Timothy's Blog

Timothy's blog on dulcimers, music, nature and life!
FEB
05

Classical Music History VIII a, the Modern Period: Impressionism

The last part of the Nineteenth Century experienced a logical extension of the trend in composition that had been going on since the mid-Eighteenth Century: The harmonies and developmental structures became yet more increasingly complex and unpredictable, and it was on purpose. In the so-called ‘Impressionists’ (they didn’t like that term themselves) we enter a mystical, sometimes misty, world of coloring and mood unlike much that came before, and it was now becoming so chromatic that the listener can feel like he’s being pulled away from the fabric of earthly reality. During this era of about 1880 to 1940, together with such Late Romantic composers as Mahler, Schoenberg, and Scriabin, the Impressionists Debussy, Ravel, and Satie set the stage for the truly dissonant music of the Twentieth Century.

Yet let’s not just write it off as unmusical or unbeautiful, for there is a marvelous amount of accessible aesthetic value here, and much of the repertoire is still greatly enjoyed by audiences today!

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106 Hits
JAN
22

Classical music history VII c: The Late Romantic Period

As the Nineteenth Century continued the Romantic movement in music became continually more nationalistic, emotional, dramatic, and chromatic in its nature.  There were various streams of musical approaches: for example, Wagner and Bruckner found followers in Mahler and Strauss, while Schumann and Brahms saw their legacy continued in Dvorak and Sibelius; an increasingly colorful approach to drama, storytelling, picture painting, brilliant orchestral coloration, is found in the excitement of Tchaikovsky and Rimsky-Korsakov.  And gradually the intensity of harmony was becoming complex in a way that would soon lead into modernism.

This era from about 1870 to 1910 includes a large number of greatly beloved works that are often performed today because of their deeply engaging characteristics.  Here is a long list of a few of the most notable works, notable either because of true greatness or because of long-standing crowd appeal.

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149 Hits
JAN
07

Classical music history VII b: The middle Romantic period

After Beethoven the shift in compositional style rapidly trended away from the orderly expectations of the Classical period, and more toward the Romantic ideals of emotion, spontaneity, nature consciousness, mystical spirituality, narrative, self-expression, and individualism.

Robert Schumann made a special point, even as a teen, of letting random musical ideas drop into his mind, and he would immediately cast the notes onto the piano; he called these ‘Papillons (Butterflies)’ because of their ephemeral and sudden nature. (He, incidentally, is credited also with establishing music criticism as a literary form, and he published a magazine to get the discussions out to the public.)

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206 Hits
NOV
28

Classical music VII a: The early Romantic period

Pretty soon after the West’s acceptance of the Enlightenment ideals, a new wave of philosophy came sweeping onto the scene, destined to overwhelm the rationality of Classicism and to last much longer in its expression in the arts: Romanticism.

Haydn and Mozart really began to weave the emotional and spiritual sense of Romanticism into the orderly beauty of the Classical period --- they certainly brought a new yearning and pathos and ‘Sturm und Drang’ (storm and stress) into some of their music.

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NOV
18

Classical music VI: The Classical Period

Speaking as a lifelong aficionado of Classical music --- but not as a scholar per se --- I offer the following simplistic ideas about the so-called Classical period of Classical music.

I like to think that Bach and Handel brought the Baroque concepts and structures into the modern era (following the strong previous moves forward of the Italians such as Vivaldi) by expanding and lyricizing melody beyond anything before, and by developing harmonies and counterpoint about as far as one could imagine. The complexities, especially in Bach, were overwhelmingly powerful and magnificent.

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211 Hits

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