. spread throughout Europe, with
the first waltz written for Comprising five interlinked waltz Vienna as its capital. Invigorated
concert performance rather themes, it was designed to lift the first by Johann Strauss I, then his
than dancing. spirit of the Austrian nation after son, it became the signature
its defeat by Prussia in the Seven dance of the 19th century. ■
1823 Schubert writes Valses Weeks’ War. It was, however, the
sentimentales, a collection of purely orchestral version, premiered
34 waltzes for solo piano. in Paris later that year, that took
off. The lilting beauty of Strauss’s
1834 Chopin’s Grande valse melodies made the piece beloved
brillante is the first of his solo the world over.
piano waltzes to be published. Waltzes have their roots in
AFTER the country dances of southern
1877 Tchaikovsky’s Swan Germany, Bohemia, and Austria.
Lake is one of many late From the mid-1700s, more refined
versions, with a distinctive triple
19th-century ballets and
beat, started to become popular in
operas that feature waltzes.
1911 Maurice Ravel publishes A statue of “The Waltz King”
a suite of waltzes, Valses playing the violin stands in Stadtpark,
nobles et sentimentales. Vienna. As a child, Strauss practiced
the violin secretly, as his musician
1919–1920 Ravel composes La father wanted him to become a banker.
valse, about the rise and fall of
the waltz as a musical genre. See also: Le bourgeois gentilhomme 70–71 ■ Water Music 84–89 ■ Symphonie
fantastique 162–163 ■ The Nutcracker 190–191
ROMANTIC 1810–1920 179


he French composer replaced the usual fast-slow-fast
IN CONTEXT Camille Saint-Saëns’ Piano sequence of movements with a
Concerto No. 2 premiered in slow-fast-faster progression, giving
Paris in May 1868. It had taken him rise to the quip that it “begins with
19th-century solo
17 days of flat-out labor to finish it Bach and ends with Offenbach.”
concertos in time for the concert, which his Lack of rehearsal time resulted
BEFORE friend, the Russian musician Anton in a disappointing premiere, but the
1830 Chopin’s Piano Concerto Rubinstein, conducted. Saint-Saëns concerto won admirers and remains
No. 1 in E minor is premiered played the solo part. a staple of the concert repertoire.
in Warsaw, Poland. Saint-Saëns wrote another three
Exploring the form concertos for the piano, three for
1836 Clara Schumann writes Solo concertos had evolved over the the violin, and two for the cello. ■
her Piano Concerto in A minor, course of the 19th century. Dazzling
nine years before her husband, displays by virtuoso performer-
Robert Schumann, writes his composers, notably violinist
Piano Concerto in A minor. Paganini and pianists Chopin and
Liszt, dominated the years after
1849 Liszt completes the final 1810, with the orchestra providing
version of his Piano Concerto little more than a backdrop. Later He who does not get
No. 1 in E-flat major. figures, such as Robert Schumann, absolute pleasure from
called for a better balance. a simple series of well-
Most major composers of the constructed chords, beautiful
1868 Grieg composes one
time, including Mendelssohn, only in their arrangement,
of the most popular piano
Brahms, Grieg, and Dvořák, wrote is not really fond of music.
concertos ever written, his
concertos and experimented Camille Saint-Saëns
Piano Concerto in A minor. widely with the form. In his Piano
1881 Johannes Brahms Concerto No. 2, Saint-Saëns ignored
completes his Piano Concerto convention by opening not with
No. 2 in B-flat major. the orchestra but with a solo piano
prelude in the style of Bach, and he

See also: Pièces de clavecin 82–83 ■ Scarlatti’s Sonata in D minor, K.9,

“Pastorale” 90–91 ■ Clementi’s Piano Sonata in F-sharp minor 132–133

THE RING CYCLE (1848–1874),

Complete art work
1821 Weber’s Der Freischütz,
considered to be the first
German Romantic opera,
premieres in Berlin.
1824 Beethoven completes
his Ninth Symphony. In a form
that was traditionally wordless,
Beethoven’s use of words in
the symphony’s finale greatly
influenced Wagner.
1849 After being forced into
exile, Wagner begins a series
of essays setting out a plan for
reforming opera. The first step
later becomes The Ring.

wo things changed beyond The valkyrie Brünnhilde meets the
1862 Wagner conducts lovers Siegmund and Sieglinde to warn
recognition in Wagner’s
Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony lifetime: German opera and Siegmund of his imminent death. This
in Bayreuth to celebrate the Germany itself. The country that he
scene from Wagner’s Die Walküre was
laying of the corner stone of painted by Gaston Bussière (1893).
grew up in was little more than a
the Festspielhaus. group of loosely linked principalities
AFTER and kingdoms, while German opera for even a fraction of the quasi-
1883 Wagner’s widow Cosima before Wagner was fighting a losing religious devotion that Wagner’s
takes over the running of the battle against imports from France vast musical dramas inspired.
Bayreuth Festival, exercising and Italy—apart from a few notable
iron control until her death
exceptions. Beethoven’s Fidelio, The road to Revolution
Mozart’s Don Giovanni (performed More than any other composer
in 1930.
in German in the German-speaking before him, Wagner’s own life
1933 Hitler comes to power lands), and the Romantic operas of and art were intertwined with the
in Germany and, as an ardent Carl Maria von Weber represented developments—political, historical,
Wagnerian, involves himself the only resistance against the and philosophical—of the world
intimately with the running prevailing taste for foreign operatic around him. From an early age,
of the festival. imports, often poorly performed in he was fascinated with how to
the various court theatres that were combine drama and music, and
1976 Bayreuth’s centenary dotted around Germany. increasingly, with how a new sort
staging of The Ring, later By the time of Wagner’s death in of opera could help revitalize the art
widely televised, presents 1883, Germany was a nation-state. form in Germany, as well as inspire
the work as a critique of German opera—or, more correctly, and unite the country itself. He was
19th-century industrialization. Wagnerian opera—had conquered unusual among opera composers
France, Italy, and beyond. Other in that he always wrote his own
composers rushed to emulate his librettos (the words that were set to
harmonic adventurousness and his music) and did so even in his early
richly symphonic style and longed operas. His first opera, Die Feen
ROMANTIC 1810–1920 183
See also: The Magic Flute 134–137 ■ The Barber of Seville 148 ■ Der Freischütz 149 ■ La traviata 174–175 ■ Tosca 194–197 ■

The Wreckers 232–239 ■ Peter Grimes 288–293

(“The fairies,” 1834) delved deep Wagner founded at Bayreuth. They

into Romanticism, while his second, show the composer increasingly
Das Liebesverbot (“The ban on love,” breaking down the traditional
1836), loosely based on Shakespeare’s structures of opera—blurring the
Measure for Measure, was closer to lines between individual arias,
Italian comic opera. duets, and choruses, and focusing With one bound I became
A largely unsuccessful period in on the psychological development a revolutionist, and acquired
Paris in the late 1830s exposed the of characters of unprecedented the conviction that every
young composer to the bel canto of complexity. The operas addressed decently active being ought
Vincenzo Bellini (whom he much subjects that would concern him to occupy himself with
admired) as well as to grand opéra, for the rest of his creative life: politics exclusively.
a local genre whose extravagant redemption, the nature of desire, Richard Wagner
scenic features would broaden his and, in Tannhäuser, how religion
theatrical horizons. The German- can and should temper this desire.
born composer Giacomo Meyerbeer
was among the most successful Theory and practice
exponents of this type of operatic Wagner’s involvement in the
spectacle. Wagner’s next work, uprising in Dresden in 1849—part
Rienzi (1840), was modeled closely of a series of republican revolts came up with the idea of the
on Meyerbeer’s style and proved to that swept through Germany Gesamtkunstwerk (literally
be his first breakthrough, leading and other parts of Europe—led “complete art work”), which would
to Wagner’s appointment as to a warrant being issued for his combine all the elements of stage
Kapellmeister (director of music) arrest, forcing him into exile in performance in one. His new works
at the Dresden Court Theatre. Switzerland. During the first five would amalgamate the genius of
Wagner’s subsequent works in years in exile, he did not compose a Beethoven and Shakespeare and
the 1840s, Der fliegende Holländer single note of music, concentrating be modeled on ancient Greek
(The Flying Dutchman), Tannhäuser, instead on setting out the drama, which, as far as Wagner
and Lohengrin, are the earliest foundations for his operatic reforms understood it, not only combined
operas included in the canon of in a series of long essays. It was all the arts but did so in a way
works performed at the festival that during this period that Wagner that was essential for uniting a ❯❯

Richard Wagner Wagner was born in Leipzig most ambitiously in The Ring. In
in 1813 and was drawn to the the 1860s, his fortunes improved
theatre at an early age, also thanks to the financial aid of
developing an obsession with King Ludwig II of Bavaria, which
music—particularly Beethoven. gave him new artistic freedom.
His early years were dominated Wagner died in Venice in 1883,
by instability, exacerbated by his the year after Parsifal premiered
irresponsible attitude toward in Bayreuth.
money. His operas began to see
success in the 1840s, and a job as Other key works
Kapellmeister in Dresden followed,
but both were jeopardized by his 1841 The Flying Dutchman
political activism. 1848 Lohengrin
Forced into exile in Switzerland 1859 Tristan und Isolde
in the 1850s, he set about a 1867 Die Meistersinger
wholesale reform of opera: first in von Nürnberg
theoretical essays, then in practice, 1882 Parsifal
population. Wagner sought to originally called Siegfrieds Tod
create an artistic experience with (“Siegfried’s death”), led to him
religious, social, and ethical aspects. expanding it backward, adding
Such an artwork would gain more and more prehistory in each
yet further resonance with its additional work.
audience, he argued, by being This process also necessitated I shall never write an
based on subjects rooted deep in the development of “leitmotif”—a Opera more. As I have no
their unconscious, ideally myth. technique latent in his works of the wish to invent an arbitrary
In his new “music dramas,” as his 1840s but raised in The Ring to a title for my works, I will
works became known, he would be level of extraordinary complexity call them Dramas.
able to harness the power of music and sophistication. This method Richard Wagner
to explore the inner workings of allowed Wagner to weave together
his characters. Unlike with the continuous acts over large spans
predominant forms of opera, in but also meant that the orchestra
which musical concerns and, in the could begin to offer “commentary”
worst cases, the vanity of singers, on the action, much as the chorus
were primary considerations, here had done in ancient Greek drama.
it would be the drama that would Wagner finally completed his with conversation-like directness
define the form of the music. text for the cycle by 1852, and he (using punchy alliterative verse
began composing the music shortly called Stabreim), while the
Composing the world afterward, without any realistic orchestra provides commentary.
The work that came closest to this prospect of the works ever being For the “first day” of the cycle,
aim was a cycle of operas, Der Ring performed. Das Rheingold, which Die Walküre (“The Valkyrie,” 1856),
des Nibelungen (“The ring of the Wagner called a “preliminary Wagner created music of far greater
Nibelung”), based on a mixture of evening” to the main drama, came sensuality and warmth, in part
Norse and Germanic mythology. first and was the nearest Wagner because this installment added
It was not initially conceived as a came to realizing the theoretical humans into the tale, specifically
tetralogy (a cycle of four works), but ideal laid out in his essays. the long-lost twins Siegmund and
Wagner’s inability to progress with The opera’s cast of Norse gods, Sieglinde, who fall in love during
the subject as a single opera, dwarves, and giants communicate the course of the first act. (The

Timeline for the production of The Ring

The Ring was made up of four operas, Key
which Wagner worked on in two distinct Text written Tristan und Isolde First performance
phases during his lifetime, beginning
and ending with Götterdämmerung. Music composed Die Meistersinger

Das Rheingold

Die Walküre



1845 1850 1855 1860 1865 1870 1875 1880 1885

ROMANTIC 1810–1920 185
Tristan and its chord
Inspired by his discovery
of Arthur Schopenhauer's
philosophies and a romantic
obsession with Mathilde von
Wesendonck—the wife of his
Swiss patron—Wagner began
composing Tristan und Isolde
in 1857, finishing it less than
two years later. The work,
which explores the adulterous
romance and subsequent
death of the legendary lovers,
arguably laid the foundations
for the breakdown of tonality.
In it, Wagner creates a
disorientating, intoxicating
world built on harmonic
tension that—reflecting
the drama’s obsession with the
impossibility of perfect love—
remains unresolved until the
very end. Emblematic of this
work is the so-called “Tristan
chord”—the first chord in the
Prelude—whose apparently
unrelated notes of F, B, D-sharp,
and G-sharp form the basis
for the work’s harmonic
instability. The Tristan chord,
as used by Wagner, was
hugely influential on composers
seeking to push—and break—
the boundaries of harmony.

Wagner’s style was not popular with creative output. Not only did
everyone, as seen in this American Schopenhauer present a philosophy
cartoon (1877), which criticized the of pessimism incompatible with
dense noise of Götterdämmerung,
the last opera of the Ring Cycle.
the revolutionary zeal that inspired
The Ring, but he viewed music as
the most profoundly expressive of
promotion of incest was just one of any of the arts—turning Wagner’s
many sins the composer would be drama-first conviction on its head.
accused of during his career.) By Tristan und Isolde (1859) first
1856, however, Wagner had also Breaking the cycle premiered in Munich in 1865,
starring Ludwig Schnorr von
discovered the philosopher Arthur In practical terms, Wagner’s Carolsfeld and his wife Malwina
Schopenhauer, who would prove discovery of Schopenhauer brought Garrigues as the doomed lovers.
to be a powerful influence on his about a break in his composition ❯❯
of The Ring: he stopped composing
Siegfried (the “second day” of the
cycle) after completing a draft score
of the second act in 1857. He did
not return to it for seven years.
During the interim, Wagner
completed two very different works,
both of which were deeply inspired
by Schopenhauer’s philosophy—
specifically, its idea that relative
fulfillment could be achieved only
through renunciation. The first of
these new works was Tristan und
Isolde (completed in 1859, though
not performed in its entirety until
1865), an overtly philosophical and
sensuous work in which Wagner
pushed traditional harmony to cycle, bringing an even greater The English National Opera
its limits. The second work, Die harmonic richness to the third act performs “The Ride of the Valkyries”
Meistersinger von Nürnberg (“The of Siegfried and to the fourth opera, at Glastonbury Festival in 2004. The
well-known piece comes at the start
master-singers of Nuremberg,” 1867), Götterdämmerung (“The twilight of Act Three of Die Walküre.
was a comedy of unprecedented of the Gods”)—in which the Ring
dimensions—the final act alone is is finally returned to the Rhine
more than two hours long when Maidens, and Valhalla, home of the The theatre that Wagner built in
staged—that dealt with profound gods, collapses. Wagner completed the Franconian town of Bayreuth
issues, such as the place of art his final installment in November to stage The Ring in 1876 is in
within society, art’s relationship 1874, 25 years after first starting many ways as revolutionary as
with national identity, and the work on the project. the works it was built to stage.
balance to be struck between rule- It has a broad auditorium, with
based tradition and innovation. Festival theatre long rows of seats laid out to
When Wagner finally returned Upon completion of The Ring, resemble an ancient amphitheatre.
to his composition of The Ring, he Wagner decided that no existing The orchestra and conductor are
immediately applied the musical theatre would do to stage it and not visible to the audience, as
and philosophical lessons learned set about raising funds for a new their pit is sunk beneath the stage.
from his interim projects to the Festspielhaus (festival theatre). In an unprecedented step for the

Leitmotif musical fabric—specifically in

the orchestra—of the work was
The leitmotif (or “leading motif”) built from melodic fragments
technique is related to Berlioz’s that become associated with
idée fixe, a fixed idea or theme different characters, ideas,
I laid my plans on so important in a work, which he used in his or states of mind. From the
a scale, that it would be Symphonie fantastique. It is very first performances of The
impossible to produce this also related to other earlier Ring, attempts were made to
opera … at any lesser theatre. forms of “reminiscence motif,” a “decode” these leitmotifs and
Richard Wagner recurring set of notes signifying to interpret the orchestral
a character or their memories. writing as a commentary on
Motifs were utilized to a greater the drama. The technique
extent, and with unprecedented went on to be widely adopted—
sophistication, in Wagner’s The including, in the 20th century,
Ring, however, where the whole by film composers.
ROMANTIC 1810–1920 187
time, the lights in the auditorium wife, Cosima, famously complained conventional symphonies and
would be extinguished during the that the costumes, painstakingly those who were fully under the
performance, and comings and researched, made everyone look Wagnerian spell.
goings were forbidden. like Native American chiefs. The Leitmotif became a standard
dragon Wagner had ordered from technique for a generation of
Operatic pilgrimage Manchester, UK, for Siegfried, never younger composers, many of whom
From the very first festival in 1876, arrived in full—the neck section, attempted, after Wagner’s death,
the great and the good flocked the story goes, ended up not in to create earnest facsimiles of his
to Bayreuth, and with Wagner’s Bayreuth but Beirut. operatic works. Italy, traditionally
final opera, Parsifal (1882), the the home of opera, had a crisis
unmistakable allure of the festival A new beginning of musical identity, torn between
only grew. Things were not The legacy of The Ring, Wagner’s embracing Wagner’s innovations
straightforward, however, and the Bayreuth project, and the composer and preserving its own revered
unprecedented scenic demands himself cannot be overestimated. traditions. Thanks to Wagner,
of The Ring were only imperfectly Wagnérisme was fashionable in opera—which he once criticized
met at its first production. One of Paris at the end of the 19th century for being too susceptible to
Wagner’s most vocal critics, Eduard as artists were inspired by the frivolousness—was now an art
Hanslick, said that the rainbow heady mix of religion and sex in form that dealt with the grandest
bridge that leads to Valhalla at the Parsifal. Meanwhile, in Vienna, philosophical questions and
end of Das Rheingold resembled a debate raged between those who demanded a new revolutionary
“seven-colored sausage”; Wagner’s supported Brahms and his more sort of music to do so. ■

The opera house Wagner had Bayreuth Festspielhaus

built in Bayreuth was designed
by Gottfried Semper, with
continental seating (no central
aisle) that allowed all patrons Dressing rooms beside
an equal view of the stage. the stage for the opera's
principal singers.

Wings providing
access to the stage
from the dressing rooms.
Deep stage to allow
action in the foreground,
middle ground, and

Sunken orchestra pit

to give the illusion that
the sound is coming
from the stage.
Wooden interior to
provide greater resonance.

No boxes or galleries,
in line with Wagner’s
democratic principles.

Fantailed seating
instead of traditional
Darkened auditorium to horseshoe shape to focus
create a “mystic chasm.” attention on the stage.

SYMPHONY NO. 1 (1876),

n the first decades of the Franz Liszt. Brahms believed in
IN CONTEXT 19th century, Beethoven took producing “pure” music, which was
the symphony to new heights, abstract, rather than associated
making it the most important with a plot line.
Fall and rise of
genre in the Austro-German In 1853, Brahms met Robert
the symphony tradition. In the wake of his death, Schumann and his pianist wife,
BEFORE a handful of composers stepped Clara. Schumann, who was the
1824 Beethoven completes in to assume Beethoven’s mantle. composer of four symphonies,
his Symphony No. 9. Among them was German hailed Brahms as the great hope
composer Johannes Brahms, who
1853 Robert Schumann hails deplored program music—music
Brahms and Adele Strauss, wife
Brahms as the hope of German that sought to follow or describe of Johann Strauss II, sit down to
music in an influential essay, a narrative line—and openly breakfast in his villa in the summer
Neue Bahnen (“New Paths”). criticized the New German School of 1894. Brahms often visited their
represented by Richard Wagner and villa in Bad Ischl, Austria.
1858 Brahms completes his
First Piano Concerto, which
at one point was conceived
as a symphony, and his
First Serenade.
1877 In a review, the
conductor Hans von Bülow
hails Brahms’s First Symphony
as “Beethoven’s 10th.”
1889 Mahler conducts the
premiere of his Symphony
No. 1 in Budapest, the first of
his nine completed symphonies.
ROMANTIC 1810–1920 189
See also: Mozart’s Symphony No. 40 128–131 ■ “Eroica” Symphony 138–141 ■ Symphonie fantastique 162–163 ■

Schumann’s Symphony No. 1 166–169 ■ Faust Symphony 176–177 ■ Dvořák’s Symphony No. 9 212–215

Johannes Brahms The son of a struggling musician, particularly close to his widow,
Brahms was born in Hamburg, Clara, and would be a friend of
northern Germany, in 1833. He hers for life.
received his first music lessons In later life, Brahms focused
from his father, and as a teenager on instrumental music, but in
he helped support his family 1896, the year before his death,
by playing piano in the inns of he wrote Vier ernste Gesänge
Hamburg, before finding work (“Four Serious Songs”), reflecting
as a choral conductor. on the transience of life.
In 1863, Brahms settled in
Vienna, marking the start of a Other key works
highly successful period in which
he composed A German Requiem, 1853 Piano Sonata No. 3 in
the First Symphony, and his F minor, Op. 5
Hungarian Dances. In the years 1868 A German Requiem
following Robert Schumann’s 1869 Hungarian Dances (for
death in 1856, Brahms became piano duet)

of German music, describing the A German Requiem (1868), Brahms Brahms’s First Symphony, like
20-year-old composer as a “man of set Lutheran texts in a manner that Beethoven’s Ninth, moves from
destiny,” placing on Brahms the looked back to the earliest German darkness to light, with a stormy
weight of public expectation. choral music, while his so-called opening from bass and timpani
Haydn Variations (1873) explored an that subsides into a dreamy
First Symphony array of compositional devices old Andante before bringing in
Brahms started sketching his First and new in an orchestral context. urgent pizzicato strings. The third
Symphony soon after Schumann’s This synthesis of tradition movement, the Allegretto, captures
endorsement but did not complete and innovation distinguished the a joyful atmosphere while at the
it until the mid-1870s—more than First Symphony, whose themes same time showcasing Brahms’s
20 years later. In the interim, fused folk song and chorale, as close attention to symmetry.
Brahms tried his hand at other well as allusions to Bach and to
symphonies, but none reached Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony. Further works
fruition. Meanwhile, he composed Following the success of his First
many orchestral and chamber Symphony, Brahms composed
works, including sonatas for violin, three more, choosing to conclude
cello, and piano. He destroyed the his Fourth Symphony (1885) with a
works he was unhappy with, but thrilling passacaglia—a Baroque
parts of his attempts at symphonic form that develops its material over
writing were recast in other pieces, [Brahms is] someone a constantly repeating bass line.
such as the opening of his First destined to give ideal Brahms’s symphonies may seem
Piano Concerto. presentment to the conservative in comparison to
The intensely self-critical highest expression those who succeeded him—such
composer published his first string of the times. as Gustav Mahler, whose First
quartets—another Beethovenian Robert Schumann Symphony heralded a new direction
genre par excellence—only in when it burst onto the scene in
1873, and they, as well as two other 1889—but Brahms’s development
important works rooted in different of earlier forms and processes
traditions, arguably paved the way would prove influential for a whole
for the symphonic breakthrough. In generation of modernists. ■



he 19th century brought a for dancers to explore “floating
IN CONTEXT revolution in the world of motion” and pointe work (dancing
ballet. Earlier ballet music on tiptoe), with ever-shorter dresses
had been largely made up of well- to allow the dancers’ feet and legs
Ballet music
known opera songs linked by to be seen. The music for these
BEFORE melodies written by a theatre earlier ballets was very much
1832 La Sylphide, the first musician. Few original scores for at the service of the dance, and
Romantic ballet, opens ballet were composed before 1820. usually written by “specialists”—
in Paris, choreographed by At this time, light Romantic composers prepared to produce
Filippo Taglioni to music ballets began to appear, dominated light, rhythmic music that would
composed by Jean-Madeleine in Europe by dancers such as Marie not upstage the dance.
Schneitzhoeffer. Taglioni, whose father Filippo
choreographed La Sylphide to Ballet moves east
1870 Léo Delibes’s ballet showcase her skills. Its central From about 1850, ballet’s center
Coppélia, about a dancing doll themes of enchantment and an began to shift from Paris to Russia,
that comes to life, is staged at ethereal female lead were a vehicle where tsarist patronage facilitated
the Paris Opéra. lavish productions. Tchaikovsky
received the commission for his
1876 Delibes’s ballet Sylvia first ballet, Swan Lake, in 1875.
opens in Paris. Tchaikovsky Approaching the commission
praises his score for Sylvia with symphonic ambition, he
above Wagner’s Ring Cycle. The heart of the created melodies associated with
classical repertory is the characters in the story. The critics,
Tchaikovsky–Petipa however, were not ready for a ballet
1911 Stravinsky’s ballet
Sleeping Beauty, and score worthy of the concert hall,
Petrushka premieres in Paris. and in spite of a warm audience
no ballet is harder
1920 The Paris Opéra stages reception, critical incomprehension
to get right. saw the work shelved.
the premiere of Stravinsky’s
Robert Gottlieb While the choreographer on
Pulcinella, with choreography American writer and dance critic
by Leonid Massine. The Swan Lake, Julius Reisinger, had
libretto is inspired by a allowed Tchaikovsky quite a lot of
folk tale. freedom, the choreographer Marius
Petipa was more specific about
what he required of the music when
ROMANTIC 1810–1920 191
See also: Le bourgeois gentilhomme 70–71 ■ The Magic Flute 134–137 ■

Le Sacre du printemps 246–251 ■ Romeo and Juliet 272 ■ Appalachian

Spring 286–287

he collaborated with Tchaikovsky defeat a vicious Mouse King, the

on Sleeping Beauty (1890). The work Nutcracker turns into a prince, who
was well received by the critics, takes her to the Land of Sweets,
and the two men joined forces again ruled by the Sugar Plum Fairy.
for The Nutcracker two years later, The charm of Tchaikovsky’s
although illness compelled Petipa score is in large part due to his
to delegate much of the work to his creative use of the orchestra,
assistant Lev Ivanov. from the sinuous woodwind of the
Arabian Dance and the trilling
Fairytale ending flutes’ and piccolos’ contrast with
Composition of The Nutcracker the low bassoons in the Chinese Pyotr Ilyich
had a difficult start. Tchaikovsky felt Dance, to the novelty of the celesta,
constrained by the unimaginative a newly invented keyboard
libretto Petipa had created from instrument with bars like a Born in Votkinsk, Russia, in
Alexandre Dumas’s adaptation of glockenspiel, to introduce the Sugar 1840, Tchaikovsky received
German author E.T.A. Hoffman’s Plum Fairy. While the music gave piano lessons from an early
darker tale. The composer finally Petipa and his dancers the lead age. He enrolled at the newly
found inspiration in the death of his they required, Tchaikovsky’s unique opened St. Petersburg
sister, his childhood playmate. He sonority raises the music far above Conservatory in 1861 and
poured his memories of her into the the old music of the “specialists.” ■ wrote his First Symphony in
music, particularly into the central 1866. His Romeo and Juliet
character, the young girl Clara, overture (1869) was his first
Columbine and Harlequin evoke international success.
who creeps down on Christmas The Nutcracker’s fantasy world in
Eve to play with her favorite gift, a Despite recognizing
costumes designed by Denmark’s his own homosexuality,
nutcracker figure, which magically Queen Margrethe II for a production Tchaikovsky entered a
comes to life. After she helps it to in Copenhagen in 2016.
doomed marriage in 1877.
A year earlier, the wealthy
widow and arts lover
Nadezhda von Meck had
become his patroness,
enabling him to devote his
time to composing. Von Meck
declared herself bankrupt
in 1890, causing a rift with
Tchaikovsky. The fatalism
that often tinged his music is
clearly present in last works,
such as his Sixth Symphony
(“Pathétique,” 1893). He died
nine days after its premiere.

Other key works

1876 Swan Lake

1878 Eugene Onegin
1889 Sleeping Beauty
1893 Symphony No. 6


he period after Richard traditional symphonic form. Gustav
IN CONTEXT Wagner’s death in 1883 Mahler expanded the form even
was a time of uncertainty further, employing an orchestra of
for German music. Some composers unprecedented size in symphonies
From Romanticism
sought to emulate Wagner in their that incorporated programmatic
to modernism own operas; others avoided opera elements and vocal parts.
BEFORE altogether and applied Wagner’s
1849 Franz Liszt completes innovations to music composed for New forms
his first tone poem, Ce qu’on the concert hall. Anton Bruckner, Richard Strauss, Mahler’s great
entend sur la montagne for example, brought Wagnerian contemporary, took a different
(“What one hears on the grandeur, dimensions, and route with the tone poem—a
mountain”), after the poem harmonic adventurousness to the musical form that seeks to capture
by Victor Hugo. the story or atmosphere of a
nonmusical work, such as a
1865 Richard Strauss’s father, poem or painting. The genre
Franz, plays the horn in the was pioneered by Franz Liszt
premiere of Wagner’s Tristan and formed the basis for Strauss’s
und Isolde in Munich. early reputation as a firebrand.
Strauss’s breakthrough was the
AFTER daringly erotic Don Juan (1888), and
1903 Gustav Mahler conducts in the next decade he produced a
the first full performance of his series of works that combined his
100-minute Third Symphony, virtuosity as an orchestrator with
which he completed in 1896. formal innovation—eschewing,
for example, the need for a piece
1917 The premiere is held of to end in the key it begins in.
Alexander von Zemlinsky’s Controversial at the time, Strauss’s
A Florentine Tragedy, an opera works were not written to be
based, like Strauss’s Salome,
on a work by Oscar Wilde.
The prophet Zarathustra’s
(or Zoroaster’s) writings about Ahura
Mazda (god) form the basis of the
Zoroastrian faith. This portrait of him
hangs at a fire temple in Yazd, Iran.
ROMANTIC 1810–1920 193
See also: The Four Seasons 92–97 ■ Faust Symphony 176–177 ■ The Ring
Cycle 180–187 ■ Symphonie fantastique 162–163 ■ Das Lied von der Erde 198–201

the way for his brand of amoral

modernism, epitomized in his
scandalous breakthrough opera
Salome (1905)—based on a play by
Oscar Wilde that featured incest,
I would only believe necrophilia, and blasphemy.
in a God that knows
how to dance. Age of uncertainty
Friedrich Nietzsche Strauss’s Also sprach Zarathustra
Also sprach Zarathustra (1883–1891) depicts a conflict between nature,
which is represented by the Richard Georg Strauss
trumpet’s simple opening C-G-C
motif, and humanity, whose The son of a famous horn
complex passions and intellectual player, Richard Strauss was
struggles are conveyed by more born in Munich in 1864.
harmonically adventurous writing. After early success with
edifying or morally empowering, as The tone poem includes nine his tone poems and songs
demanded by 19th-century musical sections, named from Nietzsche’s (many composed for his wife),
aesthetics. This aligned him with book, with music that includes a he finally found the operatic
other “modernist” composers, mocking fugue and a light-hearted success he longed for with
whose defining feature was their waltz. Man and nature remain Salome (1905), followed by
emphasis on innovation and unreconciled at the work’s daring Elektra (1909). The latter
marked the start of a 20-year
progress—redefining composition conclusion, which vacillates
collaboration with the writer
by challenging formal conventions. uncertainly between the keys and librettist Hugo von
of C major and B major. ■ Hofmannsthal—one of the
Role of the artist greatest partnerships in
Also sprach Zarathustra (“Thus operatic history.
spake Zarathustra,” 1896) was Strauss’s prestige suffered
arguably Strauss’s boldest tone in the 1920s and especially in
poem. The 35-minute work took the 1930s, as his relations
its title from the book by Friedrich with the Nazi Party tarnished
Nietzsche, in which the philosopher his reputation in the English-
used the character of the ancient speaking world. In the 1940s,
Persian prophet to present his however, the elderly Strauss,
philosophy. In Strauss’s own words, heartbroken by the national
he set out “to convey in music an catastrophe, produced a series
of late works, including the
idea of the evolution of the human
Four Last Songs, composed
race from its origin, through the just months before his death
various phases of development … in Garmisch-Partenkirchen,
up to Nietzsche’s idea of the Germany, in 1949.
Übermensch” through his tone
poem. This idea of the Übermensch
(superman), a figure unburdened by Other key works
conventional morality or religion,
Also sprach Zarathustra was 1888 Don Juan
resonated well with Strauss’s own completed in 1896. This frontispiece 1905 Salome
vision of the role of the independent from that year, printed in Munich by 1911 Der Rosenkavalier
artist at the dawn of the 20th Joseph Aibl, prefaced the original 1949 Four Last Songs
century. It also helped to pave orchestral score.


1890 Winner of a competition
for a new one-act opera,
Pietro Mascagni’s Cavalleria
rusticana launches the
“verismo” (realism) music

movement in Rome.
1892 Modeled on Cavalleria,
Ruggero Leoncavallo’s opera
Pagliacci is a hit in Milan,
consolidating verismo style.
1904 Puccini suffers a setback
when Madama Butterfly is
booed at its premiere in Milan,
although it bounces back three
months later in Brescia.
1926 Two years after Puccini’s
death, his Turandot, completed
by his younger colleague
Franco Alfano, is premiered
at La Scala in Milan.

ith the first performance
of Cavalleria rusticana
in 1890, a new kind
of opera was born. Rather than
being based on romanticized
historical or legendary subjects,
it strove for realism (or verismo, in
Italian), embracing down-to-earth,
sometimes sordid events, lived by
believably ordinary people in often
contemporary settings.
At this time, Puccini, a former
flatmate of Cavalleria’s composer
Pietro Mascagni, was six years into
an opera career. This had begun in
1884 with Le villi, a picturesque
leggenda drammatica (dramatic
legend) based on the same story of
dead spirits as the romantic ballet
ROMANTIC 1810–1920 195
See also: Orfeo ed Euridice 118–119 ■ The Barber of Seville 148 ■

Der Freischütz 149 ■ La traviata 174 ■ The Wreckers 232–239 ■

Peter Grimes 288–293

Giselle (1841). It was followed five Although Manon Lescaut was not
years later by Edgar (1889), an opera truly a “realist” work, it contained
set in a 14th-century world of two scenes in particular that sat
medieval knights. Although not squarely in the new style. In Act III,
the strictest follower of verismo, the poignant spectacle of the
Puccini, once the new style became embarkation of the prostitutes
established, took its passionate, condemned to transportation and,
heartrending, and cruel elements in Act IV, the heroine’s lengthy
and clothed them in daring music death scene in an American desert
that reached a breathtaking climax both provided a focus for some of
in the tragic opera Tosca. the most emotionally powerful Giacomo Puccini
writing in the score, delivered in
Embracing the realistic a style that epitomized the essence Born into a family of church
Puccini’s first response to verismo of musical verismo. musicians in Lucca in 1858,
was the opera Manon Lescaut Puccini’s next opera, La Bohème Puccini claimed to have
(1893), based on an 18th-century (1896), set among down-at-the-heels decided on an operatic career
French novel by the Abbé Prévost. artists and their girlfriends in after watching a performance
This had already been turned into Paris around 1830, was closer to of Verdi’s Aida in Pisa in 1876.
several operas, notably Manon the true subject matter of verismo. After studying at the Milan
(1884) by the opera specialist, Jules It also crystallized the intense Conservatory, he entered his
Massenet. He was one of a number sentiment, characterization, and one-act opera-ballet Le Villi in
of French composers whose operas craftsmanship of the musical a competition. Although it was
rejected for being illegible, it
had been gaining ground in Italian language of verismo that was ❯❯
was staged by the publisher
theatres. These included Faust (1859)
Giulio Ricordi.
by Charles Gounod and Carmen Puccini’s breakthrough
Carmen talks to the smuggler
(1875), the final masterpiece of Le Dancaïre in a scene from Carmen came in 1893 with Manon
Georges Bizet, which shocked by Georges Bizet. The opera, with Lescaut, which put him at the
critics of the time with its earthy its themes of passion, jealousy, and forefront of Italian composers.
realism and amoral heroine. violence, was an influence on verismo. Thereafter, he produced his
three greatest successes—La
Bohème, Tosca, and Madama
Butterfly. His productivity
slowed in later years, but the
operas La fanciulla del West
(1910), La rondine (1917), Il
trittico (1918), and the
posthumously produced
Turandot displayed increasing
refinement. He died of a heart
attack in Brussels in 1924
following an operation for
throat cancer.

Other key works

1896 La Bohème
1904 Madama Butterfly
1918 Il trittico

widely apparent in Puccini’s work. works of fellow composers, such as News of Napoleon’s victory at
This he handled with a greater Debussy, Strauss, Stravinsky, and Marengo, pictured here by the
degree of flexibility and far more even Schoenberg, but also made French artist Louis-François Lejeune
(1775–1848), reaches Rome in Act II
technical variety and finesse than modernist musical initiatives of his of Tosca, three days after the battle.
most of his contemporaries. There own, many of which came to the
was also in Puccini’s scores a fore in Tosca.
persistent interest in new musical by this time), seems to prefigure
developments from beyond Italy’s Using music for menace innumerable individuals who,
(or even opera’s) borders, which Puccini premiered Tosca, his fifth over the next century, served
added heightened expressive color opera, in Rome in 1900, a time of cruel, dictatorial regimes,
and richness to his music. He made great uncertainty and instability in including Fascist Italy.
use of the harmonies, rhythms, and Italian politics. Though clothed in Scarpia is introduced in the
orchestral effects displayed in the the theatrical dress of a period 100 concise motif of two chords on
years prior to its opening, the opera lower woodwind, brass, and
dealt with issues and characters strings, followed by an unrelated
that seemed contemporary to its and clashing third chord by the
first audience but would become higher strings and woodwind, and
even more starkly relevant as the a lurid gleam from the cymbals.
20th century progressed. In Every note in this chord sequence
particular, the figure of Scarpia, is accented and marked “fff”
the sadistic police chief, who is a (“extremely loud”). Long before
presence in the opera musically we see him, here stands Scarpia
from its opening bars right through in all his power and brutality.
to the final act (although dead Musically, this tiny (yet
sonically huge) motif also throws
our expectations of standard
At the premiere of Tosca, the lead
role was played by the Romanian-born harmonic progression out of kilter
39-year-old soprano Hariclea Darclée, by landing not only in a key
seen here in Act II holding the knife (E major) unrelated to the first
she will use to kill Scarpia. chord (B-flat) but in a diminished
ROMANTIC 1810–1920 197
fifth (a semitone less than a fifth) which, at first, is loud, violent, and of lyrical reflection, not simply as
below it, resulting in a tritone (an consistently moving off the beat. opportunities for aria or duet but
interval of three tones). Medieval gradually diminishes into a to voice the hopes, desires, and
musical theorists regarded this downward slither that ends up, memories that motivate them and
interval as highly disruptive and with a feeling of exhaustion, on drive the plot. The drama’s final
forbade its use, calling it diabolus another tritone. This image of impression is of individuals hurtled
in musica (“the devil in music”). disheveled flight and collapse along by events over which they
Puccini, who came from a long line serves as a second harbinger have little control, and certainly far
of distinguished church musicians, of what is to come in the opera. less than they believe they have.
would certainly have been familiar The opera’s action is based Its emotional and musical power
with the nickname. on the play La Tosca (1887) by the helped to redefine the English
In a clear break with harmonic Frenchman Victorien Sardou, tradition of choral music. ■
orthodoxies, Puccini not only which was criticized at the time for
uses the motif to characterize his its dizzying tempo of unrelenting
secular devil-figure in the opera but action and reaction. Puccini’s Verismo
also employs the theme throughout librettists despaired of making a
the opera as an emblem of Scarpia’s viable libretto from it, but the Puccini’s Verismo creates a
influence on events that take place composer was able to use daring musical naturalism that
when he is not present, or even harmonic instability not only to reflects real life.
alive. The impact of this is to place contain but also to hold together,
harmonic instability at the center and even magnify, the play’s helter-
of the musical action. skelter ride of swiftly changing
events as part of his overall
Real drama musical strategy. He places the emphasis on
Immediately after the Scarpia Tosca’s three central characters psychological reality, with
theme, the curtain rises on the all begin the drama with their lives emotionally charged arias.
church of Sant’Andrea della Valle, apparently secure, yet through an
and we see the fleeing figure of unpredictable and unstoppable
Cesare Angelotti, a political sequence of cause and effect, all
prisoner on the run. Beginning in three are dead by the curtain, in
another unrelated key (G minor), less than 24 hours. Yet Puccini He uses atmospheric music to
the harmonic movement here is still manages to give all three of suggest a sense of character
much faster. The chord sequence, his chief characters their moments and inner conflict.

Opera and the rise of the new reality

Verismo owed its philosophical often allied to a corresponding
He uses familiar sounds,
basis to a literary movement focus on the social evils of
such as church bells, to mimic
begun in France by the novelists poverty, crime, and violence.
everyday reality.
Émile Zola (1840–1902) and In opera, the new style’s
Honoré de Balzac (1799–1850). emotional extremities were
It was represented in Italy by realized in taxing vocal writing,
the Sicilian Giovanni Verga, which threw away the remnants
whose short story and play of the display and niceties of bel
Cavalleria rusticana inspired canto (“beautiful singing”) in
Mascagni’s opera of the same favor of hard-hitting directness. The ultimate effect is
name. The premise of verismo Musical continuity was to make the music
lay in a scrutiny of the lives of increased with the dissolution and drama more
“ordinary people”—usually of the old divisions between personal, immediate,
urban or rural workers—in a recitative (speechlike singing), and effective.
local and everyday setting and arias, and other set pieces.


Exotic worlds in music


1863 Set in Ceylon, The Pearl
Fishers, by rising opera-

composer Georges Bizet, is a
success at its Paris premiere.


1882 Wagner’s final opera,
Parsifal, blending elements
of Buddhist spirituality with

Christian ideas and imagery,
is first performed at Bayreuth’s
Festival Theatre.
GUSTAV MAHLER 1926 Maurice Ravel composes
Chansons madécasses (Songs
from Madagascar), based on
three prose-poems written in
1787 by Évariste de Parny.
1957 Benjamin Britten
conducts the premiere of
his ballet The Prince of the
Pagodas in London. The score
is influenced by Indonesian
gamelan music, which Britten
heard in Bali in 1956.

hen Gustav Mahler
began work on the six
settings of Chinese
poems that make up Das Lied von
der Erde (The Song of the Earth),
he was exploring what was for him
new territory. But exotic oriental
subject matter was already a
familiar theme in European art and
culture, reflecting the yearning of
the popular imagination for more
colorful and intriguing worlds.
This sense of longing had come
into sharper focus in the 15th and
16th centuries, when long-distance
sea voyages had led to the discovery
ROMANTIC 1810–1920 199
See also: Prélude à l’après-midi d’un faune 228–231 ■ Le Sacre du printemps
246–251 ■ November Steps 314–315 ■ L’Amour de loin 325

Gustav Mahler
The second of 14 children of
Jewish parents, Mahler was
born in 1860 and spent his
childhood in the Czech-
of unknown regions. The decisive Mahler wrote Das Lied von der Erde speaking town of Iglau (now
impetus for the cult of exoticism while staying at the Hotel Bellevue in Jihlava). He gave his first
came in the 19th century, as the Italian town of Cortina. The peaks piano recital at age 10 and five
of the Dolomites provided a dramatic years later entered the Vienna
European powers busily pursued backdrop for his compositions.
global empire-building rivalries. Conservatory. His cantata Das
At home, industrialization created klagende Lied (1880) showed
amazing early self-awareness,
rapid growth in towns and cities, east. Operas were set in alluringly
exploring a spectral, folk-tale
with populations living and foreign settings, such as Giuseppe
world in a vivid orchestral
working in oppressive conditions Verdi’s Aida (1871), a fictional story style. A stellar conducting
that generated an inner need for of ancient Egypt. In orchestral career led to the composer’s
psychological escape. music, Russia’s Nikolai Rimsky- appointment in 1897 as artistic
Korsakov based his symphonic director of the Vienna Court
Selling the exotic suite Scheherazade (1888) on Opera. Mahler wrote most
The world of literature latched stories from a collection of Middle of his music—largely song
onto the sales possibilities of exotic Eastern folk tales that became settings and symphonies—
subject matter, as in the South Seas known as The Arabian Nights. The during summers among the
tales of Robert Louis Stevenson French composer Claude Debussy Austrian lakes.
(1850–1894) or the romanticized found the piano especially suitable Departure from the Vienna
Native American world depicted for suggesting images of remote Court Opera in 1907 was
in The Song of Hiawatha by Henry worlds, using Javanese melodies followed by conducting work
Wadsworth Longfellow (1807–1882). in Pagodes (Pagodas), from his in New York. Mahler died soon
after returning to Europe from
Exoticism also flourished among Estampes (Engravings) of 1903.
America, in 1911.
painters. French artist Paul Gauguin
(1848–1903) moved to the French Life through new eyes
Polynesian island of Tahiti in 1891, Before he composed Das Lied von Other key works
to explore new avenues of artistic der Erde, Mahler did not seem to be
1888–1894 Symphony No. 2
expression, aware that the European influenced by the growing European
vogue for the exotic would ensure love of exoticism. His choice of texts
1892–1901 Des Knaben
sales of his work in Paris. for his songs and symphonies had Wunderhorn (The Boy’s
European classical music, too, come mostly from one particular Magic Horn)
was drawn to the imagined sounds area of Austro-German culture: the 1908–1909 Symphony No. 9
of enticing worlds to the south and folk poetry, usually anonymous, ❯❯
Romantic themes and images in Das Lied von der Erde

The Wanderer Wine

A solitary protagonist A goblet of wine beckons
searches for comfort for the Wanderer, representing
his lonely heart and solace both joy in life and a desire
in the face of life’s brevity. for oblivion.

Galloping horses
Some maidens are
A howling ape
drawn to handsome
An ape cries out on
young men who
a tombstone in the
appear on horseback,
moonlight, symbolizing
but their passion is
death and the transitory
fleeting and unfulfilled
nature of life.
as the horses carry
the riders away.

Setting sun and rising moon An extinguished lamp

Darkness approaches as the The light of love burns bright
inevitable end to the day, just as but cannot burn forever and
death will follow life—but with will, in time, fade, to be taken
the promise that a new day will over by the darkness of death.
dawn and nature will persist.

assembled by Achim von Arnem of serene acceptance of life and serenity and clarity which I had
and Clemens Brentano in their death, rather than the keenness for acquired. I have to start a new
collection Des Knaben Wunderhorn turbulent self-dramatization of both life as a complete beginner.”
(The Boy’s Magic Horn), published displayed in western Romanticism. Bethge’s adaptation of the
in 1805 and 1808. For Lieder eines When Mahler read a copy of Die original Chinese texts was not
fahrenden Gesellen (Songs of a chinesische Flöte (The Chinese particularly faithful. He knew no
Wayfarer, 1885–1886), Mahler had Flute)—a collection of Chinese Chinese and used a German
written his own texts in a similar poems adapted by German poet translation of a French translation
folk style, with a wide range of Hans Bethge—in autumn 1907, the of the original. In effect, Bethge’s
emotional moods projected against composer was already familiar with poems were beautifully written
the surrounding, vividly perceived the artistic world within its pages. paraphrases, evoking an emotional
world of nature. Mahler’s life was also in a turbulent world that was by turns anguished,
state, coloring his view of life and poignant, idyllic, resigned,
East meets West death. The devastating death of drunken, or quietly radiant, all
Mahler did not, however, ignore his four-year-old daughter in the reflected in exquisitely drawn
eastern culture. The song cycle summer of 1907 was followed by scenes from nature. This approach
Kindertotenlieder (Songs on the the onset of a heart condition that connected more to the world of
Death of Children) composed in required Mahler to slow down. In German lyric poetry that was
1901–1904 was based on poems a letter to the conductor Bruno familiar to Mahler than to the
by Friedrich Rückert (1788–1866), Walter, his former assistant at the 9th-century Chinese originals, with
a German professor of eastern Vienna Court Opera, Mahler wrote: their ultra-concentrated diction.
languages. Rückert’s writings were “I have always known that I must Still, Mahler alluded to exotic
influenced by the eastern concept die … but all at once I have lost the influences by using the oriental
ROMANTIC 1810–1920 201
Einsame im Herbst” (“The Lonely
One in Autumn”). Then comes a
group of three shorter settings,
prominently colored by the
pentatonic scale, recalling the
Is it at all bearable? Will it innocent happiness of youth and Mahler’s struggles are
drive people to do away the joys of springtime. The final those of a psychic weakling,
with themselves? setting, “Der Abschied” (“The a complaining adolescent
Gustav Mahler Farewell”), is longer than the other who enjoyed his misery,
five songs combined. Two different wanting the whole world to
poems are here separated by an see how he was suffering.
orchestral interlude and lead Harold Schonberg
eventually to a conclusion with American critic
words added by Mahler himself:
“Everywhere the dear earth
five-note “pentatonic” scale blossoms forth in spring and grows
(distinct from the Western seven- green again! Everywhere and
note scale), providing an element forever, distant horizons gleam
of local color that his European blue: forever … forever …”
audiences would easily recognize. The music seems not so much to Mahler’s deepest creative and
to end as to dissolve into this vision, personal concerns than to a fashion
Large ambitions in which awareness of human for “exoticism for exoticism’s sake,”
In Das Lied von der Erde, Mahler mortality is transcended by the but, without that fashion and the
managed to combine his two perception that life and the natural inspiration Mahler found in Eastern
principal musical concerns—song world will timelessly be renewed. culture, Das Lied von der Erde
and the symphony—in a single The work as a whole relates more could not have existed. ■
large-scale work for the first time.
In his Second, Third, and Fourth
Symphonies, there had been a
substantial overlapping of the two
genres; in Das Lied von der Erde
their fusion is so complete that
neither can be separated out. A
tenor and mezzosoprano alternate
in the six song settings, and Mahler
deploys a large orchestra with
exceptional sensibility to mood and
color, often with the finesse of a
chamber group of solo instruments.
The opening “Das Trinklied vom
Jammer der Erde” (“Drinking-Song
of the Earth’s Sorrow”), music of
wild and despairing fatalism, is
followed by the desolate depiction
of a mist-covered lake in “Der

Mahler’s diverse influences are

satirized in this caricature of him
conducting his Symphony No. 1 in D
major, from a November 1900 edition
of Illustriertes Wiener Extrablatt.

Bedřich Smetana Russian composer Gabriel Fauré’s Antonín Dvořák’s

establishes Czech opera Modest Mussorgsky Requiem introduces Symphony No. 9,
with The Bartered Bride, writes Pictures at an a new, more subtle inspired by Native
incorporating Czech Exhibition, inspired by the style to the form, American music and
themes and written in death of the Russian artist inspiring other African American
the Czech language. Viktor Hartmann. French composers. songs, premieres.

1863 1874 1887–1890 1893

1869 1875 1890

Mily Balakirev In Norway, Edvard One of Russia’s “Five,”

establishes the “Five,” Grieg completes the Aleksandr Borodin
a group of Russian music for Henrik Ibsen’s adapts the 12th-century
composers who sought Peer Gynt. Based on a epic prose poem The Lay
to create music with a folk tale, the work of Igor’s Host to develop
Russian identity. becomes a national epic. his opera Prince Igor.

s the 19th century Nationalism in music did not Russian composers who became
progressed, a growing confine itself to subject matter. known as the “Five” or “Mighty
mood of nationalism Composers incorporated folk songs Handful” (Aleksandr Borodin,
developed, and people sought and dances into their music or César Cui, Modest Mussorgsky,
individual identities as nations composed their own melodies and Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov),
distinct from the old empires. The using elements of a particular whose work later influenced Pyotr
dominant culture in Europe was tradition of folk music, such as Ilyich Tchaikovsky, Alexander
Germanic, and this was especially its scales and rhythms. Glazunov, and, in the 20th century,
true of the music being written for Sergei Rachmaninoff.
the concert halls and opera houses. Russia leads The wave of nationalism gained
A tradition of folk music thrived The first signs of nationalism momentum in the mid-19th century,
almost everywhere, as regional and in music came from Russia, especially as the Austro-Hungarian
local cultures of the many different which had started to assert its Empire crumbled. Countries were
people asserted themselves. It was independence from European proud of their own folk culture, and
this that provided the inspiration culture at the beginning of the especially their music. Chopin
for composers wishing to establish Romantic period. Mikhail Glinka’s tinged much of his piano music
a musical identity that matched the operas were based on Russian with inflections of folk melodies
nationalistic ideals of their people. stories, with Russian folk tunes from his native Poland, and wrote
Opera was an obvious starting presented in the Romantic style, several polonaises, while Liszt
point, as it could be based on inspiring more than a century of incorporated Hungarian dance
national history and legends, but distinctively Russian music. Quick styles into his work. More overtly
the same ideas were also expressed to take up the baton, Mily Balakirev nationalistic was Bedřich Smetana,
in programmatic orchestral works. gathered together a group of who became a champion of Czech
NATIONALISM 1830–1920 205

The seven-scene opera Jean Sibelius’s Isaac Albéniz’s

Sadko by Nikolai Finlandia is Iberia suite conjures
Rimsky-Korsakov composed as a form up the landscapes of
evokes a Russian epic of protest against the Southern Spain and
poem about a merchant actions of the Russian the Jewish quarter
from Novgorod. Empire in Finland. of Madrid.

1898 1900 1908

1896 1900 1919

American composer In England, Edward Spanish composer

Edward MacDowell, Elgar’s The Dream of Manuel de Falla’s
a member of the Gerontius applies the ballet El sombrero de
Second New England dramatic devices of late tres picos premieres
School, publishes Ten Romantic opera to a choral in London, with sets
Woodland Sketches. work with great success. by Pablo Picasso.

nationalism with operas in his Americans had a long-established in the process of unification, but
native language on Czech themes. folk culture, the more recent settlers their cultures—especially their
Later Czech composers included had yet to develop one. As a result, musical cultures—needed little
Antonín Dvořák and Leoš Janáček. composers such as Louis Moreau reinforcement. The same was true
Nationalism in music spread Gottschalk borrowed from the to a lesser extent of France, but
north into Scandinavia, too, with songs and dances of slaves in the composers such as Gabriel Fauré
folk-inspired music from Edvard Southern States and the melting and Camille Saint-Saëns sought
Grieg, Carl Nielsen, and Jean pot of sounds in places like New to distance themselves from the
Sibelius, and south to Spain, where Orleans. These forms eventually Germanic Romantic-style and
composers such as Isaac Albeniz evolved into ragtime and jazz. wrote music that was lighter
and Manuel de Falla tapped into a The spirituals of the African and more transparent.
particularly rich source of folk music. slaves influenced popular song In Britain, where composers
writers, such as Stephen Foster. generally accepted German
American sounds Along with the hymn tunes sung domination of music, Edward
As Antonín Dvořák discovered by the early settlers, they formed Elgar embraced the richness of the
when he visited the US at the end the basis for an American classical orchestral sound and harmonies
of the century, America had also tradition pioneered by Edward of German music but pursued a
developed its own musical voice, MacDowell and Charles Ives. nationalistic intent, with evocations
a mix of styles and traditions that of the English landscape and
reflected the diversity of its people. In Europe themes. Later English composers,
It was also a young culture, finding Some countries did not feel the such as Ralph Vaughan Williams,
its way after centuries of following same need to flex their nationalist came to use this style as a vehicle
Europe’s lead. Although Native muscles. Italy and Germany were to carry folk tunes. ■


he second and best-loved Marenka are united in the end, and
IN CONTEXT of Czech composer Bedřich Jenik is revealed as the long-lost
Smetana’s operas, The son of Vasek’s rich father. The opera
Bartered Bride (Prodaná nevesta), is is a melding of French and Italian
19th-century Czech opera
about two young lovers—Marenka influences with inspiration from
BEFORE and Jeniken—in a Bohemian Czech folk settings and traditions,
1826 František Škroup’s village. They want to marry, but particularly dances such as the
Drátenik (The Tinker), widely Marenka’s parents, swayed by the polka and the furiant.
regarded as the first Czech village marriage broker, intend her
opera, has its premiere. to wed Vasek, the simple-minded A new Czech identity
son of a wealthy landlord. Jenik and During the 1860s and 1870s,
1842–1845 Czech poet Smetana almost single-handedly
and historian Karel Erben created Czech opera by writing
publishes a pioneering operas in the Czech language.
collection of Bohemian Czech culture had long been
folk songs. influenced by the Habsburg
Empire. By the mid-19th century,
1865 Karel Sebor’s opera The Bartered Bride is only however, nationalist aspirations
Templari na Morave a toy and composing it was were strong, and these grew in
(The Templars in Moravia) is merely child’s play! … At the 1860 when the imperial authorities
performed to local acclaim at time of writing, it was handed greater powers to the
Prague’s Provisional Theatre. my opinion that not Czech parliament in Prague. Funds
even Offenbach could were raised to build a theatre for
compete with it! Czech drama and opera, and it was
1901 Rusalka, Antonín
Bedřich Smetana here that Smetana’s first two operas
Dvořák’s most successful were premiered. He completed six
opera, is premiered at Prague’s more operas, along with a cycle of
National Theatre. symphonic poems called Má vlast
1904 Leoš Janáček’s opera (My Fatherland), celebrating Czech
Jenu°fa is performed for the first landscapes and culture. ■
time in the Czech city of Brno.
See also: The Magic Flute 134–137 ■ The Barber of Seville 148 ■
Der Freischütz 149 ■ La traviata 174–175 ■ The Ring Cycle 180–187
NATIONALISM 1830–1920 207


he Russian composer Boris Godunov in January 1874,
IN CONTEXT Modest Mussorgsky’s which marked the public high point
Pictures at an Exhibition of his career. The piano suite was
is a piano suite in 10 movements. not performed in the composer's
Nationalism in 19th-
Each movement was inspired by lifetime, but its intensity and
century Russian music the work of fellow Russian Viktor complexity, and distinctly Russian
BEFORE Hartmann, an architect and artist. subject matter, helped to achieve
1815 In St. Petersburg, Mussorgsky belonged to a the ultimate ambition of the “Five”
Venetian-born Catterino Cavos generation of composers who, in to give Russian music its own
composes Ivan Susanin, the the 1860s, gave Russian music unmistakable voice. ■
first opera about Russian its first distinctive voice. He was
characters, based on Russian part of a group nicknamed the
history, and incorporating “Five,” also known as the “Mighty
Handful,” who sought to create
Russian folk music.
music without being confined by
1836 Mikhail Glinka’s A Life western European conventions.
for the Tsar has its premiere Besides Mussorgsky, the “Five”
in St. Petersburg. It is the first were Mily Balakirev (1837–1910),
all-sung opera by a native the group’s initial guiding spirit;
Russian composer. Aleksandr Borodin (1833–1887), a
scientist as well as a musician;
AFTER César Cui, best known as a critic;
1896 Nikolay Rimsky-Korsakov and Nikolay Rimsky-Korsakov,
undertakes the first of his who played a key role in mentoring
revisions of Mussorgsky’s a new generation of composers,
opera Boris Godunov. For including Aleksandr Scriabin
The early, alcohol-induced death
decades, these remain the and Sergei Rachmaninoff. of Mussorgsky, painted here by Ilya
most-performed versions. Pictures at an Exhibition Repi in 1881, the year that he died, left
was composed shortly after the Rimsky-Korsakov and other composers
1922 French composer premiere of Mussorgsky’s opera to finish or revise his work.
Maurice Ravel produces an
orchestrated version of See also: Dvořák’s Symphony No. 9 212–215 ■ Le Sacre du printemps 246–251 ■
Pictures at an Exhibition. Romeo and Juliet 272 ■ Shostakovich’s Fifth Symphony 274–279


ncidental music has probably
IN CONTEXT existed as long as theatre
itself. It was intrinsic to
Shakespeare’s plays, which include
Music for the theatre
cues for instrumental music as well
BEFORE as songs—some 100 in total—
1810 Beethoven writes the although no scores have survived.
incidental music to Goethe’s By the late 1700s, Europe’s
tragic play Egmont. major theatres would employ
a substantial orchestra, and
1843 Shakespeare’s A sometimes vocal soloists and
Midsummer Night’s Dream a chorus, to accompany plays.
opens in Potsdam with Examples of incidental music
Mendelssohn’s music. of the 18th and early 19th century
include Mozart’s Thamos, King of
1872 Grieg composes music Egypt (c.1773–1779), Beethoven’s
for Bjørnstjerne Bjørnson’s Egmont (1810), and Schubert’s
Sigurd Jorsalfar, celebrating Rosamunde (1823), which were
King Sigurd I of Norway. of sufficient quality to make it “The Dance of the Trolls” was
into the concert hall. illustrated in macabre style by the
AFTER British artist Arthur Rackham for
1908 La Mort du duc de Guise, The music that Felix
Mendelssohn composed for a an edition of Ibsen’s Peer Gynt.
a film with a score by Camille
German-language production of
Saint-Saëns, opens in Paris.
Shakespeare’s A Midsummer productions of Oedipus at Colonus
1915 Edward Elgar writes Night’s Dream was one of the most and Racine’s Athalie in 1845. In
the incidental music for The successful pieces to make such a 1849, Robert Schumann wrote
Starlight Express, a children’s transition. It was first staged in music to accompany Byron’s
play by Violet Pearn. Potsdam, Germany, in 1843, dramatic poem Manfred.
including a masterful overture
written when the composer was Norwegian collaboration
just 17. While under the patronage When Henrik Ibsen, Norway’s most
of Frederick IV, king of Prussia, celebrated writer, completed Peer
Mendelssohn would go on to Gynt, based on a Norwegian folk
compose incidental music for hero, in 1867, he thought of it as a
NATIONALISM 1830–1920 209
See also: The Bartered Bride 206 ■ Pictures at an Exhibition 207 ■
Dvořák’s Symphony No. 9 212–215 ■ Finlandia 220–221 ■ Appalachian
Spring 286–287

that reference the major characters

and scenes in the drama: Åse;
Anitra, a Bedouin chief’s daughter
whom Peer tries to seduce; Ingrid,
the farmer’s daughter he abducts
I have also written on the eve of her wedding; the troll
something for the scene kingdom into which he stumbles;
in the hall of the mountain and Solveig, the faithful woman
King … it absolutely reeks who waits patiently for his return.
of cow pies, exaggerated
Norwegian provincialism, Genre in decline Edvard Grieg
and trollish self-sufficiency. Later examples of incidental
Edvard Grieg music that survive outside their Grieg was taught to play the
original theatrical contexts include piano by his mother, a music
Fauré’s and Sibelius’s music for teacher in the Norwegian
Pelléas et Mélisande, Debussy’s town of Bergen, where he was
Le martyre de Saint Sébastien, born in 1843. As a teenager,
Elgar’s The Starlight Express, and Grieg met the internationally
Sibelius’s The Tempest. Incidental acclaimed violinist Ole Bull,
poetic drama, to be read rather music is still commissioned for who urged his parents to send
than staged. Seven years later some theatrical productions but him to study at the Leipzig
when Ibsen adapted his work for is generally performed with fewer Conservatoire. There, he was
influenced by Schumann and
a full-scale stage production, he musicians or even prerecorded.
Mendelssohn; it was only
invited another internationally Modern examples include Michael
later, in Copenhagen, that
renowned Norwegian artist— Tippett’s music for The Tempest Grieg became interested in
Edvard Grieg—to compose music and Harrison Birtwistle’s Oresteia. the Norwegian folk tunes that
for the first production. Grieg had Some characteristics of the genre inspired his music.
already produced successful have migrated to film, television, In 1867, Grieg married his
incidental music for Bjørnstjerne and even video games. ■ cousin Nina Hagerup, for
Bjørnson’s play Sigurd Jorsalfar. whom he composed many
The collaboration between Ibsen songs. The following year, he
and Grieg would elevate Peer Gynt wrote his one piano concerto,
to the status of national epic. which, like Peer Gynt, brought
lasting fame. In later life, he
Emotive music devoted himself to smaller
Grieg eventually produced more The more he saturated piano works, especially the 10
than 20 individual pieces for the his mind with [Peer Gynt], volumes of Lyric Pieces, some
the more clearly he saw that of which draw on folk idioms.
numerous cues in Ibsen’s five-act
Grieg died in Bergen in 1907.
drama, reflecting the emotional he was the right man for a
mood of each moment—from the work … so permeated with
uproar of the Hall of the Mountain the Norwegian spirit. Other key works
King to the grief-filled death of Nina Hagerup
1868 Piano Concerto in A
Åse, Peer Gynt’s mother. Grieg Grieg’s wife
minor, Op. 16
later assembled eight of the most
1872 Sigurd Jorsalfar
substantial of these into two 1884 Holberg Suite
orchestral suites, which have 1902–1903 Slåtter (Norwegian
become standard concert-hall Peasant Dances)
works. They include movements


Requiem Mass
1837 Hector Berlioz composes
his Grande Messe des morts
(Requiem), for a large choir,
enormous orchestra, and four
offstage brass ensembles.
1874 Verdi’s operatic Requiem,
for four vocal soloists, double
choir, and orchestra, has its
first performance.

1913 Fauré’s opera Pénélope is t is unlikely that Fauré wrote Fauré plays the piano at the home
premiered. While the influence his Requiem in direct response of the Catalan composer Isaac Albéniz
of Wagner is more apparent to the death of any individual, (right). With them is the Belgian
than in earlier works, it still composer and conductor Léon Jehin
although the recent deaths of his and Albéniz’s pupil Clara Sansoni.
has an understated quality. parents may have focused his mind
on the project. The composer stated
1948 Maurice Duruflé
that his main motivation was to the Sequence section, with its
completes his Requiem, produce an original requiem. He passage on the Dies Irae (Wrath
which, like Fauré’s, includes was familiar with the form having of God), which so many previous
the Pie Jesu, Libera me, and spent years as a choirmaster and composers had used as an
In paradisum sections. organist, during which he had opportunity to produce loud and
accompanied numerous funerals. dramatic music. This was replaced
The differences began with the in Fauré’s first version of the score
text. Fauré set a shortened version by a setting of Pie Jesu, a prayer to
of the Latin Mass for the Dead, Jesus for everlasting rest, at the
omitting, among other passages, end of which he also added an
NATIONALISM 1830–1920 211
See also: Canticum Canticorum 46–51 ■ Ein feste Burg ist unser Gott 78–79 ■
St. Matthew Passion 98–105 ■ Elijah 170–173 ■ The Dream of Gerontius 218–219

Fauré’s setting for the extra movement, In Paradisum, that

Requiem Mass comes not from the Mass but from
the burial service.
The unusual selection of texts is
The opening prayer, the Introit matched with a distinctive choice
et Kyrie, is restful with of instruments to accompany the
sudden changes of dynamics. mixed choir and soloists—no violin
section, but only violas, cellos, and
double basses, a harp, trumpets,
horns, trombones, organ, and
The offering of the Eucharist, timpani. In addition, a solo violin Gabriel Fauré
the Offertory, is reverent, soars above the harp and lower
calm, and peaceful. strings in the Sanctus. Fauré clearly Born in 1845 in Pamiers in
intended the work to be played by southwest France, Gabriel
this unusual ensemble, but upon Fauré showed an early musical
receiving the score in 1890, his talent and was sent to the
publishers requested a version École Niedermeyer de Paris.
Angelic strings and harp for full orchestra. An arrangement The school’s focus was on
are broken by rich brasses with added violins and woodwind church music, and when
in the Sanctus. instruments was published in 1900; he left, Fauré worked in a
many musicians, however, favor succession of jobs as church
the earlier version. organist in Brittany and then
in Paris, in both places giving
private music lessons to
Serenity and calm supplement his income.
A prayer to Jesus, the Pie The music of Fauré’s Requiem is In later life, Fauré became
Jesu, is sung by a pure solo skilfully restrained, matching the Professor of Composition at
soprano voice. themes of consolation and eternal the Paris Conservatoire and
rest in the text. It has relatively finally its Director. Although
few loud passages, in contrast to his busy professional life left
requiems by composers such as him little time for composing,
Berlioz or Verdi. Fauré was seeking Fauré produced many short
A quiet melody sung by a style that differed both from the piano pieces, notable chamber
tenors switches to the music, including two piano
more dramatic, Romantic approach
intense Agnus Dei. quartets and two piano
of composers such as Wagner in
Germany, and the lyrical bel canto quintets, two orchestral
style of choral writing, then popular suites, many fine songs, and
in France, with its emphasis on a a string quartet completed in
1924, the year he died. By this
Libera Me is a pensive singer’s virtuosity. His is more
time highly acclaimed, Fauré
then fierce section dealing carefully balanced, with subtle was given a state funeral.
with judgment. changes in harmony and dynamics.
Although the work was not
immediately well received, Fauré Other key works
opened new avenues for French
1879–1883 Piano Quartet
music, paving the way for later
No. 1 in C minor, Op. 15
In the In paradisum, French composers, such as Ravel 1894 “La bonne chanson”, Op. 61
soprano voices bring a and Debussy. Fauré’s is now one 1919 Masques et
tranquil conclusion. of the most popular settings of the bergamasques, Op. 112
Requiem in the choral repertoire. ■


Nationalism and folk music

1723 Czech composer Dismas
Zelenka writes his Ouverture

à 7 concertanti.
1776 Czech-born Johann

Baptist Vanhal publishes
Six Symphonies, Op. 23, works
that influenced Classical style.
SYMPHONY NO. 9, “FROM THE NEW 1862 Bedřich Smetana
WORLD” (1893), ANTONÍN DVOŘÁK composes the opera The
Brandenburgers in Bohemia,
which is a great success.
1904 Leoš Janáček premieres
his opera Jenu° fa, which uses
“speech tunes” based on a
Moravian dialect of Czech.
1905–08 Béla Bartók and
Zoltán Kodály visit Hungarian
villages to research and record
traditional songs and dances.

ohemia, the largest and
westernmost region of
the Czech Republic today,
was formerly part of the Austro-
Hungarian Empire. For centuries,
its capital Prague enjoyed a rich
musical life, strongly influenced by
German and Austrian composers.
In the late 18th century, Mozart
visited five times, wrote a “Prague”
symphony (No. 38), and premiered
his opera Don Giovanni in the city.
By the mid-1800s, however,
fueled by a failed revolution in
1848, a nationalist movement
was underway that would have a
powerful impact on all the arts. In
music, both Bedřich Smetana and
Antonín Dvořák began to use
NATIONALISM 1830–1920 213
See also: The Bartered Bride 206 ■ Finlandia 220–221 ■ The Lark Ascending
252–253 ■ Janáček’s Sinfonietta 263 ■ Bartók’s String Quartet No. 5 270–271

The Bohemian polka, illustrated here

by Herrman Koenig, is attributed to
Anna Slezáková, who danced the steps
to a folk song in 1834. Dvořák’s earliest
surviving composition was a polka.

older Smetana was already

cultivating a reputation as a
champion of a Czech style of music
after spending most of his early
creative years in Sweden. Antonín Dvořák
Smetana’s first language was
German, and he had only recently The son of an innkeeper,
begun to study Czech when he Dvořák was born in a village
north of Prague in 1841. He
responded to a contest to compose
shared his father’s passion
a Czech opera. He submitted The for the violin, and from 1857
Brandenburgers in Bohemia, which he also studied the organ in
premiered in 1866, and went on to Prague, playing the instrument
produce many celebrated works in in several orchestras.
classical European symphonic and Czech, such as The Bartered Bride, By the early 1870s, Dvořák
chamber forms to produce works a set of symphonic poems called had taken up composition
of a strongly patriotic nature that Má vlast (My homeland), and full time and was married to
incorporated the spirit of regional Vlatava, which paints the course Anna, with whom he would
folk songs and dances. of the river running through Prague. have nine children. Dvořák's
Inspired by Smetana’s Czech career was aided by Johannes
Two composers operas, Dvořák composed Alfred Brahms, who sat on a panel
that awarded Dvořák a grant
Dvořák was an accomplished in 1870, but it was not performed in
to pursue his music. He also
keyboard player and violinist, his lifetime. His next, The King and recommended Dvořák to his
who had played in several Prague the Charcoal Burner, was at first publisher, who encouraged
orchestras when he joined the one rejected as unplayable, though him to write a set of Slavonic
at the city’s Provincial Theatre in eventually accepted after extensive dances. Their publication
1866, conducted by Smetana. The rewrites. Dvořák gave up his ❯❯ changed his fortunes; new
commissions at home and
from England soon followed.
Time signature
of 2 quarter note Dvořák directed the National
beats per bar. 1st Beat 2nd Beat 1st Beat 2nd Beat Conservatory of Music in New
York from 1892–1895, before
returning to Prague to teach
and write new works based
on Bohemian folk tales. He
died from a stroke in 1904.

Other key works

Emphasis Emphasis
1878 Slavonic Dances, Book 1,
Originally a Bohemian peasant dance, the polka Op. 46
has two strong beats in each bar, inviting dancers to 1885 Symphony No. 7, Op. 70
step in lively, bouncing fashion. It became a popular 1900 Rusalka, Op. 144
ballroom dance in the 1830s.
place in the theatre orchestra to character. His Czech Suite (1879), to pressure to accept, after his
concentrate on composition, and for example, has two movements family heard that the salary he
the critical success of his stirring completely modeled on Bohemian would earn per annum was
hymn of Czech national pride The folk dances: the polka, in the equivalent to working 25 years
Heirs of the White Mountain (1873) second movement, and the slow at the Prague Conservatory.
marked the beginning of his “sousedská” in the fourth. Dvořák’s Among the talented students
recognition as a composer. seventh and eighth symphonies that Thurber encouraged to apply
By 1880, Dvořák had cemented were also particularly Bohemian— to her conservatory, regardless of
his reputation as the greatest of the seventh has clear Slavonic gender, ethnicity, or disability, was
the Czech nationalist composers, influences, while the eighth sounds an African American singer, Henry
particularly through his Slavonic like a joyful folk celebration. (Harry) Thacker Burleigh, who
Dances (1878; 1886), inspired by enrolled in 1892, contributing to
Brahms’s Hungarian Dances (1869). The New World his fees by working as a handyman
However, Dvořák’s approach to By the end of the century, Dvořák’s and cleaner in the building. His
his orchestral dances was quite fame was spreading beyond his singing attracted the attention of
different from that used by Brahms. homeland to England and the Dvořák, and Burleigh later recalled
Whereas the Viennese composer United States. In 1891, New York singing old African American
made verbatim use of traditional musical philanthropist Jeannette hymns to the composer: “I gave
tunes for his collection, Dvořák’s Thurber asked Dvořák to direct her him what I knew of Negro songs.”
lively dances did not borrow but National Conservatory of Music.
were newly composed orchestral Knowing that he had done much to Listening and responding
works imbued with national establish Czech music, she wanted These “Negro spirituals,” as they
him to inspire her students to find a came to be known, were among
path toward an American national the musical ideas that Dvořák
Harry Burleigh was the first black
composer to write down spirituals, musical style. Dvořák, however, drew on in his Symphony No. 9
influencing future American music. was reluctant to leave Prague for (“From the New World”), in which
Dvořák greatly admired his fine a long contract and initially turned he turned his attention from his
baritone voice and the songs he sang. down the offer, although he gave in native folk music to that of his
adopted home. “From the New
World” was inspired by both
plantation songs and Native
American chants; Dvořák felt
strongly that this music of the
poor of America could serve as
the rootstock for a national musical

In the negro melodies of

America I discover all that
is needed for a great and
noble school of music.
Antonin Dvořák
NATIONALISM 1830–1920 215
Structure of the
Ninth Symphony

The first movement,

Adagio (leisurely), is written
in sonata form. This section
builds to a rousing climax.

The second movement,

Largo (slow, dignified),
contains a solo that has
become one of the most
recognizable pieces of music
For his voyage to a new world, the evoking Longfellow’s description ever composed.
Apollo 11 mission to the moon in 1969, of the death of Minnehaha, Dvořák
Neil Armstrong took a recording of uses the stentorian chords of the
Dvořák’s Sympony No. 9 and is said
to have listened to it as he stepped out.
low wind instruments to introduce
the beautiful melody of the cor
anglais. Here, he also drew on the
style. While some people hear old Eastern European tradition of
“Swing Low, Sweet Chariot” in funerary brass music, maintained
the symphony’s first movement, in America by the trombone choirs
at its premiere, Dvořák denied of Moravian (Czech expatriate) The third movement is
using existing Native and African communities, who would announce Scherzo (very lively). Its
American songs. Dvořák believed a death with the playing of bright tunes and snappy
rhythms are reminiscent of
there was a distinction between trombones from the church belfry. Czech folk dancing.
inspiration and imitation—whether
singing under his breath in the Lasting influence
orchestra pit or going straight from In spring 1893, Dvořák’s family
work to jot down ideas, his method joined him in the Moravian
was not to copy but rather to listen community of Spillville, Iowa,
then respond in his own voice. enjoying the company of their
As well as these musical styles, Czech compatriots as he completed
Dvořák was inspired by Henry his Symphony No. 9—the echoes of
Wadsworth Longfellow’s Ojibwe which would be heard in the music The fourth movement,
romance The Song of Hiawatha of American composers, such as Allegro con fuoco (fast and
(1855) in writing his symphony. Aaron Copland, George Gershwin, fiery), combines earlier
The third movement (Scherzo), for and Duke Ellington. Dvořák himself themes of the piece with
example, was suggested by the returned to Prague in 1895 and marchlike music.
scene in Hiawatha at the feast again took to composing works
where the Native Americans dance. inspired by the dances, legends,
For the second movement (Largo), and folklore of his homeland. ■


he first music published choral melody is sung in unison
IN CONTEXT in North America were and then in counterpoint but with
tunes in the Bay Psalm scant regard for traditional Western
Book, a compilation selected standards of harmony.
American nationalism
from European psalters by the
BEFORE 17th-century emigrants who settled America’s first
1640 The Bay Psalm Book is in the Massachusetts Bay Colony. The Bohemian-born Anthony
published in Massachusetts. By the late 18th century, however, Heinrich, who lived in the United
American-born composers such as States from 1810, is generally
1834 Anthony Heinrich William Billings and Daniel Read, considered the first “professional”
composes The Treaty of who formed part of the First New American composer. Inspired by
William Penn with the Indians, England School, began to publish different parts of the United States,
a concerto grosso. music that marked a distinct he developed a more dissonant
departure from European models. harmonic language than had been
1848 Stephen Foster publishes These composers, who were heard elsewhere and was the first
the song “Oh! Susanna,” which usually self-taught, were writing American to write for a symphony
becomes an instant hit. new types of sacred music, such orchestra. More famous, however,
1863 Louis Moreau Gottschalk as the “fuguing tune,” in which a was the virtuoso pianist, Louis
publishes Battle Cry of Moreau Gottschalk, who studied
Freedom, based on an in Paris and was feted by Chopin
American Civil War song. and Liszt. Returning to America in
1853, he toured widely, performing
AFTER his own works that would often
1897 John Philip Sousa’s reference the indigenous music
march The Stars and Stripes A house of dreams untold, and instruments of the New World.
Forever premieres. it looks out over the As American tastes evolved, a
whispering treetops, and new group of composers emerged—
faces the setting sun. now known as the Second New
Edward MacDowell England School. The strongest
influence for these composers was
the German Romantic tradition,
and a number of them studied in
Europe. The best remembered of
this group is Edward MacDowell.
NATIONALISM 1830–1920 217
See also: Dvořák’s Symphony No. 9 212–215 ■ Ives’s Symphony No. 4 254–255 ■
Rhapsody in Blue 258–261 ■ Ionisation 268–269 ■ Appalachian Spring 286–287

He was mentored by Liszt, who contemporaneous Lyric Pieces, due

introduced the young composer to to their inherent nationalism and
publishers in Leipzig during his celebration of the countryside.
time in Germany. Woodland Sketches is an opus
of ten pieces. Possibly inspired by
Country life MacDowell’s move to the farm that
MacDowell published orchestral later became the artist’s colony
works, concertos, sonatas, and bearing his name, they celebrate
songs but is universally identified not only the landscape but also the
with miniature piano pieces, and everyday American experience. In
most particularly the Woodland parts such as “A Deserted Farm” Edward MacDowell
Sketches of 1896. Following on from and “At an Old Trysting Place,”
a tradition started by Mendelssohn they also borrowed some melodic Born in New York in 1860,
and Schumann—writing suites of material from Native American MacDowell studied the piano
short works aimed at the amateur songs. Tending toward starker from early childhood and, at
domestic market—these could also textures than European Romantic the age of 17, was offered a
be seen as a counterpart to Grieg’s piano music, and occasionally scholarship to the Paris
verging on impressionistic harmony, Conservatoire. After his time
as in the more complex “By a in Paris, he went to Frankfurt
The MacDowell Colony in New to study composition with
Hampshire, pictured here in 1948, has Meadow Brook,” these sketches
contain elements that became a Joachim Raff. Raff introduced
supported thousands of artists since him to Franz Liszt, who
1907. MacDowell’s pianist wife, Marian, part of the American musical
arranged a performance of
led the colony for almost 25 years. language of the 1920s and 1930s. ■
MacDowell’s First Modern
Suite, Op. 10 in Zurich.
In 1888, MacDowell
returned to New York and
premiered his Piano Concerto
No. 2. He was then invited to
create a department of music
at Columbia University. Eight
years later, he resigned in a
dispute over courses. Amid
the bad publicity, MacDowell
suffered a nervous breakdown
and further health problems.
He never recovered. Just
before his death in 1908, he
and his wife established the
MacDowell Colony, where
artists of all kinds are
supported in residence.

Other key works

1883 First Modern Suite, Op. 10

1890 Piano Concerto No. 2,
Op. 23
1892 Indian Suite, Op. 48



n 1898, Edward Elgar was composers wrote oratorios—large-
IN CONTEXT commissioned to write a new scale choral works on sacred themes.
large-scale choral piece for the Few of these pieces stood the test
1900 Birmingham Festival. Elgar, of time, and Elgar decided to
English choral tradition
a Catholic, chose to set the poem produce something different.
BEFORE The Dream of Gerontius by Cardinal Oratorios, like the operas of
1846 Mendelssohn’s oratorio John Henry Newman. In the poem, Mozart, were usually made up of
Elijah has its first performance Gerontius, a devout old man, separate musical “numbers,” such
in Birmingham, England. dreams of his death and the journey as arias and choruses. But with the
of his soul immediately after he work of late Romantic composers
1857 At the Handel Festival in dies. Elgar poured his own heart such as Richard Wagner, opera had
London, England, choirs of up and soul into the work, inscribing it evolved; Wagner’s operas consist
to 2,000 sing Handel’s Messiah with a quote from the social thinker of music that flows continuously,
and other oratorios. John Ruskin that began, “This is without a break, enabling the
the best of me.” composer to build huge climaxes
1882 Wagner’s Parsifal, based England had a strong tradition and express deep emotions. Elgar
on a 13th-century German epic of amateur choral singing in the used this technique for The Dream
poem, is his last and, for some, late 19th century, and many English of Gerontius, rejecting the term
his greatest opera. “oratorio” due to this lack of breaks
AFTER between pieces. Like Wagner, he
1903 Elgar continues to employed a large orchestra with
develop large-scale choral a substantial brass section and
percussionists to reinforce the
works with The Apostles.
climaxes and underpin the most
1939–1941 Michael Tippett There is music in the air, dramatic moments.
composes his secular oratorio music all around us, the world
A Child of Our Time, which is full of it and you simply take The soul’s journey
extends the oratorio still as much as you require. The Dream of Gerontius is in two
further with the inclusion Edward Elgar parts. Part One portrays the death
of American spirituals in of Gerontius. It includes the gentle
the score. prayers of his friends by his
bedside, his passionate credo,
“Sanctus fortis”—which expresses
both his steadfast faith and his
NATIONALISM 1830–1920 219
See also: Great Service 52–53 ■ St. Matthew Passion 98–105 ■ Elijah 170–173 ■ The Ring Cycle 180–187 ■

A Child of Our Time 284–285

The Dream of Gerontius

encounters God
Gerontius and is judged.
awakens in a
place without
time or space.
As life drains Gerontius
from his body, is lowered into the
Gerontius joins The guardian angel lake of Purgatory and
with his assistants of Gerontius takes promised that he will
in prayer. him to the one day reawaken to
judgment throne. God’s glory.

anxieties—and the final swell of of his friend and publisher August time that develops late Romantic
singers and orchestra in the chorus Jaeger, who asked for something operatic style into a choral work,
that exhorts Gerontius to “Go forth more dramatic than the composer’s combines it with resourceful
upon thy journey, Christian soul.” first attempt. The piece ends with orchestral writing, and produces
In Part Two, Gerontius’s soul is the soul being taken in the arms a setting of unusual power.
guided by an angel past demons, of the angel and dipped into the The Dream of Gerontius quickly
who sing a sardonic fugal chorus, soothing waters of Purgatory. transcended the question of
and a choir of angels, whose hymn doctrine that almost denied it
“Praise to the Holiest in the Height” From disaster to success an early performance in Worcester
begins with a dramatic triple forte Due to poorly prepared performers, Cathedral, Cardinal Newman’s
and ends in intricate eight-part The Dream of Gerontius had a words seeming too Catholic for
harmony. This leads toward the disastrous premiere in Birmingham the Anglican Church. Its emotional
climax, a deafening orchestral in 1900. However, after acclaimed force and abiding themes of loss
crescendo as the soul is finally led performances in Germany, the work and hope in the face of death
to judgment. Elgar rewrote this established itself as one of Elgar’s continue to exercise a universal
climactic passage at the insistence masterpieces—a daring work for its appeal to audiences of every faith. ■

Edward Elgar Born in 1857 near Worcester, Although depressed by World

England, where his father owned War I, in 1919 he wrote his
a music shop, Elgar was largely a String Quartet, Piano Quintet,
self-taught musician. As a young and Cello Concerto. After Alice’s
man, he played in orchestras and death in 1920, Elgar composed
gave music lessons, marrying little. He received many honors,
Alice Roberts, one of his pupils, in but his music was out of fashion
1889. She encouraged him to move when he died in 1934.
to London and spend more time
on composition. His breakthrough Other key works
work was Enigma Variations
(1899), after which he wrote a 1899 Enigma Variations
series of large-scale compositions, 1901–1930 Pomp and
including The Apostles (a choral Circumstance Marches
piece), a violin concerto, and two 1905 Introduction and Allegro
symphonies, which brought him for Strings
recognition in Britain and Europe. 1919 Cello Concerto in E minor


ut of all the musical For nearly 700 years, up to the early
IN CONTEXT nationalism that took 19th century, Finland had been part
shape during the 19th of the Swedish empire, and the
century in the four Nordic nations language of the educated and
Finnish musical resistance
(Denmark, Finland, Norway, and governing classes was Swedish.
to Russian political Sweden), Finland’s was perhaps When Sibelius was born into a
domination the most powerful. In Jean Sibelius, Swedish-speaking family, Finland
BEFORE Finland produced a composer as a nation still did not exist. Since
1848 German-born Fredrik who, even more than Norway’s 1809, it had been a Grand Duchy of
Pacius (1809–1891) composes Edvard Grieg, Sweden’s Franz Imperial Russia, which imposed a
the song Vårt land (“Our Berwald, and Denmark’s Carl
Country”), to Swedish words Nielsen, captured the essence of Sibelius captured the epic beauty
by Finnish poet Johan Ludvig his people and nation as they of Finland’s landscape, seen here in
strove to throw off the shackles a view over the taiga forest, in the
Runeberg. After Finland’s
of foreign domination. majestic string settings of Finlandia.
independence in 1917, a
Finnish translation, Maamme,
is adopted as the country’s
national anthem.
1892 Sibelius becomes a
national celebrity when he
first conducts his part-choral
“symphonic poem” Kullervo,
with texts from the Finnish
national epic poem Kalevala.
1917 Sibelius composes a
Jäger March in support of
the Finnish Jäger Batallion,
trained in Germany to fight the
Russian Empire in World War I.
NATIONALISM 1830–1920 221
See also: The Bartered Bride 206 ■ Pictures at an Exhibition 207 ■ Peer
Gynt 208–209 ■ Dvořák’s Symphony No. 9 212–215 ■ Appalachian Spring 286–287

The development resented autocratic rule. Against

of Finnish motifs this uneasy backdrop, the Finnish
in Finlandia language, spoken by urban and
rural workers, became associated
with a growing national resistance.
Opening brass Sibelius had been to a Finnish-
fanfare signifies the speaking school, so when his talent
Russian menace. as a composer propelled him to the
forefront of Finnish cultural life, he
was ideally positioned to respond
to the cultural interests of both Jean Sibelius
linguistic communities. Besides
Calm woodwind and mastery of powerful, large-scale Johan Sibelius (he adopted
fervent strings tell of symphonic forms, he had a flair for the French version of his first
Finnish endurance and popular “light music” and sought name later) was born in the
hope for the future. out examples of Finnish folk music. town of Hämeenlinna in 1865.
At first, he wanted to be a
A Finnish fightback virtuoso violinist, but his
In 1899, Russia proclaimed its student years in Helsinki,
“February Manifesto,” which Berlin, and Vienna led him to
Loud and sudden concentrate on composing.
emphasis (fortissimo) cracked down on Finnish autonomy
In 1892, after the success of
represents the turbulent and nationalism, including a ban on
his choral symphony Kullervo,
anguish of the people. political rallies and the closure of a
he married Aino Järnefelt,
Finnish-language newspaper. An with whom he went on to
evening of “Press Celebrations” was have six daughters.
organized in the capital, Helsinki, Further success, including
officially in support of the Press the symphonic poem (single-
Pension Fund but was in reality a movement symphonic work)
Energetic and confident gathering of patriotic resistance. called The Swan of Tuonela
new melody asserts pride The evening included the display of 1895, and then the first of
and resistance. of specially painted tableaux, for seven symphonies, spread his
which Sibelius was asked to name abroad. The onset of
compose the music. The last of throat cancer in 1908, though
these, “Finland Awakes,” portrayed successfully treated, brought
the region’s proud achievements in a darker mood that influenced
culture and industry. the austere Symphony No. 4
The building of the calming (1911). In the 30 years before
Finlandia tune, redolent of Sibelius then arranged some of