music wirting 4



Text Page

Unit I CD

6-CD Set

Full Downloads

Brief Downloads

Joplin “Maple Leaf Rag” 7 1 --- --- ---

Rachmaninov Rhapsody on a Theme by Paganini (excerpt) 8 2 --- --- --- Schubert Symphony No. 8 (“Unfinished”), I (excerpt) 11 3 --- --- --- Gershwin “Who Cares?” 27 4 --- --- --- Beethoven Joy Theme from Symphony No. 9, IV 30 5 --- --- --- Stravinsky Symphony of Psalms, II (excerpt) 30 6 --- --- --- Schubert String Quartet in A Minor, I (excerpt) 34, 38 7 --- --- --- Beethoven Piano Concerto No. 5 (“Emperor”), III (excerpt) 34 8 --- Tchaikovsky “Dance of the Sugar-Plum Fairy” from The Nutcracker 38 9 --- --- --- Britten The Young Person’s Guide to the Orchestra 18, 41 10–15 --- --- --- Anonymous Plainchant antiphon, “In paradisum” 47 --- 1:1 1 1 Hildegard of Bingen Plainchant sequence, “Columba aspexit” 48 --- 1:2 2 --- Bernart de Ventadorn Troubadour song, “La dousa votz” 50 --- 1:3 3 --- Pérotin Organum, “Alleluia. Diffusa est gratia” 53 --- 1:4 4 --- Anonymous Round, “Sumer Is Icumen In” 54 --- 1:5 5 --- Machaut Chanson, “Dame, de qui toute ma joie vient” (excerpt) 55 --- 1:6 6 --- Global Perspectives Qur’anic recitation, “Ya Sin” 57 --- 1:28 101 49 Global Perspectives Hawai’ian chant, mele pule 58 --- 1:29 102 --- Global Perspectives Navajo song, “K´adnikini´ya´” 59 --- 1:30 103 50 Dufay Harmonized hymn, “Ave maris stella” 61 --- 1:7 7 --- Josquin Pange lingua Mass, Kyrie 66 --- 1:8 8 2 Josquin Pange lingua Mass, from the Gloria 67 --- 1:9 9 --- Josquin Chanson, “Mille regrets” 68 --- 1:10 10 --- Palestrina Pope Marcellus Mass, from the Gloria 70 --- 1:11 11 --- Weelkes Madrigal, “As Vesta Was from Latmos Hill Descending” 73 --- 1:12 12 --- Anonymous Galliard, “Daphne” 75 --- 1:13 13 --- Anonymous “Kemp’s Jig” 76 --- 1:14 14 --- Global Perspectives Inca processional music, “Hanaq pachap kusikuynin” 78 --- 1:31 104 --- Gabrieli Motet, “O magnum mysterium” 81 --- 1:15 15 --- Monteverdi The Coronation of Poppea, Act I, “Tornerai?” and “Speranza, tu mi vai” 86 --- 1:16–17 16–17 --- Purcell Dido and Aeneas, Act III, “Thy hand, Belinda” and “When I am laid” 88 --- 1:18 18 3 Purcell Dido and Aeneas, Act III, “With drooping wings” 88 --- 1:19 19 --- Frescobaldi Canzona, Balletto, and Corrente 92 --- 1:20–22 20–22 --- Global Perspectives Gambian minstrel song, “Laminba” 94 --- 1:32 105 --- Global Perspectives Pygmy polyphony, Elephant-hunt song 95 --- 1:33 106 --- Vivaldi Violin Concerto in G, La stravaganza, Op. 4, No. 12, I 117 --- 1:23 23 4 Vivaldi Violin Concerto in G, II 120 --- 1:24 24 5 Vivaldi Violin Concerto in E, Spring, Op. 8, No. 1, I 122 --- 1:25 25 6 Bach Brandenburg Concerto No. 5, I 123 --- 2:1–5 26 7 Bach Prelude in C Major, from The Well-Tempered Clavier, Book I 129 --- 1:26 27 8 Bach Fugue in C Major, from The Well-Tempered Clavier, Book I 129 --- 1:27 28 9 Handel Minuet from the Royal Fireworks Music 133 --- 2:6 29 --- Bach Gigue from Cello Suite No. 2 in D Minor 134 --- 2:7 30 10 Handel Julius Caesar, “La giustizia” 138 --- 2:8 31 --- Handel Messiah, “There were shepherds” and “Glory to God” 142 --- 2:9 32 11 Handel Messiah, Hallelujah Chorus 142 --- 2:10 33 12 Bach Cantata No. 4, “Christ lag in Todesbanden” (stanzas 3, 4, and 7) 147 --- 2:11–13 34–36 --- Mozart Symphony No. 40 in G Minor, K. 550, I 165 --- 2:14–19 37 13 Haydn Symphony No. 94 in G (“The Surprise”), II 171 --- 2:20–25 38 14 Haydn Symphony No. 99 in E-flat, III 175 --- 2:26–28 39 15 Haydn Symphony No. 101 in D (“The Clock”), IV 178 --- 2:29–33 40 16 Mozart Piano Concerto No. 23 in A, K. 488, I 184 --- 2:34–38 41 --- Mozart Don Giovanni, from Act I, scene iii, “Ho capito,” “Alfin siam liberati,”

and “Là ci darem la mano” 190 --- 2:39–41 42–44 ---

Global Perspectives Japanese gagaku, Etenraku 198 --- 3:34 107 ---

Guide to RecoRdinGs

Text Page

Unit I CD

6-CD Set

Full Downloads

Brief Downloads

Global Perspectives Balinese gamelan, Bopong 201 --- 3:35 108 --- Beethoven Symphony No. 5 in C Minor, Op. 67, I 209 --- 3:1–9 45 17 Beethoven Symphony No. 5, II 209 --- 3:10–11 46 18 Beethoven Symphony No. 5, III 209 --- 3:12–13 47 19 Beethoven Symphony No. 5, IV 209 --- 3:14–15 48 20 Beethoven Piano Sonata in E, Op. 109, I 216 --- 2:42–45 49 --- Schubert “Erlkönig” 234 --- 3:16 50 21 R. Schumann Dichterliebe, “Im wunderschönen Monat Mai” 238 --- 3:17 51 22 R. Schumann Dichterliebe, “Die alten, bösen Lieder” 238 --- 3:18 52 --- C. Schumann “Der Mond kommt still gegangen” 241 --- 3:19 53 23 Schubert Moment Musical No. 2 in A-flat 243 --- 3:20–23 54 --- R. Schumann Carnaval, “Eusebius” 244 --- 3:24 55 24 R. Schumann Carnaval, “Florestan” 244 --- 3:25 56 25 Chopin Nocturne in F-sharp, Op. 15, No. 2 245 --- 3:26 57 26 Berlioz Fantastic Symphony, V 249 --- 3:27–33 58 27 Verdi Rigoletto, from Act III, “La donna è mobile” and “Bella figlia

dell’amore” 259 --- 4:1–6 59–60 28–29

Wagner The Valkyrie, Act I, scene i 269 --- 4:7–12 61 30 Puccini Madame Butterfly, from Act II, “Un bel dì” 275 --- 4:13 62 31 Tchaikovsky Overture-Fantasy, Romeo and Juliet 279 --- 4:14–25 63 32 Musorgsky Pictures at an Exhibition, “Promenade [1]” 284 --- 4:26 64 33 Musorgsky Pictures at an Exhibition, “Gnomus” 284 --- 4:27 65 --- Musorgsky Pictures at an Exhibition, “Promenade [2]” 284 --- 4:28 66 --- Musorgsky Pictures at an Exhibition, “The Great Gate at Kiev” 284 --- 4:29 67 34 Brahms Violin Concerto in D, Op. 77, III 289 --- 4:30-35 68 --- Mahler Symphony No. 1, III (Funeral March) 293 --- 4:36–43 69 35 Global Perspectives Beijing opera, The Prince Who Changed into a Cat 299 --- 4:44 109 --- Debussy Clouds, from Three Nocturnes 313 --- 5:1–6 70 36 Stravinsky The Rite of Spring, from Part I, “The Adoration of the Earth” 317 --- 5:7–13 71 37 Schoenberg Pierrot lunaire, No. 8, “Night” 321 --- 5:14 72 --- Schoenberg Pierrot lunaire, No. 18, “The Moonfleck” 321 --- 5:15 73 38 Berg Wozzeck, Act III, scenes iii and iv 324 --- 5:16–20 74–75 --- Ives Second Orchestral Set, II, “The Rockstrewn Hills Join in the People’s

Outdoor Meeting” 331 --- 5:21–22 76 39

Ravel Piano Concerto in G, I 337 --- 5:23–27 77 --- Bartók Music for Strings, Percussion, and Celesta, II 341 --- 5:28–34 78 --- Crawford Prelude for Piano No. 6 (Andante Mystico) 345 --- 5:35 79 --- Still Afro-American Symphony, IV 348 --- 5:36–40 80 --- Copland Appalachian Spring, Sections 1, 2, and 5 350 --- 5:41–43 81–83 40–42 Copland Appalachian Spring, Section 6 350 --- 5:44 84 --- Prokofiev Alexander Nevsky Cantata, “The Battle on Ice” (excerpts) 354 --- 6:1–2 85–86 --- Webern Five Orchestral Pieces, IV 362 --- 6:3 87 43 Varèse Poème électronique (excerpt) 364 --- 6:4 88 --- Ligeti Lux aeterna 366 --- 6:5–8 89 --- Reich Music for 18 Musicians (excerpt) 369 --- 6:9–10 90–91 44–45 Crumb Voices from a Forgotten World (American Songbook, Volume 5),

“ The House of the Rising Sun” and “Hallelujah, I’m a Bum!” 374 --- 6:11–12 92–93 ---

León Indígena 375 --- 6:13–16 94 --- Thomas “If You Ever Been Down” Blues 387 --- 6:17 95 46 Ellington/ Tizol “Conga Brava” 391 --- 6:18 96 47 Parker and Davis “Out of Nowhere” 395 --- 6:19 97 48 Davis Bitches Brew (excerpt) 396 --- 6:20 98 --- Global Perspectives Yoruba drumming, “Ako” 397 --- 6:23 110 51 Bernstein West Side Story, Cha-cha, meeting scene, and “Cool” 399 --- 6:21–22 99–100 --- Global Perspectives South African popular song, “Anoku Gonda” 411 --- 6:24 111 ---

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b e d f o r d / s t . m a r t i n ’s Boston ◆ New York


joseph kerman University of California, Berkeley

gary tomlinson Yale University


vivian kerman

Eighth E d i t i o n

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For Bedford/St. Martin’s

Vice President, Editorial, Macmillan Higher Education Humanities: Edwin Hill Editorial Director for English and Music: Karen Henry Senior Developmental Editor: Caroline Thompson Senior Production Editor: Deborah Baker Senior Production Supervisor: Jennifer Wetzel Executive Marketing Manager: Sandi McGuire Editorial Assistant: Brenna Cleeland Copy Editor: Barbara Jatkola Indexer: Leoni McVey Photo Researcher: Susan Doheny Director of Rights and Permissions: Hilary Newman Senior Art Director: Anna Palchik Text Design: Marsha Cohen Cover Design: William Boardman Cover Art: Dance 2, 2000 (oil on board), Bayo Iribhogbe. Private Collection/Bridgeman Images. Composition: CodeMantra Printing and Binding: RR Donnelley

Copyright © 2015, 2012, 2008, 2004 by Bedford/St. Martin’s

All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise, except as may be expressly permitted by the applicable copyright statutes or in writing by the Publisher.

Manufactured in the United States of America. 9 8 7 6 5 4 f e d c b a

For information, write: Bedford/St. Martin’s, 75 Arlington Street, Boston, MA 02116 (617-399-4000)

ISBN: 978-1-4576-6985-9 ISBN: 978-1-4576-9698-5 (loose-leaf edition)


Text acknowledgments and copyrights appear on the same page as the text and art selections they cover; these acknowledgments and copyrights constitute an extension of the copyright page. It is a violation of the law to reproduce these selections by any means whatsoever without the written permission of the copyright holder.

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Joseph and Vivian Kerman

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Joseph Kerman was a leading musicologist, music critic, and music educator from the 1950s into the 2000s. He conceived Listen together with his wife, Vivian Kerman, and was its original author. From his first book, Opera as Drama (1956), to his last, Opera and the Morbidity of Music (2008), including studies of Bach, Beethoven, William Byrd, concertos, and more, Kerman reshaped our understanding and appreciation of Western classical music. He was long a professor at the University of California, Berkeley, where he served two terms as chair of the Music Department.

Gary Tomlinson did the same at the University of Pennsylvania before he moved to Yale University in 2011, where he is now the John Hay Whitney Professor and Director of the Whitney Humanities Center. A former MacArthur Fellow, he has authored books on Claudio Monteverdi, Renaissance musical culture, opera, and the singing rituals of the Aztecs and Incas. His latest book, A Million Years of Music, describes the evolutionary emergence of music.

Teaching was the heart and soul of Kerman’s musical career, and it remains such in Tomlinson’s. Between them, their wide-ranging course offerings have encompassed harmony and ear-training, opera, world music, popular music, interdisciplinary studies, seminars in music history, criticism, anthropology, and — many times over — Introduction to Music for non-majors.

Tomlinson and Kerman worked together on five editions of Listen. Joseph Kerman died early in 2014, just shy of his ninetieth birthday, as this edition went to press.

About the Authors

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P R E F A C E : T O T H E I N S T R U C T O R xxiii

I N T R O D U C T I O N : T O T H E S T U D E N T xxx


I Fundamentals 2 1 Rhythm, Meter, and Tempo 4

2 Pitch, Dynamics, and Tone Color 10 3 Scales and Melody 22 4 Harmony, Texture, Tonality, and Mode 28 5 Musical Form and Musical Style 35


II Early Music: An Overview 42 6 The Middle Ages 44

7 The Renaissance 60 8 The Early Baroque Period 79


III the Eighteenth Century 96 9 P R E L U D E The Late Baroque Period 98

10 Baroque Instrumental Music 114 11 Baroque Vocal Music 135 12 P R E L U D E Music and the Enlightenment 150 13 The Symphony 161 14 Other Classical Genres 181


IV the nineteenth Century 202 15 Beethoven 204 16 P R E L U D E Music after Beethoven: Romanticism 218 17 The Early Romantics 233 18 Romantic Opera 256 19 The Late Romantics 277


V the twentieth Century and Beyond 300 20 P R E L U D E Music and Modernism 302 21 Early Modernism 312 22 Modernism between the Wars 335 23 The Late Twentieth Century 358 24 Music in America: Jazz and Beyond 381

A P P E N D I x A Time Lines 414

A P P E N D I x B Musical Notation 419

G L O S S A R y O F M U S I C A L T E R M S 423

I N D E x 431

Brief Contents


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Music for the Listening Exercises is on the Unit I CD bound into this book and in LaunchPad for Listen at

Interactive versions of the Listening Charts can also be found in LaunchPad. See the inside back cover for details.

Listening Exercises 1 Rhythm, Meter, and Syncopation 7 2 Rhythm, Meter, and Tempo 8 3 Pitch and Dynamics 11

4 The Orchestra in Action 18 5 Melody and Tune 27 6 Texture 30 7 Mode and Key 34 8 Musical Form 38

Listening Charts 1 Britten, The Young Person’s Guide to the Orchestra 41

2 Vivaldi, Violin Concerto in G, La stravaganza, first movement 118 3 Vivaldi, Violin Concerto in G, La stravaganza, second movement 121 4 Vivaldi, Violin Concerto in E, Spring, first movement 122 5 Bach, Brandenburg Concerto No. 5, first movement 125 6 Bach, Fugue 1 in C Major, from The Well-Tempered Clavier 131 7 Mozart, Symphony No. 40 in G Minor, first movement 167 8 Haydn, Symphony No. 94 in G (“The Surprise”), second movement 172 9 Haydn, Symphony No. 99 in E-flat, third movement 176 10 Haydn, Symphony No. 101 in D (“The Clock”), fourth movement 179 11 Mozart, Piano Concerto No. 23 in A, first movement 186 12 Beethoven, Symphony No. 5 in C Minor, first movement 212 13 Beethoven, Symphony No. 5 in C Minor, complete work 214 14 Beethoven, Piano Sonata in E, Op. 109, first movement 216 15 Berlioz, Fantastic Symphony, fifth movement 254 16 Tchaikovsky, Overture-Fantasy, Romeo and Juliet 281 17 Brahms, Violin Concerto in D, third movement 290 18 Mahler, Symphony No. 1, third movement, Funeral March 295 19 Debussy, Clouds, from Three Nocturnes 315 20 Stravinsky, The Rite of Spring, from Part I, “The Adoration of the Earth” 319 21 Ives, Second Orchestral Set, “The Rockstrewn Hills” 333 22 Ravel, Piano Concerto in G, first movement 338 23 Bartók, Music for Strings, Percussion, and Celesta, second movement 343 24 Crawford, Prelude for Piano No. 6 345 25 Still, Afro-American Symphony, fourth movement 349 26 Prokofiev, “The Battle on Ice” from Alexander Nevsky Cantata 355 27 Ligeti, Lux aeterna 367 28 Reich, Music for 18 Musicians, opening 370 29 León, Indígena 376


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I Fundamentals / 2

Rhythm, Meter, and tempo 4 1 | Rhythm 4

Beat and Accent 4

2 | Meter 5 Rhythm and Meter 6 Syncopation 7

LISTENING ExERCISE 1 Rhythm, Meter, and Syncopation 70

3 | Tempo 7 LISTENING ExERCISE 2 Rhythm, Meter, and Tempo 8

G O A L S F O R R E V I E W 9

Pitch, Dynamics, and tone Color 10 1 | Pitch 10

2 | Dynamics 11 LISTENING ExERCISE 3 Pitch and Dynamics 11

3 | Tone Color 12 Musical Instruments 13

LISTENING ExERCISE 4 The Orchestra in Action 18

G O A L S F O R R E V I E W 2 1


P R E F A C E : T O T H E I N S T R U C T O R xxiii

I N T R O D U C T I O N : T O T H E S T U D E N T xxx Classical Music — and Other Kinds xxxi

Classical Music and History xxxii

Listening xxxii

How to Use This Book xxxiv






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Scales and Melody 22 1 | Scales 22

The Octave 22 The Diatonic Scale 23 The Chromatic Scale 23 Half Steps and Whole Steps 24

2 | Melody 24 Tunes 25 Motives and Themes 25

Characteristics of Tunes 26

LISTENING ExERCISE 5 Melody and Tune 27

G O A L S F O R R E V I E W 2 7

Harmony, texture, tonality, and Mode 28 1 | Harmony 28

Consonance and Dissonance 28

2 | Texture 29 Monophony 29 Homophony and Polyphony 29 Imitation 29


3 | Tonality and Mode 30 Tonality 31 Major and Minor Modes 31 Keys 32 Listening for the Major and Minor Modes 32 Listening for Keys and Modulation 33

LISTENING ExERCISE 7 Mode and Key 34

G O A L S F O R R E V I E W 3 4

Musical Form and Musical Style 35 1 | Form in Music 35

Form and Feeling 35 Form and Forms 36 Musical Genres 37

LISTENING ExERCISE 8 Musical Form 38

2 | Musical Style 38 Musical Style and Lifestyle 39

Benjamin Britten, The Young Person’s Guide to the Orchestra (1946) 39


G O A L S F O R R E V I E W 4 1

C o n T e n T sx







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Early Music: An Overview / 42 Chronology 43

the Middle Ages 44 1 | Music and the Church 44

Music and Church Services: Liturgy 44 Plainchant 45 Characteristics of Plainchant 46 Gregorian Recitation and Gregorian Melody 47

Anonymous (c. ninth century), Plainchant antiphon, “In paradisum” 47

Hildegard of Bingen (1098–1179), Plainchant sequence, “Columba aspexit” 48

2 | Music at Court 49 Troubadour and Trouvère Songs 49

Bernart de Ventadorn (c. 1135–1194), Troubadour song, “La dousa votz” 50 The Estampie 51

How Did early Music sound? 51

3 | The Evolution of Polyphony 52 Organum 52

Pérotin (c. 1200), organum, “Alleluia. Diffusa est gratia” 53

4 | Later Medieval Polyphony 54 Anonymous (late thirteenth century), Round, “sumer Is Icumen In” 54 Ars Nova 55

Guillaume de Machaut (c. 1300–1377), Chanson, “Dame, de qui toute ma joie vient” 55

G O A L S F O R R E V I E W 5 6

Global Perspectives | Sacred Chant 57

the Renaissance 60 1 | New Attitudes 60

Early Homophony 61

Guillaume Dufay (c. 1400–1474), Harmonized hymn, “Ave maris stella” 61 The Mass 63

2 | The High Renaissance Style 64 Imitation 64 Homophony 64 Other Characteristics 65

Josquin Desprez, Pange lingua Mass (c. 1510) 65

C o n T e n T s xi







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3 | Music as Expression 67 Josquin Desprez, Chanson, “Mille regrets” 68

4 | Late Renaissance Music 69 Giovanni Pierluigi da Palestrina, Pope Marcellus Mass (1557) 70 The Motet 72 The Italian Madrigal 72 The English Madrigal 72

Thomas Weelkes, Madrigal, “As Vesta Was from Latmos Hill Descending” (1601) 73

5 | Instrumental Music: Early Developments 74 Renaissance Dances 74

Anonymous (sixteenth century), Galliard, “Daphne” 75

Anonymous (sixteenth century), “Kemp’s Jig” 76

G O A L S F O R R E V I E W 7 6

Global Perspectives | Music and Early European Colonialism 77

the Early Baroque Period 79 1 | From Renaissance to Baroque 79

Music in Venice 79 Extravagance and Control 81

Giovanni Gabrieli, Motet, “o magnum mysterium” (c. 1610) 81

2 | Style Features of Early Baroque Music 82 Rhythm and Meter 82 Texture: Basso Continuo 82 Functional Harmony 83

3 | Opera 83 Recitative and Aria 84 Claudio Monteverdi (1567–1643) 85

singing Italian 85

Claudio Monteverdi, The Coronation of Poppea (1642) 86

Henry Purcell (1659–1695) 88

Henry Purcell, Dido and Aeneas (1689) 88

4 | The Rise of Instrumental Music 90 Girolamo Frescobaldi (1583–1643) 91

Girolamo Frescobaldi, Canzona, Balletto, and Corrente (1627–1637) 92

G O A L S F O R R E V I E W 9 3

Global Perspectives | African Ostinato Forms 94

C o n T e n T sxii



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the Eighteenth Century / 96 Chronology 97


the Late Baroque Period 98 1 | Absolutism and the Age of Science 98

Art and Absolutism 99 The Music of Absolutism 101 Art and Theatricality 102 Science and the Arts 102 Science and Music 103

2 | Musical Life in the Early Eighteenth Century 105

3 | Style Features of Late Baroque Music 107 Rhythm 107 Dynamics 107 Tone Color 108 The Baroque Orchestra 108 Melody 108 Ornamentation 109 Texture 110 The Continuo 110 Musical Form 111

4 | The Emotional World of Baroque Music 112 G O A L S F O R R E V I E W 1 1 3

Baroque instrumental Music 114 1 | Concerto and Concerto Grosso 115

Movements 116 Ritornello Form 116

Antonio Vivaldi, Violin Concerto in G, La stravaganza, op. 4, no. 12 (1712–1713) 117


Baroque Variation Form: The Ground Bass 118

Antonio Vivaldi (1678–1741) 119

Antonio Vivaldi, Violin Concerto in G, second movement 120


Vivaldi’s Greatest Hits 121

Antonio Vivaldi, Violin Concerto in e, Spring, op. 8, no. 1 (before 1725) 122


C o n T e n T s xiii







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Johann sebastian Bach, Brandenburg Concerto no. 5, for Flute, Violin, Harpsichord, and orchestra (before 1721) 123


Johann Sebastian Bach (1685–1750) 127

2 | Fugue 126 Fugal Exposition 128 Fugal Devices 129

Johann sebastian Bach, Prelude and Fugue in C Major, from The Well-Tempered Clavier, Book 1 (1722) 129


Glenn Gould (1932–1982) 131

3 | Baroque Dances 132 The Dance Suite 132 Baroque Dance Form 132

George Frideric Handel, Minuet from the Royal Fireworks Music (1749) 133

Johann sebastian Bach, Gigue from Cello suite no. 2 in D Minor (c. 1720) 134

G O A L S F O R R E V I E W 1 3 4

Baroque Vocal Music 135 1 | Opera 135

Italian Opera Seria 137 Recitative 137

The Castrato 137 Aria 138

George Frideric Handel, Julius Caesar (1724) 138

2 | Oratorio 140 George Frideric Handel (1685–1759) 141

George Frideric Handel, Messiah (1742) 142

Women in Music 146

3 | The Church Cantata 145 The Lutheran Chorale 145

Johann sebastian Bach, Cantata no. 4, “Christ lag in Todesbanden” (1707) 147

G O A L S F O R R E V I E W 1 4 9


Music and the Enlightenment 150 1 | The Enlightenment and Music 150

“The Pursuit of Happiness” 152 Art and Entertainment 153 Jean-Jacques Rousseau and Opera 153 The Novel 154

2 | The Rise of Concerts 154

C o n T e n T sxiv





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3 | Style Features of Classical Music 155 Rhythm 155 Dynamics 156 Tone Color: The Classical Orchestra 156 Melody: Tunes 158 Texture: Homophony 158 Classical Counterpoint 159

4 | Form in Classical Music 159 Repetitions and Cadences 159 Classical Forms 160

G O A L S F O R R E V I E W 1 6 0

the Symphony 161 1 | The Movements of the Symphony 161

2 | Sonata Form 162 Exposition (A) 163 Development (B) 164 Recapitulation (A9) 164

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, symphony no. 40 in G Minor, K. 550 (1788) 165


Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (1756–1791) 168

3 | Classical Variation Form 169 Symphonies of Haydn 169

Franz Joseph Haydn, symphony no. 94 in G (“The surprise,” 1791) 171


4 | Minuet Form (Classical Dance Form) 173 Baroque and Classical Dance Form 173

Franz Joseph Haydn (1732–1809) 174

Franz Joseph Haydn, symphony no. 99 in e-flat (1793) 175


5 | Rondo Form 177 Franz Joseph Haydn, symphony no. 101 in D (“The Clock,” 1793–1794) 178


G O A L S F O R R E V I E W 1 8 0

Other Classical Genres 181 1 | The Sonata 181

2 | The Classical Concerto 183 Double-Exposition Form 183

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, Piano Concerto no. 23 in A, K. 488 (1786) 184


3 | The String Quartet 187 Chamber Music 188






C o n T e n T s

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4 | Opera Buffa 189 The Ensemble 189

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, Don Giovanni (1787) 190

G O A L S F O R R E V I E W 1 9 5

Global Perspectives | Musical Form: Two Case Studies from Asia 196

the nineteenth Century / 202 Chronology 203

Beethoven 204 1 | Between Classicism and Romanticism 204

The French Revolution 205

2 | Beethoven and the Symphony 206 Ludwig van Beethoven (1770–1827) 207 The Scherzo 208

Ludwig van Beethoven, symphony no. 5 in C Minor, op. 67 (1808) 209



3 | Beethoven’s “Third Period” 215 Ludwig van Beethoven, Piano sonata in e, op. 109 (1820) 216


G O A L S F O R R E V I E W 2 1 7


Music after Beethoven: Romanticism 218 1 | Romanticism 218

The Cult of Individual Feeling 219 Romanticism and Revolt 220 Artistic Barriers 220 Music and the Supernatural 221 Music and the Other Arts 222

2 | Concert Life in the Nineteenth Century 224 The Artist and the Public 224

3 | Style Features of Romantic Music 225 Romantic Melody 226 Romantic Harmony 226 Rhythmic Freedom: Rubato 227

C o n T e n T sxvi







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The Expansion of Tone Color 227

4 | Program Music 228

5 | Form in Romantic Music 229 Miniature Compositions 229 Grandiose Compositions 230 The Principle of Thematic Unity 231

G O A L S F O R R E V I E W 2 3 2

the Early Romantics 233 1 | The Lied 233

Franz schubert, “erlkönig” (The erlking) (1815) 234

Franz Schubert (1797–1828) 237 The Song Cycle 237

Robert schumann, Dichterliebe (A Poet’s Love) (1840) 238

Robert Schumann (1810–1856) 241

Clara schumann, “Der Mond kommt still gegangen” (The moon has risen softly) (1843) 241

Clara Wieck (Clara Schumann) (1819–1896) 242

2 | The Character Piece for Piano 243 Franz schubert, Moment Musical no. 2 in A-flat (1827?) 243

Robert schumann, Carnaval (1833–1835) 244

Frédéric Chopin, nocturne in F-sharp, op. 15, no. 2 (1831) 245

Frédéric Chopin (1810–1849) 246

Franz Liszt (1811–1886) 247

3 | Early Romantic Program Music 247 The Concert Overture: Felix Mendelssohn 248

Felix Mendelssohn (1809–1847) 248

Fanny Mendelssohn (1805–1847) 248 The Program Symphony: Hector Berlioz 249

Hector Berlioz, Fantastic symphony: episodes in the Life of an Artist (1830) 249


Hector Berlioz (1803–1869) 251

G O A L S F O R R E V I E W 2 5 5

Romantic Opera 256 1 | Verdi and Italian Opera 257

Recitative and Aria: The Role of the Orchestra 257

Early Romantic Opera 258

Giuseppe Verdi, Rigoletto (1851) 259

Giuseppe Verdi (1813–1901) 261

2 | Wagner and Music Drama 264 Richard Wagner (1813–1883) 265

C o n T e n T s xvii





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The Total Work of Art 266

Wagner’s Tristan and Isolde (1859) 267 Leitmotivs 268 The Nibelung’s Ring (1848–1874) 268

Richard Wagner, The Valkyrie (1851–1856) 269

3 | Late Romantic Opera 274 Giacomo Puccini (1858–1924) 274

Giacomo Puccini, Madame Butterfly (1904) 275

G O A L S F O R R E V I E W 2 7 6

the Late Romantics 277 Romanticism and Realism 277

1 | Late Romantic Program Music 279 Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky, overture-Fantasy, Romeo and Juliet (1869, revised 1880) 279


Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky (1840–1893) 280

2 | Nationalism 282 Exoticism 283 The Russian Kuchka 284

Modest Musorgsky, Pictures at an Exhibition (1874) 284

Modest Musorgsky (1839–1881) 286

Other Nationalists 287

3 | Responses to Romanticism 286 The Renewal of Classicism: Brahms 287

Johannes Brahms (1833–1897) 288

Johannes Brahms, Violin Concerto in D, op. 77 (1878) 289

LISTENING CHART 17 290 Romantic Nostalgia: Mahler 291

Gustav Mahler (1860–1911) 292

Gustav Mahler, symphony no. 1 (1888) 293


G O A L S F O R R E V I E W 2 9 6

Global Perspectives | Musical Drama Worldwide 297

the twentieth Century and Beyond / 300 Chronology 301

C o n T e n T sxviii





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Music and Modernism 302 1 | Varieties of Modernism 302

2 | Progress and Uncertainty 303

3 | The Response of Modernism 304

4 | Literature and Art before World War I 305 Impressionists and Symbolists 306 Expressionists and Fauves 308

5 | Modernist Music before World War I 308 Experiment and Transformation: Melody 309 New Horizons, New Scales 310 “The Emancipation of Dissonance” 310

G O A L S F O R R E V I E W 3 1 1

Early Modernism 312 1 | Debussy and Impressionism 313

Claude Debussy, Clouds, from Three nocturnes (1899) 313


Claude Debussy (1862–1918) 316

2 | Stravinsky: The Primacy of Rhythm 315 Igor stravinsky, The Rite of Spring, Part I, “The Adoration of the earth” (1913) 317


Igor Stravinsky (1882–1971) 320

3 | Expressionism 320 Arnold schoenberg, Pierrot lunaire (Moonstruck Pierrot) (1912) 321

Arnold Schoenberg (1874–1951) 324

Alban Berg, Wozzeck (1923) 324

schoenberg and serialism 327

4 | The First American Modernist: Ives 330 Charles Ives (1874–1954) 331

Charles Ives, second orchestral set, second movement, “The Rockstrewn Hills Join in the People’s outdoor Meeting” (1909) 331


Charles Ives, The Unanswered Question (1906) 333

G O A L S F O R R E V I E W 3 3 4

Modernism between the Wars 335 1 | Mixing Classical Form and Jazz: Maurice Ravel 337

Maurice Ravel, Piano Concerto in G (1931) 337


C o n T e n T s xix







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Maurice Ravel (1875–1937) 339

2 | Folk Music, Nationalism, and Modernism: Béla Bartók 340 Béla Bartók (1881–1945) 340

Béla Bartók, Music for strings, Percussion, and Celesta (1936) 341


3 | Varieties of American Modernism 344 Ruth Crawford 345

Ruth Crawford, Prelude for Piano no. 6 (Andante Mystico; 1928) 345


Ruth Crawford (1901–1953) 346

William Grant Still 346

William Grant Still (1895–1978) 347

William Grant still, Afro-American symphony (1930) 348


Aaron Copland 349

Aaron Copland, Appalachian Spring (1945) 350

Aaron Copland (1900–1990) 352

4 | The Rise of Film Music 352 Composers for Film 353

sergei Prokofiev, Alexander Nevsky Cantata (1938) 354


Sergei Prokofiev (1891–1953) 355

Music and Totalitarianism 356

G O A L S F O R R E V I E W 3 5 7

the Late twentieth Century 358 1 | The Postwar Avant-Garde 358

New Sound Materials 360 Electronic Music 360 On the Boundaries of Time 361

Anton Webern, Five orchestral Pieces (1913) 362

Chance Music 362

2 | The New Generation 363 Edgard Varèse (1883–1965) 363

edgard Varèse, Poème électronique (1958) 364

György Ligeti (1923–2006) 365

György Ligeti, Lux aeterna (1966) 366


John Cage (1912–1992) 367

John Cage, 4’ 33’’ (1952) 367

3 | Music at the End of the Millennium 368 Steve Reich (b. 1936) and Minimalism 369

steve Reich, Music for 18 Musicians (1974–1976) 369

C o n T e n T sxx



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New Expressionism and Connecting to the Past 372 George Crumb (b. 1929) 372

George Crumb, Voices from a Forgotten World (American Songbook, Volume 5) (2006) 374

Tania León (b. 1943) 375

Tania León, Indígena (1991) 375


John Adams (b. 1947) 377

John Adams, Doctor Atomic (2005) 377

G O A L S F O R R E V I E W 3 8 0

Music in America: Jazz and Beyond 381 1 | Early American Music: An Overview 381

The Cultivated Tradition 382 Music in the Vernacular 384 African American Music 385

2 | Jazz: The First Fifty Years 386 Ragtime: Scott Joplin (1868–1917) 386 The Blues 387

sippie Wallace, “If You ever Been Down” Blues (1927) (Composed by G. W. Thomas) 387

New Orleans Jazz 388

Louis Armstrong (1901–1971) 390

Big-Band Jazz: Swing 390

Duke ellington, “Conga Brava” (1940) 391

Duke Ellington (1899–1974) 392

Popular Song 393

3 | Later Jazz 393 Bebop 393

Charlie Parker and Miles Davis, “out of nowhere” (1948) 395

Jazz after Bebop 395

Miles Davis, Bitches Brew (1969) 396

Global Perspectives | African Drumming 397

4 | The American Musical 398 Musical Comedy 398 The Musical after 1940 399

Leonard Bernstein, West Side Story (1957) 399

The Later Musical 402

5 | Rock 402 Early Rock ’n’ Roll 403 The 1960s: Rock Comes of Age 404 Motown, Soul, and Funk 404 The British Invasion 405 American Counteroffensives 406

C o n T e n T s xxi



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After the 1960s 407 Trends 1980–2000: Punk, Rap, and Post-Rock 408

Global Perspectives | Global Music 410

6 | Conclusion 413 G O A L S F O R R E V I E W 4 1 3

time Lines 414

Musical notation 419

G L O S S A R y O F M U S I C A L T E R M S 423

I N D E x 431




C o n T e n T sxxii

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When Joseph and Vivian Kerman launched the first edition of Listen back in 1972, they no doubt hoped — but could not have expected — that it would still be reaching students over forty years later. The staying power of the book is a tribute to many things and many people, but above all it commemorates their initial vision and their continued efforts across several decades in revising and improving it. Joe himself came to regard Listen as far and away the most important contribution of his career, a judgment that sets a high bar, given Opera as Drama, The Beethoven Quartets, Contemplating Music, and the rest. But who would gainsay that judgment, in the light of the hundreds of thou- sands of undergraduates whose lives have been touched and even transformed in courses employing Listen?

The Kermans’ vision was at first almost unique: to focus the attention of non-major undergraduates on close, analytic listening to great music at the same time as they came to understand its place in a historical chronology of styles and in a broader story of Western culture. Listen fulfills this vision in a fashion still unsurpassed, and we continue to revise and improve the book in ways that respond to the changing landscape of teaching introductory courses to the Western musical tradition.

New to This Edition The changes in Listen, Eighth Edition, answer to the desires, viewpoints, and indeed criticisms we have solicited from users and non-users alike. Particularly important have been users’ views on the teaching effectiveness of individual works. Of course we have retained the basic elements that have always distin- guished Listen: the stimulating prose, the high-quality recordings, the unmatched Listening Charts, the clear laying-out of musical basics in Unit I, and the broad context outlined in Prelude chapters for each new historical phase. To these we have added new features, new repertory, and a clean, updated new design.

New Features Each historical unit begins with an arresting two-page spread designed to ori- ent the student quickly and effectively. On the left is a very short description of the materials introduced in the unit, on the right a time line of the works students will encounter, tabulating composers’ names, titles of works, and chronological order of composition. In between is an artwork characteristic of the period at hand, with a caption explaining what makes it so.

Each chapter ends with a new bullet list of Goals for Review: checklists of the listening skills and key concepts students should particularly attend to as they study.

Preface To the Instructor

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New Repertory As in every new edition, we have sought to improve the coverage of the musi- cal repertories at the heart of our enterprise. We have added a movement from Vivaldi’s The Four Seasons, always a favorite with students and teachers alike. The coverage of the Classical symphony now exemplifies variations, rondo, and minuet forms with movements from three of Haydn’s London symphonies. A Beethoven piano sonata movement shows features of his late style.

For the twentieth and twenty-first centuries, the rethinking has been extensive. For the early part of the period, the coverage of modernism is more inclusive and varied, with the addition of new works by Ruth Crawford and William Grant Still. For the most recent years, Listen adds new selections by Tania León, George Crumb, and John Adams.

All told, the new works are as follows:

• Vivaldi, Violin Concerto in E, La Primavera (Spring), Op. 8, No. 1, I (Allegro) • Haydn, Symphony No. 94 in G (“The Surprise”), II (Andante) • Haydn, Symphony No. 99 in E-flat, III (Allegretto) • Haydn, Symphony No. 101 in D (“The Clock”), IV (Finale. Vivace) • Beethoven, Piano Sonata in E, Op. 109, I (Vivace) • Ruth Crawford, Prelude for Piano No. 6 (Andante Mystico) • William Grant Still, Afro-American Symphony, IV (Lento, con risoluzione) • George Crumb, “The House of the Rising Sun” and “Hallelujah, I’m a Bum!”

from Voices from a Forgotten World (American Songbook, Volume 5)

• Tania Léon, Indígena • John Adams, Doctor Atomic

New Design The publishers of Listen, no less than the authors, have always worked hard to make this textbook attractive to look at; we all take pride in the book’s design and appearance. But the real point of a good design is to make it both easy and inviting to find your way around in a book. Of necessity there is a lot of diverse material here, lots of bits and pieces — the main text, boxes and charts of dif- ferent kinds, music, marginalia. The new design introduced in this edition enhances the flow of the text and emphasizes important information to make student reading a more effective learning experience. In general, the design gives a clean, updated “look.”

Students these days, perhaps more than ever before, are used to getting information quickly and clearly. Listen, Eighth Edition makes this possible without sacrificing the nuance of subject matter and presentation for which the book has always been praised.

New Formats Listen has always moved forward with new technological developments that are essential to the teaching of music appreciation. For this edition, we offer the full and brief sets of the Listen recordings in a convenient downloadable format; the full set is also available on six high-quality CDs. Streaming record- ings and an interactive e-book are available in LaunchPad, a new, fully cus- tomizable course space. See page xxvii for details.

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Distinctive Features of Listen In the midst of many changes, what have not changed are our basic coverage and organization, which have proved solid over many editions. For new users, we draw attention to the following strong features that we believe set Listen apart.

Fundamentals The Fundamentals unit develops basic musical concepts in a logical, orderly sequence. It begins with rhythm and meter and continues with pitch, dynamics, and tone color, pausing to consider the musical instruments students will be listening to. Next comes melody, and only then are the more challenging issues of harmony, tonality, and modality raised. The introduc- tion to music notation, not necessary for this unit or the book as a whole, is found in an appendix. This presentation, we feel, allows instructors to pick and choose issues they want to highlight more easily without losing the logic of the presentation.

Eight Listening Exercises that work with music on the Unit I CD (bound into the back of the book) illustrate rhythm, melody, texture, modality, and so on, and culminate in the encyclopedic Young Person’s Guide to the Orchestra by Benjamin Britten. We show students how to listen to this work as an informal summary of fundamentals at the end of the unit.

Flexible Coverage The main emphasis of Listen is on the common-practice repertory, with a care- ful selection of more modern material and a generous unit on pre-eighteenth- century music. After Unit I, the historical scheme goes from “early music” — in effect, everything before Bach and Handel, when the standard repertory begins — to the three great periods of Western classical music: the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, and the twentieth century to the present. Units III, IV, and V, each containing several chapters, cover these periods. Unit II, “Early Music: An Overview,” is independent of the rest of the text; nothing later in the book depends on having studied it, so if your course plan begins with Bach and Handel in Unit III, students will not need to skip back for explanations of continuo texture, recitative, fugue, and so on.

Cultural Background The Baroque and Classical eras and the nineteenth and twentieth centuries are introduced by what we call “Prelude” chapters. Each summarizes fea- tures of the culture of the time, emphasizing those that stand in close rela- tion to music. The Prelude chapters also contain concise accounts of the musical styles of the eras, so that these chapters furnish background of two kinds — cultural and stylistic — for listening to specific pieces of music in the chapters that follow.

Biography boxes segregate material on the lives of the major composers from discussions of their music — again, making the book easier to read and easier to work from. The boxes include portraits, concise lists of works that can serve for study or reference, and, under the heading “Encore,” suggestions for further listening. Time lines in Appendix A locate composers at a glance in relation to other important historical figures and events.

P R e F A C e | To the Instructor

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Non-Western Music The seven Global Perspectives segments of Listen are positioned so as to elaborate on the European and American topics discussed around them. The Global Perspectives segment on sacred chant, for example, comes at the end of the Middle Ages chapter, where Gregorian chant has been discussed; African ostinato forms are exemplified after the early Baroque chapter; and a brief look at complex instrumental forms in Japanese and Indonesian traditions follows the eighteenth-century unit, with its examination of sonata form and other formal types in the Classical symphony.

We believe these materials broaden the coverage of Listen in a meaning- ful way, but we certainly do not offer them as a token survey of world musics. If they are a token of anything, it is the authors’ belief that music making worldwide shows certain common tendencies in which the European classical tradition has shared.

Listening Charts One of the strongest features of Listen, instructors have always told us, is the format for Listening Charts. The charts for instrumental works all fit onto one page, visible at a glance, with concise descriptions and identifications. Off at the side, brief music tags can easily be consulted by those who read music — and just as easily ignored by those who don’t. To see how these charts work, turn to the section “How to Use This Book” on pages xxxiv–xxxvii. Inter- active versions of the Listening Charts can be found in LaunchPad for Listen at Guides for songs, operas, and other vocal works offer texts in original languages and parallel translations; they are set in “Listen” boxes throughout the book.

In the end, this text owes its success less to “features” than to two basic attributes, which the authors have been grateful to hear about many times from many instructors over the history of the book. Listen is distinctive in its writing style and, related to that, in the sense it conveys of personal involve- ment with the music that is treated. The tone is lively and alert, authoritative but not stiff and not without humor. We sound (because we are) engaged with music and we work to engage the student.

The excitement and joy that the experience of music can provide — this, more than historical or analytical data about music — is what most instruc- tors want to pass on to their students. Our efforts are rewarded when students tell us years later that music they studied has become a part of their lives. This is what teaching is about (which is why technology will never replace live instructors), and this is what we have always tried to do in Listen.

Acknowledgments We express our gratitude to the many practiced “music appreesh” instructors who have reviewed this book and its supplements and given us the benefit of their advice for this revision. Their criticisms and suggestions have signifi- cantly improved the text, as have the market surveys in which an even larger number of instructors generously participated. In addition to users of previous editions who over the years have given us suggestions, we wish to thank

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Lois Ash, Delaware State University; Jeanne Belfy, Boise State University; Roxanne Classen, MacEwan University; Cathryn Clayton, University of Utah; Bruce Cook, Diablo Valley College; Lara Saville Dahl, Georgia State University; Chris Davis, North Greenville University; Melissa Derechailo, Wayne State Col- lege; Leanne Dodge, Columbia University; Jennifer Duerden, Brigham Young University–Hawaii; Tracey Ford, Joliet Junior College; Janine Gaboury, Michi- gan State University; Gary Gackstatter, St. Louis Community College–Mera- mec; Scott Gleason, Fordham University; John Glennon, Ivy Tech Community College; David Gramit, University of Alberta; Rolf Groesbeck, University of Arkansas at Little Rock; Ross Hagen, Utah Valley University; Barry Hause, East Central Community College; Sharon A. Hickox, University of Nevada, Reno; Todd Jones, University of Kentucky; Karl Kolbeck, Wayne State College; Julianne Lindberg, University of Nevada, Reno; Robin Liston, Baker Univer- sity; John McClusky, University of Kentucky; Ginny Nixon, Concordia Univer- sity; Matthew Parker, Trident Technical College; Todd Quinlan, Blinn College; Katie Roberts, Brigham Young University; Catherine Roche-Wallace, Univer- sity of Louisiana, Lafayette; Ruth Spencer, City College of New York; George Sprengelmeyer, Quinnipiac University; Yiorgos Vassilandonakis, College of Charleston; and Steven Voigt, James Madison University.

The production of a major textbook is a complex, year-long process drawing on professionals from many areas. The main contributors to Listen are listed on the back of the title page, and we are truly grateful to all of them. Our first, special thanks go to the team that has worked in the trenches with the authors to turn this book and its ancillaries into realities and make them better in countless ways. Senior Editor Caroline Thompson, Senior Production Editor Deborah Baker, Art Director Anna Palchik, Designer Marsha Cohen, Editorial Assistant Brenna Cleeland, and picture and permissions consultants Martha Friedman, Kalina Ingham, Susan Doheny, and Margaret Gorenstein — the proj- ect would have been unmanageable without the expertise and hard work of all of them. Carrie Thompson’s efforts in particular often assumed larger-than-life, even operatic proportions. Tom Laskey of Sony Music, responsible for record- ings acquisitions and production, kept his head through the conniptions of the recording industry (even while authors around him did not). The cover was designed by Billy Boardman. Karen Henry, Editorial Director for English and Music, is a longtime supporter of and coworker on Listen; Edwin Hill, Vice President, Editorial, is a new and welcome supporter of the project.

We are delighted that Professor Mark Harbold has again undertaken the Instructor’s Resource Manual for the present edition, and we are grateful and fortunate indeed that Davitt Moroney agreed to perform a work specially for the CD set: He recorded the Frescobaldi Canzona, Balletto, and Corrente on the seventeenth-century Spanish organ by Greg Harrold at the University of California, Berkeley, in meantone tuning.

The high quality of Listen is a tribute to the expertise, dedication, tenacity, and artistry of all of these people. We are indebted to them all.

G. T. (for J. K. also)

Branford, CT, July 2014

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Resources for Listen, Eighth Edition Bedford/St. Martin’s offers resources and format choices that help you and your students get the most out of your book and course. To learn more about or to order any of the following products, contact your Macmillan sales representative, e-mail sales support ([email protected]), or visit the Web site at

LaunchPad for Listen, eighth edition: Where students Learn LaunchPad provides engaging content and new ways to enhance your course. Get an interactive e-book combined with unique, book-specific materials in a fully customizable course space; then assign and mix our resources with yours.

• The complete Listen recordings are included in LaunchPad in a streaming format, integrated with the e-book. LaunchPad makes all of the music for the course available in one place, so there’s no need to purchase discs or downloads. Music for the Listening Exercises in Unit I is included in addition to all the recordings from the 6-CD set.

• Interactive Listening Charts provide the book’s 29 Listening Charts in a multimedia format, making it even easier for students to listen as they read the brief explanatory notes. Students can play back main sections of the charts with a single mouse click in order to study and compare specific events in the music.

• Pre-built units—including chapter text, streaming music, listening quizzes, reading quizzes, and more—are easy to adapt and assign by adding your own materials and mixing them with our high-quality multimedia content and ready-made assessment options.

• LaunchPad also provides access to a gradebook that provides a clear window on the performance of your whole class, individual students, and even individual assignments.

• A streamlined interface helps students focus on what’s due, and social commenting tools let them engage, make connections, and learn from each other. Use LaunchPad on its own or integrate it with your school’s learning management system so that your class is always on the same page.

To get the most out of your course, order LaunchPad for Listen packaged with the print book for a reasonable additional charge. (LaunchPad for Listen can also be purchased on its own.) An activation code is required.

• To order LaunchPad for Listen on its own, use ISBN 978-1-4576-9894-1. • To order LaunchPad for Listen packaged with the paperback edition, use ISBN 978-1-319-02398-0.

• To order LaunchPad for Listen packaged with the loose-leaf edition, use ISBN 978-1-319-02400-0.

select Value Packages Add value to your text by packaging one of the following resources with Listen, Eighth Edition. To learn more about package options for any of the

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xxixP R e F A C e | To the Instructor

following products, contact your Macmillan sales representative or visit

The 6-CD set for Listen includes all of the recordings discussed in the text in a high-quality format that students can keep. To order the 6-CD set pack- aged with the paperback text, use ISBN 978-1-319-02397-3.

Access cards for music downloads make the Listen recordings available in a less expensive digital format that’s easy for students to load onto their iPods and other devices. Choose the full set of downloads, which includes all of the music from the 6-CD set, or the brief set of downloads, a selection of core listening that replaces the former 3-CD set.

• To order the full set of downloads packaged with the paperback text, use ISBN 978-1-319-02402-4.

• To order the brief set of downloads packaged with the paperback text, use ISBN 978-1-319-02404-8.

save Money with the Loose-Leaf edition of Listen The loose-leaf edition does not have a traditional binding; its pages are loose and three-hole punched to provide flexibility and a low price to students. To order the loose-leaf edition on its own, use ISBN 1-4576-9698-3 or 978-1-4576-9698-5. To package the loose-leaf edition with CDs or downloads, visit macmillanhighered .com/catalog/listen or contact your Macmillan sales representative.

Instructor Resources You have a lot to do in your course. Bedford/St. Martin’s wants to make it easy for you to find the support you need — and to get it quickly. All of the follow- ing resources are available for download from the Bedford/St. Martin’s online catalog at the URL above.

The Instructor’s Resource Manual, prepared by Mark Harbold of Elm- hurst College, is the most comprehensive teaching guide to accompany any music appreciation textbook. In addition to chapter overviews and suggested teaching objectives, the instructor’s manual includes detailed suggestions for lectures, demonstrations, class discussions, and further listening. The manual is provided as a PDF file.

Additional Listening Charts and Additional Texts and Translations make it easy to add works not discussed in this edition of Listen to your course.

The Index of Terms and Musical Examples suggests examples from the Listen recordings to illustrate key terms and concepts from the book.

PowerPoint Presentations outline the main points of each chapter and contain selected visuals from the book. You can download, edit, and customize the slides to create your own presentations.

The Test Bank contains more than 1,800 multiple choice and essay ques- tions designed to assess students’ comprehension and listening skills. The Test Bank is available for download in Microsoft Word format or in a computerized test bank format that offers additional editing and customization features. Answer keys are included.

DVDs of complete performances of works discussed in this edition are available to qualified adopters. For information, contact your Macmillan sales representative.

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Music matters to us. It may not carry us through our moment-to-moment interactions with one another, the way language does, or frame our ideas in words. It may not carry us from one place to another, refrigerate and cook our food, or enable us to search the Internet, as our advanced technologies do. It may even be less important to our immediate comfort, as an old joke has it, than indoor plumbing. Yet it matters to us, and matters deeply.

Every reader of this book comes to it having grown up surrounded by music of one type or another — usually, these days, of many types. Most readers have counted musical experiences among the important formative moments of their lives. And in fact it is hard for us to think of major events without music: a ceremony, a parade, a holiday, a party. Music saturates human societies — all of them, without exception.

Perhaps you have wondered just why music matters so much. If so, you’re not alone. Philosophers, psychologists, musicologists, and many others have been asking the same question in a line stretching all the way back to Plato, 2,500 years ago, and probably farther than that. The answers are not easy to come by, but in general they involve the ways in which music seizes us, commands our attention, changes our outlook, arouses our emotions, even transforms us — in short, the ways music moves us.

Music in ceremony: The University of Maryland band marches in the presidential inauguration. Katherine Frey/The Washington Post via Getty Images.

Introduction To the Student

I n T R o D u C T I o n | To the Student

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I n T R o D u C T I o n | To the Student xxxi

It is the basic premise of this book that these experiences can be deepened by careful study devoted to the music at hand. We can extend music’s transformative powers by thinking about how it is put together, how it relates to other music and other arts, and when and where it was made, and then, above all, by taking this knowledge and listening carefully again and again. We did not choose our title, after all, by accident: Listen!

Classical Music — and Other Kinds Listen cannot survey all types of music; to do so would require not one book but very many indeed. The particular tradition of music to which we devote our attention is what has come to be known as classical music; but this term, if it is unavoidable, is also vague and in need of some preliminary explanation.

Classical or classic is ordinarily used to describe something old and established, and valued on that account. Think of the classical antiquity of Greece and Rome, classic literature, classic movies, or classic rock from the 1960s and 1970s. Classical music, in the way we use the term, refers to a tradition extending over more than a thousand years, practiced mainly (until recently) in Europe, and cultivated especially by privileged levels of society. Sometimes this tradition goes under other names: Western music, music of the Western tradition, or even simply art music — though this should not be taken to imply that other kinds of music are not art.

The classical in classical music has come to contrast this tradition with another kind of music, popular music, especially the multiple branches of popular music that evolved across the twentieth century from African American roots. This development, which embraces everything from spirituals to jazz and the blues, from ragtime to hip-hop, and from Elvis and the Beatles to Beyoncé and the latest winner of The Voice, has been so important in recent decades that it has threatened to cast classical music completely into the shadows. It is not the central focus of Listen, but it is a major force in music, and we take stock of it in a chapter at the end of the book.

In the orchestra pit and onstage: rehearsal at the National Ballet of Canada. Mike Slaughter/Toronto Star/ Getty Images.

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We also take up other kinds of music for comparison. All through this book we make sidelong glances toward musical traditions from around the world, from outside the Western classical heritage: Chinese, Native American, African, and more. The Global Perspectives inserts in which these non-Western traditions are raised do not attempt to do justice to the great richness of these traditions. Instead, they aim to point up broad similarities between them and Western traditions — similarities of musical technique or of the social uses of music, or sometimes of both together.

Classical Music and History The classical tradition, as we said above, has extended over a thousand years. Across this long span of time, the tradition has evolved and been transformed many times over; but it has also endured. It has provided many, many generations of listeners with pleasure, joy, inspiration, and solace, and it can do the same for us.

It is also true, however, that the classical music most performed and listened to today comes from a period of European history shorter than a millennium. It stems especially from the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, the period from around 1700 to 1900, beginning with Vivaldi, Bach, and Handel, including Haydn, Mozart, and Beethoven, and concluding with Mahler, Debussy, and Stravinsky. This central historical period of classical music, together with its outgrowths across the twentieth century and into our own time, forms the main coverage of Listen. This coverage is a historical one in that it is arranged in chronological order, with careful attention paid to the sequence of musical styles and to the influence of each on successive ones.

At the same time, we do not ignore the earlier centuries of the millennium of classical music. These, from about 1000 c.e. up to 1700 c.e., have a unit of their own, which your instructor might or might not choose to emphasize. This so-called early music is also presented in historical sequence.

Throughout all this historical coverage, we have endeavored to choose the most moving, transformative, and enduring — to use those three words once more — individual works for you to study and listen to. Your listening will, we hope, be entertaining; but it will also be something deeper than entertainment. These musical works provide knowledge—or if not exactly knowledge, insight into the human experience as it extends over time. Music historians devote themselves not only to the appreciation of music from the past but also to an appreciation of the ways in which it captures experiences of past lives. It conveys these things in ways that are distinctly musical — different from the ways of a poem, a novel, a painting, or a statue.

Listening The different ways music captures experiences bring us back once more to listening. Listening to recordings is the crucial assignment necessary for all those who would make productive use of this book. It is not the only way to experience music, of course. We hope that you will never forget about the possibility of performing music, at whatever level you can manage: from singing in the shower or strumming a guitar in your room to playing in your college symphony, forming a garage band, or singing in your college musical. We hope also that you will take advantage of opportunities around you to

I n T R o D u C T I o n | To the Studentxxxii

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hear live music. Recordings are not the same as live music. No matter how faithful a reproduction of sound they are, they lack the physical pleasure of performing and the immediacy and empathy struck up among performers or among performers and audience in live-music situations.

Since, however, the main experience of music on which this book relies is listening to recordings, it is worth a few words to describe how we think this should be undertaken. Often you just hear music rather than listening to it — hear it out of the corner of your ear, so to speak. The center of your attention is somewhere else: on the car ahead of you cutting in from the next lane, on the organic chemistry you’re studying while the music plays in the background, on the text message coming in from your friend, and so on. It’s necessary to turn this hearing into true listening, to make a listen- ing commitment to music, comparable in its way to the dedication of the composers and performers who create it. Background listening isn’t enough, for real listening requires recognizing specific events in the music as it goes by in time, holding them in your memory, and relating them to one another in your mind. Classical music requires full attention to yield its full rewards.

J. K. G. T.

I n T R o D u C T I o n | To the Student xxxiii

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How to use This Book To foster your appreciation of music, Listen contains a number of features to help focus your listening and further your understanding.

To help you listen closely to the music Listening Charts for instrumental music are an integral feature of this text. In essence, the Listening Charts are tables of the main musical events of the pieces they represent, with brief explanatory notes where needed. Repeated listening is useful. We suggest that you first listen to the music by itself, then read the discus- sion of the piece of music in the text, and then listen again while following along with the Listening Chart. Read again, listen again. Interactive versions of these charts can be found in LaunchPad for Listen (see page xxxvii).

Listening Exercises in Unit I function in the same way to help you practice listening for fundamental elements of music such as rhythm, melody, and form. Music for these exercises can be found on the Unit I CD at the back of the book as well as in LaunchPad for Listen.

I n T R o D u C T I o n | To the Studentxxxiv

Rhythm, Meter, and Syncopation

For samples of duple, triple, and compound meters, and of syncopation, listen to the following music on the Unit I CD or in LaunchPad for Listen.

Duple meter Scott Joplin, “Maple Leaf Rag” Count ONE two | ONE two . . . etc., for about half a minute.

Duple meter Beethoven, “Joy Theme” from Symphony No. 9, IV Schubert, from String Quartet in A Minor, I

Count ONE two THREE four | ONE two THREE four . . . etc.

Triple meter

Britten, The Young Person’s Guide to the Orchestra Count ONE two three | ONE two three . . . etc.

Compound meter Beethoven, from Piano Concerto No. 5 (“Emperor”), III

Count ONE two three FOUR | ONE two three FOUR six . . . etc.

Syncopation In Scott Joplin’s “Maple Leaf Rag,” listen to the piano left hand, with its steady ONE two | ONE two beat in duple meter, while the right hand cuts across it with syncopations in almost every e.

L I S T E N I N G E X E R C I S E 1


5, 7

3, 10



Unit I

−− Ł \

Ł Ł Ł Ł Ł Ł Ł Ł Ł ¼

−− Ð

[ ð ý ¹ Ł Łl Łl Ł

l ¼

−− ð ý \

− ýŁð¦Ł ¼ Ł Ł Ł Ł Ł

−− Ł



(Molto allegro) Sonata form. 8 min., 14 sec.





Theme 1 (main theme)


Theme 1, p, minor key (G minor); repeated cadences f

Theme 1 repeats and begins the modulation to a new key.

Bridge theme, f,

CADENCE Abrupt stop

Second Group





Theme 2

Cadence theme

Theme 2, p, in major key; phrases divided between wood- winds and strings

Theme 2 again, division of phrases is reversed.

Other, shorter ideas, f, and p: echoes of theme 1 motive

Cadence theme, f, downward scales followed by repeated cadences

CADENCE Abrupt stop

2:04 Exposition repeated




Theme 1 developed


Theme 1, p, modulating

Sudden f: contrapuntal treatment by the full orchestra of

L I S T E N I N G C H A R T 7






2 | 14–19 37 13




Full set of downloads

6-CD set LaunchPadDisc number/ Track number

Brief set of downloads

Time elapsed since start of piece

Time elapsed since start

of current track

CD track numbers

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16 Many terms we use for historical periods in the arts came into use only after the fact. Baroque, as a designation for a style period in music, was adopted from the field of art history by musicologists in the twentieth century. The term Romantic, instead, was used by the Romantics themselves. It first took hold in literature, and by the time the earliest Romantic

composers began their careers in the 1820s, their literary contemporaries were already excitedly talking about “Romantic” music.

This tells us two important things about music after the time of Beethoven. One is that, largely thanks to Beethoven, people had become highly aware of music as a major art. Music was treated with a new respect in cultivated circles; it was taken seriously in a way it never had been before.

The other is that it seemed quite natural for observers of the time to link up developments in music with parallel developments in literature. From Homer and Virgil to Shakespeare and Milton, literature had always been considered the most important and most convincing of the arts. The prestige and power of literature were now freely extended to music.

This fact is illustrated in a painting much admired at midcentury, showing a group of literary lions and lionesses listening reverently to Franz Liszt at the piano (see page 219). Their expressions tell us how profoundly the music moves them; their aesthetic experience is very different, clearly, from the casual enjoyment of eighteenth-century listeners pictured on page 133. The painting shows also how important Beethoven was in bringing about this change. Liszt gazes soulfully at Beethoven’s larger-than-life bust. Does it rest on the books stacked on the piano, or loom outside the window, gigantic, against the turbulent sky?

1 | Romanticism Romantic literature and literary theory flourished particularly in and around the first two decades of the nineteenth century. In England, this was a great age of poetry: Wordsworth, Coleridge, Shelley, Keats, and Byron. There was also a brilliant outpouring of German Romantic literature during the same period, though the names of its writers are less familiar in the English-speaking world: Tieck, Novalis, Kleist, Hölderlin, and E. T. A. Hoffmann.

For us, the word romantic refers to love; this usage dates from the nineteenth

Music after Beethoven: Romanticism


The Cult of Individual Feeling Striving for a better, higher, ideal state of being was at the heart of the Romantic movement. Everyday life seemed dull and meaningless; it could be transcended only through the free exercise of individual will and passion. The rule of feeling, unconstrained by convention, religion, or social taboo (or anyone else’s feelings, often enough) — this became the highest good. Emotional expression became the highest artistic goal. “Bohemians,” as they were disparagingly called at the time, proclaimed romantic love, led irregular lives, and wore odd clothes. We have the Romantics to thank for this familiar image of the artist, still around today.

These attitudes may be laid at the door of Jean-Jacques Rousseau — the same Enlightenment philosopher who had spoken up in the mid-eighteenth century for “natural” human feelings, as opposed to the artificial constraints imposed by society (see page 153). Hailed as the philosophical father of the French Revolution, Rousseau provided the Romantics with the ideal of individual, as well as political, freedom and fulfillment. We have also seen Rousseau as a proponent of a “natural” music, and indeed his own music was still being played

The power of Romantic music: Liszt as the inspiration for novelists Alexandre Dumas, Victor

Countess d’Agoult (see page 247). In the back, opera composer Gioacchino Rossini embraces violin virtuoso Niccolò Paganini. Bettmann/CORBIS.

To help you understand the historical and cultural context Prelude chapters introduce you to the historical and cultural background of four important eras of music — the Baroque and Classical eras, the nineteenth century, and the twentieth century to the present. Each prelude chapter also describes the stylistic features of the music you will study.

I n T R o D u C T I o n | To the Student xxxv

Verdi, Rigoletto, from Act III, scene i

The stage is divided, showing the inside and the outside of a sordid inn.


The Duke enters the inn.

0:03 Gilda:






(Ah! padre mio!)

Due cose, e tosto:


Una stanza e del vino.

(Son questi i suoi costumi.)

(Oh il bel zerbino!)

(Ah! dear father!)

Two things, and right now.


A room and some wine.

(That’s the way he does things.)

(Big spender!)


0:12 0:29


Duke: La donna è mobile / Qual pium’ al vento, Muta d’accento / E di pensiero. Sempre un amabile / Leggiadro viso, In pianto o in riso / È menzognero. La donna è mobil’ / Qual pium’ al vento, Muta d’accento / E di pensier!

È sempre misero / C / Mal cauto il core!

Pur mai non sentesi / Felice appieno Chi su quel seno / Non liba amore. La donna è mobil’ . . .

Changing her words and thoughts, She’s a lovable, sweet sight, When she’s weeping or laughing, she’s lying.

Changing her words and thoughts!

Man’s always wretched who believes her; If you trust her, watch out for your heart! Yet he’ll never feel happy Who from that breast does not drink love!

Sparafucile gives the Duke a bottle of wine and glasses, then goes outside to Rigoletto.







4 | 1–6 59–60 28–29

Listen guides are specially tailored for vocal music. They are similar to Listening Charts, but instead of explanatory notes, these charts contain the words of the piece in the origi- nal language and in an English translation.

Recordings are available for purchase in several different formats; visit catalog/listen for more infor- mation. For a complete list of the music discussed in Listen, see the Guide to Recordings on the inside front cover.

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Chronologies at the beginning of each unit list the works you will study in the order in which they were composed and are accompanied by an overview of the relevant era.

Additional boxes introduce you to interesting topics related to the music you’re studying, such as events in music history, aspects of performance, or social and cultural trends.

Biography boxes throughout the book offer some personal background on each of the major composers you will study, as well as lists of additional works you might want to seek out for further listening.

Mahler’s early life was not happy. Born in Bohemia to an abusive father, he lost five of his brothers and sisters to diphtheria, and others ended their lives in suicide or mental illness. The family lived near a military barracks, and the many marches incorpo- rated into Mahler’s music — often distorted marches — have been traced to his childhood recol- lections of parade music.

After studying for a time at the Vienna Conserva- tory, Mahler began a rising career as a conductor. His uncompromising standards and his authoritarian attitude toward the musicians led to frequent disputes with the orchestra directors. What is more, Mahler was Jewish, and Vienna at that time was rife with anti-Semitism. Nonetheless, he was acknowledged as one of the great conductors of his day and also as a very effective musical administrator. After positions at Prague, Budapest, Hamburg, and elsewhere, he came to head such organizations as the Vienna Opera and the New York Philharmonic.

It was only in the summers that Mahler had time to compose, so it is not surprising that he produced fewer pieces (though they are very long pieces) than any other important composer. Ten symphonies, the last of them unfinished, and six song cycles for voice and orchestra are almost all he wrote. The song cycle The Song of

is often called Mahler’s greatest masterpiece.

Mahler’s wife was a famous Viennese beauty, Alma Schindler. By a tragic coincidence, shortly after he wrote his grim orchestral song cycle Songs on the Death of Children, his and Alma’s youngest daughter died of scarlet fever.

Beyond this tragedy, Mahler’s life was clouded by psychological turmoil, and he once consulted his famous Viennese contemporary Sigmund Freud. His disputes with the New York Philharmonic directors, which discouraged him profoundly, may have contributed to his premature death.

Chief Works: Ten lengthy symphonies, several with chorus, of which the best known are the First, Fourth, Fifth, and Ninth j Orchestral song cycles: The Song of the Earth, Songs of a Wayfarer, The Youth’s Magic Horn (for piano or orchestra), Songs on the Death of Children

Encore: After Symphony No. 1, listen to the Adagietto from Symphony No. 5; Songs of a Wayfarer.


Gustav Mahler (1860–1911)

I n T R o D u C T I o n | To the Studentxxxvi

HOW DID EARLY MUSIC SOUND? Because sound recording is only about a hundred years old, the hard truth is that we do not really know how the music of Beethoven sounded in 1800, or the music of Bach in 1700. We have the scores, and it may be that tradition, writings, anecdotes, and surviving instruments allow us to extrapolate from score to sound with some confidence. But what about early music — music from 1500, 1300, 1100?

Obsolete instruments have come down to us in an imperfect condition, and we can try to reconstruct them; but figuring out how they were actually played is much more speculative. As for singing, who can guess what a cathedral choir, to take just one example, sounded like in the Middle Ages? Since then, language itself has changed so much that it is hard enough to read a fourteenth- century poet such as Geoffrey Chaucer, let alone imagine how the words that he wrote were pronounced — or sung.

Another set of problems involves the way early music was written down. Its composers never indicated the tempo and rarely specified the instrumental or vocal forces that they anticipated for their music. With vocal pieces, they did not say whether one singer or a whole choir was to sing. It has taken generations of patient research and experiment to “reconstruct” the probable sounds of early music.

The Countess of Dia holding forth; she was one of a small number of women troubadours. Bibliothèque Nationale de France.

This unit covers music from around 1900 on and brings our survey

up to the present. Looking back to the year 1900, we can recognize

today’s society in an early form. Large cities, industrialization,

inoculation against disease, mass food processing, the first

automobiles, telephones, movies, and phonographs — all were in

place by the early years of the twentieth century. Hence the society

treated in this unit will strike us as fairly familiar, compared to the societies of

earlier centuries.

But the classical music produced in this period may strike us as anything but

familiar. Around 1900, classical music experienced some of the most dramatic

and abrupt changes in its entire history. Along with the changes came a wider

variety of styles than ever before. At times it seemed almost as if each composer

felt the need to create an entirely individual musical language. This tendency

toward radical innovation, once it set in, was felt in repeated waves throughout

the twentieth century. This vibrant, innovative, and unsettling creativity comes

under the label “modernism.”

Another development of great importance occurred around 1900: the widening

split between classical and popular music. A rift that had started in the nineteenth

century became a prime factor of musical life, giving rise to new traditions of

American popular music. With the evolution of ragtime and early jazz, a vital

rhythmic strain derived from African American sources was brought into the

general American consciousness. This led to a long series of developments: swing,

bebop, rhythm and blues, rock, rap, and more.

In this unit we sample the variety of musical modernism and glimpse the

movement’s outgrowths around the turn of the new millennium. The final chapter

deals with America’s characteristic popular music.



The Twentieth Century and Beyond

Chronology 1899 Debussy, Clouds p. 313

1906 Ives, The Unanswered Question p. 333

1909 Ives, Second Orchestral Set p. 331

1912 Schoenberg, Pierrot lunaire p. 321

1913 Stravinsky, The Rite of Spring p. 317

1913 Webern, Five Orchestral Pieces p. 362

1923 Berg, Wozzeck p. 324

1927 Thomas, “If You Ever Been Down” Blues p. 387

1928 Crawford, Prelude for Piano No. 6 p. 345

1930 Still, Afro-American Symphony p. 348

1931 Ravel, Piano Concerto in G p. 337

1936 Bartók, Music for Strings, Percussion, and Celesta p. 341

1938 Alexander Nevsky Cantata p. 354

1940 Ellington, “Conga Brava” p. 391

1945 Copland, Appalachian Spring p. 350

1948 Parker and Davis, “Out of Nowhere” p. 395

1952 Cage, 4’ 33” p. 367

1957 Bernstein, West Side Story p. 399

1958 Varèse, Poème électronique p. 364

1966 Ligeti, Lux aeterna p. 366

1969 Davis, Bitches Brew p. 396

1974–1976 Reich, Music for 18 Musicians p. 369

1991 León, Indígena p. 375

2005 Adams, Doctor Atomic p. 377

2006 Crumb, Voices from a Forgotten World (American Songbook, Volume 5) p. 374

By the early twentieth century, industrialization had come to touch every aspect of life, from entertainment to warfare. In The Twittering Machine, from 1922, by Swiss-German artist Paul Klee (1879–1940), singing birds are attached to a crank apparatus. Is the image a message about the mechanization of music, or does its living song challenge the machine? Digital Image © The Museum of Modern Art/Licensed by SCALA/Art Resource, NY.

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Global Perspectives sections provide brief glimpses of music from non-Western cultures. These sections point out some of the shared features as well as differences among a broad range of musical traditions.

Glossary terms are high- lighted throughout the text to help you identify and study key terms defined in the Glossary at the back of the book.

To help you study and review Goals for Review at the end of each chapter point out key concepts that you should review and understand before moving on to the next chapter.

I n T R o D u C T I o n | To the Student xxxvii

The vast number of societies that exist or that have existed in this world all generated their own music — or, as we say, their own different “musics.” Often they are very different indeed; the first time South African Zulus heard Christian hymn singing they were amazed as much as the missionaries were when they first heard Zulu music.

Yet for all their diversity, the musics of the world do show some parallels, as we are going to see in the Global Perspectives sections of this book. There are parallels of musical function in society, of musical technique, and sometimes of both together.

Often these parallels come about as the result of influences of one society on another — but influences are never accepted without modification and the blending of a foreign music with native music. At other times parallels appear in musics that have nothing whatsoever to do with one another. Considering all these parallels, we have to believe that certain basic functions for music and certain basic technical principles are virtually universal in humankind.

One of these near-universal features — and one of the most fundamental — is the role of music in the service of religion. Singing serves across the world as

Global Perspectives

of the Middle Ages (see pages 44–49) is only one of many traditions of monophonic religious chant, albeit one of the more elaborate.

Islam: Reciting the Qur’an

Another highly elaborate tradition of chant is found in Islam, practiced today by about a fifth of the world’s population, and the domi-

nant religion in some fifty nations. Across all of Islam, the revelations of the prophet Muhammad gathered in the Qur’an (or Koran) are chanted or sung in Arabic. Muhammad himself is said to have enjoyed this melodic recitation.

Usually Qur’anic recitation is rigorously distin- guished from all types of secular music making. It is thought of as “reading” the sacred text aloud, not singing it; nonreligious activities such as singing or playing instruments might be referred to as music (musiqi), but reading the Qur’an is not.

Given these distinctions, it is not surprising that m


Sacred Chant

Any recurring pattern of strong and weak beats, such as the ONE two and ONE two three we have referred to above, is called a meter. Meter is a strong/ weak pattern repeated again and again.

Each occurrence of this repeated pattern, consisting of a principal strong beat and one or more weaker beats, is called a measure, or bar. In Western music there are only two basic kinds of meter: duple meter and triple meter.

• In duple meter the beats are grouped in twos (ONE two | ONE two) or in fours (ONE two THREE four | ONE two THREE four). Duple meter is instantly familiar from marches — such as “Yankee Doodle” — which tend always to use duple meter in deference to the human anatomy (LEFT right, LEFT right, LEFT right):

from that need to resolve. Dissonance was to be free from the rule that says it must always be followed by the appropriate consonance.

Tonality, as we know, is the feeling of centrality, focus, or homing toward a particular pitch that we get from simple tunes and much other music. As melody grew more complex and harmony grew more dissonant, tonality grew more indistinct. Finally, some music reached a point at which no tonal center could be detected at all. This is atonal music.

Melody, harmony, tonality: All are closely related. Beleaguered conservatives around 1900 referred to them jokingly as the “holy trinity” of music. The “ emancipation” of melody, harmony, and tonality all went together. This joint emancipation counts as the central style characteristic of the first phase of twentieth-century avant-garde music.


c to understand artistic modernism c. 1900 as a response to innovation and its uncertainties

c to explore similar tendencies in modernist literature, pictorial art, and music

c to come to know some general stylistic features of early modernist music Reading Quiz for Chapter 20

Resources in LaunchPad for Listen are signaled by icons and cross- references throughout the book to macmillanhigh- LaunchPad includes an interactive e-book with streaming music, interactive versions of the Listening Charts, quizzes to help you study chapter concepts and practice your listening skills, and more. If your instructor recommends that you purchase LaunchPad, see the inside back cover for more information about how to get access.

to help you identify and study key terms defined in the Glossary at the back of

principal strong . In Western Western W


Glossary terms lighted throughout the text to help you identify and

as the ON two and . Meter

Glossary terms lighted throughout the text to help you identify and

ONE two and Meter is a strong/

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Fundamentals The basic activity that leads to the love of music and to its under-

standing is listening to particular pieces of music again and again.

The pages of this book are filled mostly with discussions of musi-

cal compositions — symphonies, operas, concertos, songs, and the

like — that people have found more and more rewarding as they

have listened to them repeatedly. These discussions are meant to

introduce you to the contents of these works and their aesthetic qualities: what

goes on in the music, and how it affects us.

For these discussions we need a familiarity with musical concepts and musi-

cal vocabulary, since analyzing things, pinpointing things, and even simply using

the right names for things all make us more actively aware of them. This intro-

ductory unit provides this familiarity, covering the basic elements of music and

their standard terminology.

Chapter 1 presents the most basic aspect of music, its organization in time,

or rhythm, and introduces important features of this organization: meter and

tempo. Chapter 2 takes up other basic features of musical sound — pitch, dynam-

ics, and tone color — and also the instruments of the modern orchestra. Then

Chapters 3 and 4 delve into some additional complexities of pitch — scales,

melody, harmony, and more — and explore how musicians use these to organize

pieces of music. Chapter 5 carries the discussion one stage further, to include

musical form and style.

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(Upper left) Alvis Upitis/Getty Images. (Right) Colorblind/Exactostock/Superstock. (Lower left) Jim Wilson/The New York Times/Redux.


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4 U n i t i | Fundamentals

Music is the art of sound in time. Its unfolding in time is the most basic place to start understanding it. This aspect of music is summed up by the term rhythm.

1 | Rhythm The fundamental role of rhythm in the experience of music is taken for granted in our culture — and in most other cultures as well. Rhythm is the main driving force in music both popular and classical, music of all ages and all cultures.

In a more specific sense, “a rhythm” refers to the actual arrangement of durations — long and short notes — in a particular melody or some other musical passage. Of course, the term rhythm is also used in other contexts, about quarterbacks, poems, and even paintings. But no sport and no other art handles rhythm with as much precision and refinement as music.

Beat and Accent Beats provide the basic unit of measurement for time in music; if ordinary clock time is measured in seconds, musical time is measured in beats. When listening to a marching band or a rock band, to take two clear examples, we

“Rhythm might be described as, to the world of sound, what light is to the world of sight. It shapes and gives new meaning.”

Edith Sitwell, poet and critic, 1965

Rhythm, Meter, and Tempo



The repeating patterns in architecture often give an impression similar to repeating beats in music; in this instance, there seems to be no distinction of strong and weak beats. Chris Hellier/Getty Images.

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C H A P t E R 1 | Rhythm, Meter, and Tempo 5

sense a regular recurrence of short pulses. These serve as a steady, vigorous background for other, more complicated rhythms that we discern at the same time. Sometimes we can’t help beating time to the music, dancing to it, waving a hand or tapping a foot. The simple pulse being signaled by waving, tapping, or dancing is the music’s beat.

There is, however, an all-important difference between a clock ticking and a drum beating time. Mechanically produced ticks all sound exactly the same, but it is virtually impossible for people to beat time without making some beats more emphatic than others. This is called giving certain beats an accent. And accents are really what enable us to beat time, since the simplest way to do this is to alternate accented (“strong”) and unaccented (“weak”) beats in patterns such as one two | one two | one two . . . or one two three | one two three | one two three. . . . To beat time, then, is not only to measure time according to a regular pulse but also to organize it, at least into these simple two- and three-beat patterns.

2 | Meter Any recurring pattern of strong and weak beats, such as the one two and one two three we have referred to above, is called a meter. Meter is a strong/ weak pattern repeated again and again.

Each occurrence of this repeated pattern, consisting of a principal strong beat and one or more weaker beats, is called a measure, or bar. In Western music there are only two basic kinds of meter: duple meter and triple meter.

• In duple meter the beats are grouped in twos (one two | one two) or in fours (one two three four | one two three four). Duple meter is instantly familiar from marches — such as “Yankee Doodle” — which tend always to use duple meter in deference to the human anatomy (left right, left right, left right):

Yan-kee doo-dle came to town . . .

one two one two

• In triple meter the beats are grouped in threes (one two three | one two three). Our oldest national songs, “The Star-Spangled Banner” and “My Country, ’Tis of Thee,” are in triple meter:

Oh, say can you see . . . My coun- try, ’tis of thee . . .

one two three one one two three one two three

Two other national songs, “America the Beautiful” and “God Bless America,” are in duple meter.

• Often the main beats of duple and triple meter are subdivided into quicker pulses. This usually happens by dividing the main beat into either twos or threes. When the main beats are divided in twos, the meter is called a simple meter. Dividing the main beats in threes creates compound meters with two or three main beats and six or nine quicker ones:

The round “Row, Row, Row Your Boat” is in compound duple meter. While the first voice is moving at a fast six-beat clip at the words “Merrily, merrily, merrily, merrily,” the second voice comes in pounding out the basic duple meter, “row, row, row”:

one two one two three one two three four five six one two three four five six seven eight nine

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6 U n i t i | Fundamentals

• Meters with five beats, seven beats, and so on have never been used widely in Western music, though they are found frequently enough in some other musical cultures. It was an unusual choice for nineteenth-century composer Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky to have featured quintuple meter, five beats to a bar, in his popular Sixth Symphony.

Rhythm and Meter Rhythm in the most general sense refers to the entire time aspect of music and, more specifically, a rhythm refers to the particular arrangements of long and short notes in a musical passage. In most Western music, duple or triple meter serves as the regular background against which we perceive music’s actual rhythms.

We can see that the musical rhythms need not always coincide with the regular beats of the meter. And, as the rhythm first coincides with the meter, then cuts across it independently, then even contradicts it, all kinds of variety, tension, and excitement can result.

Musical notation has developed a conventional system of signs (see Appendix B) to indicate relative durations, or long and short notes; combining various signs is the way of indicating rhythms. Following are examples of well- known tunes in duple and triple meters. Notice from the shading (even better, sing the tunes to yourself and hear) how the rhythm sometimes corresponds with the beats of the meter and sometimes departs from them. The shading indicates passages of rhythm-meter correspondence:

00 Ł ý Ł ý

Łn Ł


Ł ý Ł ý



Ł ý Ł ý



ð ð

Łn Ł













Łn Ł Ł Ł


Duple meter: Ł

Glo - ry, glory halle-lu - jah, His truth is marching on.

−− /0 Ł ý Ł ý









ð ð

Łn Ł

Ł ý Ł ý







Ł Ł¦


ð ð

Łn Ł

Ł ý Ł ý



Ł ý Ł ý

Łn Ł




ð ð

Łn Ł

Ł ý Ł ý















Triple meter:

Oh, say can you see By the dawn’sear- ly light What so proud - ly we hailed At the twilight’s last gleaming

The above examples should not be taken to imply that meter is always emphasized behind music’s rhythms. Often the meter is not explicitly beaten out in the music’s rhythms. It does not need to be, for the listener can almost

first voice:

Row, row, row your boat gently down the stream, Merrily, merrily, merrily, merrily, 1 2 3 4 5 6 1 2 3 4 5 6 1 2 3 4 5 6 1 2 3 4 5 6 1 2 3 4 5 6 1 2 3 4 5 6 one two one two one two one two one two one two

second voice: Row, row, row . . . one two one two

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C H A P t E R 1 | Rhythm, Meter, and Tempo 7

always sense it under the surface. Naturally, meter is strongly stressed in music designed to stimulate regular body movements, such as marches, dances, and much popular music.

At the other extreme, there is nonmetrical music. In such music, the rhythms suggest no underlying pattern of strong and weak beats at all. For example, the meandering, nonmetrical rhythms of Gregorian chant contribute to the cool, otherworldly, and spiritual quality that devotees of this music cherish.

Syncopation One way of obtaining interesting, striking effects in music is to move the accents in a foreground rhythm away from their normal position on the beats of the background meter. This may seem counterintuitive, but it works. In syncopation, as it is called, accents can be displaced so they go one two | one two (weak strong | weak strong) instead of the normal one two | one two (strong weak | strong weak). Or syncopation can occur when an accent is placed in between beats one and two, as in this Christmas ballad:

Ru-dolf __ the red - nosed rein - deer __________________

one two | one two | one two | one two

The consistent use of syncopation is the hallmark of African American– derived popular music, from ragtime to rap. See Chapter 24, and listen to the lively, uneven, syncopated rhythms of Scott Joplin’s “Maple Leaf Rag” in Listening Exercise 1.

3 | Tempo Our discussion so far has referred to the relative duration of sounds — all beats are equal; some notes are longer than others, and so on — but nothing has been said yet about their absolute duration, in fractions of a second. The term for the speed of music is tempo; in metrical music, the tempo is the rate at which the basic, regular beats of the meter follow one another.

Rhythm, Meter, and Syncopation

For samples of duple, triple, and compound meters, and of syncopation, listen to the following music on the Unit I CD or in LaunchPad for Listen.

Duple meter Scott Joplin, “Maple Leaf Rag” Count one two | one two . . . etc., for about half a minute.

Duple meter Beethoven, “Joy Theme” from Symphony No. 9, IV Schubert, from String Quartet in A Minor, I

Count one two three four | one two three four . . . etc.

Triple meter Schubert, from Symphony No. 8 (“Unfinished”), I Britten, The Young Person’s Guide to the Orchestra

Count one two three | one two three . . . etc.

Compound meter Beethoven, from Piano Concerto No. 5 (“Emperor”), III

Count one two three four five six | one two three four five six . . . etc.

Syncopation In Scott Joplin’s “Maple Leaf Rag,” listen to the piano left hand, with its steady one two | one two beat in duple meter, while the right hand cuts across it with syncopations in almost every measure.

L I S t e N I N G e X e r C I S e 1


5, 7

3, 10



Unit I

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8 U n i t i | Fundamentals

Tempo can be expressed exactly and measured by the metronome, a mechanical or electrical device that ticks out beats at any desired tempo. When composers give directions for tempo, however, they usually prefer approximate terms. Rather than freezing the music’s speed by means of a metronome, they prefer to leave some latitude for different performers. Because all European music looked to Italy when this terminology first came into use, the conventional terms for tempo are Italian:


adagio: slow largo, lento, grave: slow, very slow andante: on the slow side, but not too larghetto: somewhat faster than

slow largo moderato: moderate andantino: somewhat faster than

andante allegretto: on the fast side, but not too fast vivace, vivo: lively allegro: fast molto allegro: faster than allegro presto: very fast prestissimo: very fast indeed

It’s interesting that in their original meaning many of these Italian words refer not to speed itself but rather to a mood, action, or quality that can be associated with tempo only in a general way. Thus, vivace is close to our “vivacious,” allegro means “cheerful,” and andante, derived from the Italian word for “go,” might be translated as “walking along steadily.”

An early metronome owned by Beethoven; its inventor was a friend of his. A clockwork mechanism made the bar swing side to side, ticking at rates controlled by a movable weight. Musée de la Musique — Cité de la Musique, Paris, France/Giraudon, The Bridgeman Art Library.

Rhythm, Meter, and Tempo

A more advanced exercise: Our excerpt, from the middle of Rhapsody on a Theme by Paganini, for piano and orchestra, by Sergei Rachmaninov, consists of four continuous segments in different meters and tempos, here labeled A, B, C, and D.













The piano starts in duple meter (one two | one two). The loud orchestral interruptions are syncopated. (After the interruptions the meter is somewhat obscured, but it gets clearer.)

Clear duple meter by this time; then the music comes to a stop.

No meter. The piano seems to be engaged in a meditative improvisation, as if it is dreaming up the music to come.

Orchestral instruments suggest a slow duple meter? Not for long.

Slow triple meter (one two three | one two three)

Ritardando (getting slower)

Fast triple meter, assertive (note one or two syncopated notes)

Faster triple meter

L I S t e N I N G e X e r C I S e 2

Unit I | 2

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C H A P t E R 1 | Rhythm, Meter, and Tempo 9

The most important terms to remember are those listed under “common tempo indications” on page 8. Composers often use tempo indications alone as headings for major sections, called movements, in long works. Musicians refer to the “Andante” of Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony, meaning a certain movement of the symphony (the second), which Beethoven specified should be played at an andante tempo.

G o a l s f o r r e v i e w

c to distinguish rhythm from meter

c to distinguish rhythm and meter from tempo

c to listen for duple, triple, and compound meter Music for Listening Exercises 1 and 2 Listening Quiz for Chapter 1 Reading Quiz for Chapter 1

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10 U n i t i | Fundamentals

If you have taken a course in physics, you know that sound is produced by vibrations that occur when objects are struck, plucked, stroked, or agitated in some other way. These vibrations are transmitted through the air and picked up by our ears.

For the production of sound in general, almost anything will do — the single rusted hinge on a creaky door as well as the great air masses of a thunderstorm. For the production of musical sounds, the usual objects are taut strings and membranes and columns of air enclosed in pipes of various kinds. These produce relatively simple vibrations, which translate into clearly focused or, as we say, “musical” sounds. Often the membranes are alive: They are called vocal cords.

Sound-producing vibrations are very fast; the range of sound that humans can hear extends from around 20 to 20,000 cycles per second. The vibrations are also very small. To be heard, they often need to be amplified, either electronically or with the aid of some- thing physical that echoes or resonates along with the vibrating body. In a guitar or violin, the resonator is the hollow box that the strings are stretched across.

Musical sounds can be high or low, loud or soft, and can take on different qualities depending on the materials used to produce them. The musical terms for these aspects of sound are pitch, dynamics, and tone color.

1 | Pitch The scientific term for the rate of sound vibration is frequency. On the level of perception, our ears respond differently to sounds of high and low frequencies, and to very fine gradations in between. Indeed, people speak about “high” and “low” sounds quite unselfconsciously, as though they know that the latter actually have a low frequency — relatively few cycles — and the former a high frequency.

The musical term for this quality of sound, which is recognized so instinctively, is pitch. Low pitches (low frequencies) result from long vibrating elements, high pitches from short ones — a trombone sounds lower than a flute.

Pitch, Dynamics, and Tone Color

Natural objects can serve as resonators for musical instruments. Gourds are a favorite on two continents, used in Latin American maracas and the kalimba, an African “finger piano.” Saed Hindash/Star Ledger/CORBIS.



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C H A P t E R 2 | Pitch, Dynamics, and Tone Color 11

Noises, with their complex, unfocused vibrations, do not have pitch. Your college chorus divides up high and low pitches among four different groups of voices: sopranos (high females), altos (low females), tenors (high males), and basses (low males).

The totality of musical sounds serves as a kind of quarry from which musicians of every age and every society carve the exact building blocks they want for their music. We hear this totality in the sliding scale of a siren, starting low and going higher and higher. But musicians never (or virtually never) use the full range of pitches. Instead they select a limited number of fixed pitches from the sound continuum. These pitches are calibrated scientifically ( European-style orchestras these days tune to a pitch with a frequency of 440 cycles), given names (that pitch is labeled A), and collected in scales. Scales are discussed in Chapter 3.

2 | Dynamics In scientific terminology, amplitude is the level of strength of sound vibrations — more precisely, the amount of energy they contain and convey. As big guitar amplifiers attest, very small string vibrations can be amplified until the energy in the air transmitting them rattles the eardrums.

In musical terminology, the level of sound is called its dynamics. Musicians use subtle dynamic gradations from very soft to very loud, but they have never worked out a calibrated scale of dynamics, as they have for pitch. The terms used are only approximate. Like the indications for tempo, the terms used for dynamics are in Italian.

Pitch and Dynamics

High and low pitch and loud and soft dynamics are heard so instinctively that they hardly need illustration. Listen, however, to the vivid way they are deployed in one of the most famous of classical compositions, the “Unfinished” Symphony by Franz Schubert. Symphonies usually consist of four separate big segments, called movements; musicologists are still baffled as to why Schubert wrote two superb movements for this work and started but never finished the rest.









Quiet and mysterious

Rustling sounds

Wind instruments

Single sharp accent

Gets louder

Sudden collapse

New tune

Cuts off sharply; big sound


Low range

Middle range


Higher instruments added

First low, then high



sf (sforzando, “forcing”)

Long crescendo, leading to f, then ff, more accents

piano followed by diminuendo

(Marked pp by Schubert, but usually played p or mp)

ff, more accents

(Similar pitch and dynamic effects for the rest of the excerpt)



Sinking passage


Individual pitches, lower and lower

Lowest pitch of all pp

L i s t e n i n g e x e r C i s e 3

Unit I | 3

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12 U n i t i | Fundamentals

The main categories are simply loud and soft, forte (pronounced fór-teh) and piano, which may be qualified by expanding to “very loud” or “very soft” and by adding the Italian word for “medium,” mezzo (mét-so):

pianissimo piano mezzo piano mezzo forte forte fortissimo

pp p mp mf f ff

very soft soft medium soft medium loud loud very loud

Changes in dynamics can be sudden (subito), or they can be gradual—a soft passage swells into a loud one (crescendo, “growing”), or a powerful blare fades into quietness (decrescendo or diminuendo, “diminishing”).

3 | Tone Color At whatever pitch, and whether loud or soft, musical sounds differ in their general quality, depending on the instruments or voices that produce them. Tone color and timbre (tám-br) are the terms for this quality.

Tone color is produced in a more complex way (and a more astonishing way) than pitch and dynamics. Piano strings and other sound-producing bodies vibrate not only along their total length but also at the same time in half-lengths, quarters, eighths, and so on.

The diagrams above attempt to illustrate this. Musicians call these fractional vibrations overtones. They are much lower in amplitude — that is, softer — than the main vibrations; for this reason, we hear overtones not as distinct pitches, but somehow as part of the string’s basic or fundamental pitch. The amount and exact mixture of overtones are what give a sound its characteristic tone color. A flute has few overtones. A trumpet has many.

Musicians make no attempt to tally or describe tone colors; about the best one can do is apply imprecise adjectives such as bright, warm, ringing, hollow, or brassy. Yet tone color is surely the most easily recognized of all musical elements. Even people who cannot identify instruments by name can distinguish between the smooth, rich sound of violins playing together, the bright sound of trumpets, and the woody croaking of a bassoon.

The most distinctive tone color of all, however, belongs to the first, most beautiful, and most universal of all the sources of music — the human voice.

The singing voice, the most beautiful and universal of all sources of music: Renée Fleming, star of the Metropolitan Opera in New York, excels in an unusually wide variety of roles and is often heard singing popular standards. Nigel Norrington/ArenaPal/The Image Works.


Quarter-Length and Three-Quarter-Length



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C H A P t E R 2 | Pitch, Dynamics, and Tone Color 13

Violin and bow. Tom Chance/ Westend61/CORBIS.

Cello, violin, viola, and electric keyboard on London’s Millennium Bridge. Mike Kemp/In Pictures/Corbis.

MusiCAL iNsTRuMeNTs Different voices and different instruments produce differ- ent tone colors, or timbres. Enormous numbers of devices have been invented for making music over the course of history and across the entire world, and the range of tone colors they can produce is almost endless.

This section will discuss and illustrate the instruments of Western music that make up the orchestra, and a few others. Later, in our Global Perspectives sections, we will meet some instruments from other musical traditions.

Musical instruments can be categorized into four groups: stringed instruments or strings, woodwinds, brass, and percussion. Musical sound, as we know, is caused by rapid vibrations. Each of the four groups of instruments produces sound vibrations in its own distinct way.

Stringed instruments Stringed instruments produce their sound by means of taut strings attached to a sound box, a hollow box containing a body of air that resonates (that is, vibrates along with the strings) to amplify the string sound.

The strings themselves can be played with a bow, as with the violin and other orchestral strings; the bow is strung tightly with horsehair, which is coated with a substance called rosin so that the bow grips the strings to make them vibrate. With guitars and harps, the strings are plucked or strummed by the fingers or a small pick. Strings can be plucked on bowed instruments, too, for special effects. This is called pizzicato (pit-tzih-cáh-toe).

The Violin and Its Family The violin is often called the most beautiful instrument used in Western music. It is also one of the most versatile instruments; its large range covers alto and soprano registers and many much higher pitches. As a solo instrument, it can play forcefully or delicately, and it excels in both brilliant and songlike music. Violinists also play chords by bowing two or more of the four strings at once, or nearly so.

As with a guitar, the player stops the (four) violin strings with a finger — that is, presses the strings against the neck of the violin — to shorten the string length and get different pitches (see the illustrations below). Unlike a guitar, a violin has no frets, so the player has to learn the exact places to press.

The violin is an excellent ensemble instrument, and it blends especially well with other violins. An orchestra violin section, made up of ten or more instruments playing together, can produce a strong yet sensitive and flexible tone. Hence the orchestra has traditionally relied on strings as a solid foundation for its composite sound.

Like most instruments, violins come in families, that is, in several sizes with different pitch ranges. Two other members of the violin family are basic to the orchestra. The viola is the tenor-range instrument, larger than a violin by several inches. It has a throaty quality in its lowest range, yet it fits especially smoothly into accompa- niment textures. The viola’s highest register is powerful and intense.

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14 U n i t i | Fundamentals

The cello, short for violoncello, is the bass of the violin family. Cellists play seated, with the instrument propped on the floor between their knees. Unlike the viola, the cello has a rich, gorgeous sound in its low register. It is a favorite solo instrument as well as an indispensable member of the orchestra.

Double Bass Also called string bass or just bass, this deep instrument is used to back up the violin family in the orchestra. (However, in various details of construction the bass differs from members of the violin family; the bass actually belongs to another, older stringed instrument family, the viol family.)

Played with a bow, the double bass provides a splendid deep support for orchestral sound. It is often (in jazz, nearly always) plucked to give an especially vibrant kind of accent and to emphasize the meter.

Harp Harps are plucked stringed instruments with one string for each pitch available. The modern orchestral harp is a large instrument with forty-seven strings covering a wide range of pitches. In most orchestral music, the swishing, watery quality of the harp is treated as a striking occasional effect rather than as a regular timbre.

Woodwind instruments As the name suggests, woodwind instruments were once made of wood. Some still are, while others today are made of metal and even plastic. Sound in these instruments is created by setting up vibrations in the column of air in a tube. A series of precisely spaced holes are bored in the tube, which players open or close with their fingers or with a lever device (a key). In effect this creates columns of different lengths, producing different pitches.

Of the main woodwind instruments, flutes, clarinets, and oboes have approximately the same range. All three are used in the orchestra because each has a quite distinct tone color, and composers can obtain a variety of effects from them. It is not hard to learn to recognize and appreciate the different sounds of these woodwinds.

The Flute and Its Family The flute is simply a long cylinder, held horizontally; the player sets the air vibrating by blowing across a side hole. The flute is the most agile

Chinese American cellist Yo-Yo Ma is perhaps this country’s preeminent instrumentalist, and certainly the most versatile and most honored and admired. He has assumed the role of a national resource, playing at state occasions such as President Obama’s 2009 inauguration. in 1998 he founded the silk Road Project, a program of intercultural musical exchange along the silk Road, the ancient trading route between China and the Mediterranean. His complete recordings to date fill over a hundred CDs! Jim Wright/Star Ledger/CORBIS.

Double bass. © Jack Vartoogian/FrontRowPhotos.

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C H A P t E R 2 | Pitch, Dynamics, and Tone Color 15

of the woodwind instruments and also the gentlest. It nonetheless stands out clearly in the orchestra when played in its high register.

The piccolo, the smallest, highest member of the flute family, adds special sparkle to band and orchestral music. The alto flute and bass flute — larger and deeper flutes — are less frequently employed.

The recorder, a different variety of flute, is blown not at the side of the tube but through a special mouthpiece at the end. Used in older orchestral music, the recorder was superseded by the horizontal, or transverse, flute because the latter was stronger and more agile. In the late twentieth century recorders made a comeback for modern performances of old music using reconstructed period instruments. The instrument is also popular (in various family sizes) among musical amateurs today. The recorder is easy to learn and fun to play.

Clarinet The clarinet is a slightly conical tube made, usually, of ebony (a dark wood). The air column is not made to vibrate directly by blowing into the tube, as with the flute. The player gets sound by blowing on a reed — a small piece of cane fixed at one end — in much the same way as one can blow on a blade of grass held taut between the fingers. The vibrating reed vibrates the air within the clarinet tube itself.

Compared to the flute, the clarinet sounds richer and more flexible, more like the human voice. The clarinet is capable of warm, mellow tones and strident, shrill ones; it has an especially intriguing quality in its low register.

The small E-flat clarinet and the large bass clarinet are family members with a place in the modern orchestra. The tube of the bass clarinet is so long that it has to be bent back, like a thin black saxophone.

Oboe The oboe also uses a reed, like the clarinet, but it is a double reed — two reeds lashed together so that the air must be forced between them. (You can see the effort involved in the picture below.) This kind of reed gives the oboe its clearly focused, crisply clean, and sometimes plaintive sound.

The English horn is a larger, lower oboe, descending into the viola range. It is often called by the French equivalent, cor anglais; in either language, the name is all

Oboe (left) and bassoon. Rahav Segev/ZUMA Press/Corbis.

Flute, recorder, and clarinet. John Henley/ Corbis.

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U n i t i | Fundamentals16

wrong, since the instrument is not a horn but an oboe, and it has nothing to do with England.

Bassoon The bassoon is a low (cello-range) instrument with a double reed and other characteristics similar to the oboe’s. It looks somewhat bizarre: The long tube is bent double, and the reed has to be linked to the instrument by a long, narrow pipe made of metal. Of all the double-reed woodwinds, the bassoon is the most varied in expression, ranging from the mournful to the comical.

The contrabassoon, also called the double bassoon, is a very large member of the bassoon family, in the double bass range.

Saxophone The saxophone, invented by the Belgian instrument maker Adolphe Sax, was first used around 1840 in military bands. The instrument is sometimes included in the modern orchestra, but it really came into its own in jazz. Saxophones are close to clarinets in the way they produce sound. Both use single reeds. Since the saxophone tube is wider and made of brass, its tone is even mellower than that of the clarinet, yet at the same time more forceful. The long saxophone tube has a characteristic bent shape and a flaring bell, as its opening is called.

Most common are the alto saxophone and the tenor saxophone. But the big family also includes bass, baritone, and soprano members.

Brass instruments The brass instruments are the loudest of all the wind in- struments because of the rather remarkable way their sound is produced. The player’s lips vibrate against a small cup-shaped mouthpiece of metal. The lip vibration itself vibrates the air within the brass tube. All brass instruments have long tubes, and these are almost always coiled in one way or another. This is easy to do with the soft metal they are made from.

Trumpet The trumpet, highest of the main brass instru- ments, has a bright, strong, piercing tone that provides the ultimate excitement in band and orchestral music alike. Pitch is controlled by three pistons, or valves, that connect auxiliary tubes with the main tube or disconnect them, so as to lengthen or shorten the vibrating air column.

French Horn The French horn has a lower, mellower, thicker tone than the trumpet. It is capable of mysterious, romantic sounds when played softly; played loudly, it can sound like a trombone. Chords played by several French horns in harmony have an especially rich, sumptuous tone.

Trombone The tenor trombone and the bass trombone are also pitched lower than the trumpet. The pitch is controlled by a sliding mechanism (thus the term slide trombone) rather than a valve or piston, as in the trumpet and French horn.

Less bright and martial in tone than the trumpet, the trombone can produce a surprising variety of sounds, ranging from an almost vocal quality in its high register to a hard, powerful blare in the low register.

Tuba The bass tuba is typically used as a foundation for the trombone group in an orchestra. It is less flexible than other brass instruments. And like most other deep bass instruments, it is not favored for solo work.

Other Brass Instruments All the brass instruments described so far are staples of both the orchestra and the band. Many other brass instruments (and even whole families of instruments) have been invented for use in marching bands and have then sometimes found their way into the orchestra.

Two French horns, trumpet, trombone, and tuba. Jonathan Blair/CORBIS.

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C H A P t E R 2 | Pitch, Dynamics, and Tone Color 17

Among these are the cornet and the flügelhorn, both of which resemble the trumpet; the euphonium, baritone horn, and saxhorn, which are somewhere between the French horn and the tuba; and the sousaphone, a handsome bass tuba named after the great American bandmaster and march composer John Philip Sousa.

Finally there is the bugle. This simple trumpetlike instrument is very limited in the pitches it can play because it has no piston or valve mechanism. Buglers play “Taps” and military fanfares, and not much else.

Percussion instruments Instruments in this category produce sound by being struck (or sometimes rattled, as with the South Ameri- can maraca). Some percussion instruments, such as drums and gongs, have no fixed pitch, just a striking tone color. Others, such as the vibraphone, have whole sets of wooden or metal elements tuned to regular scales.

Timpani The timpani (or kettledrums) are large hemispherical drums that can be tuned precisely to certain low pitches. Used in groups of two or more, timpani have the effect of “cementing” loud sounds when the whole orchestra plays, so they are the most widely used percussion instruments in the orchestra.

Timpani are tuned by tightening the drumhead by means of screws set around the rim. During a concert, one can often see the timpani player, when there are rests in the music, leaning over the drums, tapping them quietly to hear whether the tuning is just right.

Pitched Percussion Instruments Pitched percussion instruments are scale instruments, capable of playing melodies and consisting of whole sets of metal or wooden bars or plates struck with sticks or hammers. While they add unforgettable special sound effects to many compositions, they are not usually heard consis- tently throughout a piece, as the timpani are.

These instruments differ in their materials: The glockenspiel has small steel bars. It is a high

instrument with a bright, penetrating sound. The xylophone has hardwood plates or slats. It plays

as high as the glockenspiel but also lower, and it has a drier, sharper tone.

The marimba, an instrument of African and South American origins, is a xylophone with tubular resonators under each wooden slat, making the tone much mellower.

The vibraphone has metal plates, like a glockenspiel with a large range, and is furnished with a controllable electric resonating device. This gives the “vibes” an echoing, funky quality unlike that of any other instrument.

Also like the glockenspiel, the celesta has steel bars, but its sound is more delicate and silvery. This instrument,

unlike the others in this section, is not played directly by a percussionist wielding hammers or sticks. The hammers are activated from a keyboard; a celesta looks like a miniature piano.

Tubular bells, or chimes, are hanging tubes that are struck with a big mallet. They sound like church bells.

Unpitched Percussion Instruments In the category of percussion instruments without a fixed pitch, the following are the most frequently found in the orchestra.

Cymbals are concave metal plates, from a few inches to several feet in diameter. In orchestral music, pairs of large cymbals are clapped together to support climactic moments in the music with a grand crashing sound.

The triangle — a simple metal triangle — gives out a bright tinkle when struck.

The tam-tam is a large unpitched gong with a low, mysterious quality.

The snare drum, tenor drum, and bass drum are among the unpitched drums used in the orchestra.

Timpani (kettledrums), with a vibraphone behind them. David Redfern/Getty Images.

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U n i t i | Fundamentals18

the Orchestra The orchestra has changed over the centuries, just as orchestral music has. Bach’s orchestra in the early 1700s was about a fifth the size of the orchestra required today. (See pages 108, 157, and 227 for the makeup of the orchestra in various historical periods.)

So today’s symphony orchestra has to be a fluid group. Eighty musicians or more will be on the regular roster, but some of them sit out some of the pieces on many programs. And freelancers have to be engaged for special compositions in which composers have imagina- tively expanded the orchestra for their own expressive purposes. A typical large orchestra today includes the following sections, also called choirs.

Strings: about thirty to thirty-six violins, twelve violas, ten to twelve cellos, and eight double basses.

Woodwinds: two flutes and a piccolo, two clarinets and a bass clarinet, two oboes and an English horn, two bassoons and a contrabassoon.

Brass: at least two trumpets, four French horns, two trombones, and one tuba.

Percussion: one to four players, who between them manage the timpani and all the other percussion instru- ments, moving from one to the other. Unlike the violins, for example, the percussion instruments seldom have to be played continuously throughout a piece.

There are several seating plans for orchestras; which is chosen depends on at least two factors. The conductor judges which arrangement makes the best sound in the particular hall. And some conductors feel they can control the orchestra better with one arrangement, some with another. One such seating plan is shown on page 19.

Keyboard instruments Though most orchestras today include a pianist, the piano is a relatively new addition to the symphony orchestra. In earlier times, the orchestra regularly included another keyboard instrument, the harpsichord.

The great advantage of keyboard instruments, of course, is that they can play more than one note at a time. A pianist, for example, can play a whole piece without requiring any other musicians at all. Consequently the solo music that has been written for piano, harpsichord, and organ is much more extensive and important than (accompanied) solo music for other instruments.

The Orchestra in Action

L i s t e n i n g e x e r C i s e 4

snare drums and cymbals. WaringAbbott/Getty Images.

Unit I |10–15

Take a break from reading now and listen to The Young Person’s Guide to the Orchestra, a work devised by Benjamin Britten in 1946 to introduce the many tone colors of orchestral instruments. A full chart of this work is given on page 41. For now, the chart below will lead you one by one through the various sections and instruments of the orchestra.





















Full orchestra


brass choir

sTrINg choir


Full orchestra

Flutes and piccolo







Double bass


French horns


Trombones, tuba


Full orchestra
















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C H A P t E R 2 | Pitch, Dynamics, and Tone Color 19




Harps French horns

Trombones Tuba

Double basses

Clarinets Bassoons

Second violins

Flutes Oboes



First violins Conductor


Odile Noel/Lebrecht/The Image Works.

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U n i t i | Fundamentals20

An organ with five(!) keyboards. The player pulls out the white knobs (stops) to change the sets of pipes that sound. Lawrence Migdale/Science Source.

Piano The tuned strings of a piano are struck by felt- covered hammers, activated from a keyboard. Much tech- nological ingenuity has been devoted to the activating mechanism, or action.

The hammer must strike the string and then fall back at once, while a damping device made of felt touches the string to stop the sound instantly. All this must be done so fast that the pianist can play repeated notes as fast as the hand can move. Also, many shades of loudness and softness must lie ready under the player’s fingers. This dynamic flexibility is what gave the piano its name: piano is short for pianoforte, meaning “soft-loud.”

The list of virtuoso pianists who were also major com- posers extends from Mozart through Frédéric Chopin to Sergei Rachmaninov. In the nineteenth century, the piano became the solo instrument. At the same time, nearly every middle-class European and American household had a piano. Piano lessons served and still serve for millions of young people as an introduction to the world of music.

Harpsichord The harpsichord is an ancient keyboard instrument that was revived in the 1900s for the playing of Baroque music, in particular.

Like the piano, the harpsichord has a set of tuned strings activated from a keyboard, but the action is much simpler. There is no damping, and instead of hammers strik- ing the strings, the key lifts up a quill that plucks the string. This means, first, that the tone is brittle and ping-y. Second, it means that the player cannot vary dynamics; when a string is plucked in this way, it always sounds the same.

Harpsichord makers compensated for this limitation in dynamics by adding one or two extra full sets of strings,

controlled by an extra keyboard. One keyboard could be soft, the other loud. A mechanism allowed the keyboards to be coupled together for the loudest sound of all.

In spite of its brittle tone and its lack of flexibility in dynamics, the harpsichord can be a wonderfully expres- sive instrument. Good harpsichord playing requires, first and foremost, great rhythmic subtlety.

Another keyboard instrument of early times, the clavichord, has the simplest action of all. Its tone is much too quiet for concert use.

Organ Called “the king of instruments,” the pipe organ is certainly the largest of them (see page 147). This instrument has to provide enough sound to fill the large spaces of churches and cathedrals on a suitably grand scale. The organ has a great many sets of tuned pipes through which a complex wind system blows air, again activated from a keyboard. The pipes have different tone colors, and most organs have more than one keyboard to control different sets of pipes. A pedal board — a big keyboard on the floor, played with the feet — controls the lowest-sounding pipes.

Each set of tuned pipes is called a stop; a moderate- sized organ has forty to fifty stops, but much bigger organs exist. One organ in Atlantic City, New Jersey, has 1,477 stops, for a total of 33,112 pipes. A large organ is capable of an almost orchestral variety of sound.

The organ is not a member of the orchestra, but because the grandest occasions call for orchestra, chorus, vocal soloists, and organ combined (e.g., Handel’s Messiah at Christmastime; see page 142), a major symphony hall has to have its organ — usually an imposing sight.

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C H A P t E R 2 | Pitch, Dynamics, and Tone Color 21

Electronic Keyboard Instruments Today keyboard or organ generally means an electronic instrument. Synthesizers simulate the sound of organs, pianos, and harpsichords — and many other sounds as well.

Modern concert music, from the 1960s on, has occa- sionally used electronic keyboards. On the whole, however, synthesizers have been used more to compose concert music than to play it. And of course electronic keyboards play major roles in today’s popular music.

Plucked Stringed instruments Plucked stringed instruments figure much less in art music of the West than in Asian countries such as India and Japan, as we shall see. One exception is the orchestral harp; see page 14. The acoustic guitar and the mandolin are used very widely in Western popular music, but only occasionally in orchestras.

However, a now-obsolete plucked instrument, the lute, was of major importance in earlier times. One of the most beautiful-looking of instruments, the lute sounds rather like a gentle guitar. Large members of the lute family were the theorbo and the archlute (see page 117).

Like keyboard instruments, plucked stringed instru- ments have been revolutionized by electronic technology. Electric guitars dominate rock music, though they have only occasionally found their way into concert music.

G o a l s f o r r e v i e w

c to distinguish pitch from rhythm and meter

c to listen for different dynamic levels

c to differentiate the timbres or tone colors of some of the main instruments of classical music Instruments of the Orchestra Music for Listening Exercises 3 and 4 Listening Quiz for Chapter 2 Reading Quiz for Chapter 2

Artists loved to paint the lute — a beautiful instrument and a triumph of woodworking craft. Here Francesco Trevisani includes also a violin, a recorder, and a harpsichord. Francesco Trevisani (1656–1746), Personification of Music: A Young Woman Playing a Lute. Private Collection/Photo © Christie’s Images/ The Bridgeman Art Library.

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In Chapter 2 we learned that music generally does not use the total continuous range of musical sounds. Instead, it draws on only a limited number of fixed pitches. These pitches can be assembled in a collection called a scale. In effect, a scale is the pool of pitches available for making music.

1 | Scales There are many different scales used in the musical cultures of the world. From them, musicians everywhere build an infinite array of melodies and other musi- cal structures. If you sing to yourself the melody of one of your favorite songs, you will have employed the pitches of a scale. But how do scales — in particular the scales basic to Western art music — work?

The Octave Any two pitches will have a certain distance, or difference in highness and lowness, between them. Musicians call this distance an interval. Of the many different intervals used in music, one called the octave has a special character that makes it particularly important.

If successive pitches are sounded one after another — say, running from low to high up the white keys on a piano — there comes a point at which a pitch seems in some sense to “duplicate” an earlier pitch, but at a higher level. This new pitch does not sound identical to the old one, but somehow the two sounds are very similar. They blend extremely well; they almost seem to melt into each other. This is the octave.

What causes the phenomenon of octaves? Recall from Chapter 2 that when strings vibrate to produce sound, they vibrate not only along their full length but also in halves and other fractions, creating overtones (page 12). A vibrating string that is exactly half as long as another will reinforce the longer string’s strongest overtone. This reinforcement causes the duplication effect of oc- taves, and pitches that are an octave apart have frequencies related in a 2:1 ratio.

As strings go, so go vocal cords: When men and women sing along together, they automatically sing in octaves, duplicating each other’s singing an octave or two apart. If you ask them, they will say they are singing “the same song” — not many will think of adding “at different octave levels.”

As a result of the phenomenon of octaves, the full continuous range of pitches that we can hear seems to fall into a series of “duplicating” segments. We divide these octave segments into smaller intervals, thereby creating scales.

Scales and Melody



22 U n i T i | Fundamentals

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C H A P T E R 3 | Scales and Melody 23

The Diatonic Scale The scale originally used in Western music is a set of seven pitches within the octave, called the diatonic scale. Dating from ancient Greek times, the diatonic scale is still in use today. When the first of the seven pitches is repeated at a higher duplicating pitch, the total is eight — hence the name octave, meaning “eight span.”

Anyone who knows the series do re mi fa sol la ti do is at home with the diatonic scale. You can count out the octave for yourself starting with the first do as one and ending with the second do as eight. The set of white keys on a keyboard plays this scale. Shown in the following diagram is a keyboard and diatonic scale notes running through two octaves. The scale notes (pitches) are marked with their conventional letter names. Because there are seven pitches, only the letters up to G are used before returning to A.


Octave Another octave

The Chromatic Scale The diatonic scale was the original, basic scale of Western music. At a later period, five more pitches were added between certain of the seven pitches of the diatonic scale, making a total of twelve. This is the chromatic scale, represented by the complete set of white and black keys on a keyboard.

The chromatic scale did not make the diatonic scale obsolete. For centuries Western composers used the chromatic scale freely while favoring the diatonic scale embedded in it. Keyboards reflect this practice, with chromatic notes set back and thinner, and colored differently than diatonic ones.

These five extra pitches caused a problem for musical notation. The pitches of the diatonic scale are indicated on the lines and spaces of the staff (see the diagram on page 24); there are no positions in between, so no place for the new five pitches. To solve this problem, symbols such as those shown in the margin were introduced. B − stands for B flat, the pitch inserted between A and B; C ² stands for C sharp, the pitch between C and D, and so on.

π π− π B

(B−) B flat A

π π² C

) C sharp D

(C ² π

Choral singing, the route by which millions of people have come to know and love music. Jeff Greenberg/ Photo Edit.

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U n i T i | Fundamentals24

Half Steps and Whole Steps You learned before that the difference, or distance, between any two pitches is called the interval between them. There are many different intervals between the notes of the chromatic scale, depending on which two notes you choose, including the octave that encompasses them all.

For our purposes, only two other interval types need be considered:

• The smallest interval is the half step, or semitone, which is the distance between any two successive notes of the chromatic scale. On a keyboard, a half step is the interval between the closest adjacent notes, white or black. The dis- tance from E to F is a half step; so is the distance from C to C sharp (C ²), D to E flat (E −), and so on.

As the smallest interval in regular use, the half step is also the smallest that most people can “hear” easily and identify. Many tunes, such as “The Battle Hymn of the Republic,” end with two half steps, one half step going down and then the same one going up again (“His truth is march-ing on”).

• The whole step, or whole tone, is equivalent to two half steps: C to D, D to E, E to F ², and so on. “Three Blind Mice” starts with two whole steps, going down.

The chromatic scale consists exclusively of half steps. The diatonic scale, instead, includes both half steps and whole steps. As you can see in the keyboard picture on page 25, between B and C and between E and F of the diatonic scale, the interval is a half step — there is no black key separating the white keys. Between the other pairs of adjacent notes, however, the interval is twice as big — a whole step.

In this way the diatonic and chromatic scales differ in the intervals between their adjacent pitches. In the diagram on page 25, the two scales are shown in music notation in order to highlight the differences in the intervals they contain. The mixing of half steps and whole steps is a defining feature of the diatonic scale.

2 | Melody A melody is an organized series of pitches. Melodies can be built from any scale. Think for a moment of pitch and time as the two coordinates of a musical graph (see the diagram shown in the margin). A series of single pitches played in a certain rhythm will appear as dots, high or low, on the pitch/time grid. If we connect them by a line, we get a picture of the melody’s overall shape or contour. And in fact, musicians commonly speak of “melodic line,” or simply line, in this connection.



Three Blind

D² (E −)

C ² (D−)

F² (G−)


D² (E−)

C² (D−)

F² (G−)

G² (A−)

A² (B−)

Ł Ł² Ł Ł² Ł Ł Ł² Ł Ł² Ł Ł² Ł Ł

C C ² D D ² E F F ² G G ² A A ² B C


Melody (melodic line)




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C H A P T E R 3 | Scales and Melody 25

Melodies come in an unlimited array of shapes, and they convey a huge variety of emotional characters. A melody involving a leap from low notes to high can seem to soar; a low note can feel like a setback; a long series of repeated notes on the same pitch can seem to wait ominously. The listener develops a real interest in how the line of a satisfactory melody is going to come out.

Of all music’s structures, melody is the one that moves people the most, that seems to evoke human sentiment most directly. Familiar melodies register simple qualities of feeling instantly and strongly. These qualities vary widely: strong and assertive — like a bugle call — in “The Battle Hymn of the Republic,” mournful in “Summertime” or “Yesterday,” serene in “Amazing Grace,” extroverted and cheerful in “Happy Birthday.”

Tunes A simple, easily singable, catchy melody such as a folk song, a Christmas carol, or many popular songs is a tune. A tune is a special kind of melody. Melody is a term that includes tunes, but also much else.

“The Star-Spangled Banner,” which everyone knows, illustrates the general characteristics of tunes. See the box on page 26.

Motives and Themes Tunes are relatively short; longer pieces, such as symphonies, may have tunes embedded in them, but they also contain other musical material. Two terms are frequently encountered in connection with melody in longer pieces of music: motive and theme.

A motive is a distinctive fragment of melody, distinctive enough so that it will be easily recognized when it returns again and again within a long composition. Motives are shorter than tunes, shorter even than phrases of tunes; they can be as short as two notes. Probably the most famous motive in all music is the four-note DA-DA-DA-DAAA motive in Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony. It is heard literally hundreds of times in the symphony, sometimes up front and sometimes as a restless element in the background.

“Always remember that in listening to a piece of music you must hang on to the melodic line. It may disappear momentarily. . . . But reappear it surely will.”

Composer Aaron Copland, 1939 (see page 349)

Ł Ł²


Ł Ł²




Ł Ł²


Ł Ł²


Ł Ł²





DIATONIC SCALE (one octave) C

Half step

Whole step

Half step


Half step

Whole step

Half step


Half step

Half step

Half step


Half step

Whole step

Half step


Half step

Whole step

Half step


Half step

Whole step

Half step

Half step



D² (E−)

C² (D−)

F² (G−)

G² (A−)

A² (B−)

−−− .0 ¹ Ł Ł Ł ð q


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U n i T i | Fundamentals26

CharaCteriStiCS oF tuneS The best way to grasp the characteristics of tunes is by singing one you know, either out loud or in your head.

Division into Phrases Tunes fall naturally into smaller sections, called phrases. This is, in fact, true of all melo- dies, but with tunes the division into phrases is particularly clear and sharp.

In tunes with words (that is, songs), phrases tend to coincide with poetic lines. Most lines in a song lyric end with a rhyming word and a punctuation mark such as a comma. These features clarify the musical phrase divisions:

And the rockets’ red glare, The bombs bursting in air

Singing a song requires breathing — and the natural tendency is to breathe at the end of phrases. You may not need to breathe after phrase 1 of our national anthem, but you’d better not wait any longer than phrase 2:

−− /0 Ł ý Ł Ł Ł Ł ð Ł ý Ł Ł Ł Ł¦ ð

Phrase 1 Phrase 2

Oh say can you see By the dawn’s ear-ly light

Composers also take care to make some phrases contrast with their neighbors — one phrase short, another long, or one phrase low, another high (perhaps even too high, at “O’er the land of the free”). A tune with some parallel and some contrasting phrases will seem to have a satisfying coherence and yet will avoid monotony.

Climax and Cadence A good tune has form: a clear, pur- poseful beginning, a feeling of action in the middle, and a firm sense of winding down at the end.

Many tunes have a distinct high point, or climax, which their earlier portions seem to be heading toward. Feelings rise as voices soar; a melodic high point is always an emotional high point. The climax of our national anthem emphasizes what was felt to be the really crucial word in it — “free.” Patriot Francis Scott Key put that word in that place. (Key wrote the words of “The Star-Spangled Banner” — the words only, adapted to an older melody.)

Then the later part of the tune relaxes from this climax, until it reaches a solid stopping place at the end. Emotionally, this is a point of relaxation and satisfaction. In a less definite way, the music also stops at earlier points in the tune — or, if it does not fully stop, at least seems to pause. The term for these interim stopping or pausing places is cadence.

Composers can write cadences with all possible shades of solidity and finality. “And the home of the brave” is a very final-sounding cadence; “That our flag was still there” has an interim feeling. The art of making cadences is one of the most subtle and basic processes in musical composition.

Balance between Phrases In many tunes, all the phrases are two, four, or eight bars long. Blues tunes, for example, usually consist of three four-measure phrases, hence the term twelve-bar blues.

Most phrases of “The Star-Spangled Banner” are two measures long (see phrase 1 and phrase 2 above). But one phrase broadens out to four measures, with a fine effect: “Oh say, does that star-spangled banner yet wave.” You don’t want to breathe in the middle of this long phrase.

Other phrase lengths — three measures, five, and so on — can certainly occur in a tune and make for welcome contrast. For a good tune, the main requirement is that we sense a balance between the phrases, in terms of phrase lengths and in other terms, too, so that taken together the phrases add up to a well-proportioned whole.

Parallelism and Contrast Balance between phrases can be strengthened by means of parallelism. For example, phrases can have the same notes but different words (“Oh, say can you see,” “Whose broad stripes and bright stars”). Others have the same rhythm but different pitches (“Oh, say can you see,” “By the dawn’s early light”).

Sometimes phrases have the same general melodic shape, but one phrase is slightly higher or lower than the other (“And the rockets’ red glare,” “The bombs bursting in air”). Such duplication of a phrase at two or more dif- ferent pitch levels, called sequence, occurs frequently in music, and is a hallmark of certain musical styles.

1 2 3 4

early sheet music for “the Star-Spangled Banner,” “a famous Song for the union.” Corbis.

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C H A P T E R 3 | Scales and Melody 27

G o a l s f o r r e v i e w

c to understand the importance of octave, half step, and whole step in making scales

c to distinguish diatonic and chromatic scales

c to build a vocabulary for melody or tune: phrase, cadence, motive, theme Music for Listening Exercise 5 Listening Quiz for Chapter 3 Reading Quiz for Chapter 3

The second term, theme, is the most general term for the basic subject mat- ter of longer pieces of music. Theme is another name for “topic”: The themes or topics of an essay you might write are the main points you announce, repeat, develop, and hammer home. A composer treats musical themes in much the same way. The theme of Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony consists of the brief DA-DA-DA-DAAA motive repeated over and over at different pitches — that is, played in sequence (see the key term on page 26). The famous theme of the last movement of Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony is a full tune, which we will hear several times in the music recordings (see page 30).

Melody and tune

Division into phrases, parallelism and contrast between phrases, sequence, climax, and cadence: These are some characteristics of tunes that we have observed in “The Star-Spangled Banner.” They are not just inert characteristics — they are what make the tune work, and they are present in tunes of all kinds. Our example is a song by George and Ira Gershwin from the Depression era, which was also the jazz era: “Who Cares?” from the musical comedy Of Thee I Sing (1931).

In “The Star-Spangled Banner” the climax matches the text perfectly at “free.” Here “jubilee” makes a good match for the climax, and a melodic sequence fits the words “I care for you / you care for me” neatly. “Who cares?” comes at 0:57 on our recording by the great jazz singer Ella Fitzgerald, after an introduction (called the verse) typical of such songs — a sort of subsidiary tune, with words that will not be repeated.





Verse: Let it rain and thunder . . . (eight more lines)

Tune: Who cares if the sky cares to fall in the sea?

Who cares what banks fail in Yonkers?

Long as you’ve got a kiss that conquers.

Why should I care? Life is one long jubilee,

So long as I care for you and you care for me.

Tune played by the jazz band, today’s “big band”

Includes a long sequence

Tempo changes

First phrase of the tune

Contrasting phrase

Parallel phrase — starts like the preceding, ends higher

Threefold sequence (“Should I care / life is one / jubilee”)

Climax on “ jubilee”

Free sequence (“I care for you” / “you care for me”) — cadence

George Gershwin and Ira Gershwin, “Who Cares? (So Long As You Care For Me)” from Of Thee I Sing. Music and lyrics by George Gershwin and Ira Gershwin. Copyright © 1931 (Renewed) WB Music Corp. All Rights Reserved. Used by permission of Alfred Music.

L i s T E n i n g E x E R C i s E 5

Unit I | 4

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U n i t i | Fundamentals28

Harmony, Texture, Tonality, and Mode


4 A single melody is enough to qualify as music — sometimes, indeed, as great music. When people sing in the shower and when parents sing to their babies they are producing melody, and that is all, to everyone’s full satisfaction. The same was true of the early Christian church, whose music, G regorian chant, consisted of more than two thousand different

melodies — and melodies alone. Today, however, after a long and complicated historical development, it

seems very natural to us to hear melodies together with other sounds. We are accustomed to hearing a folk singer singing and playing a guitar at the same time — accompanying herself on the guitar, as we say. In church, the congregation sings the hymns while the organist supplies the accompaniment.

Two concepts of basic importance in thinking about the way pitches sound together with each other are harmony and texture.

1 | Harmony The most general word musicians use to refer to the sounding at the same time of different pitches is harmony. The folk singer’s melody is said to be harmonized. She uses a number of standard groupings of simultaneous pitches that work well in combination. These groupings are called chords. The changing chords provide a shifting sound background for the melody. Any melody can be harmonized in different ways using different chords, and the overall effect of the music depends to a great extent on the nature of these chords, or the harmony in general.

In most of the music we hear, harmony is almost as important an element as melody. And, like melody, harmony is a powerful stimulus to our emotional responses to music.

Consonance and Dissonance A pair of terms used in discussions of harmony are consonance and dissonance, meaning (roughly speaking) chords that sound at rest and those that sound tense, respectively. Discord is another term for dissonance. These qualities depend on the particular combinations of pitches that are sounding simultaneously to make up these chords. Octaves are the most consonant of intervals. Half steps are the most dissonant, as you can hear by striking any two adjacent keys on a piano at the same time.

In everyday language, discord implies something unpleasant; discordant human relationships are to be avoided. But music does not avoid dissonance, for

“Medicine, to produce health, must know disease; music, to produce harmony, must know discord.”

Plutarch, c. 46–120 c.e.

Melody and harmony: Abigail Washburn with her banjo. © Jack Vartoogian/FrontRowPhotos.

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C H A P t E R 4 | Harmony, Texture, Tonality, and Mode 29

a little discord supplies the subtle tensions that are essential to make music flow along. A dissonant chord leaves a feeling of expectation; it seems to demand a consonant chord following it to complete the gesture and to make the music come to a point of stability. This is called resolution; the dissonance is said to be resolved. Without dissonance, music would be bland, like food without salt or spices.

2 | Texture Texture is the term used to refer to the way the various sounds and melodic lines occurring together in music interact or blend with one another. The word is adopted from textiles, where it refers to the weave of the various threads — loose or tight, even or mixed. A cloth such as tweed or denim, for instance, leaves the different threads clearly visible. In fine silk the weave is so tight and smooth that the threads are almost impossible to detect.

Thinking again of the pitch/time graph on page 24, we can see that it is possible to plot more than one pitch for every time slot. Melody exists in the horizontal dimension, from left to right; texture in the vertical dimension, from top to bottom. (For the moment, we leave the lower dots below the melody unconnected.)

Monophony Monophony (mo-náh-fuh-nee) is the term for the simplest texture, a single unaccompanied melody: Gregorian chant; singing in the shower; “Row, Row, Row Your Boat” before the second person comes in. Simple as this texture is, some very beautiful and sophisticated monophonic music has been composed, just as artists have done wonderful things with line drawings.

Homophony and Polyphony When there is only one melody of real interest and it is combined with other, less prominent sounds, the texture is called homophonic. A harmonized melody is an example of homophonic texture; for instance, one person singing the tune of “Yesterday” while playing chords on a guitar. We might indicate a chord on the pitch/time graph by a vertical box enclosing the dots (see margin). Each box represents a chord; the sum of these boxes represents the harmony. Homophony can be thought of as a tight, smooth texture — like silk, among textiles.

When two or more melodies are played or sung simultaneously, the texture is described as polyphonic. In polyphony (po-líf-uh-nee), the melodies are felt to be independent and of approximately equal interest. The whole is more than the sum of the parts, however; the way the melodies play off one another makes for the possibility of greater richness and interest than if they were played singly. In the textile analogy, polyphony would be compared to a rough fabric in which the strands are all perceptible, such as a multicolored woolen blanket.

It’s also important to recognize that polyphonic music automatically has harmony. For at every moment in time, on every beat, the multiple horizontal melodies create vertical chords; those chords make harmony. A word often used for polyphonic texture is contrapuntal, which comes from the word counterpoint, the technique of writing two or more melodies that fit together.

imitation Polyphonic texture, like so many other musical elements, cannot be categorized with any precision. One useful and important distinction, however, is between imitative polyphony and non-imitative polyphony.

Tex tur


Me lod


















Me lod





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U n i t i | Fundamentals30

Imitative polyphony results when the various lines sounding together use the same or fairly similar melodies, with one coming in shortly after another. The simplest example of imitative polyphony is a round, such as “Row, Row, Row Your Boat” or “Frère Jacques”; the richest kind is a fugue (see Chapter 10). In the following music example, you can see that each voice enters with the same notes but in staggered fashion; the second and third voices imitate the first:

24 Ł ý Ł ý Ł Ł Ł ý Ł

Ł ý


Ł ý

Ł Ł ý



Ł ý

¹ Ł


Ł ý





Ł ý




Ł ý






Ł ý

Ł Ł ¹















Ł ý


Ł ý







Ł ¹





24 Row, row, row your boat gent


ly down


the stream,

row your boat

Merrily, merrily, merrily, merrily,

gently down the

Row,row, row your boat gently down the stream, Merrily, merrily, merrily, merrily, life is but a dream.


Non-imitative polyphony occurs when the melodies are different from one another. An example that many will know is the typical texture of a New Orleans jazz band, with the trumpet playing the main tune, flanked top and bottom by the clarinet and the trombone playing exhilarating melodies of their own.

3 | Tonality and Mode Tonality and mode are aspects of melody as well as harmony, and as such they might have been taken up earlier. We have deferred them till last because, even more than the other basic structures of music, they require careful explanation.




Second melody

First melody

L i s T E n i n g E x E R C i s E 6


A famous passage from Beethoven furnishes a clear example of monophonic, polyphonic, and homophonic textures — the initial presentation of the so-called Joy Theme in Symphony No. 9, the “Choral” Symphony. The theme, a tune known around the world, takes its name from the words set to it, an enthusiastic ode to the joy that comes from human freedom, companionship, and reverence for the deity. The words are sung by soloists and a chorus.

But before anyone sings, the theme is played several times by the orchestra, in a way that suggests that joy is emerging out of nothingness into its full realization. Beginning with utterly simple monophony, and growing successively higher and louder, it is enriched by polyphony and then reaches its grand climax in homophony.





Joy Theme




Low register

An octave higher

Two octaves higher

Three octaves higher

Monophony: a single melodic line; cellos and double basses playing together, with no accompaniment

Polyphony, non-imitative: the theme with two lines of counterpoint, in low strings (cello) and a mellow wind instrument (bassoon)

Homophony: full orchestra with trumpets prominent

Our example of imitative polyphony comes from the Symphony of Psalms, another symphony with chorus, a major work by the twentieth-century composer Igor Stravinsky.





A slow, winding melody, unaccompanied, played by an oboe

The same melody enters in another instrument, a flute, as the oboe continues with new material; this produces two-part imitative counterpoint.

Third entry, second flute plays in a lower register — three-part counterpoint

Fourth entry, second oboe — four-part counterpoint

Unit I | 5–6



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C H A P t E R 4 | Harmony, Texture, Tonality, and Mode 31

tonality We start with a basic fact about melodies and tunes: Melodies nearly always give a sense of focusing around a single “home” pitch that feels more important than all the other pitches of the scale. Usually this is do in the do re mi fa sol la ti do scale (C D E F G A B C). This pitch feels fundamental, and the melody seems to come to rest most naturally on it. The other notes in the melody all sound close or distant, dissonant or consonant, in reference to the fundamental note, and some of them may actually seem to lean or lead toward it.

This homing instinct that we sense in melodies is called tonality. The music in question is described as tonal. The home pitch (do) is called the tonic pitch, or simply the tonic.

The easy way to identify the tonic is to sing the whole melody through, because the last note is almost invariably it. Thus “The Star-Spangled Banner” ends on its tonic, do: “and the home of the brave.” An entire piece of music, as well as just a short melody, can give this feeling of focusing on a home pitch and wanting to end there.

Major and Minor Modes Turn back to page 23 and the diagram for the diatonic scale, the basic scale of Western music. This diagram, of course, shows only a portion of a longer scale extending all the way up the octaves, from the lowest limits of hearing to the highest. Our portion, covering two octaves, starts on C because most melodies are oriented around C (do), as we’ve just explained.

The following diagram shows another portion of the diatonic scale, starting on A (la), because another class of melodies in Western music is oriented around A, not C:

A B D E F G A B C D E F G A Middle









Focal point


Half step

Whole step

Whole step

Whole step

Whole step

Whole step

Half step

Focal point



Focal point


Focal point


Whole step


Half step


Whole step


Whole step


Half step


Whole step


Whole step



Look carefully at the diagram: Moving up through the octave from C to C, you encounter a different sequence of whole and half steps than you do moving from A to A. This difference gives melodies oriented around A a quality different from those oriented around C. The term for these different ways of centering or

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U n i t i | Fundamentals32

organizing the diatonic scale is modality; the different home pitches are said to determine the different modes of music. Music with the do (C) center is in the major mode. Music with the la (A) orientation is in the minor mode.

Keys Mode and key are concepts that are often confused. Let us see if we can clarify them.

We have just seen how the two modes, the major with its tonic or home pitch on C and the minor on A, are derived from the diatonic scale. However, if you use all twelve notes of the chromatic scale, you can construct both the major and the minor modes starting from any note at all. Whichever note you choose as tonic, starting from there you can pick out the correct sequence of half steps and whole steps. This is because the chromatic scale includes all possible half steps and whole steps.

Thanks to the chromatic scale, then, major and minor modes can be constructed starting on any pitch. These different positions for the modes are called keys. If the major mode is positioned on C, the music is said to be in the key of C major, or just “in C”; positioned on D, the key is D major. Likewise we have the keys of C minor, D minor, and — as there are twelve pitches in the chromatic scale — a grand total of twenty-four different keys (twelve major and twelve minor).

Listening for the Major and Minor Modes On paper, it is easiest to show the difference between major and minor if we compare major and minor keys that share the same tonic. So yet another diagram, below, compares C major with C minor. C minor is derived by duplicating, from C to C, the minor-mode arrangement of whole and half steps from A to A that we saw in the diagram on page 31.

The difference between the modes is easy to see. Three of the scale degrees are lower in the minor (hence the term minor, of course); they are the pitches connected by arrows in the diagram. The arrangement of intervals is not the









Ł Whole

step Whole



Whole step

Whole step

Half step

Whole step


Whole step

Whole step

Half step

Whole step

Whole step

Whole step

Half step

Ł− Ł− Ł− Half step



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C H A P t E R 4 | Harmony, Texture, Tonality, and Mode 33

same when you sing up or down the scales, and this in turn makes a great difference in the feel of melodies built from these scales.

Hearing the difference between music in the major and minor modes comes easily to some listeners, less easily to others. As a result of the three lower scale degrees, music in the minor mode tends to sound more subdued, more clouded than music in the major. It is often said that major sounds cheerful and minor sounds sad, and this is true enough in a general way; but there are many excep- tions, and in any case people can have different ideas about what constitutes sadness and cheerfulness in music.

Learning to distinguish the major and minor modes requires compara- tive listening. Listen especially for the third scale degree up from the tonic. “Joshua Fit the Battle of Jericho” and “We Three Kings” are both in the minor mode. Singing them through, we can practice recognizing the characteristic minor-mode sound involving the third scale degree at the final cadence.

00 Ł Ł Ł Ł Ð

walls came tum-blin’ down.

Joshua Fit the Battle of Jericho

24 Ł Ł Ł Ł Ł ð ý

fol-low-ing yon-der star.

We Three Kings

Compare this with the third note up from the tonic at the end of major-mode songs such as “My Country, ’Tis of Thee,” “Row, Row, Row Your Boat,” “The Star-Spangled Banner,” and many others. It sounds brighter, more positive.

/0 Ł ý Ł Ł ð

home of the brave.

The Star-Spangled Banner

24 Ł Ł Ł Ł ð ý

life is but a dream.

Row, Row, Row Your Boat

/0 Ł Ł Ł Ł ð ý

let free - dom ring!

My Country, ’Tis of Thee

Is it right to represent the major and minor modes by comedy and tragedy masks? Yes, but only in a general sense — there are many nuances between these extremes. ©68/GK Hart/Vikki Hart/ Ocean/Corbis.

Listening for Keys and Modulation The major and minor modes can be said to differ from one another intrinsi- cally, for in each mode the pitches form their own special set of intervals and interval relationships. As we have seen, C major and C minor, while sharing the same central or tonic pitch, have their own individual arrangements of half- and whole-step intervals.

Different keys, however, merely entail the same set of intervals moved to a new position within the pitch continuum. This is a significant difference, but not an intrinsic one. In baseball, first base is different from second base, but only because the same sort of bag has been put in a significant new place.

As for actually hearing keys — that is, recognizing the different keys — for some listeners this presents an even greater problem than hearing modality, though to others it comes more easily. The important thing is not to be able to identify keys in themselves, but rather to be able to hear when keys change. Changing the key of music changes its mood or the way it feels; generations of composers have used this resource for some of their most powerful effects. Such changes of key — that is, changes of the tonic or home pitch — are called modulations. You will have many opportunities to hear the effects modulations can create; here you should try Listening Exercise 7, the most challenging one yet, listening for changes in mode and key.

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U n i t i | Fundamentals34


c to define harmony and build a vocabulary for it: consonance, dissonance, and chord

c to listen for different textures: monophony, homophony, polyphony (counterpoint)

c to understand the concept of tonality, with its central pitch or tonic

c to distinguish major and minor modes

c to understand the difference between mode and key, and to listen for both Music for Listening Exercises 6 and 7 Listening Quiz for Chapter 4 Reading Quiz for Chapter 4

L i s T E n i n g E x E R C i s E 7

Mode and Key

Modality is probably most obvious when you hear a minor-mode melody (or phrase of melody) and then hear it with the mode changed to major. A short passage from the String Quartet in A Minor by Franz Schubert is a lovely illustration of this change.

0:00 pp A melancholy melody in the minor mode. Listen to the first violin above the rustling accompaniment in the lower stringed instruments.

0:47 The beginning of the melody returns, changed to the major mode.

Listen to more of the Schubert quartet for a change in key:







Agitated; back in the minor mode. Lower instruments alternate with the solo violin.

A quiet cadence, still in the same key, but followed by modulation

Reaching a new key, for a new theme. This theme is in the major mode, calm and sunny.

For a series of modulations to several different keys, listen to the passage from Beethoven’s Piano Concerto No. 5, the “Emperor” Concerto. Here the key changes stand out clearly because the modulations are carried out so abruptly — a Beethoven specialty.





Lively music for the piano, f, followed by a f response from the orchestra

Modulation (French horns)

New key: Similar music for piano, but pp, followed by the same orchestral response, f

Similar modulation (French horns). The music seems to be searching for a place to settle.

Another new key: piano, p, and orchestra, f, as before

The piano bursts in, f, in the same key but in the minor mode. It begins modulating to further new keys in a more complicated way than before.

Unit I | 7–8



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35C H A P T E R 5 | Musical Form and Musical Style

Form is a general word with a long list of dictionary defini- tions. As applied to the arts, form is an important concept that refers to the shape, arrangement, relationship, or orga- nization of the various elements. In poetry, for example, the elements of form are words, phrases, meters, rhymes, and stanzas; in painting, they are lines, colors, shapes, and space.

1 | Form in Music In music, the elements of form and organization are those we have already dis- cussed: rhythm, dynamics, tone color, melody, harmony, and texture. A musical work, whether a simple song or a whole symphony, is formed or organized by means of repetitions of some of these elements, and by contrasts among them. The repetitions may be strict or free (that is, exact or with some variation). The contrasts may be of many different kinds — the possibilities are virtually limitless — conveying many different kinds of feeling.

Over the centuries and all over the world, musicians have learned to create long and impressive pieces in this way: symphonies, operas, works for the Javanese gamelan or Japanese gagaku orchestras, and more. Each piece is a specific sound experience in a definite time span, with a beginning, middle, and end, and often with subtle routes between. Everyone knows that music can make a nice effect for a minute or two. But how does music extend itself — and hold the listener’s interest — for ten minutes, or half an hour, or three whole hours at a time?

This is one of the main functions of musical form. Form is the relationship that connects those beginnings, middles, and ends.

Form and Feeling Form in art also has a good deal to do with its emotional quality; it is much more than a merely structural or intellectual matter. Think of the little (or big) emotional click we get at the end of a limerick or any poem with a “punch line,” where the accumulated meanings of the words are summed up with the final rhyme. On a small scale, this is an effect to which form contributes. Similarly, when a melody heard before comes back at the end of a symphony, with new orchestration and new harmonies, the special feeling this gives us emerges from

“The content of music is tonally moving forms.”

Music critic Eduard Hanslick, 1854

Musical Form and Musical Style



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U n i T i | Fundamentals36

a flood of memory; we remember the melody in its earlier version. That effect, too, is created by form.

How easy is it, actually, to perceive form in music and to experience the feelings associated with form? Easy enough with a short tune, such as “The Star-Spangled Banner” — that’s what the analysis on page 26 was all about. The various phrases of this tune, with their repetitions, parallel features, contrasts, and climax, provide a microcosm of musical form in longer pieces. A large-scale composition such as a symphony is something like a greatly expanded tune, and its form is experienced in basically the same way.

To be sure, a symphony requires more from the listener — more time and more attention — than a tune does. Aware of the potential problem here, com- posers scale their musical effects accordingly. The larger the piece, the more strongly the composer is likely to help the memory along by emphasizing the repetitions and contrasts that determine the musical form.

Form and Forms Like the word rhythm (see page 4), the word form has a general meaning and also a more specific one. “Form” in general refers to the organization of elements in a musical work, but “a form” refers to one of many standardized formal patterns that composers have used over the centuries. The ones treated later in this book are listed in the margin.

The fixed elements in such forms provide a welcome source of orientation for listeners, but they are always general enough to allow composers endless possibilities on the detailed level. The quality and feeling of works in the same standardized or conventional form can therefore vary greatly.

Form in Painting A Madonna by Raphael Sanzio (1483–1520), built out of two skillfully nested triangles. To balance the boys at the left, the Virgin faces slightly to the right, her extended foot “echoing” their bare flesh. On a larger scale, the activity at the left is matched by a steeper landscape. Mondadori Portfolio/Electa/ Sergio Anelli/The Bridgeman Art Library.

Form in Poetry

Fleas: Adam Had ’em.

The poet creates rhyme and meter to add a little lift, and a smile, to the prose observation “Adam had fleas” (or “Ever since Adam and Eve, we’ve all suffered”).

The Main Musical Forms page

strophic form (A A A . . .) 50, 235

A B A form 138, 163 ground bass 83, 119 fugue 91, 128 ritornello form 116 Baroque dance form 132 sonata form 162 minuet form

(Classical dance form) 173 rondo form 177 double-exposition form 183 theme and variations 169

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37C H A P T E R 5 | Musical Form and Musical Style

Musical forms, as standardized patterns, are conventionally expressed by letter diagrams, such as A B A or a b a (small letters tend to be used for shorter sections of music). They will be used again and again in this book. More com- plicated forms can be indicated through “nesting” capital and lowercase letters:


a b a c d c a b a

As we have said, two basic factors create musical form: repetition and contrast. In A B A form, one of the simplest, the element of repetition is A and the element of contrast is B. Some sort of tune or theme or other musical section is presented at the beginning (A), then comes another section (B) that contrasts with the first, and then the first one again (A). If A returns with significant modification, this can be indicated by a prime mark: A′.

It seems clear enough. Yet the letters tell us only so much. With any particular work, what about the specific music they stand for? Is B in a different mode or a different key? Does it present material that contrasts in rhythm, texture, or tone color — or does it work its contrast by ringing changes on the original material, on A? The returns to A material in A B A′ form, too, can convey very different feelings. One return can sound exciting, another unexpected, while yet another provides a sense of relief.

So diagramming forms — getting the letters right — is just a first step in music appreciation. We need also to understand the way composers refine, modify, and personalize conventional forms for their own expressive purposes.

Musical Genres One often hears symphonies, sonatas, and operas referred to as “forms” of music. Actually this is loose terminology, best avoided in the interests of clarity, because symphonies and other works can be composed in completely differ- ent standardized forms. Thus, the last movement of Joseph Haydn’s Symphony No. 95 is in rondo form, whereas the last movement of Hector Berlioz’s Fantastic Symphony follows no standard form whatsoever.

Form in Architecture Many have noted the analogy between musical form and architectural form; “I call architecture frozen music,” said the famous German poet Goethe (see page 234). The musical form frozen in this building might have three statements of the same music, each more emphatic than the last, followed by a strong cadence. © Platinum GPics/Alamy.

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U n i T i | Fundamentals38

The best term for these general categories or kinds of music is genre (jáhn-ruh), borrowed from French. A genre can be defined by its text (a madrigal has Italian verses of a specific kind), or by its function (a Mass is written for a Roman Catholic service), or by the performing forces (a quartet is for four singers or instrumentalists). The main genres of Western music taken up in Listen are listed in the margin on page 39.

2 | Musical Style Style, like form, is another of those broad, general words — general but very nec- essary. The style of a tennis player is the particular way he or she reaches up for the serve, follows through on the forehand, rushes the net, hits the ball deep or short, and so on. A lifestyle means the whole combination of things one does and doesn’t do: the food one eats, the way one dresses and talks, one’s habits of thought and feeling.

The style of a work of art, similarly, is the combination of qualities that make it distinctive. One composer’s style may favor jagged rhythms, simple harmonies, and tunes to the exclusion of other types of melody. Another may prefer certain kinds of tone color or texture; still another may concentrate on a particular form. The type of emotional expression a composer cultivates is also an important determinant of musical style.

Musical Form

“The Star-Spangled Banner” (not included in our recordings) has one of the simplest forms, a a b. “Oh, say can you see . . . the twilight’s last gleaming” is a, “Whose broad stripes . . . gallantly streaming” is the second a, and the rest of the anthem is b. Section b makes a definite contrast with a by means of its new melody and higher range, as we’ve seen on page 26.

When sections of music are not identical but are considered essentially parallel, they are labeled a, a′, a″, and so on. The first theme of Schubert’s String Quartet in A Minor is in a a′ a″ form.








Begins like a, but the melody lasts longer and goes higher and lower than in a

The beginning now turns luminously to the major mode.

Smaller form elements (a, b, a′) can be nested in larger ones, marked with capital letters: A, B, A′. A more extended example comes from an all-time classical favorite, the Christmas ballet The Nutcracker by Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky. Tchaikovsky used the “Dance of the Sugar-Plum Fairy” mainly to show off the celesta, a rare instrument (see page 17). The A B A′ form of the dance breaks down into a a′ b b a a′.


















Introduction: The 2/4 meter is previewed by low stringed instruments.

Solo for celesta, with comments by a bass clarinet

Begins like a, but the ending is different — on a new pitch and harmony

Contrast with a

Transition: The music has a preparatory quality.

Celesta an octave higher, with a quiet new click in the violins; the high celesta is a very striking sound.

The new orchestration is what gives this A B A′ form its prime mark — not changes in melody or harmony, as is usually the case. More strictly, the form could be marked introduction A (a a′) B (b b) transition A′ (a″ a‴ ), but this level of detail is seldom needed.

L i s t e n i n g e x e r C i s e 8

Unit I | 7, 9



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C H A P T E R 5 | Musical Form and Musical Style 39

One can speak of the lifestyle of a generation as well as the lifestyle of a particular person. Similarly, a distinction can be made between the musical style of a particular composer and the style of a historical period. For example, to a large extent George Frideric Handel’s manner of writing falls within the parameters of the Baroque style of his day. But some features of Handel’s style are unique, and perhaps it is those features in particular that embody his musical genius.

Musical Style and Lifestyle In any historical period or place, the musical style bears some relation to the lifestyle in general; this seems self-evident, even if the correlations are hard to pinpoint. Perhaps the point is clearest with popular music, where distinct (and distinctly different) worlds are evoked by rock, rap, and country music, to say nothing of earlier styles such as 1950s rhythm and blues or 1930s swing.

Older styles of music, too, relate to total cultural situations, and we will suggest some of these cultural connections to music of the various historical periods. In the Prelude chapters for each time period in this book, we sketch certain aspects of the culture, history, and lifestyle of the time. We then briefly outline the musical style and, wherever possible, suggest correlations. Then, in the chapters that follow, the musical style is examined in more detail through individual composers and individual pieces of music.

These individual pieces are our principal concern — not history, or culture, or concepts of musical style in the abstract. Learning the basic concepts of music (as we have tried to do in this unit) is useful only insofar as it focuses and sharpens the process of listening to actual music. This book is called Listen, and it rests on the belief that the love of music depends first and foremost on careful listening to particular pieces. But such listening never happens in a vacuum; for all of us it takes place in a vivid, experienced context of some kind. The general information presented here on history, culture, styles, and genres is intended to remake, in some small way, our own listening contexts. In this way it can play a role in our listening experiences.

As we come to the end of Unit I, after a lot of prose and a number of hasty musical excerpts, let’s listen to a whole composition at some length: The Young Person’s Guide to the Orchestra — the young of all ages — by Benjamin Britten, who was the leading English composer of the twentieth century.

The Main Musical Genres page

Baroque concerto 115 concerto grosso 115 suite 91, 132 oratorio 141 church cantata 145 symphony 161 sonata 181 Classical concerto 183 string quartet 187 lied 233 song cycle 237 concert overture 248 program symphony 249 symphonic poem 279 opera 83, 135 subtypes of opera: opera seria 137 opera buffa 189 music drama 266

Early Music Genres

Gregorian chant genres: antiphon 47 sequence 48 hymn 61 organum 52 motet 54, 72 chanson 55, 68 Mass 63 madrigal 72 pavan, galliard 74

Benjamin Britten (1913–1976), The Young Person’s Guide to the Orchestra (1946) Benjamin Britten wrote a lot of music for children, and he undertook The

Young Person’s Guide to the Orchestra as an educational responsibility, in order

to teach listeners the timbres of orchestral instruments. We have already

listened to the piece with this aim in mind (see page 18). But Britten also set

out to create a coherent and interesting musical composition. Listening to it

again, we can review several of the concepts introduced in Unit I.

The work uses one basic theme — a short, rather bouncy tune by an earlier

English composer, Henry Purcell (see page 88). Britten first displays the tune in a

grand setting for full orchestra, harmonized with his own rich chords. Then he has

each of the four orchestral choirs play it: woodwinds, brass, strings . . . but he knew

he had to cheat when he got to the percussion. (The main percussion instruments

Unit I | 10–15

theme, page 25

tune, page 25

orchestral choirs, page 18

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U n i T i | Fundamentals40

polyphony, page 29

major and minor modes, page 32

duple and triple meter, page 5

motive, page 25

tempo, page 7

form, page 35

Benjamin Britten conducts a concert in an English country church. Kurt Hutton/Hulton Archive/Getty Images.

are pitch-impaired and can’t play tunes.) It was clever, then, to prepare for the

not-very-thematic percussion statement at 2:07 by freeing up the theme a little in

the preceding brass and stringed statements, and afterward to remind us of the

original tune, played verbatim by the full orchestra again. (Britten makes up for

his cheat by a particularly brilliant percussion episode later.)

So far everything has been in the minor mode and in triple meter. But next

comes a series of variations on the theme, versions of the theme varied in

melody, rhythm, texture, mode, tempo — anything and everything. We study the

variation form on page 169. The first section of the piece has given us a theme

in the minor mode and its repetitions, but the first variations already switch to

the major mode. Variation 3, in a swinging triple meter, is followed at once by

a variation in duple meter. Many variations — Variations 1, 3, and 4, to begin

with — involve a great deal of repetition of a single motive. There are variations

in fast tempo that last for hardly more than half a minute, and others in slow

tempo that take nearly three times as long. Along the way, in keeping with

Britten’s teaching aims in the work, each variation features a particular

instrument (or family of instruments) from the orchestra.

In variation form, variety is the order of the day. This central variation

section of the Young Person’s Guide offers, in addition to the catalogue of

instrumental sounds, an equally dazzling catalogue of the endlessly varied

moods that can be represented in music.

At the end, Britten writes an extremely vigorous fugue, based on yet

another version of the Purcell tune. We study fugue on page 126. For now,

notice that this section of the Young Person’s Guide provides an excellent

example of imitative polyphony.

And our virtuoso composer has still one more trick up his sleeve: He brings

the tune back triumphantly just before the end, unvaried, while the fugue is

still going on. Both can be heard simultaneously. This is non-imitative

polyphony. The return of the tune wraps up the whole long piece very happily

as a unique variety of A B A9 form.

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C H A P T E R 5 | Musical Form and Musical Style 41

G o A l s F o r r e v i e w

c to think about form in music and relate it to form in poetry, art, and architecture

c to listen for simple musical forms

c to diagram musical forms with letters

c to differentiate three key terms: form, genre, and style Music for Listening Exercise 8 Interactive Listening Chart 1 Listening Quiz for Chapter 5 Reading Quiz for Chapter 5

Britten, The Young Person’s Guide to the Orchestra 17 min., 13 sec.






























Variation 1

Variation 2

Variation 3

Variation 4

Variation 5

Variation 6

Variation 7

Variation 8

Variation 9

Variation 10

Variation 11

Variation 12

Variation 13



Full orchestra

woodwind choir

brass choir

string choir


Full orchestra

Flutes and piccolo


Clarinet family





Double bass


French horns


Trombones, tuba


Full orchestra

Full orchestra

Note the prominent sequence in the middle of the Purcell tune. You will hear snatches of this in some of the variations.

Diminuendo (getting softer). Further transitions occurring between  thematic statements and variations will not be indicated on this chart.

Ending is changed.

Theme is changed further.

“Theme” only in principle; only some rhythms remain.

Same as the first time

(harp accompaniment)

Piccolo and flute play in harmony.

Beginning of the tune transformed into a slow, romantic melody in oboe 1; oboe 2 joins in two-part polyphony.

Two clarinets trade agile figures, swinging from high to low pitches.

Typical qualities of the bassoon: staccato (comic effect) and legato (melodious)

With chordal accompaniment — particularly clear homophonic texture


Another slow, romantic melody: falls into a a′ form (clarinet in the background)

Solo — humorous

In the background is a string tremolo, caused by bowing a single note extremely rapidly, so that it sounds like a single trembling note.

With snare drum, suggesting a fast military march

Typical qualities of the trombone: humorously pompous, and mysterious chords

Timpani and bass drum (heard throughout the variation), cymbals (0:18), tambo urine (0:28), triangle (0:32), snare drum (0:40), Chinese block (0:44), xylophone (0:50), castanets (1:01), gong (1:07), whip (1:14), xylophone and triangle (1:41)

Percussion instruments are described on page 17.

Imitative polyphony starts with flutes, then oboe, clarinet (same order as above!).

Climax: slower than before. The tune combined with the fugue: non-imitative polyphony.

L i s t e n i n g C h a r t 1

Unit I | 10–15


















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Western art music extends from the great repertory of Gregorian

chant, first assembled around the year 600 c.e., to compositions

circulating electronically on the Internet today. The scope and

variety of all this music is almost bewildering; there’s too much of

it by far to cover in a single semester or quarter course — too

much, that is, if one is going to do more than skim the music,

picking up a few stray facts and figures about it without really listening carefully.

But listening carefully is the crucial thing; so we needed to make choices, lim-

iting the range of music covered in Listen. The most attentive coverage begins in

the eighteenth century, with Unit III and the music of Bach and Handel, who are

the earliest composers with a long-standing place in the standard repertory of

concert music. By standard repertory we mean a large body of music from which

concert artists and conductors usually draw their programs.

As a concise introduction to all this, Unit II presents an overview of the rich

traditions of Western art music before the eighteenth century. This so-called early

music, from the Middle Ages, the Renaissance, and the early Baroque period, was

forgotten for centuries and revived mainly in the second half of the twentieth

century. The revival itself shows that musical life keeps changing, and these days

many concert series and even opera companies include early music on their

schedules. Through these performances and through recordings, what was once

forgotten has found its way back into today’s classical music mainstream.



Early Music: An Overview

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The Virgin Mary was venerated very widely in the Middle Ages and the Renaissance. Music written for her ranges from hymns by St. Ambrose in the fourth century c.e., to Notre Dame organum in the twelfth century, to twelve Marian Masses by Palestrina in the sixteenth century — and far beyond. Music is played for her in many pictures. In this charming Madonna by the German painter Stefan Lochner, Mary appears lost in deep meditation of the Christian mystery, apparently oblivious to the Christ Child, the Holy Ghost (the dove), and even God above her. Artothek.

Chronology c. 9th century “In paradisum” p. 47

12th century Hildegard of Bingen, “Columba aspexit” p. 48

12th century Bernart de Ventadorn, “La dousa votz” p. 50

c. 1200 Pérotin, “Alleluia. Diffusa est gratia” p. 53

Late 13th century “Sumer Is Icumen In” p. 54

14th century Machaut, “Dame, de qui toute ma joie vient” p. 55

15th century Dufay, “Ave maris stella” p. 61

c. 1500 Josquin, “Mille regrets” p. 68

c. 1510 Josquin, Pange lingua Mass p. 65

1557 Palestrina, Pope Marcellus Mass p. 70

16th century “Daphne” p. 75

16th century “Kemp’s Jig” p. 76

1601 Weelkes, “As Vesta Was from Latmos Hill Descending” p. 73

c. 1610 Gabrieli, “O magnum mysterium” p. 81

1627–1637 Frescobaldi, Canzona, Balletto, and Corrente p. 92

1642 Monteverdi, The Coronation of Poppea p. 86

1689 Purcell, Dido and Aeneas p. 88

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44 U n i t i i | Early Music: An Overview


6 “The Middle Ages” is a catchall term for nearly a thousand years of European history, extending from the collapse of the Roman Empire in the fifth century c.e. to the advent of new learning, technology, and political organization in the age of Columbus. Even though life and culture changed slowly in those days, this is obviously too broad a span of time to

mean much as a single historical period. Nowhere is this clearer than in music. Music changed radically from the

beginning to the end of the Middle Ages, more than in any other historical period. Two of the central features of later Western music, tune and polyphony, originated around the middle of this long period.

1 | Music and the Church The early history of Western music was determined by the Christian church to an extent that is not easy for us to grasp today. The church cultivated, supported, and directed music as it did art, architecture, poetry, and learning. Composers were priests, clerics, or monks, and most musicians got their training as church choirboys. Exception must be made for popular musicians — called minstrels and jongleurs (jawn-glérs) — but we know little about their lives or their music. The only people who wrote music down were monks and other clerics, who could not have cared less about preserving popular music.

The music fostered by the church was the singing or chanting of sacred words in services, and we might pause for a moment to ask why singing was so important for Christian worship. Singing is a way of uttering words; words denote concepts, and singing words gives concepts in prayer or doctrine a special status, a step above merely speaking them. Music provides words with special emphasis, force, mystery, even magic. Throughout human history, this heightening by music has served the basic aim of religion: to bring humans into beneficial contact with unseen spirits, with deities, or with a single God.

Music and Church Services: Liturgy The basic difference between music in church in the Middle Ages and now is that now the music is usually a matter of free choice by the minister — think of gospel music — whereas then it was fixed by a higher authority. This was true even in humble parish churches — that is, local churches for ordinary people — and all the more so for the higher ranks of Christendom: monks and nuns in monasteries, and priests and clerics attached to the great cathedrals.

The Middle Ages

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45C H A P t E R 6 | The Middle Ages

The higher authority was called the liturgy. A whole set of services was arranged according to the calendar, specifying how to worship in summer or winter, on Sunday or a weekday, at night or in the morning, and how to celebrate All Saints’ Day or Christmas, mark the beginning of Lent, or pray to the Virgin Mary or a patron saint.

All the largest world religions — Islam, Hinduism, and Buddhism as well as Christianity and Judaism — have complex systems of worship, or liturgies, and they all involve singing or chanting. Zen, for example, has a particular lit- urgy within Buddhism. Liturgies also include prescriptions for dress, incense, candles, movements, and so on. In Christianity, the central dates of the liturgy concern the life of Christ (his birth at Christmas, his crucifixion and resurrec- tion at Easter) and the main saints, especially the Virgin Mary (her birthday, the day she ascended to heaven).

Monks and nuns in the Middle Ages spent an amazing amount of their time in prayer. Besides the Mass, a lengthy ceremony that might happen more than once a day, there were no fewer than eight other prayer services through the day and night. Large portions of all these services were sung. Each prayer was assigned its own music, in traditions built up over the years through small additions and adjustments to a traditional prototype.

Listening to this singing was not so much listening as worshipping, while allowing music to expand the devotional experience. Hearing liturgical chant today, one feels less like a listener in the modern sense than like a privileged eavesdropper, someone who has been allowed to attend a select occasion that is partly musical, but mainly spiritual. The experience is an intimate and tranquil one — cool and, to some listeners, especially satisfying.

Plainchant The official music of the Catholic Church in the Middle Ages and far beyond was a great repertory of melodies designated for the liturgy. This is the system of plainchant (or plainsong), widely known as Gregorian chant.

“God is gone up with a shout, the LORD with the sound of a trumpet. Sing praises to God, sing praises; sing praises unto our King, sing praises.”

Psalm 47:5–6

Monks singing plainchant, depicted within an illuminated initial letter C in a late medieval manuscript. The whimsical little stringed-instrument player is outside the C, for instrumental music was taboo in church. Lambeth Palace Library, London, UK/ The Bridgeman Art Library.

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U n i t i i | Early Music: An Overview46

It is called “plain” because it is unaccompanied, monophonic (one-line) music for voices; it takes the form of a melody and nothing more. And it is called “Gregorian” after the famous pope and church father Gregory I (c. 540–604). He is reputed to have assembled and standardized, with divine aid, all the basic chants required for the church services of his time — though in fact much Gregorian chant dates from centuries after him.

Characteristics of Plainchant Plainchant comes in many genres, or types, differing widely in melodic style depending on their religious function. Some plainchants consist of simple rec- itation on a monotone, with only slight deviations from that single pitch; in monasteries, the entire set of 150 psalms had to be sung in this fashion every week. (That in itself is a lot of sung prayer.) Other chants are intricate songs with hundreds of notes ranging well over an octave. And still others count as the first real tunes that are known in Western music.

In whatever style or genre, plainchants share two characteristic features. First, they are typically nonmetrical; they have no clearly established meter, and therefore the rhythm is free. A distinctive beat is lacking in this music.

Second, plainchant is not constructed in the major/minor system, but according to one of the medieval modes. (Medieval means “from the Middle Ages.”) As discussed in Unit I, the original scale of Western music was the diatonic scale, equivalent to the “white-note” scale on the piano. We still use this scale today, centered on the pitches C or A as the home pitch, or tonic (see page 31). Oriented around C, the music is said to be in the major mode, oriented around A, in the minor mode.

Musicians of the Middle Ages organized the scale differently — not around C or A, but around D, E, F, or G. The result was music in other modes, different from the modern major or minor. These modes were given Greek names, since medieval scholars traced them back to the modes of ancient Greek music, as discussed by Plato and others. The medieval modes are these:






Focal point


Focal point


Focal point


Focal point





Middle C C’

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C H A P t E R 6 | The Middle Ages 47

The essential difference between the modern major and minor modes comes in the different arrangement of half steps and whole steps in their scales. The medieval modes provide four additional arrangements. (Compare the preceding diagram with the one on page 31.) So medieval tunes sound different from modern tunes; and since there are more possible arrangements, medieval plainchant is actually richer and more subtle than music in the major/minor system. The artistic effect of plainchant — music without harmony or definite rhythm — is concentrated in melody built on this rich modal system.

Gregorian Recitation and Gregorian Melody As we have said, the huge repertory of Gregorian chant ranges from simple recitation on a single pitch, with scarcely any variation, to long melodies that can make one dizzy with their endless, ecstatic twists and turns. Recitation was used for texts considered fairly routine in the services, such as lengthy readings from the Old Testament. In Gregorian recitation, the pitch on which the text is sung, called the reciting tone, is repeated again and again except for small, formulaic variations at beginnings and ends of phrases. These punctuate the text and make it easier to understand — and sing, since they give the singers time for a breath.

Elaborate melody, instead, was saved for more significant occasions, such as prayers at Mass and processions. One of the simplest genres showing such melody is the antiphon. Antiphons are usually workaday little pieces, but some exceptional ones can be very moving.

Anonymous (c. ninth century), Plainchant antiphon, “in paradisum” In the liturgy for the dead, this antiphon is sung in procession on the way from

the final blessing of the corpse in church to the graveyard where burial takes

place. “In paradisum” is in the Mixolydian (G) mode. The special nature of this

mode, which makes it different from the modern major mode, is heard twice

in this melody, at cadences on the words “Chorus Angelorum” (line 4) and

“quondam paupere” (line 5).

The way to experience “In paradisum” is to set this track on repeat and

imagine yourself a medieval monk or nun who has lost a brother or sister.

Candles have all been extinguished in the church after the Requiem Mass (so

called because you have prayed for the soul’s eternal rest — in Latin, requiem

aeternam). As the coffin is lifted up, the priest begins “In paradisum,” and then

the entire religious community joins in. You sing this brief antiphon again and

again, for as long as it takes the somber procession to reach the graveyard.

The melodic high point comes in line 5, where the text refers to Lazarus,

the poor beggar in the Bible who went to heaven while a rich man went to

hell — a point of identification for the mourners, all of whom had taken the vow

of poverty, like the deceased. This haunting melodic figure was etched in the

memory of the Middle Ages through an endless succession of last rites.

The beginning of “In paradisum” reveals a distant derivation from recitation:

In the opening phrases notes of the same pitch — the relic of a reciting tone — are

sung for most of the syllables of the text. Afterward the music grows more and

more melodic, with many single syllables accommodating groups of two or three

1 | 1 1 1

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U n i t i i | Early Music: An Overview48

Plainchant antiphon, “In paradisum”



In paradisum deducant te Angeli: in tuo adventu suscipiant te Martyres, et perducant te in civitatem sanctam Jerusalem.

Chorus Angelorum te suscipiat, et cum Lazaro quondam paupere aeternam habeas requiem.

May the Angels lead you to paradise, and the Martyrs, when you arrive, escort you to the holy city of Jerusalem.

May the Angel choir sustain you, and with Lazarus, who was once poor, may you be granted eternal rest.

Hildegard of Bingen (1098 –1179), Plainchant sequence, “Columba aspexit” To the Catholic Church she is St. Hildegard, venerated by a special liturgy on

September 17. To musicians she is the first great woman composer. Five hundred

years after Gregory I, the first compiler of Gregorian chants, Hildegard composed

plainchant melodies in her own highly individual style, to go with poems that she

wrote for special services at the convent of Bingen, in western Germany, under

her charge as abbess. She also wrote a famous book describing her religious

visions, books on natural science and medicine, even biographies.

“Columba aspexit” was composed in honor of a now-forgotten saint,

St.  Maximinus. It belongs to a late medieval plainchant genre called the

sequence, a much more elaborate kind of melody than the antiphon, consisting of a series of short tunes sung twice, with some variation: A A9 B B9 C C9 . . . N.

A soloist sings A, the choir A9, and so on. Modal cadences — Mixolydian, once

again — at the beginning of the melody (“fenestrae,” “eius”) give it a deceptively

humble quality that contrasts with its ecstatic soaring later. Like “In

paradisum,” “Columba aspexit” grows more and more melismatic — that is, it

shows more melismas — as it goes along.

notes (or even five, at “ae-ter-nam”). These groups of notes on one syllable are

called melismas, and on page 53 we will see much longer melismas in a chant genre that is less simple than the antiphon.

Our recording includes an instrumental drone — a single two-note chord

running continuously. Drones are known from music around the world as well

as from European folk music, and there is evidence that drones were sometimes



































Ł q
























+ 2 more phrases

+ 2 more phrases



- lum


- ba as


- pex

- lis

- it per



- sit

- los

Modal cadence


Et in te - ne

- - strae,

- bras



- i an - te

- it,




- de



- ius

- ma

Stanza 1: SOLOIST

Stanza 2: CHOIR


L i s T E n

1 | 1 1 1

1 | 2 2

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C H A P t E R 6 | The Middle Ages 49

used to accompany plainchant. The drone, the mystical words of Hildegard’s

poem, and the free, surging melody work together to produce a feeling of

serene yet intense spirituality.

2 | Music at Court Over the long span of the Middle Ages, kings and barons gradually gained political power at the expense of the church. They also came to assume leadership in artistic matters. In the later Middle Ages, the princely courts joined the monasteries and cathedrals as major supporters of music.

troubadour and trouvère Songs Large groups of court songs have been preserved from the twelfth and thirteenth centuries, the Age of Chivalry. The noble poet-composers of these songs — who, we are told, also performed the songs themselves — were called troubadours in the south of France, trouvères in the north, and Minnesingers in Germany (Minne means ideal or chivalric love). Among them were knights and princes, even kings — such as the most famous of all chivalric heroes, Richard I of England, “the Lion-Hearted.” Troubadour society (but not trouvère society) also allowed for women composers and performers, such as Countess Beatriz of Dia (see page 51) and Maria di Ventadorn.

Perhaps some of these noble songwriters penned the words only, leaving the music to be composed by jongleurs, the popular musicians of the time. The music is relatively simple — just a tune, in most cases, with no indication of any accompaniment. We hear of jongleurs playing instruments while the trouvères sang; they probably improvised some kind of accompaniment, or played a drone, such as we heard in Hildegard’s “Columba aspexit.”

A miniature illustration of Hildegard of Bingen, in one of her manuscripts, shows the miracle by which fire came down from heaven to engulf and inspire her. Her secretary, a monk named Volmar, looks on in wonder. Erich Lessing/Art Resource, NY.

Hildegard of Bingen, “Columba aspexit”













Columba aspexit Per cancellos fenestrae Ubi ante faciem eius Sudando sudavit balsamum De lucido Maximino.

Calor solis exarsit Et in tenebras resplenduit; Unde gemma surrexit In edificatione templi Purissimi cordis benevoli.

Iste turis . . .

Ipse velox . . .

O pigmentarii . . .

O Maximine . . .

The dove entered Through the lattices of the window, Where, before its face, Balm emanated From incandescent Maximinus.

The heat of the sun burned And dazzled into the gloom, Whence a jewel sprang forth In the building of the temple Of the most pure loving heart.

He is the high tower of Lebanon . . .

The swift hart sped to the fountain . . .

O you makers of incense . . .

O Maximinus . . .

(two more stanzas)

L i s T E n

My love and I keep state In bower, In flower, Till the watchman on the tower Cry: “Up! Thou rascal, Rise, I see the white Light And the night Flies.”

Troubadour alba

1 | 2 2

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U n i t i i | Early Music: An Overview50

There are some moving and beautiful troubadour poems — crusaders’ songs, laments for dead princes, and especially songs in praise of the poets’ ladies or complaints of their ladies’ coldness. One interesting poetic type was the alba, the “dawn song” of a knight’s loyal companion who has kept watch all night and now warns him to leave his lady’s bed before the castle awakes.

The meeting of cultures in medieval music: At a time when half of Spain was in Arab (Moorish) hands, a Moor and a Spaniard are shown playing large vihuelas together. Plucked stringed instruments like the vihuela, ancestors of the modern guitar, were an important novelty brought to medieval Europe from Arab countries. Album/Art Resource, NY.

Bernart de Ventadorn (c. 1135–1194), troubadour song, “La dousa votz” Bernart was one of the finest troubadour poets and probably the most impor-

tant musically; other troubadour and trouvère songs imitated his. Originally

of humble background, he came to serve the powerful Queen Eleanor of

Aquitaine, wife of Henry II of England.

Like hymns and folk songs, troubadour songs set all their stanzas to the

same melody, resulting in what is called strophic form (A A A . . .); often each

stanza is in a a9 b form. “La dousa votz” is in the G (Mixolydian) mode:

00 Ł Ł Ł Ł Ł Ł Ł Ł Ł Ł Ł Ł Ł Ł Ł Ł Ł Ł Ł Ł Ł Ł Ł Ł Ł Ł ŁŁ Ł Ł Ł Ł Ł Ł Ł Ł Ł Ł Ł Ł ¼ La dousa votz ai au-zi - da Del rosin - ho - let sau - va - tge Et es m’insel cor salhi - da Si que tot lo co -si - rer

aa ´

The performance on the recording stresses secular (that is, nonreligious)

aspects of Bernart’s song, including an imaginative reconstruction of a possible

instrumental accompaniment. It sounds far removed indeed from the serene

spirituality of Hildegard.

The language the troubadours spoke and wrote was Provençal, now almost

extinct. It combines elements from Old French and Old Spanish.

1 | 3 3

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C H A P t E R 6 | The Middle Ages 51

the Estampie A few — a very few — instrumental dances also survive from the same court circles that produced the chivalric trouvère repertory. Called estampies ( ess-tom-pées), they are unassuming one-line pieces in which the same or similar musical phrases are repeated many times in varied forms. (This suggests that estampies may have been written-down jongleur improvisations.) Estampies are marked by lively and insistent rhythms in triple meter. Modern performers often add

L i s T E n

Bernart de Ventadorn, “La dousa votz”




St. 1: La dousa votz ai auzida Del rosinholet sauvatge Et es m’insel cor salhida Si que tot lo cosirer E’ls mals traihz qu’amors me dona, M’adousa e m’asazona. Et auria’m be mester L’autrui joi al meu damnatge.

St. 2: Ben es totz om d’avol vida C’ab joi non a son estatge . . .

St. 3: Una fausa deschauzida Trairitz de mal linhage M’a trait, et es traida . . .

I have heard the sweet voice Of the woodland nightingale And my heart springs up So that all the cares And the grievous betrayals love has given me Are softened and sweetened; And I would thus be rewarded, In my ordeal, by the joys of others.

In truth, every man leads a base life Who does not dwell in the land of joy . . .

One who is false, deceitful, Of low breeding, a traitress Has betrayed me, and betrayed herself . . .

HOw DID EARLy MuSIC SOuND? Because sound recording is only about a hundred years old, the hard truth is that we do not really know how the music of Beethoven sounded in 1800, or the music of Bach in 1700. We have the scores, and it may be that tradition, writings, anecdotes, and surviving instruments allow us to extrapolate from score to sound with some confidence. But what about early music — music from 1500, 1300, 1100?

Obsolete instruments have come down to us in an imperfect condition, and we can try to reconstruct them; but figuring out how they were actually played is much more speculative. As for singing, who can guess what a cathedral choir, to take just one example, sounded like in the Middle Ages? Since then, language itself has changed so much that it is hard enough to read a fourteenth- century poet such as Geoffrey Chaucer, let alone imagine how the words that he wrote were pronounced — or sung.

Another set of problems involves the way early music was written down. Its composers never indicated the tempo and rarely specified the instrumental or vocal forces that they anticipated for their music. With vocal pieces, they did not say whether one singer or a whole choir was to sing. It has taken generations of patient research and experiment to “reconstruct” the probable sounds of early music.

The Countess of Dia holding forth; she was one of a small number of women troubadours. Bibliothèque Nationale de France.

1 | 3 3

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U n i t i i | Early Music: An Overview52

a touch of spice with the help of percussion instruments. This is a modest beginning to the long and important history of European dance music, which we will pick up again in Chapter 7.

3 | The Evolution of Polyphony Polyphony — the simultaneous combination of two or more melodies — must have arisen in medieval Europe because people took pleasure in the sensuous quality of music, in the rich sounds of intertwining melodic lines with their resulting harmony. However it got started, the development of polyphonic music in the late Middle Ages represents a decisive turn in the history of Western music.

We know about the earliest European polyphony only from its uses within the church (for, once again, most of what we know about very early music comes from the writing of monks and other clerics). And within the church, the sensuous aspect of polyphony had to be carefully controlled. Polyphony was justified as a way of embellishing Gregorian chants — that is, as yet another way of enhancing the all-important liturgy.

Organum The earliest type of polyphony is called organum (plural: organa). First described in music theory treatises around 900 c.e., actual organum has survived in musical notation from around 1000. Early organum consists of a traditional plainchant melody to which a composer/singer/improviser has added another melody, sung at the same time with the same words.

The history of organum provides a fascinating record of growing artistic ambition and technical invention. A number of clear stages can be identified between about 1000 and 1200 c.e.:

• Originally, the added melody (itself called “the counterpoint”) was sung closely parallel to the chant melody — that is, note against note with the same interval, or distance, between them. This is little more than singing along in thirds (or in octaves). The rhythm of this early, so-called parallel organum was the free rhythm of Gregorian chant.

• Soon the added melody (the counterpoint) was treated more independently — it would sometimes go up when the chant went down, and vice versa.

• Next, singers began to decorate the melody, using melismas — several notes at the same time as a single chant note. As more and more notes were crowded in, making richer and richer added melodies, the single chant notes were slowed down to surprising lengths, sounding finally like long drones.

• Someone then had the idea of adding two counterpoints to the chant. This certainly provided a more lush sound but required much greater skill, since the second counterpoint had to fit the first counterpoint as well as the chant.

• Perhaps to lessen the difficulty of having two counterpoints, definite rhythms, controlled by meter, replaced the chantlike free rhythms of the counterpoints — and ultimately of the underlying chant itself.

Organum of these last, highly developed kinds flourished at the Cathedral of Notre Dame in Paris, which was built slowly over the period 1163–1345. The names of two composers of the so-called Notre Dame school are recorded: Master Léonin and his follower Pérotin (called “the Great”). Pérotin astonished thirteenth-century Paris by creating impressive organa for as many as four simultaneous melodies.

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C H A P t E R 6 | The Middle Ages 53

Pérotin (c. 1200), Organum, “Alleluia. Diffusa est gratia” Many organa were composed for services devoted to the Virgin Mary, the

patron saint of Notre Dame Cathedral (Notre Dame means “Our Lady”). Our

example is added to a lengthy chant for the Mass, “Alleluia. Diffusa est gratia.”

The music was probably written by Pérotin, though we cannot be certain.

At first the chant is sung — in the usual monophonic way:

The whole chant is much longer, but this opening “Alleluia” section is the most

important part — it comes back twice before the chant is over — and the most

beautiful. The exclamation alleluia often calls for especially long melismas (see

page 48), passages of pure, joyful vocalism. The melisma on the syllable -lu

seems to rouse the melody, which then springs up still higher in phrase 2; then

this melodic climax is balanced by a quiet, sinking “answer” in phrases 3 and

4. This alleluia is a beautiful example of the characteristics of tunes discussed

in Unit I (see page 26).

Then the organum starts. The voices begin with a strange, static harmony,

which comes to life when the upper voices start to intertwine in quick,

triple-time rhythms of the kind shown in the margin. They are singing long

melismas on the syllables Dif- fu- sa, and so on.

Underneath, the lowest voice is singing the rest of the chant — but no

longer in the characteristic free rhythm of Gregorian chanting. Sometimes

Ł Ł Ł Ł Ł Ł Ł Ł Ł Ł Ł Ł Ł Ł Ł Ł Ł Ł Ł Ł Ł Ł Ł Ł Ł Ł q Ł Ł Ł Ł Ł Ł Ł Ł Ł Ł Ł Ł Ł Ł Ł Ł Ł Ł


Phrase 2Phrase 1

Al-le - - - - - lu - - - - - ia. (a)

Phrase 3 Phrase 4

Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris. Flying buttresses — the great medieval engineering feat that made such tall buildings possible — support the main structure (the nave). with its lofty front towers and its spire, Notre Dame seems to reach up to heaven itself. JRoss/RobertHarding.

24 Ł Ł ý


ý n


1 | 4 4

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54 U n i t i i | Early Music: An Overview

the chant plods along in a stiff, regular rhythm (as at 1:21). Sometimes it

is slowed down enormously (at 0:37, 1:07, and 1:33); at these points the

chant is unrecognizable — it has been reduced to a series of lengthy drones.

The plainchant has become a sort of musical scaffolding for the added

counterpoints, a constructive element supporting the ecstatic upper-voice

melodies, which are the main focus of interest in this music.

Our recording omits part of this lengthy organum (the section indicated by

italics). It ends with a huge melisma on de- and a sort of shudder on the final

syllable -us. Then plain chanting is resumed, as the original “Alleluia” music

returns twice, first with new words, in aeternum, and then with its original

alleluia — a peaceful close.

4 | Later Medieval Polyphony After 1200 c.e. the most significant development in polyphonic music was its  gradual distancing from church services. In one important new genre, composers took a fragment of a Gregorian chant and repeated it several times over in the bottom voice. On top of it they layered two more voices, each with its own words: love poems, commentaries on political developments of the day, even the cries of Parisian street vendors. This was a radical and strange development; how many kinds of music do you know today that present simultaneously two different sets of lyrics?

In such music, despite the fragment of chant on which it was built, there was little sign left of the church. The genre was named after its proliferation of words in the upper voices: motet, from the French mot (“word”).

Pérotin, “Alleluia. Diffusa est gratia”

Italics indicate the section omitted from the recording.








alleluia, alleluia

Diffusa est gratia in labiis tuis; propterea benedixit te deus

in aeternum.

alleluia, alleluia


Grace has been poured out upon your lips; therefore, God has blessed you


L i s T E n

Anonymous (late thirteenth century), Round, “Sumer is icumen in” A very different approach to polyphony marks the astonishingly original

“Sumer Is Icumen In,” the one piece of music from this whole period that is

still sung regularly by student choirs and others. This piece is a canon or round,

like “Row, Row, Row Your Boat” and “Frère Jacques,” but the melody is much

longer. It survives in one manuscript, with no author’s name. Its words, a bu-

colic celebration of the arrival of summer, form one of the earliest lyric poems

in English — Middle English, that is, a much earlier stage of today’s English.

Here is a free translation of it:

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55C H A P t E R 6 | The Middle Ages

Ars nova We are moving through history very rapidly. After 1300 the technical development of polyphony reached new heights of sophistication. Composers and music the- orists of the time began to speak of an ars nova, a “new art” or “new technique.” The motet continued to develop as an important genre, incorporating ars nova ingredients; but the organum of the Notre Dame composers, now many years old, was regarded as “ancient art,” ars antiqua.

Some historians have compared the fourteenth century with the twentieth, for it was a time of the breakup of traditions — an age of anxiety, corruption, and worse. Bubonic plague, the “Black Death,” carried away an estimated 75 million people, at a time when the church had broken apart and two rival popes claimed the allegiance of European Christendom.

Polyphonic music grew increasingly intricate and even convoluted, as did the painting, architecture, and poetry of the time. Motets reflected such intricacy in a structural technique they employed called isorhythm. Here rhythmic patterns many notes long were repeated over and over — isorhythm means equal rhythm — but with different pitches each time. This went along with other schematic and numerical procedures, meant for the mind rather than the ear. Mathematics was also making great strides in this period.

The leading composers, Philippe de Vitry (1291–1361) and Guillaume de Machaut (c. 1300 –1377), were both churchmen — Vitry ended his life as a bishop — but they were political churchmen serving the courts of France and Luxembourg. Machaut was also the greatest French poet of his time, admired (and imitated) by his younger English contemporary Geoffrey Chaucer.

Of instrument of strings in accord Heard I so play a ravishing sweetness That God, that Maker is of all, and Lord, Ne heard never better, as I guess.

Geoffrey Chaucer, 1375

Guillaume de Machaut (c. 1300–1377), Chanson, “Dame, de qui toute ma joie vient” Machaut left us numerous examples of secular polyphony, that is, polyphony

independent from the church. He composed many motets using isorhythmic

techniques. And, though he was still close enough to the trouvères to write

beautiful monophonic songs, he also adapted their old tradition of chivalric love

songs to complex, ars nova polyphony. These songs, or chansons (shahn-sohn), had no trace in them of Gregorian chant.

“Dame, de qui toute ma joie vient,” a chanson with four voices, is an excellent

example of non-imitative polyphony, the characteristic texture of Machaut’s

music. The top line was clearly intended to be sung, but the other three might

have been meant for either vocal or instrumental performance; if he had a

Summer is a-coming in, Cow after calf makes moo; Loudly sing cuckoo! Bullock stamps and deer champs, Groweth seed, bloometh the meadow, Merry sing cuckoo! And springs the wood anew; Cuckoo, cuckoo, Sing cuckoo! Well singest thou, cuckoo, Ewe bleateth after lamb, Be never still, cuckoo!

Four voices carry the tune; two more voices below them repeat “sing cuckoo”

over and over again. Our recording starts with them and goes on to add the main

melody sung by one voice, then, in staggered fashion, by two, then by four.

Written sometime after 1250 in the major mode, not one of the medieval ones,

the song packs an infectious swing that sounds like five (or eight) centuries later.

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56 U n i t i i | Early Music: An Overview

Scenes of medieval music making. These and the miniature on page 50 are from Songs of the Virgin Mary, written (or perhaps compiled) by King Alphonso X of Spain, “the wise” (1252–1284), renowned for his support of learning and the arts. Images: Album/Art Resource, NY.

Machaut, “Dame, de qui toute ma joie vient”







Dame, de qui toute ma joie vient Je ne vous puis trop amer et chierir

N’assés loer, si com il apartient Servir, doubter, honourer n’obeïr.

Car le gracious espoi, Douce dame, que j’ay de vous vëoir, Me fait cent fois plus de bien et de joie Qu’en cent mille ans desservir ne porroie.

Lady, source of all my joy, I can never love or cherish you too much,

Or praise you as much as you deserve, Or serve, respect, honor, and obey you.

For the gracious hope, Sweet lady, I have of seeing you, Gives me a hundred times more joy and boon Than I could deserve in a hundred thousand years.

L i s T E n

preference, Machaut didn’t tell us. On our recording, all four

parts are sung. The words are parceled out slowly, with long

melismas on many syllables, a feature that looks back to the

style of organum.

Because of this melismatic style, the song is much longer

than Bernart’s “La dousa votz.” Each stanza takes about two

minutes in our performance, and only the first is included here.

Still, the form of “Dame, de qui toute ma joie vient” is identical

to that of Bernart’s song. Each stanza falls into an a a9 b arrangement; this was

one of several standardized song forms Machaut adapted from the trouvères.

Given the length of Machaut’s song, a letter now stands for a whole section

rather than a melodic phrase or two. Each section comes to a clear stop on a

strong cadence. The three sections are signaled in the Listen box that follows.

The most general impression of this song is of a lively and flowing set of

intertwining melodies. The words — hard to follow because of the abundant

melismas — seem to be little more than an excuse for the complex polyphony.

Certainly the music does not show any obvious attempt to reflect the meaning

or emotion of the poem. We will see in Chapter 7 that, by the time of the

Renaissance, this rather neutral relation of music and words would change.

G o a l s f o r r e v i e w

c to understand basic features of medieval church services: liturgy, plainchant

c to listen for different styles of Gregorian plainchant: recitation and melody

c to sample the variety of plainchant genres: antiphon and sequence

c to distinguish church music from court music

c to witness the emergence of polyphonic church music in the late Middle Ages: organum

c to sample genres of medieval polyphony outside of church: a round and a chanson by Guillaume de Machaut Listening Quizzes for Chapter 6 and Global Perspectives: Sacred Chant Reading Quizzes for Chapter 6 and Global Perspectives: Sacred Chant

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The vast number of societies that exist or that have existed in this world all generated their own music — or, as we say, their own different “musics.” Often they are very different indeed; the first time South African Zulus heard Christian hymn singing they were amazed as much as the missionaries were when they first heard Zulu music.

Yet for all their diversity, the musics of the world do show some parallels, as we are going to see in the Global Perspectives sections of this book. There are parallels of musical function in society, of musical technique, and sometimes of both together.

Often these parallels come about as the result of influences of one society on another — but influences are never accepted without modification and the blending of a foreign music with native music. At other times parallels appear in musics that have nothing whatsoever to do with one another. Considering all these parallels, we have to believe that certain basic functions for music and certain basic technical principles are virtually universal in humankind.

One of these near-universal features — and one of the most fundamental — is the role of music in the service of religion. Singing serves across the world as an essential means of marking off the rituals of worship, signaling their special status and their difference from other, secular pursuits. The repertory of Gregorian chant developed in the Christian church

Global Perspectives

of the Middle Ages (see pages 44–49) is only one of many traditions of monophonic religious chant, albeit one of the more elaborate.

Islam: Reciting the Qur’an Another highly elaborate tradition of chant is found in Islam, practiced today by about a fifth of the world’s population, and the domi-

nant religion in some fifty nations. Across all of Islam, the revelations of the prophet Muhammad gathered in the Qur’an (or Koran) are chanted or sung in Arabic. Muhammad himself is said to have enjoyed this melodic recitation.

Usually Qur’anic recitation is rigorously distin- guished from all types of secular music making. It is thought of as “reading” the sacred text aloud, not singing it; nonreligious activities such as singing or playing instruments might be referred to as music (musiqi), but reading the Qur’an is not.

Given these distinctions, it is not surprising that Qur’anic recitation, like Gregorian chant, is monophonic and nonmetric, and does not involve instruments. It aims, above all else, to convey the Qur’anic text  in a clearly comprehensible manner. Unlike plainchant, it has been passed along in oral tradition down to the present day; it has resisted the musical notation that came to be a part of the Gregorian tradition already in the Middle Ages. To this day, great Islamic chanters sing the whole 114-chapter Qur’an from memory.

"Ya Sin" Our excerpt is the beginning of a long recitation of one of the most highly revered chapters from the Qur’an. It is titled “Ya Sin” and is recited in times of adversity, illness, and death. A skilled reciter, Hafíz Kadir Konya, reads the verses in a style midway between heightened speech and rhapsodic melody. His phrases correspond to lines of the sacred text, and he pauses after every one. He begins:

In the name of Allah, the Beneficent, the Merciful.

Ya Sin.

By the wise Qur’an,

Lo! thou art of those sent The azan: A muezzin high in a minaret calls the faithful to prayer in Cairo, Egypt. Christine Osborne/CORBIS.


Sacred Chant

57G L O B A L P E R S P E C t i V E S | Sacred Chant

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58 U n i t i i | Early Music: An Overview

Hawai’ian Chant We should not be too sur- prised to find certain broad similarities between Qur’anic and Gregorian chant. Both

Christianity and Islam emerged from the same region, the Middle East, and Muhammad drew on elements of Christian doctrine in forming his new religion. He counted Jesus Christ as one of the Islamic prophets.

It is more surprising to find some of the same features in religious chant from halfway around the globe, in Polynesia — in Hawai’ian prayer songs, or mele pule (mél-eh póol-eh). By reciting these prayers, Hawai’ians sought to bring to life images of their gods fashioned of wood, stone, or feathers, animating them with divine powers.

Our brief example combines fragments of two chants (the division comes at 0:24). The first is a song to the fire goddess Pele, the second an invocation to a godlike chief. Like Gregorian and Qur’anic recitation, and like all traditional Hawai’ian song, these mele are monophonic. They are also almost monotonal, with only one prominent pitch other than the central reciting tone.

The chants take their rhythms from the words and show little trace of meter. Their simple melody is ornamented subtly with various shifts of vocal delivery. The most prominent of these is a clear, pulsating,

On a straight path,

A revelation of the Mighty, the Merciful,

That thou mayst warn a folk whose fathers were not warned, so they are heedless.

Already hath the word proved true of most of them, for they believe not.

In his first phrases, Konya begins at a low tonic and gradually expands his range to explore pitches around it. By 0:39, he reaches a pitch central to his melody, higher than the tonic. The succeeding phrases circle around this pitch, reciting words on it and decorating it with ornamental melodic formulas of varying intricacy. In this regard, it is a bit like Gregorian recitation, only more elaborate in its melodies.

The Azan Like Gregorian chant, Islamic chanting has developed a wide variety of approaches and styles. The best-known type of Islamic chant employs a style related to recitation, though it does not take its words from the Qur’an: the singing of the adhan, or azan. This is a call to worship issued five times daily by a special singer called a mu’adhdhin, or muezzin. That an entire society comes to a stop five times a day for prayer reveals the tremendous force of Islamic religion.

The muezzin traditionally delivers his azan from the minaret, a tower attached to the mosque, and later inside the mosque to begin the prayers. In Islamic cities today, the azan is often broadcast over loudspeakers to enable it to sound over modern urban noises.


Hawai’ian singers in traditional garb. They strike large, double gourds on the ground to accompany their song. Courtesy of the National Park Service.

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59G L O B A L P E R S P E C t i V E S | Sacred Chant

almost sobbing vibrato, or wavering pitch, that the singer, Kau’i Zuttermeister, introduces on long syllables. This technique, called i’i, is a stylistic feature prized in many types of traditional Hawai’ian song. It is felt to endow melodies with special, deep emotion.

A Navajo Song One more example of chant comes to us from Native American traditions. In these, too, singing is closely allied with the sacred. Song plays a role  in healing, hunting, so-

cial rituals, and — embracing all these activities — in human relations with gods, spirits, and ancestors. Most Native North American song is monophonic, like the Hawai’ian, Arabic, and Western chants we have heard. Unlike them, it is usually accompanied by drums or rattles of one sort or another.

Our example comes from the Navajo nation of the Four Corners area of the American Southwest. It is called “K9adnikini9ya9,” which means “I’m leaving,” and it dates from the late nineteenth century.

Just as individual Gregorian chants have their assigned places in Catholic services, so this chant has its own special role. It is sung near the end of the Enemy Way ceremony, a central event of Navajo spiritual life. In this solemn ceremony, warriors who have come in contact with the ghosts of their enemies are purified and fortified. Such purification is still performed today, sometimes for the benefit of U.S. war veterans.

“K9adnikini9ya9” falls into a group of Navajo sacred songs known as ho9zho9ni9 songs, and you will hear the related word ho9zhon9go (“beautiful,” “holy”) sung alongside k9adnikini9ya9 to end each of the seven central phrases of the song. Every phrase of the song begins with the syllables hé-yuh-eh, yáng-a-ang-a. These are vocables, syllables having no precise meaning. Vocables are sometimes called “nonsense syllables” and likened to the “tra-la-las” and “hey-diddle-diddles” of European nursery rhymes. But they are hardly nonsensical. They can carry secret, venerable, and even mystical significance.

The melody of “K9adnikini9ya9,” like the other chants we have examined, is organized around a prominent re- citing tone (the pitch of hé-yuh-eh); each phrase turns upward at its end (on k9adnikini9ya9). The song’s meter,

At a powwow in British Columbia. Gunter Marx Photography/ CORBIS.


given the regular drum strokes, is more pronounced than in any of our other examples. The formal plan consists of a refrain at the beginning and end, with a group of parallel phrases in between.











Refrain repeated

7 parallel phrases, each of 11 drum strokes


L i s T E n

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The Renaissance


7 Renaissance (“rebirth”) is the name given to a complex current of thought that worked deep changes in Europe from the fourteenth to the sixteenth century. It began in Italy. By rediscovering and imitating their ancient Greco-Roman forebears, Italians hoped they could bring about the rebirth of their glorious past. It was an unreal-

istic idea, which came to nothing in political terms. Instead of becoming a new Roman empire, Italy at the end of the Renaissance consisted of the same pack of warring city-states that had been at each other’s throats all through the Middle Ages.

However, the revival of Greek and Roman culture provided a powerful model for new values, first in Italy and then the rest of Europe. In the words of a famous nineteenth-century historian, the Renaissance involved “the discovery of the world and of man.” This was the age of Columbus and Magellan, Leonardo da Vinci, Copernicus, Galileo, and Shakespeare. Medieval society was stable, conservative, authoritarian, and oriented toward God. The Renaissance laid the groundwork for the dynamic Western world we know today, a world in which human beings and nature, rather than God, have become the measure in philosophy, science, and art.

Renaissance artists strove to make their work more relevant to people’s needs and desires. They began to reinterpret the world around them — the architect’s world of space and stone, the painter’s world of images, the musician’s world of sound — in new ways to meet these ambitions.

1 | New Attitudes A good indication of the Renaissance mind-set, in the early fifteenth century, was a new way of treating plainchant in polyphonic compositions. Medieval com- posers writing organum or isorhythmic motets seem to have felt that so long as they used a traditional plainchant, there was nothing wrong with distorting it. They lengthened its notes enormously underneath the added counterpoints. They recast the meterless chant into fixed, arbitrary rhythms.

Renaissance composers no longer felt obliged always to use plainchants; but when they did, they tended to treat them as melodies to listen to, not as scaffolding for polyphonic structures. They embellished chants with extra notes, set them in graceful rhythms, and smoothed out passages that struck them as awkward or old-fashioned. This procedure is known as paraphrase.

“Music is a thing which delighteth all ages and beseemeth all states; a thing as seasonable in grief as in joy. The reason hereof is an admirable facility which music hath to express . . . the turns and varieties of all passions.”

Anglican bishop and theologian Richard Hooker, 1593

U n i t i i | Early Music: An Overview

Compare two Madonnas shown in this book: One (page 43) is a late medieval masterpiece from northern Europe, the other from the new world of Renaissance Italy (page 36; painted only fifty years later). Uncrowned, uncluttered, the mother here smiles, the children play — God and His angels do not encircle this Madonna by Raphael as they do Lochner’s on page 43. Mondadori Portfolio/Electa/Sergio Anelli/The Bridgeman Art Library.

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C H A P t E R 7 | The Renaissance 61

The church singers in these famous panels by Florentine sculptor Luca della Robbia (1400 –1482) are handsome boys who seem to be taking the same sensuous pleasure in their singing as Luca did in sculpting them. Both images: Scala/Art Resource.

Guillaume Dufay (c. 1400–1474), Harmonized hymn, “Ave maris stella” Guillaume Dufay (or Du Fay) was born and bred in the north of France near

modern Belgium, a region that supplied the whole of Europe with musicians

for many generations. For over twenty-five years he worked in Italy, where he

came to know artists and thinkers of the Renaissance and (no less important)

the princely patrons who supported them. His later years were spent in a glow

of celebrity at the important French cathedral of Cambrai.

Dufay’s “Ave maris stella” is a homophonic setting of a Gregorian hymn, one of the most tuneful of plainchant genres. A short tune is sung through

many stanzas, followed by an Amen — much like a modern hymn, in fact. One

of the loveliest of Gregorian hymns, “Ave maris stella” was also one of the best

known, because it was addressed to the Virgin Mary and sung on all of the

many special feasts in her honor, and on most Saturdays, too. Note how line 1

contains the words AVE MARI(s stell)A — “hail, Mary.”

Renaissance composers using paraphrase emphasized the sonorous, sensu- ous aspect of the chant rather than its function as structure and control — its authoritarian function, one might say. (Sonority means either tone color or, more loosely, rich tone color.) A new sensitivity to sonority and melody was one of the first signs of Renaissance attitudes toward music.

Having transformed plainchants into modern melodies with a more attractive profile, composers put them not at the bottom of the polyphony but on top, in the soprano, where they could be heard most clearly.

Early Homophony The fifteenth century also saw the beginning of composed homophony — that is, music in a harmonic, chordal texture (see page 29). In the simpler plainchant paraphrases of the time, the melody is often highlighted by an accompaniment that does not really sound polyphonic. Though there are still several polyphonic voices, most of the time their independence vanishes because they move along together and form simple chords.

The effect is of a melody on top supported by a harmonization below. Once again the emphasis is on sensuous effect rather than on the more intellectual process of polyphony.

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62 U n i t i i | Early Music: An Overview

“Ave maris stella” is in the D (Dorian) mode. You may be able to hear that

the third note in the tune (the sixth note of the scale) is higher than would be

normal in the modern minor mode. The hymn itself has six or seven stanzas;

Dufay set only the even-numbered ones to his own music, leaving the others to

be sung Gregorian-style in alternation. This makes it fairly easy to hear how he

embellished the plainchant.

His music for stanzas 2, 4, and 6 is the same each time — almost entirely

homophonic and quite suave. The top voice sings a paraphrased, somewhat

longer version of the hymn tune, as shown below, where the dashed lines mark

the notes taken directly from the chant, shown screened in blue. The

embellishment consists of a few extra notes and extensions, with the free rhythm

of Gregorian chant channeled into a graceful triple meter.


A ve ma ris stel la,- - -


Ł Ł Ł Ł Ł Ł Ł Ł Ł Ł At que sem per Vir go,- - -

Ł Ł Ł Ł Ł Ł Fe lix coe li por ta.- - -

Gregorian hymn, “Ave maris stella”

De i Ma ter al ma,- - -



ð Ł Ł


Ł ý Ł Ł


ð Ł








Ł ¼ Ł Ł










Ł ¼







Ł ý Ł






Ł Ł Ł Ł Ł² Ł


ð ¼ etc.

Su - mens il - lud A - ve Ga-bri - e - lis o - re

Beginning of stanza 2 of Gregorian hymn, “Ave maris stella,” with Dufay's paraphrased melody beneath it

Dufay, “Ave maris stella”







STANZA 1: Plainchant

Ave maris stella, Dei Mater alma, Atque semper Virgo, Felix coeli porta.

STANZA 2: Dufay’s paraphrase

Sumens illud Ave Gabrielis ore, Funda nos in pace, Mutans Hevae nomen.

STANZA 3: Plainchant

Solve vincla reis . . .

STANZA 4: Paraphrase

Monstra te esse matrem . . .

STANZA 5: Plainchant

Virgo singularis . . .

STANZA 6: Paraphrase

Sit laus Deo Patri, Summo Christo decus, Spiritui Sancto, Tribus honor unus, Amen.

Hail, star of the ocean, Kind Mother of God, And also still a virgin, Our blessed port to heaven.

May that blessed “Ave” From Angel Gabriel’s mouth Grant us peace, Reversing the name “Eva.”

Praise be to God the Father, To Christ on high, To the Holy Spirit: Three honored as one. Amen.

Dufay and another fifteenth-century composer, Gilles Binchois (c. 1400–1460), with a harp. Portable small organs (called portatives) were in use at the time. Bibliothèque Nationale de France, Paris/Giraudon — The Bridgeman Art Library.

L i s T E n

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C H A P t E R 7 | The Renaissance 63

“Ave maris stella” counts as a rather simple composition for Dufay, whose fame was and is based on longer, more elaborate pieces; he wrote some of the first polyphonic Masses, for example — the important genre we take up next. Still, plainsong harmonizations make up an appreciable proportion of his output, and they show the new Renaissance attitudes with particular clarity.

the Mass The new treatment of traditional plainchant, as in the technique of paraphrase, shows Renaissance composers taking a relaxed attitude toward medieval authority. The same can be said of their reaction to medieval intricacy, as represented by intellectual musical devices such as isorhythm. Fourteenth- century composers like Machaut (page 55) had used isorhythm even when writing love songs. Composers now cultivated a much simpler style for their polyphonic songs, or chansons: simpler, gentler, and more supple. The modest style of these new chansons was sometimes used for sacred texts, including portions of the Mass.

The rejection of isorhythm did not mean, however, that composers aban- doned the technical development of their craft, which had taken such impressive strides from the early days of organum. Rather, such efforts now were focused on large-scale musical construction. For the first time, compositions were written to last — and to make sense — over twenty or thirty minutes.

The problem of large-scale construction that fascinated fifteenth-century composers was how to write music that would hold together throughout the Mass, the largest and most important prayer service of the Christian liturgy. The Mass contains numerous items that were sung in plainchant, and as we have seen, for centuries — from the time of organum to the time of harmonized hymns — composers had been embellishing plainchants with polyphony to be sung in services. The next step was to set the words that had been chanted to new music, instead of embellishing the existing chant music. Composers settled on these five items of the Mass for their new music:

Kyrie A simple prayer: “Lord have mercy, Christ have mercy” Gloria A long hymn, beginning: “Glory to God in the highest” Credo A recital of the Christian’s list

of beliefs, beginning: “I believe in one God, the Father almighty” Sanctus Another, shorter hymn: “Holy, holy, holy, Lord God of hosts” Agnus Dei Another simple prayer: “Lamb of God . . . have mercy on us”

In this way the polyphonic Mass was standardized into a five-section form, and it has retained this form down to the present day, in settings by Palestrina, Bach, Mozart, Liszt, Stravinsky, and many others.

One of the earliest ways to unify these disparate elements was simply to use the same music to open each movement. Another way was to base each movement on the same Gregorian chant — one belonging not to the Mass, but perhaps to the liturgy of some special day on which the Mass was celebrated. This would make the Mass especially appropriate for Christmas or Easter or (as we will see shortly) Corpus Christi, a celebration held every year in springtime.

So large a structure presented composers with a challenge, and they took this up in a spirit of inventiveness and ambition characteristic of the Renaissance. What the symphony was to nineteenth-century composers and their audiences, the Mass was to their fifteenth-century counterparts: a brilliant, monumental test of artistic prowess.

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U n i t i i | Early Music: An Overview64

2 | The High Renaissance Style Around 1500 a new style emerged for Masses, motets, and chansons that would hold sway for much of the sixteenth century. The chief characteristic of this High Renaissance musical style was a careful blend of two kinds of musical texture, imitative counterpoint and homophony (see pages 29–30).

imitation Most polyphony at the beginning of the fifteenth century was non-imitative; most polyphony at the end of the century was imitative. This remarkable change is due partly to the fact that imitative polyphony, or imitation, reflects the ideals of moderation and balance that also characterize the visual arts of the High Renais- sance. In the Madonna by Raphael shown on page 36, the calm, dignified repose expressed by the figures and faces is as striking as the beautiful balance among all the pictorial elements.

By its very nature, imitative texture depends on a carefully controlled balance among multiple voice parts. A first voice begins with a motive (see page 25) designed to fit the words being set. Soon other voices enter, one by one, singing the same motive and words, but at different pitch levels; meanwhile the earlier voices continue with new melodies that complement the later voices. Each voice has a genuinely melodic quality, none is mere accompaniment or filler, and none predominates for very long.

We can get an impression of the equilibrium of imitative polyphony from its look on the page, even without reading the music exactly. The following excerpt is from the score of Josquin Desprez’s Pange lingua Mass:















Ł ½





Ł ý

ð ½

Ł ý












Ł ý

Ł ý















TENOR (reads

an octave lower)


sanctus, Tu so - lus Dominus,

Tu so-lus Dominus, tu so - lus

Tu so-lus Dominus, tu so - lus

sanctus, Tu so-lus Dominus,

A Kyrie from a dazzling Renaissance book of Mass music. Such handcrafted treasures were rarely used in music making, though many plainer manuscripts saw much use. The man who commissioned this one is shown praying with an angel in the top left. Austrian National Library, Vienna.

Homophony Almost all polyphony involves some chords, as a product of its simultaneously sounding melodies. But in the music of Machaut, for example, the chords are more of a by-product. Late medieval composers concentrated on the horizontal aspects of texture at the expense of vertical ones (see page 29), delighting in the separateness of their different voice parts. The chords that resulted from the interplay of these parts were a secondary consideration.

A major achievement of the High Renaissance style was to create a rich chordal quality out of polyphonic lines

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C H A P t E R 7 | The Renaissance 65

that still maintain a quiet sense of independence. Composers also used simple homophony — passages of block chord writing. They learned to use homophony both as a contrast to imitative texture and as an expressive resource in its own right.

Other Characteristics The ideal tone color at this time, especially for sacred music, becomes a cappella performance — that is, performance by voices alone. Tempo and dynamics change little in the course of a piece. The rhythm is fluid, without any sharp accents, and shifts unobtrusively all the time. The melodies never go very high or very low in any one voice; the ups and downs are carefully balanced. This music rarely settles into the easy swing of a dance rhythm or into the clear patterns of an actual tune.

Music in the High Renaissance style can sometimes strike modern listeners as vague, but if we listen more closely — and always listen to the words as well as the music — its flexibility, sensitivity, and rich expressive potential begin to come clear. Does it remind us of a wonderfully musical and subtle speaking voice? The sixteenth century would have been pleased to think so.

Josquin Desprez (c. 1450–1521), Pange lingua Mass (c. 1510) The first master of the High Renaissance style was Josquin Desprez. Like

Dufay, he was born in the north of France, and like Dufay and many other of

his countrymen, in early life he traveled to Italy. The list of Josquin’s patrons

reads like a Renaissance who’s who: Pope Alexander VI, the notorious Sforza

family of Milan, the Estes of Ferrara, Louis XII, king of France.

An amazingly imaginative composer, Josquin brought the fifteenth-century

Mass to a brilliant climax and pioneered whole new expressive genres, such as

the sixteenth-century chanson and motet. He was famous both for his technical

prowess and for his expressive innovations — for the prayerful serenity of his

motet “Ave Maria” as well as the grief-stricken accents of “Planxit autem

David,” a setting of King David’s lament for his dead son Absalom.

Another Kyrie, this one printed around 1500—the earliest beginnings of music-printing technology. The circulation of music (as of books, maps, images, and data in general) skyrocketed with the great Renaissance invention of the printing press.

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Josquin wrote eighteen different settings of the Mass — all large pieces in

the standard five-section form. The Pange lingua Mass, one of his masterpieces,

derives its melodic material largely from a hymn called “Pange lingua”

( Proclaim the Mystery). This is a Gregorian hymn of the same kind as “Ave

maris stella,” which we have heard in Dufay’s harmonized setting. “Pange

lingua” (and hence Josquin’s Mass) is designed for Corpus Christi, a feast

celebrating the Holy Eucharist, or Communion.

This is a four-part Mass (that is, a Mass for a choir with four separate

melodic lines). In Josquin’s day, boys sang the high parts and men the lower

ones; Josquin probably started his musical career as a choirboy. Today women

usually substitute for boys in music of this period.

We shall examine the first two sections of Josquin’s Pange lingua Mass.

Kyrie The men in the choir sing line 1 of the hymn “Pange lingua,” in simple monophony, before the first section of the Pange lingua Mass. This first section,

the Kyrie, is an elemental prayer consisting of three subsections:

Kyrie I: Kyrie eleison. Lord have mercy. Christe: Christe eleison. Christ have mercy. Kyrie II: Kyrie eleison. Lord have mercy.

For Kyrie I, Josquin wrote a point of imitation — a brief passage of imitative polyphony usually using a single melodic motive. Here the motive is

a paraphrase (see page 60) of line 1 of the hymn:





Ł Ł Ł Ł Ł Ł Ł Ł Fruc tus ven tris ge ne ro si

Gregorian hymn, “Pange lingua”

Pan ge lin gua glo ri o si- - - - -

Cor po ris mys te ri um,- - - - -

San gui nis que pre ti o si,- - - - - -

Quem in mun di pre ti um- - -

- - - - -

Ł ŁŁ Ł Ł Ł Ł Ł Ł Rex ef - fu - dit gen - ti-um.

This motive enters many times in the various voice parts, sometimes with

delays in between: tenor, bass, wait, soprano, alto, wait, bass, tenor, soprano.

Josquin did not invent this motive — it was derived from the plainchant hymn,

as shown above — but his paraphrase is very beautiful, especially at the end.

The Christe section has two points of imitation, also derived from the hymn,

for the words Christe and eleison; the motives of these points are rhythmically

similar. Kyrie II has a new point of imitation for the words Kyrie eleison, followed

by free material not paraphrased from the hymn — a descending sequence and,

prior to the drawn-out final cadence, a powerful oscillating passage.

Josquin, Pange lingua Mass, Kyrie




Kyrie eleison.

Christe eleison.

Kyrie eleison.

Lord have mercy.

Christ have mercy.

Lord have mercy.

According to recent research, this Portrait of a Musician by Leonardo da Vinci may well be of Josquin Desprez. Only about twenty paintings by Leonardo have survived. Pinacoteca Ambrosiana, Milan, Italy/De Agostini Picture Library/© Veneranda Biblioteca Ambrosiana—Milan/The Bridgeman Art Library.

/. ð ð ð Ð Ł Ł Ł ð Ł Ł Ł ý Ł Ł Ł ý Ł ð Ł Ð

Gregorian hymn, “Pange lingua”


TENORS Ky - ri - e e - le - i - son

L i s T E n

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Gloria The four remaining sections of the Mass — the Gloria, Credo, Sanctus, and Agnus Dei — introduce countless new points of imitation, which are

interspersed with occasional passages of homophony.

In the second subsection of the Gloria, beginning with the words Qui

tollis, polyphony and homophony are contrasted in a highly expressive way.

At the beginning, we can almost envisage one or two persons timidly invoking

Him “who takes away the sins of the world” (polyphony), and then the

whole congregation — or, symbolically, the whole of Christendom — urgently

responding together with a plea for mercy and relief: “have mercy”

(homophony). This music gives a dramatic sense of communal worship.

The “Qui tollis” subsection as a whole includes eight points of imitation

and four homophonic or nearly homophonic phrases. (The imitation on “Tu

solus Dominus” is illustrated on page 64.) Even in the imitative phrases, the

vocal lines fit together smoothly into chords, and while the sequence of these

chords seems hard to predict, at least for modern ears, it does not seem

arbitrary. The remarkable mood of Josquin’s music — at once sober, quietly

energetic, and reverential — owes much to its Phrygian (E) mode. Like the

hymn “Pange lingua,” the Pange lingua Mass is in this mode.

3 | Music as Expression In parts of Josquin’s Pange lingua Mass, as we have just seen, the music does not merely enhance the liturgy in a general way, but seems to address specific phrases of the Mass text and the sentiments behind them. Music can be said to “ illustrate” certain words and to “express” certain feelings. The exploration of music’s power to express human feelings was a precious contribution by musicians to the Renaissance “discovery of the world and of man.”

Josquin, Pange lingua Mass, from the Gloria

Capital letters indicate phrases sung in homophony.




Qui tollis peccata mundi, miserere nobis.

Qui tollis peccata mundi, suscipe deprecationem nostram. Qui sedes ad dexteram Patris, miserere nobis.

Quoniam tu solus sanctus, tu solus Dominus, tu solus altissimus, Jesu Christe, cum sancto spiritu, in gloria Dei Patris. amen.

You who take away the sins of the world, have mercy upon us.

You who take away the sins of the world, hear our prayer. You who sit at the right hand of the Father, have mercy upon us.

For you alone are holy, you alone are the Lord, you alone are the most high, Jesus Christ, With the Holy Spirit, in the glory of God the Father. Amen.

L i s T E n

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Renaissance composers derived inspiration for their exploration of music’s expressive powers from reports of the music of ancient Greece, just as artists, architects, and writers of the time were also looking to ancient Greece and Rome for inspiration. Philosophers such as Plato had testified that music was capable of arousing emotions in a very powerful way. In the Bible, when Saul is troubled by an evil spirit, David cures him by playing on his harp; there are similar stories in Greek myth and Greek history.

How modern music could recapture its ancient powers was much discussed by music theorists after the time of Josquin. They realized that both music and words could express emotions, and they sought to match up the means by which they did so. Composers shared this expressive aim of matching words and music; in fact, devotion to the ideal of musical expression, by way of a text, was one of the main guiding ideas for musicians of the later Renaissance. This led to two important new developments in the music of the time:

• First, composers wanted the words of their compositions to be clearly heard. They strove for accurate declamation — that is, they made sure that words were sung to rhythms and melodies that approximated normal speech.

This may seem elementary and obvious, but it is simply not true of most medieval polyphony (or of many plainchants). The Renaissance was the first era when words were set to music naturally, clearly, and vividly.

Josquin Desprez, Chanson, “Mille regrets”

Josquin’s polyphonic chanson, or song, “Mille regrets,” a lover’s lament at

leaving his or her beloved, illustrates his attention to the words he set to

music. Though the poem is little more than a string of clichés, its sorrowful

tone seems to have moved the composer and is perfectly captured in his

music: in its somber harmonies, its drooping melodies, its slow-moving

rhythms. Particularly effective are two homophonic moments in this

song. The first singles out the phrase J’ai si grand deuil (“I feel such great

sorrow”); the second, after a short point of imitation on Qu’on me verra, ends

the song with repeated affirmations of brief mes jours déffiner (“my days

are numbered”).

It is revealing to compare “Mille regrets” with Guillaume de Machaut’s

chanson “Dame, de qui toute ma joie vient,” an earlier polyphonic love song

(see page 55). There we have the sense of an exuberant interplay of melodies

rather than an expression of the poetry’s sentiments. In Josquin’s chanson, in

keeping with Renaissance expressive ideals, we experience instead a

straightforward musical rendering of the grief of the words.

Josquin, “Mille regrets”

Mille regrets de vous abandonner Et d’élonger votre face amoureuse. J’ai si grand deuil et peine douloureuse Qu’on me verra brief mes jours déffiner.

A thousand regrets at leaving you and departing from your loving look. I feel such great sorrow and grievous pain that all will see my days are numbered.

L i s T E n

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Sigh was typically set by a motive including a rest, as though the singers have been interrupted by sighing. Grief, cruel, tor- ment, harsh, and exclamations such as alas — words found all the time in the language of Renaissance love poetry — prompted composers to write dissonant or distorted harmony. First used extensively in the sixteenth century, word painting has re- mained an important expressive resource of vocal music. For examples from the Baroque period, when it was especially important, see pages 86, 88, 143, and 147.

4 | Late Renaissance Music The High Renaissance style established by the generation of Josquin De- sprez proved remarkably stable. Yet it was also flexible enough that compos- ers were able to do new things with it all the way to the end of the sixteenth century. While its use was clearest in the church music of the time, important

• Second, composers began matching their music to the mean- ing of the words that were being set. The phrase word painting is used for this musical illustration of the text. Words such as fly and glitter were set to rapid notes, up and heaven to high ones, and so on:

00 Ł Ł Ł Ł Ł Ł ð ý Ł

Ł ý Ł Ł Ł ð ð Fly, Love, a - loft to heav’n to seek out for - tune . . .

The move toward personal expression in Renaissance music was matched in the pictorial arts, and individualized portrait-painting came into its own. Here is Eleonora Gonzaga, Duchess of Urbino, painted by the Venetian master Titian (c. 1488–1576). Erich Lessing/Art Resource, NY.

William Byrd

Giovanni Pierluigi da PalestrinaTomás Luis de Victoria

Roland de Lassus

0 250 500 kilometers

0 250 500 miles


North Sea

Mediterranean Sea

Baltic Sea




The dispersion of the High Renaissance style across Europe

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Giovanni Pierluigi da Palestrina (c. 1525–1594), Pope Marcellus Mass (1557)

Palestrina was a singer in, or choirmaster of, many of Rome’s most famous

churches and chapels, including the Sistine (Papal) Chapel. He lived in the

repressive atmosphere of the Counter-Reformation movement, launched by

the pope in 1545 to combat a growing revolt in northern Europe against

Catholicism as then practiced. (That revolt was the Protestant Reformation.) In

his youth Palestrina wrote secular compositions, some of which were widely

new secular genres also made use of this style. The broad appeal of the style is shown by the geographical spread of its four most famous masters, Palestrina, Lassus, Victoria, and Byrd. Giovanni Pierluigi da Palestrina (c. 1525 –1594) was born just outside Rome and worked in the Holy City all his life. Roland de Lassus (c. 1532–1594), also known as Orlando di Lasso, was a worldly and much-traveled Netherlander who settled at the court of Munich. His output was enormous. Tomás Luis de Victoria (c. 1548 –1611), a Spanish priest, spent many years in Rome working for the Jesuits but ended up in Madrid. William Byrd (1540 –1623) was organist of England’s Chapel Royal under Queen Elizabeth I but also a member of the English dissident Catholic minority. He wrote Masses for illegal and highly dangerous services held in secret in barns and attics.

Music at court: instrumentalists of the Bavarian Court Chapel in 1565, under Roland de Lassus. Each man and boy is carefully and solemnly depicted. With this imposing picture (and another, of an equally large group of court singers), the duke showed off the size and distinction of his retinue — a reflection, of course, of his own glory. De Agostini Picture Library/The Bridgeman Art Library.

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The frontispiece of Palestrina’s First Book of Masses (1554) announces to all the world that this music has the pope’s blessing. The book in Palestrina’s hands is open to the papal Mass Ecce Sacerdos magnus (Behold the great priest). Bettmann/CORBIS.

Palestrina, Pope Marcellus Mass, from the Gloria

Capital letters indicate phrases sung in homophony.





qui tollis peccata mundi, miserere nobis. qui tollis peccata mundi, Suscipe deprecationem nostram. qui sedes ad dexteram patris, miserere nobis. quoniam tu solus sanctus, tu solus dominus, tu solus altissimus, jesu christe, cum sancto spiritu, in gloria dei patris. Amen.

You who take away the sins of the world, have mercy upon us. You who take away the sins of the world, hear our prayer.

You who sit at the right hand of the Father, have mercy upon us.

For you alone are holy, you alone are the Lord, you alone are the most high, Jesus Christ,

With the Holy Spirit, in the glory of God the Father. Amen.

L i s T E n

popular, but later he recanted and apologized for them. He composed over

a  hundred Masses; some of the earliest of them were published with a highly

symbolic illustration of the kneeling composer presenting his music to the pope.

Because singing is so powerful a force in religion, as we noted on page 44,

societies have felt a need to control it carefully. Christianity has witnessed

periodic reforms to prune church services of musical features that came to

be  seen as extravagant. The Counter-Reformation staged just such a reform.

Palestrina’s most famous composition, the Pope Marcellus Mass, was supposed

to have convinced the pope and his council that composers of complicated

polyphonic church music could still set the sacred words clearly enough that

the congregation could hear them. Partly because of this legend, and partly

because of the serenity and careful control of his musical style, Palestrina be-

came the most revered Renaissance composer for later centuries. His works are

still treasured by Catholic choir directors today.

Gloria A section from the Gloria of the Pope Marcellus Mass, the “Qui tollis,” shows how the High Renaissance a cappella style changed after the time of

Josquin. Compared with Josquin’s setting of these same words in his Pange lingua

Mass (see page 65), Palestrina’s setting employs much more homophony. Apart

from some fuzziness on a few individual words, only the last and longest line of

Palestrina’s composition uses polyphony; this contrast makes for a fine climax.

Beyond this, we notice at once that vocal sonority is of major importance

in Palestrina’s setting. He uses a larger and richer choir than Josquin — six

vocal parts, rather than four — and keeps alternating between one and another

subgroup, or semichoir, drawn from the total choir. Thus the first phrase, in

high voices, is answered by the second, in low voices, and so on. The whole

choir does not sing all together until the word suscipe.

What matters most to Palestrina are the rich, shifting tone colors and

harmonies, which he uses to produce a generalized spiritual aura, sometimes

ethereal, sometimes ecstatic. And with the aims of the Counter-Reformation in

mind, he is certainly careful to declaim the words very clearly.

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the Motet The term motet, we saw in Chapter 6, was invented in the late Middle Ages. It has lived on and been applied to very different kinds of music over the centuries since. Thus motets by Palestrina or Byrd have little in common with motets by Machaut or even Dufay. The sixteenth-century motet is a relatively short composition with Latin words, made up of short sections in the homophony and imitative p olyphony that were the staples of the High Renaissance style. The words are nearly always religious, taken from a variety of sources — sometimes directly from the Bible. As compared with the Mass of the same time, the motet is basically similar in musical style, but different in scope and, of course, in text.

It was the variety of possible words in the motet, as contrasted to the invari- able words of the Mass, that recommended it to sixteenth-century composers. By providing them with new words to express, motets allowed church composers to convey religious messages in their music with more verve and power than ever before.

the italian Madrigal

It was in secular music, however, that the Renaissance ideal of music as expres- sion made the greatest impact. This took place principally in an important new Italian genre, after around 1530, called the madrigal.

The madrigal is a short composition set to a one-stanza poem — typically a love poem, with a rapid turnover of ideas and images. Ideally it is sung by one singer per part, in an intimate setting. The music consists of a sometimes equally rapid turnover of sections in imitative polyphony or homophony. Essentially, then, the plan is the same as that in High Renaissance sacred works such as Masses and motets.

But with secular words came a decisive change of emphasis. The points of imitation were shorter, and the imitation itself less strict; there was generally much more homophony; and the words assumed more and more importance. Both declamation and word painting were developed with great subtlety. For three generations a line of Italian madrigal composers, or madrigalists, pioneered an amazing variety of techniques to make words more vivid and to illustrate and illuminate them by musical means. Many thousands of their madrigals were published at the time and have come down to us.

the English Madrigal

A genre like the madrigal, tied so closely to its words — Italian words — would seem difficult to transplant. Even so, Italian madrigals became all the rage in Elizabethan England and led to the composition of madrigals in English. This popularity may well have reflected the taste and interests of Queen Elizabeth I herself. The Virgin Queen not only maintained a splendid musical establishment, like all other ambitious mon- archs and princes of the time, but also became an accomplished musician in her own right.

Queen Elizabeth I playing the lute. This miniature portrait is reproduced close to its original size. Berkeley Castle, Gloucestershire, UK/ The Bridgeman Art Library.

“If therefore you will compose madrigals, you must possess yourself of an amorous humor, so that you must be wavering like the wind, sometimes wanton, sometimes drooping, sometimes grave and staid, otherwhile effeminate; and show the very uttermost of your variety, and the more variety you show the better shall you please.”

From a music textbook by madrigal composer Thomas Morley, 1597

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thomas Weelkes (c. 1575–1623), Madrigal, “As Vesta Was from Latmos Hill Descending” (1601)

Thomas Weelkes never rose beyond the position of provincial cathedral

organist-choirmaster; in fact, he had trouble keeping even that post in later life,

when the cathedral records assert that he became “noted and found for a

common drunckard and notorious swearer and blasphemer.” Although he is

not a major figure — not in a league with the other composers treated in this

unit — he is one of the best composers of madrigals in English.

Weelkes’s contribution to The Triumphs of Oriana is a fine example of

a madrigal of the lighter kind. (Weelkes also wrote serious and melancholy

madrigals.) After listening to the music of Josquin and Palestrina, our first

impression of “Vesta” is one of sheer exuberant brightness. Simple rhythms,

clear harmonies, crisp melodic motives — all look forward to music of the

Baroque era and beyond. This music has a modern feel about it.

The next thing likely to impress us is the elegance and liveliness with which

the words are declaimed. Weelkes nearly always has his words sung in rhythms

that would seem quite natural if the words were spoken, as shown in the

margin (where — stands for a long syllable, ˘ for a short one). The declamation

is never less than accurate, and it is sometimes expressive: The rhythms make

the words seem imposing in the second phrase, dainty in the third.

As for the word painting, that can be shown in a tabular form:

As Vesta was from Latmos hill descending

She spied a maiden Queen the same ascending,

Attended on by all the shepherds’ swain;

To whom Diana’s darlings came running down amain

First two by two, then three by three together

Leaving their Goddess all alone, hasted thither;

And mingling with the shepherds of her train,

With mirthful tunes her presence did entertain.

Then sang the shepherds and nymphs of Diana:

Long live fair Oriana!










Leav-ing their God-dess all a-lone

Then sang the shep-herds and nymphs of Di-a-na

To whom Di-a-na’s dar-lings — — —˘ ˘ ˘ ˘

— — — —˘ ˘

— — — —˘ — — ——˘ ˘


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In 1601, twenty-three English composers contributed madrigals to a patriotic anthology in Elizabeth’s honor, called The Triumphs of Oriana. All the poems end with the same refrain: “Then sang the shepherds and nymphs of Diana: Long live fair Oriana!” Oriana was a pseudonym for Elizabeth, and the nymphs and shepherds of Diana — the goddess of virginity — were her subjects. The Triumphs was obviously a court-inspired project, and as such it reminds us vividly of one of the main functions of court music in all ages: flattery.

(The “maiden Queen” is Elizabeth, and “Diana’s darlings” are the Vestal

Virgins, priestesses of Vesta, the Roman goddess of hearth and home. The

archaic word amain means “at full speed.”)

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5 | Instrumental Music: Early Developments The best sixteenth-century composers concentrated almost entirely on vocal genres, on music with words. Except for the English master William Byrd, none of them devoted much attention to music for instruments alone. This is in keeping with the Renaissance preoccupation with expression in music, achieved through the association of music with words.

Nevertheless, instruments and music for instruments developed significantly during this period. The first violins and harpsichords date from the sixteenth century; many other instruments such as the lute (see page 21) were perfected during this time. Originally from the Near East, the lute was as popular then as the guitar is today. Instrumental music was to become one of the great glories of the Baroque era, and the basis for this was laid in the Renaissance.

Around 1500, hardly any music was written specifically for instruments. Instrumentalists would either play along with singers in vocal music or else play motets, chansons, and other vocal genres by themselves, without words. The principal vocal genre after 1550, however — the madrigal — would not have made much sense performed without its words. By this time new genres were emerging specifically for instrumental performance.

Renaissance Dances The most widespread of Renaissance instrumental genres was the dance, a reflection of the great popularity of dancing at the time. Many dance types are described in detail in sixteenth-century instruction books — the steps them- selves, and also their order or sequence. (In this regard, old dances were closer to square dances or ballroom dancing than to some modern social dancing, where there is no fixed order for steps or movements.) One of the most popular was the pavan (pa-váhn), a solemn dance in duple meter, with the participants stepping and stopping formally. It was usually paired with the galliard, a faster dance in triple meter.

Simpler, less formal Renaissance dance types include the Italian saltarello; the Irish jig, known also in Scotland and the north of England; and the French brans- le, whose name is related to our word brawl. The Renaissance also saw elaborate- ly choreographed ballets, court dances in which kings and nobles participated.

Conforming to the dance steps, dance music was written in easy-to-follow phrases, almost always four to eight bars long. Ending with especially clear cadences, the phrases were each played twice in succession to produce forms such as a a b b or a a b b c c.

This brilliant six-part madrigal uses two sopranos, alto, two tenors, and

bass. Weelkes makes particularly good use of this group in his extended

imitative setting of the poem’s last line. Here we can easily imagine six loyal

voices (or many more) endlessly cheering their queen in a spontaneous,

irregular way, one after another. Shakespeare and his contemporaries, Weelkes

among them, were very fond of puns. Weelkes has the word long sung by the

bass voice on a note four times the duration of a whole note — a note whose

Latin name was longa. So this madrigal has its esoteric, in-joke side for

musicians as well as its public, political side for Elizabeth’s subjects.

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75C H A P t E R 7 | The Renaissance

Instrumental music at work: a dance at the French royal court, c. 1580. The leaping couple tells us the dance is a lively one. Musée des Beaux-Arts, Rennes, France/Giraudon/The Bridgeman Art Library.

Anonymous (sixteenth century), Galliard, “Daphne”

The title of this melodious Elizabethan dance suggests that originally it may

have been a song. But if so, at some point the song was pressed into galliard

form, a a b b c c:

² 20 Ł ð Ł ð Ł Ł ý² Ł Ł ð Ł Ł Ł¦ Ł Ł Ł Ł Ł Ł Ł Ł ð Ł Ł Ł ð ý

ð Ł ð Ł ð Ł Ł² ð

² Ł ý Ł Ł ð Ł Ł ð ð ý Ł Ł Ł Ł Ł Ł Ł Ł Ł

Ł Ł Ł Ł ý Ł Ł ð Ł Ł ð² Ł ð Ł ý¦ Ł Ł ð Ł Ł ð Ł ð ý²

Second timeFirst timea b


Played in our recording by an early violin ensemble, “Daphne” is mainly

homophonic. The meter is kept very clear, and the distinct quality of the

phrases ending a, b, and c makes it easy for the dancers to remember the place

in the dance step sequence. The first violin improvises ornaments at the second

playing — an instrumental practice as old as the estampie (see page 51) and as

new as jazz (page 386).

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U n i t i i | Early Music: An Overview76

G o a l s f o r r e v i e w

c to understand the technique of paraphrasing an earlier melody

c to listen for melodic paraphrase and homophonic texture in a Renaissance hymn

c to understand the imitative polyphony at the heart of the high Renaissance style

c to gain an overview of the Mass, the most important element of Christian liturgy

c to listen to polyphonic settings of individual prayers or sections of the Mass by Josquin Desprez and Giovanni Pierluigi da Palestrina

c to understand the new Renaissance emphasis on musical expression, and to hear it at work in a madrigal by Thomas Weelkes

c to witness the growing importance of instrumental music, especially dances Listening Quizzes for Chapter 7 and Global Perspectives: Music and Early

European Colonialism Reading Quizzes for Chapter 7 and Global Perspectives: Music and Early European Colonialism

² .. Ł ý Ł Ł Ł Łý Ł Ł Ł Ł Ł Ł Ł Ł

Ł Ł Ł Ł Ł Ł Ł Ł Ł Ł Ł Ł Ł Ł Ł¦ Ł Ł² Ł Ł Ł Ł Ł Ł Ł Ł Ł Ł Ł Ł Ł ð ð Cadence ba Cadence Cadence

ð ð

Will Kemp of “Kemp’s Jig”; his musician accompanies with traditional tools of the trade, a pipe and tabor (flute and drum). © The British Library Board. Harley 3885 f19.

Anonymous (sixteenth century), “Kemp’s Jig”

Will Kemp was an Elizabethan actor, comedian, and song-and-dance man, im-

mortalized for having created comic roles in Shakespeare, such as Dogberry,

the addle-headed constable in Much Ado about Nothing. Kemp specialized in

a type of popular dance number, called a jig, that was regularly presented in

Elizabethan theaters after the main play. He accompanied himself with pipe (a

type of simple flute, blown like a recorder) and tabor (a snare drum).

“Kemp’s Jig” is a lively — perhaps perky is the right word — and very simple

dance tune in a a b form. Both a and b end with the same cadence. The tune is

played several times on our recording, first by a recorder and then by a viol, an

early stringed instrument in the cello range; ornaments are piled on, first to the

repeated phrase a and then to all the repetitions. A lute accompanies.

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In introducing the Renaissance, on page 60, we echoed the words of a historian who saw in it “the discovery of the world and of man.” But we have not yet said much about the world part of this formulation.

The period from 1480 to 1620 marks the first great phase of European expansion into other parts of the world. The most famous European voyages of explora- tion, by Bartolomeu Dias, Vasco da Gama, Columbus, and Magellan, were followed by countless others. Trade routes to Africa and the New World were quickly established — so quickly that from 1492 on, only one year passed without European journeys to the Americas.

The voyages of exploration were more than sheer adventurism or innocent trading ventures. They were also expeditions of military conquest and territorial expansion. They marked the beginning of aggressive European colonization of large portions of the rest of the globe that would last almost five hundred years, well into the 1900s, and would profoundly shape the modern world.

Cultural Conquest and Music The European attempt to conquer was cultural as well as military. In the immediate wake of European soldiers and conquistadors came missionaries aiming to convert the native peoples to Christian beliefs — whether by persuasion or harsher measures. Wherever they went,

soldiers, missionaries, and merchants reported back to a fascinated Europe on the novelties they found.

These reports — some precise and evidently accurate, others very fanciful — often made room for descriptions of music. They inform us of musical tradi- tions that today are at least much changed and, in many cases, simply extinct. From the 1590s comes a description of African music in the Congo. (For discussion of West African drumming, see page 397.) English mariners report on Native North American song and dance (see page 59), and Dutch explorers tell about the elaborate gong orchestras, or gamelans, still played today in Indonesia (see page 199). The Jesuit Father Matteo Ricci, the first European allowed to reside in the imperial capital of Beijing, was scandalized by Chinese opera, “a curse,” in his view, “more prone to vice” than any other activity (for more on Chinese opera, see page 297).

Music of the Aztecs and Incas The Aztec and Inca empires were the greatest civiliza- tions Europeans came upon in the New World. They amazed their conquerors with their cultural achievements and complexity, their riches, and their astonishing capitals: Tenochtitlán, in the middle of a Mexican lake that has long since disappeared under Mexico City, and Cuzco, built so high up in the Andes that the Spaniards established Lima, a low-lying city on the coast, for themselves.

Since they had elaborate religious institutions of their own, the Mexicans and Andeans presented the European missionaries with their first great challenges for religious conversion in the New World. The mission- aries systematically studied Aztec and Inca culture to determine how best to achieve their goal, and they taught the natives all the elements of a Christian life as they saw it. Prominent among their studies was native music; central to their teachings was European music.

Inevitably, the two musics were thrust into con- frontation. A Mexican church council of the sixteenth century ruled that native musicians “shall sing polyphonic music only when their singing conforms to standards we consider acceptable . . . and they shall not be permitted to sing songs that remind people of their old idolatrous customs.” A church council at

A European depiction from the 1590s of the song and dance of the Tupi Indians of Brazil. Private Collection / The Stapleton Collection / Bridgeman Images.



Global Perspectives

Music and Early European Colonialism

77G L O b A L P E R s P E C t i V E s | Music and Early European Colonialism

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78 U n i t i i | Early Music: An Overview

Lima tried to abolish altogether singing and dancing at native harvest festivals. Meanwhile, the missionaries encouraged native song and dance in Christian festivals, hoping that they would hasten the Andeans’ acceptance of the new, foreign religion.

These efforts could not succeed completely. We know that native singers preserved their traditional songs, often singing them secretly, away from the eyes and ears of the authorities. At the same time they easily learned and adopted the European music the mission- aries pressed on them. By the mid-seventeenth century Native Americans were composing European-style church music in more than one newly built cathedral.

Inca Processional Music The song “Hanaq pachap kusikuynin” is a fascinating case of the musical merging of two cultures. Published in 1631 by a Franciscan friar named Bocanegra, it is the first piece of elaborate music to be published any- where in the New World. The words of the song are in the native Andean language Quechua (ket-chwa). Was it the work of Bocanegra himself, or one of the new Indian composers? We cannot be sure.

The song is a hymn to the Virgin Mary. Bocanegra says that it was sung during religious processions honoring her, like the one pictured above. Imagine the scene in 1630 in front of the still unfinished cathedral of Cuzco, built on the sturdy foundations of an Inca palace: Native singers march in procession across the plaza, wearing the traditional garb still permitted

for  Christian festivals, singing Quechua words set to European-style music, and accompanying themselves on Andean flutes and drums.

As they enter the church, they regroup as a choir for services including Gregorian chant, now with Latin words — perhaps “Ave maris stella,” the widely used hymn to the Virgin that we have already studied. Next comes newly composed polyphonic music. Such are the cultural mixes that arise in colonial situations.

Our performance of “Hanaq pachap kusikuynin” is tamer than this — no instruments are used. The music is simple but moving. It sets the phrases of the Quechua text one by one, in the straightforward homophonic texture we have heard in Dufay’s harmonization of “Ave maris stella” and Palestrina’s Pope Marcellus Mass (see pages 61 and 70).

A church procession in seventeenth-century Cuzco, with the Virgin Mary atop a wagon carrying musicians (not painted to scale). The aristocrat at the far left wears traditional Inca garb.

“Hanaq pachap kusikuynin”

Hanaq pachap kusikuynin Waranqakta much’asqayki

Yupay ruru puquq mallki Runakunap suyakuynin Kallpannaqpa q’imikuynin Waqyasqayta

Bliss of heaven, A thousand times I adore you.

Tree of myriad fruits, Hope of peoples, Pillar of the weak: Hear my cry.

(one more stanza)

L i s T E n

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79C H A P T E R 8 | The Early Baroque Period

In the years around 1600, music underwent rapid changes at the sophisticated courts and churches of northern Italy. Composers began to write motets, madrigals, and other pieces more directly for effect — with less artifice of imitative polyphony and also with the use of exciting new performing forces. A new style, the style of the early Baroque period,

took hold all over Italy and, soon, in most of the rest of Europe.

1 | From Renaissance to Baroque The madrigal, we saw in Chapter 7, was the most “advanced” form in late Renaissance music. Toward the end of the sixteenth century, the search for expression led madrigal composers to increasingly extreme — even weird — kinds of word painting. Previously taboo dissonances and rhythmic contrasts were explored to illustrate emotional texts in a more and more exaggerated fashion. The fluid High Renaissance style broke down.

At the same time, a reaction set in against the madrigal. In Florence, an influential group of intellectuals mounted an attack on the madrigalists’ favorite technique, word painting. It was artificial and childish, they said, and the many voices of a madrigal ensemble could not focus feeling or express it strongly.

True emotionality could be projected only by a single human agent, an individual, a singer who would learn from great actors how to move an audience to laughter, anger, or tears. A new style of solo singing was developed, recitative, that aimed to join together features of music and speech. This led inevitably to the stage and, as we shall see, to opera. Invented in Florence around 1600, opera became one of the greatest and most characteristic products of the Baroque imagination.

Music in Venice Meanwhile, there were important developments in Venice, the city of canals. The “Most Serene Republic,” as Venice called itself, cultivated especially brilliant styles in all the arts — matched, it seems, to the city’s dazzling physical beauty.

Wealthy and cosmopolitan, Venice produced architects whose flamboyant, varied buildings were built of multicolored materials, and painters — the Bellinis,

“Why cause words to be sung by four or five voices so that they cannot be distinguished, when the ancient Greeks aroused the strongest passions by means of a single voice supported by a lyre? Renounce counterpoint . . . and return to simplicity!”

A Florentine critic, 1581

The Early Baroque Period



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U n i T i i | Early Music: An Overview80

Titian, Tintoretto — who specialized in warm, rich hues. Perhaps, then, it is more than a play on words to describe Venetian music as “colorful.”

From the time of Palestrina’s Pope Marcellus Mass (see page 70), composers of the sixteenth century had often divided their choirs into low and high groups of three or four voice parts each. These semichoirs would alternate and answer or echo each other. Expanding this technique, Venetian composers would now alternate two, three, or more whole choirs. Homophony crowded out counterpoint as full choirs answered one another in stereo, seeming to compete throughout entire motets and Masses, then joining together for climactic sections of glorious massed sound.

The sonic resources were enriched even further when Venetian composers started designating the choirs for instruments on some parts as well as the usual voices on others. Even whole choirs could be made up of instruments and pitted against the choirs of voices. As the sonorous combinations of Venetian music grew more and more colorful, magnificence and extravagance became the new ideals, well suited to the pomp and ceremony for which Venice was famous. And as Venice became the tourist center of Europe, its distinctive music proved to be one of its big attractions.

Venice, the most colorful of European cities, and one of the most musical. Several major painters made a specialty of Venetian scenes, which were very popular; this one, of an aquatic fete across from the central square, the Piazza San Marco, is by Canaletto (1697–1768). The Bucintoro Returning to the Molo (oil on canvas), ©The Bowes Museum, Barnard Castle County Museum, UK / The Bridgeman Art Library.

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C H A P T E R 8 | The Early Baroque Period 81

Extravagance and Control Wherever they looked, knowledgeable travelers to Italy around 1600 would have seen music bursting out of its traditional forms, styles, and genres. Freedom was the order of the day. But they might have been puzzled to notice an opposite tendency as well: In some ways musical form was becoming more rigorously controlled and systematic. As composers sought to make music more untram- meled in one respect, it seems they found they had to organize it more strictly in another. Listeners could not be allowed to lose track of what was happening.

The clarity and control composers exercised over Baroque form, in other words, was an appropriate response to Baroque extravagance and emotionality of expression.

Giovanni Gabrieli, Motet, “O magnum mysterium” (c. 1610) The most important composers in Venice were two Gabrielis, Andrea

(c. 1510–1586) and his nephew Giovanni. As organists of St. Mark’s Basilica, the

cathedral of Venice, both of them exploited the special acoustics of that extraor-

dinary building, which still impress tourists today. By placing choirs of singers

and instrumentalists in some of St. Mark’s many different choir lofts, they ob-

tained brilliant echo effects that even modern audio equipment cannot duplicate.

Giovanni’s “O magnum mysterium,” part of a larger motet, was written

for the Christmas season. The words marvel that lowly animals — the ox and

the ass — were the first to see the newborn Jesus. This naïve, touching text

made “O magnum mysterium” a favorite for motet settings at the time; there

are lovely versions by Victoria and Byrd (page 70).

Gabrieli’s music marvels along with the text. In the manner of a madrigal,

the exclamation O is repeated like a gasp of astonishment. Then lush chord

progressions positively make the head spin, as the words O magnum

mysterium are repeated to the same music, but pitched higher (that is to say,

in sequence — see page 48).

Gabrieli uses two choirs, each with three voice parts and four instrumental

parts, plus organ, though at first all we hear is a sumptuous blend of brass in-

struments and voices in a mainly homophonic texture. A more polyphonic

texture emerges for the first time at the word sacramentum. Solo voices, first

tenors, then boy sopranos, imitate one another during the line iacentem in

presepio. Their motive is finally taken up by the brass.

Gabrieli unleashes his musical resources in a big way at the choral “Alleluia”

section. The music moves in quick triple meter, matching the jubilation of

repeated alleluias, and the choirs echo back and forth across the sound space:

FAST — triple meter SLOW — duple meter

1 2 3 1 2 3 1 2 3 1 2 3 1 2 3 1 2 3 1 2 3 1 2 3 1 2 3 1 2 3 4 1 2 3 4 1

CHOIR 1 Al-le- lu-ia, al-le-lu- ia; al-le-lu- ia, al-le-lu- ia: Al -- le- lu------ ia

CHOIR 2 Al-le- lu-ia, al-le-lu- ia, al-le-lu- ia, Al -- le- lu------ ia[ To make a grand conclusion, the two choirs come together again. There is

another wash of voice-and-brass sonority as the tempo slows and the meter

“Sometimes there sung 16 or 20 men together, having their master or moderator to keep them in order, and when they sung the instrumental musicians played also. Sometimes 16 played together: 10 sagbuts, 4 cornets, and 2 violdegamboes of an extraordinary greatness, sometimes 2, a cornet and a treble viol. ”

Venetian music in 1611, as reported by an English tourist

sagbut: an early trombone cornet: a woodwind instrument played with a trumpet mouthpiece viola da gamba: a cello-like instrument

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U n i T i i | Early Music: An Overview82

2 | Style Features of Early Baroque Music Music from the period of approximately 1600 to 1750 is usually referred to as baroque, a term that captures its excess and extravagance. (It was originally a jeweler’s term for large pearls of irregular shape.) A number of broad stylistic features unify the music of this long period.

Rhythm and Meter Rhythms become more definite, regular, and insistent in Baroque music; a single rhythm or similar rhythms can be heard throughout a piece or a major segment of a piece. Compare the subtle, floating rhythms of Renaissance music, changing section by section as the motives for the imitative polyphony change. (Renaissance dance music is an exception, and in the area of dance music there is a direct line from the Renaissance to the Baroque.)

Related to this new regularity of rhythm is a new emphasis on meter. One technical feature tells the story: Bar lines begin to be used for the first time in music history. This means that music’s meter is systematically in evidence, rather than being downplayed as it was in the Renaissance. (Full disclosure: For ease of reading, we have added bar lines to our examples in Chapters 6 and 7, but there are no bar lines in the original music.) The strong beats are often also emphasized by certain instruments, playing in a clear, decisive way. Strong rhythms and clear meter are conspicuous in Gabrieli’s motet “O magnum mysterium.”

Texture: Basso Continuo Some early Baroque music is homophonic and some is polyphonic, but both textures are enriched by a feature unique to the period, the basso continuo.

In Baroque music the bass line is performed by bass voices (as in Renaissance music) or low instruments such as cellos or bassoons. But the bass part in Baroque music is also played by an organ, harpsichord, or other chord instrument. This instrument not only reinforces the bass line but also adds chords continuously to go with it. The basso continuo, as it was called,

changes to duple for a climactic alleluia. And for still more emphasis, Gabrieli

repeats the entire “Alleluia” section, both the fast triple-time alternations and

the massive slow ending. This kind of clear sectional repetition shows one way

Baroque composers worked to impose clarity and control on flamboyant

chords and the solo rhapsodies.

Gabrieli, “O magnum mysterium”






O magnum mysterium,

et admirabile sacramentum

ut animalia viderunt Dominum natum

iacentem in presepio:

Alleluia, alleluia.

O, what a great mystery,

and what a wonderful sacrament —

that animals should see the Lord new born

lying in the manger.

Hallelujah, hallelujah.

L i s T E n

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C H A P T E R 8 | The Early Baroque Period 83

meaning “continuous bass,” has the double effect of clarifying the harmony and making the texture bind or jell. Baroque music players today usually call it simply the continuo.

One can see how the continuo responds to the growing reliance of Baroque music on harmony (already clear from Gabrieli’s motet). Originally, the continuo was simply the bass line of the polyphony reinforced by chords; but later the continuo with its chords was mapped out first, and the polyphony above adjusted to it. Baroque polyphony, in other words, has systematic harmonic underpinnings.

This fact is dramatized by a musical form that is characteristically Baroque, the ground bass. This is music constructed from the bottom up. In ground- bass form, the bass instruments play a single short melody many times, gen- erating the same set of repeated harmonies above it (played by the continuo chord instruments). Over this ground bass, upper instruments or voices play (or improvise) different melodies or virtuoso passages, all adjusted to the harmonies determined by the bass.

Baroque ground-bass compositions discussed in this book are “Dido’s Lament” from the opera Dido and Aeneas by Henry Purcell (page 88), and Vivaldi’s Violin Concerto in G, Op. 4, No. 12 (page 117).

Another name for the ground bass comes from Italian musicians of the Baroque: basso ostinato, meaning “persistent” or “obstinate” bass. By extension, the term ostinato is also used to refer to any short musical gesture repeated over and over again, in the bass or anywhere else, especially one used as a building block for a piece of music. Ostinatos are found in most of the world’s musical traditions (see page 94).

Functional Harmony Inevitably, in view of these new techniques, the art of harmony evolved rapidly at this time. Whereas Renaissance music had still used the medieval modes, although with important modifications, Baroque musicians developed the mod- ern major/minor system, which we discussed on pages 31–33. Chords became standardized, and the sense of tonality — the feeling of centrality around a tonic or home pitch — grew much stronger.

Composers also developed a new way of handling the chords so that their interrelation was felt to be more logical or coherent. Each chord now assumed a special role, or function, in relation to the tonic chord (the chord on the home pitch). Thus when one chord follows another in Baroque music, it does so in a newly predictable and purposeful way. Functional harmony, in this sense, could also be used as a way of organizing large-scale pieces of music, as we will see later.

In a Baroque composition, as compared with one from the Renaissance, the chords seem to be going where we expect them to — and we feel they are determining the sense or the direction of the piece as a whole. Harmonies no longer seem to wander, detour, hesitate, or evaporate. With the introduction of the important resource of functional harmony, Baroque music brings us firmly to the familiar, to the threshold of modern music.

3 | Opera Opera — drama presented in music, with the characters singing instead of speaking — is often called the most characteristic art form of the Baroque period. Baroque opera combined many different arts: not only music, drama,

²² 00 Ł l Łl Łl lŁ l Łl Łl Łl

A ground bass (the Pachelbel Canon)

Andante‹ Ł = repeated

many times

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U n i T i i | Early Music: An Overview84

and poetry but also dancing, highly elaborate scene design, and spectacular special effects. Ingenious machines were contrived to portray gods descending to earth, shipwrecks, volcanos, and all kinds of natural and supernatural phe- nomena. Scene designers often received top billing, ahead of the composers.

Opera began in Florence; the early operas were court entertainments put on to celebrate royal weddings and the like. But an important step was taken in 1637 with the opening of the first public opera theater. Opera soon became the leading form of entertainment in the whole of Italy. By the end of the century, seven opera houses in Venice fulfilled much the same function as movie theaters in a comparable modern city (around 145,000 people).

Opera was a perfect answer to the general desire in the early Baroque era to portray individual emotion. Opera provided a stage on which the single individual could step forward to express his or her feelings in the most direct and powerful fashion. Indeed, composers felt a need to relieve the constant emotional pressure exerted on their characters by the ever-changing dramatic action. They had to contrive moments of relaxation, moments when the characters could stop and reflect. This led to a standard dualism that has been with opera ever since: recitative and aria.

Recitative and Aria Recitative (reh-sih-ta-téev), from the Italian word for “ recitation,” is the technique of declaiming words musically in a heightened, theatrical manner. It is descended from the careful declamation practiced by late Renaissance composers (see page 68).

The singing voice closely follows the free rhythm of highly emotional speech; it mirrors and exaggerates the natural ups and downs that occur as an actor raises his or her voice at a question, lowers it in an aside, or cries out inw distress. The accompaniment is usually kept to a minimum — most often one or two continuo instruments — ensuring that all the words can be heard clearly.

Recitative is used for plot action, dialogue, and other situations in the drama where it is particularly important for the words to be brought out. On the other hand, where spoken drama would call for soliloquies or meditations, opera uses arias.

An aria is an extended piece for solo singer that has much more musical elaboration and coherence than a passage of recitative. The vocal part is more melodic, the rhythm is more consistent, the meter clearer, and typically the accompaniment includes the entire orchestra. Here the singer-actor mulls over his or her feelings at some leisure, instead of reacting moment by moment, as in recitative. Emotion is controlled and frozen into a tableau

Stage designers of Baroque opera specialized in rapidly moving scenery for their most dazzling effects. Shown here are the machinery for one such set and a drawing of how the effects looked to the audience. Bibliothèque Nationale de France.

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C H A P T E R 8 | The Early Baroque Period 85

or picture. Paradoxically, when the music gets more elaborate, the emotion stands still.

Recitative required great singing actors, and arias required artists who could convert the notes of a score into these tableaus of furious, sensuous, or tragic emotion. Opera houses in the seventeenth century became showcases of vocal virtuosity — as they still are today. Ever since the Baroque era, dramatic expression and vocal display have vied with one another as the driving forces of opera.

Claudio Monteverdi (1567–1643) One figure stood out above all others in music around 1600, just as Josquin Desprez had around 1500. Claudio Monteverdi, an enormously imaginative and innovative composer, also has the distinction of being the first great composer whose music was attacked for being too radical. Radical it was. Monteverdi has aptly been called “the last great madrigalist and the first great opera composer”; indeed, while his earliest madrigals are close in style to those of Thomas Weelkes, some of his later ones are more like small, self-contained opera scenes.

Monteverdi’s career was long and fortunate. He was a quick starter, publishing a little book of sacred songs while only fifteen, and he was still composing operas into his seventies. He first worked at the music-loving court of Mantua, in northern Italy. There he wrote his first opera, Orfeo (Orpheus, 1607), famous in music history as the first masterpiece of opera. He was then appointed choirmaster of St. Mark’s Cathedral in Venice, the most prestigious musical position in Europe, where the Gabrielis had held forth. (Even before moving to Venice he had composed a collection of motets that rivaled anything the Gabrielis produced, in its rich amalgam of solo voices, multiple choirs, and instruments.) At the end of his long career, in the 1640s, Monteverdi helped inaugurate public opera, Venice’s greatest contribution to the history of music.

After Orfeo, none of Monteverdi’s operas were printed, and some have been completely lost — a grievous loss indeed. All we have left of his Arianna is the heroine’s big lament, one of the greatest hits of the day, which Monteverdi published in several different arrangements. Fortunately, two late masterpieces have survived: The Return of Ulysses and The Coronation of Poppea.

Monteverdi as a young man. Conservatory of St. Peter, Naples, Italy/Giraudon — The Bridgeman Art Library.

SinGinG iTAliAn The Coronation of Poppea is the first of many Italian texts printed in this book. To follow the recordings, it will help to know a few simple rules about Italian pronunciation and singing conventions.

• The consonants c and g are soft (pronounced, respec- tively, “ch” and “j”) when followed by e or i (cello, Genoa, cappuccino, DiMaggio). They are hard when followed by other letters, including h (Galileo, spaghetti con Chianti).

• In poems, when an Italian word ending with a vowel is followed by another word beginning with a vowel, the two vowels are elided, run together as one.

• In Italian (and German) z is pronounced dz or tz (pizza, Mozart).

Lines from our selection from The Coronation of Poppea are sung as indicated below:

3 Pur teco io stò 5 Pur téc’yo stó

19 tu a me verrai 5 tw’a méh verráh-ee

27 Il core accarezzando 5 Il cór’ accar-etzándo

30 E mi circondi intanto 5 E mi chircond’ intánto

35 Per me guerreggia Amor 5 Per méh gwerréj’ Amór

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U n i T i i | Early Music: An Overview86

− /0 ¹ Ł Ł Ł Ł Ł Ł Ł Ł Ł ý Ł Ł Ł ¹ Ł Ł Ł Ł Ł Ł ŁŁ ŁŁ ý Ł Ł Speran za tu mi va i il core ac ca rez zando-----

Allegro POPPEA (with strings, recorder)

Claudio Monteverdi, The Coronation of Poppea (1642) Even today, the story of The Coronation of Poppea can shock

by its startling and cynical dramatic realism. Poppea, mistress

of the notorious Roman emperor Nero, schemes to get his

wife, Ottavia, deposed and his eminent adviser, Seneca, put

to death. She succeeds in both. In a counterplot, Ottavia

blackmails Ottone, Poppea’s rejected lover, into an attempt

on Poppea’s life. Ottone tries but fails. The counterplotters

are all exiled. As an added cynical touch, Poppea’s ruthless

maneuvering to be crowned empress of Rome is shown to be

aided by the God of Love and the Goddess of Fortune.

After a prologue sung by the mythological characters,

Act I begins with Ottone arriving at Poppea’s house at

daybreak, and retreating in dismay after he sees Nero’s

guards outside it. In an ironic alba (see page 50), the guards

curse military life and gossip about Poppea’s scheming. This

is a vivid prelude to the first of the opera’s several steamy

love scenes.

Recitative Enter Nero and Poppea, who tries to wheedle Nero into staying with her. Delaying his departure as long as

possible, she makes him promise to return. Accompanied by a

lute as continuo instrument — a voluptuous sound, in this

context — she repeats the question “ Tornerai?” (“Won’t you

return?”) in increasingly seductive accents until Nero stops

evading the issue and agrees: “Tornerò” (“I will return”). The

vocal line does not form itself into real melodies, but goes up or down or speeds

or slows, following the words in speechlike fragments. This is characteristic of the

recitative style.

Nero’s most extended evasion is a short aria-like fragment, called an arioso. Then the recitative resumes. On the final addios — some of them melting, others

breathless — the singers say good-bye, improvising delicate vocal ornaments.

Aria As soon as Nero leaves, Poppea shows her true colors in a jubilant aria, a sort of victory dance. Accompanied by a small orchestra, it contains three

short sections. The first is an orchestral tune (strings and recorder) to which

Poppea sings her first two lines of text:

Monteverdi in old age, pictured on the title page for a book of poems honoring him, published in Venice (“in VEnETiA”) just after his death. The title page shows a fine collection of old instruments, including four lutes, shown in front and back views. Bettmann/CORBIS.

Note that a moment of uncertainty (“a mantle that is . . . illusory”) is marked

by a momentary lapse into recitative. Her mood becomes harder and more

determined in the aria’s second section. Finally, in section 3, she sings light-

hearted, fast military fanfares — this is word painting in the madrigal tradi-

tion — as she exults that the gods are fighting on her behalf.

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87 C H A P T E R 8 | The Early Baroque Period

Monteverdi, The Coronation of Poppea, from Act i

Italics indicate repeated words and lines. For a word about singing Italian, see page 85.










Poppea: Nero:

Poppea: Nero:





Poppea: Nero: Poppea: Nero: Poppea: Nero: Poppea: Nero:

Poppea: Nero: Poppea: Nero: Poppea: Nero:



Tornerai? Se ben io vò, Pur teco io stò, pur teco stò . . . Tornerai? Il cor dalle tue stelle Mai mai non si disvelle . . . Tornerai?

Io non posso da te, non posso da te, da te viver disgiunto Se non si smembra l’unità del punto . . .

Tornerai? Tornerò. Quando? Ben tosto. Ben tosto, me’l prometti? Te’l giuro. E me l’osserverai? E s’a te non verrò, tu a me verrai!

Addio . . . Addio . . . Nerone, Nerone, addio . . . Poppea, Poppea, addio . . . Addio, Nerone, addio! Addio, Poppea, ben mio.

(Section 1)

Speranza, tu mi vai Il core accarezzando; Speranza, tu mi vai il genio lusingando; E mi circondi intanto Di regio si, ma immaginario manto.

(Section 2)

No no, non temo, no, no no, non temo, no di noia alcuna:

(Section 3)

Per me guerreggia, guerreggia, Per me guerreggia Amor, guerreggia Amor e la Fortuna, e la Fortuna.

Won’t you return? Though I am leaving you, I am in truth still here . . . Won’t you return? My heart can never, never be torn away from your fair eyes . . . Won’t you return?

I cannot live apart from you

Unless unity itself can be divided . . .

Won’t you return? I will return. When? Soon. Very soon — you promise? I swear it! And will you keep your promise? If I do not come, you’ll come to me!

Farewell . . .

Farewell, Nero, farewell! Farewell, Poppea, my love.

O hope, you Caress my heart; O hope, you entice my mind;

As you cloak me In a mantle that is royal, yes, but illusory.

No, no! I fear no adversity:

I have fighting for me, I have fighting for me Love and Fortune.

Many men’s roles in early opera were written for castrati, male soprano singers (see page 137). On our recording, Nero is sung by a female mezzo-soprano, Guillemette Laurens.


Mercurial, manipulative, fearless, dangerously sensual: Poppea has been

characterized unforgettably by Monteverdi’s music in this scene.

L i s T E n





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Henry Purcell (1659–1695) Italy was the undisputed leader in music throughout the seventeenth century. However, music in Baroque styles also flourished in France, Germany (or what is now Germany), and other countries, always under Italian influence. The greatest English composer of the Baroque era, Henry Purcell, was the organist at Westminster Abbey and a member of the Chapel Royal, like several other members of his family. In his short lifetime he wrote sacred, instrumental, and theater music, as well as twenty-nine “Welcome Songs” for his royal masters. Purcell combined a respect for native traditions, represented by the music of William Byrd, Thomas Weelkes, and others, with a lively interest in the more adventurous French and Italian music of his own time. He wrote the first English examples of a new Italian instrumental genre, the sonata.

Our Songs and our Musick Let’s still dedicate To Purcell, to Purcell, The Son of Apollo, ’Til another, another, Another as Great In the Heav’nly Science Of Musick shall follow.

Poet Thomas d’Urfey, seventeenth century (Apollo was the Greek god of music.)

Henry Purcell, Dido and Aeneas (1689) Though Purcell composed a good deal of music for the London theater, his one

true opera, Dido and Aeneas, was performed at a girls’ school (though there

may have been an earlier performance at court). The whole thing lasts little

more than an hour and contains no virtuoso singing roles at all. Dido and

Aeneas is an exceptional work, then, and a miniature. But it is also a work of

rare beauty and dramatic power — and rarer still, it is a great opera in English,

perhaps the only great opera in English prior to the twentieth century.

Background Purcell’s source was the Aeneid, the noblest of all Latin epic poems, written by Virgil to celebrate the glory of Rome and the Roman Empire.

It tells the story of the city’s foundation by the Trojan prince Aeneas, who

escapes from Troy when the Greeks capture it with their wooden horse. After

many adventures and travels, Aeneas finally reaches Italy, guided by the firm

hand of Jove, king of the gods.

In one of the Aeneid’s most famous episodes, Aeneas and the widowed

Queen Dido of Carthage fall deeply in love. But Jove tells the prince to stop

dallying and get on with his important journey. Regretfully he leaves, and Dido

kills herself — an agonizing suicide, as Virgil describes it.

In Acts I and II of the opera, Dido expresses apprehension about her

feelings for Aeneas, even though her courtiers keep encouraging the match in

chorus after chorus. Next we see the plotting of some witches — a highly un-

Virgilian touch, but ever since Shakespeare’s Macbeth, witches had been

popular with English theatergoers, perhaps especially with school-age ones.

For malicious reasons of their own, these witches make Aeneas believe that

Jove is ordering his departure.

In Act III, Aeneas tries feebly to excuse himself. Dido spurns him in a

furious recitative. As he leaves, deserting her, she prepares for her suicide.

Recitative Dido addresses this regal, somber recitative to her confidante, Belinda. Notice the imperious tone as she tells Belinda to take her hand, and the

ominous word painting on darkness. Purcell designed the melody of this

recitative as a long, gradual descent, as if Dido’s life force is already ebbing away.

Aria The opera’s final aria, usually known as “Dido’s Lament,” is built over a slow ground bass or ostinato (see page 83), a descending bass line with

Henry Purcell. National Portrait Gallery, London, UK/The Bridgeman Art Library.

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chromatic semitones (half steps) repeated a dozen times. The bass line sounds

mournful even without accompaniment, as in measures 1–4. Violins in the

string orchestra imitate this line while Dido is singing, and especially after she

has stopped. As often happens in arias, the words are repeated a number of

times; Dido has little to say but much to feel, and the music needs time to

convey the emotional message. We experience an extended emotional tableau.

Whereas recitative makes little sense unless the listener understands the exact

words, with arias a general impression of them may be enough. Indeed, even

that is unnecessary when the song is as poignant as Purcell’s is here.

The most heartbreaking place comes (twice) on the exclamation “ah,”

where the bass note D, harmonized with a major-mode chord during the first

six appearances of the ground bass, now supports a new minor chord:

An incident sparking the affair of Dido and Aeneas, depicted in Act ii of Purcell’s opera, is a hunting party disrupted by a violent storm. Here Thomas Jones (1742 –1803) captures the oblivious passion of the lovers. AKG-Images/ The Image Works.

−− /. ð в ð¦ Ц ð− Ð ð ð Ð ð ð ð ð ð ð¦ Ł ý Ł− Ł ý Ł Ł ý² Ł в Ł ý Ł Ł ý Ł ð ý Ł Ð

−− Ł Ł ý Ł ð ½ ½ ½ ð ð ð Ł Ł Ł ý Ł ð ý Ł Ð ¼ Ł Ł ý Ł ð ý Ł Ł Ł ð¦ Ł ð Ł Ł ð Ł Ł Ð

DIDO (with violins, violas) major chord

minor chord DIDO


‹ GROUND BASS 1 (cellos, bass viols)



When I am laid, am laid in earth maymywrongs cre-ate . . .

. . . Remember me, but ah forget my fate; Remember me, but ah forget my fate

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Chorus The last notes of this great aria run into a wonderful final chorus. We are to imagine a slow dance, as groups of sorrowful cupids (first graders,

perhaps) file past the bier. Now Dido’s personal grief and agony are transmuted

into a sense of communal mourning. In the context of the whole opera, this

chorus seems even more meaningful, because the courtiers who sing it have

matured so much since the time when they thoughtlessly and cheerfully urged

Dido to give in to her love.

The general style of the music is that of the madrigal — imitative polyphony

and homophony, with some word painting. (The first three lines are mostly

imitative, the last one homophonic.) But Purcell’s style clearly shows the in-

roads of functional harmony and of the definite, unified rhythms that had been

developing in the seventeenth century. There is no mistaking this touching

chorus for an actual Renaissance madrigal.

Like “Dido’s Lament,” “With drooping wings” is another emotional tableau,

and this time the emotion spills over to the opera audience. As the courtiers

grieve for Dido, we join them in responding to her tragedy.

Purcell, Dido and Aeneas, Act iii, final scene

Italics indicate repeated words and lines. Colored type indicates words treated with word painting.












Thy hand, Belinda! Darkness shades me; On thy bosom let me rest. More I would — but death invades me: Death is now a welcome guest.

When I am laid in earth May my wrongs create No trouble in thy breast; (repeated) Remember me, but ah, forget my fate; Remember me, but ah, forget my fate. (stabs herself)

With drooping wings, ye cupids come And scatter roses on her tomb. Soft, soft and gentle as her heart.

Keep here your watch; Keep here your watch, and never part.

4 | The Rise of instrumental Music The development of instrumental music — music without words, music that does not depend on words — counts as one of the most far-reaching contribu- tions of composers in the early Baroque period. Broadly speaking, we can trace their instrumental music to three main sources.

L i s T E n




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• Dance, the first of these sources (and one we have already discussed), reaches all the way back to the Middle Ages (see page 74). In the Baroque period dance received a special impetus from opera, the genre that most fascinated people at the time. Opera was firmly linked to ballet, with frequent and sometimes elaborate dance episodes. We have seen a modest example of this in the final chorus of Dido and Aeneas. Musicians, especially in France, the center of ballet at the time, would put together sets of dances selected from operas or ballets. These dance suites, as they were called — groups of dances — could then be played by an orchestra and enjoyed apart from an actual stage performance.

Composers also wrote many dances and suites for harpsichord. These are stylized dances, pieces written in the style or the form of dance music but intended for listening rather than dancing, for mental rather than physical pleasure.

• Virtuosity was the second source from which composers of instrumental music drew. As long as instruments have existed there have surely been virtuoso players ready to show them off — and audiences ready to applaud the show. But the art of early virtuosos was improvised and scarcely ever written down; only in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries was some of their art incorporated systematically into written-out compositions. Even then, not all the virtuosity on which the compositions depended for their effect was notated. Much was left to be improvised, and so modern perform- ers often have to learn how to play a good deal more than what appears in the old scores.

• Vocal music was the third source for instrumental music. More specifically, the principal technique of vocal music, imitative polyphony (imitation), was transferred to the instrumental medium. In fact, this had happened already toward the end of the Renaissance, when several instrumental genres were modeled on vocal music in this way. Each genre consists of a series of points of imitation (see pages 64 and 66) built on different motives, like a motet or a madrigal.

From these genres emerged the characteristic polyphonic genre of the Ba- roque era, the fugue (fewg). A typical fugue uses only one theme throughout — like a single extended point of imitation — and often treats that theme with great contrapuntal ingenuity and learning. The art of improvising and writing fugues was practiced especially by keyboard players: organists and harpsichordists. We will discuss fugue more fully in Chapter 10.

Vocal music influenced instrumental music in another way as well. It gave instrumentalists a fund of materials they could use as the basis for sets of variations — that is, sectional pieces in which each section repeats certain musical elements while others change around them.

Girolamo Frescobaldi (1583–1643) The three main sources of instrumental music are all evident in the keyboard works of Girolamo Frescobaldi. Frescobaldi was the foremost organ virtuoso of the early seventeenth century, famed through much of Europe for his expres- sive and even extravagant improvising and composition. Organist of St. Peter’s in Rome, he was an influential teacher, and his influence reached far beyond his own pupils. A century later Johann Sebastian Bach — keyboard virtuoso in his own right and composer of an immense body of organ and harpsichord works — carefully studied Frescobaldi’s music.

Girolamo Frescobaldi. Scala/Art Resource, NY.

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21 22


We will hear Frescobaldi’s music on a modern organ specially modeled on an instrument of his own time. The player employs different registrations, that is, different combinations of the organ’s many sets of pipes (see page 20).

Frescobaldi composed organ works in several distinct genres:

• Toccatas, free-formed pieces meant to capture the spirit of Frescobaldi’s own improvisation. (Toccata means “touched” in Italian, as in the touching of keys.)

• Canzonas, more rigorously organized works emphasizing imitative texture — the ancestors of later fugues.

• Stylized dances, formed of two phrases each, one or both of them repeated to yield the pattern a a b or a a b b (for similar Renaissance patterns, see page 74); these dances are sometimes grouped together in small suites.

• Sets of variations on melodic or harmonic patterns borrowed from contem- porary vocal music.

Girolamo Frescobaldi, Canzona, Balletto, and Corrente (1627–1637) From Frescobaldi’s organ works we sample two genres: an imitative canzona,

ancestor of the later fugues, and a pair of dances.

Canzona This piece opens with a point of imitation (see page 66) using a theme that begins with long leaps followed by running sixteenth notes:







Ł Ł− Ł Ł Ł Ł Ł Ł Ł





Ł ý−

Ł Ł Ł− Ł Ł Ł





ŁSecond entry:

After four entries of this theme the music comes to a cadence. Then a new

theme enters at the top of the texture, this one marked by three repeated notes

at its start (see the example in the margin). Frescobaldi immediately combines

the second theme in counterpoint with the first, pitting the two against each

other until he brings the music to a solid cadence.

Balletto and Corrente Each of these dance movements consists of two phrases, both of which are repeated: a a b b. Careful listening reveals that the two

dances are related, especially by their bass lines:

− 00 ½ Ł ý Ł Ł Ł² Ł Ł− ð − /0

Ł Ł ý Ł Ł Ł ð ý² Ł ð− ð ý CorrenteBalletto

While sharing a bass line, however, the dances also contrast strongly in their

meters—the first duple, the second triple. Such metrical contrast from one

dance to the next was a basic principle of suites from the late Renaissance on.

(Compare the pavan and galliard — see page 74.)

− 00 ¹ Ł Ł Ł Ł Ł Ł Ł Ł Ł ð−

The instrumental music of the early seventeenth century was the precursor to an explosion of new instrumental styles and genres in the late Baroque era. We go on to discuss this in Unit III, after an introductory Prelude chapter dealing with the history and culture of the time.

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G O A L S f O r r e v i e w

c to hear an example of the Baroque mixing of expressive extravagance with formal control

c to understand the new techniques of basso continuo and basso ostinato (or ground bass)

c to listen for the dichotomy of recitative and aria in an early opera by Claudio Monteverdi

c to appreciate the expressive power of an ostinato lament by Henry Purcell

c to witness the continued growth of instrumental music Listening Quizzes for Chapter 8 and Global Perspectives: African Ostinato Forms Reading Quizzes for Chapter 8 and Global Perspectives: African Ostinato Forms

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Though we borrow the term ostinato from Italian Ba- roque music, the technique is much older than the seven- teenth century and is dis- persed around the globe. The organizational principle at stake is, indeed, basic: Set up

a brief repeating musical unit and use it as the foundation for other, more varied melodies and harmonies.

Musical forms built according to this principle come in a wide variety of shapes and patterns. We have already appreciated one variety in “Dido’s Lament” by Purcell: a free-flowing melody over an unchanging bass line.

Nowhere in the world is ostinato form more prom- inent, or practiced with a richer array of techniques, genres, and instruments, than in Africa. Up and down the continent, ostinato forms multiply in fascinating variety: from North and West African nations, with ancient traditions of troubadour-like singers accompa- nying themselves on a single instrument, all the way to South Africa, with its electrified, rock and roll–derived Township Jive. (Rock itself is a great repository of ostinato forms.)

The two examples of African ostinato forms heard here come from Gambia, a small nation lying along the West African coast, and from the Mbuti pygmies of the rain forests of Congo in central Africa.

A Minstrel’s Song In the Gambian excerpt, a singer-reciter named Foday Musa Suso accompanies himself on a plucked stringed instrument called a kora. This is a complicated affair, a cross between a lute and a harp, with two sets of strings, twenty-one in all. The player, as our picture shows, holds it facing himself, plucking the strings with the thumbs and index fingers of both hands. Traditions of a singer accompanying himself on an instrument like the kora or harp or lyre are very ancient around the Mediterranean Sea, whether in Europe, the Middle East, or Africa — think of the biblical David with his harp or of Homer singing the Iliad and Odyssey to the lyre.

African Ostinato Forms In West Africa, singers to the kora often belong to

guilds, with musical expertise passed down in families from generation to generation. Foday Musa Suso comes from such a family and guild. For centuries these singers have fulfilled a wide variety of social roles, sing- ing the praises of patrons and rulers, narrating in song historical or legendary events, contributing to weddings and other celebrations, and — especially in recent times — simply providing informal entertainment. Their styles have also fed into recent developments in African pop music. In fact, Foday Musa Suso himself emigrated from Gambia to Chicago in the 1970s, where he made a name for himself playing music that fuses jazz, pop, and traditional African styles.

Our recording is an early one, from before Foday’s move, and offers a brief example of the kind of praise song a West African minstrel might sing for a wealthy patron. But our main point in introducing it is to sample an African ostinato form. After a short introductory flourish on the kora, Foday lays down an ostinato pattern, plucked mainly on the low-pitched strings with his thumbs. He overlays this here and there with quick, cascading melodies, played on the



Global Perspectives

Foday Musa Suso, with kora, crossing over to jazz performance. Peter Gannushkin/

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higher strings with the index fingers. Enriching the texture further is his singing, a freely repeated melodic phrase that starts high and drifts languidly down (first heard at 0:22). In between these phrases, Foday seems to be absorbed in his kora playing, singing quietly along with the fast melodies he plucks above the ever-present ostinato (listen especially from 1:01). To bring the performance to a close, he reserves a special effect: two strings, dissonant with each other, plucked in syncopated rhythms high above the ostinato (starting at 2:11).

Pygmy Polyphony Since it was first recorded in the 1950s, singing in Mbuti pygmy communities has become famous for its delicate and complex polyphony. Pygmy polyphony is created in improvised group singing, sometimes in rituals central to the society, sometimes to accompany work, sometimes for simple pleasure and relaxation.

Pygmy polyphony involves a technique common to many kinds of African music: interlocking ostinatos. In a pygmy chorus, various voices form an intricate, re- petitive texture by singing over and over again their own short melodic motives — often only one or two notes — in quick alternation. The overall effect is of a multistranded, hypnotically recycling ostinato. This choral ostinato can be savored on its own or else, as in our example, used as the foundation for freer melodies of lead singers.

A Hunting Song for Chorus Two exclamations for the whole chorus announce the beginning of a song describing the bravery and daring of an elephant hunt. At first, we hear no clear ostinato. Instead, two lead singers alternate prominent melodic phrases while, underneath them, the chorus softly sings — almost murmuring — an indistinct, ostinato- like melody.

Then something marvelous happens. At about 0:44 the individual melodic motives of a polyphonic ostinato begin to crystallize in the chorus. We hear the polyphony taking shape. (How many distinct components of the ostinato can you make out?) By 1:30 the choral ostinato is fully formed and clearly articulated; it continues through to the end of the song (not heard here) under- neath the soloists.

The singing is underlaid throughout by the simplest of instrumental accompaniments: two sticks struck together to mark the beat. The Mbuti rarely employ more elaborate instruments in their choral singing, though in other contexts they regularly play on drums, flutes, musical bows, and other instruments.

This song was recorded in the mid-1950s by Colin Turnbull, a British anthropologist who was among the first to study the pygmies. He described their society poetically and lovingly in a book still read today, The Forest People, but he didn’t give the names of the singers of this song.

Mbuti villagers, singing and dancing to tall drums. Giacomo Pirozzi/Panos Pictures.

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The century of Bach and Handel and Mozart and Haydn spans two

very different styles, those of the late Baroque era and of Viennese

Classicism. In the following pages we will define these styles and

identify their differences.

You may ask why in spite of these differences we treat the

eighteenth century as a unit. The reason is that the eighteenth

century as a whole contrasts in one basic criterion from the nineteenth century,

covered in Unit IV. This criterion is not musical style, at least not directly, but

rather the quality of musical expression. There is a certain objectivity in the

feelings that eighteenth-century music seems to express or depict. It keeps some

distance from the listener, even when it is powerful and moving. Music of the

nineteenth century comes on as more demonstrative, more personal, more

obviously intense; it is not accidental that this music is called “Romantic.”

This broad distinction in expressive quality sprang in part from the differing

social and economic conditions under which composers worked. In our “Prelude”

chapters, Chapters 9 and 12, we look at the cultural background and the social

setting of eighteenth-century music and suggest how these factors influenced

musical style and expression. The other chapters in this unit look into specific

works by leading late Baroque and Classical composers.



The Eighteenth Century

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Chronology 1707 Bach, Cantata No. 4, “Christ lag in Todesbanden” p. 147

1712–1713 Vivaldi, Violin Concerto in G p. 120

c. 1720 Bach, Cello Suite No. 2 in D Minor p. 134

before 1721 Bach, Brandenburg Concerto No. 5 p. 123

1722 Bach, The Well-Tempered Clavier p. 129

1724 Handel, Julius Caesar p. 138

before 1725 Vivaldi, Violin Concerto in E, Spring p. 122

1742 Handel, Messiah p. 142

1749 Handel, Royal Fireworks Music p. 133

1786 Mozart, Piano Concerto No. 23 in A p. 184

1787 Mozart, Don Giovanni p. 190

1788 Mozart, Symphony No. 40 in G Minor p. 165

1791 Haydn, Symphony No. 94 in G (“The Surprise“) p. 171

1793 Haydn, Symphony No. 99 in E-flat p. 175

1793–1794 Haydn, Symphony No. 101 in D (“The Clock“) p. 178

The eighteenth century begins with the music of Bach, Handel, and Vivaldi and ends with that of Haydn and Mozart. The change involves many things, but it is in part one from music of intricate complexity to music of accessible, tuneful simplicity. In The Music Lesson, from late in the century, the French painter Jean-Honoré Fragonard captures a young amateur being trained in this new music. Louvre, Paris, France/ Giraudon/The Bridgeman Art Library.

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The Late Baroque Period


9 Music from the period of around 1600 to 1750 is usually referred to as  “Baroque,” a term borrowed from art his- tory. Art historians themselves borrowed the term from seventeenth-century jewelers, who applied it to large pearls of irregular shape. At one time, then, Baroque art was considered imperfect, bizarre, or at least erratic. With

changing taste over the centuries, however, what was originally a negative implication has turned positive.

And over the last seventy-five years or so, with the help of recordings, Baroque music has grown more and more popular. Instruments of the period have been revived to play it, among them the harpsichord, the recorder, and a special high-pitched trumpet without valves. (Some of these instruments were discussed on pages 13–21.) Most of the Baroque music heard today dates from the eighteenth century — from about 1700 to 1750, a subperiod sometimes classified as “late Baroque.” Johann Sebastian Bach and George Frideric Handel were the greatest composers of this period, and among their most important contemporaries were Alessandro Scarlatti and Antonio Vivaldi in Italy, François Couperin and Jean-Philippe Rameau in France, Domenico Scarlatti (the son of Alessandro) in Spain, and Georg Philipp Telemann in Germany.

1 | Absolutism and the Age of Science Baroque is a period term used by art historians and musicologists. Historians are more likely to speak of the period from 1600 to 1750 as the Age of Absolut- ism. This was the time of belief in the divine right of kings, the idea that the right of kings to rule was absolute — total, unlimited — because they were cho- sen by God. Louis XIV of France became the most powerful monarch in all of European history, and also one of the most ruthless. Absolutism is still with us, in the form of (usually godless) dictatorships.

Students of the history of ideas, on the other hand, speak of this as the Age of Science. In this era, the telescope and the microscope revealed their first secrets; Newton and Leibniz invented calculus; Newton developed his laws of mechanics and the theory of gravity. These discoveries affected both technology and philosophy — not only the formal philosophy of the great empiricist thinkers Descartes, Locke, and Hume, but also philosophy in a more informal sense. People began to think about ordinary matters in a new way, influenced by the newly acquired habits of scientific experimentation and proof. The mental climate stimulated by science significantly affected the music and the art we call Baroque.

P R E l u d E

U n i t i i i | The Eighteenth Century

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Absolutism and science were two of the most vital currents that defined life in the seventeenth and early eighteenth centuries. The result was an interesting dualism that can be traced throughout Baroque art: pomp and extravagance on the one hand, system and calculation on the other. The same dualism can be traced in Baroque music.

Art and Absolutism As far back as ancient times, rulers in Europe sponsored the arts. Before the Baroque era, the artistic glories of the Renaissance were supported by powerful merchant-princes, such as the Medici family in Florence, who were determined to add luster to the city-states they ruled. But sponsorship of the arts rose to new heights in the seventeenth century, and one state loomed larger than any other in the scope and grandeur of its projects: France under Louis XIV (1638 –1715), “the Sun King.”

All of French life orbited around the royal court, like planets, comets, and asteroids in the solar system. Pomp and ceremony were carried to extreme lengths: The king’s levée — his getting-up-in-the-morning rite — involved dozens of functionaries and routines lasting two hours. Artists of all kinds were sup- ported lavishly, so long as their work symbolized the majesty of the state (and the state, in Louis’s famous remark, “is me” — “L’état, c’est moi”).

The influence of this monarch and his image extended far beyond France, for other European princes and dukes envied his absolute rule and did every- thing they could to match it. Especially in Germany — which was not a united

Louis XIV’s palace of Versailles, with a procession of carriages arriving in the great courtyard. Note the formal gardens and canal. Pierre Patel, Carriages Arriving at Versailles, 1688. Photo: Bridgeman-Giraudon/Art Resource, NY.

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country, like France, but a patchwork of several hundred political units — rulers competed with one another in supporting artists who built, painted, and sang to their glory. Artistic life in Europe was kept alive for many generations by this sort of patronage. The brilliance and grandeur of much Baroque art derives from its political function.

Art was to impress, even to stupefy. Thus Louis XIV built the most enormous palace in history, Versailles, with over three hundred rooms, including the eighty-yard-long Hall of Mirrors, and formal gardens extending for miles  around. Many nobles and high-ranking churchmen built little imitation- Versailles palaces, among them the archbishop of Würzburg in Germany, whose magnificent residence was built in Bach’s lifetime. The rooms were decorated by the Venetian artist Giovanni Battista Tiepolo, a master of Baroque ceiling painting.

Look at the ceiling shown on page 101, and try to imagine its true dimensions. You may well be dazzled by the figures in excited motion, caught up in great gusts of wind that whirl them out of the architectural space. Ceiling painting provides a vivid example of the extravagant side of Baroque dualism. Art in the service of royalty: a very

idealized portrait of Louis XIV by the greatest sculptor of the day, Gianlorenzo Bernini (1598 –1680). Scala/Art Resource, NY.

Design for an opera stage set by G. G. Bibiena. Such fantastic architecture did not exist in the real world, even at the palace of a king (see page 99). G. G. Bibiena, stage set for Metastasio’s Didone Abbandonata. Photo: Blauel/Gnamm/Artothek.

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the Music of Absolutism Just as painting and architecture could glorify rulers through color and designs in space, music could glorify through sound. The nobility maintained horn players for their hunts, trumpeters for their battles, and orchestras for balls and enter- tainments. Smaller groups of musicians would play Tafelmusik (“ table music”), background music during lengthy banquets. A special “ festive” or “ celebratory” orchestra featuring military instruments — trumpets and drums — was used to pay homage to kings and princes; by extension, it also glorified God, the “King of Kings,” as he is called in Handel’s Hallelujah Chorus. The words sung by the chorus in this famous work praise God, but the accompanying orchestra with its trumpets also pays splendid homage to King George II of England (see pages 143–44).

But the main musical vehicle of Baroque absolutism was opera. Opera today is a very expensive entertainment in which a drama is presented with music and stage spectacle. So it was in the Baroque era. The stage set shown

Baroque grandeur: a ceiling painting by Giovanni Battista Tiepolo (1696–1770). The oval measures 30 feet by 60 feet. Giovanni Battista Tiepolo, painted ceiling, Residenz, Würzburg. Photo: Scala/ Art Resource, NY.

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on page 100 was created by a member of the Bibiena family, the foremost set designers of the time. It conveys the majestic heights and distances of an ideal Baroque palace by means of perspective, though the stage was actually quite shallow. The figures gesture grandly, but they are dwarfed by pasteboard architecture that seems to whirl as dizzily as does the painted architecture on Tiepolo’s ceiling (see page 101).

One aspect of Baroque opera is unlike opera today: The stories were indi- rect tributes to the glory and supposed virtue of those who paid for them. For example, one favorite Baroque opera story tells of the Roman emperor Titus, who survives a complicated plot on his life and then magnanimously forgives the plotters. Strange as it may seem today, this story was set to music by dozens of court composers. It told courtiers that if they opposed their king, he might well excuse them out of the godlike goodness of his heart (for he claimed to rule by divine right). But it also reminded them that he was an absolute ruler — a modern Roman tyrant — who could do exactly the reverse if he pleased. Operas flattered princes while at the same time stressing their power and wealth.

Art and theatricality Opera was invented in Italy around the year 1600. Indeed, opera counts as Italy’s great contribution to the seventeenth century’s golden age of the theater. This century saw Shakespeare and his followers in England, Corneille and Racine in France, and Lope de Vega and Calderón in Spain.

The theater is first and foremost a place where strong emotion is on display, and it was this more than anything else that fueled the Baroque fascination with it. The emotionality that we generally sense in Baroque art has a theatrical quality; this is true even of much Baroque painting. Compare Raphael’s calm Renaissance Madonna on page 36 with the early Baroque Madonna by Guercino (right). Jesus seems to be falling out of the picture as he twists away from his mother, and she twists the other way; the background is not a serene landscape but a turbulent cloudscape, and the stagey lighting contrasts bright patches of flesh with dark shadows.

Science and the Arts All this may seem some distance away from the observa- tories of Galileo and Kepler and the laboratories where William Harvey discovered the circulation of the blood and Antoni van Leeuwenhoek first viewed microorgan- isms through a microscope. And indeed, the scientific spirit of the time had its most obvious effect on artists who were outside the realm of absolutism. The Dutch were citizens of free cities, not subjects of despotic kings. In Jan Vermeer’s painting of his own city, Delft, the incredibly precise depiction of detail reflects the new interest in scientific observation. The painter’s analysis of light is worthy of Huygens and Newton, fathers of the science of optics. There is something scientific, too, in the serene objectivity of this scene.

Madonna and Child with a Swallow, by G. F. Barbieri (1591–1666), known as Il Guercino (meaning “the squinter”; Guercino was cross-eyed). Guercino (Giovanni Francesco Barbieri) (1591–1666), Madonna della Rondinella (oil on canvas)/Palazzo Pitti, Florence, Italy/The Bridgeman Art Library.

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Human control over nature is also symbolized by Baroque formal gar- dens. Today, landscape architecture is not usually regarded as one of the major arts, but it was very important in the age of the Baroque palace. Baroque gar- dens regulate nature strictly according to geometrical plans, as you can see in the painting of Versailles on page 99. Bushes are clipped, lawns tailored, and streams channeled, all under the watchful eye of big statues of Venus, Apollo, Hercules, and the rest, lined up in rows. Such gardens spell out the new vision of nature brought to heel by human reason and calculation.

Science and Music Various aspects of Baroque music reflect the new scientific attitudes that devel- oped in the seventeenth century. Scales were tuned, or tempered, more exactly than ever before, so that for the first time all the twenty-four major and minor keys were available to composers. Their interest in exploring this resource is

View of Delft, by Jan Vermeer (1632–1675). Scala/Art Resource, NY.

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The Age of Absolutism and the Age of Science converge in this painting of Louis XIV founding the Academy of Sciences. Bridgeman-Giraudon/Art Resource, NY.

The emotions of Hope and Fear, as represented in a Baroque scientific treatise. Like composers of the time, the artist felt that feelings could be isolated and depicted in the abstract.

evident from collections such as Bach’s The Well-Tempered Clavier, containing preludes and fugues in every key. Harmony was systematized so that chords followed one another in a way that seemed to have a new, logical direction guiding it.

Regularity became the ideal in rhythm, and in musical form — the distribu- tion of sections of music in time — we find a tendency toward clearly ordered, even schematic plans. Whether consciously or not, composers seem to have viewed musical time in a quasi-scientific way. They divided it up and filled it systematically, almost in the spirit of the landscape architects who devised Baroque formal gardens.

In the important matter of musical expression, too, science was a powerful influence. Starting with the French philosopher-mathematician René Descartes, thinkers sought to apply the new rational methods to the analysis and classification of human emotions. It had always been felt that music had a special power to express and arouse emotions. Now it seemed that there was a basis for systematizing — and hence maximizing — this power.

Thus scientifically inclined music theorists made checklists of musical devices and techniques corresponding to each of the emotions. Grief, for example, could be projected by a specific kind of melodic motive and a specific kind of rhythm — even by a specific key. By working steadily with these devices and saturating their pieces with them, composers assumed they could achieve the maximum musical expressivity.

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2 | Musical Life in the Early Eighteenth Century The eighteenth century was a great age for the crafts—the age of Stradivarius in violin making, Chippendale in furniture, and America’s own Paul Revere in silver, to name just a few. Composing music was also regarded as a craft. The Romantic idea of the composer — the lonely genius working over each master- piece as a long labor of love expressing an individual personality — was still far in the future. Baroque composers were more likely to think of themselves as servants with masters to satisfy. They were artisans with jobs, rather than artists with a calling. They produced music on demand to fill a particular requirement.

This is why many Baroque pieces do not seem especially individualized in their expression. They are not so much unique masterpieces as satisfactory examples of their style and genre, of which there are many other equally satisfactory examples.

There were three main institutions where composers could make a living by practicing their craft. In order of increasing glamour, these were the church, the court, and the opera house.

• The church. In the cathedrals, monasteries, and town churches of the Baroque era, it was taken for granted that the organists or choirmasters would compose their own music, then play and conduct it. Organists had to improvise or write out music to accompany certain parts of the church services. They played long pieces to see the congregation out when the service was over.

At large institutions, important occasions called for elaborate music scored for chorus, soloists, and instruments: a Catholic Mass for the installation of an archbishop, for example, or a Lutheran church cantata for the anniversary of the Reformation. Church musicians were also responsible for training the boys who sang in their choirs, often in special choir schools.

• The court. Under the patronage of kings or members of the nobility, a musician was employed on the same terms as a court painter, a master of the hunt, or a head chef. Musicians had to work entirely at the whim of their masters; still, they could count on a fairly secure existence, a steady demand for their services, and a pension.

Naturally, conditions varied from court to court, depending on the ruler’s taste. For some, music was a good deal less interesting than hunting or banqueting. Others could not have enough of it. Frederick the Great of Prussia was an enthusiastic flutist, so at his court concertos and sonatas for flute were composed at an especially healthy rate. He wrote many himself.

Court musicians kept in better touch with musical developments than church musicians, since they were required to travel with their employers. They made extended trips to major cities, where diplomacy was eased along by music composed for the occasion.

• The opera house. Although many opera houses were attached to courts, others were maintained by entrepreneurs in major cities. (The public opera house existed before the public concert hall; in the Baroque era, public concerts were not a regu- lar feature of musical life.) Composers traditionally conducted their own operas, sitting at the harpsichord. Audiences were alert to the most exciting new singers, and it was part of the composer’s job to keep the singers well supplied with music that showed off their talents. Opera revivals always required recomposition — often by a new composer — in order to satisfy new singers. It was an exciting, unpredictable life, promising great rewards as well as daunting reverses.

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The life stories of the two greatest composers of the late Baroque period show a good deal about the interaction between musicians, the patrons who supported them, and the institutions that required music. Johann Sebastian Bach labored as a church organist, a court musician, and then a major composer-administrator

A Baroque opera performance (Turin, 1740). The stage set represents a larger-than-life palace hall; the characters are striking various extravagant attitudes. Note the orchestra, a boy selling oranges, and a security guard. Oliviero, Performance at Teatro Reggio, Turin. Photo: Scala/Art Resource, NY.

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for the Lutheran Church. George Frideric Handel, who also had a court position, became an independent opera composer and opera promoter. Their biographies are given on pages 127 and 141.

3 | Style Features of Late Baroque Music If any one characteristic can be singled out as central to the music of the late Baroque period, it would be its thorough, methodical quality. Much of a Baroque composition (or at least a segment of that composition) consists of inspired repetition and variation. It is as though the composers had intended to draw their material out to the maximum extent and wring it dry, as it were.

Indeed, the shorter pieces we will be examining in Chapters 10 and 11 — pieces like the prelude and fugue from Bach’s The Well-Tempered Clavier and the aria from Handel’s opera Julius Caesar — contain little if any notable contrast in rhythm, dynamics, melody, texture, or tone color (see  pages 129 and 138). Baroque composers preferred thoroughness and homogeneity.

With longer pieces, Baroque composers tended to break them up into blocks of music that contrast with one another in obvious ways, but are still homogeneous in themselves. This is the case with Bach’s Brandenburg Concerto No. 5, for example, where the orchestral and solo sections contrast clearly enough. Within each orchestral or solo section, however, things are usually quite regular (see page 123).

Rhythm Baroque music is brimming with energy, and this energy is channeled into a highly regular, determined sort of motion. Like today’s popular music, Baroque music gets its rhythmic vitality by playing off distinctive rhythms against a very steady beat. The meter nearly always stands out, emphasized by certain instruments in the ensemble. Most characteristic of these “marking-time” instruments is the busy, crisp harpsichord.

Attentive listening will also reveal another aspect of regularity in the steady harmonic rhythm — that is, a Baroque piece tends to change chords at every measure or at some other set interval. (Do not expect to hear this happening all the time, but it happens often enough so that we can speak of a tendency.)

Dynamics Another steady feature of Baroque music is dynamics. Composers infrequently used loud and soft indications ( f and p) in their scores, and once a dynamic was chosen or set, it remained at about the same level for the whole section — sometimes even for the whole composition.

Neither in the Baroque period nor in any other, however, have performers played or sung music at an absolutely even level of dynamics. Instrumentalists made expressive changes in dynamics to bring out rhythmic accents, and singers certainly sang high notes louder than low ones. But composers did not go much beyond natural variations of these kinds.

Gradual buildups from soft to loud, and the like, were rarely used. Abrupt dynamic contrasts were preferred — again, between fairly large sections of a longer piece, or whole movements. A clear forte/piano contrast is built into the concerto genre, with its alternating blocks of music for the full orchestra and for one or more quieter solo instruments. When, exceptionally, a Baroque

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composer changed dynamics in the middle of a section or a phrase of music, he could count on the great surprise — even the amazement — of his listeners. A famous sudden forte in Handel’s Hallelujah Chorus has been known to electrify the audience, to bring them to their feet (see page 144).

We spoke earlier of a characteristic dualism between extravagance and order in Baroque culture (see page 99). The methodical, regular quality of Baroque musical style that we are tracing here reflects the orderly, quasi-scientific side of  this dualism. But Baroque music can also be highly dramatic, bizarre, or stupendous — a reflection of the other side of the dualism. Indeed, the magnificent momentary effects that occur occasionally in Handel and Bach are all the stronger because of the regular music around them.

tone Color Tone color in Baroque music presents something of a contradiction. On the one hand, the early part of the period evinced a new interest in sonority, and the end of it echoed with some very sophisticated sounds: Handel’s imaginative orches- tration in his operas, Bach’s sensitive writing for the flute, and the refined harp- sichord textures developed by several generations of composers in France. There are distinctive and attractive Baroque sounds that we do not hear in other peri- ods: the harpsichord, the bright Baroque organ, the virtuoso recorder, and what we will call the festive Baroque orchestra, featuring high trumpets and drums.

On the other hand, a significant amount of music was written to allow for multiple or alternative performing forces. Thus it was a regular practice to des- ignate music for harpsichord or organ, for violin or oboe or flute. Bach wrote a sonata for two flutes and rewrote it as a sonata for viola da gamba (a cello-like instrument) and harpsichord. Handel took solo arias and duets and rewrote them as choruses for his oratorio Messiah. In the last analysis, then, it seems the original tone color was often not critical in Baroque music.

the Baroque Orchestra The core of the Baroque orchestra was a group of instruments of the violin family. The famous orchestra maintained by Louis XIV of France was called “The Twenty-Four Violins of the King” — meaning twenty-four instruments of the violin family: six violins, twelve violas, and six cellos. A great deal of Baroque music was written for such an orchestra or a similar one that today would be called a “string orchestra”: violins, violas, cellos, and one or two basses.

To this was added a keyboard instrument as continuo (see page 110) — usually a harpsichord in secular music and an organ in church music.

Woodwinds and brass instruments were sometimes added to the string or- chestra, too, but there was no fixed complement, as was to be the case later. For special occasions of a festive nature — music celebrating a military victory, for example, or Christmas music ordered for the town cathedral — composers augmented the basic Baroque orchestra with trumpets or French horns, tim- pani, bassoons, and oboes and/or flutes. This festive orchestra has a particularly grand, open, and brilliant sound.

Melody Baroque melody tends toward complexity. Composers liked to push melodies to the very limits of ornateness and luxuriance. Baroque melodies may extend over two whole octaves; they twist and turn in an intricate way as they reach high

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and low. It can be maintained that in the European classical tradition, the art of melody reached a high point in the late Baroque era, a point that has never been equaled since.

These long melodies, with their wealth of decorations added to the main direction of the line, are not easy to sing. Shown below is the first-movement theme of Bach’s Brandenburg Concerto No. 5. Almost anyone can learn to sing the first two bars, but if you can sing the rest you have a very good ear:

THE FESTIVE BAROQUE ORCHESTRA as in Handel’s Minuet from the Royal Fireworks Music (page 133)

S T R I n g S WO O dW I n d S B R A S S P E R C U S S I O n K E yB OA R d

Violins 1

Violins 2




2 Oboes

1 Bassoon

3 Trumpets 2 Timpani (kettledrums)

Harpsichord or organ

THE BAROQUE ORCHESTRA as in Vivaldi’s Concerto in G (page 117)

S T R I n g S K E yB OA R d

Violins (divided into two groups, called violins 1 and violins 2)



Bass (playing the same music as the cellos an octave lower)

Harpsichord or organ

One easily recognized feature of Baroque melodies is their frequent use of sequence (see page 26). A (slightly free) sequence is shaded near the end of the melody above. Near the beginning (also shaded) the melody catches hold of a simple gesture — just two different pitches — and repeats it again and again at many pitch levels. Sequences provide Baroque music with one of its most effective means of forward motion.

Ornamentation Not all melodies of the time are as complicated as the one shown above, however, and some, such as the simpler Baroque dances, are exceptions to the rule. On the other hand, the most highly prized skill of the elite musicians of the era, opera singers, was improvising melodic extras in the arias they sang night after night in the theater. This practice is called ornamentation.

Before the present era of sound amplification, when volume does much of the work, audiences thrilled to brilliant, fast, very high (or very low) music played and especially improvised by singers and instrumentalists. This is still very much the case with jazz — and when was the last event you went to or watched on TV where “The Star-Spangled Banner” was sung absolutely straight, without ornamentation?

In the Baroque era, enough improvisations were written down, as guides for lesser musicians, to give us some idea of the art of the greatest virtuosos — such as the singers Bordoni and Cuzzoni (see page 146) and the violinist-composer Vivaldi (see page 119). They would spontaneously add all kinds of ornaments (jazz

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Soul legend Aretha Franklin singing “My Country, ’Tis of Thee” at President Obama’s first inauguration — with added ornamentation. AP Photo/Ron Edmonds.

players would call them “riffs” or “licks”) to whatever scores composers placed before them. Artists today have re-created Baroque ornamentation, or something like it; for a splendid example, listen to Handel’s aria “La giustizia” on page 138.

texture The standard texture of Baroque music is polyphonic (or contrapuntal). Even many Baroque pieces that consist of just melody and bass count as contrapuntal because of the independent melodic quality of the bass. And large-scale pieces spin a web of contrapuntal lines filling every nook and cranny of musical space- time. While cellos, basses, bassoons, and organ pedals play the lowest line, the other stringed instruments stake out their places in the middle, with oboes and flutes above them and the trumpets piercing their way up into the very high- est reaches of the sound universe. The density achieved in this way is doubly impressive because the sounds feel alive — alive because they are all in motion, because they are all parts of moving contrapuntal lines.

Again, some exceptions should be noted to the standard polyphonic texture of Baroque music. Such are the homophonic orchestra sections (the ritornellos) in the concerto, Bach’s Prelude in C Major from The Well- Tempered Clavier (see page 129), and his highly expressive harmonizations of old German hymns, as in his Cantata No. 4 (see page 147). But it is no accident that these textures appear within pieces that feature polyphony elsewhere. The ritornello in Bach’s Brandenburg Concerto No. 5 alternates with polyphony played by the solo flute, violin, and harpsichord (see page 123). The harmonized hymn in his Cantata No. 4 comes at the very end, where it has the effect of calming or settling the complex polyphony of all the preceding music. And the Prelude is paired with a fugue, the high point of imitative polyphonic art in the Baroque era.

the Continuo Yet all this polyphony is supported by a solid scaffold of harmony. The central importance of harmony in Baroque music appears in the universal practice of the basso continuo, or just continuo.

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The continuo is a bass part (the lowest part in polyphonic music) that is always linked to a series of chords. These chords are played by a harpsichord, organ, or lute as support or accompaniment for the important melodies in the other instruments. Indeed, we might say “mere accompaniment,” for compos- ers did not bother to write the chords out in detail, but only notated them in an abstract way by a numerical shorthand below the bass part. (Another name for continuo, figured bass, derives from this numerical shorthand.)

This left continuo players with a good deal to do, even though their role was considered subsidiary. By reading the basso continuo part, the harpsi- chordist or organist would play along with the cellos or bassoons — this with the left hand, which doubles the bass line. But the right-hand chords could be played in many ways: high or low, widely or closely spaced, smoothly con- nected or not. A certain amount of quick, on-the-spot improvisation was (and still is) required to “realize” a continuo — that is, to derive actual chords from abstract numbers.

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Continuo part, as written: cello and harpsichord, left hand

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Simple realization of chords: harpsichord

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More ornate realization: harpsichord

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Continuo chords provide the basic harmonic framework against which the contrapuntal lines of Baroque music trace their airy patterns. This Baroque texture may be described as polarized — a polarity of voices between a strong bass and a clear, high (soprano) range, the domain of the melody. Less clearly defined is a middle space containing the improvised chords. In Baroque works on the largest scale, this space is also filled in by polyphonic lines drawn from the median range of the orchestra and chorus, such as violas, tenors, and altos. In more modest works a characteristic texture is a hollow one: one or two high instruments (violins, flutes) or voices, a bass instrument, and subsidiary chord improvisation in the middle.

Baroque music is usually easily identified by the presence of the continuo — by the continuous but discreet sound of the harpsichord or organ playing continuo chords in the background. Indeed, the Baroque era in music was once called the basso continuo era, not a bad name for it.

Musical Form Musical forms are clearer and more regular in the Baroque period than in most other historical periods. Two factors that appear to have contributed to this, one of them social, the other intellectual, were mentioned earlier.

The social factor is the patronage system, whereby the court and the church demanded a large amount of music and expected it to be produced in a hurry, almost as soon as it was ordered. Therefore composers needed to rely on formulas that could be applied quickly and efficiently. What is amazing about the church cantatas that Bach wrote every week (at one point in his career) is how imaginatively he varied the standard forms for the various components of a cantata. But it was very helpful — in fact, it was absolutely necessary — for him to have those standard forms in place as a point of departure.

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The other factor is the scientific spirit of the age, which affected composers only indirectly, but affected them nonetheless. One can detect the composer’s ambition to map the whole range of a piece of music and to fill it in systematically in an orderly, logical, quasi-scientific way. This ambition seems to have been based on the conviction that musical time could be encompassed and controlled at will, an attitude similar to that of scientists, philosophers, and craftsmen of the age.

The music of Bach, in particular, shows this tendency on various levels. Look, for example, at the symmetrical arrangement of the seven sections of his Cantata No. 4, diagrammed on page 148. The last fugue in his Art of Fugue, a composite work containing twenty items, is a more famous example. An ordinary fugue, as we shall see, is a polyphonic composition that deals exclusively with a single theme. This fugue deals with four themes, one after another, in four sections; then in the last section all four themes combine in four-part counterpoint. Theme No. 4 spells “Bach” in a musical code! Even Bach’s shortest compositions can have schematic features, as we will see on page 129.

4 | The Emotional World of Baroque Music All music, it seems safe to say, is deeply involved with emotion. But in the music of different cultures, and also in the music of different historical eras within a single culture, the nature of that involvement can be very different. The emo- tional effect of Baroque music strikes the modern listener as very powerful and yet, in a curious way, also impersonal. Baroque composers believed firmly that music could and should mirror a wide range of human feelings, or affects, such as had been analyzed and classified by the scientifically oriented psychology

In this typical ensemble for Baroque chamber music, two violins play melodies in the upper register, the cello plays the bass line, and the harpsichord and lute fill in chords in between. Cello, harpsichord, and lute together make up the basso continuo. Clive Barda/ArenaPal/Topham/ The Image Works.

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C H A P t E R 9 | The Late Baroque Period 113

of the day. But these composers did not believe that it was their task to mirror feelings of their own. Rather, they tried to isolate and analyze emotions in general — at a distance — and then depict them consistently.

The exhaustiveness of their musical technique made for a similar exhaus- tiveness of emotional effect. A single movement or aria was usually restricted to depicting one specific emotion, feeling, or mood. As the rhythms and themes are repeated, the music intensifies a single strong feeling. Sadness in Baroque music is presented as the deepest gloom, calmness as profound quiet, brightness as pomp and splendor, happiness as loud rejoicing. These are extreme sentiments; the people who can be imagined to experience them would have to be almost larger than life.

All this fits into place with the Baroque fascination with the theater. The Baroque theater concentrated on grand gestures and high passion, on ideal emotions expressed by ideal human beings. Kings and queens were shown performing noble actions or vile ones, experiencing intense feelings of passion or fury, delivering thunderous speeches, and taking part in lavish stage displays. How these personages looked and postured can be seen in the picture on page 106.

Theatrical emotion has the virtues of intensity, clarity, and focus; it must, if it is to get past the footlights and reach its audience. Actors analyze the emotion they are asked to depict, shape it and probably exaggerate it, and then project it by means of their acting technique. It is not their personal emotion, though for the moment they make it their own. We may come to feel that Baroque composers worked in a similar way, not only in their operas — actual stage works set to music — but also in their oratorios and church cantatas, and even in their instrumental concertos and sonatas.

g O A l S F O R R E V I E W

c to gain an overview of European culture in the early eighteenth century

c to differentiate the musical worlds of church, court, and theater

c to understand the general stylistic features of late Baroque music, especially in rhythm, melody, texture, and form

c to explore late Baroque attitudes toward the expressive powers of music Reading Quiz for Chapter 9

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10 In the early music of Europe, music with words was the norm; strictly instrumental music was less common and less important. In the Middle Ages, words for the church services were sung by monks and nuns as Gregorian chant, and later some of these same words were set to new polyphonic music for cathedral choirs and royal chapels. Troubadours set their

love poems as solo songs. Later, in the Renaissance, polyphonic church music proliferated and love poetry was set to music as madrigals, intricate part-music for a small group of solo singers. Vocal music remained very important in the Baroque era, when opera was invented.

But part of the importance of the Baroque era was that for the first time, listeners and musicians began to take instrumental music much more seriously. A momentous change was set in motion, one that came about gradually. It is revealing of the trend that the foremost composer at the very beginning of the Baroque period, Claudio Monteverdi (see pages 85 –87), composed no strictly instrumental music, so far as we know. At the end of the period, instead, Bach, Handel, and Vivaldi alone left us many hundreds of instrumental compositions.

The reasons for the rise of instrumental music are not entirely clear. It can hardly be a coincidence, however, that it took place at the same time as improvements in the technology of instrument making. The name of Antonio Stradivarius (1644 –1737) is known to many because of auctions where prices soar into the millions for one of his violins, unmatched after three hundred years. (They rarely come on the market. “Strad” cellos are even rarer.) Instruments by other master builders of the era, less well known, can still sound glorious: the organs of Gottfried Silbermann, the harpsichords of François Étienne Blan- chet, the viols of Barak Norman.

In any case, the rise of instrumental music meant that there had to be a basic understanding between composers and audiences about instrumen- tal forms and genres. To pose the most basic question: When the music starts, what should the listener expect, and how long should the compos- er keep going? With vocal music, the answer was (roughly speaking): until the words end. For instrumental music, there was no such answer. Conven- tional forms and genres, understood by both composers and listeners, had to supply it.

In this chapter we look at the most important instrumental forms and genres established in the Baroque era. Baroque vocal music will be treated in Chapter 11.

Baroque Instrumental Music

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Violins are varnished and sun-dried in Cremona, a little town in northern Italy famous for its violin makers since the 1600s. Violinist-composers such as Vivaldi (see page 119) wrote for instruments by Antonio Stradivarius and other master craftsmen. David Lees/Corbis.

1 | Concerto and Concerto Grosso The concerto and the concerto grosso (plural: concerti grossi) are the most im- portant orchestral genres of the Baroque era. The basic idea underlying these genres is contrast between an orchestra and a soloist (in the concerto) or a small group of soloists (in the concerto grosso). Indeed, the word concerto comes from the Latin word concertare, to contend — an origin that accurately indicates a sort of contest between solo and orchestra. This contest pits the brilliance of the soloist or soloists against the relative power and stability of the orchestra. Contrast comes to these genres naturally.

Concertos and concerti grossi exemplify a large-scale approach to instrumental composition that was new in the Baroque era. Composers wanted large-scale forms because audiences, then as now, were more impressed by extended compositions than by short ones. They wanted them also because they could afford the opportunity to portray several different emotions or affects.

C H A P t E R 1 0 | Baroque Instrumental Music

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116 U n i t i i i | The Eighteenth Century

Movements One way to extend a composition was, and is, to lay it out in several movements (or, to put it another way, join together several movements as a single composite work). A movement is a self-contained section of music that is part of a larger work; movements can be compared to chapters in a book. Movements in a multimovement work will always show some variety in tempo, meter, key, musical form, and mood.

The typical late Baroque concerto has three movements. The first movement is a bright, extroverted piece in a fast tempo. After this, the second movement strikes an obvious contrast: It is quieter, slower, and more emotional. The third movement is fast again — if anything, faster than the first.

In the first concerto we study, Vivaldi’s Violin Concerto in G, the three movements exploit two conventional forms of the Baroque era. The first and  last movements are in ritornello form, the second movement in ground- bass form. To understand these forms and their contrast, we examine the first two movements.

Ritornello Form Many concerto movements are in ritornello form, from ritornello, the name for the orchestral music that typically starts the movement off. Contrast is basic to the concerto, and ritornello form focuses on contrast between two musical ideas, or groups of ideas — one belonging to the orchestra and the other to the soloist. The orchestral material (the ritornello) tends to be solid and forceful, the solo material faster and more brilliant.

Ritorno, the Italian word for “return,” tells us that the function of the ritor- nello in ritornello form is to return many times as a stable element of the form. Usually it returns only in part, and usually it is played in different keys as the movement proceeds. As for the musical ideas for the solo, sometimes these are virtuoso passages, sometimes themes, sometimes larger sections including themes and other material. To end the movement, the orchestral ritornello re- turns in the tonic key and, often, at full length.

Ritornello form can be diagrammed as follows, where rit stands for the entire ritornello; [rit] for any part of the ritornello; and Solo 1, 2, 3, etc., for the solo sections:


Solo 1 Solo 2 Solo 3 Solo 4

Tonic key Other keys Tonic key

We need not worry too much about the exact number of ritornello fragments, the keys, and other details shown in such form diagrams; these change from concerto to concerto. More important is the general impression that the form gives: the sense of a sturdy, reliable support in the orchestra for rapid and sometimes fantastic flights by the solo or solo group. Alongside the

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117C H A P t E R 1 0 | Baroque Instrumental Music

almost improvisational freedom of the solo instruments, the ritornello is always there, ready to bring them back down to earth and remind us of the original point of departure.

Antonio Vivaldi, Violin Concerto in G, La stravaganza, Op. 4, no. 12 (1712 –1713) The undisputed champion of the concerto was the Venetian composer Antonio

Vivaldi. Vivaldi wrote hundreds of concertos. He published relatively few of

them, in sets of six or twelve; each set was given an opus, or work, number (opus

is Latin for “work”). To some opuses he gave titles that evoke the extravagant

side of the Baroque dualism (see page 99), such as “Harmonic Whims” (L’estro

armonico, Opus 3) and “Extravagance” (La stravaganza, Opus 4). This Concerto

in G is the last and one of the best of his Opus 4.

It is a concerto for solo violin. In the age of Antonio Stradivarius, violin

maker supreme, a great deal of music was composed at least partly to show off

this favorite instrument. The violin’s brilliance was especially prized, as was its

ability to play expressively.

The violin soloist is pitted against the basic Baroque orchestra of strings

and continuo (see page 108); on our recording the continuo chords are played

by a large lute (an archlute). The orchestra is quite small.

First Movement (Spiritoso e non presto) “Spirited, not too fast,” writes Vivaldi at the start of this triple-meter movement. The first and second violins of the

orchestra echo each other brightly. Read the following material about the first

movement, and listen, following along with the Listening Chart — see page xxxiv

if anything about the chart (or the icons) is not clear. Read again, listen again.

The opening ritornello — with its typical loud, extroverted sound, marked

f — consists of three short parts. The first begins with a couple of loud chords

to catch the audience’s attention and set the tempo (a); then comes a central

section with a distinct sequence (b), and then a cadential section where the

dynamic changes to p for a moment (c):

Archlute. Gianni Dagli Orti/Corbis.

² /4 Ł

[ ¹ ¹ Ł ¹ ¹ Ł Ł Ł Ł Ł Ł Ł



¹Ł Ł Ł Ł Ł Ł Ł Ł Ł


Ł Ł ¹ Ł Ł Ł Ł Ł Ł Ł Ł¦`

² Ł Ł Ł Ł Ł Ł Ł Ł² Ł Ł Ł

Ł Ł̀ Ł Ł Ł Ł Ł Ł Ł ¹

Ł Ł ¹ Ł Ł ¹ Ł Ł Ł Ł Ł Ł Ł Ł Ł Ł Ł

V I O L I N 1 V I O L I N 2

V L N . 1 V L N . 2

V L N . 1 V L N . 2 ba



Once the ritornello ends with a very solid cadence (another typical feature

of Baroque ritornellos), the solo violin enters, first with music moving at about

the same speed as the ritornello, but soon speeding up. Virtuosity for the

1 | 23 23 4

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U n i t i i i | The Eighteenth Century118

Baroque violinist meant jumping from the high strings to the low, executing

fast scales, in fact any and all kinds of fast playing.

Ritornello 2 is an exact repetition of c from the first ritornello. The

second solo has several subsections, which makes it much longer than any of

the others; in one section the continuo drops out entirely. Ritornello 3 begins

with derivatives of a and c but then wanders off freely and ends in a minor

key. This provides a springboard for some expressive playing in the next solo.

Ritornello 4 is freer still; it takes just enough from the original ritornello

(especially part b) so that it seems to fit in with it and, indeed, to grow out

of it spontaneously.

Vivaldi seems to have wanted his first four ritornellos to feel freer and

freer, before he finally pulls the piece back in line. After the last solo (following

Ritornello 4) cuts in very energetically, he ends the movement with a literal

statement of b and c. (Absent is a, perhaps because its attention-getting func-

tion is no longer needed.) Compare the particular form of this movement with

the generalized formal scheme shown in the diagram on page 116.

RIT a b c

[RIT 2] c

[RIT 3] (a c)

[RIT 4] free

[RIT 5] b c

Solo 1 Solo 2 Solo 3 Solo 4

Baroque Variation Form: the Ground Bass Variation forms are among the simplest and most characteristic of Baroque forms. Although they are not as common as other forms, they project the Baroque desire for systematic, thorough structures in a very direct way. This

Vivaldi, Violin Concerto in G, La stravaganza, first movement Ritornello form. 2 min., 46 sec.













Solo 1

Ritornello 2

Solo 2

Ritornello 3

Solo 3

Ritornello 4

Solo 4

Ritornello 5




Contrasting solo violin music


Virtuoso solo violin music; several different sections Continuo drops out for a short time.

Part of this is derived from a and c; the rest is free. cadence in a minor key

More expressive

Even freer than Ritornello 3

Very fast

b c

² Ł ¹ ¹ Ł ¹ ¹ Ł Ł Ł Ł

² Ł Ł ¹ Ł Ł ¹ Ł Ł ¹


L I S T E N I N G C H A R T 2



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C H A P t E R 1 0 | Baroque Instrumental Music 119

is because variation form entails the successive, uninterrupted repetition of one clearly defined melodic unit, with changes that rouse the listener’s interest without ever losing touch with the original unit, or theme.

That theme may be a complete melody in the soprano range or a shorter melodic phrase in the bass. Given the emphasis in the Baroque era on the basso continuo (see page 82), it is not surprising that Baroque variations tend to occur above repeating bass patterns. A name for such patterns is basso ostinato, meaning “persistent” or “obstinate” bass. Sometimes the bass itself is slightly varied — though never in such a way as to hide its identity. Dynamics, tone color, and some harmonies are often changed in variations. Tempo, key, and mode are changed less often.

There are a number of names for compositions in variation form, which grew up independently all over Europe, first as improvisations — opportunities for impromptu display on various instruments — and then as written-out compositions. Besides the French chaconne and the Italian passacaglia ( pah-sa-cáhl-ya), there was the English term ground (the repeating bass figure being called the ground bass). One seventeenth-century Italian composer, Girolamo Frescobaldi, left a passacaglia for organ with exactly a hundred variations. More compact examples of variation form sometimes appear as one movement in a larger Baroque genre, such as a concerto.*

* We examine an earlier example of variation (ground bass) form on page 88: “Dido’s Lament” from Dido and Aeneas by Henry Purcell.

The son of a Venetian violinist, Antonio Vivaldi was destined to follow in his father’s footsteps. He entered the priesthood — where his bright red hair earned him the nickname “the Red Priest” — and in 1703 became a music teacher at the Seminario Musicale dell’Ospedale della Pietà, a Venetian orphanage for girls. The Ospedale was one of several such institutions in Venice that were famous for the attention they paid to the musical training of

their students. A large proportion of Vivaldi’s works were

composed for the school, whose concerts were a

great tourist attraction. The Ospedale al-

lowed him frequent leaves of absence, so Vivaldi toured a good deal, but the compos- er’s contract specified that he should write two concertos a month for the pupils and re- hearse them if he was in town. Near the end

of his life, Vivaldi left Venice permanently to settle in Vienna.

Internationally renowned as a virtuoso violinist, Vivaldi is remembered today chiefly for his brilliant concertos. He wrote more than four hundred of these, including concertos for harp, mandolin, bassoon, and various instrumental combinations; we know of more than 250 solo violin concertos, including our Concerto in G from La stravaganza and Spring from The Four Seasons. Critics of the day complained that Vivaldi’s music was thin and flashy and that the composer was always playing for cheap effects. But the young Bach, before writing his Brandenburg Concertos, carefully copied out pieces by Vivaldi as a way of learning how to write concertos himself.

Chief Works: Solo concertos for many different instruments, including the very famous Four Seasons j Concerti grossi for various instruments j twenty-one extant operas; oratorios; cantatas

Encore: After the Violin Concerto in G and Spring, listen to all of The Four Seasons; Concerto for Two Violins in A Minor, Op. 3, No. 8.

Image credit: Bettmann/CORBIS.


Antonio Vivaldi (1678 –1741)

of Vivaldi’s works were composed for the school,

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The term ostinato has come to be used more broadly than just for repeating Baroque bass lines. It can refer to any short musical unit repeated many times, in the bass or anywhere else, especially one used as a building block for a piece of music. Ostinatos are by no means unique to European music; in some form they are found in almost all musical traditions (see, for example, pages 94 and 201).

1 | 24 24 5

Antonio Vivaldi, Violin Concerto in G, La stravaganza, Op. 4, no. 12 (1712–1713) Second Movement (Largo) As is typical, Vivaldi’s Violin Concerto in G has three contrasting movements — the first and third vigorous and brilliant, the

second gentle and slow. This slow movement is in basso ostinato (ground bass)

variation form.

Our first impression of this music is probably of its texture and timbre — the

gentle throbbing, the ingenious weaving in and out of the orchestral violins and

the solo violin, and the delicate, subsidiary continuo sounds. There is, however,

not much melody to listen to in the violin’s music. There is less, in fact, as the

movement goes along and the texture changes.

Sooner or later we notice that the only real melody is in the bass, where a

solemn, quiet theme (the ground bass) is heard repeatedly in the cellos and

bass viol. The theme sinks down and down, ending with a strong cadence:

² /0 Ł Ł Ł Ł Ł Ł Ł Ł Ł Ł Ł Ł Ł Ł Ł Ł Ł Ł Ł Ł Ł Ł Ł Ł Ł Ł Ł Ł Ł Ł Ł Ł Ł Ł Ł Ł

− Ł Ł Ł Ł Ł Ł Ł² Ł Ł¦ Ł Ł Ł Ł¦ Ł Ł− Ł Ł Ł Theme, Variations 1– 4, 7 Variations 5–6


We develop a sort of double listening for music like this, listening

simultaneously to the unchanging theme and to the changing material

presented above that theme. (This is a little like taking in a distant view while

noticing someone in the foreground.) After the theme’s initial statement, four

more statements with violin variations follow, during which the solo violin

plays faster and faster material above the unvaried ground bass. In its quiet

way, this movement is showing off the violinist’s ability to play music that is

fast and sleek.

After Variation 4, however, there is a marked stop. Variation 5 makes a

grand contrast of the kind relished by Baroque composers and audiences. The

continuo stops, and since the texture is now thin and ethereal, the ground bass

(played by the orchestra violins) can be heard more clearly — and what we hear

is that the theme itself has been varied. It is now in the minor mode.

The mood becomes muted and melancholy; the violin is now showing off

not its speed, but its expressive capabilities. The mood deepens in Variation 6.

Rather abruptly, after this, the original theme returns in the full orchestra and

continuo, played just as it was at the beginning, to end the movement.

The construction of this movement as a set of variations over a ground bass

exemplifies the thorough, methodical quality of so much Baroque music. The

effect of the contrast that Vivaldi has added with Variations 5 and 6 is not

diminished by the steadily repeating, even obsessive bass. On the contrary,

double listening can make the contrast seem richer and more interesting.

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Vivaldi’s Greatest Hits In our day, a set of four con- certos by Vivaldi is a run- away leader among favorite works from the Baroque era; it has been recorded over a hundred times! The set is called The Four Seasons, and it is special not just be- cause of its virtuosic music for string orchestra and vio- lin soloist but also because of what this music depicts. Each concerto is associated with a poem describing a season — its weather espe- cially, but also activities, sights, and sounds: shep- herd and sheep hiding from the blazing sun of summer, hunters coming out at dawn in the fall, the poet slipping on the ice of winter. Vivaldi captured all these things in the music of his concertos; so as to leave us no doubt, he even indicated in his published music which lines of poetry correspond to which passages of music.

This depiction makes The Four Seasons an early example of program music, instrumental music that tries to convey a story, actions, or events. Program music became especially popular in the nineteenth century, and we will come back to it for a closer look in Chapter 16.

Antonio Diziani (1737–1797) specialized in painting landscapes and scenes of Venice. Here he captures a springtime country outing that recalls Vivaldi — but without the thunderstorm. De Agostini Picture Library/A. Dagli Orti/ The Bridgeman Art Library.

Vivaldi, Violin Concerto in G, La stravaganza, second movement Variation (ground-bass) form. 2 min., 59 sec.










Var. 1

Var. 2

Var. 3

Var. 4

Var. 5

Var. 6


Orchestra and Solo: descending bass

Solo: Flowing material

Faster flowing material

Even faster music, though now in spurts

Faster yet: rapid figuration

cadence Brief stop at the cadence ending Variation 4

Thin texture (organ and lute drop out), with expressive violin material over a varied bass: in the minor mode

Like Variation 5, but the violin is a little faster and more expressive.

Orchestra and Solo: as at the beginning (i.e., back to the major mode, and the continuo returns)

L I S T E N I N G C H A R T 3

² Ł‹ Ł Ł Ł Ł Ł Ł Ł Ł Ł Ł Ł Ł

C H A P t E R 1 0 | Baroque Instrumental Music

1 | 24 24 5

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Antonio Vivaldi, Violin Concerto in E, Spring, Op. 8, no. 1 (before 1725) The most famous movement of all is the first movement from Spring (La

Primavera). The poetry associated with this movement describes (in order) the

singing birds and murmuring streams, a sudden thunderstorm silencing the

birds, and their return after it clears; the relevant lines are translated in

Listening Chart 4. With returns of the ritornello in between, Vivaldi depicts

each of these moments, as the chart shows.

The ritornellos could hardly be simpler — or catchier. The opening ritor- nello consists of two phrases, bright and fanfare-like, heralding spring. Each

phrase is stated, then immediately repeated more quietly: a (loud) a (soft) b

(loud) b (soft). All of the ritornellos after the first are made up of one or two

statements of the b phrase — all but one: The next-to-last ritornello introduces new melodies, related to the ritornello, for the full orchestra. The ritornello

that comes after the thunderstorm sounds darker than the rest, almost omi-

nous; it is in the minor mode, while the others are in the major.

The solo sections, because of the depiction involved, are slightly more com-

plicated than we might expect. The first and third of them, portraying the birds

singing, require three violins, not just the single soloist. In these moments the

movement sounds more like a concerto grosso (a concerto with more than one

soloist) than like a solo concerto. The sections depicting the murmuring

breezes and streams and the thunderstorm are not really solo sections at all,

but for the full orchestra. Nevertheless, the soloist gets to show off during the

thunderstorm, with streaking (musical) bolts of lightning.

Vivaldi, Violin Concerto in E, Spring, first movement (Allegro) Ritornello form. 3 min., 10 sec.















Ritornello 1

Solo 1

Ritornello 2


Ritornello 3

Solo 2

Ritornello 4

Solo 3

Ritornello 5

Solo 4

Ritornello 6

a (loud)

a (soft)

b (loud)

b (soft)

Three violins: birds


Full orchestra


Thunderstorm (orchestral thunder, solo lightning bolts)

b, now in the minor mode

Three violins: Birds resume songs.

New melodies, related to a and b

b (loud) b (soft)

Springtime has arrived, and the birds greet her return with festive song, and the streams, caressed by the breezes, flow with soft murmurs. Then lightning and thunder, an- nouncing the spring, cast their dark mantle over the heavens. When these grow quiet, the birds take up again their enchanting songs.

L I S T E N I N G C H A R T 4

& #### c Jœ œ œ œ œ œ

.œ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ .œ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ œ VIOLINS

Allegro a

1 | 25 25 6

1 | 25 25 6

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C H A P t E R 1 0 | Baroque Instrumental Music 123

Johann Sebastian Bach, Brandenburg Concerto no. 5, for Flute, Violin, Harpsichord, and Orchestra (before 1721) A concerto grosso is a concerto for a group of several solo instruments (rather

than just a single one) and orchestra. In 1721 Johann Sebastian Bach sent a

beautiful manuscript containing six of these works to the margrave of

Brandenburg, a minor nobleman with a paper title — the duchy of Brandenburg

had recently been merged into the kingdom of Prussia, Europe’s fastest- growing

state. We do not know why this music was sent (if Bach was job-hunting, he

was unsuccessful) or if it was ever performed in Brandenburg.

To impress the margrave, presumably, Bach sent pieces with six different

combinations of instruments, combinations that in some cases were never used

before or after. Taken as a group, the Brandenburg Concertos present an

unsurpassed anthology of dazzling tone colors and imaginative treatments of

the concerto contrast between soloists and orchestra.

Brandenburg Concerto No. 5 features as its solo group a flute, violin, and

harpsichord. The orchestra is the basic Baroque string orchestra (see page 108).

The harpsichordist of the solo group doubles as the player of the orchestra’s

continuo chords, and the solo violin leads the orchestra during the ritornellos.

First Movement (Allegro) In ritornello form, the first movement of Brandenburg Concerto No. 5 opens with a loud, bright, solid-sounding orchestral ritornello.

We have seen this music before, as an example of a typical Baroque

melody — intricate, wide-ranging, and saturated with sequences (see page 109).

The brackets show the three segments of the ritornello, a, b, and c, that recur

in the movement:

“I Shall 1. set the boys a shining example of an honest, retiring manner of life, serve the School industriously, and instruct the boys conscientiously

2. Bring the music in both the principal Churches of this town [Leipzig] into a good state, to the best of my ability

3. Show to the Honorable and Most Wise Town Council all proper respect and obedience.”

Bach’s contract at Leipzig, 1723 — the first three of fourteen stipulations

²² .. Ł[ Ł Ł Ł Ł Ł Ł Ł Ł Ł Ł Ł Ł Ł Ł Ł Ł Ł Ł Ł Ł Ł

Ł Ł Ł Ł ¹ Ł Ł Ł Ł Ł Ł Ł Ł Ł Ł Ł Ł Ł Ł Ł Ł Ł Ł Ł Ł Ł Ł Ł Ł Ł Ł Ł Ł Ł Ł Ł

²² Ł Ł Ł Ł Ł Ł Ł Ł Ł Ł Ł Ł Ł Ł Ł Ł Ł Ł Ł Ł Ł Ł Ł Ł Ł Ł

Ł Ł Ł Ł Ł Ł Ł Ł Ł Ł Ł Ł¦ Ł Ł Ł Ł² Ł Ł Ł Ł Ł Ł Ł Ł Ł Ł Ł Ł Ł Ł Ł Ł ý Ł Ł

[ ]




Once the ritornello ends with a solid cadence, the three solo instruments

enter with rapid imitative polyphony. They dominate the rest of the movement.

They introduce new motives and new patterns of figuration, take over some

motives from the ritornello, and toss all these musical ideas back and forth

between them. Every so often, the orchestra breaks in again, always with clear

fragments of the ritornello, in various keys. All this makes an effect very, very

different from Vivaldi’s Violin Concerto in G and Spring concerto, not only

because of the sheer length of the movement but also because of the richness

of the counterpoint and the harmony.

During a particularly striking solo section in the minor mode (the first

section printed in blue in Listening Chart 5), the soloists abandon their motivic

style and play music with even richer harmonies and intriguing, special

2 | 1–5 26 7

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textures. After this, you may be able to hear that all the remaining solos are

closely related to solos heard before the minor-mode section — all, that is,

except the very last. Here (the second blue-printed section in the Listening

Chart) the harpsichord gradually outpaces the violin and the flute, until finally

it seizes the stage and plays a lengthy virtuoso passage, while the other instru-

ments wait silently.

An improvised or improvisatory solo passage of this kind within a larger

piece is called a cadenza. Cadenzas are a feature of concertos in all eras; the biggest cadenza always comes near the end of the first movement, as in Bran-

denburg Concerto No. 5.

In this cadenza, the harpsichord breaks out of the regular eighth-note

rhythms that have dominated this long movement. Its swirling, unexpectedly

powerful patterns prepare gradually but inexorably for the final entrance of the

orchestra. This is an instance of Bach’s masterful ability to ratchet up har-

monic tension and expectancy.

Finally the whole ritornello is played, exactly as at the beginning; after nine

minutes of rich and complex music, we hear it again as a complete and solid

entity, not in fragments.

An elaborately painted eighteenth-century harpsichord, with two keyboards. AKG-Images/The Image Works.

²² Ł ýŁ Ł Ł Ł² Ł Ł ýŁ Ł Ł Ł Ł

²² Ł ýŁ Ł Ł Ł Ł Ł Ł Ł Ł etc.



Ł ýŁ

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Second Movement (Affettuoso) After the forceful first movement, a change is needed: something quieter, slower, and more emotional (affettuoso means just

that, emotional). As often in concertos, this slow movement is in the minor

mode, contrasting with the first and last, which are in the major.

Bach, Brandenburg Concerto No. 5, first movement Ritornello form. 9 min., 44 sec.
























Ritornello (a, b, and c)


Ritornello (a only)


Ritornello (b)


Ritornello (b)


Ritornello (b)


central solo

Ritornello (a)


Ritornello (a and b)


Ritornello (b)


Harpsichord cadenza

Ritornello (a, b, and c)

Complete ritornello is played by the orchestra, forte: bright and emphatic.

Harpsichord, flute, and violin in a contrapuntal texture. Includes faster rhythms; the soloists play new themes and also play some of the motives from the ritornello.

Orchestra, f

Similar material to that of the first solo

Orchestra, f

Similar solo material

Orchestra, f; minor mode

Similar solo material at first, then fast harpsichord runs are introduced.

Orchestra, f

This solo leads directly into the central solo.

Quiet flute and violin dialogue (accompanied by the orchestra, p) is largely in the minor mode. The music is less motivic, and the harmonies change less rapidly than before.

detached notes in cello, flute, and violin; sequence

Long high notes prepare for the return of the ritornello.

Orchestra, f

Orchestra, f; this ritornello section feels especially solid because it is longer than the others and in the tonic key.

Orchestra, f

Fast harpsichord run leads into the cadenza.

Section 1: a lengthy passage developing motives from the solo sections

Section 2: very fast and brilliant

Section 3: long preparation for the anticipated return of the ritornello

Orchestra, f, plays the complete ritornello.












²² Ł Ł Ł Ł Ł Ł Ł Ł Ł Ł Ł Ł Ł Ł Ł Ł Ł

²² Ł Ł Ł ð Ł Ł Ł Ł Ł Ł Ł

²² Ł ýŁ Ł Ł Ł² Ł Ł ýŁ Ł Ł Ł Ł

L I S T E N I N G C H A R T 5






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2 | Fugue Fugue is one of the most impressive and characteristic achievements of Baroque music, indeed of Baroque culture altogether. In broad, general terms, fugue can be thought of as systematized imitative polyphony (see pages 29–30). Composers of the Middle Ages first glimpsed imitative polyphony, and Renaissance compos- ers developed it; Baroque composers, living in an age of science, systematized it. The thorough, methodical quality that we pointed to in Baroque music is nowhere more evident than in fugue.

Baroque composers had a simple way of reducing volume: They could omit

many or even all of the orchestra instruments. So here Bach employs only the

three solo instruments — flute, violin, and harpsichord — plus the orchestra

cello playing the continuo bass.

Third Movement (Allegro) The full orchestra returns in the last movement, which, however, begins with a lengthy passage for the three soloists in imitative,

or fugal style (see the next section of this chapter). The lively compound meter

with its triple component — one two three four five six — provides a welcome

contrast to the duple meter of the two earlier movements.

This painting is thought to depict a viola da gamba player of Bach’s time named C. F. Abel and his musician sons. It is a symbolic picture: The kindly, soberly dressed father is holding his continuo instrument (the viol) as a support for the upper lines of the boys, who wear the frothy costumes of a later era. One of them would become a major composer.

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for whom he prepared a little home-music anthol- ogy, The Note-Book of Anna Magdalena Bach. The children were taught music as a matter of course, and also taught how to copy music; the performance parts of many of the weekly can- tatas that Bach composed are written in their hands. From his musical response to the sacred words of these cantatas and from other works, it is clear that Bach thought deeply about religious matters. Works such as his Passions and his Mass in B Minor emanate a spirituality that many listeners find unmatched by any other composer.

Bach seldom traveled, except to consult on organ construction contracts (for which the fee was often a cord of wood or a barrel of wine). Blind in his last years, he continued to compose by dictation. He had already begun to assemble his compositions in or- derly sets: organ chorale preludes, organ fugues, preludes and fugues for harpsichord. He also clearly set out to produce works that would summarize his final thoughts about Baroque forms and genres; such works are the Mass in B Minor, the thirty-three Gold- berg Variations for harpsichord, and The Art of Fugue, an exemplary collection of fugues all on the same subject, left unfinished at his death. Bach was writing for himself, for his small devoted circle of students, perhaps for posterity. It is a concept that would have greatly surprised the craftsmen musicians who were his forebears.

Chief Works: More than 200 sacred and secular cantatas; two Passions, with words from the gospels of St. Matthew and St. John; Mass in B Minor j The Well-Tempered Clavier, consisting of forty-eight preludes and fugues in all major and minor keys for harpsichord or clavichord j Three sets of suites (six each) for harpsichord — the French and English Suites and the Partitas; solo cello suites; violin sonatas; Goldberg Variations j Organ fugues and chorale preludes j Brandenburg Concertos, other concertos, orchestral suites, sonatas j Late composite works: A Musical Offering and The Art of Fugue j Chorale (hymn) harmonizations

Encore: After Brandenburg Concerto No. 5, listen to the Concerto for Two Violins; Mass in B Minor (Gloria section).

Image credit: Bettmann/CORBIS.


Johann Sebastian Bach (1685 –1750) During the Baroque era, crafts were handed down in family clans, and in music the Bach clan was one of the biggest, providing the region of Thuringia, in central Germany, with musicians for many genera- tions. Most of the Bachs were lowly town musicians or Lutheran church organists; only a few of them gained court positions. Johann Sebastian, who was himself taught by several of his relatives, trained four sons who became leading composers of the next generation.

Before he was twenty, Bach took his first position as a church organist in a little town called Arnstadt, then moved to a bigger town called Mühlhausen. Then he worked his way up to a court position with the Duke of Weimar. As a church organist, Bach had to compose organ music and sacred choral pieces, and at Weimar he was still required to write church music for the ducal chapel as well as sonatas and concertos for performance in the palace. The way his Weimar position terminated tells us something about the working conditions of court musicians. When Bach tried to leave Weimar for another court, Cöthen, the duke balked and threw him in jail for several weeks before letting him go. At Cöthen the prince happened to be a keen amateur musician who was not in favor of elaborate church music, so Bach con- centrated on instrumental music.

In 1723 Bach was appointed cantor of St. Thomas’s Church in Leipzig, a center of Lutheran church music in Germany. He had to not only compose and perform but also organize music for all four churches in town. Teaching in the choir school was another of his responsibilities. Almost every week in his first years at Leipzig, Bach composed, had copied, rehearsed, and performed a new cantata — a reli- gious work for soloists, choir, and orchestra containing several movements and lasting from fifteen to thirty minutes.

Bach chafed under bureaucratic restrictions and political decisions by town and church authorities. The truth is, he was never appreciated in Leipzig. Furthermore, at the end of his life he was regarded as old- fashioned by modern musicians, and one critic pained Bach by saying so in print. Indeed, after Bach’s death his music was neglected by the musical public at large, though it was admired by composers such as Mozart and Beethoven.

Bach had twenty children — seven with his first wife (a cousin) and thirteen with his second (a singer),

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A fugue is a polyphonic composition for a fixed number of instrumental lines or voices — usually three or four — built on a single principal theme. This theme, called the fugue subject, appears again and again in each of the instrumental or vocal lines.

The term fugue itself comes from the Latin word fuga, which means “ running away”; imagine the fugue subject being chased from one line to another. Listening to a fugue, we follow that chase. The subject stays the same, but it takes on endless new shadings as it turns corners and surrounds itself with different melodic and rhythmic ideas.

Fugal Exposition A fugue begins with an exposition in which all the voices present the subject in an orderly, standardized way. (The contrapuntal lines in fugues are referred to as voices, even when the fugue is written for instruments. We will refer to the four lines in our Bach fugue for keyboard as the soprano, alto, tenor, and bass.)

First, the subject is announced in the most prominent fashion possible: It enters in a single voice without any accompaniment, while the other voices wait. Any voice can begin, and any order of entry for the other voices is possible; in the first diagram below, we follow the order of the example on our recording (alto, then higher up for the soprano, then below the alto for the tenor, and finally, lowest of all, the bass). After leading off, voice 1 continues with new ma- terial of its own while the subject enters in voice 2. Next, the subject arrives in voice 3 — with 1 and 2 continuing in counterpoint with it (and with each other), using more new material, and so on. This section of a fugue, the exposition, is over when all the voices have stated the subject.

Fugue by Josef Albers (1888–1976). One can almost see the exposition and the subsequent subject entries. Gianni Dagli Orti/ The Art Archive at Art Resource, NY.


Subject — New materialA LTO

Subject — New material

T E N O R Subject — New material

B A S S Subject — New material

After the exposition, the subject enters at intervals; usually it is spaced out by passages of other music. It may come at the top of the texture (in the soprano), the bottom (bass), or half hidden away in the middle; see the dia- gram on page 129. Some of these later subject entries come in different keys. Although the modulations to these other keys may not be very obvious, without them the music would be dull and stodgy.

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Fugal Devices Many specialized techniques can enter into the imitative polyphony of fugues, and the art of composing them has been so often analyzed and taught in the wake of Bach that a whole terminology has grown up. In addition to exposition, subject, and episode, there is the countersubject, a kind of second subject that fits together in counterpoint with the first, shadowing it in all its appearances after the beginning.

Composers may lengthen or shorten all the notes in the subject, making it twice as slow or twice as fast. They might turn the melody of the subject up- side down, inverting its every interval (so that where the original subject went up a step, the inversion will go down, and so forth). Very often they shorten the space between subject entries from what was heard in the exposition, so that the entries follow one another faster and are stacked almost on top of each other. This technique is called stretto (the Italian word for “narrow”). All these possibilities and more are basic to the ingenious contrapuntal art of the fugue.





entry Subject

episode episode Longer episodeexposition Subject

Subject Subject



The passages of music separating the later subject entries are called episodes. They provide a contrast to the subject entries. This is true even though their motives are often derived from the subject; in such cases, the episodes present not the subject in full but fragments of it, and so they stand apart from subject entries. After the exposition, the form of a fugue falls into an alternating pattern: Episodes of various lengths come between subject entries in various voices and in various keys. Here is a diagram of a typical short fugue:

Johann Sebastian Bach, Prelude and Fugue in C Major, from The Well-Tempered Clavier, Book 1 (1722) The Well-Tempered Clavier is a kind of encyclopedia of fugue composition, in

which the greatest master of the genre tried out almost every technique and

style available to it. It falls into two books, the first gathered together in 1722,

the second twenty-two years later. Each book presents, systematically, a fugue

in every key and in both major and minor modes: 12 keys  3  2 modes  3  2

books — that’s 48 fugues in all. Each fugue is preceded by an introductory

piece, or prelude, in the same key and mode (forty-eight more pieces!). Some of the fugues give the impression of stern regimentation, some are

airy and serene; some echo counterpoint from a century before, others sound

like up-to-date dances; some even seem to aim for comic effect. Bach was

unsurpassed in the expressive variety he could milk from fugal techniques.

Clavier (or Klavier) is today the German word for piano. In Bach’s time it

referred to a variety of keyboard instruments, including the harpsichord and

the very earliest pianos (but not including the church organ). The term

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“The bearer, Monsieur J. C. Dorn, student of music, has requested the undersigned to give him a testimonial as to his knowledge in musicis. . . . As his years increase it may well be expected that with his good native talent he will develop into a quite able musician.”

Joh. Seb. Bach (a tough grader)

well-tempered refers to a particular way of tuning the keyboard, among the

several employed in the eighteenth century. The Well-Tempered Clavier was

probably played in Bach’s time on various instruments, but most often on

harpsichord. Our prelude and fugue are played on piano by a modern master

of Bach interpretation, Glenn Gould (see page 131).

Prelude Like the fugues, the preludes in The Well-Tempered Clavier display a wide variety of moods, from gentle and lyrical to aggressive and showy, and

they explore many musical textures (though usually not the imitative polyphony

that features in the fugues to follow). Each prelude tends to occupy itself in an

almost obsessive manner with a single musical gesture, repeating it over and

over across shifting harmonies. The preludes are, in their different way,

systematic like the fugues that follow.

The most famous of them — and also one of the easiest for the novice

pianist to work through — is the first, in C major. Its basic gesture is an

upward-moving arpeggio — that is, a chord “broken” so that its pitches are played in quick succession rather than simultaneously. The wonder of this

simple prelude is the rich array of chords Bach devised for it. We feel at its end

as if we have taken a harmonic journey, ranging away from our starting point,

exploring some rather rocky pathways (that is, dissonant harmonies), and

finally — satisfyingly — arriving back home.

Fugue Perhaps because this fugue takes pride of place in The Well-Tempered Clavier, Bach crafts it with extraordinary economy and single-mindedness.

There are no episodes here, and there is no countersubject to speak of. There

are only incessant entries of the subject — twenty-four in all. (Was Bach, who

loved number games, referring to the number of fugues in the whole of

Book 1?) Many of them overlap in stretto fashion.

The subject is introduced in a spacious exposition — soprano, tenor, and

bass follow the alto at even time intervals. The subject moves stepwise up

the scale in even rhythms at first, only to reverse course with a quick twist

downward. Listen carefully for this twist; it will help you pick out the many

subject entries to come. (The whole subject is shown in Listening Chart 6.)

After the exposition, however, all bets are off, fugally speaking. Instead of

the more usual episodes alternating with orderly entries of the subject, this

fugue is all about stretto. The first stretto comes as soon as the exposition is

complete, with two voices overlapping, and from then on entries begin to pile up.

But an overall order underlies all these strettos. The fugue comes, exactly

at its midpoint, to a strong cadence on a key different from our starting key, and

in the minor mode. This articulates but does not stop the action, as the stretto

The Prelude in C Major from The Well-Tempered Clavier, Book 1 — in Bach’s own musical handwriting, beautiful and intricate.

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Glenn Gould (1932–1982) The Canadian pianist Glenn Gould is remembered for making Bach, and especially his keyboard works, widely popular from the 1950s on. At that time the preferred medium was the harpsichord, which had been revived so that Bach could be played on his own instrument; audiences were specialized, to say the least, and pianists didn’t play much Bach. Significantly, Gould’s first great success was a best-selling three-LP recording of one of Bach’s encyclopedic works, the Goldberg Variations. In a stroke he created a uniquely modern Bach sound by imitating the harpsichord on the piano, joining the crisp, even attack of the older instrument with the potent dynamic range of the newer one.

Thus his playing of Bach’s Prelude No. 1 in C sounds less like chords made by a swishing harp than a hollow series of pings; yet the dynamics fall and rise, rise and fall so purposefully that this simple piece produces an almost majestic effect. Notice how carefully p and f moments are coordinated with the harmonies spelled out by the chords. In the fugue, Gould is in his element — every entry is loud and clear!

Like many performers, old and new, classical and popular, Gould derived some of his fame from his eccen- tricities. At concerts he had to have the piano bench very low and the temperature in the hall very high. On our recording you will hear weird little noises behind the music; even the top recording engineers couldn’t filter out Gould’s constant humming or yelping when he played.

Gould was also a popular broadcaster, promoting his pet ideas. For example, he thought that concerts were

outmoded and the future of music lay with recordings. He was wrong, but it worked for him; for nearly twenty years at the end of his life, he concentrated on building up an extraordinary archive of recordings but played no concerts at all.

Michael Ochs Archive/Getty Images.

Bach, Fugue 1 in C Major, from The Well-Tempered Clavier 1 min., 55 sec.













exposition Fugue subject in:

a (alto)

S (soprano)

T (tenor)

B (bass)

First stretto, S and T

Subject entry: a

More stretto entries: B, a, T

cadence minor mode

Quickest voice entries yet in stretto: a, T, B, S

More stretto: S, a, T, B, etc.

cadence major mode, home key; but three more entries follow quickly in stretto: T, a, S


L I S T E N I N G C H A R T 6

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3 | Baroque Dances We have sampled Italian and German music of the Baroque era, and turn now to the French tradition. All Europe associated France with dance music. Paris was a center for ballet, which has always been a particularly strong feature of French opera — and French opera of the Baroque era was particularly grand and spectacular. An admirer writes of the great opera composer Jean-Philippe Rameau: “As a composer of dances, he bewilders comparison.”

the Dance Suite Many different dance types existed in the Baroque era. What distinguished them were features originally associated with the dance steps — a certain meter, a distinctive tempo, and some rhythmic attributes. The minuet, for example, is a simple dance in triple time at a moderate tempo. The slower sarabande is a little more intricate; also in triple time, it has an accent on the second beat of the measure, as well as the normal accent on the first.

The custom all over Europe was to group a collection of miscellaneous dances together in a genre called the suite. Which dances occurred in a suite was not subject to any general rule, nor was there any specified order. But all the dances in a suite kept to the same key, and the last of them was always fast — frequently a gigue, a dance in compound meter that may have been derived from the Irish jig. Otherwise there was no standard overall structure to a suite.

Composers also wrote a great many dances and dance suites for the lute or the harpsichord. These are stylized dances, pieces written in the style and form of dance music but intended for listening rather than dancing, for mental rath- er than physical pleasure. Compared with dances written for the actual dance floor, stylized ones naturally allowed for more musical elaboration and refine- ment, while still retaining some of the typical features of the various dance-type.

Baroque Dance Form A Baroque dance has two sections, a and b. Each ends with a strong cadence coming to a complete stop, after which the section is immediately repeated. Both sections tend to include the same motives, cadences, and other such musi- cal details, and this makes for a sense of symmetry between them, even though b is nearly always longer than a. Hence Baroque dance form is diagrammed a a b b, abbreviated as |: a :||: b :| where the signs |: and :| indicate that everything between them is to be repeated. This form is also called binary form.

With shorter dances, composers tended to group them in pairs of the same type, with the first coming back after the second, resulting in a large-scale A B A form. (Don’t confuse A with a, or B with b. Admittedly, the standard terminology is awkward.) The second, or B, dance in such a pair was called the trio, a relic

entries of the subject begin again immediately, back in the home key. Indeed, as

if to counterbalance the clarity of the cadence, the entries here come faster than

anywhere else in the fugue — eight of them in quick succession. At one moment

four entries all overlap, the last beginning before the first has finished.

After this frenzy of entries, even a big cadence back in the home key takes

a moment to sink in, as three more entries of the subject quickly follow it. The

energy of all this finally comes to rest in the soprano voice, which at the very

end floats beautifully up to the highest pitch we have heard.

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of orchestral dances from early French opera, when B had often been scored for only three instruments. This made for a simple, agreeable contrast with the full orchestration of the A dance.

Later the idea of contrast between A and B was always kept, with B quieter than A, or perhaps changed in mode. Thus a Baroque minuet and trio, to choose this type as an example, consists of one minuet followed by a second, contrasting minuet, and then the first one returns. This time, however, the repeats in the binary form are usually omitted:


a a b b c c d d a b

abbreviated as: |: a :||: b :| |: c :||: d :| a b

The term trio, to indicate a contrasting, subsidiary section, lasted until well after the Baroque period. Band players know it from the marches of John Philip Sousa and others.

Concerts began late in the Baroque era. They were sometimes given in parks (such as the Vauxhall Gardens of London, shown here), where music accompanied gossip, flirtation, and food. English School/London Metropolitan Archives, City of London/The Bridgeman Art Library.

George Frideric Handel (1685–1759), Minuet from the Royal Fireworks Music (1749) We will discuss Handel as a composer of opera and oratorio in Chapter 11, on

Baroque vocal music. One of his best-loved instrumental works is a dance suite for

a huge band to celebrate the end of one of England’s many wars in the eighteenth

century, the War of the Austrian Succession. The minuet from this suite was not

|: a :||: b :| 8 8

2 | 6 29

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G o a l s f o r r e v i e w

c to witness the explosion of instrumental music in the late Baroque period

c to distinguish concerto grosso from solo concerto

c to listen for the basic formal design of Baroque concerto movements: ritornello form

c to understand the principles of fugue, develop a vocabulary for them, and listen to them in action

c to follow the development of late Baroque dance music

c to survey the lives and works of Antonio Vivaldi and Johann Sebastian Bach Interactive Listening Charts 2–6 Listening Quiz for Chapter 10 Reading Quiz for Chapter 10

Johann Sebastian Bach, Gigue from Cello Suite no. 2 in D Minor (c. 1720) Bach wrote three important sets of suites for harpsichord, with six suites each.

His set of six suites for cello solo have become very popular; if you search on for “Bach” today (we can’t vouch for tomorrow), the cello suites

top any of his other music. This is the most stylized of dance music, far from

the dance floor or ballet stage.

One can play chords on a stringed instrument by bowing any two adjacent

strings, and Bach does this very effectively in both a and b sections of his

D-minor gigue. The range of this music provides much of its exhilaration; the

cello races up and down more than three whole octaves. Bach’s genius lies in

making these athletic lines sound like wide-ranging melodies and broken

chords supporting them, all at the same time.

|: a :||: b :| 16 22

meant to be danced, then, but music like this certainly encourages body move-

ment. On our recording, the minuet is played twice, the second time with full

military honors.

The rehearsal of the Fireworks Music at London’s Vauxhall Gardens (see

page 133) was attended by 12,000 people, causing a historic traffic jam. At the

celebration itself, which was led off by a hundred brass cannons, things got

much worse: The stage set caught fire, the crowd stampeded, two people died,

and the man in charge of the fireworks had a mad fit. Music should stay indoors.

2 | 7 30 10

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135C H A P T E R 1 1 | Baroque Vocal Music

Vocal music — music for solo voices, choruses, or both — formed a major part of the output of most Baroque composers. We have seen that composers were supported by three main institutions: the church, the opera house, and the court. Each of these demanded vocal music. Indeed, of the three, only the court was a major venue for instrumental

music — and every court had its chapel, for which the court composers were also required to provide vocal music. Courts often had their own opera theaters, too.

Theories of musical expression in the Baroque era were touched on in Chapter 9 (page 112). It was believed at the time that emotions could be isolated, categorized, and listed in a fairly simple way, and that music could enhance or even arouse each emotion by means of certain musical devices applied consistently throughout a piece. Theorists developed checklists of musical devices corresponding to each of the “affects,” as they called emotions conceived in this way.

It was particularly in vocal music — where the words that are sung define or suggest a specific emotion — that this musical vocabulary of the emotions was developed and exploited. If a text refers to “rejoicing,” for example, a Baroque composer would match this with fast, lively runs; a mention of “victory” would probably require trumpets and drums in the accompanying instruments to evoke battle music — or at least fanfare motives in the violins. “Sorrow” would call forth sighing melodic gestures and intense, dissonant harmonies, and so on.

1 | Opera The principal genre of secular vocal music of the Baroque era was opera. Introduced around the year 1600, opera soon flourished mightily all over Europe, and became the most glamorous and probably the most adventurous and influential artistic genre of the Baroque era.

Any general description of the emotional world of Baroque art must feature its theatrical quality (see page 113). The Baroque was fascinated by the theater, and especially by opera — the ultimate multimedia experience of its day, combining poetry, drama, music, vocal virtuosity, scenic splendor, dance, and more. Spectacle was of the essence in Baroque opera — spectacular singing, to be sure, but also spectacular stage architecture, featuring amazing transformation scenes and the like. Systems of pulleys and counterweights

Baroque Vocal Music



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could rapidly change the set from a palace to a magic garden, with gods and goddesses descending from the heavens in a fiery chariot. Opera offered a wealth of satisfactions, then — most obviously, no doubt, for the vocal connoisseurs of the day, the fans of great singers. They are said to have gossiped, gambled, and flirted in the boxes while waiting for the special moments when their favorites sang.

But opera’s ability to project emotion was the real basis of its appeal. First and foremost, opera offered a stage on which individual singers could step forward to express feelings in the most direct and powerful fashion. Since the singers were portraying characters in a drama, they were repeatedly thrown into situations that made it seem natural for them to experience (and express) intense emotions.

Such emotions were made all the more intense by music. Emotion could be intensified by great vocal virtuosity, too. The most obvious kind of vocal virtuosity is coloratura singing — fast brilliant runs, scales, high notes, vocal cadenzas, and so on, stressing technique for its own sake. But the legendary singers of old moved their audiences not only by singing faster than anyone else but also by singing more beautifully, more delicately, and more emotionally.

In contrast to the painting on page 106, this is a much more informal picture of a Baroque opera performance — evidently during a recitative, to judge from the interaction of the characters on stage and the inattention of the audience. (The painting is perhaps by Antonio Longhi, 1702 –1785.) School of Pietro Longhi, Opera Seria. Photo: Scala/Art Resource, NY.

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italian Opera Seria The principal type of Italian Baroque opera was opera seria, or serious opera. The plots — mostly derived from ancient history, with all kinds of alterations and additions — were designed to stir up powerful emotions, such as passion, rage, grief, and triumph. Such plots gave the singers many opportunities to excel in one kind of expression or another. Opera seria consisted mainly of solo singing by sopranos and mezzo-sopranos, including castrati (see the box below). Bril- liant high voices were prized above all. Tenors and basses played subordinate roles, and there were few duets or choruses.

The words of an opera are called the libretto (“little book”), and their author is the librettist. Librettists had to build up the drama as a whole from a series of brief texts, alternating with one another, for recitatives and arias.

Recitative Recitative (reh-sih-ta-téev), from the Italian word for “recite,” is a technique of declaiming words musically in a heightened, theatrical manner. There is always an instrumental accompaniment. The singing voice closely follows the free rhythm of emotional speech; it mirrors and indeed exaggerates the natural ups and downs that occur as an actor raises his or her voice at a question, lowers it in “asides,” or cries out angrily. The composer makes no effort to organize these speechlike utterances into real melodies; the point is speechlike song.

Intimately tied up with Italian opera seria was the castrato singer (plural: castrati). The starring male roles in opera were hardly ever sung by tenors or basses but rather by men who had submitted to castration at puberty in order to preserve their voices in the soprano or alto range. At its best, the castrato voice was a prized virtuoso instrument, more powerful and brilliant than a woman’s soprano.

This practice seems an outrage to us today, as it did to everybody outside Italy at the time (and to many in Italy itself). Nevertheless, in Italy and across most of Europe — France was a notable exception — castrati were gladly accepted because of their spectacular singing and given top billing, along with women prima donnas. But the presence of frankly unnatural men in the main opera roles, which were of course usually romantic roles, made it hard to believe in the ideal of opera as serious drama in music. Contributing to the sideshow quality, it was common in opera seria plots for male characters to disguise themselves as women (and vice versa). Then the male soprano voice was used for female impersonation.

The most famous castrati were international stage figures. Some were pampered stars and objects of ridicule at the same time, such as Caffarelli, who was once jailed for indecent gestures during a performance. Others led more dignified careers. Carlo Broschi, whose stage name was

Farinelli, the most famous of all, was also a composer and later in life an influ- ential figure at the royal court of Spain.

Most castrati, however, labored far from the limelight, singing in Italian churches. The last known castrato, Alessandro Mores- chi, a member of the Sistine Choir in Rome who was born as late as 1858, made recordings in 1902 – 03; you can listen to some of them on YouTube.

You can also rent the 1994 film Farinelli, for which a virtual castrato voice was invented by digital wizardry.


Farinelli. Royal College of Music, London, UK / The Bridgeman Art Library.

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Recitative was used for plot action, dialogue, and other places in the drama where it is particularly important for the words to be brought out. Text phrases and individual words are not ordinarily repeated any more than they would be in speech.

Most of the time, recitative accompaniment was kept to a minimum — basso continuo (typically cello and harpsichord) alone — so that the singer could interpret the dialogue or the action as spontaneously as possible. Italians at the  time called recitative with continuo accompaniment secco recitative, from the Italian meaning “dry” (think of the sound of the harpsichord).

In every opera seria, however, one or two of the most excited, emotion-filled recitatives were provided with orchestral accompaniment of one kind or another. This type is called accompanied recitative.

Aria An aria is a set piece for solo singer that has much more musical elaboration and coherence than recitative. The vocal part is more melodic, and ordinarily the accompaniment includes the orchestra, not just the continuo, as in secco recitative. Here the singer-actor is mulling over his or her emotions at some leisure, “getting his feelings out,” instead of reacting moment by moment, as in recitative. Consequently in arias the repetition of poetic phrases or words is common and, in principle, appropriate.

The standard form for the Baroque Italian opera aria is da capo form, A B A (less usual is free da capo form, A B A9). Both the words and music of A are repeated after B; da capo (“from the head”) is a direction on scores mean- ing repeat from the beginning. The composer wrote the music for A and B only, leaving the performers to do the rest. Indeed, the singer would do more than just repeat A. He or she would also ornament the music with improvised runs, cadenzas, and so on, so as to create an exciting enhanced effect the second time around.

For connoisseurs of the day, a great deal depended on the A repeats, since it was there that the star singers really dazzled their audiences. Many modern singers have relearned the lost improvisational art of the Baroque era, and we can recapture some of the original excitement on recordings.

George Frideric Handel, Julius Caesar (1724) As a young man, Handel wrote a few German operas for the Hamburg opera

company (most of the music is lost) and a few Italian operas for theaters in

Florence and Venice. In his maturity he wrote as many as forty Italian operas

for London, where he helped start a fad for imported Italian opera. Probably

the most famous of them is Julius Caesar (Giulio Cesare in Egitto), one of

a trio of Handel masterpieces written in the years 1724–25, the others being

Rodelinda and Tamerlano.

Background Like most opera seria of the late Baroque era, Julius Caesar draws on Roman history. Cleopatra, the famous queen of Egypt, applied her

formidable charms to Julius Caesar and then, after Caesar’s assassination, also

to his successor Mark Antony. Shakespeare deals with the second of these

famous affairs in his play Antony and Cleopatra; Handel tackles the first.

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Handel’s librettist added a great deal of nonhistorical plot material. History

tells that Pompey — who comes into the story because he waged war on Caesar

and lost and fled to Egypt — was murdered by one of his soldiers, but in the

opera the murderer is Cleopatra’s brother Ptolemy. Pompey’s widow, Cornelia,

is thrown into Ptolemy’s harem and has to resist his advances (among others’).

Her son Sextus rattles around the opera swearing vengeance on Ptolemy and

finally kills him. The historical Cleopatra poisoned Ptolemy, but her character

in the opera is whitewashed, and she gets to sing some of the most ravishing,

seductive music while disguised as her own maid. All this gives a taste of the

typical complications in an opera seria plot.

Although the role of Sextus, for mezzo-soprano, was presumably meant for

a castrato, at the first performance it was sung by a woman singer who was one

of Handel’s regulars.

Aria, “La giustizia” Sextus promises revenge on Ptolemy, not for the first time, in the aria “La giustizia” (Justice). This aria is preceded — or, rather, set up — by

a recitative (as usual). Since it makes more sense to study recitative when the

words are in English, we leave that discussion until we get to Handel’s Messiah.

The aria starts with a ritornello played by the string orchestra, like

the opening section of a concerto movement (see page 116). It establishes the

mood right away:







Ł `





Ł Ł² Ł



















Ł² Ł











La giu - sti - ziaha già sull’ ar - co pron-to stra-le


The “affect” Handel means to convey by this strenuous, vigorous music is

anger, and Sextus starts up with the same music. We will hear this ritornello

three more times, once in a shortened form, prior to the second A section.

Apart from this shortened ritornello, “La giustizia” is in strict A B A (da

capo) form. In the A section Handel goes through the words three times, with

the orchestra interjecting to allow the singer to catch her breath. (These short

spacers are not marked in the Listen box.) Notice how the music tends to

explode angrily on certain key words, principally by the use of coloratura

(fast scales and turns), as on “ven-det-ta” (vengeance) and “tradi-tor” (traitor).

Even more vivid are the sudden high notes on “pu-ni-re” (punish) and a

suspense-making long note on “tradi-tor.”

There is a flamboyant effect typical of the Baroque near the end of A,

where Sextus dramatically comes to a stop. After a breathless pause, he moves

on to make a very forceful final cadence. Revenge is nigh!

The aria’s B section introduces new words and some new keys for contrast;

both features are typical in da capo arias. Otherwise it is brief and seems rather

subdued — the strings drop out, leaving only the continuo as accompaniment.

What the audience is waiting for is the repeat of A, where we can forget about

Sextus and get to admire a display of vocal virtuosity. Lorraine Hunt Lieberson,

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the singer on our recording, adds brilliant improvised flourishes to the high

notes on “pu-ni-re” and the long note on “tradi-tor.” When she gets to the

fermata in A she fills it in with a cadenza (see page 124), and her (ornamented)

final cadence sweeps us away. Anyone who can carry off a feat like this, the aria

seems to say, will be more than a match for Ptolemy.

Vocal cadenzas at the time were short, because they were supposed to be

sung in a single breath — thus showing off virtuoso breath control as well as

vocal technique and inventiveness.

handel, Julius Caesar, Aria “La giustizia”

For a note on Italian pronunciation, see page 85: “La joostidzia (ah) jah sool arco.”










St. 1: first time

St. 1: second time

St. 1: third time


B St. 2:

A RITORNELLO (abbreviated)

La giustizia ha già sull’ arco Pronto strale alla vendetta Per punire un traditor

La giustizia . . . etc.

La giustizia . . . etc.

Quanto è tarda la saetta Tanto più crudele aspetta La sua pena un empio cor.

La giustizia . . . etc.

Justice now has in its bow The arrow primed for vengeance To castigate a traitor!

The later the arrow is shot, The crueler is the pain suffered By a dastardly heart!

Justice . . . etc.

2 | Oratorio Sacred, or religious, vocal music of the Baroque era exhibits much diversity in style and form. Most of it was written directly for church services, and so its style and form depend first of all on whether those services were of the Roman Catholic, Lutheran, or Anglican rite. Every service has places where music is appropriate, or even specified by the liturgy. In principle, each place gives rise to a different musical genre.

There are, however, two general factors that are important for all Baroque sacred-music genres — oratorio and passion, cantata, Mass, and motet. One of these factors is traditional in origin; the other is specific to the Baroque era.

• The traditional factor is the participation of the choir. A simple point, perhaps; choral music has had a functional place in the religious music of virtually all rites and ages. For when one person utters a religious text, he or she speaks as an individual, but when a choir does so, it speaks as a united community. A church choir can be said to speak for the whole church, even for the whole of Christianity.

• The other important fact about Baroque sacred vocal music is its strong tendency to borrow from secular vocal music — which is to say, from opera. In  an era fascinated by the theater, the church grew more and more theatrical. Arias inspired by Italian opera seria appear even in Baroque settings of the Catholic Mass. Solo singers could display their vocal prowess at the same time as they were presenting parts of the divine service.

L i s T E n

“On Tuesday the 2nd day of May will be performed, the Sacred Story of Esther, an Oratorio in English. Formerly composed by Mr. Handel, and now revised by him, with several Additions. . . . N.B. There will be no Action on the Stage.”

London newspaper announcement, 1731

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The most operatic of all religious genres was oratorio, which existed in Catholic and Protestant countries alike. An oratorio is basically an opera on a religious subject, such as an Old Testament story or the life of a saint. It has a narrative plot in several acts, real characters, and implied action — even though oratorios were not staged, but presented in concert form, that is, without scen- ery, costumes, or acting. Oratorio takes over such operatic features as recitatives and arias. On the other hand, it also makes much use of the chorus — a major difference from Italian opera of the time, where the chorus played little role.

Unlike most other religious genres, an oratorio was not actually part of a church service. Indeed, in opera-crazed Italy, the oratorio was prized as an


George Frideric handel (1685 –1759) Georg Friedrich Händel — he anglicized his name to George Frideric Handel after settling in England — was one of the few composers of early days who did not come from a family of musicians. His father was a barber-surgeon and a valet at a court near Leipzig. He disapproved of music, and the boy is said to have studied music secretly at night, by candlelight. In deference to his father’s wishes, Handel studied law for a year at Halle, one of Germany’s major universities, before finally joining the orchestra at Hamburg, Germany’s leading center of opera.

From then on, it was an exciting, glamorous life. Still in his teens, Handel fought a duel with another Hamburg musician about which of them was to get top billing. In 1706 he journeyed to the homeland of opera and scored big successes in Venice, Florence, and Rome. Though he became a court musician for the elector of Hanover, in northern Germany, he kept requesting (and extending) leaves to pursue his ca- reer in London, a city that was then beginning to rival Paris as the world capital.

Here Handel continued to produce Italian op- eras, again with great success. He also wrote a flatter- ing birthday ode for Queen Anne and some big pieces to celebrate a major peace treaty; for this he was awarded an annuity. In 1717, after the elector of Ha- nover had become George  I of England, Handel got back into his good graces by composing music to be played in a royal celebration on barges on the River Thames. This famous Water Music consists of two suites for the Baroque festive orchestra.

As an opera composer, Handel had learned to gauge the taste of the public and also to flatter sing- ers, writing music for them that showed off their voices to the best advantage. He now became an opera impresario — today we would call him a promoter — recruiting singers and negotiating their contracts, planning whole seasons of opera, and all the while composing the main attractions himself: an opera every year, on average,in the 1720s and 1730s.

He also had to deal with backers — English aristo- crats and wealthy mer- chants who supported his opera companies and persuaded their friends to take out subscriptions for boxes.

Handel made and lost several fortunes, but he always landed on his feet, even when Italian opera went out of style in Britain, for he never lost a feel for his audience. After opera had failed, he popularized oratorios — retellings of Bible stories (mostly from the Old Testament) in a half-operatic, half-choral form. Opera audiences had always been ready to identify opera’s virtuous Roman emperors with local princes. Now they were delighted to identify oratorio’s virtuous People of Israel with the British nation.

Handel was a big, vigorous man, hot-tempered but quick to forgive, humorous and resourceful. When a particularly temperamental prima donna had a tantrum, he calmed her down by threatening to throw her out the window. At the end of his life he became blind — the same surgeon operated (unsuc- cessfully) on both him and Bach — but he continued to play the organ brilliantly and composed by dictating to a secretary.

Chief Works: Forty Italian operas, including Giulio Cesare (Julius Caesar) j Near-operatic works in English: Semele and Acis and Galatea j Oratorios, including Messiah, Israel in Egypt, Samson, and Saul j Concerti grossi and organ concertos j Water Music, written for an aquatic fete on the river Thames, and Royal Fireworks Music, celebrating the end of the War of the Austrian Succession, in 1747 j Sonatas for various instruments

Encore: After Messiah, listen to Acis and Galatea; Concerto Grosso in B-flat, Op. 6, No. 7.

Image credit: Bettmann/CORBIS.

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George Frideric Handel, Messiah (1742) Handel’s oratorio Messiah, his most famous work, is also one of the most

famous in the whole of Western music. It is the only composition of its time

that has been performed continuously — and frequently — since its first

appearance. Today it is sung at Christmas and Easter in hundreds of churches

around the world, as well as at symphony concerts and “Messiah sings,” where

people get together just to sing along with the Hallelujah Chorus and the other

well-known choral numbers, and listen to the well-loved arias.

Unlike most oratorios, Messiah does not have actual characters depicting a

biblical story in recitative and arias, although its text is taken from the Bible.

In a more typical Handel oratorio, such as Samson, for example, Samson sings

an aria about his blindness and argues with Delilah in recitative, while choruses

represent the People of Israel and the Philistines. Instead, Messiah works with

a group of anonymous narrators, relating episodes from the life of Jesus in

recitative. The narration is interrupted by anonymous commentators who react

to each of the episodes by singing recitatives and arias.

All this is rather like an opera in concert form; but in addition, the chorus

has a large and varied role to play. On one occasion, it sings the words of a

group of angels who actually speak in the Bible. Sometimes it comments on the

story, like the soloists. And often the choristers raise their voices to praise the

Lord in Handel’s uniquely magnificent manner.

The first two numbers in Messiah we examine cover the favorite Christmas

story in which an angel announces Christ’s birth to the shepherds in the fields.

Included are a recitative in four brief sections and a chorus.

Recitative Part 1 (secco) Sung by a boy soprano narrator accompanied by continuo (cello and organ), this recitative has the natural, proselike flow typical

of all recitatives. Words that would be naturally stressed in ordinary speech are

brought out by longer durations, higher pitches, and pauses: “shepherds,”

“field,” “flock,” and “night.” As is typical in recitative, but unlike aria, no words

are repeated.

Part 2 (accompanied) Accompanied recitative is used for special effects in operas

and oratorios — here the miraculous appearance of the angel. The slowly pulsing

high-string background furnishes the angel with a sort of musical halo. It is also

a signal for more vigorous declamation: The words lo, Lord, and glory are

brought out with increasing emphasis. The end of this brief accompanied

recitative is heavily punctuated by a standard cadence formula, played by the

continuo. This formula is an easily recognized feature of recitatives.








¼ ¼ ½


Standard cadence formula



sore afraid.

entertainment substituting for opera during Lent, a somber season of abstinence from opera as well as other worldly diversions.

In England also, the oratorio substituted for opera, though in a different sense. Thanks largely to Handel, Italian opera became very popular in London for a quarter of a century, but finally audiences tired of it. At that point, Handel, already in his mid-fifties, began composing oratorios, and these turned out to be even more popular, the pinnacle of his long career.

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Part 3 (secco) Notice that the angel speaks in a more urgent style than the

narrator. And in Part 4 (accompanied), the excited, faster pulsations in the high

strings depict the beating wings, perhaps, of the great crowd of angels. When

Handel gets to what they will be saying, he brings the music to a triumphant

high point, once again over the standard recitative cadence.

Chorus, “Glory to God” “Glory to God! Glory to God in the highest!” sing the angels — the high voices of the choir, in a bright marchlike rhythm. They are

accompanied by the orchestra, with the trumpets prominent. The low voices

alone add “and peace on earth,” much more slowly. Fast string runs following

“Glory to God” and slower reiterated chords following “and peace on earth” recall

the fast and slow string passages in the two preceding accompanied recitatives.

After these phrases are sung and played again, leading to another key, the

full chorus sings the phrase “good will toward men” in a fugal style. The

important words are good will, and their two-note motive is happily sung (in

imitation) again and again by all the voices of the angel choir. To conclude, the

“good will” motive is singled out in an enthusiastic ascending sequence.

The whole chorus is quite concise, even dramatic; the angels do not stay

long. At the very end, the orchestra gets quieter and quieter — a rare effect in

Baroque music, here indicating the disappearance of the shepherds’ vision.

²² Ł Ł ŁŁ Ł Ł ð good will to-ward men

‹ ý

²² Ł Ł ½ Ł Ł ½ Ł Ł good will. . .


handel, Messiah, recitative “There were shepherds” and Chorus “Glory to God”

Bold italic type indicates accented words or syllables. Italics indicate phrases of text that are repeated.





1:51 2:30 2:48

RECiTATiVE PART 1 (secco)

There were shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night.

PART 2 (accompanied)

And lo! the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them; and they were sore afraid.

PART 3 (secco)

And the angel said unto them: Fear not, for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people.

For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord.

PART 4 (accompanied)

And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host, praising God, and saying:


Glory to God, glory to God, in the highest, and peace on earth, good will toward men good will Glory to God

Standard cadence

Standard cadence

Standard cadence

Standard cadence

L i s T E n

Hallelujah Chorus This famous chorus brings Act II of Messiah to a resounding close. Like “Glory to God,” “Hallelujah” makes marvelous use of monophony

(“King of Kings”), homophony (the opening “Hallelujah”), and polyphony

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(“And he shall reign for ever and ever”); it is almost a textbook demonstration

of musical textures. Compare “and peace on earth,” “Glory to God,” and “good

will toward men” in the earlier chorus.

²² 00 Ł ý Ł Ł Ł ¼ Ł ý Ł Ł Ł ¹ Ł Ł Ł Ł ¹ Ł Ł Ł Ł ¹ Ł Ł Ł Ł Ł ¼ ²² Ł

Ł Ł Ł Ł Ł Ł Ł ð̀ Ł Hallelujah, Hallelujah, Hallelujah, Hallelujah, Halle - lujah. and he shall reignfor ever andev-er

In a passage beloved by chorus singers, Handel sets “The Kingdom of this

world is become” on a low descending scale, piano, swelling suddenly into a

similar scale in a higher register, forte, for “the kingdom of our Lord and of his

Christ” — a perfect representation of one thing becoming another thing, similar

but newly radiant. Later the sopranos (cheered on by the trumpets) solemnly

utter the words “King of Kings” on higher and higher long notes as the other

voices keep repeating their answer, “for ever, Hallelujah!”

George II of England, attending the first London performance of Messiah,

was so moved by this chorus that he stood up in his box — prompting everyone

else to stand — honoring the King of Kings, no doubt, but also reminding

everyone of his own majesty, which was being acclaimed by the typical Baroque

festive orchestra. Audiences still stand during the Hallelujah Chorus.

Elite opera and oratorio were not the only music in handel’s London. This famous scene by William hogarth (1697–1764) shows a violinist, sometimes identified as a player in handel’s orchestra, enraged by lowbrow music and noise beneath his window. William Hogarth (1698–1764), The Enraged Musician 1741 (engraving)/© Yale Center for British Art, New Haven, USA/ Transfer from the School of Music/The Bridgeman Art Library.

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3 | The Church Cantata Second in importance to oratorio among Baroque sacred-music genres is the church cantata. Cantata is a general name for a piece of moderate length for voices and instruments. Many Baroque cantatas, especially Italian ones, are not sacred music, but in Germany church cantatas were written to be performed during Lutheran church services. Lutheran churches had (and still have to- day) fixed readings and hymns specified for every Sunday of the year as well as for special occasions such as Easter and Christmas. The words of cantatas addressed the religious content of the day in question. Sung before the sermon, the cantata was in effect a second, musical sermon.

As cantor, or music director, of Leipzig’s biggest church (the Thomaskirche), Bach was required to produce cantatas for the entire year — a stupendous task that kept him very busy indeed for years after he was appointed. Over two hun- dred cantatas by Bach have survived, each of them with several movements. Most are sacred works, but they include some secular cantatas written for court or civic celebrations and for functions at the University of Leipzig.

The Lutheran Chorale The content and structure of Bach’s cantatas varied from one work to the next. But in general they tend to fall into a short series of operatic arias and recitatives with one or more choral movements, like an excerpt from an oratorio. (Most secular cantatas, likewise, resemble a scene or two from an opera.) A special feature of nearly all Lutheran cantatas is their use of traditional congregational hymns. Lutheran hymns are called chorales (co-ráhls), from the German word for hymn (Choral).

Martin Luther, the father of the Protestant Reformation, placed special emphasis on hymn singing by the congregation when he decided on the format of Lutheran services. Two hundred years later, in Bach’s time, a large body of chorales served as the foundation for Lutheran worship, both in church services and also at informal pious devotions in the home. Everybody knew the words and melodies of these chorales. You learned them as a small child and sang them in church all your life. Consequently when composers introduced chorale tunes into cantatas (and other sacred-music genres), they were drawing on a rich source of association.

handel, Messiah, hallelujah Chorus

Italics indicate phrases of text that are repeated.






Hallelujah, Hallelujah!

For the Lord God omnipotent reigneth. Hallelujah! For the Lord God omnipotent reigneth.

The Kingdom of this world is become the kingdom of our Lord and of his Christ.

And He shall reign for ever and ever, and he shall reign for ever and ever.

KING OF KINGS for ever and ever, Hallelujah! AND LORD OF LORDS for ever and ever, Hallelujah!

L i s T E n

2 | 10 33 12

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Just how were tunes introduced? There were many ways. The last movement of a Bach cantata is usually a single hymn stanza sung straight through, in much the same simple way as the congregation would sing it, but with the orchestra playing and a homophonic harmonization of the melody added.

Longer cantata movements present the individual lines or phrases of the chorale one by one, with gaps in between them. Newly composed music by Bach runs on continuously, both during the chorale phrases (that is, in counterpoint with them) and during the gaps. In such a gapped chorale, the chorale melody is delivered in spurts. It can be sung, or it can be played by one prominent instrument — an oboe, say, or a trumpet — while the continuous music goes along in the other instruments and/or voices.

Cuzzoni. Mary Evans Picture Library.

Bordoni. Mary Evans Picture Library.

WOMEn In MusIC Before the twentieth century, opportunities for women were limited. Though some women worked as teachers, nurses, and laborers, society viewed women’s primary role as that of wife and mother. Occasionally accidents of royal succession placed a woman in a position of great power, and the eighteenth century saw two amazingly long-lasting cases: Catherine the Great, empress of Russia, who ruled from 1762 to 1796, and Maria Theresa, de facto empress of the Austrian Empire from 1740 to 1780. But what we now think of as careers were simply not open to women, with few exceptions.

Music provided one of those exceptions. It did so by way of the theater, because an opera singer, like an actress or a ballet dancer, could attain fame and fortune and the opportunity to develop her talents in the same way as men in those same fields. Indeed, opera de- pended on  female singers; without them the genre could never have devel- oped or survived.

The names — although not, alas, the voices — of opera’s legendary prima donnas have come down to us, along with those of opera’s great composers: from Anna Renzi

(c. 1620 – c. 1660), who sang in Monteverdi’s Poppea (see page 86), to the notorious rival sopranos Faustina

Bordoni (1700 –1781) and Francesca Cuzzoni (1698 –1770) in the age of Handel, and beyond.

Cuzzoni sang in the star-studded premiere of Handel’s Julius Caesar (see page 138).

Women of the theater paid a price for their career opportunities, of course. They were dis- playing themselves — their legs or their voices — for

the enjoyment of, mainly, men, who paid for the privilege. There was always a question about the

respectability and marriageability of opera singers. While female opera singers were a fixture in the

musical workplace of the Baroque, female instrumen- talists were much rarer. Women composers were

simply flukes. Remember that composers, such as Bach and Handel (and Farinelli — see page 137), were also

always performers; a notable harpsichordist-com- poser of the Baroque era was Elizabeth-Claude Jacquet (1667–1729), a Mozart-style prodigy who was sponsored by Louis XIV himself. Famous as a harpsichordist, she composed music of all kinds, including an opera that was put on at the forerun-

ner of the Paris Opéra — then as now the grandest venue for opera in Europe.

There was no respectability problem with Jacquet; by the time she was seventeen she was married to an organist, one Marin de la Guerre, whose name is usually hyphenated with hers.

Chorale, sung simply (phrases):

1 2 3 4 5 6 7

Gapped chorale movement:

Continuous music

1 2 3

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Johann Sebastian Bach (1685–1750), Cantata no. 4, “Christ lag in Todesbanden” (1707) In his positions as an organist and cantor, Bach made multiple settings of many

hymns. We will study just one of his settings of the Easter chorale “Christ lag

in Todesbanden” (Christ Lay in Death’s Dark Prison).

This rugged old tune, given below in its entirety, had been fitted with even

more rugged words by Martin Luther himself, in 1524. The seven stanzas of the

chorale, each ending with “Hallelujah!,” tell in vivid language of mankind’s

struggle with Death and the victory achieved through Christ’s sacrifice. The fact

that this hymn is in the minor mode throws a tough, sober shadow over all the

rejoicing; the mood is unforgettable.

² 00 Ł Ł² Ł Ł² Ł Ł Ł Ł² Ł Ł Ł Ł Ł Ł Ł Ł Ł Ł Ł

Ł² Ł² Ł Ł² Ł Ł Ł Ł² Ł Ł Ł Ł Ł Ł Ł Ł Ł Ł Ł ¼

Christ lay in Death’s dark pri - son, It was our sin that bound him;

This day he hath a - ri - sen And sheds new light a - round him.

St. 1

2 | 11–13 34–36

The cantata based on “Christ lag in Todesbanden,” one of Bach’s earliest, em-

ploys simple forces: voices and a string orchestra, with continuo. The words of

the seven movements are Martin Luther’s words of the seven stanzas of the

famous Easter chorale.

Bach set these seven stanzas with a sharp eye (or ear) for symmetry. Not

all of the voices sing in all of the stanzas. The following diagram tallies the

voices that sing in each one, with the shading indicating which voices sing

the chorale melody itself.

² Ł Ł Ł Ł Ł Ł Ł Ł Ł Ł

Ł Ł² Ł Ł Ł Ł¦ Ł² Ł

² Ł Ł Ł Ł² Ł Ł Ł Ł ð Ł Ł ð ð ð

There - fore let us thank - ful be And praise our Sa - viour joy - ful - ly,

So sing we, Hal - le - lu - jah, Hal - le - lu - jah!


S T A N Z A 1



























Color shading indicates which voice sings the chorale melody. (In stanza 6, it is divided between two voices.)

After a short orchestral prelude — Bach calls it “sinfonia,” or symphony — all

the stanzas except the last are set as gapped chorales of some sort.

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Stanza 3 The tenor sings the gapped chorale tune; follow him along with the music on page 147. Accompanied by the continuo (played on the organ), a

violin plays an urgent melody at both ends of the piece and in the gaps between

the lines. At the word nichts (“nothing”) the music comes to a wrenching stop

and a slowdown, a quite astonishing effect. Then the violin starts up again as

though nothing had happened. The sudden absence of music tells us what is

left of Death’s power: nichts, zilch!

Stanza 4 Here it is the alto (doubled by organ) that sings the gapped chorale tune, more slowly than the tenor of stanza 3. The continuous music is assigned

to the other voices singing faster imitative polyphony to the same words. Their

music always uses fragments of the chorale melody; in this way Bach works the

old chorale even into his own, newly composed music. Perhaps all this busy

imitative polyphony makes a good illustration of the warfare described with

such gusto in this stanza. Perhaps, too, the jaunty rhythm at Ein Spott can

indeed be heard as mocking Death, who has lost his sting.

Stanza 7 No longer gapped, this is a straightforward presentation of the hymn as it might be sung by the congregation. Bach’s rich harmonies below the

soprano melody are sung by the lower voices, doubled by the instruments.

The cantata comes to a restful conclusion at last, as the text turns from battles

to the confidence of faith. Even “Hallelujah!” can now be uttered simply.

“When Bach seated himself at the organ, he used to choose some theme and treat it in all the various forms of organ composition. First, he used this theme for a prelude and fugue, with the full organ. Then he showed his art of using the stops for a trio, quartet, etc., on the same theme. Afterwards followed a chorale, the melody of which was playfully surrounded by the same theme in three or four contrapuntal parts.”

Bach the improviser, from the earliest biography, 1802

Church organs of Bach’s time were not only the largest and loudest musical instruments in existence; they often numbered among the most beautiful. The ornament on this organ, from a pilgrimage church in southern Germany, seems to complete the tracery on the grillwork in front of it and the designs on the columns to either side. Egon Bümsch/imagebrok/

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G o a l s f o r r e v i e w

c to follow late Baroque vocal music into theater and church

c to understand the dichotomy of recitative and aria in late Baroque opera

c to listen for the standardized form of late Baroque opera arias: da capo form

c to distinguish opera from oratorio and get to know Handel’s Messiah

c to hear the difference between accompanied and secco recitative

c to understand and listen to the structure of a church cantata by Bach

c to survey the life and works of George Frideric Handel Listening Quiz for Chapter 11 Reading Quiz for Chapter 11

Bach, “Christ lag in Todesbanden”

Stanza 3: Jesus Christus, Gottes Sohn, An unser Statt ist kommen, Und hat die Sünde weggetan, Damit den Tod genommen All’ sein Recht und sein’ Gewalt; Da bleibet nichts — denn Tod’s Gestalt; Den Stach’l hat er verloren. Hallelujah!

Stanza 4: Es war ein wunderlicher Krieg, Da Tod und Leben rungen; Das Leben da behielt das Sieg, Es hat den Tod verschlungen. Die Schrift hat verkündiget das Wie ein Tod den andern frass; Ein Spott aus dem Tod ist worden. Hallelujah!

Stanza 7: Wir essen und leben wohl Im rechten Osterfladen. Der alter Sauerteig nicht soll Sein bei dem Wort der Gnaden. Christus will die Koste sein Und speisen die Seel’ allein, Der Glaub’ will keins andern leben. Hallelujah!

Jesus Christ, the Son of God, Has come on our behalf, And has done away with our sins, Thereby robbing Death Of all his power and might; There remains nothing but Death’s image; He has lost his sting. Hallelujah!

It was a marvelous war Where Death and Life battled. Life gained the victory; It swallowed up Death. Scripture has proclaimed How one Death gobbled up the other; Death became a mockery. Hallelujah!

We eat and live fitly On the true unleavened bread of Passover; The old yeast shall not Contaminate the word of grace. Christ alone will be the food To feed the soul: Faith will live on nothing else. Hallelujah!

L i s T E n




2 | 11–13 34–36

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12 In the second part of the eighteenth century, a new musical style emerged in Europe. Called the Classical style, it had important pioneers in Italy and northern Germany; one of them was Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach, the eldest son of Johann Sebastian, working in Berlin. But the Classical style was developed particularly by composers active

in Vienna, capital of Austria. Here conditions seem to have been ideal for music. Geographically, Austria stands at the crossroads of four other musical nations — Germany, Bohemia (now in the Czech Republic), Hungary, and Italy — and Vienna was also central in political terms. As the capital of the mighty Hapsburg empire, Vienna was plunged into every European conflict of the time and exposed to every new cultural and intellectual current.

Vienna flourished under the Hapsburg empress Maria Theresa and emperor Joseph II. Maria Theresa was one of Europe’s most powerful monarchs over a period of forty years, and Joseph was one of the most enlightened. During his short but golden reign from 1780 to 1790, Joseph emancipated the peasantry, furthered education, and reduced the power of the clergy; he supported music and literature with his patronage and encouraged a free press. In a city of only 150,000 people, it is said there were 300 newspapers and journals during Joseph’s reign, representing every shade of opinion.

In this liberal atmosphere, Franz Joseph Haydn of nearby Eisenstadt became recognized as Europe’s leading composer; his symphonies were commissioned from far-off Paris and London. The young Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart was drawn to the capital in 1781 from Salzburg, a hundred miles to the west, to spend his brilliant last decade there. And in 1792 a young musician from the other end of Germany, who had composed a long cantata mourning Emperor Joseph’s death, decided to come to this great musical center to launch his career. His name was Ludwig van Beethoven.

1 | The Enlightenment and Music To describe Joseph II as an “enlightened” ruler is both to commend him and also to locate him in European intellectual history. Like a number of other rulers of the time, Joseph II was strongly influenced by an important intellectual movement of the eighteenth century known as the Enlightenment. This movement also helped to define the music that flourished under his reign.

Centered in France, the Enlightenment had strong roots in British philosophy and strong offshoots in Germany and Austria. Its original source was the faith

Music and the Enlightenment

P R E l u d E

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in reason that led to the great scientific discoveries of the Baroque period, from Galileo to Newton and Leibniz. Now, however, the emphasis moved away from the purely intellectual and scientific toward the social sphere. People were less intent on controlling natural forces by science than on turning these forces to human benefit. People also began to apply the same intelligence that solved scientific problems to problems of public morality, education, and politics.

Social injustice came under especially strong fire in the eighteenth century; so did established religion. For the first time in European history, religion ceased to be an overriding force in many people’s minds. There were currents of agnosticism and even outright atheism — to the outrage of the English poet and mystic William Blake:

Mock on, mock on, Voltaire, Rousseau: Mock on, mock on, ’tis all in vain! You throw the sand against the wind, And the wind blows it back again.

The two French philosophers named by Blake are always mentioned in connection with the Enlightenment: François Marie Arouet, who wrote under the pen name Voltaire (1694 –1778), tireless satirist and campaigner for justice and reason, and the younger, more radical, more disturbing Jean-Jacques Rousseau (1712–1778). Rousseau is one of the few major figures of European philosophy who had a direct effect on the history of music, as we shall see.




Boundary of the Hapsburg Empire

Adriatic Sea

North Sea

M e d i t e r r a n e a n S e a








The phrase Viennese Classical style brings to mind Haydn, Mozart, and Beethoven; each of them came to the capital city from other, smaller centers.

C H A P t E R 1 2 | Music and the Enlightenment

Voltaire, by Jean-Antoine Houdon (1740 –1828), master sculptor of the neo-Roman busts that were much favored at the time. (All the other portrait busts in this chapter are also by Houdon.) Bibliothèque de la Comedie Française, Paris, France — Peter Willi/Bridgeman Images.

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“the Pursuit of Happiness” “Life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness”: The last of these three famous rights, too, was very much of its time. One can imagine the medieval barons who forced King John to accept the Magna Carta insisting on life and liberty, of a sort, but it would never have occurred to them to demand happiness as a self- evident right for all. Voltaire and Rousseau fought passionately for social justice so that people might live good lives according to their own convictions.

The eighteenth century was an age of good living, then, an age that valued intelligence, wit, and sensitivity. The age cultivated elegant conversation, the social arts, and hedonism. One of its inventions was the salon — half party, half seminar: a regular gathering in a fashionable lady’s home where notables would discuss books, music, art, and ideas. Another innovation of the time was the coffeehouse. Another was the public concert.

In political terms, the Enlightenment has special resonance for America, for it was also the occasion for our first great contribution to Western civilization. In colonial days, the austere Puritan spirit was hardly in step with the growing secularization of European society, but the Declaration of Independence and the Federalist Papers proved to be the finest flowers of Enlightenment idealism. The notion that a new state could be founded on rational principles, set down on a piece of paper, and agreed to by men of goodwill and intelligence — this could only

In the Classical era, lighter entertainments took over the stage, in place of the heavy drama characteristic of the Baroque. Compare this picture (a London ballet of 1791) with the opera seria shown on page 106. Even the attitudes and attentions of this audience seem more varied and playful than those of the Baroque audience. (The box to the far right is particularly instructive!) London Metropolitan Archives, City of London/ The Bridgeman Art Library.

Thomas Jefferson. The Bridgeman Art Library.

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have emerged under the influence of the political and philosophical writings of the eighteenth century.

Art and Entertainment Entertainment, for most people, contributes to the good life — though certainly Thomas Jefferson was thinking of more than entertainment when he wrote of “the pursuit of happiness.” However, the pursuit of entertainment was not something that the eighteenth century looked down upon at all. Art was expected to please rather than to instruct, impress, or even express, as had been the case in the Baroque era. The result of this attitude is evident in the style of all the arts in the eighteenth century.

For a time at midcentury a light and often frothy style known as Rococo was fashionable in painting, decoration, furniture, and so on. Our illustration — a ceramic plaque — catches the spirit of this entertainment art with special charm. Wreathed in leaves that fit in with the border, two well-dressed court gentlemen cavort in an ideal countryside; one plays the flute while the other dances. The silly subject, the feathery designs on the frame, even the pretty rim itself, are all charac- teristic of the light art of the Rococo.

Music of the mid-eighteenth century, just be- fore the formation of the Viennese Classical style, was also very light — charming at best, but often frivolous. A genre that was typical of the time was the divertimento, a piece designed to divert, amuse, and entertain. Elegant figurines of musicians and ornamented music boxes, playing little tunes, were extremely popular.

The Viennese Classical music of Haydn and Mozart that we will study is far from this light style, yet these composers never put pen to paper without every expectation that their audiences were going to be “pleased.” Every historical era, of course, has had its entertainment music. But only in the Classical era was great music of the highest quality put forth quite frankly and plainly as entertainment.

Jean-Jacques Rousseau and Opera Jean-Jacques Rousseau was a dazzlingly many-sided figure — acclaimed novelist, autobiographer, philosopher, fiery publicist, and self-taught composer, who made his living for many years as a music copyist. He was Europe’s first “ alienated intellectual,” forever blasting the social institutions of his day as stifling to the individual. “ Natural man,” he proclaimed, was born good but corrupted by civilization. This conviction, incidentally, led Rousseau to idealize the so-called primitive peoples in the Americas, peoples whom Europeans had colonized and enslaved for over two hundred years. If Rousseau had lived longer, we can be sure he would have joined those who denounced the double standard of the Founders in demanding liberty for whites but not for blacks.

Rousseau viewed music as more “natural,” and therefore more basic and archaic, than speech. So he launched a great attack on the aristocratic music of the late Baroque era. This meant attacking opera, the most important, extended, and glamorous musical genre of the time. For Rousseau, the complicated plots

Benjamin Franklin, who sat for Houdon during a stay in Paris, brought the sculptor back home to portray Washington, Jefferson, Lafayette, and Robert Fulton, the steamboat inventor. Musée des Beaux-Arts, Orléans, France/Roger-Viollet, Paris/The Bridgeman Art Library.

A French Rococo ceramic plaque. Bridgeman — Giraudon/Art Resource, NY.

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of Baroque operas were as impossibly artificial as their complicated music. He demanded a kind of opera that would portray real people in actual life — simple people, close to nature, singing natural music.

In fact, short comic operas filling this prescription were already being developed in Italy, and Rousseau pounced on one that was playing in Paris. In G. B. Pergolesi’s La serva padrona (The Maid as Mistress, 1733), the music is lively and catchy, with no elaborate coloratura singing, rich harmonies, or exag- gerated emotional outpourings. The plot is little more than one big joke. Rous- seau not only praised this little piece to the skies but also wrote an opera of his own that was just as slight — and almost as popular.

Thanks to Pergolesi and Rousseau — and to Mozart — comic opera became the most progressive operatic form of the later part of the century. It dealt not with Roman emperors and their idealized noble sentiments, but with contemporary middle- and lower-class figures expressing everyday feelings in a relatively vivid and natural way. Opera buffa, as Italian comic opera was called, is discussed on pages 189–90.

the novel This new kind of opera can be compared to the most important new literary genre that grew up at the same time. This was the novel, which — together with the sym- phony — counts as the Enlightenment’s greatest artistic legacy to more recent times.

Precursors of the novel go back to ancient Rome, but the genre did not really capture the European imagination until around 1750. Among the best-known early novels are Henry Fielding’s Tom Jones, the tale of a rather ordinary young man and his adventures in town and country, and Samuel Richardson’s Pamela, a domestic drama that manages to be sexually explicit, sentimental, and moralistic all at the same time. Rousseau wrote several very popular novels; Voltaire wrote Candide. At the end of the century, Jane Austen began her subtle explorations of the social forces at work on the hearts of her very sensitive (and sensible) characters in novels such as Pride and Prejudice, Emma, Persuasion, and others. These novels are still alive and well in Hollywood and on PBS.

Sharp, realistic observation of contemporary life and sensitive depiction of feeling — these are the ideals shared by late eighteenth-century opera and the novel. Within a few years of their publication, both Tom Jones and Pamela were turned into major operas, one French, the other Italian.

In Mozart, opera buffa found a master equal to Jane Austen in the sensitive response to feeling and action. In his opera Don Giovanni, for example, the three women involved with the hero — the coquettish country girl, Zerlina; the steely aristocrat, Donna Anna; and the sentimental Donna Elvira — are depicted and distinguished from one another in music with the greatest psychological insight and sympathy. One can come to feel that the same qualities are reflected in Mozart’s symphonies and concertos.

2 | The Rise of Concerts A far-reaching development in the sociology and economics of music was the rise of public concerts. Occasional concerts had been given before, in taverns, private homes, palaces, and theaters, but it was only in the middle of the eighteenth century that they became a significant force in musical life. Concert series, financed by subscription, were put on by the forerunners of today’s promoters. Concerts for the benefit of charity were set up on a regular basis as major society events.

In 1748 Europe’s first hall designed especially for concerts was built in a college town, Oxford. Still in use, the Holywell Music Room holds about 150 people.

Rousseau himself composed a very successful opera of the uncomplicated kind he recommended. Pictured is a scene from Rousseau’s Le Devin du Village (The Village Soothsayer), 1752. Bibliothèque des Arts Décoratifs, Paris, France/Archives Charmet/The Bridgeman Art Library.

Jean-Jacques Rousseau. Musée Lambinet, Versailles, France/Lauros/Giraudon/The Bridgeman Art Library.

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Michael Angelo Rooker (1743– 1801) spent much of his career painting scene backdrops for the Haymarket Theater in London. Here he portrays an episode from Henry Fielding’s novel Tom Jones, a wildly popular comedy of (sometimes scandalous) manners. Eileen Tweedy/ The Art Archive at Art Resource, NY.

The rise of concerts: With only around 15,000 inhabitants, pre-Revolutionary Boston already had a concert hall and a concert promoter (bandmaster Josiah Flagg). This advertisement is from the Boston Chronicle of 1769.

Music of all kinds was presented at these new public concerts. One major series — the Parisian Concert spirituel, founded in 1725 — started out with sacred vocal music. But orchestral music was the staple, and the importance of concerts lay mainly in the impetus they gave to the composition of symphonies and concertos. For there were, after all, other public forums for church music (churches) and opera (opera houses). Now purely orchestral music, too, moved into the public domain, and its importance and prestige grew rapidly.

However, the livelihood of musicians still depended principally on court patron- age, the opera house, and the church (see page 105). Concerts were certainly a fac- tor in the careers of both of the masters of Classical style already mentioned: Haydn wrote his last symphonies, called the London symphonies, for concerts on two celebrity tours to that city, and Mozart wrote most of his piano concertos — among his greatest works — for concerts he himself put on in Vienna. But public concerts were a resource that Haydn did not draw upon much until the end of his long life, and they were not a reliable enough resource, alas, to sustain Mozart.

3 | Style Features of Classical Music In discussing the musical style of the late Baroque period, we started with a single guiding concept. There is a thorough, even rigorous, quality in the ways early eighteenth-century composers treated almost all aspects of music, and this quality seems to underpin the expressive gestures of grandeur and overstate- ment that are characteristic of the Baroque.

Classical music cannot be discussed quite as easily as this. We have to keep two concepts in mind to understand it, concepts that were constantly on the lips of men and women of the time. One was “natural,” and the other was “pleasing variety.” In the late eighteenth century, it was taken for granted that these two artistic ideals went hand in hand and provided mutual support.

Today we can see that sometimes they pulled in opposite directions. For although “variety” was called on to ward off boredom, it was also an invitation to complexity, and complexity would seem to run counter to “natural” simplicity and clarity. In any case, in Classical music one or the other — and sometimes both — of these qualities can be traced in all the elements of musical technique: in rhythm, dynamics, tone color, melody, texture, and form. A new expressive quality developed in this music as a result of its new technique.

Rhythm Perhaps the most striking change in music bet- ween the Baroque and Classical periods came in rhythm. In this area the artistic ideal of “ pleasing variety” reigned supreme. The unvarying rhythms of Baroque music came to be regarded as obvious and boring.

Classical music is highly flexible in rhythm. Throughout a single movement, the tempo and meter remain constant, but the rhythms of the various themes tend to differ in both obvious and subtle ways. In the first movement of Mozart’s Symphony in G Minor, for example, the first theme moves almost entirely in eighth notes

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and quarters, whereas the second theme is marked by longer notes and shorter ones — dotted half notes and sixteenths.

Audiences wanted variety in music; composers responded by refining the rhythmic differences between themes and other musical sections, so that the differences sound like more than differences — they sound like real contrasts. The music may gradually increase or decrease its rhythmic energy, stop suddenly, press forward by fits and starts, or glide by smoothly. All this gives the sense that Classical music is moving in a less predictable, more interesting, and often more exciting way than Baroque music does.

Dynamics Variety and flexibility were also introduced into dynamics. Passages were now conceived more specifically than before as loud, soft, very loud, and so on, and marked f, p, ff, etc,. by composers accordingly. Composers made variety in dynamics clearly perceptible and, we must suppose, “pleasing.”

Furthermore, instead of using the steady dynamics of the previous period, composers now worked extensively with gradations of volume. The words for growing louder (crescendo) and growing softer (diminuendo) first came into general use in the Classical period. Orchestras of the mid-eighteenth century were the first to practice long crescendos, which, we are told, caused audiences to rise up from their seats in excitement.

A clear sign of the times was the rise in popularity of the piano, at the expense of the ever-present harpsichord of the Baroque era. The older instrument could manage only one sound level (or at best a few sound levels, thanks to more than one set of strings). The new pianoforte could produce a continuous range of dynamics from soft to loud; the name means “soft-loud” in Italian. It attracted composers because they wanted their keyboard instruments to have the same flexibility in dynamics that they were teaching to their orchestras.

tone Color: the Classical Orchestra Classical composers also devoted increasing attention to tone color. The clearest sign of this was the emergence of the Classical orchestra. The orchestra standardized in this period formed the basis of the symphony orchestra of later times.

The heart of the Classical orchestra was still (as in the Baroque orchestra) a group of stringed instruments: violins, divided into two groups, first violins and second violins; violas; and cellos, with a few basses playing the same music as the cellos an octave lower. As we saw on pages 108–09, there was a basic Baroque orchestra consisting of just these instruments plus the continuo, and various other possibilities, including the festive Baroque orchestra:

Ł ð ý


Ł ð ý


First theme

Second theme


S T R I n g S WO O dW I n d S B R A S S P E R C U S S I O n K E yB OA R d

Violins 1

Violins 2




2 Oboes

1 Bassoon

3 Trumpets 2 Timpani (kettledrums)

Harpsichord or organ


Violins (divided into two groups, called violins 1 and violins 2)



Bass (playing the same music as the cellos an octave lower)

Harpsichord or organ

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Violins 1

Violins 2




2 Flutes

2 Oboes

2 Clarinets*

2 Bassoons


2 French horns

2 Trumpets*


2 Timpani (kettledrums)

Brass instruments were added in the middle range. The function of French horns and trumpets was mainly to provide solid support for the main harmo- nies, especially at points such as cadences, when the harmonies needed to be made particularly clear. But sometimes they played lively (short) solos. The only regular percussion instruments used were two timpani, which generally played along with the brass.

The great advance in the orchestra from the Baroque to the Classical era was in flexibility — flexibility in tone color and also in rhythm and dynamics. The orchestra now became the most varied and versatile musical resource that composers could employ, as well as the grandest.

In the Classical orchestra, however, the woodwind and brass instruments were given clearly defined, regular roles. With the strings as a framework, woodwind instruments were added: in the high range, pairs of flutes, oboes, and (a bit later) clarinets; in the low, bassoons. These instruments provided “ pleasing variety” by playing certain melodies and other passages; each of the woodwinds contributed its own intriguing tone color or timbre. They also strengthened the strings in loud sections.

Domestic music making in the eighteenth century: a group portrait by Johann Zoffany (1733–1810), one of many fashionable painters in Britain (and British India). It was not uncommon for members of the gentry — including, here, an earl — to order pictures showing off their musical accomplishments. Yale Center for British Art, Paul Mellon Collection, USA/The Bridgeman Art Library.

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U n i t i i i | The Eighteenth Century158

Melody: tunes The Enlightenment ideal of “pleasing variety” was a secondary issue when it came to Classical melody. Rather the demand was for plainness, for relief from the complex, richly ornamented lines of the Baroque period. When people at the time demanded “natural” melodies, what they meant were tunes: uncomplicated, singable melodies with clear phrases (and not too many of them), melodies with easily grasped parallelisms and balances.

In their move toward melodic simplicity, composers of the Classical period moved much closer to popular music, even folk music, than their Baroque predecessors had done. There is a definite popular lilt in Haydn’s music that people have traced to the Croatian folk melodies he heard as a child. Short tunes — or, more often, attractive little phrases that sound as though they might easily grow into tunes — are heard again and again in Classical symphonies and quartets. Tunes are not the only melodic material to be heard in these works, as we will see in a moment. Nevertheless, by comparison with a Baroque concerto, a Classical symphony leaves listeners with a good deal more to hum or whistle as they leave the concert.

Indeed, entire tunes were often worked into larger compositions. For example, variation form (theme and variations) grew popular both for separate pieces improvised by virtuosos and for movements in multimovement genres. Haydn wrote variations on a tune of his devising that would later become the German national anthem, and Mozart wrote variations on “Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star,” in its original French version, “Ah vous dirai-je, maman” (Oh mama, I must tell you). Occasionally, popular songs were even introduced into symphonies. There is a contemporary opera tune in Mozart’s “Jupiter” Symphony, the last he composed, and one of his greatest.

texture: Homophony The predominant texture of Classical music is homophonic. In Classical compo- sitions, melodies are regularly heard with a straightforward harmonic accompa- niment in chords, without counterpoint and without even a melodic- sounding bass line. Again, this was thought (with some reason) to be a more “natural,” clearer way of presenting a melody than polyphony.

All this made, and still makes, for easy listening. The opening of Mozart’s famous Symphony No. 40 in G Minor proclaims the new sonorous world of the late eighteenth century:

.0 Ł Ł Ł Ł Ł Ł Ł




.. Ł ŁŁ ½

\ ŁŁ Ł Ł

¼ ¼ ŁŁ

½ ŁŁ ¼







½ ŁŁ










½ ŁŁ ¼



ŁŁ Ł Ł Ł Ł Ł Ł Ł Ł Ł ¼ Ł Ł Ł Ł Ł Ł Ł Ł Ł

Ł ¼

Ł Ł Ł² Ł Ł Ł Ł Ł Ł Ł S T R I N G S


Molto allegro

A single quiet chord regrouped and repeated by the violas, the plainest sort of bass support below, and above them all a plaintive melody in the violins — this simple, sharply polarized texture becomes typical of the new style.

Homophony or melody with harmony was not, however, merely a negative reaction to what people of the time saw as the heavy, pedantic complexities of Baroque counterpoint. It was also a positive move in the direction of sensitivity.

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C H A P t E R 1 2 | Music and the Enlightenment 159

When composers found that they were not always occupied in fitting contra- puntal parts to their melodies, they also discovered that they could handle other elements of music with more “pleasing variety.” In particular, a new sensitivity developed to harmony for its own sake.

One aspect of this development was a desire to specify harmonies more precisely than in the Baroque era. The first thing to go was the continuo, which had spread its unspecified (because improvised) chord patterns over nearly all Baroque music. Classical composers, newly alert to the sonorous quality of a particular chord, wanted it spaced and distributed among various instruments just so. They refused to allow a continuo player to obscure the chord with unpredictable extra notes and rhythms.

It may seem paradoxical, then, but the thrust toward simplicity in texture and melody led through the back door to increased subtlety in other areas, especially in rhythm and in harmony.

Classical Counterpoint The rise of homophony in the Classical period represents a major turnaround in musical technique, for though Baroque composers wrote some homophonic pieces, as we have seen, the predominant texture of their music was polyphonic.

Yet it is not the way of history to abandon important resources of the past completely. Classical composers rejected Baroque music, but they cautiously retained the basic principle of counterpoint. They were able to do this by refining it into a more delicate, unobtrusive kind of counterpoint than that of the Baroque era. And there was a sharper awareness now of counterpoint’s expressive possibilities. In a texture that was mostly “natural” and homophonic, counterpoint attracted special attention; this texture could be used to create the impression of tension, of one line rubbing against another. The more intense, artificial texture of polyphony stood out against natural homophonic texture.

Hence, as we will see in the next chapter, the section in Classical sonata form called the development section, whose basic function is to build up tension, typically involves contrapuntal textures. Sonata form was the most important musical form of the time, and so counterpoint was often heard.

4 | Form in Classical Music How can a piece of music be extended through a considerable span of time when listeners expect everything to be natural, simple, and easily understood? This was the problem of musical form that composers of the Viennese Classical era faced. They arrived at a solution of considerable elegance and power, involving several elements.

Repetitions and Cadences First, themes in Classical music tend to be repeated immediately after their first appearance, so that listeners can easily get to know them. (In earlier music, this happened only in dance music, as a general rule.) Later in the piece, those same themes are repeated again.

Second, themes are led into in a very distinctive manner. The music features prominent transitional passages that do not have much melodic profile, only a sense of urgency about arriving someplace — the place where the real theme will be presented (and probably presented twice).

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Third, after themes have been played, they are typically closed off just as distinctly. Often there are quite long passages consisting of cadences repeated two, three, or more times, as though to assure the listener that one musical idea is over and another is coming up. Composers would devise little cadential phrases, often with minimal melodic interest, that could be repeated and thus allow for such multiple cadences.

Multiple cadences are a characteristic and easily recognizable feature of Classical music, particularly, of course, at the very ends of movements. We will hear examples of this in Haydn, Mozart, and — with special force — in Beethoven.

Classical Forms A third feature designed to cope with the problem of musical form in Classical music is perhaps the most far-reaching. Composers and their audiences came to rely on a limited number of forms, or standard formal patterns, the most important of which are sonata form, minuet form, rondo form, and theme and variations form.

These provided a commonly understood frame of reference for composing music and appreciating it. Broadly speaking, after listening for just a short time to some new piece, an eighteenth-century music lover could always tell what sort of themes and keys it would include, when they would return, and about how long the piece would last. This frame of reference is not so obvious today, so the four Classical forms just mentioned will be taken up in some detail in Chapter 13.

The repetitions, self-conscious transitions, and emphatic cadences that are so characteristic of the Classical style all help clarify the forms. And the forms themselves were a special necessity at a time when composers were filling their compositions with contrasts of all kinds. It is a mark of the aesthetic success of Classical music that the contrasts don’t sound too drastic, because the forms con- trol and, in effect, tame them. The seemingly inexhaustible emotional range of Classical music is directly proportional to the extent of those contrasts, on the one hand, and, on the other, to the elegance of their control by musical form.

g O A L S F O R R E V I E W

c to understand the impact of the Enlightenment on music in the late eighteenth century

c to witness the rise of public concerts and of the modern orchestra

c to contrast stylistic features of late Baroque music and Classical music

c to think about general features of form in Classical music Reading Quiz for Chapter 12

Houdon’s most informal portrait bust: his wife. Photo: Gerard Blot. Musée du Louvre, Paris, France © RMN- Grand Palais/Art Resource, NY.

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The genres of music that arose in the Classical period, replacing those of the Baroque era, continued to hold their own in the nineteenth century, and all the way through the first half of the twentieth. Indeed, they are still in use today, at least in the sense that their names are still encountered. Not surprisingly, the style, the number of movements, and

the forms employed today bear little relation to norms from two hundred and more years ago. But it is still true that if you compose a large, impressive concert piece for orchestra, the best way to convey that fact to conductors, musicians, and audiences is to name it a symphony.

One reason for the prominence of the symphony in the Classical era is its close association with a crucial development in the sociology of music, discussed in Chapter 12: the growth of public concerts. As concerts became more and more frequent, people felt a need for some genre that would make an effective, substantial focus for these occasions. Symphonies answered the need — and in turn required more variety and flexibility of sound than anything orchestras of the early eighteenth century could provide. The symphony spurred a major technical development within music, the evolution of the Classical orchestra (see page 156).

The symphony, then, is rightly viewed as the crowning achievement of Viennese Classical music — but when any musician acknowledges this, he or she wants to add a plea in the same breath: Please don’t forget the other genres that grew up alongside the symphony, for in these genres you will find music just as beautiful, music that has become for us just as precious. In Chapter 14 we study the sonata, the Classical concerto, the string quartet, and — in the field of opera — Italian opera buffa (comic opera).

1 | The Movements of the Symphony As with Baroque genres, works in the Classical period consist of several move- ments, which contrast in tempo and are composed in different musical forms. Compare the following brief description of the four movements of a typical symphony with the description given on page 115 for the Baroque concerto:

• The first movement of a symphony is a substantial piece in fast or moderate tempo, written in the most important new form, of the time, sonata form, which we will study in the next section. Sometimes this fast music is preceded by a short but solemn introduction in a slower tempo.

• The second movement strikes an obvious contrast with the first by its slow tempo and its quiet mood. It can assume a variety of forms.

The Symphony



C H A P T E R 1 3 | The Symphony

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U n i T i i i | The Eighteenth Century162

• The third movement contrasts in another way, by its persistent dance rhythms: It is always a minuet and trio. A minuet is a moderately paced dance in triple meter, inherited from the Baroque period. See page 132.

• The fourth, closing movement is fast again — if anything, faster than the first. It may be in sonata form, like the first movement, though rondo is also a common choice.

If we compare the symphony table with a parallel table for the Baroque concerto, both below, we see many differences, but also certain similarities. The forms used for the movements are entirely different, and there is the extra minuet. However, in the broadest terms, the sequence from fast/complex to slow/ quiet to fast/ brilliant is the same.

MoveMents of the syMphony o p e n i n g M o v e M e n t

s lo w M o v e M e n t

M i n u e t ( w i t h t r i o )

C lo s i n g M o v e M e n t




Sonata form (sometimes preceded by a slow introduction)

Slow/very slow

Sonata form, variations, rondo form, or other


Minuet form

Fast/very fast

Sonata form or rondo form

MoveMents of the Baroque ConCerto o p e n i n g M o v e M e n t

s lo w M o v e M e n t

C lo s i n g M o v e M e n t




Ritornello form

Slow/very slow

No standard form

Fast/very fast

Ritornello form

A word of caution: This symphony table represents the norm, but there are always exceptions. Some famous ones are Mozart’s Prague Symphony, lacking a minuet, and Haydn’s Farewell Symphony, with an extra slow movement — five movements in all. (There were exceptions also to the Baroque scheme: Bach’s Brandenburg Concerto No. 1 has two dance movements added to the usual three for the concerto.)

2 | Sonata Form A new form developed at this time, called sonata form, is closely associated with the symphony — even though it turns up in much other music in other genres. The opening movement of every symphony is in sonata form, and this movement counts as the intellectual and emotional core of the whole work. Many Classical works have two or even three movements in this same form.

The reason for this wide use, perhaps, was that more than any other form, sonata form exploited what was the overriding interest of Classical composers. Their interest was in contrasts of every kind — especially contrast of musical themes and contrast of key, or tonality. Composers found that sonata form enabled a special flexibility of expression. They could use it for forceful, brilliant, pathetic, even tragic opening movements, gentle or dreamy slow movements, and lively, often humorous closing movements.

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163C H A P T E R 1 3 | The Symphony

Viewed on the highest level, sonata form is simple enough — a very large-scale example of A B A9 form, usually with repetitions: |: A :||: B A9 :| or |: A :|| B A9. What is less simple, and what makes sonata form different from other A B A forms, is the nature and the function of the musical material in each letter section. This is implied by the special names given to them: A is called the exposition, B the development, and A9 the recapitulation. What do these terms signify?

Exposition (A) The exposition of a sonata-form movement is a large, diverse section of music in which the basic material of the movement is presented (or “exposed”). (It is not related to the opening section of a fugue, though they share the same name; see page 128.) The material of a sonata-form exposition consists of the following elements:

• To begin, a main theme is presented in the first key, the home or tonic key (see page 31; this key is the key of the piece as a whole — in Mozart’s Symphony in G Minor, the tonic is G minor). This first theme may be a tune, a group of small phrases that sound as though they might grow into a tune, or just a motive or two (see page 25) with a memorable rhythmic character.

• After the first theme is firmly established, often with the help of a repetition, there is a change in key, or modulation. The subsection of the exposition that accomplishes this change is called the bridge, or the transition.

The modulation in the bridge is an essential feature (even the essential feature) that gives sonata form its sense of dynamic forward movement. With a little experience, it is not hard to hear the contrast of key and sense the dynamism, for the idea is not to make the crucial modulation sound too smooth.

Freemasonry in the eighteenth century was a high-minded society of intellectuals and aristocrats, promulgating ideas that were often radical. “Enlightened” emperor Joseph II tolerated them, barely. Mozart joined the group and wrote music for their secret meetings; this extraordinary painting shows him seated at the far right. Wien Museum Karlsplatz, Vienna, Austria/ The Bridgeman Art Library.

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There has to be some tension in the way the new themes, now to be introduced, “sit” in the new key.

• Next comes a group of themes or other musical ideas in the new key, called the second group. At least some of these new themes contrast with the first theme in melody, rhythm, dynamics, and so on, as well as in key. Usually one new theme stands out by its melodious quality; this is called the second theme.

• The last theme in the second group, the cadence theme, or closing theme, is constructed to make a solid ending prior to a full stop and the big repeat. The very end of the exposition is marked by a loud series of repeated cadences, as though the composer wanted listeners to know exactly where they are in the form. This exposition (A) section is usually repeated.

Development (B) All this musical variety is built into the exposition. The following section, the de- velopment, heightens the tensions set up by the contrasting themes and keys of the exposition. The themes are “developed” by being broken up, recombined, re- orchestrated, extended, and in general shown in unexpected and often exciting new contexts. Most development sections use counterpoint to create a sense of breakup and turmoil.

This section moves around restlessly from key to key. Its modulations can often be easily heard. The music sounds unstable and less clearly oriented than in the exposition.

After considerable tension has been built up, the last modulation of the development section returns to the first key. The passage that accomplishes this, called the retransition, has the function of relieving the tension and creating a sense of expectancy for the recapitulation to come. Classical composers were amazingly inventive in finding ways to make this crucial juncture of the form seem fresh, logical, and inevitable.

Recapitulation (A′) With a real sense of relief or resolution, we now hear the first theme again, followed by all the other themes and other elements of the exposition. There may be minor changes, but in principle everything comes back in its original order. Hence the name for this section — the recapitulation, meaning a step- by-step review.

But there is an important difference: The music now remains in the same key, the tonic key. (In practical terms, this means that the whole second group is relocated in the tonic. To allow for this, the bridge has to be rewritten — often in an imaginative way.) Stability of key in the recapitulation is especially welcome after the instability and restlessness of the development section. Basically, as we have said, sonata form depends on a strong feeling of balance between exposition and recapitulation (A B A9). But it is a weighted balance, because A9 has achieved a new solidity.

The entire B A9 sequence (development and recapitulation) may be repeated. Whether this happens or not, another section in the tonic is often added at the very end, a postmortem or wrap-up for the main action. This optional section is called the coda (in fact, coda is a general term applied to a concluding section in any musical form).

In the following schematic diagram for sonata form, changes of key are shown on a continuous band. Notice the tonal stability of the recapitulation, where the steady horizontal band contrasts with the modulation of the exposition and the fluctuations of the development.

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C H A P T E R 1 3 | The Symphony 165

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, Symphony no. 40 in G Minor, K. 550* (1788) Mozart’s Symphony in G Minor is one of the most famous and admired of all his

works. The opening movement, with its sharp contrasts and clear demarcations,

makes an arresting introduction to sonata form.

Not many Classical compositions convey as dark and uneasy a mood as does

this symphony. (Not many Classical symphonies are in the minor mode.) It suggests

some kind of muted struggle against inescapable constraints. Mozart’s themes

alone would not have created this effect; expressive as they are in themselves, they

only attain their full effect in their setting. Mozart needed sonata form to manage

these expressive themes — in a sense, to give them something to struggle against.

We have already cited the first movement’s opening texture — melody with

a strictly homophonic accompaniment — as characteristic of the Viennese

Classical style (see page 158). So also are the delicate dynamic changes toward

the end of the theme and the loud repeated cadences that terminate it. The

unique nervous energy of this theme, a blend of refinement and subdued

agitation, stamps the first movement unforgettably.

Exposition The first theme is played twice. The second playing already begins the modulation to the exposition’s second key, and a forceful bridge passage

completes this process, after which the music comes to an abrupt stop. Such

stops will come again and again in this movement.

−− .. Ł

\ Ł Ł Ł Ł Ł Ł Ł Ł ŁV I O L I N S

*Mozart’s works are identified by K numbers, after the chronological catalog of his works compiled by Ludwig von Köchel. The first edition (1862) listed 626 works composed by Mozart in his short lifetime; later editions add many more that have come to light since then.

Brid ge RetransitionFirst



T H E M E S :

Second theme

Second group

Cadence theme

K E Y S :

Tonic key

Second key


Various themes



First theme

Second theme

Second group

Cadence themeBridge


First key (tonic key) unstable


It may not be accidental that the terms used in discussing sonata form resemble those used in discussions of drama. We speak of the “exposition” of a play, where the initial situation is set forth, and of the “development” of the plot. Indeed, sonata form has a dramatic quality compared with the more architectural quality of Baroque music such as a fugue or a ritornello form (compare the chart on page 116 to the one above). In a Classical symphony, the themes seem almost like characters in a play or a novel to whom things are happening. They seem to change, take part in various actions, and react to other themes and musical processes.

2 | 14–19 37 13

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U n i T i i i | The Eighteenth Century166

Then it is repeated with the role of the instruments reversed, the strings taking

the notes originally played by the winds, and vice versa. These instrumental

alterations contribute something absolutely essential to the character of the

theme, and show Mozart’s fine ear for tone color, or timbre.

The second appearance of the second theme does not come to a cadence,

but runs into a series of new ideas that make up the rest of the second group.

All of them are brief and leave little impression on the rest of the movement, so

it is best not to consider these ideas actual themes. One of these ideas repeats

the motive of the first theme.

A short cadence theme, forte, and a very insistent series of repeated

cadences bring the exposition to a complete stop. (We still hear the rhythm of

theme 1.) After one dramatic chord, wrenching us back from major to the

original minor key, the whole exposition is repeated.

Development Two more dramatic chords — different chords — and then the development section starts quietly. The first theme is accompanied as before. It

modulates (changes key) at once, and seems to be losing itself in grief, until the

rest of the orchestra bursts in with a furious contrapuntal treatment of that

tender, nervous melody.

The music seems to exhaust itself. It comes to another stop. But in the fol-

lowing piano passage, the modulations continue, with orchestral echoes based

on smaller and smaller portions of the first theme, as shown on page 165.

Breaking up a theme in this way is called fragmentation.

Passion breaks out anew in another forte passage; but the modulations

have finally ceased. The fragmentation reaches its final stage. At last the har-

mony seems to be waiting or preparing for something, rather than shifting all

the time. This passage is the retransition.

Recapitulation After its fragmentation in the development section, the first theme somehow conveys new pathos when it returns in its original form, and

in the original tonic key. The bassoon has a beautiful new descending line.

And pathos deepens when the second theme and all the other ideas in the

second group — originally heard in a major-mode key — are now recapitulated

in the tonic key, which is a minor key. The result is a great many small

alterations of the exposition material — small, but they change the mood

decisively. The recapitulation is more stable than the exposition — for one

thing, both the first and the second groups are now in the same mode (minor),

as well as in the same key. The bridge theme, much expanded, also hammers

away at the minor mode, recalling the contrapuntal outburst of the development

section. It is a passage of great power.

Coda In a very short coda, Mozart refers one last time to the first theme. It sounds utterly disheartened, and then battered by the usual repeated cadences.

The second theme, in the major mode, is divided up, measure by measure

or phrase by phrase, between the strings and the woodwinds:











Ł Ł ¼




Ł Ł ¼








¼ Ł

( (

( ( ( ( (

( (


−− .. ð ý

\ Ł¦ ð Łý−

¼ ½ Ł Ł Ł Ł Ł

¼ Ł¼l Ł

½ Ł Ł ý Ł Łl ¼

ð ý Ł² Ł¦ Ł¦ Ł− Ł Ł ð Ł ŁŁ Ł Ł¼ Ł ½ Ł Ł Ł Ł ÿ

ð ý Ł¦ Łðý− ¼ ½ Ł Ł Ł Ł Ł S T R I N G S





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C H A P T E R 1 3 | The Symphony 167

−− Ł \

Ł Ł Ł Ł Ł Ł Ł Ł Ł ¼

−− Ð

[ ð ý ¹ Ł Łl Łl Ł

l ¼

−− ð ý \

Ł¦ ð Łý− ¼ Ł Ł Ł Ł Ł

−− Ł



−− Ł \

Ł Ł Ł Ł Ł Ł Ł Ł ð Ł Ł ð

Mozart, Symphony No. 40 in G Minor, first movement (Molto allegro) Sonata form. 8 min., 14 sec.





Theme 1 (main theme)


Theme 1, p, minor key (G minor); repeated cadences f

Theme 1 repeats and begins the modulation to a new key.

Bridge theme, f, confirms the modulation.

cadENcE Abrupt stop

Second Group





Theme 2

cadence theme

Theme 2, p, in major key; phrases divided between wood- winds and strings

Theme 2 again, division of phrases is reversed.

Other, shorter ideas, f, and p: echoes of theme 1 motive

Cadence theme, f, downward scales followed by repeated cadences

cadENcE Abrupt stop

2:04 Exposition repeated

d E V E LO P M E N T





Theme 1 developed

contrapuntal passage


Theme 1, p, modulating

Sudden f: contrapuntal treatment by the full orchestra of theme 1

Sudden p: beginning of theme 1 echoes between strings and

woodwinds; theme fragmented from        ( ( (

to and finally to ( .

Retransition f (full orchestra), p (woodwinds), which leads into the recapitulation

R E c a P I T U L aT I O N




Theme 1


Theme 1, p, G minor, as before

Theme 1, modulating differently than before

Bridge, f, longer than before

cadENcE Abrupt stop

Second Group



Theme 2

cadence theme

Theme 2, p, this time in the minor mode (G minor)

All the other second-group themes are in the tonic key (minor mode); otherwise much the same as before.

Scale part of the cadence theme, f

cO d a



New imitative passage, p, strings; based on theme 1 motive

Repeated cadences, f

Stop, this time confirmed by three solid chords

L i s T E n i n g C H A R T 7












2 | 14–19 37 13







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Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (1756–1791) Mozart was born in Salzburg, a picturesque town in central Austria, which today is famous for its music festivals. His father, Leopold, was a court musician and composer who also wrote an impor- tant book on violin playing. Mozart showed extraordinary talent at a very early age. He and his older sister, Nannerl, were trotted all over Europe as child prodigies; between the ages of six and seventeen, Wolfgang never spent more than ten successive months at home. His first symphony was played at a London concert when he was only eight years old.

But mostly Wolfgang was displayed at courts and salons, and in a somewhat depressing way this whole period of his career symbolizes the frivolous love of entertainment that reigned at midcentury. The future queen Marie Antoinette of France was one of those for whose amusement the six-year-old prodigy would name the keys of compositions played to him, and sight-read music at the piano with a cloth over his hands.

It was much harder for Mozart to make his way as a young adult musician. As usual in those days, he followed in his father’s footsteps as a musician at the court of Salzburg, which was ruled by an archbishop. (Incidentally, one of their colleagues was Joseph Haydn’s brother Michael.) But the archbishop was a disagreeable autocrat with no patience for independent-minded underlings. Mozart hated working for him. In 1781, he extricated himself from his court position, not without an ugly scene, and set himself up as a freelance musician in Vienna.

It seems clear that another reason for Mozart’s move was to get away from his father, who had masterminded the boy’s career and now seemed to grow more and more possessive as the young man sought his independence. Leopold disapproved of Wolfgang’s marriage around this time to Constanze Weber, a singer. (Mozart had been in love with her older sister, Aloysia — a more famous singer — but she rejected him.)

Mozart wrote his greatest operas in Vienna, but only the last of them, The Magic Flute, had the success it deserved. Everyone sensed that he was a genius, but his music seemed too difficult — and he was a somewhat difficult personality. He relied for his living on teaching and on the relatively new institution of

concerts. Every year he set up a concert at which he introduced one of his piano concertos. In addi- tion, the program might contain arias, a solo im- provisation, and an over- ture by somebody else.

But as happens with popular musicians today, Mozart seems (for some unknown reason) to have suddenly dropped out of fashion. After 1787, his life was a struggle, though he did receive a minor court appointment and the promise of a church position, and finally scored a really solid hit with The Magic Flute. When it seemed that financially he was finally getting out of the woods, he died suddenly at the age of thirty-five.

He died under somewhat macabre circumstances. He was composing a Requiem Mass, that is, a Mass for the Dead, commissioned by a patron who insisted on remaining anonymous. Mozart became ill and began to think he was writing for his own demise. When he died, the Requiem still unfinished, a rumor started that he had been poisoned by the rival composer Antonio Salieri.

Unlike Haydn, the other great master of the Viennese Classical style, Mozart allowed a note of disquiet, even passion, to emerge in some of his compositions (such as the Symphony in G Minor). The Romantics correctly perceived this as a forecast of their own work. Once we recognize this, it is hard not to sense something enigmatic beneath the intelligence, wit, and sheer beauty of all Mozart’s music.

Chief Works: The comic operas The Marriage of Figaro, Don Giovanni, Così fan tutte (That’s What They All Do), and The Magic Flute j Idomeneo, an opera seria j Church music: many Masses, and a Requiem (Mass for the Dead) left unfinished at his death j 41 symphonies, including the Prague, the G minor, and the Jupiter j String quartets and quintets j Concertos for various instruments, including nearly thirty much-loved piano concertos j Piano sonatas; violin sonatas j Lighter pieces (such as divertimentos, etc.), including the famous Eine kleine Nachtmusik

Encore: After Symphony No. 40, listen to the Clarinet Quintet and The Marriage of Figaro (Act I).

Image credit: Ali Meyer/CORBIS.

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3 | Classical Variation Form Variation form, as we saw on pages 118–19, entails the repetition of a clearly defined melodic unit, the theme, with various changes at each repetition. In the Baroque era, the theme was usually a bass pattern (sometimes called a ground bass). The same basic principle is at work in Classical variation form, but now the theme is a tune in the upper register.

We can understand why the Baroque era, which developed the idea of the basso continuo supporting harmonies from below, would have cultivated variations on a bass pattern, whereas the Classical era, with its emphasis on simple melody, preferred variations on short tunes in the upper register.

The point of variations is to create many contrasting moods with the same theme, which is transformed but always somehow discernible under the transformations. In principle, nothing distracts from this process, at least until the end, where composers usually add a coda. There are no contrasting themes, transitions, cadence sections, or development sections, as there are in sonata form movements (and in many rondos).

A Classical theme and variations movement begins with a theme that is typically in |: a :||: b :| or |: a :||: ba :| form. This miniform nests within the larger variation form:

Theme Variation 1 Variation 2 . . . Coda

|: a :||: b :| |: a1 :||: b1 :| |: a2 :||: b2 :| (free)

Variations were part of the stock-in-trade of virtuosos of the Classical era. At a musical soiree, someone might suggest a popular opera tune, and the pianist would improvise variations on the spot, for as long as his or her imagination held out. Twelve was a common number for these variations when they were published; virtuosos piled them up for maximum effect. In symphonies and concertos, theme and variations movements are less extended, since they have to fit into a time scale with all the other movements.

Symphonies of Haydn Even before Mozart’s maturity, his older colleague Joseph Haydn was already a master of the Classical symphony. He composed over a hundred of them, averaging more than one a year over the last two decades of his active career, from 1780 to 1800. His most famous symphonies are the last twelve, written for concerts in London, where Haydn enjoyed enormous acclaim on two tours after his retirement from the court of the Esterházy princes. For our examples of second, third, and fourth movements from Classical symphonies, we select from Haydn’s so-called London symphonies.

Mozart’s musical handwriting. University of California at Berkeley Music Library.

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U n i T i i i | The Eighteenth Century170

Variations in the visual arts: Claude Monet (1840–1926) painted dozens of pictures of Rouen Cathedral at different times of the day and in different lights. Variations in music could also be said to show their theme in “different lights.” Musée d’Orsay, Paris, France/Lauros/Giraudon/ The Bridgeman Art Library.

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a ten. ten. Andante

Franz Joseph Haydn, Symphony no. 94 in G (“The Surprise,” 1791) The second movement of a symphony is the slow movement, a restful episode

to contrast with the vigorous first movement. There is no standardized form for

slow movements, either in symphonies or in other genres, such as sonatas or

concertos. Mozart, in his late symphonies, preferred sonata form or some

derivative of it. Haydn favored his own version of variation form, and indeed

tuneful and witty variations movements in symphonies were a specialty of his.

One of his most beloved variations movements is the Andante from his

Symphony No. 94, nicknamed “The Surprise” Symphony.

For the theme of this movement Haydn devised a tune as charming as it

is simple:

It is presented at the beginning almost in the |: a :||: b :| form we might expect,

except that Haydn alters each repetition slightly. The repeat of the b phrase

adds flutes, oboes, and horns not present the first time through, while the

second a phrase is played more quietly than the first until its final chord — a

crashing fortissimo stroke that gave the symphony its nickname.

Now the variations start — four in all, plus a brief coda — and in each of

them the original theme can be clearly heard, while much else is varied. The

normal expectation would be the basic scheme shown in the margin, as

discussed on page 169. Haydn wrote dozens of variations movements in this

“standard” form — though not, interestingly, in symphonies. He seems to have

felt it would be boring for a concert audience and that he needed to do some-

thing freer. Instead of repeating a and b phrases in the variations exactly,

he might write variations within variations, as indicated by prime marks in the

following diagram:

Theme a a b b

“Normal” variation a1 a1 b1 b1

Variation within variation a1 a1′ b1 b1′

Variation 1 in this movement is of the “normal” kind, leading us gently

toward the greater changes to come. The lower strings present the theme and

its harmonic support, while the first violins, aided for a moment by the flutes,

add a graceful new melody above them.

Variation 2 sets a different tone entirely, as it shifts to the minor mode and

presents the first phrase of the theme ff. This phrase, a2, then modulates off to

end in a new key — and back in the major mode. (Classical composers tended not

to linger for long in the minor mode in their variations movements.) Phrase a2 is literally repeated, leading us to think we are about to embark on the b2 phrases of a normal variation. Haydn has other plans, however; instead of

2 | 20–25 1438

THEME |: a :| |: b :| Variation 1 |: a1 :| |: b1 :| Variation 2 |: a2 :| |: b2 :| Variation 3 |: a3 :| |: b3 :|

Basic Variation

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U n i T i i i | The Eighteenth Century172

|: b2 :|, we get loud, tumultuous music, with the opening motive from the theme

developed in the lower strings. This works its way to a sense of harmonic

expectancy and a pause, leaving only the first violins. It is as if Haydn momen-

tarily shifted to sonata form and wrote a miniature development section, com-

plete with retransition.

The violins lead us smoothly to Variation 3, a variation within a variation.

For a3 the theme, back in the major mode, is presented in quicker rhythms by

a solo oboe. The next phrase, a3′, offers a duet of flute and oboe high above the theme in the strings. This arrangement continues through b3 and b3′, with quiet French horns added in b3′.

Haydn, Symphony No. 94 in G (“The Surprise“), second movement (Andante)

Variation form. 6 min., 47 sec.










Ends with ff chord, full orchestra

Adds woodwinds

Va R I aT I O N 1













Violins (later with flute) add a new melody above the theme.

Va R I aT I O N 2










Begins in minor mode, ff, then modulates

Free, development-like section plus retransition

Va R I aT I O N 3







Oboe solo, playing theme in quick rhythms

Oboe and flute duet, theme in strings







Oboe and flute duet continues.

Horns added

Va R I aT I O N 4













Full orchestra, including trumpets and drums; ff

Strings plus bassoons

Full orchestra, ff

cO d a




6:17 Diminuendo to pp; new, mysterious harmonies for theme

L i s T E n i n g C H A R T 8





“The admirable and matchless HAYDN! From whose productions I have received more pleasure late in my life, when tired of most Music, than I ever received in the ignorant and rapturous part of my youth.”

English music historian Charles Burney, 1776

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a ten. ten. Andante



2 | 20–25 1438

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C H A P T E R 1 3 | The Symphony 173

4 | Minuet Form (Classical Dance Form) Stylized dances — music in the style and form of dances, but intended for listening rather than dancing — reached a state of high development in the Baroque era. In Chapter 10 we saw how various dance types were assembled into suites. Unlike the Baroque era, which developed a single genre made up of different dances, the Classical era focused on a single stylized dance and introduced it into many different genres.

The sole dance type from the Baroque suite to survive in the multimovement genres of the Classical period was the minuet. One reason for its endurance was simply the dance itself: Originally popularized at the court of Louis XIV in the seventeenth century, it continued as one of the major fashionable social dances in the eighteenth. However much the minuet movement of a symphony differed from a simple dance tune, it was always a reminder of the aristocratic courts that had originally established orchestras.

Another reason was more technical. As a moderately paced piece in triple meter, the minuet makes an excellent contrast to the quick duple meter that was by far the most common meter in the opening and closing movements of Classical symphonies, quartets, and the like.

Works with four movements — symphonies and string quartets — always included a minuet, usually as a light contrast after the slow movement. Mozart even managed to fit a minuet into some of his piano concertos, though traditionally the concerto, as a three-movement genre, did not leave room for one.

Baroque and Classical Dance Form A Baroque minuet consists of two sections; each comes to a complete stop and is immediately repeated (|: a :||: b :|). See page 132. Minuets tend to come in pairs, alternating in an A B A pattern. The second dance, B, is called the trio, because in early days it was often played by only three instruments.

As a whole, a Baroque minuet movement can be diagrammed as follows. (Remember that |: :| means repeat, and that in the second A the parts are usually not repeated.)



|: a :||: b :| |: c :||: d :| a b

Variation 4 begins triumphantly with the complete orchestra, including

trumpets and drums; the winds present the theme while the violins play a quick

countermelody, all ff. But this is another variation within a variation, and

Haydn quiets the jubilant mood abruptly in a4′ and b4, played mainly by the strings, before restoring it in b4′.

The return of the triumphant mood seems to signal the end of the move-

ment, and indeed it leads straight into a brief coda. For this Haydn reserves one

more surprise — a bigger one, even, than the crashing chord at the beginning that

gave the symphony its nickname. The last, incomplete statement of the theme

grows softer and softer, over mysterious and dissonant harmonies that seem to

recall the minor-mode variation in the middle of the movement. The theme of

this movement is simple, to be sure — but not without its secrets, it turns out.

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U n i T i i i | The Eighteenth Century174

Baryton. Image copyright: Metropolitan Museum of Art. Image source: Art Resource.


Franz Joseph Haydn (1732 –1809) Unlike so many other composers, Haydn did not come from a family of professional musicians. But his father, an Austrian village wheelwright, was a keen amateur musician. As a boy Joseph had a beautiful voice, and at the age of eight he was sent to Vienna to be a choirboy in St. Stephen’s Cathedral. After his voice broke, he spent several difficult years as a free- lance musician in Vienna before obtaining the position of Kapellmeister with Prince Paul Anton Esterházy, one of the most lavish patrons of music at the time.

After this, Haydn’s career reflects the changing social situation in the later eighteenth century, when the old system of court patronage coexisted with an early form of the modern concert system. Indeed, there is no finer tribute to the system of court patronage than Haydn’s thirty-year career with the Esterházys. The post of Kapellmeister involved managing and writ- ing music not only for the prince’s chapel (the Kapell) but also for his private opera house, his marionette theater, and for palace chamber music and orchestral performances. Haydn had a good head for administra- tion. Hiring his own musicians, he was able over many years to experiment with the symphony and other genres and develop his style under ideal conditions.

Haydn’s output is staggering. He composed 104 symphonies; 83 string quartets; numerous diverti- mentos, trios, and sonatas; and over 20 operas. He also had to write a great deal of music for baryton — a bizarre archaic instrument fancied by the next Ester- házy prince, Nikolaus, which was something like a cello with extra strings that could be plucked, like guitar strings.

The Esterházys had a splendid estate some miles outside of Vienna, but Haydn’s duties there did not prevent him from spending a good deal of time in the capital. In the 1770s his string quartets made a par- ticularly strong impression in the metropolis. In the 1780s he befriended Mozart, and the two actually played together in an amateur string quartet.

Meanwhile the spread of Haydn’s international fame accelerated with the growth of public concerts. At first his symphonies were picked up by French concert organizers (who paid Haydn nothing). Then in the 1780s his six Paris symphonies were commis- sioned for concerts in that city, and in the 1790s twelve London symphonies were written for two highly successful tours to Britain.

Toward the end of his life Haydn turned to choral music: six impressive Latin Masses for soloists, chorus, and orchestra, and two German oratorios inspired by Handel, The Creation and The Seasons, admired by his contemporaries as the apex of an exemplary career in music.

Haydn’s most famous composition is a simple Austrian patriotic song:

² Ł ý Ł Ł Ł Ł Ł Ł Ł Ł

It appears with variations in his Emperor Quartet, Op. 76 No. 3 (1797). The tune was adopted for the German national anthem, “Deutschland über Alles,” and for the hymn “Glorious Things of Thee Are Spoken.”

One of the most attractive personalities in the gallery of the great composers, Haydn was shrewd but generous-minded, humorous, always honorable, and though fully aware of his own worth, quite ready to praise his young, difficult colleague Mozart. “Friends often flatter me that I have some genius,” he once said — without contradicting them —“but he stood far above me.”

Haydn’s music combines good-humored simplic- ity of melody with a very sophisticated delight in the manipulations of musical form and technique. No composer has ever enjoyed a (musical) joke more. In his reasonableness, his wit, and his conviction that his art should serve humanity (a conviction he both expressed and acted upon), Haydn is a true musical representative of the Enlightenment.

Chief Works: 104 symphonies; the last twelve, composed for London in 1791–95, include the “Surprise,” “Clock,” and “Drum Roll” sympho- nies j A cello concerto and a delightful trumpet concerto j Over 80 string quartets; piano trios and piano sonatas j Choral music in his late years: six Masses and the oratorios The Creation and The Seasons

Encore: After movements from Symphonies No. 94, No. 99, and No. 101, listen to the whole of Symphony No. 102; Trumpet Concerto.

Top image credit: Royal Collection Trust/ © HM Queen Elizabeth II, 2014/Bridgeman Images.

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C H A P T E R 1 3 | The Symphony 175

Classical composers extended the internal form of minuets (and trios) by developing internal a b a structures according to one of the following schemes:


A B A or A B A

|: a :||: b a :| |: c :||: d c :| a b a (more often) |: a :||: b a′ :| |: c :||: d c′ :| a b a′

Prime marks (a′ and c′) indicate changes or extensions to the original a and c sections. Classical dance form is sometimes called ternary form, acknowledging its a b a′ order.

An eighteenth-century minuet, with music and notation for the dance steps. Lebrecht/ The Image Works.

Franz Joseph Haydn, Symphony no. 99 in E-flat (1793) Minuet movements in Haydn’s symphonies often seem to take us on a small

mental journey from the ballroom to the countryside, with the genteel

demeanor of the minuet countered by the more rustic mood of the trio. In the

minuet and trio of Symphony No. 99, Haydn appears to poke fun at this

division by reversing it. It is the minuet that seems a bit bumptious and clumsy,

the trio that exudes suave charm.

Minuet The a section of this |: a :|: b a′ :|, or ternary, form begins with question- and-answer phrases: The high strings play a downward–moving melody

immediately countered — loudly, almost rudely — by the full orchestra. This

happens twice — 2 bars 1 2 bars, 2 bars 1 2 bars — then the music proceeds

more smoothly to end on repeated cadences (repeated, however, just a bit too

insistently). The b a′ section begins with an upward-moving melody, turning on its head the melody beginning a. The return to a′ comes about abruptly, wrenching us back from a minor-mode key Haydn has led us to. It leads to an

2 | 26–28 1539

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U n i T i i i | The Eighteenth Century176

Haydn, Symphony No. 99 in E-flat, third movement (Allegretto) Minuet form. 5 min., 13 sec.

M I N U E T ( a )













b a′

Descending melody, staccato

Repeated cadences


Ascending melody

Pause for full orchestra on expectant harmony

Repeated cadences


T R I O ( B )



















d c′

Two oboes, alone

Tune, legato



Transition back to minuet

M I N U E T ( a )

3:59 Repetition of a b a’

L i s T E n i n g C H A R T 9




unexpected pause for the whole orchestra, and then the minuet closes with

cadences more insistent than before. We have seen (page 159) that repeated

cadences are a general feature of the Classical style; here they are used to give

the minuet a feel rather far from gentility.

Trio After these repeated cadences, two oboes are left hanging on a single note. One of them takes up, along with the violins and accompanied by the

other strings, an alluring, legato tune; there is no trace here of insistence or

rude response. The music, also, slides from the oboes’ note into an unexpected

key, adding to its sense of distance from the mood of the minuet. The trio, like

the minuet, is in ternary form (that is, |: c :|: d c′ :|), though it is a shorter one than in the minuet, without repeated cadences.

Minuet When the trio ends, Haydn has carried us so far from the key — and the feeling — of the minuet that he needs a brief passage of transition to help

bring us back. This is an unconventional addition to minuet and trio form, but

Haydn was a composer never unwilling to bend the rules, as we saw also in the

miniature development section that breaks out in the variations movement

from “The Surprise” Symphony. Then the minuet is played again unchanged,

except for the omission of repeats: | a | b a′ |.

Pencil drawing of Haydn, which he once singled out as the best likeness he had ever seen: not the choice of a vain man. Compare page 174. Bettmann/Corbis.


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C H A P T E R 1 3 | The Symphony 177

5 | Rondo Form The rondo is a form with popular leanings, dating back to the Baroque era. In the symphonies and other multimovement genres of the Classical era, it was used mainly for fast, closing movements.

The formal principle of the rondo is a simple one. A rondo begins with a full-fledged tune (A) and comes back to it after episodes (B, C, etc.) serving as spacers between its appearances. Longer rondo tunes may return in shortened form. For example, if A is in the favorite |: a :|: b a′ :| pattern of the time, the recurrence of A throughout the rondo may present a b a′, b a′, or even a alone. There is always enough of the tune for the listener to recognize it.

In simple rondos, the episodes feature additional tunes contrasting with A; this results in formal designs such as those shown in the margin. In sym- phonies, the episodes may present transitions to new themes, cadence formu- las, and even sonata form–style development sections using motives from A. (The most complex rondos of this kind are sometimes called sonata rondos; they were a favorite of Haydn in the symphonies from late in his career.) Vari- ous schemes are possible, and often a coda is added. Whatever the specific structure, the regular return of the main theme A is the critical feature of rondo form.

A famous performance of Haydn’s oratorio The Creation from 1808. The elderly Haydn is seated in the foreground, and Beethoven stands before him with a cane. The picture shows how much smaller orchestra and chorus were in the early nineteenth century; today’s typical performing forces for such a work would double the number onstage here. De Agostini Picture Library/A. Dagli Orti/The Bridgeman Art Library.

Rondo Schemes

a B a c a coda a B a c a B a a B a c a d a —and others

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U n i T i i i | The Eighteenth Century178

Franz Joseph Haydn, Symphony no. 101 in D (“The Clock,” 1793–1794) If rondo form is typically used in fast finales, here it is very fast and closes one

of the most effervescent and joyous of all Haydn’s symphonies. Like Symphony

No. 94, No. 101 also has earned a nickname — “The Clock,” for a steady, tick

tock motive in the second movement.

In largest outline the fourth movement shows many typical features of

rondo form. Its main theme (A) takes on the |: a :|: b a :| form; here is the

complete a melody:

Also typically, when A first comes back, it is presented in abbreviated fashion,

without repeats. (The melody also is varied when it returns: a becomes a′ and then a″.) The movement as a whole presents A three times, with two episodes in between: A B A C A.

For their part, the episodes are not simple tunes but complex music

reminiscent of sonata-form developments — loud, busy, and contrasting

strongly with the sprightly A theme. This is common in symphonic rondos and

especially in Haydn’s. The second episode starts off with furious, stormy

music in the minor mode, briefly threatening the lightheartedness of the

movement. Each episode has a quiet moment in its midst with a new melody,

A modern view of Esterháza palace, near Vienna, where Haydn spent much of his career. Lebrecht/ The Image Works.

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2 | 29–33 1640

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C H A P T E R 1 3 | The Symphony 179

which begins in a way reminiscent of the a melody but then veers off with

syncopated rhythms:

The second episode ends on a broad, expectant pause, and the last return

of A begins with something unexpected: a fugue, taking as its subject another

varied version of the a melody:

Haydn, Symphony No. 101 in D (“The Clock”), fourth movement (Finale. Vivace) Rondo. 4 min., 29 sec.


























a (Tune)

B (Episode 1)


c (Episode 2)






b a

f, quick running scales in the strings; trumpet fanfares

New theme, p, derived from a, with syncopations

More loud running scales

Quiet close leads to return of:

a′ b a″

f, minor mode, stormy

New theme from B again, major mode, now f

Stormy music resumes, minor mode

Expectant pause signals return to:


Final, quiet return of a

Running scales lead to final cadences.






L i s T E n i n g C H A R T 10

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This is a very free fugue. There is scarcely room in the middle of this rondo for

the kind of systematic imitative counterpoint we might expect from Bach.

Nevertheless, it persists, complete with a quick-moving melody that accompanies

it (in fugue terminology, a countersubject), until it rises up to a culminating

statement of the subject in the full orchestra. After the fugue, a final, short

statement of a leads to the kind of emphatic, repeated closing cadences

common at the end of Classical works — but especially needed here to ground

the freewheeling musical energies Haydn has generated.

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˙ œ œ œ œ Vivace

2 | 29–33 1640

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U n i T i i i | The Eighteenth Century180

g o a l s f o r r e v i e w

c to understand the standard movement types of the Classical symphony

c to understand the forms associated with these movement types

c to develop a vocabulary for the various elements of sonata form

c to listen carefully to all the elements of a sonata form movement

c to understand and listen to theme and variation form

c to understand and listen to minuet form

c to understand and listen to rondo form

c to get to know the lives and works of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart and Franz Joseph Haydn Interactive Listening Charts 7–10 Listening Quiz for Chapter 13 Reading Quiz for Chapter 13

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In Chapter 13 we examined the symphony as exemplified by Mozart’s Symphony No. 40 in G Minor and three movements from Haydn’s London symphonies. We go on in this chapter to examine the other main genres of music in the Viennese Classical era: the sonata, the Classical concerto, the string quartet, and opera buffa, the name for Italian comic opera

of the time. It would be somewhat redundant to spend the same amount of detail on

each of these genres as on the symphony, for many features of the symphony are duplicated in these other genres. Indeed, for Classical instrumental music, the symphony can be used as a sort of prototype. Bear in mind the symphony outline from Chapter 13; we reprint it here.

In the following pages we discuss the sonata, concerto, and string quartet, emphasizing the specific features that differentiate each genre from the symphony. We finish by turning from instrumental music to opera buffa.

Other Classical Genres



MoveMents of the syMphony

o p e n i n g M o v e M e n t

s lo w M o v e M e n t

M i n u e t ( w i t h t r i o )

C lo s i n g M o v e M e n t




Sonata form (sometimes preceded by a slow introduction)

Slow/very slow

Sonata form, variations, rondo form, or other


Minuet form

Fast/very fast

Sonata form or rondo form

1 | The Sonata The word sonata has multiple meanings. We already know it from the term sonata form, the scheme employed in the first movements of symphonies, but the word goes back to before the Classical period and simply meant a piece for a small number of instruments or a single one. (In Italian, sonata means “sounded,” that is, played.) In the Classical period the term usually referred to compositions for one or two instruments only.

Sonatas were not designed for concerts, which in any case were still rare at this time, but for private performances, often by amateurs. The symphony is a public genre, the sonata a domestic one — and increasingly the domestic clientele was made up of women (see the next page). Although professional

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female instrumentalists were still rare, more and more women played music in the home. Given their amateur audience, some (not all!) sonatas are easy to play and may be limited in expressive range.

Piano sonatas were composed for solo piano, the favorite new instrument of the time, and violin sonatas were composed for violin and piano. (The early piano was called the fortepiano; see page 187.) In Classical sonatas with violin, the piano is not a mere accompaniment but an equal partner; it holds its own in such combinations in a way that the earlier harpsichord usually did not.

Compare the three-movement plan for the sonata, shown below, with the four-movement symphony prototype on the previous page; they are simi- lar except for the omission of the minuet movement in the sonata. But sonatas are much less uniform than symphonies, concertos, or quartets. Of Mozart’s sonatas, for example, only about two-thirds follow the plan, leaving many exceptions. None of them has more than three movements, however, and the movements are always shorter than those of a symphony. Some sonatas have only two movements — including two ever-popular ones by the youthful Beethoven.

In Chapter 15 we will return to the piano sonata, examining a movement by Beethoven.

From the late eighteenth century on, musical accomplishment was regarded as a highly desirable social asset for women: for a French baroness (painted by Elisabeth Vigée-LeBrun, a fashionable court painter, 1755–1842) or an American First Lady — Louisa C. (Mrs. John Quincy) Adams — at a later period. Left: Musée des Augustins, Toulouse, France/Giraudon/The Bridgeman Art Library. Right: Smithsonian American Art Museum, Washington, DC/Art Resource, NY.

MoveMents of the sonata

o p e n i n g M o v e M e n t

s lo w M o v e M e n t

C lo s i n g M o v e M e n t




Sonata form

Slow/very slow

Sonata form, variations, rondo form, or other

Fast/very fast

Often rondo form

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2 | The Classical Concerto On page 115 we discussed the Baroque concerto and concerto grosso at the time of Bach and Vivaldi in terms of the basic concerto idea — the contest between soloist and orchestra. This basic idea was refined and sharpened by the Viennese Classical composers.

Instrumental virtuosity, in the person of the soloist, remained a central feature of the Classical concerto. At the same time, the orchestra was growing and becoming a richer expressive force. With its well-coordinated string, woodwind, and brass groups, the Classical orchestra afforded more variety than the Baroque concerto orchestra could ever do.

So the balance between the two contesting forces — solo instrument and orchestra — presented a real problem, a problem that Mozart worked out in a series of seventeen superb piano concertos written during his years in Vienna, mostly for his own concert use. (Counting earlier works, he composed twenty-seven piano concertos in all.) Mozart pitted the soloist’s greater agility, brilliance, and expressive capability against the orchestra’s increased power and variety of tone color. The contestants are perfectly matched; neither one emerges as the definite winner.

Compare the movement plan for the Classical concerto below with the symphony prototype on page 181. Concertos have long opening movements and no minuet movements.

MoveMents of the ClassiCal ConCerto

o p e n i n g M o v e M e n t

s lo w M o v e M e n t

C lo s i n g M o v e M e n t




Double-exposition sonata form; cadenza near the end

Slow/very slow

Sonata form, variations, rondo form, or other

Fast/very fast

Rondo form (occasionally variation form)

Double-Exposition Form For the first movements of concertos, Mozart developed a special form to capitalize on the contest that is basic to the genre. Though the diagram for double-exposition form may look rather cluttered, it is in fact simply an extended variant of sonata form. Compare the sonata-form diagram on page 165:

Brid ge

S O L O E X P O S I T I O N (solo and orchestra)

T H E M E S : Second group (solo


K E Y S :

Tonic key

Second key

Themes developed

D E V E L O P M E N T (solo and orchestra)

R E C A P I T U L AT I O N (solo and orchestra)

Second group

(composite version)

Orchestra’s cadence



Tonic key



Second group (orchestra version)






Second theme

First theme

First theme

First theme

Cadence theme

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In sonata form, the exposition presenting all the basic material is repeated. In the concerto, instead, each of the competing forces presents the musical themes in its own somewhat different version. The two times through the exposition of a symphony, in other words, are here apportioned between the orchestra (first time) and the soloist (second time). But the two statements of the concerto exposition differ not merely in the instruments that play them. Unlike the exposition in a symphony, in a concerto the orchestra exposition does not modulate. The change of key (which counts for so much in sonata-form composition) is saved until the solo exposition. The listener senses that the orchestra can’t modulate and the soloist can — evidence of the soloist’s superior range and mobility. This is demonstrated spectacularly by the soloist playing scales, arpeggios, and other brilliant material, making the solo exposi- tion longer than the orchestral one.

The recapitulation in double-exposition form amounts to a composite of the orchestral and solo versions of the exposition. Typically the orchestra’s cadence theme, which has been crowded out of the solo exposition to make room for virtuoso activity, returns at the end to make a very satisfactory final cadence.* Shortly before the end, there is a big, formal pause for the soloist’s cadenza (see page 124). The soloist would improvise at this point — to show his or her skill and flair by working out new thematic developments on the spot, and also by carrying off brilliant feats of virtuosity.

* Double-exposition form, like sonata form, may also have a coda — a feature exploited by Beethoven more than Mozart and Haydn.

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (1756–1791), Piano Concerto no. 23 in A, K. 488 (1786) This favorite Mozart concerto proceeds from one of his most gentle and songful

first movements to a second movement that is almost tragic, followed by an

exuberant, sunny finale. The first movement might almost have been intended

as a demonstration piece for double-exposition form, except for one unique

feature: a new theme introduced halfway through.

No fewer than four themes in this movement could be described as gentle

and songful — though always alert. For a work of this character, Mozart uses

a reduced orchestra, keeping the mellow clarinets but omitting the

sharper-sounding oboes as well as trumpets and timpani.

Orchestra Exposition Theme 1, played piano by the strings and repeated by the woodwinds, is answered by a vigorous forte response in the full orchestra.

“These piano concertos are a happy medium between too easy and too difficult; they are very brilliant, pleasing to the ear, and natural, without being simple-minded. There are passages here and there which only connoisseurs will be able to appreciate, but less learned listeners will like them too, without knowing why.”

Letter from Mozart to his father, 1782

²²² ð \

ð Ł ý Ł Ł Ł Ł Ł Ł Ł Ł Ł Ł ý Ł Ł Ł ð

[ ¹ Ł Ł Ł ŁŁ Łý ý

Ł Ł¦ Ł Ł Ł ýResponse etc.Ł Ł Ł Ł Ł Ł Ł

This response idea returns many times, balancing the quiet themes, and often

leading to something new — here, theme 2, another quiet melody, full of feeling.

An agitated passage interrupts, suddenly emotional, touching on two different

minor keys, but only briefly. This whole section remains in the major tonic

2 | 34–38 41

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key, without any actual modulation. The cadence theme that ends the section

maintains the gentle mood.

Solo Exposition The solo exposition expands on and illuminates the orchestra exposition, with the piano taking over some of it, while also adding fast-moving

scales or other figuration of its own. The main difference comes at the bridge;

the modulation, needed to give the music a lift, is engineered by the piano. The

orchestral second theme sounds especially intimate and lovely when played on

the piano — as Mozart planned. And at the end, instead of the gentle cadence

theme, the piano has a moment of brilliant passage work, culminating in a

drawn-out, triumphant cadence with a long trill.

Showy cadences of this kind are a regular feature of Classical concertos;

the orchestra always answers with loud music of its own, like a cheer. Here it

is the orchestra’s response passage again. But this time it stops in midcourse,

as though the orchestra has suddenly remembered something intimate and a

little serious. A new theme (yet another quiet, gentle melody, this time with a

thoughtful character) appears out of nowhere:

After the orchestra plays the new theme, the solo repeats it in an elaborated

version, and we slip into the development section.

Development The basic idea behind concertos, the contest between orchestra and soloist, is brought out wonderfully here. Mozart sets up a rapid-fire dialogue

between the two contestants; fragments of the new theme in the woodwinds

seem to discuss or argue with the piano, as the music modulates to minor-mode

keys and the material is developed.

The new theme turns unexpectedly anxious in the retransition (see the

music in the margin, to the right). Finally, with a brief cadenza, the piano pulls

out of the dialogue and steers the way to the recapitulation.

Recapitulation At the start of the movement, the songful first theme was claimed in turn by the orchestra and the solo in their respective expositions. In

the recapitulation, a composite of the two expositions, they share it.

Otherwise, the recapitulation resembles the solo exposition, though the

bridge is altered so that the whole remains in the tonic key. There is a beautiful

extension at the end, and when the response passage comes again, it leads to a

heavy stop, with a fermata — the standard way for the orchestra to bow out,

after preparing for the soloist’s grand re-entrance for the main cadenza.

Compared to the cadenza in Bach’s Brandenburg Concerto — see page 123 — this

one is much more varied. Written out by Mozart himself, it includes both

modest moments and brilliant ones.

The solo’s showy cadence at the end of the cadenza is cheered along once

again by the orchestra’s response passage, which we have heard so many times

before. This time it leads to something we have not heard many times — only

²²² Ł ð¦ Ł Ł ý Ł¦ Ł Ł Ł¦ S T R I N G S

²²² Ł² \

ŁŁŁ Ł ¹Ł Ł ¹Ł ŁŁ Cadence theme

²²² ð \

Ł Ł ýŁ Ł Ł Ł² Ł ð Ł Ł ð Ł Ł ý² Ł Ł Ł ð¦

Ł¦ ð¦ Ł Ł¦ Ł¦ Ł ý Ł Ł Ł¦ ð P I A N O

New theme, exposition Development C L A R I N E T

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Mozart, Piano Concerto No. 23 in A, K. 488, first movement (Allegro) Double-exposition form. 11 min., 42 sec.

On this chart, the column arrangement distinguishes the main orchestra and solo sections.







Theme 1, p

f response

Theme 2, p

“Deflection” passage

Cadence theme, p

Orchestra Strings; woodwinds for the second playing

Two minor-mode keys are suggested.











Theme 1

f response

Bridge — modulates

Theme 2

“Deflection” passage

Solo virtuoso passage

f response, leads to

New theme

solo: Melody is increasingly ornamented.

Orchestra, with solo cutting in


solo ornaments the new theme.






Short cadenza

Orchestra and solo: dialogue around the new theme; modulations

in free time; ends with a fermata














Theme 1, p

f response


Theme 2

“Deflection” passage

New theme (longer virtuoso passage)

f response, leads to

New theme

Main cadenza

f response

Cadence theme, p

Brief ending f p

Orchestra, with solo cutting in for the second playing

Orchestra, with solo cutting in again

(the first time the solo plays it without ornaments)

solo free, improvised passage


L i s T E n i n g C H A R T 11


























²²² ð \

ð Ł ý Ł Ł Ł Ł Ł Ł

²²² Ł \

Ł Ł Ł Ł ýŁ Ł Ł Ł Ł

²²² Ł² \

ŁŁŁ Ł ¹Ł Ł ¹Ł ŁŁ Cadence theme

²²² ð \

Ł Ł ýŁ Ł Ł Ł² Ł

once, nine minutes back: the quiet cadence theme of the orchestra exposition.

Do you remember it? It makes a perfect ending for the whole movement, with

an extra twist: a little flare-up to forte that subsides almost at once.

2 | 34–38 41

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3 | The String Quartet Developed in the Classical era, the string quartet is a genre for four instruments: two violins, a viola, and a cello. The plan for a string quartet, with its four move- ments, is close to that of the symphony; compare page 181. Indeed, next to the symphony the quartet counts as the most important genre of Classical music.

MoveMents of the string Quartet

o p e n i n g M o v e M e n t

s lo w M o v e M e n t

M i n u e t ( w i t h  t r i o )

C lo s i n g M o v e M e n t




Sonata form

Slow/very slow

Sonata form, variations, rondo form, or other


Minuet form

Fast/very fast

Sonata form or rondo form

The quartet may have as many movements as the symphony, but of course it doesn’t have as many instruments, and it cannot match the symphony’s range of volume and tone color. This can disappoint listeners today. For the eighteenth century, however, volume was no issue, because quartets were never intended for concert listening. They were intended primarily for the performers, with small, informal audiences — or none at all. History tells of a quartet session with Haydn and Mozart playing along with two other well-known musicians of the time, the only audience being Mozart’s family and their two servants.

As for range of tone color, the quartet compensates for lack of variety by its own special qualities: nuance, delicacy, and subtlety. Without any conductor, the quartet players are partners responding to one another as only old, close

Mozart’s fortepiano, the forerunner of today’s piano. In the smaller fortepiano, the strings were strung less tightly because the frame was wood, not iron; hence the volume was lower. The fortepiano makes up for this by its responsive touch and delicacy of tone. © Internationale Stiftung Mozarteum.

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friends can. As developed by Haydn, the four instruments of the quartet grow more and more similar in their actual musical material, and more and more interdependent. There is a fine interplay as they each react to musical gestures by the others, sometimes supporting them, sometimes countering.

This interplay has been aptly compared to the art of cultivated conversation — witty, sensitive, always ready with a perfectly turned phrase — that was especially prized in eighteenth-century salons (see page 152).

There are dozens of wonderful string quartets by Haydn and ten equally wonderful ones by Mozart. Beethoven’s sixteen string quartets, composed from the beginning to the end of his career, today stand at the heart of the repertory. To get an idea of the varieties of intimate expression these four instruments could achieve, go back to Listening Exercise 7 (page 34) and listen to the beginning of a string quartet movement by Franz Schubert.

Chamber Music The string quartet was the main but not the only genre developed at this time for small forces in relatively intimate circumstances. Chamber music is a term for music designed to be played in a room (a chamber) — in a palace drawing room or in a small hall. Chamber music can be taken as encompassing compositions for from two to nine players. Other types are the piano trio (violin, cello, piano: a favorite of Haydn) and string quintets (string quartet plus another low instrument; Mozart wrote four superb quintets with two violas, and one of Schubert’s great masterpieces is a quintet with two cellos).

Broadly speaking, what has been said above about the intimate character of the quartet applies to all chamber music, though it’s probably clear enough that a string octet, with eight players, must be less subtle and more orchestral than a string trio, with three players.

String quartets, then (above) and now (page 189). Nineteenth-century quartets were often led by celebrated violin soloists; shown here is a group led by a virtuosa of the time, Wilma Norman-Néruda (1838 –1911). From left to right: two violins, viola (slightly larger), and cello. © Bettmann/CORBIS.

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4 | Opera Buffa In the late eighteenth century, comic opera grew to equal in importance the serious opera that was a hallmark of the Baroque era (see page 137). Roman emperors and their courtly confidants gave way to contemporary peasant girls and soldiers; castrati were edged aside by basses specializing in comical rants and exasperations, the so-called buffo basses (buffone is Italian for “buffoon”). Happy endings were the result of tricks and schemes rather than the decrees of magnanimous princes.

Comic opera stars had to be funny; they had to act, not just sing. The new flexibility of the Classical style was perfectly suited to the unexpected and swift effects that are the essence of comedy. As much as its humor, it was this “natural,” lifelike quality of comedy that appealed to audiences of the Enlightenment. Enlightened monarch Joseph II of Austria actively promoted comic opera.

Italian comic opera was the most important, though there were also parallel developments in Germany, France, and England. Serious Italian opera was called opera seria; comic Italian opera was called opera buffa. Just as Italian opera seria was very popular in London in Handel’s time, so was Italian opera buffa in Vienna at the time of Haydn and Mozart. Thus Haydn, whose court duties with the Esterházys included running their opera house, wrote twelve comic operas — all in Italian. Mozart in his mature years wrote six — three in German and three in Italian.

The Ensemble Baroque opera seria, as we have seen (page 137), employs two elements in alternation: recitatives for the dialogue and the action, and numbers that are fully musical — almost always arias — for static meditation and “tableaus” of emotional expression. Classical opera buffa works with the same elements, except that the fully musical numbers include ensembles as well as solo arias.

An ensemble is a number sung by two or more people. And given the Classical composers’ skill in incorporating contrast into their music, they were

Established more than forty years ago, the Kronos Quartet has devoted itself to contemporary music, including compositions from far beyond Europe and America. The quartet also plays arrangements from jazz and rock, and one of its signature encores, early in its history, was an arrangement of Jimi Hendrix’s “Purple Haze.” Darrin Zammit Lupi/ Reuters/Newscom.

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Opera buffa showed contemporary people in comic situations—compare the attitudes struck by people in opera seria on page 106. In Mozart’s comedy The Marriage of Figaro, a frightened page hiding in a chair (Cherubino) sees the Count trying to kiss the Countess’s maid (Susanna). © Jack Vartoogian/FrontRowPhotos.

“On Monday the 29th the Italian opera company gave the eagerly awaited opera by Maestro Mozard, Don Giovanni, or The Stone Guest. Connoisseurs and musicians say that Prague had never heard the like. Herr Mozard conducted in person; when he entered the orchestra he was received by three-fold cheers, as also happened when he left. The opera is extremely difficult to perform.”

Prague newspaper, 1787

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, Don Giovanni (1787) Mozart wrote Don Giovanni in 1787 for Prague, the second-largest city of the

Austrian Empire, where his music was enjoying a temporary spurt in popularity.

While technically it counts as an opera buffa, Don Giovanni is neither a wholly

comic drama nor wholly tragic. A somewhat enigmatic mixture of both — what

might be called today a dark comedy — it seems to convey Mozart’s feeling that

events have both comical and serious dimensions, and that life’s experiences

cannot be pigeonholed.

Background Don Giovanni is the Italian name for Don Juan, the legendary Spanish libertine. The tale of his endless escapades and conquests is meant to

stir up incredulous laughter, usually with a bawdy undertone. Certainly a

subject of this kind belongs to opera buffa.

able to make their ensembles depict the different sentiments of the participating characters simultaneously. This meant that sentiments could be presented much more swiftly and vividly: swiftly, because we don’t have to wait for the characters to sing whole arias to find out what they are feeling, and vividly, because the sentiments stand out in sharp relief one against the other.

The music also depicts these sentiments in flux. For in the course of an ensemble, the action proceeds and the situation changes. And changing sentiments are usually projected by means of new musical sections with differ- ent tempos, keys, and themes. A Classical opera ensemble, then, is a sectional number for several characters in which the later sections represent new plot action and the characters’ new reactions to it.

Think back to the da capo aria of Baroque opera seria (see page 138). There the return of the opening music — A in the A B A form — told us that the dramatic situation was just where it had been when the aria started. But at the end of a Classical ensemble, the drama has moved ahead by one notch or more. The music, too, has moved on to something different. The Baroque aria was essentially a static number, the Classical ensemble a dynamic one. The ensemble transformed opera into a much more dramatic genre than had been possible within the Baroque aesthetic.

2 | 39–41 42–44

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But in his compulsive, completely selfish pursuit of women, Don Giovanni

ignores the rules of society, morality, and God. Hence the serious undertone of

the story. He commits crimes and mortal sins — and not only against the

women he seduces. He kills the father of one of his victims, the Commandant,

who surprises Giovanni struggling with his daughter.

This action finally brings Don Giovanni down. Once, when he is hiding

from his pursuers in a graveyard — and joking blasphemously — he is

reproached by the marble statue that has been erected over the Commandant’s

tomb. (Yes, the statue speaks.) He arrogantly invites the statue home for din-

ner. The statue comes, and when Giovanni refuses to mend his ways drags him

off to its home, which is hell. The somber music associated with the statue was

planted ahead of time by Mozart in the orchestral overture to Don Giovanni,

before the curtain rises.

Thanks to Mozart’s music, our righteous satisfaction at Don Giovanni’s end

is mixed with a good deal of sympathy for his verve and high spirits, his bravery,

and his determination to live by his own rules, not those of society, even if

this dooms him. The other characters in the opera, too, awaken ambivalent

feelings. They amuse us and move us at the same time.

Act I, scene iii A chorus of peasants is celebrating the marriage of Masetto and Zerlina. Don Giovanni enters with his manservant Leporello and immediately

spots Zerlina. He promises Masetto various favors, and then tells him to

leave — and tells Leporello to take him away by force if need be.

Aria, “Ho capito” This opera buffa aria, sung by Masetto, shows how vividly (and rapidly!) Mozart could define character in music. Singing almost entirely

in very short phrases, Masetto almost insolently tells Don Giovanni that he will

From the scary final scene of Don Giovanni: “Repent, tell me you will live a new life: this is your last chance!” “No, never, let me alone!” “Repent, villain!” “Never, old fool!” Private Collection/© Leemage/The Bridgeman Art Library.

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leave only because he has to; great lords can always bully peasants. Then he

rails at Zerlina in furious, fast asides. She has always been his ruin! He sings a

very sarcastic little tune, mocking Don Giovanni’s promise that he is going to

make her into a fine lady:

Toward the end of the aria he forgets Don Giovanni and

the opening music he used to address him, and thinks only of

Zerlina, repeating his furious words to her and their sarcastic

tune. He gets more and more worked up as he sings repeated

cadences, so characteristic of the Classical style. A variation of

the tune, played by the orchestra, ends this tiny aria in an

angry rush.

The total effect is of a simple man (judging from the

music he sings) who nonetheless feels deeply and is ready to

express his anger. There is also a clear undercurrent of class

conflict: Masetto the peasant versus Don Giovanni the aristo-

crat. Mozart was no political radical, but he himself had re-

belled against court authority; and the previous opera he had

written, The Marriage of Figaro, was based on a notorious

French play that had been banned because of its anti-aristo-

cratic sentiments. Two years after Don Giovanni was com-

posed, the French Revolution broke out in Paris.

Recitative Next comes an amusing secco recitative, sung with just continuo accompaniment, as in Baroque opera (see page

137). The dialogue moves forward quickly, as the words are

sung in speechlike, conversational rhythms. Giovanni invites

Zerlina up to his villa, promising to marry her and make her

into a fine lady, just as Masetto had ironically predicted.

Duet, “Là ci darem la mano” Operas depend on memorable tunes, as well as on musical drama. The best opera composers write melodies

that are not only beautiful in themselves but also further the drama at the same

time. Such a one is the most famous tune in Don Giovanni, in the following

duet (an ensemble for two singers) between Don Giovanni and Zerlina.

Section 1 (Andante) The words of this section fall into three stanzas, which the

music accommodates in an A A′ B A″ coda form. Don Giovanni sings the first stanza to a simple, unforgettable tune (A) that combines seductiveness with a

delicate sense of banter:

− 00 Łl Łl Łl Łl Łl Łl Ł Ł Ł Ł Łl Łl Ł Ł Ł Ł Ł Ł Ł Ł Ł Ł Ł Ł Ł Ł Ł Ł Ł Ł ð Ł ý Ł Ł ý Ł Ł

ý Ł ð M A S E T T O

Fac cia il nostroca va lie re Ca va lie ra ancora te, ca va lieraancora te! No doubt this fine lord will make you his fine lady, too!

- - - - - - - - -


Don Giovanni and Zerlina, in an early engraving; see page 194 for a modern production. Bettmann/Corbis.

²²² .0 Ł Ł Ł Ł Ł Ł Ł ý Ł Ł Ł Ł Ł Ł ¼ Ł Ł


Là cidarem la mano, Là midi-rai di si; Ve - di,non è lon - ta - no; Par-tiam,ben mio, da qui.


There you’ll give me your hand, there you’ll tell me yes; You see, it isn’t far—Let’s go there, my dear!

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Mozart, Don Giovanni, from Act I, scene iii

Italics indicate phrases of the text that are repeated.

ARiA: “Ho capito”




Masetto: (to Don Giovanni)

(aside, to Zerlina)

(to Leporello)

(to Zerlina)

Ho capito, signor, si! Chino il capo, e me ne vò Ghiacche piace a voi così Altre repliche non fò. . . . Cavalier voi siete già, Dubitar non posso affè, Me lo dice la bontà, Che volete aver per me.

(Briconaccia! malandrina! Fosti ognor la mia ruina!)

Vengo, vengo!

(Resta, resta! È una cosa molto onesta; Faccia il nostro cavaliere cavaliera ancora te.)

I understand you, yes, sir! I touch my cap and off I go; Since that’s what you want I have nothing else to say. After all, you’re a lord, And I couldn’t suspect you, oh no! You’ve told me of the favors You mean to do for me!

(You wretch! you witch! You have always been my ruin!)

Yes, I’m coming —

(Stay, why don’t you? A very innocent affair! No doubt this fine lord Will make you his fine lady, too!)

(last seven lines repeated)

RECiTATiVE (with continuo only)

1:37 Giovanni:









Alfin siam liberati, Zerlinetta gentil, da quel scioccone. Che ne dite, mio ben, so far pulito?

Signore, è mio marito!

Chi? colui? vi par che un onest’ uomo Un nobil Cavalier, qual io mi vanto, Possa soffrir che qual visetto d’oro, Quel viso inzuccherato, Da un bifolcaccio vil sia strapazzato?

Ma signore, io gli diedi Parola di sposarlo.

Tal parola Non vale un zero! voi non siete fata Per esser paesana. Un’altra sorte Vi procuran quegli occhi bricconcelli, Quei labretti sì belli, Quelle dituccie candide e odorose, Parmi toccar giuncata, e fiutar rose.

Ah, non vorrei —

Che non voreste?

Alfine Ingannata restar! Io so che raro Colle donne voi altri cavalieri Siete onesti e sinceri.

È un’ impostura Della gente plebea! La nobiltà Ha dipinta negli occhi l’onestà. Orsù non perdiam tempo; in quest’istante Io vi voglio sposar.

At last, we’re free, My darling Zerlinetta, of that clown. Tell me, my dear, don’t I manage things well?

Sir, he’s my fiancé!

Who? him? you think an honorable man, A noble knight, which I consider myself, Could suffer your pretty, glowing face, Your sweet face, To be stolen away by a country bumpkin?

But sir, I gave him My word that we would be married.

That word Is worth nothing! You were not made To be a peasant girl. A different fate Is called for by those roguish eyes, Those beautiful little lips, These slender white, perfumed fingers, So soft to the touch, scented with roses.

Ah, I don’t want to —

What don’t you want?

To end up Deceived! I know it’s not often That with women you great gentlemen Are honest and sincere.

A slander Of the lower classes! The nobility Is honest to the tips of its toes. Let’s lose no time; this very instant I wish to marry you.

L i s T E n



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194 U n i T i i i | The Eighteenth Century




Certo io. Quel casinetto è mio, soli saremo; E là, gioella mio, ci sposeremo.


Certainly, me; There’s my little place; we’ll be alone — And there, my precious, we’ll be married.

DUET: “Là ci darem la mano”

SECTION 1 Andante, 2/4 meter



Giovanni: A

Zerlina: A′

Giovanni: B




Là ci darem la mano Là mi dirai di si! Vedi, non è lontano; Partiam, ben mio, da qui!

Vorrei, e non vorrei; Mi trema un poco il cor. Felice, è ver, sarei, Ma può burlarmi ancor.

Vieni, mio bel diletto!

Mi fa pietà Masetto . . .

Io cangierò tua sorte!

Presto non son più forte . . .

There [in the villa] you’ll give me your hand, There you’ll tell me yes! You see, it isn’t far — Let’s go there, my dear!

I want to, yet I don’t want to; My heart is trembling a little; It’s true, I would be happy, But he could be joking with me.

Come, my darling!

I’m sorry for Masetto . . .

I shall change your lot!

All of a sudden I’m weakening . . .

(repetition of phrases [both verbal and musical] from stanzas 1–3)



Giovanni: A″






Giovanni: coda




Giovanni; then Zerlina:

Vieni, vieni! Là ci darem la mano

Vorrei, e non vorrei . . .

Là mi dirai di si!

Mi trema un poco il cor.

Partiam, ben mio, da qui!

Ma può burlarmi ancor.

Vieni, mio bel diletto!

Mi fa pietà Masetto . . .

Io cangierò tua sorte!

Presto non son più forte . . .


SECTION 2 Allegro, 6/8 meter

5:33 Both: Andiam, andiam, mio bene, A ristorar le pene D’un innocente amor.

Let us go, my dear, And relieve the pangs Of an innocent love.

(words and music repeated)






Don Giovanni leads Zerlina on. Jack Vartoogian/Getty Archive Photos.

When Zerlina sings the same tune to the second stanza (A′), we know she is playing along, even though she hesitates (notice her tiny rhythmic changes and

her reluctance to finish the tune as quickly as Giovanni — she stretches it out

for two more measures).

In stanza 3 (B), Don Giovanni presses more and more ardently, while

Zerlina keeps drawing back. Her reiterated “non son più forte” (“I’m

weakening”) makes her sound very sorry for herself, but also coy. But when the

main tune comes back (A″), repeating words from earlier, Giovanni and Zerlina

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195C H A P T E R 1 4 | Other Classical Genres

share it phrase by phrase. Their words are closer together than before, and the

stage director will place them physically closer together, too.

Section 2 (Allegro) Zerlina falls into Don Giovanni’s arms, echoing his “ andiam”

(“let us go”). The “innocent love” they now mean to celebrate is depicted by a

little rustic melody (Zerlina is a peasant girl, remember) in a faster tempo. But

a not-so- innocent sensuous note is added by the orchestra after the singers’ first

phrase in this section.

How neatly and charmingly an operatic ensemble can project dramatic

action; this whole duet leads us step by step through Don Giovanni’s seduction

line, and shows us Zerlina wavering before it. By portraying people through

characteristic action or behavior — Don Giovanni winning another woman,

Zerlina playing her own coy game — Mozart exposes their personalities as

convincingly as any novelist or playwright.

g o a l s f o r r e v i e w

c to recognize some Classical genres other than the symphony

c to listen to double-exposition form, the variant of sonata form heard in Classical concertos

c to gain a familiarity with Mozart’s opera buffa (comic opera), and to contrast it with late Baroque opera seria, especially in the new importance of the ensemble Interactive Listening Chart 11 Listening Quizzes for Chapter 14 and Global Perspectives: Musical Form Reading Quizzes for Chapter 14 and Global Perspectives: Musical Form

“17 may 1788. To the Opera. Don Giovanni. Mozart’s music is agreeable and very varied.”

Diary of a Viennese opera buff, Count Zinzendorf

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Global Perspectives

Japan The symphony orchestra as we know it emerged in the seventeenth century as a re- flection of the power and splendor of European courts (see page 99). In Japan, a court orchestra had been established a thousand years earlier. This was the period in Japanese history, from the sixth century c.e. to the eighth, when the first cen- tralized control of the islands emerged. The new Japa- nese central government, many of its institutions, and even its newly constructed capital city of Nara were modeled on the greatest empire in Asia, China. In the process, many elements of Chinese culture were im- ported to Japan — most importantly Buddhism, which had in turn come to China from India centuries before.

The new Japanese court also imported various musical styles from continental Asia. These were al- tered and developed into an independent Japanese tradition, which came to play an important role in the court’s ceremony and ritual. Altogether, these styles are known as gagaku (gáh-gáh-koo), from Chinese charac- ters meaning “elegant music,” though their sources are more than just Chinese.

The gagaku repertory is divided into two parts. One, known as togaku (tóh-gáh-koo), consists of music

Musical Form: Two Case Studies from Asia As we have seen, musical forms in the Classical style become quite elaborate. It is certainly no accident that these intricate designs emerged across the eigh- teenth century, just when independent instrumental music was gaining unprecedented prestige in the European tradition. Instrumental music often seems to require such complexities. It is as if the removal of other determinants of form — a poem set to music, a specific religious ritual, or a pattern of dance steps — calls for a different, more abstract musical organization.

Taking the broadest view of these complex forms, however, we can see that they work changes through a simple process. Composers state a tune and then re- peat it throughout a movement, joining with it con- trasting elements either complex (sonata form, first-movement concerto form) or simple (minuet and trio, most rondos and slow movements). Such a basic concept of repetition and change may be realized in many ways, according to the imagination and inclina- tion of the composer, and result in an unlimited array of individual styles.

Other traditions of instrumental music around the world also start from this concept and elaborate it, building intricate forms. In this segment we offer a historical snapshot of two Asian instrumental tradi- tions, from Japan and Indonesia, and we examine music from each.


The togaku orchestra: from left: hichiriki, biwa, sho, and kakko. © Jack Vartoogian/FrontRowPhotos.

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derived from Chinese styles (with ingredients from India and Southeast Asia as well). The other, komagaku (ko-máh-gáh-koo), is made up of works of Korean and Manchurian origin. Further distinctions are made when gagaku accompanies dance, which is often the case, just as with European Baroque orchestral music.

The Japanese Togaku Orchestra The togaku orchestra is so distinctive, and so different from any European orchestra, that we should spend a moment getting to know the various instruments. While European or- chestras are dominated by strings, all gagaku orches- tras feature wind instruments. The instruments all have specific functions:

• The sliding, wailing double-reed hichiriki (hée-chee- ree-kée) carries the main melody. Several are heard on our recording, playing together.

• The side-blown flute called ryuteki (ree-óo-tay-kée) is the first instrument heard. It plays the melody along with the hichirikis, though in a slightly different ver- sion. This is called a heterophonic texture; heterophony is an important feature in many non-Western musics.

• The sho, a mouth reed-organ with seventeen pipes, plays chordal clusters of tones derived from the main melody. This unusual instrument contributes a haunt- ing background of harmonic haze to the texture.

• The kakko, a two-headed barrel drum played with sticks, is used for single strokes or short rolls. It is the first drum heard.

• A deep, larger barrel drum, tsuridaiko (tzóo-ree-díe- koh; its first beat is heard at 0:13), marks off long phrases of the melody with two successive strokes, the first soft and the second louder.

Sho. © Jack Vartoogian/FrontRowPhotos.

The togaku orchestra: tsuridaiko suspended on the large stand, back right, and, in the foreground, ryuteki, gakuso, and a small suspended gong not heard on our recording, called shoko. © Jack Vartoogian/FrontRowPhotos.

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• A biwa, or four-stringed lute (bée-wah, first plucked at 1:11), strums across several strings quickly, punc- tuating the melody.

• A gakuso, a zither with thirteen strings (gáh-kóo-so, first heard at 1:31), plays short motives, mainly of three notes related, again, to the melody. Both the biwa and the gakuso take a more active role as this performance proceeds, finally even playing some of the main melody.

Etenraku Etenraku is the most famous piece for the togaku orchestra. Its name means “music of divinity,” and it emanates a deep, powerful calm associated with Buddhist contemplation. This is probably the oldest music on our recordings; in some form it reaches back almost to the origins of gagaku itself.

The musical form of this piece exhibits three char- acteristics of gagaku music. First, the piece as a whole is constructed from a single melody, according to a predetermined plan and without improvisation. In Etenraku the melody consists of three phrases, labeled a, b, and c in the musical example and Listen box on this page. Each phrase is 32 beats long. (The beats move by slowly at first, so slowly that the phrases can be hard to discern until you get used to the melody.)

Second, the instruments of the orchestra are intro- duced gradually and in a predetermined order as they fulfill their various functions. The melody is played through by some of the instruments and punctuated by others, as described above.

Third, the beat quickens, the meter is more clearly marked, and the general musical activity increases as the performance proceeds. At first, while the flute alone carries the melody, the beats are very slow and flexible — the music seems almost to have no meter at all. (Each pair of beats on the tsuridaiko, however, coming 16 very slow beats after the last, provides a certain sense of regularity and meter.) When the double-reed hichirikis enter, they play the melody along with the flute to a more prominent beat. Then, at the c phrases of the melody, the tsuridaiko doubles its pace, beating twice every 8 beats instead of every 16.

Meanwhile the tempo gradually quickens: At the outset the beats come every 2–3 seconds (very slow!), while at the close they move by at about one per second.





00 ð




















¹ ð


ð ý














ð Ł






Ł ý








Ł ý









Ł ý
















ð ý








Phrase a

Phrase b

Phrase c
























Ryuteki, kakko, tsuridaiko only

Sho and hichirikis enter.

Biwa enters.

Gakuso enters, completing the orchestra.

Paired beats of tsuridaiko every 8 beats

Gakuso and biwa gradually play more and more fragments of the main melody, joining in the heterophony of hichirikis and ryuteki.

After the phrase is completed (at 7:55), biwa and gakuso end the piece with a brief coda.

L i s T E n

Even at this relatively quick tempo, the music never loses its sense of restraint. Virtuosic playing is strictly avoided. Etenraku’s aura of quiet, inward- looking Buddhist contemplation characterizes the gagaku repertory as a whole.

Indonesia The Southeast Asian Repub- lic of Indonesia consists of some six thousand islands in all, half of them  inhab- ited. The central island is Java. Across Indonesia, en- sembles playing traditional musics thrive — alongside, these days, many kinds of pop, rock, and world beat ensembles, especially in large urban centers such as Jakarta. A traditional musical ensemble in Indonesia is called a gamelan.

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they were taken over more and more by village gamelan clubs, and these are the main venue in which Balinese gamelan music continues today.

Gamelan Pelegongan Gamelan pelegongan, heard on our recording, is a type of Balinese orchestra used pri- marily to accompany elaborate dance-dramas. It takes its name from this dance, called legong. The primary instruments in gamelan pelegongan are:

• Two hand-beaten drums. (The drummers direct the ensemble.)

• Several gongs of varying sizes. • A large group of metallophones, some low-pitched, some high. Most of these have five metal keys each, with a range of a single octave, while some have thir- teen keys and a wider range. The sounds, construction, and names of these metallophones vary, but all of them can be called by the umbrella term gangsa, “bronze.”

• One or two bamboo flutes. What Western ears might hear as “out of tune-ness” in their playing is a quality cultivated and prized by Balinese musicians.

Form in Gamelan Music A traditional piece for gamelan is usually organized around the repetition of a long, symmetrical melody. This melody is made up of smaller, equal phrases, generally 8 or 16 beats long, so that the whole melody will last a multiple of these numbers, especially 64 or 128 beats. A central group of instruments in the gamelan presents this melody. At the same time it may be played by other instruments in a simpler version, mainly in even note values, creating a heterophonic presentation.

The Indonesian Orchestra: Gamelan Gamelans assume a wide, even bewildering variety of shapes and sizes, as we might expect of musical traditions that extend back many centuries and that have served an array of religious, political, and social functions. Gamelans may involve three or four musicians, or they may in- volve dozens. They sometimes include singers. They frequently accompany drama or dance: sacred temple dances, danced dramas, or the famous Indonesian shadow-puppet plays enacting stories from Hindu epics. The music gamelans play may have been passed down over hundreds of years, or it may be recently composed.

At the heart of gamelan music stands a great vari- ety of gongs and metallophones (instruments like a xylophone, with metal keys). Indeed the word gong it- self comes to us from Java, where it names (and also evokes the sound of ) the largest gamelan instrument.

Balinese Gamelans Nowhere in Indonesia are game- lans more prevalent than on Bali, a good-sized island to the east of Java. In 1980 it was estimated that there was a gamelan for every 350 inhabitants of the island — a staggering number, in a population of around 2 million!

Gamelans seem to have come to Bali in the six- teenth century, brought from Java by aristocratic refu- gees when their Hindu kingdom fell to Islamic invaders from the Asian mainland. Balinese gamelans, at least the elaborate ones with many instruments, were asso- ciated especially with temples and princely courts. When Bali came under colonial control of the Nether- lands in 1906, the courts declined, but their traditions of gamelan music did not simply disappear. Instead

An ornate gamelan pelegongan from the Balinese village of Kapal, photographed in the 1930s. Large and small gangsas are arrayed on both sides of the large suspended gong; other players sit behind this front row. Courtesy of the Colin McPhee Collection, UCLA Ethnomusicology Archive.

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At the end of each statement of the melody, the largest, deepest gong in the orchestra sounds. The unit between one gong stroke and the next, known as a gongan, is considered the basic structural unit for the piece. The gongan is divided into smaller units by other instruments in the gamelan: first into two units by a higher-sounding gong, then into four by other gongs, then into eight, and so forth. A 64-beat melody, for example, breaks down audibly into units of 32 beats, 16 beats, 8 beats, 4 beats, and so on.

This process of division continues right through the rhythmic level of the main melody, so that certain instruments elaborate upon its pitches twice as fast, four times as fast, perhaps even eight times as fast.

The whole texture, then, is an elaborately stratified polyphony, with rhythmic layers ranging from the gon- gan itself all the way down to subdivisions of individ- ual beats. Each instrument or each instrumental group plays a single role, occupying one of these rhythmic strata. In the midst of it all is the melody of the piece

A legong dancer and part of the gamelan pelegongan: A drum, a small floor gong, and a thirteen-key gangsa are prominent. © Jack Vartoogian/FrontRowPhotos.

A gamelan at a Balinese funeral. The large array of gongs in the foreground is not found in gamelan pelegongan. Roman Soumar/Corbis.

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at hand, presented in one version or simultaneously in distinct versions.

Bopong The piece on our recording, Bopong, is not a full dance piece but instead a sort of brief overture, played before the dancing begins. It was composed by I Lotring, a famous Balinese master musician born about 1900 and involved in many stylistic innovations of the 1920s and 1930s.

The main melody is played through three times; this is the heart of the piece. Before it we hear intro- ductory material, partly based on the main melody. After it comes a lengthy, separate section with an osti- nato (see page 119), and then a new concluding melody played by the whole gamelan.

The beats of the melody move slightly faster than one beat per second. The melody is 64 beats long and composed of four phrases of 16 beats each. The large gong sounds at the end of the 64-beat cycle.

The core melody, the most prominent melody you hear, is played by some of the gangsas and by two flutes, one high-pitched and one lower and less easy to hear. At the same time other gangsas play a simpler, unadorned version of this melody in slow notes. They are omitted from the beginning of the melody; listen for them starting at 0:42.

Around this melody is woven faster figuration, di- viding each beat you count into four, played by brittle- sounding gangsas. They fall silent at the start of each statement of the melody. Then they enter, softly at first, finally asserting themselves with a clamorous outburst (the first instance occurs at 0:58). Such outbursts are a famous hallmark of the newer, postcourt styles of Balinese gamelan music.

The third statement of the melody speeds up toward the end but does not quite finish. An entirely new melodic phrase breaks in to start a different section of the piece. Beginning at 2:41, some of the gangsas play a single, eight-beat ostinato, repeated many times; other gangsas and the flutes play along with a slightly elabo- rated version. Meanwhile the brittle-sounding gangsas contribute spectacular figuration, moving eight times as fast as the main beat. The large gong, sounding at the end of every ostinato — hence every 8 beats now, instead of every 64 — adds to the feeling of rhythmic climax.

Finally, all this energy is channeled into a single closing melody with striking syncopations (see page 7), played in unison by most of the gamelan.

ð ð ð ð Ð ð ð

ð ð ð ð ð ð ð ð

ð ð ð ð ð ð ð ð

−−−−− 00 ð Ł ý Ł Ł Ł Ł Ł Ł Ł Ł Ł Ł Ł Ł Ł Ł Ł Ł Ł Ł ý Ł Ł Ł Ł Ł Ł

−−−−− ðý Ł Ł Ł ð Ł Ł Ł Łý Ł Ł Ł Ł Ł Ł Ł Łý Ł Ł Ł Ł Ł Ł


−−−−− ðý Ł Ł Ł ð Ł Ł Ł Łý Ł Ł Łý Ł Ł Ł Ł Ł Ł Ł Ł

−−−−− ð ð Ł ý Ł Ł Ł Ł Ł Ł ð Ł Ł Ł Ł Ł Ł ý Ł Ł Ł

Ł Ł ð

−−−−− Ł Ł Ł Ł Ł Ł Ł Ł

Phrase a

Phrase b

Phrase c Loud outburst of GANGSAS

Phrase d


I Lotring, Bopong










Introduction: a few gangsas alone

Gong; introduction continues with fast gangsa figuration.

Gong; first statement of melody begins.

Gong; second statement of melody

Gong; third statement of melody

Melody truncated

Ostinato begins (fourteen times through); gong every eight beats.

Syncopated, unison closing melody

Final gong stroke

L i s T E n

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Starting with the towering figure of Beethoven in the first quarter

of the nineteenth century, famous names crowd the history of

music: Schubert, Schumann, Chopin, Wagner, Verdi, Brahms,

Tchaikovsky, Mahler, and others. These composers created a reper-

tory of music that stands at the heart, still today, of symphony

concerts, piano recitals, and seasons at the opera house. You

might be surprised to realize how many nineteenth-century tunes you recognize

in a general sort of way. They tend to turn up as background music to movies and

television; some of them are metamorphosed into pop tunes and advertising

jingles; and many of them are available as ringtones. 

Nineteenth-century music was a great success story. Only at this juncture in

European history was music taken entirely seriously as an art on the highest level.

Music, more than any other art, was thought to mirror inner emotional life; we

tend still today to adopt this view. Composers were accorded a new, exalted role

in the expression of individual feeling. They responded magnificently to this role,

producing music that is more direct and unrestrained in emotional quality, and

with much more pronounced personal attributes, than the music of any earlier

time. The full-blooded, even exaggerated, emotion of this music seems never to

lose its powerful attraction.

Like eighteenth-century music, music of the nineteenth century is not stylistically

homogeneous, yet it can still be regarded as a larger historical unit. We shall take up

the Romantic style, usually dated from the 1820s, after discussing the music of

Beethoven. In technique Beethoven was clearly a child of the eighteenth century; but

in his emotionalism, his artistic ambition, and his insistence on individuality, he was

the true father of the nineteenth century. Understanding Beethoven is the key to

understanding Romantic music.



The Nineteenth Century

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Chronology 1808 Beethoven, Symphony No. 5 in C Minor p. 209

1815 Schubert, “Erlkönig” p. 234

1820 Beethoven, Piano Sonata in E p. 216

c. 1827 Schubert, Moment Musical No. 2 in A-flat p. 243

1830 Berlioz, Fantastic Symphony p. 249

1831 Chopin, Nocturne in F-sharp p. 245

1833–1835 R. Schumann, Carnaval p. 244

1840 R. Schumann, Dichterliebe p. 238

1843 C. Schumann, “Der Mond kommt still gegangen” p. 241

1851 Verdi, Rigoletto p. 259

1851–1856 Wagner, The Valkyrie p. 269

1869–1880 Tchaikovsky, Overture-Fantasy, Romeo and Juliet p. 279

1874 Musorgsky, Pictures at an Exhibition p. 284

1878 Brahms, Violin Concerto in D p. 289

1888 Mahler, Symphony No. 1 p. 293

1904 Puccini, Madame Butterfly p. 275


In the nineteenth century, many came to feel that music could carry them toward mysterious and awesome expressive realms—sublime realms, in the favorite word of the day. The sublime was discovered also in the natural world. In this painting by the German Caspar David Friedrich, it is rendered as a sea of fog, viewed by a lone hiker perched on a mountain crag. DEA Picture Library/De Agostini/Getty Images.

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U n i t i v | The Nineteenth Century204




If any single composer deserves a special chapter in the history of music, that composer is Ludwig van Beethoven (1770–1827). Probably no other figure in the arts meets with such a strong universal response. People may pity van Gogh, respect Michelangelo and Shakespeare, and admire Leonardo da Vinci, but Beethoven instantly summons up a

powerful, positive image: that of the tough, ugly, angry genius staring down adversity and delivering one deeply expressive masterpiece after another. Beethoven’s music has enjoyed broad-based, uninterrupted popularity from his own day to the present. Today its place is equally secure with casual listeners and with the most learned musicians.

There is a sense, furthermore, in which music may be said to have come of age with Beethoven. For despite the great music that came before him — by Bach, Mozart, and many other composers we know — the art of music was never taken so seriously until Beethoven’s symphonies and sonatas struck listeners of his time as a revelation. They were almost equally impressed by the facts of his life, in particular his deafness, the affliction that caused him to retire from a career as a performing musician and become solely a composer.

A new concept of artistic genius was evolving at the time, and Beethoven crystallized this concept powerfully for his own age. No longer a mere craftsman, the artist suffers and creates; endowed not just with greater talent but with a greater soul than ordinary mortals, the artist creates for humanity. Music is no longer merely a product of bodily parts like the ear or the fingers. It flows from the highest reaches of the artist’s spirit.

1 | Between Classicism and Romanticism Beethoven is special in another sense, in the unique position he occupies between the eighteenth-century Viennese Classical style and nineteenth- century Romanticism. Beethoven’s roots were firmly Classical. He was a student of Haydn when the latter was at the height of his fame. Beethoven remained committed to the principles of the Classical style until the end of his life.

Committed to the principles of Classicism — but not to every one of its features, and certainly not to the mood behind it. There is almost always a sense of urgency and striving in Beethoven’s music that makes it instantly distinguishable from Haydn’s or Mozart’s. It can be very violent; it can be solemn, severe, or exceptionally gentle. These qualities emerged in response to Romantic stirrings that are the subject of our next chapter.

“There is much to be done on earth, do it soon!

I cannot carry on the everyday life I am living; art demands this sacrifice too. Rest, diversion, amusement — only so that I can function more powerfully in my art.”

From Beethoven’s journal, 1814

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C H A P t E R 1 5 | Beethoven 205

the French Revolution Romanticism, as we shall see, was originally a literary movement. Though well under way by the beginning of the nineteenth century, it was not yet influential in Vienna; and, in any case, Beethoven did not have a very literary sensibility. At the root of Romanticism, however, lay one great political upheaval that made an enormous impact on the composer’s generation. This was the French Revolution. Beethoven was one of many artists who felt compelled to proclaim their sympathy with the ideal of freedom symbolized by that cataclysmic event.

When the Parisian crowd stormed the Bastille in 1789, Beethoven was a highly impressionable eighteen-year-old, already grounded in liberal and humanistic ideals. In 1803 his admiration for Napoleon Bonaparte as hero of the revolution led him to an extravagant and unprecedented gesture — writing a descriptive symphony called Bonaparte. Retitled the Eroica (Heroic) Symphony, it was the decisive breakthrough work of Beethoven’s maturity, the first work to show his full individual freedom as an artist.

Before Beethoven could send the symphony off to Paris, liberal Europe received an ominous jolt: Napoleon crowned himself emperor of France. Beethoven scratched out the dedication on his score in a fury, and his feelings for Napoleon and France were never the same again. But idealism dies hard. To many at the time, the French Revolution still stood for an ideal of perfectibility — not so much of human society (as Beethoven himself acknowledged by deleting Napoleon’s name) as of human aspiration. That ideal, too, is what Beethoven realized by his own triumph over his deafness. The point was not lost on those of his contemporaries who were swept away by his music.

And that is what listeners have responded to ever since. Listening to the Eroica Symphony, we sense that it has less to do with Napoleon than with the composer’s own self-image. The quality of heroic striving and inner triumph is what emerges so magnificently in Beethoven’s most famous compositions.

Storming the Bastille, an eighteenth-century engraving of the most famous event of the French Revolution. Leemage/Corbis.

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2 | Beethoven and the Symphony As we have said, what sets Beethoven instantly apart from Haydn or Mozart is his mood of excitement and urgency. This he achieved by maxi- mizing virtually all musical elements. Higher and lower registers, sharper syncopations, stronger accents, harsher dissonances yielding to more pro- found resolutions — all of these are found in Beethoven’s music. He made new demands on instruments, expanded the orchestra, and stretched Classical forms to their limits.

Given all this, it is not surprising that this composer should be especially associated with the symphony, the most public of Classical genres, with the greatest range of expression, variety, and sheer volume. In fact, Beethoven wrote fewer symphonies (nine) than piano sonatas (thirty-two) or string quartets (sixteen) — and no musician would rank these works any lower than the symphonies. But at the height of his career, from around 1800 to 1810, even many of his piano sonatas and string quartets sound like symphonies. The torrents of sound Beethoven summoned up in these works demanded whole new techniques of piano and string playing.

The revolution betrayed, as painted by Jacques-Louis David: After crowning himself emperor, Napoleon crowns his wife, Josephine, empress of France in 1804. Today this huge (20 by 30 feet) and pompous painting repels some viewers almost as much as the actual event it depicts enraged Beethoven. Bridgeman-Giraudon/Art Resource, NY.

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C H A P t E R 1 5 | Beethoven 207

Probably the first musician to make a career solely from composing, Beethoven was regarded as a genius even in his lifetime. Like Mozart, he followed his father as a court musician; the Beethovens served the archbishop-elector of Bonn in western Germany. But Ludwig’s father — unlike Wolfgang’s — was a failure and an alcoholic who beat the boy to make him practice. A trip to Vienna to make contacts (he hoped to study with Mozart) was cut short by the death of his mother. Still in his teens, Beethoven had to take charge of his family because of his father’s drinking.

Nonetheless, Bonn was an “enlightened” court, ruled by the brother of Emperor Joseph II of Austria. The talented young musician could mix with aristocrats and audit classes at the liberal University. The idealism that is so evident in Beethoven’s later works — such as his Ninth Symphony, ending with a choral hymn to universal brotherhood — can be traced to this early environment.

Compared to Mozart, Beethoven was a slow developer, but by the age of twenty-two he had made enough of an impression to receive a sort of fellowship to return to Vienna, this time to study with Haydn. He was soon acclaimed as a powerful virtuoso pianist, playing his own compositions and improvising brilliantly at the palaces of the music-loving aristocracy of that city. He remained in Vienna until his death.

After the age of thirty, he became progressively deaf —a devastating fate for a musician, which kept him from making a living in the traditional manner, by performing. The crisis that this caused in Beethoven’s life is reflected by a strange, moving document (called the “Heiligenstadt Testament,” after the town where it was written, in 1802) that is half a proclamation of artistic ideals, half suicide note. But Beethoven overcame his depression and in 1803 wrote the first of his truly powerful and individual symphonies, the Third (Eroica).

Beethoven all but demanded support from the nobility in Vienna, who were awed by his extraordinarily forceful and original music as well as by his uncompromising character. An alarmingly brusque and strong-willed person, he suffered deeply and seemed to live for his art alone. His domestic life was chaotic; one anecdote has him pouring water over himself to cool off in summer and being asked by his landlord to leave. (He moved an average of once a year.) By the end of his life he was well known in Vienna as an eccentric, teased by street boys.

Like many leftists — for the French Revolution invented the Left as we know it — Beethoven grew more conservative in later years. After life in Vienna was disrupted by French occupations, he went into a slump and kept himself going by writing music for counterrevolutionary celebrations. Ironically, he was never so famous or so well-off. He came out of the slump to write some of his greatest music, but it was mostly beyond the comprehension of his contemporaries.

Beethoven had an immense need to receive and to give affection, yet he never married, despite various love affairs. After he died, passionate letters to a woman identified only as his “Immortal Beloved” were found; we now know she was the wife of a Frankfurt merchant. In his later years Beethoven adopted his own orphan nephew, but this was a catastrophe. His attitude was so overprotective and his love so smothering that the boy could not stand it and attempted suicide.

Beethoven had always lived with ill health, and the shock of this new family crisis hastened his death. Twenty thousand attended his funeral; his eulogy was written by Vienna’s leading poet.

Taste in many matters has changed many times since Beethoven’s lifetime, but his music has always reigned supreme with audiences and critics. The originality and expressive power of his work seem never to fade.

Chief Works: Nine symphonies, the most famous being the Third (Eroica), Fifth, Sixth (Pastoral), Seventh, and Ninth (Choral) j The opera Fidelio (originally called Leonore), for which he wrote four different overtures; overtures to the plays Egmont, by Goethe, and Coriolan j Violin Concerto and five piano concertos, including the “Emperor” (No. 5) j Sixteen string quartets j Thirty-two piano sonatas, including the Pathétique, Waldstein, Appassionata, and the late-period Hammerklavier Sonata j Mass in D (Missa solemnis)

Encore: After Symphony No. 5 and the Piano Sonata in E, Op. 109, listen to the “Moonlight” Sonata; Sonata in A-flat, Op. 110; Symphonies No. 6 and 9.

Image credit: AKG-Images/The Image Works.


Ludwig van Beethoven (1770 –1827)

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We can approach Beethoven’s “symphonic ideal” through his Fifth Symphony, written in 1808. Three main features of this work have impressed generations of listeners: its rhythmic drive, its motivic consistency or unity, and the sense it gives of a definite psychological progression. The first feature can be grasped at once, the second by the end of the opening movement, and the third only after we have experienced all four of the symphony’s movements.

• Rhythmic drive. Immediately apparent is the drive and blunt power of the rhythmic style. Beethoven hammers the meter, piles accent upon accent, and calculates long time spans with special power: a far cry from the elegance and wit of the Classical style.

• Motivic consistency. During the first movement of the Fifth Symphony, a single motive is heard constantly, in many different forms. They are not random forms; the motive becomes more and more vivid and significant as the work proceeds. People have marveled at the “organic” quality of such music, which seems to them to grow like a plant’s leaves out of a simple seed.

• Psychological progression. Over the course of the Fifth Symphony’s four movements, Beethoven seems to trace a coherent and dramatic psychological progression in several stages. “There Fate knocks at the door!” he is supposed to have said about the first movement — but after two eventful middle stages, Fate is nullified in the last movement, trampled under by a military march.

In Beethoven’s hands, the multimovement symphony seems to trace an inspirational life process, one so basic and universal that it leaves few listeners unmoved. This was, perhaps, the greatest of all his forward-looking innovations.

the Scherzo Another of Beethoven’s technical innovations should also be mentioned. On the whole, Beethoven continued to use Classical forms for his symphonies and other multimovement works. As early as his Second Symphony, however, he replaced


The Theater an der Wien, a famous opera theater and concert house that opened in Vienna in 1801. Many of Beethoven’s best-loved works were first performed here, including, in 1808, his Fifth Symphony. Erich Lessing/Art Resource, NY.

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C H A P t E R 1 5 | Beethoven 209

Ludwig van Beethoven, Symphony no. 5 in C Minor, Op. 67 (1808) Beethoven composed his Fifth Symphony together with his Sixth (Pastoral) for

one of the rare concerts in which he was able to showcase his own works. This

concert, in December 1808, was a huge success, even though it ran on for five

hours and the heating in the hall failed.

First Movement (Allegro con brio) Motivic consistency, as we have said, is a special feature of Beethoven’s work. The first movement of the Fifth Symphony

is famously saturated by a single rhythmic motive, . This motive forms

the first theme in the exposition and it initiates the bridge. It is even heard as

a subdued background to the lyrical, contrasting second theme; and it emerges

again at full force in the cadence material:

3 | 1–15 45–48 17–20

the traditional minuet with another kind of movement, which he called the scherzo (scáir-tzo). This is a fast, rushing movement in triple meter — inherited from the minuet — and in the basic minuet-and-trio form, A B A. Beethoven’s scherzos sometimes go so fast that they need more repetitions to make their point; A B A can be extended to A B A B A.

The word scherzo means “joke” in Italian. Beethoven’s brand of humor is very different from, say, Haydn’s: It is broad, brusque, jocular, even violent. Originally associated with the court of Louis XIV, the minuet still stood for eighteenth- century formality and elegance; one can see why Beethoven rejected it. The scherzo became an ideal vehicle for Beethoven’s characteristic rhythmic drive. See page 214.

The motive then expands further in the development section and continues

growing in the long coda.

How is this different from Classical motivic technique? In such works as

Mozart’s Symphony No. 40, a single motive is likewise developed with consis-

tency and a sense of growth. But Beethoven’s use of the same device gives the

Fifth Symphony its particular gripping urgency. The difference is not in

the basic technique but in the way it is being used — in the expressive intensity

it is made to serve. It is a Classical device used for non-Classical ends. Let us

see how this works.

Motive Motive Motive Motive Motive

Motive Motive Motive Motive etc. Motive



.0 ¹[[ Ł Ł Ł ð

q ¹ Ł ŁŁ ð q −−− ¹

[ Ł Ł Ł ð[̂ ð[̂ ð[̂

Ł ð



Ł Ł Ł Ł ¹ \



¹ Ł Ł Ł Ł


¹ [[


Ł Ł Ł Ł ¼ ¹

Ł Ł Ł Ł ¼ ¹

Ł Ł Ł Ł ¼




Second theme S T R I N G S

Cadence theme

Allegro con brio First theme


Bridge F R E N C H H O R N S

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U n i t i v | The Nineteenth Century210

Exposition The movement begins with an arresting presentation of the first theme, in the key of C minor (shown on page 209). The meter is disrupted by

two fermatas (a fermata U indicates an indefinite hold of the note it comes over). These give the music an improvisational, primal quality, like a great

shout. Even after the theme surges on and seems to be picking up momentum,

it is halted by a new fermata, making three fermatas in all.

The horn-call bridge (see page 209) performs the usual function of a bridge

in an unusually dramatic way. That function is to cement the new key — a

major key — firmly and usher in the second theme effectively.

The second theme introduces a new gentle mood, despite the main motive

rumbling away below it. But this mood soon fades — Beethoven seems to brush

it aside impatiently. The main motive returns in a stormy cadence passage,

which comes to a satisfying, complete stop. The exposition is repeated.

Development The development section starts with a new eruption, as the first theme makes a (very clear) modulation, a modulation that returns to the minor

mode. There is yet another fermata. It sounds like the crack of doom.

For a time the first theme (or, rather, its continuation) is developed,

leading to a climax when the rhythm multiplies itself furiously, as shown

to the right. Next comes the bridge theme, modulating through one key after

another. Suddenly the two middle pitches of the bridge theme are isolated and

echoed between high wind instruments and lower strings. This process is

called fragmentation (for an example from Mozart, see page 166). The two- note figure fragments further, and the echoing process shrinks down to just

one note:

Learning to Appreciate Beethoven, Part 1

“Went to a German charitable concert [the American premiere of Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony]. . . . The music was good, very well selected and excellently well performed, as far as I could judge. The crack piece, though, was the last, Beethoven’s Sinfonia in C minor. It was generally unintelligible to me, except the Andante.”

Diary of a New York music lover, 1841

Beethoven is famous for the tension he builds up in retransitions, the

sections in sonata form that prepare for the recapitulations (see page 164).

In the Fifth Symphony, the hush at this point becomes almost unbearable.

Finally the whole orchestra seems to grab and shake the listener by the lapels,

shouting the main motive again and again until the first theme settles out in the

original tonic key.

Recapitulation The exposition version of the main theme was interrupted by three fermatas. Now, in the recapitulation, the third fermata is filled by a slow,

expressive passage for solo oboe, a sort of cadenza in free rhythm. This

extraordinary moment provides a brief rest from the continuing rhythmic

drive. Otherwise the recapitulation stays very close to the exposition — a clear

testimony to Beethoven’s Classical allegiance.

Coda On the other hand, the action-packed coda that follows is an equally clear testimony to Beethoven’s freedom from Classical formulas.


−−− Ł Ł Ł ð ð ½

𦠽 ð

ð ½

ð ½

½ ð¦ ð

½ ð ½

ð ½

− ½ ð−

½ð¦ ð ½

¦ ð ½

½ð ½ ð− ½ð−

ð ½

− ð½− ½

ð−W I N D S




W I N D S dim.

diminuendo (quieter) S T R I N G S

[[ [[

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C H A P t E R 1 5 | Beethoven 211

In the melody for French horns we hear the four main-theme pitches (G E − F D; see page 209). But they are played in the rhythm of the bridge: . Then

the two middle notes of this melody are emphasized by a long downward sequence.

The sequence evolves into a sort of grim minor-mode march—a moment of

respite from the endless thematic evolutions of the main motive. A final, defiant

appearance of the original theme leads this time to continuations that

are unexpectedly poignant. But the very end of the movement consists of

affirmative cadences, built once again out of the main motive.

The Remaining Movements The defiant-sounding final cadence of the first movement feels like a standoff at the end of a heroic struggle. Beethoven now

builds on this feeling to give the impression of a dramatic psychological

progression, another characteristic feature of his symphonic writing.

The later movements of the Fifth Symphony feel like responses to — and,

ultimately, a resolution of — all the tension Beethoven had summoned up in the

first movement. We are never allowed to forget the first movement and its

mood, not until the very end of the symphony, mainly because a form of the

first movement’s rhythmic motive, , is heard in each of the later

movements. This motive always stirs uneasy recollections. Furthermore, the

later movements all refer to the key of the first movement. Whenever this key

returns in its original minor mode (C minor), it inevitably recalls the struggle

that Beethoven is said to have associated with “Fate knocking at the door.”

When it returns in the major mode (C major), it signifies (or foretells) the

ultimate resolution of all that tension — the triumph over Fate.

Don’t worry about recognizing C major or distinguishing it from any other

major-mode key. Almost any time you hear a very loud, triumphant theme in

the later movements, it is in the key of C major. As important as the melody of

those themes and their orchestration (often with brass) is the fact that they

come in the major mode, thus negating the first movement’s struggle.

A special abbreviated Listening Chart for the entire symphony is provided

on page 213. All the C-major sections are indicated in color.

Second Movement (Andante con moto) The first hint of Beethoven’s master plan comes early in the slow movement, after the cellos have begun with a

graceful theme, which is rounded off by repeated cadences. A second

graceful theme begins, but is soon derailed by a grinding modulation — to C

Learning to Appreciate Beethoven, Part 2

“I expected to enjoy that Symphony [Beethoven’s Fifth], but I did not suppose it possible that it could be the transcendent affair it is. I’ve heard it twice before, and how I could have passed by unnoticed so many magnificent points — appreciate the spirit of the composition so feebly and unworthily — I can’t imagine.”

Diary of the same New Yorker, 1844

In the exposition, we recall, the stormy cadence passage was defused by a

satisfying Classical cadence and a complete stop. At the end of the recapitulation,

the parallel passage seems to reject any such easy solution. Instead a new

contrapuntal idea appears, with French horns below and strings above:


−−− Ł [

Ł Ł ½ð Łð¦ Ł Ł Ł Ł

ð Ł Ł Ł Ł



Ł Ł ½ð Łð¦ Ł Ł

Ł Ł ð











etc.S T R I N G S

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U n i t i v | The Nineteenth Century212

Beethoven, Symphony No. 5 in C Minor, first movement Sonata form. 7 min., 18 sec.





Theme 1

Bridge theme

Main theme with two fermatas, followed by the first

continuation (based on ); another fermata (the third)

Main motive ( ), ff, is followed by a second continuation: timpani, crescendo.

French horn, f

Second Group






Theme 2

Cadence theme

Major mode, p, strings and woodwinds ( in background)

Based on motive


0:10 1:26 Exposition repeated

d E V E LO P M E N T












4:07 Retransition

First modulation, using motive; French horns, ff; minor mode

Development of first continuation of theme 1

Climactic passage of powerful reiterations:

Development of bridge theme

Fragmentation of bridge theme to two notes, alternating between strings and winds

Fragmentation of bridge theme to one note, alternating between strings and winds, p

Based on , ff, runs directly into the recapitulation









Theme 1

Bridge Theme

Harmonized; two fermatas. First continuation of theme; woodwind background.

Slow oboe cadenza in place of the third fermata

Second continuation of theme 1

Bassoons, f

Second Group




Theme 2

Cadence theme

Strings and winds, p ( in timpani); major mode

This time it does not stop.

CO d A











Another climax of reiterations (as in the development)

Returns to the minor mode; new expanded version of bridge theme, in counterpoint with new scale figure

New marchlike theme, brass; winds and strings build up.

Theme 1: climactic presentation in brass. Last fermatas.

First continuation of theme 1, with a pathetic coloration; oboe and bassoon figures Strong conclusion on

L i s T E n i n g C H A R T 12









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Ł Ł ð q

Ł Ł Ł ð q−−− ¹ ¹

−−− ¹ [[

Ł Ł Ł ð ^̂[

ð ^[ ð^[


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Ł Ł ð ð ð¦ ð

Ł Ł Ł Ł−−− ð q

[ Ł Ł Ł

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O B O EAdagio

−−− Ł [

Ł Ł ð ð ð

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Łl Łl Ł Ł

−−− Ł \


3 | 1–9 45 17


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C H A P t E R 1 5 | Beethoven 213

major, where the second theme starts again. Blared out by the trumpets, ff,

it’s no longer graceful — it would sound like a brutal fanfare if it didn’t fade

almost immediately into a mysterious passage where the rhythm of the

first movement sounds quietly. Beethoven is not ready to resolve the C-minor

turmoil of the first movement just yet. Variations of the first theme follow

(one is in the minor mode), but there is something aimless about them. What

stays in the memory from this movement are two shattering brass fanfares

in C major.

Third Movement (Allegro) This movement, in 3/4 time, is one of Beethoven’s great scherzos (though the composer did not label it as such, probably because

its form is so free). There are two features of the smooth, quiet opening theme

(a) that immediately recall the mood of the first movement — but in a more

muted, apprehensive form. One is the key, C minor. The other is the interruption

of the meter by fermatas.

Then a very forceful second theme (b), played by the French horns, recalls

in its turn the first movement’s rhythmic motive. The two themes alternate and

modulate restlessly, until the second makes a final-sounding cadence.

When now a bustling and somewhat humorous fugal section starts in the

major mode — in C major — we may recognize a vestige of the old minuet-and-trio

form, A B A (though the A section, which you have heard, with its two sharply

contrasted themes a and b, has nothing in common with a minuet beyond

its triple meter). B, the major-mode “trio,” is in the traditional |: c :||: d c9:| form,

but with an all-important modification. The second d c9, instead of being

repeated exactly, is reorchestrated, becoming quieter and quieter.

After this, the opening minor-mode music returns, as we would expect in

a conventional minuet and trio movement. But it has now been transformed in

tone color into something quiet and almost stealthy. Hushed pizzicato

(plucked) strings for a and a brittle-sounding oboe for b replace the smooth

and forceful sounds heard before. Everything now breathes an unexpected

mood of mystery.

Fourth Movement (Allegro) The point of this reorchestration appears when the section does not reach a cadence but runs into a truly uncanny transition,

with timpani tapping out the rhythm of b — the original DA–DA–DA–DAAA

motive, again — over a strange harmony. The music grows louder and clearer

until a veritable military march erupts — in the key, needless to say, of C major.

Minor mode cedes to major, pp to ff, mystery to clarity; the arrival of this

symphony’s last movement, after the continuous transition from the scherzo,

has the literal effect of triumph over some sort of adversity. This last movement

brings in three trombones for the first time in the symphony. (They must have

really awakened the freezing listeners at that original 1808 concert.)

The march makes a splendid first theme of a sonata-form movement, in

which the later themes are marchlike, too. The second theme includes a

speeded-up version of the DA-DA-DA–DAAA rhythm, with a slower,

upward-stepping bass that will drive the development section. The bridge and

the cadence theme are wonderfully gutsy.

.0 ¹ Ł Ł Ł ðw ¹ Ł Ł Ł ðw

/0 Ł Ł Ł ð ý Ł Ł Ł ð ý

First movement (a):

Third movement (b):

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U n i t i v | The Nineteenth Century214

Beethoven, Symphony No. 5 in C Minor, complete work 31 min., 31 sec.

F i R S t M O v E M E n t (Allegro con brio, 2/4; sonata form) C minor, ff See Listening Chart 12.

S E CO n D M O v E M E n t (Andante, 3/8; variations) A − major, p 0:00










Theme 1 Theme 2

Theme 1 Theme 2

Theme 1

Theme 2 Theme 1 Coda

Ends with repeated cadences

Played by clarinets and bassoons

Trumpets enter. (goes to C MAJOR, ff ) Variation 1, played by strings

Clarinets and bassoons

Trumpets enter. (goes to C MAJOR, ff ) Variations 2–4 (without repeated cadences), ending f; then a long, quiet transition: woodwinds

Trumpets C MAJOR, ff Variations 5 (minor; woodwinds) and 6 (full orchestra); cadences

A − major t H i R D M O v E M E n t (Allegro, 3/4; A B A9) C minor, pp

Scherzo (A)




Trio (B) 1:52



a b a9b9 a0b0

|: c :| d c9 d c9

Ends with a loud cadence built from b C MAJOR, ff


Reorchestrated, p; runs into scherzo (goes back to C minor, pp)

Scherzo (A9)


4:46 Transition Scherzo repeated, shorter and reorchestrated, pp Timpani; leads directly into the fourth movement

F O U R t H M O v E M E n t (Allegro, 2/2; sonata form) (goes to C MAJOR, ff )

Exposition C MAJOR, ff





Theme 1 Bridge theme Theme 2 Cadence theme

March theme Low horns and bassoons




3:31 Retransition

Development begins; modulation.

Theme 2 and its bass developed

Recall of the scherzo (A9, 3/4 meter) (recall of C minor, pp)

Recapitulation C MAJOR, ff





Theme 1 Bridge theme Theme 2 Cadence theme

Coda 6:01 Coda; three sections, accelerating; uses parts of

the bridge, cadence theme, and theme 1 C MAJOR, ff

L i s T E n i n g C H A R T 13









1:36 2:02

−−− ¹ Ł [[

Ł Ł ð q ¹ Ł Ł Ł ð


−−−− Ł ý Ł


Łl Ł ýŁ Ł ý Ł Ł‹

Ł ý [

Ł Ł Ł Ł Ł Łý Ł Ł Ł Ł Ł


−−− Ł \

Ł Ł Ł ð Ł ð Ł² ð ý

a C E L L O S

−−− Ł [

Ł Ł ð ý Ł Ł Ł ð ý b F R E N C H H O R N S

Ł [

Ł Ł Ł Ł Ł Ł Ł Ł Ł Ł Ł Ł ðc D O U B L E B A S S E S‹

fugue subject

ð ð ð ý Łl Łl Łl Łl Łl ð ý w i t h T R O M B O NE S

[[ l l


3 3 3




3 | 10–15 46–48 18–20







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C H A P t E R 1 5 | Beethoven 215

3 | Beethoven’s “Third Period” Beethoven’s music is traditionally divided into three style periods. The first period (until 1800, in round numbers) covers music building on the style of Haydn and Mozart. The middle period contains charac- teristically “heroic” works like the Eroica and Fifth sym- phonies.

In the third period (from around 1818 to 1827) Beethoven’s music loses much of its earlier tone of hero- ism. It becomes more introspective and tends to come framed in more intimate genres than the symphony, such as the piano sonata, the string quartet, and the piano miniature (a new genre that looks to the future; see page 229). The strength of his earlier music seems to be tempered by a new gentleness and spirituality. (However, Beethoven’s mightiest symphony, the Ninth, also dates from this period.)

Beethoven’s late music also becomes more abstract — a difficult quality to specify. In part the ab- stractness involves his free exploration of cerebral formal designs, such as long fugues looking back on Bach, or variation forms that range farther from their themes than any before them. In part it is a matter of the themes themselves, which are reduced to fragments or to elemental musical materials: scales, quick-mov- ing arpeggios or “broken” chords, and the like. And in part the abstractness comes from an almost miraculous control of contrast and musical flow that Beethoven now managed. This is especially evident in movements still showing the outlines of sonata form. Here themes and sections of the form are often condensed, and transitional moments are boiled down to carefully judged juxtapositions. While disruption was always a feature of Beethoven’s music — think of the fermatas in the first movement of the Fifth Symphony, and the C-major trumpets in the second — now the breaks in the musical fabric can be bewildering, even unnerving.

Then, at the end of the development, Beethoven offers another example of

his inspired manipulation of musical form. The second theme (b) of the

previous movement, the scherzo, comes back quietly once again, a complete

surprise in these surroundings (there is even a change from the 4/4 meter of the

march back to 3/4). This theme now sounds neither forceful nor mysterious, as

it did in the scherzo, but rather like a dim memory. Perhaps it has come back

to remind us that the battle has been won.

All that remains is a great C-major jubilee, in the recapitulation and then

later in a huge accelerating coda. “There Fate knocks at the door” — but fate

and terror alike yield to Beethoven’s optimistic major-mode vision.

This picture of Beethoven at work, painted about 1890, captures the conception of him that grew strong after his death: the solitary genius wrestling with his celestial art, oblivious to the worldly disarray around him. The picture, however, conveys an irony: One thing Beethoven could not do late in his career, given his deafness, was try out each musical idea at the piano. The Granger Collection, NYC. All rights reserved.

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L i s T E n i n g C H A R T 14

Ludwig van Beethoven, Piano Sonata in E, Op. 109 (1820)

& ### n ## 43 œn œ# œ

œ œœœœœ n œ œ. œ. œ œ œ. œ.

f p œ‹ œ œ œ. œ. œ œ œ. œ.

f p œ œ œ œ œ œ

cresc. cresc.

Adagio espressivo

The second theme breathes considerable passion and draws on some brilliant

piano effects:

Gentleness and spirituality certainly characterize this extraordinary transfor-

mation of sonata form. Two expressive themes contrast in every possible

way, even in tempo and meter. The first barely murmurs its way into our

consciousness, with its playful repeated œ œ . rhythm:

Both themes sound inconclusive, even fragmentary, and the second follows on

the heels of the first with almost shocking abruptness. (Is it a second theme?

A bridge theme?)

After a cadence theme that dwindles to little more than a scale, a brief

development-like passage shows theme 1, with its characteristic rhythm,

growing into a new melody that rises up in pitch and volume. At its high point,

a sense of harmonic expectancy reminds us of the retransitions of conventional

Beethoven, Piano Sonata in E, Op. 109, first movement (Vivace) Free sonata form. 4 min., 4 sec.





Theme 1

Theme 2

Cadence theme

d E V E LO P M E N T





Theme 1 developed


New melody appears.

Harmonic expectancy








Theme 1

Theme 2

Cadence theme

Now f

New dynamics, harmonies

Varied from exposition version

CO d A

3:12 Theme 1 Melody varied, but quiet as at first





2 | 42–45 49

42–45 49

& #### 42 43œœ .œ

p œ œœ .œ œ .œ œ œœ .œ œ .œ œ œœœ .œ œ .œ œœ œœ .œ

œ .œ œ œ# .œœ .œ œ œ .œ œœ œ . œ œ œœ .œ œ

.œ œ œ# .œ#œ ..œœ œ

dolce cresc.

Vivace, ma non troppo. Sempre legato.

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G o a l s f o r r e v i e w

c to locate Ludwig van Beethoven between the Classical and Romantic styles

c to understand the unique historical impact of Beethoven’s symphonic style

c to listen to Beethoven’s transformation of Classical forms and techniques in his Symphony No. 5

c to sample the innovative turn in Beethoven’s late style Interactive Listening Charts 12–14 Listening Quiz for Chapter 15 Reading Quiz for Chapter 15

sonata forms, and indeed it ushers in the first theme, but now f, its tranquillity

disturbed. In this recapitulation, the second theme introduces new jux-

tapositions of dynamics ( p ➔ ff ) and of unexpected harmonies.

The closing theme leads to an especially benign coda. It focuses on the

rhythm of the first theme, restoring the theme’s original tenderness in a version

of it that reintroduces the melody from the development, quietly now, and

closes with repeated cadences.

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16 Many terms we use for historical periods in the arts came into use only after the fact. Baroque, as a designation for a style period in music, was adopted from the field of art history by musicologists in the twentieth century. The term Romantic, instead, was used by the Romantics themselves. It first took hold in literature, and by the time the earliest Romantic

composers began their careers in the 1820s, their literary contemporaries were already excitedly talking about “Romantic” music.

This tells us two important things about music after the time of Beethoven. One is that, largely thanks to Beethoven, people had become highly aware of music as a major art. Music was treated with a new respect in cultivated circles; it was taken seriously in a way it never had been before.

The other is that it seemed quite natural for observers of the time to link up developments in music with parallel developments in literature. From Homer and Virgil to Shakespeare and Milton, literature had always been considered the most important and most convincing of the arts. The prestige and power of literature were now freely extended to music.

This fact is illustrated in a painting much admired at midcentury, showing a group of literary lions and lionesses listening reverently to Franz Liszt at the piano (see page 219). Their expressions tell us how profoundly the music moves them; their aesthetic experience is very different, clearly, from the casual enjoyment of eighteenth-century listeners pictured on page 133. The painting shows also how important Beethoven was in bringing about this change. Liszt gazes soulfully at Beethoven’s larger-than-life bust. Does it rest on the books stacked on the piano, or loom outside the window, gigantic, against the turbulent sky?

1 | Romanticism Romantic literature and literary theory flourished particularly in and around the first two decades of the nineteenth century. In England, this was a great age of poetry: Wordsworth, Coleridge, Shelley, Keats, and Byron. There was also a brilliant outpouring of German Romantic literature during the same period, though the names of its writers are less familiar in the English-speaking world: Tieck, Novalis, Kleist, Hölderlin, and E. T. A. Hoffmann.

For us, the word romantic refers to love; this usage dates from the nineteenth century and derives from the literary movement. But the glorification of love was only one of the many themes of Romantic literature, themes that were also central to the music of the nineteenth century.

Music after Beethoven: Romanticism

P R E l u d E

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the Cult of individual Feeling Striving for a better, higher, ideal state of being was at the heart of the Romantic movement. Everyday life seemed dull and meaningless; it could be transcended only through the free exercise of individual will and passion. The rule of feeling, unconstrained by convention, religion, or social taboo (or anyone else’s feelings, often enough) — this became the highest good. Emotional expression became the highest artistic goal. “Bohemians,” as they were disparagingly called at the time, proclaimed romantic love, led irregular lives, and wore odd clothes. We have the Romantics to thank for this familiar image of the artist, still around today.

These attitudes may be laid at the door of Jean-Jacques Rousseau — the same Enlightenment philosopher who had spoken up in the mid-eighteenth century for “natural” human feelings, as opposed to the artificial constraints imposed by society (see page 153). Hailed as the philosophical father of the French Revolution, Rousseau provided the Romantics with the ideal of individual, as well as political, freedom and fulfillment. We have also seen Rousseau as a proponent of a “natural” music, and indeed his own music was still being played at French revolutionary rallies and pageants.

But there was more than philosophy behind the new attitudes. The Industrial Revolution had already begun its inexorable course, and increasingly

The power of Romantic music: Liszt as the inspiration for novelists Alexandre Dumas, Victor Hugo, George Sand, and Daniel Stern (on the floor). Daniel Stern was the pseudonym of the Countess d’Agoult (see page 247). In the back, opera composer Gioacchino Rossini embraces violin virtuoso Niccolò Paganini. Bettmann/CORBIS.

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as the nineteenth century went on, people felt their helplessness in the face of the factories, slag heaps, and inhumane working conditions of developing capitalism. The smokestacks of what William Blake called “these dark, Satanic mills” now loomed over the European landscape. There was an understandable element of escapism in Romantic striving.

Romanticism and Revolt In the wake of the Industrial Revolution came actual revolution — the central fact in the politics of the age. It began with our own American Revolution. Then the French Revolution of 1789 rocked all of Europe. It was followed by a whole set of aftershocks up to 1848, a year of major upheavals in France, Germany, Austria, and Italy.

The Romantics were inevitably cast in the role of rebels against the established order. Many musicians (like many poets and painters) associated themselves with libertarian politics, starting with Beethoven, who wrote a symphony named Bonaparte (which he renamed the Eroica; see page 205). In a later generation, Liszt briefly espoused a strange half-communistic, half- religious movement that took hold in French intellectual circles. Giuseppe Verdi’s name became an acronym for the Italian liberation movement (see page 261). Richard Wagner was thrown out of Germany in 1849 for inflammatory speeches he made from the revolutionary barricades in the town of Dresden.

Along with political revolution went social revolution. The barriers of hereditary nobility were breached, and the lower and middle classes gained more social mobility. Thus Liszt, who was the son of an estate foreman, could conduct glamorous liaisons — one stormy, the other stable — with a French countess and a Russian princess. The importance of this was not lost on Liszt’s contemporaries; the countess is another of the celebrities included in the picture of Liszt at the piano (though the artist tactfully hid her face).

Artistic Barriers The Romantics’ search for higher experience and more in- tense expression provoked a reaction against the restraints of artistic form and genre. Artists resisted all rules and regula- tions. They distrusted abstract notions of “ beauty” and rules of “decorum” that they felt might hamper their spontaneity.

Eighteenth-century drama, for example, was hemmed in by such rules until the Romantics overturned them. Against the rules they cited the works of Shakespeare, where locations change scene by scene, tragedy mixes with farce, rich poetry collides with bawdy prose, and noble characters share the stage with clowns. The lifelike turbulence and loose form of these plays made Shakespeare enormously popular in the nineteenth century. Dozens of composers wrote music associated with them, including Mendelssohn, Berlioz, Tchaikovsky, Wagner, and Verdi.

In music itself, composers worked to break down bar- riers of harmony and form. All the Romantic composers experimented with chords, or chord progressions, that had previously been forbidden. From the time of Schubert on,

La Marseillaise, the great rallying song of the French Revolution. The Granger Collection, NYC. All rights reserved.

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their music was enriched by imaginative new harmonies. Sonata form, the hallmark of Classicism, was already treated freely by Beethoven, especially in his late style, as we saw in his Piano Sonata in E, Op. 109 (see page 216). The Romantic composer Robert Schumann went further, treating the form so freely in his piano sonatas that he finally labeled the last (and greatest) of them “ Fantasy.” It was a proclamation of his spontaneity on the one hand, and insurance against accusations of rule-breaking on the other.

Music and the Supernatural The supernatural — often linked to the bizarre or macabre — loomed large in the Romantic firmament, as we might expect of a movement so intent on transcending the ordinary. In Nightmare, a weird picture by the early Romantic painter Henry Fuseli, dream is made concrete, visible, and pub- lic in the figure of a horrible ogre (see above). The magician Faust pledging his soul to the Devil for a single moment of transcendent happiness became the subject of the greatest poem of the time, Goethe’s Faust. Franz Schubert wrote “The Erlking,” about a demon who claims a terrified child, in 1815 (see page 234); Mary Shelley wrote Frankenstein in 1818. The titles of some of the most famous operas of the time — Robert the Devil, The Vampire, The Magic Bullet — speak for themselves.

In music, the new freedoms aided this aspect of Romanticism. Composers cultivated strange harmonies and sinister orchestral sounds that can still be heard for special effect on video and movie soundtracks today. A famous scene of devilish conjuration in a deep forest, the Wolf’s Glen scene in Carl Maria von

Nightmare, by Henry Fuseli (1741–1825), an eighteenth-century pre-Romantic painter, poet, and revolutionary who emigrated from Switzerland to England for political reasons. Detroit Institute of Arts, USA/Founders Society purchase with Mr. and Mrs. Bert L. Smokler/and Mr. and Mrs. Lawrence A. Fleischman funds/The Bridgeman Art Library.

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Weber’s opera Der Freischütz (The Magic Bullet, 1821), was an early monument to Romanticism in music (see page 256). Spooky music was devised by Verdi for the witches in his Shakespeare opera Macbeth, and by Wagner for the ghost ship and its crew in The Flying Dutchman. And in his Fantastic Symphony, as we shall see (page 249), Hector Berlioz wrote a movement called “Dream of a Witches’ Sabbath” that bears comparison with Fuseli’s Nightmare.

Music and the Other Arts Shakespearean, individualist in outlook, emotive, contemptuous of handed- down conventions — these are the general traits of Romantic art. In this climate new efforts were made to blend the arts together: Poetry became more “ musical,” paintings and musical works were given “poetic” titles, and poetry, drama, music, and stagecraft all merged in Wagner’s unique and enormously influential “total artwork,” or Gesamtkunstwerk (see page 266). Within individual arts, blurred effects were cultivated — half-obscure verbal meanings, ambiguous shapes and color blends, and musical sounds that are imprecise but rich and evocative.

No one went further in this respect than the English landscape painter J. M. W. Turner. In one of his most famous pictures, The “Fighting Téméraire,” the grandeur of nature and the horrors of industrialization merge in dizzy, almost

The “Fighting Téméraire” Tugged to Her Last Berth to Be Broken Up, 1838 by J. M. W. Turner (1775–1851). © National Gallery, London/Art Resource, NY.

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abstract swirls of color. If Rousseau had admired nature for its simplicity, now Turner aimed at its “sublime” quality: the majesty and mystery of nature, its boundlessness, even its menace. The great Romantic artists stared unblinkingly at the infinite and tried to set it down in their art.

And it was exactly the boundless quality of music that gave it its special prestige and status. Music, people felt, could express inner experience more deeply than the other arts because the musician’s imagination is not tied down to the meaning of words (like the poet’s) or to the representation of things (like the painter’s). This led philosophers of the time to incorporate music at the heart of their views. Here, too, Rousseau had pointed the way; he was followed by Arthur Schopenhauer (who influenced Wagner) and Friedrich Nietzsche (whom Wagner influenced) in Germany.

“All art aspires to the condition of music,” wrote a famous Victorian critic, Walter Pater. All Romantic art tried to capture music’s depth and freedom of emotional expression and its continuous, “infinite” quality.

In The Bard by John Martin, man is dwarfed by nature — nature depicted as both menacing and thrilling. Yale Center for British Art, Paul Mellon Collection, USA/Paul Mellon Collection/The Bridgeman Art Library.

“Music is a strange thing. I would almost say it is a miracle. For it stands halfway between thought and phenomenon, between spirit and matter.”

Poet Heinrich Heine

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2 | Concert Life in the Nineteenth Century So much for ideals. What about the marketplace?

Public concerts, first introduced in the Baroque era during the age of aristocratic patronage of the arts, grew more important in the days of Haydn, Mozart, and Beethoven. As the nineteenth century progressed, the concert hall together with the opera house came to dominate the presentation of music. Every town of any size had its symphony association, organized by merchants, government officials, lawyers, and other members of the middle class. Halls built to accommodate symphony concerts were expressions of civic pride, as they still are today. In 1891 the New York Symphony, that city’s second orchestra (the New York Philharmonic was founded in 1842), proudly presented a five-concert music festival led by Tchaikovsky in brand-new Carnegie Hall.

By the end of the century even intimate, domestic musical genres, designed for the drawing room or the studio, were presented on the concert stage. Concerts of Lieder (German songs) and string quartet concerts became established, though they were never as important as orchestral concerts. In an age before technologies for sound recording, concerts made more music available to more and more people.

Improved transportation, meanwhile, brought musicians on tour to remote areas, such as the American West. Italian Romantic opera in particular spread far and wide — to New York and Philadelphia, to San Francisco (where Italian immigrant dockworkers were drafted to sing the choruses), to Buenos Aires, and even up the Amazon River.

the Artist and the Public The institutionalization of concert life also had its negative aspect, in that audiences gradually became more conservative in their musical tastes. The old aristocratic system had actually been more neutral in this respect. While many aristocratic patrons cared less about music than display, and some exercised the most whimsical of tastes, others actually encouraged composers to pursue new paths, or at least left them alone to do so. On the other hand, the concert public tended to conservatism. The mainly middle-class buyers of concert tickets naturally wanted value, as with anything else they bought. What counted as value was something already established as a masterpiece, something that they already knew and liked.

Composers with an interest in innovation — and that includes every composer discussed in this unit — often felt that their work was being neglected by the concert world. A paradoxical situation developed. The composers’ dependence on the public was tinged with resentment, and the public’s admiration for composers — never before higher — was tinged with distrust, even hostility.

In this climate the composer Robert Schumann started an important magazine to campaign for Romantic music in the face of public indifference to serious art and preference for what he regarded as flashy trivia. Editor Schumann invented a “League of David” to slay the “Goliath” of the concert audience. (In the Bible, Goliath was the champion of the Philistines; it was around this time that the adjective philistine came to mean “uncultured.”) Later, the music of Liszt and Wagner was attacked by hostile critics as formless, dissonant, and overemotional. Later still, the symphonies of Gustav Mahler were repeatedly rejected by audiences in Vienna, in spite of Mahler’s important position as head of the Opera there.

The gap between innovative music and a conservative concert public, which opened up in the nineteenth century, widened in the twentieth, as we shall see. Here as elsewhere, the nineteenth century set the tone for modern musical life.

“Alas, if one could only reduce the public to an assembly of fifty sensible and intelligent persons, how blissful it would be to be an artist!”

Hector Berlioz

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3 | Style Features of Romantic Music Since the main artistic value in the Romantic era was the integrity of personal feeling, every genuine artist was expected to have a personal style. Many artists carried this very far, cultivating styles that were highly personal and even eccentric. Furthermore, Romanticism’s constant striving after ever-new kinds of expression put a premium on innovation; this could be seen as an exciting breaking down of artistic barriers on the one hand, and as a heroic personal breakthrough on the other. Consequently it is harder to define the Romantic style in general than to spot innovations, novelties, and individual peculiarities.

Nevertheless, nineteenth-century composers were united by some common interests: technical considerations concerning melody, harmony, rhythmic freedom, tone color, and, perhaps especially, musical form. But it is important to remember that one such common interest was to sound different from everybody else.

Groundbreaking ceremony for Carnegie Hall in New York. The bearded man visible behind one of the vertical ropes is the famous railroad and steel baron Andrew Carnegie, the donor. Program: Hulton Archive/Getty Images. Photo: Courtesy of Carnegie Hall Archives.

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Romantic Melody The most instantly recognizable feature of Romantic music is its melodic style. Melody in the Romantic era was more emotional, effusive, and demonstrative than before. Often the melodic lines ranged more widely than the orderly, restrained tunes of the Classical era; often, too, they built up to more sustained climaxes. Melodies became more irregular in rhythm and phrase structure, so as to make them sound more spontaneous.

A fine example is the so-called Love theme of Tchaikovsky’s Overture- Fantasy, Romeo and Juliet (see page 279). It begins with a great outburst — a climax, at the very start, shaded blue in the music below — and then sinks down an octave and more, in melodic curves whose yearning quality grows more and more sensuous. Especially striking is the second part of the melody, where a rhythmic figure surges up in sequence, seven times in all, in preparation for a free return of the opening climax, now ff (also shaded blue):

²² 00 ð²

[ ð Ł Ł Ł Ł Ł Ł ð ð Ł Ł ð² ð Ł Ł¦ Ł Ł¦ Ł Ł ð− ð ð Ł Ł² Ł Ł ð ý Ł Ł Ł¦ Ł Ł ð ý Ł

²² Ł Ł² Ł Ł ð ý Ł² Ł Ł Ł Ł ð ý Ł² Ł Ł² Ł Ł ð ý Ł Ł Ł Ł² Ł ð ý Ł Ł Ł Ł² Ł

ð ý

Ł ð−


ð Ł Ł Ł Ł Ł Ł ð

1 Sequence

Return of opening

cresc. cresc.


3 4 5 6 7

When one thinks of Romantic melody, what comes first to mind is this kind of grand, exaggerated emotionality. Some Romantic melodies are more intimate, however — and they are no less emotional for sparing the tears and handkerchief. Each in an individual way, Romantic composers learned to make their melodies dreamy, sensitive, passionate, ecstatic, or whatever shade of feeling they wished to express.

Romantic Harmony Harmony was one of the areas in which Romantic music made the greatest technical advances. On the one hand, composers learned to use harmony to underpin melody in such a way as to bring out its emotionality. Romantic melody is, in fact, inseparable from harmony. In the Romeo and Juliet Love theme, for example, a rich new chord goes hand in hand with the warm upward scoop of the melodic line in measure 5.

On the other hand, harmony was savored for its own sake, and composers experimented freely with new chord forms and new juxtapositions of chords. These, it was found, could contribute potently to those mysterious, sinister, rapturous, ethereal, or sultry moods that Romantic composers sought to evoke.

Chromaticism is a term for a style that liberally employs all twelve notes of the chromatic scale (see page 23). Romantic composers pursued chromaticism to a greater extent than Baroque and Classical ones, in order to expand the expressive range of both their melodies and their harmony. If you look closely at the Romeo and Juliet theme, you will find nearly all twelve notes of the chromatic scale included — something that seldom happens in earlier music. Chromaticism was carried furthest in the nineteenth century by Richard Wagner, and further yet by the early twentieth-century modernists.

The increased chromaticism of nineteenth-century music spawned this bizarre experimental harp, which is really two harps, crisscrossed, to accommodate all the notes of the chromatic scale. Image copyright © The Metropolitan Museum of Art. Image source: Art Resource, NY.

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Rhythmic Freedom: Rubato The general Romantic tendency to blur all sharp edges found its musical counterpart in the rhythmic practice of tempo rubato, or just rubato. Rubato means that in musical performance the rhythm is handled flexibly; the meter itself may waver, or else the beat is maintained strictly in the accompaniment while the melody is played or sung slightly out of phase with it. (Literally, tempo rubato means “robbed time” — that is, some time has been stolen from the beat.)

Rubato was practiced in the service of greater individual expressivity. Though seldom indicated in a score — indeed, no one has ever found an accurate way to indicate rubato in musical notation — its practice is documented by old recordings, made around 1900 by musicians who were close to the Romantic composers (or even by the composers themselves). Improvisation, in the sense of adding ornaments or other notes to a score, was all but abolished by the end of the nineteenth century. Let no mere performer tamper with notes which had been set down by a composer of transcendent genius! But performers of the time improvised rhythmically, in that they applied rubato freely to nearly every score they played.

Considered a sign of bad taste in Baroque or Classical music, at least when applied extensively, rubato is an essential expressive resource in the playing, singing, and conducting of Romantic music. A musician’s sensitivity and “ feeling” depends to a great extent on his or her artistic use of rubato.

the Expansion of tone Color While tone color had been treated with considerable subtlety by the Viennese Classical composers, the Romantics seized on this aspect of music with particular enthusiasm. For the first time in Western music, the sheer sensuous quality of sound assumed major artistic importance on a level with rhythm, melody, and musical form.

So it is no accident that all instruments went through major technical developments during the nineteenth century — the piano not least. As orchestral instruments reached their present-day forms, the orchestra was expanded, soon reaching its present standard makeup. The chart below for a typical Romantic orchestra, when compared with the Classical orchestra chart on page 157, shows how the ranks of the brass, woodwind, and percussion sections were filled out:


First violins (12–16 players) Second violins (12–16) Violas (8–12) Cellos (8–12) Basses (6–10)

Note: Each string section is sometimes divided into two or more subsections, to obtain richer effects.

2 Harps

2 Flutes 1 Piccolo 2 Oboes 1 English horn 2 Clarinets 1 High E− clarinet 1 Bass clarinet 2 Bassoons 1 Contrabassoon

4 French horns 2 Trumpets 3 Trombones 1 Bass tuba

3 Timpani Bass drum Snare drum Cymbals Triangle Tubular bells


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What such charts cannot show, however, are the ingenious new combinations of instruments that were now investigated. Composers learned to mix instrumental colors with something of the same freedom with which painters mix actual colors on a palette. Berlioz wrote a treatise on “orchestration,” or the use and combination of the instruments of the orchestra, which is still read today. In his and other composers’ practice, the clear, sharply defined sonorities of the Classical era were replaced by multicolored shades of blended orchestral sound.

Romantic composers and audiences alike were fascinated by the symphony orchestra, and for the first time conductors came to the fore — conductors wielding batons. (Berlioz also wrote a treatise on conducting.) In earlier times, orchestras had simply followed the first violinist or the continuo player, but now they needed experts to control and balance out those special blended effects.

The orchestra also became increasingly important in nineteenth- century opera. Major opera composers, such as Weber, Meyerbeer, and Wagner, specialized in orchestral effects that sometimes even threatened to put the voices in the shade. If today, when one thinks of classical music, the symphony orchestra comes to mind almost automatically, that is a holdover from the Romantic nineteenth century.

4 | Program Music Program music is a term for instrumental music written in association with a poem, a story, or some other literary source — or even just a highly suggestive word or two. While program music was certainly not new in the Romantic era, it gained new importance and prestige, for program music answered the general Romantic demand for transcending inter-art boundaries. Instrumental music could be made even more expressive, many felt, by linking it to poetry and ideas.

The term program music is sometimes restricted to music that tells or at least traces a story, the story being the “program.” In 1829, at the premiere of his Fantastic Symphony, the composer Hector Berlioz actually handed out a pamphlet containing his own made-up program, and the music of the symphony behaves like a narrator a good deal of the time. From the weird shrieks and groans at the start of the symphony’s last movement, through the riotous wel- come of the heroine, to the final frenzied round dance, we are treated to musical events that follow the events of the story step by step (see page 252).

Another type of program music adopts a different strategy. Instead of telling a story, it attempts to capture the general flavor of a mood associated with some extramusical state, concept, or personality. The single word nocturne, as the title for a whole genre of compositions by Frédéric Chopin, is enough to set up expectations of nighttime romance — and the music does the rest (see page 245). In short piano pieces, Schumann drew portraits of his friends (and even of himself; see page 244).

Program music sparked a great debate in the nineteenth century, a debate that still goes on. Does the music really illustrate or represent the program? Suppose the music is played without listeners being given the program — could they tell it from the music? Shouldn’t the music make complete sense on its own terms, even if we grant that the program provides an added dimension to it?

But the point is that the Romantics did not want to be without the program. They did not necessarily want the music to “make sense on its own terms.” And it seems they were prepared to live with this apparent inconsistency: On the one hand, they revered purely instrumental music as the highest form of art; on the other hand, they embraced program music, music that is less “pure” because it mixes in nonmusical elements.

More and more complex orchestras required conductors, and conductors required batons. Before sticks came into use, the German opera composer Carl Maria von Weber (see page 258) seems to have used a tight scroll of paper (a score?). Bettmann/CORBIS.

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5 | Form in Romantic Music Individual spontaneity was an important goal of the Romantic movement. And if there was any area in which the composer wanted to seem particularly free and spontaneous, it was the area of musical form. The music should bubble out moment by moment, irrepressible and untrammeled, like churning emotion itself. But composers faced a problem: how to control that spontaneity? They had to provide their music with enough sense of coherence that listeners could follow it.

In their approach to musical form, nineteenth-century composers broke with Classical norms. They wanted each work of art to express its individuality in its form as well as its style (melody, harmony, timbre, etc.). They distrusted conventional, standardized forms just as they flouted society’s other conven- tions. Even when they followed forms such as sonata form, rondo, and so on, they tended to follow them so loosely that it gets to be a matter of opinion whether they are doing so at all. Themes tend to blend into one another, and there is much less of the neat, clear cadencing of Classical music.

Some Romantic compositions deliberately break down the boundary between music and nonmusical silence. Robert Schumann’s song “Im wunder- schönen Monat Mai” (see page 238) begins hesitantly, as though it is already in the middle of a transition; we feel we have just begun hearing music that started long ago. Instead of ending with a decisive cadence, the song comes to a questioning dissonance, then — silence. The vague, atmospheric quality at the start and the suggestion of infinity at the end are typically Romantic.

Yet the music had to avoid real formlessness if it was to hold the attention of an audience. Once again, for Romantic composers the problem was how to create the impression of spontaneous form while at the same time giving the listener some means of following the music. They developed a number of interesting and characteristic solutions.

Miniature Compositions While many Romantic compositions last for about as long as works from the eighteenth century, special classes of music arose with quite different dimensions.

First, composers cultivated what we will call miniatures, pieces lasting only a few minutes — or even less. Mostly songs and short piano pieces, these were designed to convey a particularly pointed emotion, momentary and undeveloped. In this way the composer could commune with the listener intensely but intimately, as though giving him or her a single short, meaningful glance. The meaning might well be hinted at by a programmatic title.

Though short pieces were also written in earlier times, of course — think of minuet movements in classical symphonies — usually they were components of larger units, where their effect was balanced by other, longer movements. Romantic miniatures, though they were often published in sets, as we will see, nevertheless were composed so as to stand out as individuals in their own right, apart from their sets. Miniatures for piano were sometimes given general titles, such as Schubert’s Impromptus (Improvisations) and Brahms’s Capriccios (Caprices). Sometimes they masqueraded as dances, like Chopin’s Mazurkas (a Polish dance). Often they were given more suggestive, programmatic titles: Years of Pilgrimage by Franz Liszt; Spring Song by Felix Mendelssohn; To a Wild Rose by Edward MacDowell, America’s leading late Romantic composer. Schumann was something of a specialist in such titles: The Poet Speaks, Confession, The Bird as Prophet, and — Why?

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In miniatures the problem of musical form was not so much solved as avoided. They are over before the listener begins to wonder where the music is going, what the next effect will be.

Grandiose Compositions Another Romantic tendency was diametrically opposed to the miniatures. Many composers wrote what may be called grandiose compositions — larger and larger symphonies, cantatas, and so on, with more and more movements, increased performing forces, and a longer (sometimes much longer) total time span. For example, Hector Berlioz’s symphony Romeo and Juliet of 1839 lasts for nearly an hour and a half. (A typical Haydn symphony lasts twenty minutes.) Starting with an augmented symphony orchestra, Berlioz added soloists and a chorus in certain of the movements and a narrator between them, and then threw in an off-stage chorus for still other movements. In the field of opera, Richard Wagner’s The Nibelung’s Ring takes the prize. It goes on for four evenings, with a huge orchestra including specially invented instruments, a cast of thirty, and fifteen separate stage sets (see page 268).

The total effect of these grandiose compositions involved not only music but also poetry, philosophical or religious ideas, story lines, and (in operas) dramatic action. Listeners were impressed, even stupefied, by a combination of opulent sounds, great thoughts, powerful emotions, and sheer length.

The man has put down his violin to sit with the woman at the piano; we can imagine the four-hand music they are playing, perhaps, but we cannot see their faces. This picture catches both the intimacy and privacy of the Romantic miniature and also its characteristic location, the middle-class living room. Blauel/Gnamm/Artothek.

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These works met what we have called the problem of musical form in their own way. The bigger the work, the bigger the problem, but to help solve it composers could draw on extramusical factors — on the words of a vocal work, or the program of an instrumental one. Music could add emotional conviction to ideas or stories; in return these extramusical factors could supply a rhyme and reason for the sequence of musical events — that is, for the musical form.

the Principle of thematic Unity An important general principle developed by Romantic composers was that of thematic unity. There was an increasing tendency to maintain some of the same thematic material throughout whole works, even (or especially) when these works were in many movements.

In nineteenth-century symphonies and other such works, several different levels of thematic unity can be distinguished:

• Most obviously, themes from one movement may come back literally and quite clearly in other movements. We have already heard this happen in Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony, when the scherzo theme returns in the last movement.

• In other compositions, new versions of a single theme are used at important new points in the music, either later in the same movement or in later movements.

The grandiose compositions of the nineteenth century occasioned many cartoons — amusing enough, but not in the last analysis friendly to the advanced music of the time. Here it is Berlioz who is lampooned. The Pierpont Morgan Library/Art Resource, NY.

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While these new versions are really nothing more than variations of the original theme, this procedure differs fundamentally from Classical theme and variations form (see page 169). In Classical variation form, the theme is an entire tune, and the variations follow one another directly. In the new Romantic procedure, the theme is (generally) much more fragmentary than a tune, and the new v ersions of the theme appear at irregular intervals in the midst of other, unrelated music.

The term thematic transformation is used for this variation-like procedure in Romantic music, whereby short themes are freely varied at relatively wide and unpredictable intervals of time. A precedent for it can be traced to works such

as Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony, where the motive of the first movement is evoked freely in each of the later ones.

• In still other nineteenth-century pieces, we hear themes with even looser relationships among them. Clearly different, they nonetheless exhibit mysterious inner similarities — similarities that seem to help unify the music, though they are too shadowy to count as transformations in the Romantic definition, let alone as variations in the Classical style. Wagner’s operas are famous for such themes.

Of all the levels of thematic unity employed by nineteenth-century composers, this last is the most typical of all. Vague similarity rather than clear likeness, suggestion rather than outright statement, atmosphere rather than discourse, feeling rather than form: All these go to the heart of Romanticism. We cannot appreciate Romantic music fully if we approach it in too literal a frame of mind. In much of this music, the special spontaneous form of the individual piece, as distinct from standard forms such as sonata and rondo form, is tied to the principle of thematic unity. Listening to Romantic music requires ears that are not only attentive but also imaginative, exploratory, and more than a little fanciful.

g O A L S f O R R E v I E W

c to gain an overview of the culture and arts of the Romantic movement

c to understand the new place of the composer in nineteenth-century concert life

c to see, in general, new features of style and new genres in the Romantic period

c to understand new ways of connecting instrumental music to nonmusical things: program music

c to think about the contrast of miniature and grandiose works by Romantic composers Reading Quiz for Chapter 16

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Perhaps the most brilliant generation of composers in the entire history of music was that of the early Romantics. Franz Schubert was born in Vienna in 1797; then the ten-year period between 1803 and 1813 saw the births of Robert Schumann, Frédéric Chopin, Felix Mendelssohn, Franz Liszt, Hector Berlioz, Richard Wagner, and Giuseppe Verdi. It was a

brilliant generation, but not a long-lived one. Only the last four of these composers survived to continue their major work into the second half of the century.

Two general points are worth making about this early Romantic galaxy. First, Beethoven’s music had a profound effect on them, though this was natu- rally felt more strongly by German composers than by non-Germans. Schubert, who lived in Vienna under Beethoven’s shadow, was influenced by the older master much more directly than Chopin, a Pole who lived in Paris.

The second important point is that these composers were deeply influenced by literary Romanticism, which had flourished since before they were born. Schubert wrote many songs to texts by Romantic poets such as Goethe, Novalis, and Friedrich Schlegel, and Schumann’s enthusiasm for the German Romantic novelist Jean Paul Richter was reflected in his music as well as in his own prose writings. We have mentioned that Shakespeare was particularly admired by the Romantics; nearly all the composers mentioned here wrote music associated with Shakespeare’s plays.

1 | The Lied The ordinary German word for song is Lied (plural, Lieder — pronounced “leader”). The word also has a special application: the lied is a particular type of German song that evolved in the late eighteenth century and flourished in the nineteenth. As such, the lied is one of the most important “miniature” genres of the Romantic era.

Though one cannot generalize about the melodies of these songs — some consist of little more than a tune, others are melodically much more complex — they share some other characteristic features.

• Accompaniment. A lied is nearly always accompanied by piano alone, and the accompaniment contributes significantly to the artistic effect. Indeed, the pianist becomes more of a discreet partner to the singer than a mere accompanist.

• Poetry. The text of a lied is usually a Romantic poem of some merit (at least in the composer’s estimation). Hence, although we need to understand the words of almost any vocal music, with the lied we should also try to appreciate how the

The Early Romantics



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poem’s words and meanings fit together as poetry. The art of the lied depends on the sensitivity of the composer’s response to the poetic imagery and feeling.

• Mood. A third characteristic, harder to explain, is the intimacy of expression that is captured by these pieces. The singer and the pianist seem to be sharing an emotional insight with just you, rather than with an entire audience; words and music are uttered softly, inwardly. Composers intended lieder for the intimacy of a living room, not a formal concert hall, and that is where they are best heard.

Franz Schubert, “Erlkönig” (The Erlking) (1815) The earliest and (for most musicians) greatest master of the lied is Franz

Schubert. He wrote close to seven hundred songs in his short lifetime. In his

eighteenth year, 1815, he averaged better than a song every two days! Many of

these are quite short tunes with simple piano accompaniments, but Schubert’s

tunes are like nobody else’s; he was a wonderfully spontaneous melodist. Later

in life his melodies became richer but no less beautiful, and taken together with

their poems, the songs often show remarkable psychological penetration.

One of those songs from 1815 was an instant hit: “Erlkönig” (The Erlking),

published as the composer’s opus 1, and still today Schubert’s best-known lied.

In those early years, Schubert wrote a considerable number of long, narrative

songs, though this one stands out from the others in its dramatic intensity.

The poem is by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, the greatest literary figure of

the day — by turns a Romantic and a Classical poet, novelist, playwright, natu-

ralist, and philosopher, and a favorite source of texts for many generations of

lied composers. Cast in the old storytelling ballad form, which enjoyed a vogue

in the Romantic era, and dealing with death and the supernatural, the poem is

famous in its own right.

Title page of the first edition of “The Erlking.” Note the stunted tree; the literal meaning of “Erlkönig” is king of the alders, or birches — in effect, a forest troll.

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Though Goethe’s poem consists of eight parallel stanzas, they are not set

to the same music. Schubert provided the later stanzas with different or

modified music; such a song is said to be through-composed. (A song that repeats the same music over and over for all its stanzas is called strophic; see page 50.) The poem certainly invites this kind of musical setting, as its mood

changes dramatically as it goes along. A father rides furiously through the

night with a child who is presumably running a high fever, for he claims to see

and hear a murderous demon. The Erlking first beckons the child, then cajoles

him, then  threatens and assaults him. The father — uncomprehending, even

impatient — tries to quiet the boy, but by the time they reach home the boy

is — dead!

The opening piano introduction sets the mood of dark, tense excitement.

The right hand hammers away at harsh repeated notes in triplets, representing

the horse’s hooves, while the left hand has an agitated motive:

Schubert playing at an evening with the Schubertians (see page 237). To the left is Johann Vogel, an older singer, one of his main supporters. Their friend Moritz von Schwind started this picture but didn’t quite finish it. Wien Museum Karlsplatz, Vienna, Austria/The Bridgeman Art Library.

−− 00 Ł Ł

[ Ł Ł

















Ł Łl

Ł Ł Ł Łl


Ł Ł ¼ ½ Ł Ł Ł Ł Ł Ł

Ł Łl

Ł Ł Ł Łl


Ł Ł Ł ¼

Ł Ł ½

3 3 3 3




3 3 3

Fast Right hand: triplets

Left hand

etc.(Right hand continues)

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Schubert invented different music for the poem’s three characters (and

also the narrator). Each “voice” characterizes the speaker in contrast to the

others. The father is low, stiff, and gruff, the boy high and frantic. Marked

ppp, and inaudible to the father, the ominously quiet and sweet little tunes

crooned by the Erlking, offering his “schöne Spiele” — lovely games — add a

chilling note.

Two things help hold this long song together. First, the piano’s triplet

rhythm continues ceaselessly, until the very last line, where recitative style lets

us know that the ride is over. (The triplets are muffled during the Erlking’s

speeches — because the child is hearing him in a feverish daze?) Second, there

are some telling musical repetitions: the agitated riding motive (stanzas 1–2

and 8), and a desperately strained phrase sung higher and higher by the boy as

he appeals to his father (stanzas 4, 6, and 7).

Schubert, “Erlkönig”









Wer reitet so spät, durch Nacht und Wind? Es ist der Vater mit seinem Kind; Er hat den Knaben wohl in dem Arm, Er fasst ihn sicher, er hält ihn warm.

“Mein Sohn, was birgst du so bang dein Gesicht?” “Siehst, Vater, du den Erlkönig nicht? Den Erlenkönig mit Kron’ und Schweif?” “Mein Sohn, est ist ein Nebelstreif.”

“Du liebes Kind, komm, geh mit mir! Gar schöne Spiele spiel’ ich mit dir; Manch’ bunte Blumen sind an dem Strand; Meine Mutter hat manch’ gülden Gewand.”

“Mein Vater, mein Vater, und hörest du nicht Was Erlenkönig mir leise verspricht?” “Sei ruhig, bleibe ruhig, mein Kind: In dürren Blättern säuselt der Wind.”

“Willst, feiner Knabe, du mit mir gehn? Meine Töchter sollen dich warten schön; Meine Töchter führen den nächtlichen Reihn Und wiegen und tanzen und singen dich ein.”

“Mein Vater, mein Vater, und siehst du nicht dort Erlkönigs Töchter am düstern Ort?” “Mein Sohn, mein Sohn, ich seh es genau: Es scheinen die alten Weiden so grau.”

“Ich liebe dich, mich reizt deine schöne Gestalt, Und bist du nicht willig, so brauch’ ich Gewalt.” “Mein Vater, mein Vater, jetzt fasst er mich an! Erlkönig hat mir ein Leids getan!”

Dem Vater grauset’s, er reitet geschwind, Er hält in Armen das ächzende Kind, Erreicht den Hof mit Müh und Not; In seinen Armen das Kind war tot.

Who rides so late through the night and wind? It is the father with his child. He holds the youngster tight in his arm, Grasps him securely, keeps him warm.

“My son, what makes you afraid to look?” “Don’t you see, Father, the Erlking there? The King of the forest with his crown and train?” “Son, it’s only a streak of mist.”

“Darling child, come away with me! I will play some lovely games with you; Many bright flowers grow by the shore; My mother has many golden robes.”

“Father, Father, do you not hear What the Erlking is softly promising me?” “Calm yourself, be calm, my son: The dry leaves are rustling in the wind.”

“Well, you fine boy, won’t you come with me? My daughters are ready to wait on you. My daughters lead the nightly round, They will rock you, dance for you, sing you to sleep!”

“Father, Father, do you not see The Erlking’s daughters there in the dark?” “My son, my son, I see only too well: It is the gray gleam in the old willow trees.”

“I love you, your beauty allures me, And if you’re not willing, then I shall use force.” “Father, Father, he is seizing me now! The Erlking has hurt me!”

Fear grips the father, he rides like the wind, He holds in his arms the moaning child; He reaches the house hard put, worn out; In his arms the child was — dead!

L i s T E n

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Schubert was the son of a lower-middle-class Viennese schoolmaster. There was always music in the home, and the boy received a solid musical education in the training school for Viennese court singers. His tal- ent amazed his teachers and also a number of his schoolmates, who remained devoted to him through- out his career. Schubert began by following in his father’s footsteps as a schoolteacher, without much enthusiasm, but soon gave up teaching to devote all his time to music.

Schubert was an endearing but shy and unspec- tacular individual who led an unspectacular life. However, it was the sort of life that would have been impossible before the Romantic era. Schubert never married — it is believed he was gay — and never held a regular job. He was sustained by odd fees for teaching and publications and by contributions from a circle of friends who called themselves the Schubertians — young musicians, artists, writers, and music lovers. One of the Schubertians, Moritz von Schwind, who became an important painter, has left us many charming pictures of the group at parties, on trips to the country, and so on (see page 235).

It was an atmosphere especially conducive to an intimate musical genre such as the lied. Schubert wrote nearly seven hundred lieder and many choral songs. For a time he roomed with a poet, Johann Mayrhofer, who provided him with gloomy texts for about fifty of them.

But it’s unfortunate that Schubert’s wonderful songs have tended to overshadow his symphonies, sonatas, and chamber music. Starting out with Classical genres, Schubert in his very short lifetime transformed them under the influence of Romanticism. He never introduced himself to Beethoven, even though they lived in the same city; perhaps he instinctively felt he

needed to keep his dis- tance from the overpower- ing older master. It speaks much for Schubert that he was able to write such original and powerful works as the “Unfinished” Symphony, the so-called Great Symphony in C, and others, right under Beethoven’s shadow. (We listened to the beginning of the “Unfinished” Symphony in Unit I; see page 11.)

A few of Schubert’s instrumental works include melodies taken from his own songs: the popular Trout Quintet, the String Quartet in D Minor (Death and the Maiden), and the Wanderer Fantasy for piano.

Schubert died in a typhoid fever epidemic when he was only thirty-one. He never heard a performance of his late symphonies, and much of his music came to light only after his death.

Our portrait shows Schubert around the time he wrote The Erlking.

Chief Works: Lieder, including the song cycles Die schöne Müllerin, Winterreise, and Schwanengesang, “The Erlking,” “Gretchen at the Spinning Wheel,” “Hedgerose,” “Death and the Maiden,” “The Trout,” and hundreds of others j “Charac- ter” pieces for piano; waltzes j Symphonies, including the “Unfinished” — Schubert completed only two movements and sketches for a scherzo — and the Great Symphony in C j Piano sonatas; Wanderer Fantasy for piano j Four mature string quartets; a string quintet; the genial Trout Quintet for piano and strings (including double bass)

Encore: After “The Erlking,” listen to the “Unfinished” Sym- phony and songs from Winterreise.

Image credit: Kunsthistorisches Museum, Vienna, Austria/The Bridgeman Art Library.


Franz Schubert (1797–1828)

The Song Cycle A song cycle is a group of songs associated by a common poetic theme or an actual story. For the words of the songs, composers either found whole coherent groups of poems to set, or else made their own selections from a larger collection of a poet’s work. Schubert, who wrote two great song cycles relatively late in his career, was able to use ready-made groups of poems published by a minor Romantic poet named Wilhelm Müller: Die schöne Müllerin (The Fair Maid of the Mill) and Winterreise (Winter Journey).

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The advantage of the song cycle was that it extended the rather fragile expression of the lied into a larger, more comprehensive, and hence more impressive unit. It was, in a sense, an effort to get beyond “miniaturism,” even while composing miniatures. The unity of such larger units, however, is always loose. The individual songs can often be sung separately, as well as in sequence with the rest of the cycle.

“To cast light into the depths of the human heart — the artist’s mission!”

Robert Schumann

Robert Schumann, Dichterliebe (A Poet’s Love) (1840) “Schubert died. Cried all night,” wrote the eighteen-year-old Robert Schumann

in his diary in 1828. Yet living in Zwickau, Germany, far from Schubert’s

Vienna, Schumann did not know many of the older composer’s best-known

works, his lieder. He loved Schubert’s piano music, and indeed, for the first ten

years of his own career as a composer, Schumann wrote only piano music.

Then in 1840, the year of his marriage, he suddenly started pouring out

lieder. Given this history, it is not surprising that in Schumann’s songs the

piano is given a more complex role than in Schubert’s. This is particularly true

of his most famous song cycle, Dichterliebe, the first and last songs of which

(nos. 1 and 16) we will examine here. Dichterliebe has no real story; its series

of love poems traces a psychological progression from cautious optimism to

disillusionment and despair. They are the work of another great German poet,

Heinrich Heine, a man who reacted with bitter irony against Romanticism,

while acknowledging his own hopeless commitment to its ideals.

“Im wunderschönen Monat Mai” (In the wonderfully lovely month of May) The song begins with a piano introduction, halting and ruminative — which seems at

first to be a curious response to the “wonderfully lovely” month of May. The piano

part winds its way in and out of the vocal line, ebbing and flowing rhythmically

and sometimes dwelling on quiet but piercing dissonant harmonies.

What Schumann noticed was the hint of unrequited longing in Heine’s very

last line, and he ended the song with the piano part hanging in midair, without

a true cadence, as though in a state of reaching or yearning: a truly Romantic

effect. Technically, the last sound is a dissonance that requires resolution into

a consonance (see page 28) but does not get it (until the next song).

In this song, both stanzas of the poem are set to identical music. As

mentioned earlier, such a song is called strophic; strophic setting is of course

familiar from folk songs, hymns, popular songs, and many other kinds of

music. For Schumann, this kind of setting had the advantage of underlining the

similarity in the text of the song’s two stanzas, both in meaning and in actual

words. Certainly his music deepens the tentative, sensitive, hope-against-hope

quality of Heine’s understated confession of love.

The qualities of intimacy and spontaneity that are so important to Romantic

miniatures can be inhibited by studio recording. Our recording of Schumann’s

song was made at a concert (you will hear applause as the artists enter).

“Die alten, bösen Lieder” (The hateful songs of times past) After many heart-wrenching episodes, the final song in the Dichterliebe cycle begins strongly.

The insistent rhythm in the piano part sounds a little hectic and forced, like the

black humor of Heine’s poem. Although basically this is a through-composed

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Schumann, “Die alten, bösen Lieder”







Die alten, bösen Lieder, Die Träume bös’ und arg, Die lasst uns jetzt begraben: Holt einen grossen Sarg.

Hinein leg’ ich gar Manches, Doch sag’ ich noch nicht, was. Der Sarg muss sein noch grösser Wie’s Heidelberger Fass.

Und holt eine Todtenbahre Und Bretter fest und dick, Auch muss sie sein noch länger Als wie zu Mainz die Brück’.

Und holt mir auch zwölf Riesen, Die mussen noch stärker sein Als wie der starke Christoph Im Dom zu Köln am Rhein.

Die sollen den Sarg forttragen Und senken in’s Meer hinab, Denn solchem grossen Sarge Gebührt ein grosses Grab.

Wisst ihr, warum der Sarg wohl So gross und schwer mag sein? Ich senkt’ auch meine Liebe Und meinen Schmerz hinein.

The hateful songs of times past, The hateful, brutal dreams, Let’s now have them buried; Fetch up a great coffin.

I’ve a lot to put in it — Just what, I won’t yet say; The coffin must be even bigger Than the Great Cask of Heidelberg.

And fetch a bier, Boards that are strong and thick; They too must be longer Than the river bridge at Mainz.

And fetch me, too, twelve giants Who must be stronger Than St. Christopher, the great statue At the Cathedral of Cologne on the Rhine.

It’s they that must haul the coffin And sink it in the sea, For a great coffin like that Deserves a great grave.

Do you know why the coffin really Has to be so huge and heavy? Because I sank all my love in it, And all of my great grief.

song, the opposite of strophic form, there are some musical parallels between

many of the stanzas, and the music of stanza 1 comes back in stanza 5.

²²²² 00 Ł [ Ł ý Ł Ł ý Ł Ł Ł ¼

¹ Ł Ł ý Ł Ł ý Ł ð

²²²² Ł Ł Ł Ł Ł Ł Ł Ł

Stanza 1 Stanza 5

The hateful songs of times past, The hateful,brutal dreams It’s they thatmust haul the cof - fin

But there is a sudden reversal of mood in stanza 6, as the poet offers to tell us

what this morbid list of funeral arrangements is all about. In the music, first the

accompaniment disintegrates and then the rhythm. All the poet’s self- dramatization

Schumann, “Im wunderschönen Monat Mai”



Im wunderschönen Monat Mai, Als alle Knospen sprangen, Da ist in meinem Herzen Die Liebe aufgegangen.

Im wunderschönen Monat Mai, Als alle Vögel sangen, Da hab’ ich ihr gestanden Mein Sehnen und Verlangen.

In the wonderfully lovely month of May, When all the buds were bursting, Then it was that in my heart Love broke through.

In the wonderfully lovely month of May, When all the birds were singing, Then it was I confessed to her My longing and desire.

L i s T E n

L i s T E n

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vanishes when he speaks of his grief in recitative-like rhythms; the end of the

song would be a whimper if Schumann at the piano were not quietly and firmly

in control.

Instead, in a lovely meditative piano solo, music takes over from words.

Not only does the composer interpret the poet’s words with great art, both in

the hectic early stanzas and the self-pitying final one, but he adds something

entirely his own in this final solo. The sixteen vignettes by Heine and Schumann

in Dichterliebe add up to a memorable anthology of the endless pains and

pleasures of love celebrated by the Romantics.

A rather amazing nineteenth-century score of a Schumann lied. The poem is given in ornate calligraphy and illustrated in the richest, most opulent Romantic style. The picture might well be for Clara Schumann’s “The Moon Has Risen Softly” (actually, it is for Robert’s similar song “Moonlit Night”). Then, at the bottom, the music begins. AKG/Science Source.

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Robert Schumann’s father, a bookseller and writer, encouraged the boy’s musical talent and started him studying the piano at the age of six. When his father died, his mother wanted him to go into law; he attended the University of Leipzig, but finally persuaded her to let him pursue the career of a piano virtuoso. He had to give this up, however, after an injury sustained when he tried to strengthen his fingers with a mechanical device.

Besides his musical talent, Schumann had a great flair for literature, no doubt inherited from his father. When he was only twenty-three, Schumann founded a magazine to campaign for a higher level of music, Die Neue Zeitschrift für Musik (The New Music Journal — it is still being published). For several years he wrote regular music criticism, often couched in a fanciful romantic prose style. For example, he signed some of his reviews with the names “Florestan” or “Eusebius,” representing the opposite (but both thoroughly romantic) sides of his character — the impetuous side and the tender, dreamy side. He encouraged fledgling composers such as Chopin and (later) Brahms.

Schumann’s piano works — among his most important music — are mostly “character pieces,” often with imaginative titles, and occasionally signed “Eu.” or “Fl.” at the end. They are arranged in loosely organized sets, with titles such as Butterflies, Scenes from Childhood, and Carnaval.

Schumann fell in love with Clara Wieck, the daughter of his piano teacher; at the age of fifteen she was already a famous pianist. Thanks to her father’s fanatical opposition — he did not think Robert was a very savory character — they had to wait until she was

twenty-one (minus one day) before getting mar- ried, in 1840. A charming outcome of the marriage was that Robert, whose early compositions were almost all for piano, sud- denly started to write love songs for Clara. Nearly one hundred and fifty songs were composed in this so-called song year.

A little later, he also turned to the composition of larger works: concertos, symphonies, chamber music, choral music, and one opera. Thereafter he worked as a teacher and conductor, but his withdrawn personality made him less than successful. Schumann suffered from mood swings and had experienced breakdowns in his youth, and now he began to show tragic signs of insanity. In 1854, tormented by voices, hallucinations, and loss of memory, he tried to drown himself in the river Rhine and was committed to an asylum. He died two years later.

Chief Works: Sets of miniatures for piano, among them Scenes from Childhood, Album for the Young, Papillons (Butterflies), and Carnaval j Songs (lieder) and song cycles: Woman’s Life and Love, Dichterliebe j Piano Fantasy (a free sonata); Piano Concerto and the first important concerto for cello; four sym- phonies j Chamber music: a quintet and a quartet for piano and strings j An opera, Genoveva; incidental music to Byron’s Manfred and Goethe’s Faust; choral works

Encore: After Dichterliebe and Carnaval, listen to the Piano Concerto in A Minor.

Image credit: Bettmann/CORBIS.


Robert Schumann (1810 –1856)

Clara Schumann, “Der Mond kommt still gegangen” (The moon has risen softly) (1843) This lied is another perfect Romantic miniature, in spite of the cliché-filled

poem, with its moonlight, its dreams of love, and its downhearted lover. Both

melody and piano accompaniment are very plain, but the slightly unusual

chords chosen by Schumann create a unique pensive mood. The form, too, is

simple: modified strophic form, A A A9. Some modification, however slight, had

to occur in stanza 3, where the poem’s speaker, catching sight of the lit-up

windows in the house, registers his excitement by crowding his poetic lines

with extra words and extra syllables — which require extra notes.

There is an obvious, banal way of setting such crowded lines: See page 243,

in the Listen box. But instead Schumann very skillfully pulls the words out of

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phase with the musical phrases, achieving beautiful rhythmic matches for

some of the extra words: slower for drunten (down), livelier for funkeln

(light — literally, sparkle), and very slow for still (silently):

−−−−− 24 Ł \

Ł Ł Ł Ł Ł Ł ¼ Ł Ł Ł Ł Ł Ł Ł ý Ł ¹ Ł Ł Ł¦ Ł¦ Ł Ł Ł Ł ¼ Ł Ł Ł Ł¦ Ł ð ý

−−−−− Ł Ł ýŁ Ł Ł Ł ¹ ¼ Ł Ł Ł Ł Ł Ł Ł Ł ý

[ Ł Ł Ł ý ¼ Ł Ł Ł Ł Ł Ł Ł Ł Ł ý n


St. 2: 1And on the drifting breez-es 2From man - y faith - ful minds 3Endearing thoughts by the thousand 4Waft down on those who sleep. St. 1: 1The moon has ri - sen soft - ly 2With gleaming rays of gold, 3Be - neath its shin - ing splendor 4The wea - ry earth’s at rest.

St. 3: 1Und drun - ten im Ta - le, da funkeln 2Die Fenster von Lieb - chens Haus; 3Ich a - ber blikke im Dunkeln 4Still . . . 1And down in the val-ley, a light can 2Be seen in my loved _ one’s house; 3But I keep staring, in darkness, 4Silently



Clara Wieck was the eldest child (she had two younger brothers) of a highly ambitious music teacher named Friedrich Wieck (pronounced Veek). Wieck had his own piano method, and he determined to make Clara a leading pianist. By the age of fifteen she was widely known as a prodigy. Like most virtuosos of the time, she also composed music to play at her own concerts: variations on popular opera arias, waltzes, a piano concerto.

Robert and Clara Schumann figure in what must be music’s greatest love story. Still, there seems to have been just a little friction between them because she was so much better a pianist; she, on her part, felt diffident about composing under his shadow, though he did encourage her to some extent, and they published one song cycle jointly, containing music by both of them. Clara often wrote songs to give Robert on his birthdays. The last of these is dated 1853, the year before he was committed to an insane asylum.

Even before that, Robert’s depression and instability made life difficult for Clara. She continued her career as best she could, but more and more she had to take care of the family. During the 1848 revolution in Leipzig, for example, it was up to her to get the five Schumann children out of town (three more were born later).

Things were difficult in another way when Robert died. At the age of thirty-seven, after losing the husband whom she loved and revered, Clara found herself more than half in love with his twenty-two- year-old protégé Johannes Brahms (see page 288). It is not known which of them withdrew from the relationship. They remained close friends; Brahms was a lifelong bachelor, and she did not remarry.

Today we tend to regret that Clara decided to give up composing, for she left enough good pieces to make us wish there were more. But she knew it would have been an uphill battle, given the common nineteenth-century view that important music couldn’t be written by a woman. With children to support, she can hardly be blamed for concentrat- ing instead on activities that had already earned her admiration and respect — and a good living: concertizing and teaching.

Clara Schumann went on to further establish herself as one of Europe’s leading pianists and a much-sought-after pedagogue. She concertized and toured widely. Brahms (who always asked her to critique his new compositions) was just one in the eminent circle of her friends and associates. Outliving Robert by forty years, Clara became a major force in late nineteenth-century music.

Chief Works: Miniatures for piano, with names such as Romances and Soirées musicales (Musical Evenings); songs j A piano concerto and a trio for piano, violin, and cello j Piano Variations on a Theme by Robert Schumann (Brahms wrote a set of variations on the same theme)

Encore: After “Der Mond,” listen to Romances for piano and the piano concerto.

Image credit: De Agostini Picture Library/A. Dagli Orti/Bridge- man Art Library.


Clara Wieck (Clara Schumann) (1819 –1896)

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Clara Schumann, “Der Mond kommt still gegangen”




St. 1: 1Der Mond kommt still gegangen 2Mit seinem goldn’en Schein, 3Da Schläft in holdem Prangen 4Die müde Erde ein.

St. 2: 1Und auf den Lüften schwanken 2Aus manchem treuen Sinn 3Viel tausend Liebesgedanken 4Über die Schläfer hin.

St. 3: 1Und drunten im Tale, da funkeln 2Die Fenster von Liebchens Haus; 3Ich aber blicke im Dunkeln 4Still in die Welt hinaus.

The moon has risen softly With gleaming rays of gold, Beneath its shining splendor The weary earth’s at rest.

And on the drifting breezes From many faithful minds Endearing thoughts by the thousand Waft down on those who sleep.

And down in the valley, a light can Be seen in my loved one’s house; But I keep staring, in darkness, Silently out to the world.

L i s T E n


−−−−−−−−−− ŁŁŁ Ł ŁŁ ŁŁ ŁŁ ŁŁ Ł ŁŁŁŁ ŁŁŁ ŁŁŁ ŁŁŁŁ ŁŁŁ ý ŁŁŁŁ ¹¹ 2Be seen in my loved one’s house;

St. 3

Obvious way she might have set stanza 3 (yielding an unmodified strophic setting)

1And downin the val - ley, a light can

And three things help make the climactic word Liebchens (loved one) radiant:

the new long high note, the new harmony, and the expansive phrase (five bars in

place of four). Schumann’s piano postlude adds a wistful minor-mode aftertaste.

As with many great lieder, the music here far transcends the words.

2 | The Character Piece for Piano Besides the lied, the other chief type of Romantic miniature composition was the short piano piece. Such pieces were written in great profusion in the nineteenth century, and they appeared under many names. Frédéric Chopin preferred simple genre titles such as Nocturne, Waltz, Scherzo, or Étude (study). Robert Schumann preferred descriptive titles. Piano miniatures were composed at all levels of difficulty, ranging from virtuoso showpieces, which hardly anyone but their composers could manage, to unassuming pieces playable (and enjoyed) by beginning students.

A good general name for these short Romantic piano pieces (one sometimes used by the Romantics themselves) is character pieces, for the essential point about them is that each portrays some definite mood or character. In principle, at least, this is as true of the brilliant virtuoso works as of the simple ones. Each conveys an intense, distinct emotion — an emotion often hinted at by an imaginative title supplied by the composer.

This explains why the Romantic character piece can be thought of as analogous to the Romantic song, or lied, though without its poem. Indeed, six books of such piano pieces by Felix Mendelssohn are entitled Songs without Words. Some of them have descriptive subtitles that stress still further their simi- larity to lieder: “Spinning Song,” “Spring Song,” “Venetian Boat Song.”

Franz Schubert, Moment Musical no. 2 in A-flat (1827?) Creative publishers gave Franz Schubert’s piano miniatures their titles:

“ Momens musicals” (spelled wrong!) and “Impromptus” (improvisations —

Johannes Brahms would later call some of his miniatures “caprices”).

In Moment Musical No. 2, the main idea, A, is a gentle rocking figure, with

a nostalgic mood characteristic of Schubert. The mood deepens when A9 is

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provided with a relatively long coda, which seems reluctant ever to let go. In

between comes B, a sad melody in the minor mode; the piano texture changes

from cloudy chords in A to plain melody with a steady moving accompaniment

in B. As usual in piano miniatures, the form is simple, at least on the surface:

A B A9 B9 A0.

But in fact this is an excellent example of how much these schematic

form diagrams can hide. After A B A9 with its coda, after four minutes, we

think that the piece must be over — except, perhaps, for a hint when the piano

moves to an unusually high register at the coda’s final cadence. B returns

again, or rather explodes — fortissimo, in the high register, no longer sad but

terribly anguished, a cry of pain. In the wake of this climax, there is a

momentary switch from the minor mode to the major, a Schubert fingerprint

we also noted in Listening Exercise 7 (page 34). Does this change heal the

pain? By the end of A0 the high register no longer hints at anything. It simply

hovers at the border of hearing, a true Romantic effect, a Romantic evocation

of the ineffable.

“Eusebius: In sculpture, the actor’s art becomes fixed. The actor transforms the sculptor’s forms into living art. The painter turns a poem into a painting. The musician sets a picture to music. Florestan: The aesthetic principle is the same in every art; only the material differs.”

Robert Schumann, 1833

Robert Schumann, Carnaval (1833–1835)




.0 ðŁ

Ł \

Ł Ł Ł¦ Ł





Ł¦ Ł Ł Ł² Ł




¦ Ł Ł−


Ł Ł Ł Ł²


Ł Ł¦








¦ Ł¦ Ł Ł¦




Ł Adagio







5 rit.

3 3

3 3

Schumann’s style of piano writing has a warmth and privacy that set it apart from

the music of any of the other pianist-composers of his day. A favorite marking on

his scores is the German word innig, meaning “inward,” “intimate,” or “ heartfelt.”

Schumann typically assembled his piano pieces into collections with some

general title and, often, some interesting musical means of connection among

them. Just as the Romantic character piece for the piano is analogous to the

Romantic lied, so these collections by Schumann are analogous to song cycles.

Such a collection is Carnaval, a set of twenty short character pieces that

really are characters — musical portraits of masked guests at a Mardi Gras ball.

After the band strikes up an introduction, the sad clown Pierrot arrives, fol-

lowed by the pantomime figures Harlequin and Columbine, Schumann himself,

two of his girlfriends masquerading under the names Estrella and Chiarina,

and even the composers Paganini and Chopin. This diverse gallery provided

Schumann with an outlet for his whimsy and humor, as well as all his Roman-

tic melancholy and passion.

“Eusebius” Eusebius was Schumann’s pen name for his tender, dreamy self, and this little piece presents him at his most introspective. In the passage

below, the yearning effect of the high notes (shaded) is compounded by the

vague, languorous rhythm:

3 | 24–25 55–56 24–25

Moment Musical No. 2

A 0:00 a, p 0:29 a9 B 1:06 b: minor, p A9 2:18 a0 (longer) 0:47 3:05 coda B9 3:42 b9: minor, ff Turns to the major A0 1:11 4:53 a09, p 1:49 5:31 coda

L i s T E n





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The right-hand groups of five and three blur with the left-hand quarter notes,

especially when played with Romantic rubato. The somewhat unusual form

is aa ba b9a9 ba, in which b9a9 stands out, although it differs from ba only

in its much thicker chords, heightening the emotional warmth, and its use of

the pedal.

“Florestan” After “Eusebius” ends very tentatively, Schumann’s impetuous other self makes his entrance. “Florestan” is built out of a single explosive mo-

tive; the piece moves in fits and starts. At first the motive contrasts with a calmer

one, but then it gets faster and faster, almost madly, ending completely up in the

air. This non-cadence is resolved only in the next number.

Frédéric Chopin, nocturne in F-sharp, Op. 15, no. 2 (1831) Chopin’s twenty-one nocturnes, meaning “night pieces,” written throughout his career, are as different as twenty-one different nights. But each features a par-

ticularly striking tune — a languid serenade, for example, or a dark, secret

lament. Something else — a musical contrast — is usually heard or overheard in

the night, too, such as a distant procession, a passionate encounter, or even a

fragment of a dance or a folk song.

The opening tune in Chopin’s Nocturne in F-sharp has an elegance unique to

the composer, an elegance that stems partly from the wonderfully graceful

rhythm, partly from the Romantic turns of harmony, and partly from the pianistic

decorations of the melodic line. We have seen decorated melodies before, but

Was this striking painting, by a minor late nineteenth-century artist, done with Chopin’s nocturnes in mind? Called Notturno, its cool elegance, twilight sensuality, and vaguely apprehensive quality might suggest so. Blauel/Gnamm/Artothek.

Nocturne in F-sharp

0:00 a 0:27 a9 ornamented 0:58 b 1:28 c 2:13 a0 2:55 coda

L i s T E n

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Chopin was born near Warsaw, where his father, a Frenchman who had emigrated to Poland and married a Polish lady, ran a private school for young gentlemen. In this atmosphere Fryderyk — later he adopted the French form Frédéric — acquired his lifelong taste for life in high society. Provided with the best teachers available, he became an extraordinary pianist. There are many reports  of the exquisite delicacy of his playing, and his miraculous ability, as it seemed at the time, to draw romantic sounds out of the piano.

Furthermore, his set of variations on Mozart’s “Là ci darem la mano” (see page 192), written when he was seventeen, was already an impressive enough composition to earn a rave review from Robert Schumann.

Chopin settled in Paris, where he found ready acceptance from society people and from other artists and intellectuals, such as the novelist Honoré de Balzac and the painter Eugène Delacroix, who produced the famous portrait of the composer shown here. Chopin made his way as a fashionable piano teacher and by selling his music to publishers. The facts that he was Polish and that Poland was being overrun by Russia at that time seem to have made him even more glamorous to the French. Among Chopin’s piano miniatures are over fifty Mazurkas and sixteen Polonaises, which are stylized Polish dances.

Chopin was a frail and fastidious personality. Though he sometimes played in public, he truly dis- liked the hurly-burly of concert life and preferred to perform for select audiences in great houses.

More than any other of the great composers, he restricted his work to music for his instrument, the piano. Even his works that combined orchestra with piano — two concer- tos and a few other works — were all from his pre-Paris days.

The major event of his personal life was his ten-year romance with Aurore Dudevant, an early feminist and a famous novelist under the pen name George Sand. (They were introduced by Liszt, who wrote an admiring book about Chopin after his death.) The relationship was a rocky one; Sand sketched some unkind scenes from their life together in one of her novels. After the affair ended in 1847, Chopin’s health declined with his spirits. He toured England and Scotland unhappily in 1848 and died the next year, aged thirty-nine, of tuberculosis, a major killer in the nineteenth century.

Chief Works: Character pieces for piano: Preludes (including the “Raindrop” prelude), Nocturnes, Études, Ballades, Waltzes (including the “Minute” waltz), and Polish Mazurkas and Polonaises j Three piano sonatas, including one with a famous funeral march as the slow movement j Two piano concertos j A cello sonata; a few Polish songs

Encore: Listen to the Nocturne in D-flat Major, the Fantasy- Impromptu, and the Ballade in G Minor.

Image credit: Louvre, Paris, France/Giraudon/The Bridgeman Art Library.


Frédéric Chopin (1810 –1849)

Chopin’s have an almost liquid quality, caused partly by chromaticism — by the

free use of all the notes of the chromatic scale, as in this fragment:

Ł¦ Ł Ł¦ Ł Ł¦ Ł Ł Ł¦ Ł¦ Ł Ł¦ Ł Ł¦ Ł Ł²

²²²²²² .0 Ł ý Ł Ł \

Ł ý Ł Łl Łl Ł Ł¦ Ł Ł ý Ł Ł l Łl Łl Ł

\\ Ł¦

3 dolciss.

e poco ritenuto


Romantic form contributes to the Romantic effect. Chopin avoids sharp

demarcations and literal returns; the music seems to grow spontaneously, in an

almost improvisational way. The main tune, A (a a9 b), does not really end, but

gives way to plaintive sounds emerging out of nowhere, which surge up to a

moment of real passion. Then the return of the tune (a0) is fragmentary — though

in a way more intense — and the whole is capped by an unexpected and delicious

little coda. Free rhythm in the performance (rubato) mirrors the freedom of form.

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There are some important composers whose music we unfortunately have to pass over in this book because of space limits. In this box and the one on page 248, we give the biographies of three of them, together with some account of their roles in the history of Romantic music.

Franz Liszt learned music from his father on the Hungarian estate of the princes Esterházy, whom Haydn had once served. At age eleven, the boy gave his first piano concert in Vienna, where he met Beethoven. He later settled in Paris, home of another great émigré pianist-composer, Chopin.

Liszt’s dashing looks and personality and his liaisons with married noblewomen — Countess d’Agoult and, later, Princess Sayn-Wittgenstein — dazzled Europe as much as his incredible pianistic technique. No one had heard such virtuosity. He drew crowds like a modern rock star and cultivated a lifestyle to match.

After his relationship with d’Agoult came to a stormy end in 1839, Liszt spent a few years giving sensational concerts all over Europe. Tiring of con- cert life, he then took a position as conductor and director of the theater at Weimar, in Germany, where there was still a court that supported the arts in the old eighteenth-century manner. There he wrote his most radical and influential music.

Like many other Romantic composers, Liszt was a writer of note, as well as a musician. He was a strong advocate of the music of Richard Wagner; the two men learned much from each other. Both friend

and foe linked Wagner’s “music dramas” with Liszt’s symphonic poems as “Music of the Future.” In his personality, however, Liszt was as magnanimous as Wagner was self-centered and devious.

Liszt really had two major careers. The first, at Paris, his career as a fantastic piano virtuoso, under- pins a musical ideal that is still alive and well in music conservatories today. It left a mass of fiercely difficult piano music, including the Transcendental Études (the name says it all!) and the popular Hun- garian Rhapsodies — important early products of nationalism in music (see page 282).

Liszt’s second career, at Weimar, focused on orchestral music: program symphonies and symphonic poems. We take up these genres on pages 249 and 279.


Franz Liszt (1811–1886)

Liszt’s phenomenal virtuosity as a pianist inspired many a cartoonist. The sword here refers to his many decorations; he has a halo because he had turned to religion and become an unordained priest. “The Abbé Liszt” was known to break, if not pianos, piano strings, and this helped ruin one Viennese piano maker (Graf). Mary Evans Picture Library.

3 | Early Romantic Program Music The lied and the character piece for piano — the two main forms of early Romantic miniature compositions — were intimately tied up with nonmusical, usually poetic, ideas. Furthermore, in a work such as Schumann’s Carnaval, the various piano portraits are juxtaposed in such a way as to hint at their interaction — hint, that is, at a shadowy story line. Poems, stories, and nonmusical ideas in general were also associated with large-scale instrumental pieces.

As we have seen, program music is a term used for instrumental composi- tions associated with poems, stories, and the like. Program music for orchestra grew up naturally in opera overtures, for even in the eighteenth century it was seen that an overture might gain special interest if it referred to moods or ideas in the opera to come by citing (or, rather, forecasting) some of its themes.

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This happens in Mozart’s Don Giovanni, in which the next-to-last scene has Don Giovanni carried off to hell by the statue of the murdered Commandant (see page 190). The otherworldly music associated with the statue is first heard in the opera’s overture, even before the curtain has gone up. Lively, effervescent music follows; but the serious undertone of Mozart’s opera is already loud and clear at the start of the work’s overture.

The Concert Overture: Felix Mendelssohn A further step, conceptually, was the concert overture, never intended to be followed by a stage play or an opera — never intended, indeed, for the theater. Robert Schumann wrote an overture to Hermann und Dorothea, by Goethe, which is not a play but an epic poem. Hector Berlioz wrote overtures to literary works of various kinds: plays (Shakespeare’s King Lear), long poems (The Corsair by Byron, a special hero for the Romantics), and novels (Waverley by Sir Walter Scott).

Public composer and private composer: Felix Mendelssohn and his sister Fanny. Both images: Bettmann/CORBIS.

Felix Mendelssohn may be the only great composer who has ever come from an upper-class family, a family of converted Jews who were in banking. Their home was a meeting place for artists and intellectuals over generations. Felix and his sister Fanny were brought up with music and every other advantage that came with a life of privilege. (Felix also became a fine amateur painter.)

By the time he was fifteen Felix was conducting the family orchestra in his own music. He went on to a stellar career, not only as an enormously successful composer but also as a pianist, organist, conductor, educator — he founded the Leipzig Conservatory of Music — and even musicologist. His performance of Bach’s St. Matthew Passion was a landmark in the revival of “early music.”

This action was typical, for from the start Mendelssohn showed a great respect for, even deference toward, the classics. His music never goes as far as, say, Schumann or Chopin in acceding to Romantic tendencies, but always keeps a firm foundation of Classical technique.

One of Mendelssohn’s most significant fields of activity was the concert overture, an early genre of Romantic program music, discussed above. In his lifetime he was admired even more for his oratorios St. Paul and Elijah, and for popular sets of piano miniatures he called Songs without Words. His Violin Concerto and “Italian” Symphony are special favorites.

Fanny Mendelssohn, Felix’s older sister, was also a highly prolific composer. The siblings were always very close; music was one of their bonds, for Fanny showed as much talent as her brother. Married to a painter named Wilhelm Hensel, she devoted herself to weekly concerts at the Mendelssohn home in Berlin, for which she composed music of all kinds, including even oratorios.

However, Fanny’s music did not pass beyond the threshold of the Mendelssohn mansion. Only a small percentage of it found its way into print, at the end of her short life. Fanny is often seen as a victim of patri- archal society and of the general refusal in the past to take women composers seriously. Like Mozart’s sister Nannerl, she watched as her younger brother built a great career, while she was expected — indeed, c onditioned — to put motherhood and family first, music second. But we should remember that unlike other successful women composers of the nineteenth century — from Louise Farrenc (1804–1875) to Clara Schumann (1819–1896) to Cécile Chaminade (1857–1944) and Ethel Smythe (1858–1944) — Fanny Mendelssohn belonged to the upper class. Few members of this class, male or female, had ever pursued public careers in the arts. They didn’t need the rat race. Workaholic Felix was an exception.

Fanny’s sudden death at age forty-one devas- tated Felix and hastened his own death only six months later.


Felix Mendelssohn Fanny Mendelssohn (1809 –1847) (1805 –1847)

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C H A P T E R 1 7 | The Early Romantics 249

“Love or music — which power can uplift man to the sublimest heights? It is a large question; yet it seems to me one should answer it in this way: Love cannot give an idea of music; music can give an idea of love. But why separate them? They are the two wings of the soul.”

From the Memoirs of Hector Berlioz, 1869

Probably the best-known and best-loved concert overtures are by Felix Mendelssohn. He wrote his concert overture to Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream when he was seventeen; the play was a special favorite with both Felix and his sister Fanny. He had no theatrical occasion in mind, though years later the overture was indeed used in productions of the Shakespeare play. At that time Mendelssohn also added other music, and a suite derived from this piece has become a popular concert number.

A work in sonata form, following Classical models quite clearly, the overture to A Midsummer Night’s Dream nonetheless includes representational features. Music illustrates the delicate, fluttering fairies in the service of King Oberon and Queen Titania, the sleep induced by Puck’s magic flower, and the braying of Bottom the Weaver when he is turned into a donkey.

Another fine example by Mendelssohn is the Hebrides Overture, an evoca- tive, moody depiction of lonely Scottish islands rich in romantic associations. Surging string music suggests the swell and the spray of waves; woodwind fan- fares suggest seabird calls, perhaps, or romanticized foghorns. This is evidently program music, but what makes it an overture? Nothing more than the fact that it follows the standard scheme for overtures at the time — namely, a single movement in sonata form.

The Program Symphony: Hector Berlioz

program of the symphony: A young musician of unhealthy sensibility and passionate imagination poisons himself with opium in a fit of lovesick despair. Too weak to kill him, the dose of the drug plunges him into a heavy sleep attended by the strangest visions, during which his sensations, emotions, and memories are transformed in his diseased mind into musical thoughts and images. Even the woman he loves becomes a melody to him, an idée fixe [an obsession], so to speak, that he finds and hears everywhere.

So begins a long pamphlet that the French Romantic composer Hector Berlioz distributed at performances of his first symphony — a symphony which he could justifiably call Fantastic, and which to this day remains his most famous work. It certainly represents a more radical approach to program music than that of the concert overture. Berlioz, too, had written several concert overtures, but he now felt the need for a broader canvas. In his program symphonies — entire symphonies with programs spelled out movement by movement — Berlioz set the tone for the grandiose compositions that were to become as characteristic of Romanticism as its musical miniatures.

Hector Berlioz, Fantastic Symphony: Episodes in the Life of an Artist (1830)

Clearly Berlioz had a gift for public relations, for the program of his Fantastic

Symphony was not a familiar play or novel, but an autobiographical fantasy of

the most lurid sort. Here was music that encouraged listeners to think it had

been written under the influence of opium, the drug of choice among the

Romantics, which shocked society at large. What is more, half of Paris knew

that Berlioz was madly in love (from afar) with an Irish actress, Harriet

Smithson, who had taken the city by storm with her Shakespearean roles.

Audiences have never been quite sure how seriously to take it all, but they

continue to be bowled over by the sheer audacity of the whole conception and

3 | 27–33 58 27

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U n i T i v | The Nineteenth Century250

the rambunctious way it is realized. Then there are the young Berlioz’s effects

of tone color. He demanded an orchestra of unprecedented size (see page 231!),

which he used in the most original and imaginative ways. Also highly original

was the notion of having a single theme recur in all the movements as a repre-

sentation of the musician’s beloved — his idée fixe or obsession, the Shake- spearean Smithson. Here is the idée fixe theme as it first appears:

00 Ł \

ð Ł Ł Ł ýŁ Ł ð Ł [̂

Ł ð Ł ð Ł ¹¹ ý Ł ð Ł Ł Ł ýŁ Ł ð Ł²

[̂ Ł ð Ł¦ Ł ¹ Ł Ł ý− Ł Łý Ł Łý Ł Ł ¹ Ł Ł ý¦ Ł Łý Ł Ł ý Ł

Ł ¹ Ł Ł ý− Ł Ł ý Ł Ł ý Ł²Ł ² ¹ Ł [̂

Ł ý Ł ð Ł ŁnŁnŁn Ł \

Ł ý ¹ Ł




Ł Ł ý ¹ Ł

Ł Ł Ł Ł Ł Ł− Ł¦ Ł Ł² Ł Ł² [̂

Ł \

Ł¦ q Ł Ł Ł Ł Ł Ł Ł ¼ 3 3

3 3


15 ritenuto a tempo


20 poco rit.



canto espressivo

dolcepoco cresc. poco a poco


dim.cresc. poco


Allegro agitato e appassionato assai


This typically Romantic melody takes its yearning quality from its slow

struggle to move higher and higher in pitch; from measure 5 on, each phrase

peaks a bit above the preceding phrase until the melody reaches its climax at

measure 15. Near the end, measure 19 provides a positive shudder of emotion.

Notice how many dynamic, rubato, and other marks Berlioz has supplied,

trying to ensure just the right expressive quality from moment to moment.

To illustrate the drastic mood swings described in his program, Berlioz

subjects the idée fixe to thematic transformation (see page 232) for all its other

appearances in the opium dream. The last movement, for example, has a grotesque

parody of the theme. Its new jerky rhythm and squeaky orchestration (using the

small E-flat clarinet) thoroughly undermine the original Romantic mood:

Berlioz’s expressive terms translate as follows:

Canto espressivo = expressive song dolce 5 sweetly poco 5 somewhat poco a poco 5 bit by bit animato 5 animated ritenuto 5 slowed down

(ritardando) a tempo 5 back to the original


From Berlioz’s Program: Movement 1

First he recalls the soul-sickness, the aimless passions, the baseless depressions and elations that he felt before first seeing his loved one; then the volcanic love that she instantly inspired in him; his jealous furies; his return to tenderness; his religious consolations.

Ð Ł Ł Ł ý Ł ð ý


Ł Ł Ł² Ł Second theme


¦ ¦ ² ¦ ¦ ¦

² ¦ −−− 24 Ł

[ Ł Ł Ł Ł Ł̀ Ł Ł̀ Ł Ł̀ Ł Ł̀ Ł Ł ý Ł Ł Ł Ł Ł



Allegro E− C L A R I N E T

First Movement: Reveries, Passions (Largo — Allegro agitato e appassionato assai) We first hear a short, quiet run-in — a typically Romantic touch

suggesting that the music has grown up imperceptibly out of silence. Then the

“soul-sickness” mentioned in the program is depicted by a halting, passionate

melody. A faster section begins with the idée fixe, and the music picks up energy

(the “volcanic love” of the program).

This fast section follows sonata form, but only very loosely. The idée fixe is

the main theme, and a second theme is simply a derivative of the first. Some of

the finest strokes in this movement run counter to Classical principles — for

example, the arresting up-and-down chromatic scale that arrives in the

development section without any logical connection to anything else. The

recapitulation, too, is extended in a very un-Classical fashion; it actually includes

a whole new melody for the oboe.

Near the end, beginning a very long coda, the idée fixe returns loudly at a

faster tempo — the first of its many transformations. At the very end, slower

music depicts the program’s “religious consolations.”

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C H A P T E R 1 7 | The Early Romantics 251

Second Movement: A Ball (Allegro non troppo) A symphony needs the simplic- ity and easy swing of a dance movement, and this ballroom episode of the opium

dream conveniently provides one. The dance in question is not a minuet or a

scherzo, but a waltz, the most popular ballroom dance of the nineteenth cen-

tury. The idée fixe, transformed into a lilting triple meter, first appears in the

position of the trio (B in the A B A form) and then returns hauntingly in a coda.

Third Movement: Scene in the Country (Adagio) Invoking nature to reflect human emotions was a favorite Romantic procedure. The “pastoral duet” is played

by an English horn and an offstage oboe (boy and girl, perhaps?). At the end, the

English horn returns to the accompaniment of distant thunder sounds, played on

four differently tuned timpani. Significantly, the oboe can no longer be heard.

In this movement the idée fixe returns in a new, strangely agitated

transformation. It is interrupted by angry sounds swelling to a climax, reflecting

the anxieties chronicled in the program.

Movement 3

He hears two shepherds piping in dialogue. The pastoral duet, the location, the light rustling of trees stirred gently by the wind, some newly conceived grounds for hope — all this gives him a feeling of unaccustomed calm. But she appears again . . . what if she is deceiving him?

No other great composer has survived so unpromising a beginning to reach so unhappy an end as Hector Berlioz. Berlioz grew up in a country village in France and received a spotty musical education; he played the guitar and the flute, and as a hypersensitive child learned as much from reading books and scores as from his teachers. His father, a doctor, sent him to medical school in Paris. But, as Berlioz told it, he was so horrified when he got to the dissecting room, where rats were nibbling at the scraps, that he leaped out of the window and went to the Paris Conservatory of Music instead.

The anecdote is typical of his emotional and utterly Romantic personality. Berlioz thought the unthinkable in music; his grandiose program symphonies had simply no precedent and were not matched in ambition until the time of Gustav Mahler, about 1900. His imagination for orchestral tone color was extraordinary.

Like all other Romantic composers, he was inspired by literary models, including especially Shakespeare — his Lélio is a meditation on Hamlet, and his opera Béatrice et Bénédict is taken from Much Ado about Nothing — and Virgil. The Trojans (1858), his huge two-part opera derived from Virgil’s Aeneid, was seldom performed until modern times, but it is now regarded as his masterpiece.

Berlioz had two wretched marriages, the first to the Irish Shakespearean actress Harriet Smithson, who is immortalized as the idée fixe in the Fantastic Symphony. In spite of suffering from constant ridicule from the musical establishment on the one hand, and terrible health on the other, Berlioz managed through

sheer force of his impetu- ous personality to get most of his enormous compositions performed and to gain a good mea- sure of recognition in musically conservative Paris.

Throughout his life, he was obliged to support himself with musical journalism, at which he was a master; his Memoirs is one of the most delightful books ever written about music. One of the first great conductors, Berlioz toured extensively to promote his own music, especially in Germany, where he was welcomed in progressive circles.

His last years were spent in physical pain and depression. During this time he dragged himself to Russia for conducting gigs — he said his pain stopped when he was on the podium. After 1862 he listened to little music and composed none. Berlioz died in Paris in 1869.

Chief Works: Program symphonies: Fantastic Symphony, Har- old in Italy, Romeo and Juliet j Concert overtures: The Corsair, The Roman Carnival j Operas: Benvenuto Cellini, The Trojans (after Virgil’s Aeneid) j Oratorios: The Damnation of Faust, The Childhood of Christ j A great Requiem Mass for orchestra, chorus, and four brass bands

Encore: After the whole Fantastic Symphony, listen to the program symphony Harold in Italy and the overture The Corsair. Read the Memoirs.

Image credit: Hulton-Deutsch Collection/CORBIS.


Hector Berlioz (1803 –1869)

Movement 2

He encounters his beloved at a ball, in the midst of a noisy, brilliant party.

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U n i T i v | The Nineteenth Century252

Fourth Movement: March to the Scaffold (Allegretto non troppo) This move- ment has two main themes: a long downward scale (“gloomy and wild”) and an

exciting military march (“brilliant and grand”), orchestrated more like a foot-

ball band than a symphony orchestra. Later the scale theme appears divided up

in its orchestration between plucked and bowed strings, woodwinds, brass, and

percussion — a memorable instance of Berlioz’s novel imagination for tone

color. The scale theme also appears in a truly shattering inverted form (that is,

moving up instead of down).

Berlioz had written this march or something like it several years earlier. As

he revised it to go into the Fantastic Symphony, he added a coda that uses the

idée fixe and therefore only makes sense in terms of the symphony’s program.

The final fall of the ax is illustrated musically by the sound of a guillotine chop

and a military snare-drum roll, right after bars 1–2 of the idée fixe. “Berlioz tells

it like it is,” conductor Leonard Bernstein once remarked. “You take a trip and

you end up screaming at your own funeral.”

Fifth Movement: Dream of a Witches’ Sabbath (Larghetto — Allegro) Adding a fifth movement to the traditional four of the Classical symphony was a typi-

cal Berlioz innovation (although it can be traced back to the Beethoven he

so admired). Now the element of parody is added to the astonishing

orchestral effects pioneered earlier in the symphony. First we hear the

unearthly sounds of the nighttime locale of the witches’ orgy. Their swishing

broomsticks are heard, and distant, echoing horn calls summon them. Mutes

are used in the brass instruments — perhaps the first time mutes were ever

used in a poetic way.

As Berlioz remarks, the “noble and timid” idée fixe sounds thoroughly vul-

gar in its last transformation, played in a fast jig rhythm by the shrill E-flat

clarinet. (Compare the music examples on page 250.) The treatment of the idée

fixe here is strictly “programmatic”: When the theme first arrives, only

two phrases are played before the orchestra breaks in, with a “roar of joy”

welcoming Harriet Smithson to the orgy to mock her lover’s death.

Movement 4

He dreams he has killed his beloved, that he is condemned to death and led to execution. A march accompanies the procession, now gloomy and wild, now brilliant and grand. Finally the idée fixe appears for a moment, to be cut off by the fall of the ax.

Movement 5

He finds himself at a Witches’ Sabbath. . . . Unearthly sounds, groans, shrieks of laughter, distant cries echoed by other cries. The beloved’s melody is heard, but it has lost its character of nobility and timidity. It is she who comes to the Sabbath! At her arrival, a roar of joy. She joins in the devilish orgies. A funeral knell; burlesque of the Dies irae.

Witches’ Sabbath (detail), by Francisco de Goya (1746–1828), one of a number of dark, unsettling images Goya painted on the walls of his house in his last years. Satan, in the form of a goat, presides over the orgy. Scala/Art Resource, NY.

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C H A P T E R 1 7 | The Early Romantics 253


−−− 24 ð ý n

[ ð ýn ð ýn ð ýn ð

ýn ð ýn ð ýn ð ýn ð ýn ð ýn ð ýn ð ýn ð ýn ð ýn ð ýn ð

ýn ð ýn ð ýn Ł ý Ł Ł ð ý

−−− ¼

−−− ¼

¹ ŁŁ ýý ŁŁ ýý ŁŁ ýý ŁŁ ýý ŁŁ ýý ŁŁ ýý ŁŁ ýý ŁŁ ýý ŁŁ ýý ŁŁ ýý ŁŁ ýý ŁŁ ýý ŁŁ ýý ŁŁ ýý ŁŁ ýý ŁŁ ýý ŁŁ ýý ŁŁ ýý ŁŁ ŁŁ ðð ýý

Ł Ł Ł Ł Ł Ł Ł Ł Ł Ł Ł Ł Ł Ł Ł Ł Ł Ł Ł Ł ý Ł ý




Original Gregorian chant etc.

Di - es i - rae di - es il - la Sol - vet sae - clum in fa - vil - - la . . . Day of wrath, that dreadful day When heaven and earth shall pass away

Version 1: TUBAS and BASSOONS



As the merriment is brought to an end by the tolling of funeral bells,

Berlioz prepares his most sensational stroke of all — a burlesque of one of the

most solemn and famous of Gregorian chants, the Dies irae (Day of Wrath).

This chant is the centerpiece of Masses for the Dead, or Requiem Masses; in

Catholic France, any audience would have recognized the Dies irae instantly.

Three segments of it are used; each is stated first in low brasses, then faster in

higher brasses, then, faster still and in the vulgar spirit of the transformed idée

fixe, in woodwinds and plucked strings. It makes for a blasphemous, shocking

picture of the witches’ black Mass.

The final section of the movement is the “Witches’ Round Dance.” Berlioz

wrote a free fugue — a traditional form in a nontraditional context; he uses

counterpoint to give a feeling of tumult and orgiastic confusion. The subject is

an excited one:

Ł [

Ł Ł Ł ý n Ł ýn Łl Łl Łl Łl Łl

[̂ Ł Ł Ł Ł Łl Łl Łl

Łl Łl Łl Ł Ł Ł Ł² Ł² Ł Ł Łl Łl Łl Ł Ł


Ł Ł Ł3

The climax of the fugue (and of the symphony) comes when the round

dance theme is heard together with the Dies irae, played by the trumpets.

Berlioz wanted to drive home the point that it is the witches, represented by the

theme of their round dance, who are parodying the church melody. The idée

fixe seems at last to be forgotten.

But in real life Berlioz did not forget; he married Smithson and both of

them lived to regret it.

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U n i T i v | The Nineteenth Century254

Berlioz, Fantastic Symphony, fifth movement 9 min., 59 sec.






Mysterious orchestral effects

Like a distant summons: trombones, then flutes plus piccolo echoed by muted French horns

Free repetitions: mysterious sounds, fanfare








Idée fixe


Upward motive


Funeral bells

Prefatory statement: two phrases (only) of the idée fixe; note the bass drum. Riotous orchestral response, ff.

Entire tune presented in a grotesque transformation, in 6/8 meter, played by “squeaky” E-flat clarinets

Big climax — the first of many

A short, expectant motive (later this motive initiates the fugue subject of the “Round Dance”)

Quiet descending passage

Three sets of three bells (the third set is muted); the upward mo- tive also appears.








Segment 1

Segment 2

Segment 3


Segment 1 of plainchant Dies irae is played in three versions: (1) tubas and bassoons — slow (2) horns and trombones — faster (3) woodwinds and pizzicato strings — faster still (the rhythm here recalls that of the idée fixe)

Segment 2 of the plainchant, same three versions

Segment 3 (begins like segment 1), same three versions

The upward motive is developed; crescendo.

W I TC H E S’ R O U N D D A N C E ( free fugue )














Episode 1

Subject entries

Episode 2

Subject entry

Subject plus Dies irae

Subject entry

Dies irae


Four entries of the fugue subject

Three more entries, in stretto

A passage starting with a loud rhythmic motive, derived from the subject, comes four times.

The music dies down.

Fragments of the Dies irae

Long transition; crescendo over a drum roll

The original subject returns.

The two themes together in a polyphonic combination. This is a climax; trumpets play the Dies irae for the first time.

Final appearance of subject: over strings col legno (played with the wood, that is, the back of the bow). Some notes are lengthened.

Segment 1 of the Dies irae hastily recollected; big drum strokes

Final passage of cadences: very loud

L i s T E n i n g C H A R T 15



















Ł² \

Ł Ł² Ł Ł ¾ Ł n



¦ ¦ ²−−−

[ Ł Ł Ł Ł Ł Ł̀

−−− ð ý n

[ ð ýn ð ýn ð ýn

Ł Ł Ł Ł ý Ł ý Ł Ł Ł Ł


−−− Ł n Łn Łn Ł ýn Ł ý

3 | 27–33 2758







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C H A P T E R 1 7 | The Early Romantics 255

G o a l s f o r r e v i e w

c to come to know new genres in the early nineteenth century: lied, character piece for piano, and program symphony

c to listen carefully to examples of each of these genres

c to differentiate and hear strophic and through-composed form in the lied

c to diagram musical form in miniature piano pieces

c to see program music at work in miniature piano pieces (Carnaval) and a grandiose symphony (Fantastic Symphony)

c to appreciate the individuality of early Romantic styles: Franz Schubert, Robert Schumann, Clara Schumann, Frédéric Chopin, Hector Berlioz Interactive Listening Chart 15 Listening Quiz for Chapter 17 Reading Quiz for Chapter 17

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U n i t i v | The Nineteenth Century256



Romantic Opera

The nineteenth century was a golden age of opera, which flourished all over Europe from Germany, France, and Italy to Bohemia and Russia. This was true in part because opera tied into two important Romantic themes. The first was the idea of breaking down barriers between the arts. Combining music with poetry and other forms of literature,

and even with philosophy, made perfect sense to Romantic composers and their audiences. The age that produced the lied — a German song with an important poetic dimension — was also committed to the union of music and drama.

The second Romantic theme was the celebration of music as the most profound of all the arts. Opera composers and librettists began to ponder the

“Carve this into your head, in letters of brass: An opera must draw tears, cause horror, bring death, by means of song.”

Opera composer Vincenzo Bellini, 1834

The Wolf’s Glen scene from Weber’s Der Freischütz, most famous of early German Romantic operas (see page 258). The Art Archive at Art Resource, NY.

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C H A P t E R 1 8 | Romantic Opera 257

meaning and message of their work; they came to view opera as a type of serious drama in music, not just a vehicle for song, spectacle, and entertainment, as had often been the case before. Richard Wagner is famous for embracing and publicizing this notion. He put it into action with his “music dramas,” as he called his operas — works that fascinated the later nineteenth century. Nevertheless, Wagner was not alone. Even when he was still an unknown provincial conductor, the attitudes he would build on were developing all over Europe.

In this climate many operas took their subjects from highly regarded Romantic novels, such as Ivanhoe, The Lady of the Lake, and The Bride of Lammermoor, by Sir Walter Scott. Other operas started from Romantic poems and plays by Lord Byron, or the French writer Victor Hugo (author, in his later days, of Les Misérables). Moreover, since Romantic writers looked with new enthusiasm to Shakespeare’s plays, opera composers also drew on them widely. Giuseppe Verdi, to whom we now turn, set versions of Shakespeare’s tragedies Macbeth and Othello, as well as the comedy The Merry Wives of Windsor.

1 | Verdi and Italian Opera Giuseppe Verdi was the greatest of Italian opera composers and the dominant figure in nineteenth-century opera houses. For while Wagner’s music dramas and his theories of opera attracted much excited attention, Verdi’s operas got many more performances. Then as now, people were inevitably drawn to compare and contrast these two masters.

The heart of the contrast lies in Verdi’s unswerving commitment to the human voice. In this, he was a faithful follower of the bel canto principles of his Italian predecessors Rossini, Donizetti, and Bellini (see page 258). Verdi never allowed the voice to be overshadowed by the orchestra, and from early on in his career he showed a special talent for writing both beautiful, Romantic melodies and catchy tunes. Opera was a singing art to Verdi, and generations of opera lovers before, during, and after his lifetime have enthusiastically agreed with him.

But while audiences have always loved Verdi’s melodies, what he himself cared most about was the dramatic quality of his operas. First and foremost, Verdi was interested in people, people placed in situations in which strong, exciting actions bring out equally strong emotions. He sought out dramatic subjects full of stirring action, and he had a genius for finding just the right vocal melody to capture a dramatic situation.

Recitative and Aria: the Role of the Orchestra Verdi’s commitment to the human voice does not mean that the orchestra was unimportant to him. Instead it plays a much richer role in his operas than in those of any earlier Italian composer of operas. This was all but inevitable in the orchestra-intoxicated nineteenth century.

The role of the orchestra was especially expanded in passages of recitative or near recitative — the relic or descendant of the recitatives of Baroque opera seria and Classical opera buffa. Italian opera still held roughly to the old division of declamation (recitative) for the action and dialogue portions of an opera, and melody (arias) for reflective, emotional expression. (Ensembles encompassed both.) But plot action and dialogue were now always accompanied by the full

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U n i t i v | The Nineteenth Century258

EaRly ROmaNTIC OpERa Romantic opera made its serious start in the 1820s, after the end of the Viennese Classical period. It sprang from the major opera houses of Italy, especially those in Naples and Milan, and from Paris. In Vienna, both Beethoven and Schubert felt threatened by the popular rage for the operas of Gioacchino Rossini, a young Italian whose meteoric career left a mark on the whole of Europe.

Gioacchino Rossini (1792–1868) Rossini is most famous today for crisp, elegant opera buffas in a style that is not all that far from Mozart — the immortal Barber of Seville among them. The overtures of these operas, which are popular as concert pieces, are even written in sonata form, the true trademark of Classicism in music.

But in his own day Rossini was admired equally for his serious operas, which established the style and form of Italian Romantic opera. This is sometimes called bel canto opera because of its glorification of beautiful singing (bel canto means just that —“beautiful song”). Rossini’s operas provided models of Romantic emotional melodic expression, such as Desdemona’s “Willow Song” from his  Shakespeare opera, Otello. The same operas are also well stocked with coloratura arias, showcases for the legendary virtuoso singers of that era.

To everyone’s astonishment, Rossini gave up opera in 1829 after the success of William Tell, his greatest work.

Gaetano Donizetti (1797–1848) Donizetti, who domi- nated Italian bel canto opera after Rossini’s sudden retire- ment, moved decisively in the direction of simple, sentimental arias and blood-and-thunder action music. Enormously prolific, he wrote more than sixty operas in his short lifetime.

The most famous are Lucia di Lammermoor, based on the historical novel by Scott mentioned on page 257, and Don Pasquale, a very late example of opera buffa. In the 1970s, the American soprano Beverly Sills starred in a Donizetti trilogy featuring famous queens of English

history: Anna Bolena (Anne Boleyn, the ill-fated second wife of Henry VIII), Maria Stuarda (Mary Stuart — Mary, Queen of Scots), and Roberto Devereux (about Queen Elizabeth I and Robert Devereux, Earl of Essex).

Vincenzo Bellini (1801–1835) Vincenzo Bellini strikes listeners today as the most refined of the three early bel canto composers. He wrote many fewer operas than the others, and his most beautiful arias have a unique Roman- tic sheen. The title role in Norma, his finest work, is the final testing ground for sopranos, for it demands highly expressive singing, coloratura fireworks, and great acting, all in unusual quantities.

Verdi often expressed his admiration for the su- premely melodious Bellini. All the same, he learned more from the more robust and dramatic Donizetti.

Carl Maria von Weber (1786–1826) Weber was the founder of German Romantic opera. His most important work, Der Freischütz (The Magic Bullet), has the quality of a German folktale or ballad put to music. Max, a some- what driven young huntsman, sells his soul to the Devil for seven magic bullets, but is redeemed by the love of his in- nocent fiancée, Agatha.

Two spiritual arias sung by Agatha in this opera show Romantic melody at its best. There are German choruses in folk-song style. A famous scene of devilish conjuration (see page 256) features sensational orchestral writing with spooky harmonic effects.

Supernatural subject matter with a strongly moral overtone — quite unlike the historical subjects chosen by Donizetti, for example — and emphasis on the orchestra became characteristic of German Romantic opera. These features are still evident in the mature works of Richard Wagner, who started out in the 1830s as an opera composer in Weber’s mold. Otherwise, Wagner’s “music dramas” leave early Romantic opera far behind.

legendary singers of the bel canto era: pauline Viardot (1821–1910; she was also a composer), maria malibran (1808–1836), and Giulia Grisi (1811–1869), along with a playbill for one of their favorite showcases, the opera Norma by Vincenzo Bellini. left to right: Scala/White Images/Art Resource, NY; Alfredo Dagli Orti/The Art Archive at Art Resource, NY; Album/Art Resource, NY; Bettmann/CORBIS.

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orchestra. Nowhere in Verdi will you hear passages of the old recitative of Mozart, accompanied by harpsichord alone. The orchestra, also, is usually not restricted to the simple chords that were normal in earlier recitative styles; it plays more active, motivic, and excited music that points up the words and urges the singers on.

Recitative is no longer a satisfactory name for this action music in Verdi’s operas, though no other name exists. Highly melodramatic, it is always on the point of merging into a full-fledged melodic style. What distinguishes this music from actual arias is that arias are formally complete and distinct. Unlike passages of Verdian recitative, Verdian arias can be (and often are) extracted and sung separately, as concert numbers.

In arias and duets, the orchestra’s role is smaller; here, however, Verdi uses another Romantic resource, that of rich harmonies underpinning me- lodic high points and climaxes. Many — though by no means all — of Verdi’s arias might be described as simple strophic songs in his own exuberant style of Romantic melody. Some of his most famous music consists of timeless tunes such as the choral hymn “Va pensiero” from Nabucco, the soprano aria “Addio, del passato” from La traviata, and the tenor aria “Celeste Aida” from Aida.

Giuseppe verdi, Rigoletto (1851) Rigoletto was a daring subject for Verdi to take on, typical of his dramatic

choices in its strong situations and violent emotions. For the source of this

opera Verdi looked to a play by the literary lion of French Romanticism, Victor

Hugo. Hugo’s Le roi s’amuse (The King Amuses Himself) scandalized Paris in

1832 with its depiction of a dissolute, womanizing king and a jester who tries

to have him assassinated; it was closed by the police after one performance.

When Verdi settled on it the censors, who checked every operatic project in

Italy at the time, demanded many changes. (The king was demoted to a mere

duke, this apparently making his immorality less offensive.) Scandalous or not,

Rigoletto was an immediate success; today it ranks among the most frequently

performed operas.

The scene is set during the sixteenth century at the court of Mantua in

northern Italy, where Rigoletto is the hunchbacked court jester of the Duke. He

is a split character, divided between cynicism and hatred for the courtiers and

his shining love for his daughter, Gilda, whom he keeps hidden from sight. The

dashing, immoral, and rapacious Duke has gotten wind of her, however, and

wants to add her to his list of conquests. Verdi’s Duke of Mantua is descended

clearly enough from Mozart’s Don Giovanni.

Through turns of plot we will not trace, the Duke manages to seduce Gilda.

She falls in love with him, believing he is a student who returns her love.

Rigoletto, meanwhile, can think only of revenge. He hires an assassin,

Sparafucile — half comical, but still one of the most menacing characters of

nineteenth-century opera — to lure the Duke to his broken-down inn on the

edge of the Mantuan marshes. Sparafucile (his name means something like

“shotgun” in Italian) does so with the aid of his sister, Maddalena.

All this, in the terms of nineteenth-century operatic tragedy, can only end

very badly for poor Gilda and her father.

“I want subjects that are novel, big, beautiful, varied and bold — as bold as can be!”

Giuseppe Verdi, 1853

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We pick up the action at the beginning of the final act, as Rigoletto brings

Gilda to Sparafucile’s hovel to see for herself the Duke’s habits. The scene is

split, with the Duke and Maddalena inside the house, Rigoletto and Gilda

eavesdropping from outside through a crack in the wall, and Sparafucile mov-

ing in between. (We are meant to understand that father and daughter sing to

each other, unheard by those inside.)

Rigoletto and Gilda outside, the Duke and maddalena inside: two images of the quartet, one from Verdi’s day, the other a modern production. left: Bettmann/CORBIS. Below: © Jack Vartoogian/ FrontRowPhotos.

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The son of a storekeeper in a tiny village in northern Italy, Verdi had a spotty education. He played church organ and conducted the band of the neighboring little town. A local merchant, Antonio Barezzi, who became a patron and almost a second father to the young man, sent him to Milan to study music.

In those days, the center of musical life in Italy was Milan’s opera house, La Scala. (It is still active and world famous today.) After several discouraging years in that city, Verdi scored a huge success with his biblical opera Nabucco (Nebuchadnezzar) when he was twenty- nine years old. For the next ten years he composed operas at a furious rate for opera houses in Italy, Paris, and London. Three great hits from the early 1850s are still his most popular works: Rigoletto, which we take up here; Il trovatore, a grisly tale set in the age of chivalry; and La traviata, about a Parisian courtesan with a noble heart. After this Verdi took more time with his operas, and his later works became richer and more subtle.

Italy was not an independent nation during Verdi’s youth. He was an ardent supporter of the Risorgimento, or Italian liberation movement, and many of his early operas had patriotic themes. The most beloved number in Nabucco was a nostalgic hymn of the Hebrew slaves in Babylon — a clear reference to the Italians under the heel of the Austrian Empire. In the year of revolution, 1848, Verdi wrote the rousing Battle of Legnano. VERDI actually became a patriotic acronym for the popular choice for king — Vittorio Emmanuele,

Re d’Italia. After indepen- dence was achieved, the composer was made an honorary deputy in the first Italian parliament.

A dour character and a tough businessman, Verdi drove hard bargains with opera impresarios, bullied his librettists, and insisted on supervising the production of his new operas. After the premiere of Aida in 1871 in Cairo, Egypt — Verdi was internationally famous — he retired to a fine country estate near his birthplace and spent his later years hunting and raising livestock. He was coaxed out of retirement in the 1880s by his canny publisher and by an eminent librettist, Arrigo Boito. In his seventies, Verdi wrote his two greatest operas with Boito on Shakespearean subjects: the tragedy Otello and the comedy Falstaff.

Verdi’s first marriage, to the daughter of his early patron Barezzi, ended when his young wife and two babies died within two years. The composer bore the emotional scars of this tragedy all his life, and it may be that the many moving scenes between fathers and daughters in Verdi’s operas, including Rigoletto, served to channel his feelings about fatherhood. He later mar- ried a remarkable woman, Giuseppina Strepponi, a singer who had assisted him in his early career and

starred in his first success, Nabucco. She had been Verdi’s partner for many years before their marriage.

By the time he died, at the age of eighty-eight, Verdi was a national insti- tution, and he was mourned throughout Italy. Schools closed. Eulogies were delivered in a special session of the senate in Rome. Nearly 300,000 people saw the old man to his grave. His operas remain the most popular of all in the international repertory.

Chief Works: Twenty-four operas, including Nabucco, Macbeth, Rigoletto, Il trovatore, La traviata, Don Carlos, The Force of Destiny, Aida j Two great Shakespeare operas com- posed in his seventies, Otello and Falstaff j A Requiem Mass, and a few other choral works; a string quartet

Encore: After Rigoletto, listen to La traviata (Act I), Aida (Act IV), Otello (Act I).

Verdi photograph: Bettmann/CORBIS.


Giuseppe Verdi (1813–1901)

a popular graffito of the Italian revolution: “Viva VERDI” (meaning “long live Victor Emmanuel, King of Italy”). Bettmann/CORBIS.

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Verdi, Rigoletto, from act III, scene i

The stage is divided, showing the inside and the outside of a sordid inn.


The Duke enters the inn.

0:03 Gilda:






(Ah! padre mio!)

Due cose, e tosto:


Una stanza e del vino.

(Son questi i suoi costumi.)

(Oh il bel zerbino!)

(Ah! dear father!)

Two things, and right now.


A room and some wine.

(That’s the way he does things.)

(Big spender!)


0:12 0:29


Duke: La donna è mobile / Qual pium’ al vento, Muta d’accento / E di pensiero. Sempre un amabile / Leggiadro viso, In pianto o in riso / È menzognero. La donna è mobil’ / Qual pium’ al vento, Muta d’accento / E di pensier!

È sempre misero / Chi a lei s’affida; Chi le confida / Mal cauto il core! Pur mai non sentesi / Felice appieno Chi su quel seno / Non liba amore. La donna è mobil’ . . .

Woman is fickle, a feather in the wind; Changing her words and thoughts, She’s a lovable, sweet sight, When she’s weeping or laughing, she’s lying. Woman is fickle, a feather in the wind; Changing her words and thoughts!

Man’s always wretched who believes her; If you trust her, watch out for your heart! Yet he’ll never feel happy Who from that breast does not drink love! Woman is fickle . . .

Sparafucile gives the Duke a bottle of wine and glasses, then goes outside to Rigoletto.


2:45 Sparafucile:


È là il vostr’uom, viver dee, o morire?

Più tardi tornerò l’opra a compire. There’s your man; does he live or die?

I’ll be back later to finish him off.

Sparafucile walks off; enter Maddalena, with the Duke inside; Gilda and Rigoletto remain outside.

Q UA R T E T (from midway through the fast section)

0:02 Duke:





Gilda (outside):



La bella mano candida!

Scherzate voi, signore.

No, no,

Son brutta.




. . . d’amore ardente!

What lovely hands you have!

You’re joking, sir.

No, no . . .

I’m plain!

Kiss me!


You must be drunk

. . . with burning love!

L i s T E n


Recitative A quick rustling gesture in the orchestra signals the Duke bursting in, disguised as a military officer, and demanding service at the inn. Gilda cries

out in dismay as she recognizes her “student” lover.

Aria: “La donna è mobile” Waiting for his drink, the Duke holds forth on the fickleness of women. (He should talk!) This brief aria is one of Verdi’s most

famous and enduring tunes — one of those nineteenth-century melodies every-

one knows, even if they can’t identify it. It captures perfectly the compelling





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Signor l’indifferente, Vi piace canzonar?

No, no, ti vo’ sposar.

Ne voglio la parola.

Amabile figliuola!

(E non ti basta ancor?)

(Iniquo traditor!)

You couldn’t care less, sir, You like your little joke.

No, I mean to marry you!

Give me your word?

Silly girl!

(Isn’t that enough for you?)

(You horrible traitor!)

Q UA R T E T (slow section)









Bella figlia dell’amore Schiavo son de’ vezzi tuoi; Con un detto sol tu puoi Le mie pene consolar. Vieni, e senti del mio core Il frequente palpitar.

Ah! Ah! rido ben di core Chè tai baie constan poco, Quanto valga il vostro gioco Mel credete, sò apprezzar. Son avvezza, bel signore, Ad un simile scherzare.

(Ah! così parlar d’amore! A me pur l’infame ho udito! Infelice cor tradito, Per angioscie non scoppiar!)

Taci, il piangere non vale, Ch’ei mentiva sei sicura. Taci, e mia sarà la cura La vendetta d’affrettar. Sì, pronta fia, sarà fatale, Io saprollo fulminar.

You gorgeous child of love, I’m enslaved by your charms; With one word you can Stop my suffering. Come and feel My heart pounding!

Ha, ha, I’m laughing out loud. Talk doesn’t mean a thing; Believe me, I know how much Your game counts for. My dear sir, I’m used To such joking.

(Oh, to talk about love like that! The villain has said the same to me! My unhappy, betrayed heart — Don’t burst with anguish!)

(Quiet! It’s no use weeping. You can see he was lying. Hush, and I’ll take good care To get quick revenge. Yes, it’ll be swift and fatal, I’ll know how to strike him down!)


4:21 Rigoletto:





M’odi: ritorna a casa, Oro prendi, un destiero, Una veste viril che t’apprestai, E per Verona parti. Sarovvi io pur doman.

Or venite.




Listen: go back home, Take the money, get the horse, And the men’s clothes I got you, And ride to Verona. I’ll join you there tomorrow.

Come with me now!

I can’t.

I’m frightened!



energy of the Duke, sweeping all before it. The effect stems especially from

the insistent repetitions, in sequence, of the short motive that opens (and

dominates) the aria.

The aria is in strophic form, with each of the two strophes introduced by

the orchestra. At the end of each strophe the opening words return as a refrain

and lead the melody up to the tenor’s highest pitches. On our recording the

tenor adds a brief flourish (a vocal cadenza) at the end of the second stanza, finishing on his highest pitch of all.

Recitative Instead of pausing for applause, Verdi keeps the orchestra moving, repeating the melody of “La donna è mobile” more and more quietly in the



/4 Ł Ł Ł Ł ý Ł Ł



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woodwinds as Sparafucile comes out to confirm that this is the man Rigoletto

wants killed. It is a small but deft touch, turning the jaunty melody of the aria

a bit sinister and making it an accompaniment for a quick recitative exchange.

Sparafucile exits, leaving Rigoletto and Gilda (outside still) and the Duke and

Maddalena (inside) to sing an ensemble — in this case, a quartet.

Quartet: “Bella figlia dell’amore” (Allegro) This is another of Verdi’s most famous inspirations. It begins with a fast section, in which the Duke presses his

attentions on Maddalena while she jokingly resists. Meanwhile, outside, Gilda

is horrified. These recitative-like exchanges are sung to a lively, continuous

orchestral melody that propels the action forward — one way Verdi blurred the

distinction between recitative and full-fledged melody.

Our recording skips the beginning of this section, picking it up midway

through. The fast section comes to a stop on a loud, expectant chord, with all

four singers joining together.

Andante As a slower movement begins, the Duke, never at a loss for a beauti- ful tune, takes the lead, pursuing Maddalena with all the suavity Verdi’s melodic

genius could muster. His melody is a perfect sixteen measures, four phrases of

four measures each, rising to a climax in its third, contrasting phrase: a a9 b a9.

As he finishes, the other voices start up, one by one. Each sings a distinct

melody that captures the emotions at stake: Maddalena laughing at the Duke’s

efforts, Gilda sobbing, and Rigoletto stern, determined, bent on revenge. We

heard this kind of dramatic characterization through melody in Don Giovanni,

in the duet of Giovanni and Zerlina (see page 193).

The Duke joins in, the four voices shift through rich, Romantic harmonies

(and modulations) to come to another expectant pause, and then the Duke

begins his melody again. Now, however, the others sing with him, and Verdi has

skillfully managed their melodies so that each preserves its independent

emotional stance in the counterpoint that results. The Andante ends with a

long passage for all four voices.

Recitative The lush quartet could not contrast more with what follows: a stark, brusque recitative in which Rigoletto tells his daughter to go to Verona, where

he will follow. To sharpen the contrast, Verdi omits the orchestra entirely.

Alas, Gilda does not obey her father’s instructions. She returns to the scene

and is murdered, in place of the Duke, during a climactic thunderstorm.

Rigoletto comes back to gloat over the dead Duke, but finds instead his

daughter, dying; he is left maddened with grief as the curtain falls.

2 | Wagner and music Drama Richard Wagner was, after Beethoven, the most influential of all nineteenth- century composers. His strictly musical innovations, in harmony and orches- tration, revolutionized instrumental music as well as opera. In terms of opera, Wagner is famous for his novel concept of the “total work of art” (Gesamtkunst- werk) and his development of a special operatic technique, that of the “guiding motive” (leitmotiv).

Unlike earlier innovative composers, it seems Wagner could not just com- pose. He had to develop elaborate theories announcing what art, music, and

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Wagner was born in Leipzig during the turmoil of the Napoleonic Wars; his father died soon afterward. His stepfather was a fascinating actor and writer, and the boy turned into a decided intellectual. Wagner’s early interests, literature and music (his idols were Shakespeare and Beethoven), later expanded to include philosophy, mythology, and religion.

As a young man he worked as an opera conductor, and he spent an unhappy year in Paris trying to get one of his works produced at the very important opera house there. The virulent anti-French sentiments in his later writings stemmed from this experience. Back in Germany, he produced the first of his impressive operas, The Flying Dutchman and Tannhäuser, and wrote Lohengrin. Though these works basically adhere to the early Romantic opera style of Carl Maria von Weber, they already hint at the revolutionary ideal for opera that Wagner was pondering.

This he finally formulated after being exiled from Germany (and from a job) as a result of his part in the revolution of 1848 – 49. He wrote endless articles and books expounding his ideas — ideas that were better known than his later operas, for these were extremely difficult to stage. His book Opera and Drama set up the principles for his “music drama” The Rhine Gold, the first segment of the extraordinary four- evening opera The Nibelung’s Ring. He also published a vicious essay attacking Felix Mendelssohn, who had just died, and other Jews in music. Fifty years after Wagner’s death, his anti-Semitic writings (and his operas) were taken up by the Nazis.

Wagner’s exile lasted thirteen years. His fortunes changed dramatically when he gained the support of the young, unstable, and finally mad King Ludwig II of Bavaria. Thanks to Ludwig, Wagner’s mature music dramas were at last produced (The Rhine Gold, completed in 1854, was not produced until 1869). Wagner then promoted the building of a special opera house in Bayreuth, Germany, solely for his music dra- mas — an amazing concept! These grandiose, slow- moving works are based on myths and characterized by high-flown poetry of his own, a powerful orches- tral style, and the use of leitmotivs (guiding or leading

motives). To this day the opera house in Bayreuth performs only Wagner, and tickets to the yearly Wagner Festival are al- most impossible to get.

A hypnotic personal- ity, Wagner was able to spirit money out of many pockets and command the loyalty and affection of many distinguished men and women. His first marriage, to a singer, ended in divorce. His great operatic hymn to love, Tristan and Isolde, was created partly in response to his love affair with the wife of one of his patrons. His second wife, Cosima, daughter of Franz Liszt, had been mar- ried to an important conductor, Hans von Bülow, who nonetheless remained one of Wagner’s strongest supporters. Cosima’s diaries tell us about Wagner’s moods, dreams, thoughts, and musical decisions, all of which he shared with her. After the death of “the Master,” Cosima ruled Bayreuth with an iron hand.

Half con man and half visionary, bad poet and very good musician, Wagner created a storm of controversy in his lifetime that has not died down to this day. He was a major figure in the intellectual life of his time, a thinker whose ideas were highly influen- tial not only in music but also in other arts. In this sense, at least, Wagner was the most important of the Romantic composers.

Chief Works: Early operas: The Flying Dutchman, Tannhäuser, and Lohengrin j Mature “music dramas”: Tristan and Isolde, The Mastersingers of Nuremberg (a brilliant comedy), Parsifal, and The Nibelung’s Ring, a four-opera cycle consisting of The Rhine Gold, The Valkyrie, Siegfried, and Twilight of the Gods j Siegfried Idyll, for small orchestra (based on themes from Siegfried; a surprise birthday present for Cosima after the birth of their son, also named Siegfried)

Encore: After selections from The Valkyrie, listen to “Wotan’s Farewell” from the same work (Act III); Prelude and Liebestod (love-death) from Tristan and Isolde.

Image credit: Richard Wagner Museum, Lucerne, Switzerland.


Richard Wagner (1813–1883)

opera ought to be like. (Indeed, he also theorized about politics and philosophy, with very unhappy results.) Wagner’s extreme self-consciousness as an artist was prophetic of attitudes toward art of a later period.

His theory of opera had its positive and negative sides. First, Wagner want- ed to do away with all the conventions of earlier opera, especially the French and Italian varieties. Opera, he complained, had degenerated from its original

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form as serious drama in music — Wagner was thinking of ancient Greek dra- ma, which he knew had been sung or at least chanted — into a mere concert in costume. He particularly condemned arias, which were certainly at the heart of Italian opera, as hopelessly artificial. Why should the dramatic action keep stop- ping to allow for stretches of pretty but undramatic singing?

the total Work of Art The positive side of Wagner’s program was the development of a new kind of opera in the 1850s, for which he reserved a special name: music drama. Music, in these works, shares the honors with poetry, drama, and philosophy — all furnished by Wagner himself — as well as the stage design and acting. Wagner coined the word Gesamtkunstwerk, meaning “total work of art,” for this powerful concept. He always insisted on the distinction between music drama and ordinary “opera.”

Since words and ideas are so important in the Gesamtkunstwerk, the music is very closely matched to the words. Yet it is also unrelievedly emotional and intense, as Romantic doctrine required. The dramas themselves deal with weighty philosophical issues, or so at least Wagner and his admirers believed, and they do so under the symbolic cover of medieval German myths and legends.

This use of myths was another Romantic feature, one that strikingly anticipated Freud, with his emphasis on myths (for example, the myth of Oedipus) as embodiments of the deepest unconscious truths. Wagner employed the old romance of Tristan and Iseult, the saga of the Nordic god Wotan, and the Arthurian tale of Sir Perceval to present his views on love, political power, and religion, respectively. Wagner’s glorification of Germanic myths in particular made him the semiofficial voice of German nationalism, which in turn paved the way for Hitler.

One of the first great conductors and a superb orchestrator, Wagner raised the orchestra to new importance in opera, giving it a role modeled on

“Drama is the most comprehensive work of art; it can only be fully realized when all the other arts in their full realization are present in it.”

Wagner pondering the Gesamtkunstwerk, 1850

Wagner was God’s gift to cartoonists. Private Collection/ The Bridgeman Art Library.

Wagner, Cosima, and their son Siegfried, who followed Cosima as director of the Wagner festivals at Bayreuth. Contrasto/Archivio GBB/Redux.

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WaGNER’S TRisTan and isolde (1859) Wagner’s first completed music drama was the great love story of Tristan and Isolde, taken from medieval legend. There was already a mystical undertone to the legend, which Wagner, writing the opera’s libretto, refined under the sway of Romantic thinking.

The composer was only too pleased to find support in the writings of a contemporary philosopher, Arthur Schopenhauer, who had made his own formulation of the Romantic insight into the central importance of music in emotional life. All human experience, said Schopenhauer, consists either of emotions and drives — which he called “the Will” — or of ideas, morals, and reason, which he down- graded by the term “Appearance.” He insisted that the Will always dominates Appearance, and that our only direct, unencumbered sense of it comes through music.

“Through my music!” we can almost hear Wagner exclaiming. And in a music drama, what would exemplify the Will better than the strongest human drive that is known, sexual love?

Tristan and Isolde is not just a great love story, then, but something more. It is a drama that presents love as the dominant force in life, one that transcends every aspect of worldly Appearance. Many love stories hint at such transcendence, perhaps, but Wagner’s story makes it explicit, on the basis of an actual philosophy that the composer espoused.

The plot shows step by step the growing power of love, and the music — with its hypnotic orchestral web of leitmotivs and Romantic harmonies of unmatched richness — grows more and more powerful, too. In Act I, love overpowers Isolde’s fierce pride, which had previously made her scorn Tristan as her blood enemy, and also Tristan’s chivalry, which had demanded that he escort Isolde safely to her marriage to King Mark of Cornwall, his uncle and liege lord. In Act II, love overcomes the mar- riage, when the pair meet in the longest unconsummated love scene in all of opera. Their tryst is discovered, and Tristan is mortally wounded — but love overcomes the wound, too. In Act III he simply cannot or will not die until Isolde comes to him from over the seas. Isolde comes; Tristan dies in her arms; she sinks down in rapture and expires also. For both of them, death is not a defeat but an ecstatic expression of love.

At this point (if not earlier) the plot passes the bounds of reality — which was exactly what Wagner wanted to show. Tristan and Isolde, hardly characters anymore but stand-ins for the Will, move in a realm where conventional attitudes, the rules of society, and even life and death have lost their powers. Transcendence is a recurring theme of Romanticism; here passion becomes the ultimate experience, beyond reality. Music, which is itself beyond reality, explores the insecure borderland between love, sensuality, and death.

In act II of Wagner’s opera, Isolde signals Tristan that all is clear for their fatal meeting. Alfredo Dagli Orti/The Art Archive at Art Resource, NY.

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Beethoven’s symphonies with their motivic development. Leitmotivs (see below) were among the motives he used for this symphonic continuity. The orchestra was no longer used essentially as a support for the singers (which was still the situation, even in Verdi); it was now the orchestra that carried the opera along. Instead of the alternation of recitatives, arias, and ensembles in traditional opera, music drama consisted of one long orchestral web, cunningly woven in with the singing.

Leitmotivs A leitmotiv (líte-moh-teef) — guiding, or leading, motive — is a musical motive associated with some person, thing, idea, or symbol in the drama. By presenting and developing leitmotivs, Wagner’s orchestra guides the listener through the story.

Leitmotivs are easy to ridicule when they are used mechanically — when, for example, the orchestra obligingly sounds the Sword motive every time the hero reaches for his weapon. On the other hand, leitmotivs can suggest with considerable subtlety what the hero is thinking or feeling even when he is saying something else — or saying nothing. Wagner also became very skillful in thematic transformation, the characteristic variation-like technique of the Romantic composers (see page 232). By transforming the appropriate motives, he could show a person or an idea developing and changing under the impact of dramatic action.

And since, for the Romantics, music was the undisputed language of emotion, leitmotivs — being music — could state or suggest ideas in emotional terms, over and above the intellectual terms provided by mere words. This was Wagner’s theory, a logical outcome of Romantic doctrine about music. Furthermore, the complex web of leitmotivs provided his long music dramas with the thematic unity that Romantic composers sought. On both counts, psychological and technical, leitmotivs were guaranteed to impress audiences of the nineteenth century.

The Nibelung’s Ring (1848–1874) Wagner’s Der Ring des Nibelungen (The Nibelung’s Ring) is a huge music drama in four parts, stretching over four separate nights of three to five hours each. This work, a quarter century in the making, counts as the supreme example of the Romantic tendency toward the grandiose (see page 230). The Ring (as it is commonly called) grew so large because of the sprawling material Wagner wanted to cover, large portions of the most famous of all Germanic or Norse legends. It involves gods and goddesses, giants and dwarfs, magical prophecies and transformations, a dragon, an invisibility cloak that lives on in Harry Potter novels — and, in the midst of it all, very human feelings and actions. The Ring counts as one of the towering artworks of all time, comparable to the Taj Mahal, the Iliad and the Odyssey, and Michelangelo’s Sistine Chapel (comparisons the megalomaniac Wagner would have enjoyed).

The first night, Das Rheingold (The Rhine Gold), shows us events whose consequences will be played out over the following three nights: A precious lump of gold at the bottom of the Rhine River is stolen from its rightful owners, the mermaids of the Rhine, by the dwarf Alberich, and then is taken again from him by the gods. The stolen gold, forged into the ring of Wagner’s title by the dwarfs whom Alberich commands, carries with it a curse. It makes all who pos- sess it, even Wotan, the leader of the gods, renounce the love that could save

“The language of music consists only of feelings and impressions. It expresses to the utmost the emotions . . . independently of the language of words, which has become a purely rational system of communication.”

Wagner in a public letter to his supporters, 1851

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them from its corruption. Love is meant here in the broadest sense, to include human compassion in all its forms. Over the following three nights of The Ring — Die Walküre (The Valkyrie), Siegfried, and Götterdämmerung (Twilight of the Gods) — generations pass. We see the gods, humans, and dwarfs — and a giant transformed into a dragon — brought to grief by their lust for the gold. An innocent hero, Siegfried, is born who can defy the gods and their corrupt order, but even he dies through treachery arising from everyone else’s pursuit of the ring.

Wagner employs all this elaborate mythology to tell a simple modern tale. His basic theme is the moral decline of the world, brought about by greed for money and hunger for power. In the guise of Norse gods, gnomes, and warriors, one group after another of nineteenth-century society is shown destroying itself in the pursuit of gold. Even the renunciation of love entailed in possessing the ring is an allegory, turning the old myth into an indictment of modern bourgeois biases toward work and discipline and away from emotion.

Richard Wagner, The Valkyrie (1851–1856) The Valkyrie is the second of the four nights of The Ring. Much of the opera

concerns a subplot in Wagner’s tale. This story within a story brings together

Siegmund and Sieglinde, two of Wotan’s numerous children, a brother and

sister separated in early childhood. Their irresistible attraction to each other

results in an incestuous union (at the end of Act I), doubly illicit since Sieglinde

is already married to Hunding. In Act II, Hunding fights a duel with Siegmund.

Wotan, for reasons stemming from his fateful involvement with the ring, is

powerless to intervene to help his son, and Siegmund is killed — another

playing out of the gold’s curse. Sieglinde escapes, however, to bear their child:

the hero Siegfried, protagonist of the last two nights of The Ring.

The first scene of Act I shows us the meeting of Siegmund and Sieglinde.

He stumbles into her dwelling, worn to exhaustion by a pack of enemies

pursuing him in a raging thunderstorm. (The storm is depicted by the orchestral

prelude that opens the work.) Siegmund collapses on the hearth to the sound of

a leitmotiv we quickly come to associate with him, a descending scale that is a

transformed version of the theme of the storm. This musical connection shows

us that the storm is in Siegmund’s soul as much as it is out in the elements.

Sieglinde enters from the back room and is startled to find a stranger

unconscious on her floor. As she bends over him, concerned, the violins sound her

leitmotiv — it rises up gently and falls back — while cellos underneath continue to

play Siegmund’s. Wagner’s orchestral music has already joined the two characters.

What follows is one of the great portrayals of love at first sight in all of

opera. Or nearly at first sight: Siegmund and Sieglinde’s attentions are riveted

to each other almost from the moment he regains consciousness, but the

intensity of their emotional connection grows quickly during this scene.

General Features Along the way the audience witnesses the primary features of Wagner’s revolutionary music drama.

• The orchestra, carrying the leitmotivs, plays a role far beyond merely accompanying the singers. It depicts for us the characters’ thoughts and

especially their feelings, even during long stretches when they are not singing.

− /.Ł [

ŁŁ Ł Ł Ł Łl\ Łl ŁŁ Ł ll l Storm Motive


ll− \Ł Ł Ł Ł Ł Ł Ł Ł

Siegmund Motive

²ð ð


Ł ý \







Ł ý

ŁŁ ŁŁ ýý \

Ł \


Ł ý C E L L O S V I O L I N S


A little livelier Sieglinde Motive

Siegmund Motive

4 | 7–12 61 30

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U n i t i v | The Nineteenth Century270

The images evoked over the years by The Valkyrie and Wagner’s other operas are wonderfully diverse. Shown here are Wagner’s favorite tenor, ludwig Schnorr von Carolsfeld, in a typical costume of the day; Sieglinde with a drinking horn for Siegmund by book illustrator arthur Rackham, from 1910; and Brünnhilde, the Valkyrie of the title, complete with face tattoos, from a production of 2011. Top left: Lebrecht/The Image Works. Top right: Private Collection/Photo © Chris Beetles Ltd, London/The Bridgeman Art Library. Bottom: David Beloff.

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It yields a sense of psychological depth and complexity in the characters —

a sense conveyed, in typical Romantic fashion, more by music than by words.

• The leitmotivs hardly ever appear in exactly the same way twice but instead are transformed slightly for each new appearance. In this way their psycho-

logical portrayal shifts along with the drama. This probing, shifting depiction

of the characters’ feelings is one of the hallmarks of Wagnerian drama.

• The singers, meanwhile, do not as a rule sing the leitmotivs, and their melodies show none of the tunefulness or lyrical song forms of Verdi’s

Rigoletto. Instead they deliver a free-formed declamation of the words, some-

thing like recitative, that blossoms forth now and then to approach tunefulness

but never gives way to full-fledged aria.

The First Drink As Sieglinde leans over him, Siegmund awakes and cries out for a drink. She hurries outside to fill a drinking horn for him. While she does

so the orchestra takes over, building to a miniature climax before falling back;

in its music we still hear Siegmund’s and Sieglinde’s leitmotivs. Siegmund

drinks, and his eyes fix on Sieglinde for the first time. A new melody grows in

the orchestra, warmly scored for solo cello and other low strings, and richly

harmonized. It is the leitmotiv of their blossoming love:



ð ÿý

ÿ \

ððŁ ýý−

ð ð

ý ý

Ł ý Ł ððð ýýý

ð ð

ý ý

ððŁ ýý

ð ð

ý ý

Łý Ł Ł ý−

ððð ðýý

Ł¦ Łý


ð ð ð

Ł Ł Ł ý¦


¦ ¦²¦

Ł¦ Ł

ðð ð

Ł Ł² \\



Ł Łý

ð ðð

ŁŁ ý


Ł ð ý

ð ŁŁ

ý ŁŁ ýý ŁŁ

ð ý

ð ðð

ý ýý



più \

very tenderly

Now the characters exchange information, for their benefit and the

audience’s. Sieglinde tells him that she is Hunding’s wife; he tells her how he

came to her home, and of the relief from his misery she has brought him: “Now

the sun smiles on me anew.”

The Second Drink At this, Sieglinde spontaneously hurries to her storeroom to fill a horn with mead (a fermented honey drink) for him. This action, parallel to

her fetching water earlier, summons from the orchestra an intensified version

of its earlier climax. (See the Listen box, first and second orchestral climaxes.)

The lovers share the mead, their eyes now fixed on each other, and the love

motive sounding in the orchestra also wells up — until Siegmund rouses

himself with a deep sigh accompanied in the orchestra by a loud dissonant

chord. He is ill-fated; misfortune follows wherever he goes (Wagner sets the

crucial, repeated word Misswende to additional dissonant chords); and he

would not for the world bring such misery on her (Love motive) — he must

leave. Sieglinde cannot let him go. She stops him in his tracks with an impulsive

admission: She is as ill-fated as he!

Communion At Sieglinde’s last word a hesitant new, warm melody begins low in the orchestra; we immediately hear it as an affirmation of the deep empathy they

already feel for each other. It is played first in sequence — a favorite of Wagner’s

techniques for developing his leitmotivs. Then, when Siegmund announces he

− ð Ł ý¦ Ł ð Ł ð ý Ł Sorrow/empathy Motive

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Wagner, from The Valkyrie, act I, scene i

The inside of a dwelling, built around a huge ash tree in its midst; to the right a hearth, and behind it an inner storeroom. Siegmund, exhausted, enters from outside as the storm subsides.

0:00 Siegmund: Wess’ Herd dies auch sei, hier muss ich rasten.

Whoever’s hearth this may be, I must rest here.

He sinks back and lies motionless. Sieglinde enters, thinking her husband has returned; she is surprised to find instead a stranger. Hesitantly she approaches him closer and closer.





Ein fremder Mann? Ihn muss ich fragen. Wer kam ins Haus und liegt dort am Herd? Müde liegt er von Weges Müh’n: schwanden die Sinne ihm? Wäre er siech? Noch schwillt ihm der Atem; das Auge nur schloss er. Mutig dünkt mich der Mann, sank er müd’ auch hin.

(suddenly raises his head) Ein Quell! Ein Quell!

Erquickung schaff’ ich.

A stranger here? I must ask him: Who has come into this house and lies on the hearth? He’s weary and travel-worn. Is he unconscious? Could he be sick? No, he is still breathing; he’s only sleeping. He seems to me valiant, even though he’s exhausted.

A drink! A drink!

I’ll bring some water.

2:08 FIRST ORCHESTRAL CLIMAX She quickly takes a drinking horn and goes out. She returns with the horn filled and offers it to Siegmund.

Labung biet’ ich dem lechzende Gaumen: Wasser, wie du gewollt!

Moisten your dry lips with this drink I’ve brought: water, as you wished!

2:59 Siegmund drinks and gives the horn back. As he nods his head in thanks, his eyes fix on her face with growing interest.









Kühlende Labung gab mir der Quell, des Müden Last machte er leicht; erfrischt ist der Mut das Aug’ erfreut des Sehens selige Lust. Wer ist’s, der so mir es labt?

Dies Haus und dies Weib sind Hundings Eigen; gastlich gönn’ er dir Rast: harre, bis heim er kehrt!

Waffenlos bin ich: dem wunden Gast wird dein Gatte nicht wehren.

Die Wunden weise mir schnell!

Gering sind sie, der Rede nicht wert; noch fügen des Leibes Glieder sich fest. Hätten halb so stark wie mein Arm Schild und Speer mir gehalten, nimmer floh ich dem Feind; doch zerschellten mir Speer und Schild.

The water brings me cooling relief; it lightens my weary load; my heart is refreshed, my eyes relish a beautiful, glorious sight. Who is it who so revives me?

This house and this wife belong to Hunding; he’ll welcome you as guest; wait here until he returns!

I am weaponless; a wounded guest will not threaten your husband.

You’re wounded? Where?

It’s nothing, pay no heed; my body is still strongly knit. If my shield and spear had been half as strong as my body, I never would have fled my foe. But spear and shield were shattered;

L i s T E n




ll− \Ł Ł Ł Ł Ł Ł Ł Ł

Siegmund Motive

²ð ð

− ¹ ŁŁ ŁŁ

Ł ŁŁ ýý \

ŁŁŁ ŁŁ Sieglinde Motive

− ð ý \

Ł Ł ý Ł− ð ý Love Motives

− Ł ý− Ł¦ Łý Ł Ł− Ł più \

4 | 7–12 61 30




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5:51 Der Feinde Meute hetzte mich müd’, Gewitterbrunst brach meinen Leib; doch schneller, als ich der Meute, schwand die Müdigkeit mir; sank auf die Lider mir Nacht, die Sonne lacht mir nun neu.

the horde of enemies chased me down, the thunderstorm broke body and spirit; but now — faster than I fled my weariness flees from me! Darkness sank on my eyes, but now the sun smiles on me anew!


Sieglinde goes to the storeroom and fills a horn with mead; she returns and offers it to Siegmund.



Des seimigen Metes süssen Trank mög’st du mir nicht verschmähn.

Schmecktest du mir ihn zu?

Surely you’ll not refuse a sweet drink of honeyed mead.

Would you not taste it first?


Sieglinde drinks from the horn and gives it back. Siegmund takes a long drink, watching her all the while with growing warmth. At 8:33 (1:12) he sighs deeply and his eyes sink to the ground.






Einen Unseligen labtest du: Unheil wende der Wunsch von dir! Gerastet hab’ ich und süss geruht: weiter wend ich den Schritt.

Wer verfolgt dich, dass du schon fliehst?

Misswende folgt mir, wohin ich fliehe; Misswende naht mir, wo ich mich zeige. Dir, Frau, doch bleibe sie fern! Fort wende ich Fuss und Blick.

You’ve helped an unhappy man; may I keep Ill-fate from you! I have rested — rested sweetly; now I must go on my way.

Who follows you, making you flee?

Ill-fate follows me, wherever I run; Ill-fate approaches, wherever I linger. You, wife, keep your distance! I must turn my path from you.

He turns to leave. She calls after him impetuously.

10:10 Sieglinde: So bleibe hier! Nicht bringst du Unheil dahin, wo Unheil im Hause wohnt!

No, remain here! Ill-fate is nothing new here, where Ill-fate makes its home!

He turns back, looks searchingly at her; she lowers her eyes in sadness and shame.

Siegmund: Wehwalt hiess ich mich selbst: Hunding will ich erwarten.

I myself named me Wehwalt — Woebound; I’ll wait for Hunding.


He rests against the hearth, his eyes fixed on her; she raises her eyes to his, and they regard each other with deep emotion. At 12:26 (2:16) Sieglinde starts as she hears Hunding outside.




− ð Ł ý¦ Ł ð Ł ð ý Sorrow/empathy Motive

−−− Łl¹ Łl¹¹ ŁlŁlŁlŁlŁ

l Ł ý² l Łl Łl 3

Hunding Motive

will stay, the orchestra cannot restrain itself; it pours forth a lush, Romantic har-

monization of the new melody, the soon-to-be lovers gazing at each other all the

while. In the midst of this beautiful passage, other leitmotivs are heard: first

Sieglinde’s, later the Love motive, and finally Siegmund’s drooping scale.

The passage comes to no cadence — another favorite trick of Wagner’s —

but is cut off by a new, ominous leitmotiv in the low brasses. Hunding has

returned, and the second scene begins.

Wagner’s drama often moves at a ponderous, slow pace, and it has sometimes

been criticized for this. (And lampooned, too; there is a Bugs Bunny cartoon

that takes on The Ring.) In the first scene of The Valkyrie we have the sense that

searching looks and sighs are stretched out to exaggerated length. Other than




− Ł Ł Ł Ł Ł Łl Łl Łl Ł² 3

Storm Motive

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3 | late Romantic Opera Opera continued to flourish after Wagner and Verdi. The orchestra retained the important role it had achieved, if in different ways, with both of these compos- ers. The Romantic emphasis on strong emotions, alongside powerful music to convey and probe them, continued.

These emotional passages now tended to break down into ever freer and more fragmentary melodic forms, and the distinction between recitative and aria, blurred in Verdi, became even harder to maintain. Wagner’s leitmotiv tech- nique was employed in most operas, in one form or another; its dramatic and psychological powers were acknowledged by composers and audiences alike.

What composers and audiences turned away from, however, was Wagner’s mythical, quasi-philosophical ideal for opera. “Music drama” in Wagner’s sense gave way to new realistic tendencies. Modern-day subjects were chosen for op- eras, showing up-to-date middle- or lower-class characters, rather than kings and queens, gods and heroes. A few of Verdi’s operas had already pointed in this direction, most notably La traviata (see page 261).

Late Romantic realistic operas typically emphasized the sordid and violent aspects of life, as far as the censorship of the day would allow — in this they carried further a tendency we can already glimpse in Rigoletto. A famous and masterful example is Carmen (1875), by the French composer Georges Bizet. Set in contemporary Spain, it tells the tale of a fiery, sexually irresistible Gypsy woman who works in a cigarette factory and a soldier who falls under her spell. Having abandoned his fiancée and deserted his regiment for her, he loses her to a devil-may-care matador; at the final climax, mad with jealousy, he stabs her to death. All this is very distant from the mythical setting, the minimal action, the lingering gazes, and the psychological probing of The Valkyrie.

Giacomo Puccini (1858–1924) Giacomo Puccini was the main Italian opera com- poser after Verdi; indeed, he may be said to have brought to an end the great tradition of Italian Romantic opera, which had begun a century before. Several operas Puccini composed around 1900 are perennial favorites, thanks to his special gift for short, intense vocal melodies and his canny sense of the stage.

Most of Puccini’s operas are touched by the new realistic tendencies in late Romantic opera, but they also tend to distance the audience from what would otherwise be quite harsh dramatic messages. The locales of his operas range from contemporary Japan to the American Wild West, and from Rome in 1800, under Napoleon, to Beijing in the distant

Sieglinde’s fetching two drinks for Siegmund, there is little stage action. At

the same time, however, especially because of his orchestra with its leitmotivs,

Wagner manages to pack a lot into the minimal gestures of his characters. By the

end of scene i, barely a quarter hour into the drama, we have been introduced to

two protagonists and gained knowledge of their history and a subtle sense of

their emotional lives. And, before our eyes and ears, their love has burgeoned.


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past. In these remote, even exotic sites, Puccini found it easier to view realistic stories through a Romantic and sentimental lens.

Capitalizing on Romantic psychological depiction in opera, Puccini special- ized in intimate portraits of helpless women in hopeless situations. Such is the actress Tosca, propositioned by the police chief of Rome as the price for her lover’s life (Tosca); or the poor seamstress Mimi, dying of tuberculosis (La Bohème); or the geisha Cho-Cho-San (Madame Butterfly), whose plight we take up now.

Giacomo Puccini, Madame Butterfly (1904) Puccini’s Madame Butterfly, derived from a play by the American author David

Belasco, has a disturbingly true-to-life story. In the wake of the opening of Japan

to trade with the United States in the 1850s, a cynical young naval officer,

Lieutenant Pinkerton, marries a naïve fifteen-year-old geisha, Cho-Cho-San,

whom he calls “Madame Butterfly.” He then sails away with no intention

of honoring the Japanese ceremony.

Cho-Cho-San persists against all evi-

dence in hoping he will return; but when

he eventually does, he brings his “real”

American wife with him, and Cho-Cho-

San, now mother of Pinkerton’s child,

kills herself.

During Act II, in response to her

maid’s doubts, Cho-Cho-San sings the

opera’s most famous number, “Un bel

dì,” spinning a fantasy about Pinkerton’s

return. From the hills (she imagines)

they will first see a little wisp of smoke,

as the gunboat appears on the horizon.

She sings this vision to a memorable

melody that has a floating, disembod-

ied quality in keeping with the fantasy

it portrays — partly because it begins

high in the soprano’s range and slowly

descends, partly because of its delicate


After this melody, the aria takes on

a freer formal cast. Cho-Cho-San sings

varied music that mixes full-fledged

melody (at “Poi la nave bianca . . .”)

with something closer to a recitative-

like declamation (at “Mi metto là sul

ciglio . . .”).

But when she comes in her fantasy

to the moment of remeeting Pinkerton

(“Per non morire . . .”), she sings her

heart out to a reprise of the aria’s

opening melody, now louder and with The poster for the world premiere of Madama Butterfly. Private Collection/The Bridgeman Art Library.

4 | 13 62 31

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puccini, Madame Butterfly, aria “Un bel dì” from act II








Un bel dì, vedremo levarsi un fil di fumo sull’estremo confin del mare; e poi la nave appare.

Poi la nave bianca entra nel porto; romba il suo saluto. Vedi? È venuto! Io non gli scendo incontro — io no;

mi metto là sul ciglio del colle, e aspetto, e aspetto gran tempo, e non mi pesa la lunga attesa.

E uscito dalla folla cittadina un uomo, un picciol punto, s’avvia per la collina.

Chi sarà, chi sarà? E come sarà giunto, che dirà, che dirà? Chiamerà: “Butterfly” dalla lontana . . . Io senza dar risposta me ne starò nascosta un po’ per celia, e un po’

per non morire al primo incontro! Ed egli alquanto in pena chiamerà, chiamerà: “Piccina mogliettina, Olezza di verbena” — i nomi che mi dava al suo venire.

Tutto questo averrà, te lo prometto! Tienti la tua paura; io con sicura fede l’aspetto!

One beautiful day, we’ll see a tiny thread of smoke rise up on the horizon, out at sea; then the ship appears.

Now the white ship sails into port; cannons roar a welcome. See? He has come! I don’t r