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|The 19th Century*: Romanticism, Nationalism, Impressionism, And Other Good Stuff|
Wars, the Industrial Revolution, abolition of slavery (mostly), massive
population growth in the old and new worlds, oil and plastics, steam ships,
railroads,ism, Marxism, socialism, anarchism, social democracy,
liberalism, public schools, pedagogy, dance crazes, photography, film...
equal temperament, bigger orchestras, more stable instruments, longer
melodies, emotive weight, expressive indulgence, heightened chromaticism,
the continuing emancipation of dissonance, and a whole lot more.
|1||Ludwig van Beethoven|
(1770-1827) Trying to nail down the point at which the classical era turns into the
romantic era is a murky affair. Generally, as with many other musical movements and
evolutions, it was not as if a switch was flicked and then everything changed. We can,
however, use Beethoven as a nice introduction, as it is his music (along with that of
others) which embodied the transition from classicism to romanticism. An absolute
giant in the world of western music, Beethoven does not need much of an
introduction, so I will use this space to discuss the transformation of his style. In
developing and expanding upon the musical idiom practiced by the older giants of
classicism, Haydn and Mozart, Beethoven began to push further the musical material
in a way which became more common in romanticism: greater development of
material and themes; larger structures; heightened chromaticism; larger orchestras;
expressive extremes. Of course Beethoven was not alone in developing some of these
ideas (Mozart for instance became more ingenious with his use of chromaticism as he
matured), though he really did set a benchmark for all composers of the time, so it is
only natural that we place great importance in his development. Beethoven's late
period (the last decade or more of his life when he was almost totally deaf) works set
the tone for the rest of the century in some respects, and with pieces as wonderfully
forward-thinking and beautiful as his Grosse Fuge, or his 32nd Sonata, it is easy to
(1784-1859) A transitional figure between the worlds of classicism and romanticism,
living through the transitional period in full. Spohr is not so much a common name
these days, and is not very well performed and recorded compared to some of his
contemporaries, though he was well-known and quite successful during his own
lifetime. He did invent the violin chin-rest though, so some part of his legacy lives on
today. Spohr wrote symphonies, plenty of violin concerti, and string quartets, as well
as other bits and pieces. He was a notable violin teacher, a freemason, and a
conductor. He's not the most interesting or exciting of fellows, but in a way a prefect
representation of the average successful composer of the time.
|3||Johann Nepomuk Hummel|
(1778-1837) Another transitional figure of the time, Hummel was a virtuosic pianist
whose abilities caught the eye of his fellow countrymen, one Wolfgang Amadeus
Mozart, at an early age. He was taught for a couple of years by the Austrian master,
and went on to also become acquainted with Haydn and Beethoven. With this
pedigree, it should be expected that Hummel did well for himself. Hummel became a
prominent piano teacher and quite influential in composing for the piano also. His
music, like Spohr's, represents that changing currents of the time, and in turn
influenced Schumann and Chopin, among others. While not as expressively excessive
as later romantics, nor as progressive, his music retains the ideas of balance and
form of classicism, while developing other areas in step with the times.
(1782-1840) Paganini is, for better or worse, emblematic of the virtuoso performer.
As a violinist, he stretched technique to its extremes, composed unrelenting pieces of
technical showmanship, and basically shredded to make a living. As an Italian, he
became friends with Gioachino Rossini, and also Hector Berlioz, and toured Europe
shredding and being a rockstar. His most famous piece is the Violin Caprice no. 24,
which served as inspiration for many other composers of the period.
|5||Carl Maria von Weber|
(1786-1826) A prominent early romantic, who developed a couple of ideas which
would become more important for the generations that followed: nationalism and the
leitmotif. Still relatively well known today, particularly in Germany, Weber was a
notable opera composer who enjoyed success in his time and influenced many Austro-
German composers of the 19th century. Listen for the long, expressive, dramatic
(1797-1828) One of the most celebrated of the early romantics, Schubert lived an
unusually short life (even for a mangy musician/composer of the time), but composed
an extraordinary number of pieces. Most famous for his hundreds of lieder (songs)
and numerous piano sonata, Schubert was a composer with a fantastic sense of form
and melody, with quite a bit of experimentation, whose influence reached many
throughout the century. He died in poverty, from typhoid or possibly syphilis, with little
acknowledgment outside of his immediate circle, though exerted massive creative
strength and ability. He lived the romantic tragedy, which only makes his music seem
all the more powerful.
(1797-1848) A leading Italian opera composer, Donizetti was a proponent of bel canto
opera, and also produced an early statement of romantic tragedy in the opera Lucia di
Lammermoor. Check out the haunting, blood-soaked finale.
(1792-1868) One of the most famous and popular opera composers, certainly in his
time, Rossini earned the nick-name "The Italian Mozart". He is best known for The
Barber of Seville, and, well, is basically just known for that as it has been so
(1810-1849) Another short-lived great, whose popularity has always been strong. A
Polish composer of great pianistic ability, Chopin composed many great works for
piano, almost solely composing for the instrument, and plumbed the greatest
expressive depths with finesse and nuance. His solo piano works are touchstones for
romanticism, and are essential for an understanding of the emotive and expressive
developments of the time. Part of the reason for this is his interesting treatment of his
material, and use of chromaticism. Take a look/listen at his fourth Prelude; Harrowing
beauty through experimentation.
(1810-1856) One of the biggest names of the century, and representative of the early
romantic period to some extent, Schumann had a somewhat strange life with all of the
tragic romantic trappings. Born in Saxony, interested in literature and aesthetics,
married a girl whose daddy disapproved, went mad, tried to stretch his own fingers(?)
and caused permanent damage... yeah, an interesting case. Clara Schumann, his
wife, was a prominent pianist, and together they were very influential. They were
taste-makers to some extent, along with the siblings Felix and Fanny Mendelssohn.
Side note: it is due in part to these few that J. S. Bach is given the status he has
today. Exerting considerable influence among the more restrained of later composers,
Brahms in particular, Schumann represents a very important strain of romanticism.
(1809-1847) Another well-performed, very famous romantic, who was quite
conservative, and loved Bach. A child-prodigy, and another who died quite young,
Mendelssohn was given more opportunity than his sister and fellow composer, Fanny,
though still ran into trouble being Jewish. While it may have been a problem in Europe
towards the end of the 19th century, he certainly has no trouble being praised today.
Amongst his most famous works are his Overture for A Midsummer Night's Dream and
his String Octet.
|12||Johann Strauss I|
(1804-1849) Johann Strauss I had his fair share of tragedy, with his mother dying
early, his father drowning, and one of his many children dying young. Funnily enough,
his greatest achievement was popularising the waltz; the dance craze of the Viennese
Waltz being seen as a light, rustic old thing for the ballroom.
|13||Johann Strauss II|
(1825-1899) Johann II was even more famous than his father for his waltzes, earning
the nickname "The Waltz King". Composing hundreds of such light pieces, Strauss
ensured the success of the dance, though sounded a little bit Disney at times.
(1804-1857) The Father of Russian classical music, Glinka was a large influence on the
next generation of Russian composers who continued to develop their national voice.
Powerful orchestral blasts and folkish melodies mark the Russian character of his
music, or rather, Glinka installed them into Russian music. More on the later Russian
nationalists further down.
(1810-1893) A Hungarian nationalist composer, drawing on historical themes and folk
music, Erkel wrote grand opera and composed the music for what became the
Hungarian national anthem. Not terribly well know throughout the rest of the world,
Erkel is highly regarded in Hungary.
(1803-1869) A French composer of great importance to the development of the
romantic musical language, Berlioz was one of the mid-century progressives. He was
a famous conductor, and also an important thinker, writing the influential Treatise on
Instrumentation. While not especially loved in France during his life, he spent a great
deal of time travelling through Germany, Austria, Italy and Russia, subsequently
extending his influence throughout the great musical centres of Europe. His
development of the ideas of orchestration, literary ideas and programmatic tendencies
were crucial to romanticism, notably influencing Wagner, though Berlioz did not care
much for his music.
(1811-1886) A Hungarian composer known as one of the greatest pianists ever, with a
compositional output of considerable size and breadth. Liszt was another progressive,
a radical composer even, who pushed the boundaries of the romantic idiom, and also
of composition for the piano. He travelled extensively during his life, performing and
teaching, enjoying great success. He performed a huge amount of music on his tours,
popularising many pieces by other composers, and also transcribed many symphonic
pieces for solo piano. Composing an enormous number of pieces, mostly piano works,
Liszt left quite the mark on the musical landscape. His continuously stretched the
boundaries of tonality, utilising dissonances to great effect, even composing the
Bagatelle sans tonalite ("Bagatelle without tonality"), and greatly influenced many
later forward-thinking composers. Unfortunately, he is often only remembered as a
flashy composer for the piano.
(1819-1880) A German-born Frenchman, Offenbach composed a great deal of
operettas, and influenced many composing in the genre later on. He is most
remembered for Orpheus in the Underworld, and particularly for the "Infernal Galop"
from Act 2, which is known to the rest of the world as the Can-can. Oddly, he was
granted French citizenship and awarded the Legion d'Honneur by Napolean III, who
had been the subject of some mild satire in his operettas. Many of his works contained
fairly risque humour, outraged critics with their themes (which in turn, made them
even more popular), and masterfully, or rather mischievously, harnessed hysteria.
(1813-1883) Let's get something out of the way: Wagner was a jew-hating pig of a
man, with some stomach-turning views. He also created some of the most beautiful
music ever. I mean it. If anybody is to perfectly embody the ridiculous, tumultuous
nature of romanticism, Wagner is it. Massively influential, particularly in the
development of opera, Wagner was a man possessed by tremendous passion for
tragedy, drama, German legends, a ring to rule them all, anti-semitism, multiple
affairs, fleeing the country to continue composing his fantasy stuff... Wagner's ugly
head sticks out in the history of music for many reasons, though the most important is
his wonderfully modern treatment of harmony and dissonance. The perfect example
of this is the Act 1 Prelude of his opera Tristan und Isolde, which just makes
everything else up until now seem boring, undramatic, and tame by comparison. Well,
not totally, but making these crazy claims is part of the game. The opening measures
of the Prelude introduces harmony as a means of expressive, colouristic purpose, not
just functional purpose, and sends an early warning regarding the breakdown of
tonality. Note the looong melodies, the intense chromaticism, the constant unrest. If
you are going to sample any Wagner, nay, any romanticism or any opera, make it
Tristan. By the way, have any of you Tolkein fans actually investigated the plot of
Wagner's massive opera cycle, Der Rings des Nibelungen? One ring, and all that.
(1838-1875) A Frenchy behind that very famous opera, Carmen, Bizet died quite
young, and did not live to see the immense success his final work would have. A great
admirer of Wagner, who impressed Liszt with his piano skills, Bizet perhaps could
have been known for much more, had he lived a little longer.
|21||Louis Moreau Gottschalk|
(1829-1869) An American! They existed back then, too, and this one in particular was
quite the pianist. He travelled well, and was exposed to a great deal of different music
and cultures. This accounts for his particular style of composition, in which you can
hear hints of the Caribbean and also early ragtime; a creolised romanticism.
(1824-1884) A Czech, nationalist composer, often referred to as the father of Czech
music. With progressive tendencies, he won the praises of Liszt, though not always of
the critics, however he did succeed in developing a national voice. Another composer
with his share of domestic trouble and sadness (multiple marriages, half of his
children died in infancy, deafness later in life), though always with a courageous
ambition, Smetana's music encapsulates a struggling, yearning kind of nationalism.
His most famous and representative piece, is Ma Vlast ("My Fatherland"). His life did
not end well however, with Smetana being committed to an insane asylum, after
illness and violent outbursts.
(1822-1890) Born in Liege, then in the Kingdom of Netherlands, now Belgium, Franck
worked mostly in Paris and took French nationality. A skilled pianist and organist, and
notable teacher, Franck is one of those auxiliary figures in the history books, who still
composed great music and taught many others (such as Duparc and Chausson), but
just didn't have that immense impact for some reason. Nonetheless, Franck is an
intriguing composer. A few of his works are relatively well-known today, such as his
Symphony in D minor, though there is a wealth of interesting chamber works to be
explored in his oeuvre. His musical language was one of rich contrapuntal texture and
glorious harmony, with a very interesting sense of motivic development.
(1824-1896) One of the great symphonists of the romantic era, Bruckner focused
almost entirely on the symphonic form, renewing interest in it with his late-romantic
musical language. The sheer scale of his pieces, as well as the melodic inventiveness
and development, brings Wagner to mind, and Bruckner was indeed a little bit of a
radical in this sense. Oddly, Bruckner compulsively revised his works many times,
sometimes well after they had first appeared in performance. An Austrian, signifying
the final developments of Austro-German romanticism, Bruckner enjoyed great
popularity with the Nazis, and his music was even played by German Radio as they
announced Hitler's death.
(1833-1897) One of the biggest names in romanticism, and German classical music in
general, Brahms represented a strain of romanticism seen as antithetical to that of
Wagner. Seen in some ways as more of a traditionalist, Brahms nonetheless
advanced romanticism through use of the older forms, with a rigorous approach to
polyphony and melodic development. While critics have labelled him as "academic" in
his compositional style, this is really only a way of differentiating him from the great
romantic opulence of Wagner and Liszt. Avoiding programmatic music and opera
(again, a point of difference with Wagner and co.), Brahms composed many orchestral
and chamber pieces of various kinds, and left behind a grand oeuvre of Proper
German Music, earning him the distinction of being one of the "Three Bs", with Bach
and Beethoven. Also, Brahms was very close to the Schumanns (Robert had praised
and championed the young Johannes early on), particularly Clara. Brahms worked
with Clara, a leading pianist of the day, for many years, and when Robert had gone
insane, Brahms spent a great deal of time with them, even living in the apartment
above their house once Robert had died. How intimate they were, nobody knows.
(1835-1921) Another symphonist, French this time, Saint-Saens lived quite long
compared to many of the others we have seen up until now, surviving a whole lot of
great changes of the musical landscape. He was never quite a fully-fledged radical,
and seemed more conservative in his old age, disapproving of Debussy and Ravel
among others, though Saint-Saens still experimented quite a bit in his many years
and many compositions. Often his compositions are quite demanding technically,
particularly for romantic music, and was known as a virtuosic organist and pianist.
One of his most famous works is his "Organ" Symphony, nicknamed for the rather
dramatic entrance of a certain instrument. Many would know Saint-Saens, also,
through his Danse Macabre.
(1817-1890) A Danish composer, Gade was an important figure in the development of
their national voice, and taught the next very important Dane, Carl Nielsen, as well as
fellow Scandinavian Edvard Grieg. Though initially found it difficult to gain acceptance
in his home country, he was soon received favourably, and moved from strength to
strength. He was director of the Coppenhagen Musical Association, and also joint-
director of the Coppenhagen Conservatory, influencing the next generation of great
Danish composers and musicians. I am particularly fond of Danish composers, and
tracing it back to Gade, I feel that you can hear some of the same stylistic cues in his
work, particularly in the music for strings; there is this elegance and lightness to the
melodies, though with a particular strength behind them in the supporting voices.
Needless to say, Scandinavian beauty is a wonderful thing, and Gade's music is no
(1837-1910) Taking up the Russian charge after Glinka, Balakirev became the leader
of a group of Russian composers referred to as "The Five" (including the next four
composers down), encouraging the development of a Russian nationalist voice.
Balakirev was a slow worker, sometimes taking decades to finish a composition, which
in some ways prevented him from really achieving great success. Though he is seen
as the important member of The Five, and a strong figure in Russian music, he does
not enjoy anywhere near the success of other members of The Five, or Tchaikovsky.
(1844-1908) The orchestration master, and possibly the most famous from The Five
outside of Russia. His works, some of which are quite regularly performed today,
combined the Western Classical tradition with exotic (i.e. Russian and elsewhere)
elements in a way which set the tone for many other nationalist composers, and also
20th century composers working with non-traditional and folk material.
(1839-1881) Another member of The Five, who dug heavily into Russian folklore and
history to inspire his pieces. In some way he seems a little more radical than his
contemporaries in Russia, perhaps because he feels much less like a Westerner.
Famous works include Night on Bald Mountain and Pictures At An Exhibition, which
remain popular today.
(1833-1887) As well as being a Russian nationalist composer and chemist, Borodin
was an advocate for women's rights in Tsarist Russia and an illegitimate son of a
Georgian noble. Interesting guy. He remained a little bit more of an independent
thinking amongst The Five, never totally throwing away the Western tradition, and
gained a decent amount of success outside of Russia.
(1835-1918) As a member of The Five, Cui was strangely of a French and Lithuanian
background, but that did not stop this army officer from making Proper Russian Music.
Yes, he was an army officer, who taught army fortifications. A little more interesting
than many musicians and composers today with their part-time jobs needed to fund
musical careers, but the same spirit remains. Cui lived a long and prosperous life, and
did well in music for it being merely a side-line venture. He was also a music critic,
who often took a harsh stance towards those not friendly to The Cause, and wrote
heavily on opera. His compositions span many years and many genres, which set him
apart from other members of The Five, in that he wrote chamber works, opera, etc.
(1864-1920) Another composer developing a national flavour, though about as far
away from Russia as it gets. Nepomuceno was a Brazilian composer who, in the way
the Brazilians often do, absorbed Western music through a Latin American lens, and
produced something highly distinctive. He also taught Heitor Villa-Lobos, a significant
figure in 20th century Brazilian music.
(1847-1935) A Female! And another Brazilian! Gonzaga was an interesting character,
being involved in different social movements, divorcing her husband legally, and
basically being a feminist of sorts. Apart from her crazy life in the social sphere, she
wrote some interesting tunes, further blurring the line between Brazilian and
(1860-1908) MacDowell was an American composer from New York, who received
training both at home and also in the major European musical centres, Germany and
France. Returning from Europe, he lived in New Hampshire, the scenic influence of
which is felt in his music.
(1869-1960) Finally, after sitting through all of this nationalism, a true blue fuckin'
Aussie. Well, apart from the fact that he spent a lot of his time in New Zealand also.
Alfred Hill was born in Melbourne, and studied in Leipzig, which put him in close
proximity with many romantic greats. He later returned to Australia, and after shifting
between Aus and NZ, he settled in Sydney and proceeded to compose a hell of a lot of
music. While his life certainly continues right through a great portion of the 20th
century, I include him here for stylistic reasons; he still has a romantic pedigree.
(1843-1907) Another distinct national voice, and a famous composer in his own right,
Edvard Grieg was a Norwegian possessed by a powerful sense for melody. Everybody
knows "In The Hall of the Mountain King" from Peer Gynt, but what about his first
string quartet? Some hard-hitting stuff that certainly plies itself to your ears. Studying
in Liepzig and then Copenhagen, under Niels Gade, Grieg returned to Norway and
became a pin-up of sorts, working with fellow Norwegian legend Henrik Ibsen for
music for his aforementioned play. Grieg also married his cousin.
(1813-1901) An Italian famous for his operas, of course, but also for the requiem that
he wrote for Rossini. An incredibly popular opera composer, Verdi referred to himself
as "unlearned", and did indeed have a style that was not necessarily experimental,
but just plainly different in his approach to that of his Italian contemporaries. He is
maybe unrefined in traditional technique, but all the more exciting because of that.
(1858-1924) Another incredibly popular Italian, just behind Verdi in the opera world. A
late-romantic who lived a little longer than Verdi however, he started to develop his
own compositional voice, becoming a composer of more "realistic" opera. Just like
Verdi, he composed many well-loved pieces, of which there are quite a few tunes
which would be known among the general public. A heavy smoker, he died of throat
cancer after receiving experimental treatment.
(1838-1920) A German romantic following the stylistic lead of Brahms, Bruch is mostly
remembered for his first Violin Concerto. He taught a lot, composed a lot, and
continued being a romantic right into the 20th century.
(1841-1904) A Czech nationalist taking after the example of Smetana, Dvorak further
developed the Czech voice in romanticism through grand symphonies to match those
of the Austro-German composers, and works in many different orchestral and
chamber settings. Dvorak also spent time in New York at the National Conservatory,
gathering influence for what would become an enduringly popular piece of his,
Symphony no. 9 "From the New World". The paradox of his style is in the embrace of
old and new, foreign and domestic, radical and traditional, in various settings, which
helped him to produce one of the most varied outputs in his time.
|42||Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky|
(1840-1893) One of the biggest names in romanticism, and the most popular Russian
composer, Tchaikovsky is an absolutely essential listen when it comes to the late-
romantic period. His long, aching melodies, sense of drama, complexity and ingenuity
in orchestration, and fluidity of development place him firmly in the late romantic
idiom, though he did not exactly fit within the confines of Western classical tradition,
or the nationalist tendencies of The Five. Known for his ballets and symphonies,
Tchaikovsky is a giant in the romantic canon, though he occupies his own lonesome,
melancholic area, not unlike Gustav Mahler. Tchaikovsky's sexual orientation
obviously caused him some psychological trouble, which no failed marriage could
help, but Tchaikovsky seemed to find some solace later in life, and drew wider
acceptance in Russia and abroad, before dying of cholera ("OR DID HE?"). He has a
load of pieces that many would be familiar with.
(1864-1949) A composer who almost tipped over into the Modern era, but stepped
back from the edge a little. Strauss (no relation to the waltzing kind) is known for his
radical opera Salome, and of course Also sprach Zarathustra, a tone-poem inspired
by Nietzsche's philosophical treatise of the same name. He was a late-romantic
tending towards modern, particularly with Salome and also Elektra, making some
gloriously dissonant noise, but retreated a bit and continued through much of the early
modern period with the young folk taking up the modernist charge. He lived quite well
through the Nazi years, a little too well some might say, and basically got through the
time because he was a famous German composer who wasn't Jewish. In this sense,
Strauss is the perfect finale to the development began by Wagner.
(1860-1911) A successful Austrian composer and conductor, Mahler unfortunately
became neglected after his death due to his Jewishness only to be rediscovered and
championed all the more strongly after WWII. Like Strauss, Mahler was at the very
edge of Austro-German romanticism, staring into the abyss of modernism. His
symphonies are as decadent and achingly beautiful as they come, and along with
Wagner, put many other romanticists to shame when it comes to grand opulence of
orchestration and drama. A pivotal figure, who can be seen as the endpoint for
(1845-1924) One of the most important French composers of his time, Faure occupied
that key grey area which lead into various types of modernism, though in a different
sense to his impressionistic countrymen. Taught by Saint-Saens, contemporary with
Franck, and in turn teaching Ravel, Faure was indeed an important transitional
composer for French music, and was adored by the public. His music had a definite
complexity and subtle innovation which, set against the work of Wagnerian Germans,
gives it a French flavour. His Requiem would have to be his most famous piece,
though there are more than a few intriguing works lurking within his oeuvre.
(1848-1933) A Parisian who studied under Franck, Duparc was a tragic romantic in the
way in which he ended his career: illness, then total revulsion at his own work, and
the aim to destroy it. While he still was composing, he crafted some beautiful songs on
texts by many great authors and poets of the time, and a handful of other treats.
(1855-1899) A life cut short by a brick wall during a bike ride, Chausson is another of
the less well-known French composers in the same camp as Franck, Duparc and co.,
who was on to some brilliant stuff. If he had lived a little longer, maybe he would have
shared in some of the successes of Faure into the next century. A late-romantic, with
(1862-1918) Now we bid adieu to romanticism, and say bonjour to something quite a
bit different: impressionism. Or, if you object to the name, symbolism. Or, perhaps
just call it French stuff which is sometimes modern, sometimes neo-classical, and
generally quite beautiful. Debussy is well-known due to his wonderful Clair de-lune,
though there is much more to this radical composer than most who would vaguely
recognise the name realise. Yes, Debussy is a radical. A subtle radical, compared to
the later modernists of Schoenberg and Stravinsky, but nonetheless radical. If we
take Wagner to be a launching point for harmony becoming a colouristic device, used
for expressive purposes, Debussy then takes all of the tonal materials as purely
colouristic devices, and dismantles tonality from within. Basically, Debussy takes the
extant words to recreate his own language through a twisted grammar. Equally
powerful in orchestral or solo piano settings, Debussy composed some of the most
ingeniously beautiful works ever. He died, however, from the very non-beautiful rectal
(1875-1935) Along with Debussy, Ravel is the big name of impressionism. However,
some say he was just a neoclassicist all along. Either way, we can still talk of his
music without these tags and link it to Debussy in a clear way: textural and harmonic
experimentation, tune-like melodies, and big splashes of colour. Ravel differed in
some ways of course, but some of the same effects and devices are used which give
the "movement" of impressionism grounds for discussion. After listening to these two,
you will hear early Hollywood scores quite differently too...
(1866-1925) Though not really an impressionist, Satie can be loosely lumped with the
two previous composers by chronology and forward-thinking nature. And because he
was French. After the alternative course taken by Debussy and Ravel to that of
German romanticism, and later modernism, Satie seems the third door option, taking
his own idiosyncratic path while sharing some parallels with his countrymen. Satie is
famous for his short, beautifully absurd piano pieces, and composed many such
pieces often taking a more minimal route. His use of repetition and paired down
materials does indeed prefigure the actual movement of minimalism, though his
harmonic language still keeps him in step with Debussy. His Gymnopedies are best
taken in little doses before they wear their welcome, as are his more comedic mega-
cadenced Embryons desseches.
(1855-1914) Associated with The Five early on, Lyadov was unreliable in his studies
and professionals ventures which hampered his advancement, though he still
managed to do well as a teacher, having Sergei Prokofiev as one of his notable pupils.
Later in his career, he developed a musical language that in some ways makes him a
comrade of the French impressionists, with his mysterious, clouded approach to
tonality. Still strongly Russian in spirit, this had great influence on the younger
(1872-1915) Contemporary with Lyadov, the Frenchies, and then also Schoenberg,
Scriabin carved out his own strange voice according to mysticism, and constructed his
own fantastically strange approach to harmony. By erecting his own musical language,
Scriabin gave his work a distinct feel that was really not like anything else, and still
has an air of idiosyncratic, mystical quality. An early modernist.
(1862-1934) Another individual voice, thought sharing some characteristics with the
above section of composers. Delius was an English composer, who spent much time in
America, trained in Leipzig, and worshipped German romanticism. An interesting mix,
no doubt, and all of his various infatuations with different composers, free from any
nationalist tendency, allowed him to develop a singular style which sits on the fringes
of romanticism, impressionism and modernism.
|*Give or take.|
Coming Soon: The 20th Century.
|holy fucking shit you really put some serious time into this|
|if this doesn't get featured...|
|fuck me sideways|
why don't you give this in for a school report or something instead of wasting it and dooming it to oblivion here
|playlist bookmarked the fuck out of|
|"why don't you give this in for a school report or something instead of wasting it and dooming it to oblivion here"|
|A lot of this came out of my university studies, I needed to do something with it.|
|when will this list be published on paperback|
|I'm impressed. Featured.|
|You major in general connoisseurship of nineteenth century artistic climes or some shit. |
|Fantastic list man. You obviously put a lot of time in this.|
I'm glad I have some friends who are obsessed with all this stuff, so I actually recognize quite a lot of names on this list. Too bad you kind of have to have a moderate to deep knowledge of music theory to really appreciate most of these composers' brilliance, which I don't.
|Awesome, will read when time permits. I actually wanted to make a list like this myself a while back but gave up at the early stage of dividing composers into classicists and romanticists haha, t'was a tedious task|
|amazing as always liled|
|way to be a bro|
|pearls before swine|
|whoa dude awesome! great to see someone else who appreciates this stuff. been listening to a lot of debussy and satie lately|
|Damn you know your stuff|
|Too kvlt for me|
|if i had to vote for the most knowledgeable user on sputnik it'd probably be liledman|
|i used to love playing chopin when i took piano lessons|
|A trve list|
|@Clercqie The main thing is how they sound though, and you can definitely enjoy the sounds of these composers without any theoretical knowledge. Most of the the time, you can hear when they do something radically different, and while knowing the theory might illuminate the reasons why, the sound is still the point of it.|
Thanks dudes, I hope people get something out of this.
|best list in months
great work man
also, fuck prog - we have scriabin|
|dude this would have helped for my piano theory tests. i remember i never studied the composers part and always got owned on that section lol|
|also clair de lune was one of my favorite pieces to play years ago, I really should give Debussy some more listens |
|Really great list with an equally great playlist.|
"@Clercqie The main thing is how they sound though, and you can definitely enjoy the sounds of these composers without any theoretical knowledge. Most of the the time, you can hear when they do something radically different, and while knowing the theory might illuminate the reasons why, the sound is still the point of it."
Agree with this 100%.
|honestly, we should be promoting users for stuff like this alone. this would look sooooooooo fucking awesome in the staff blog section.|
|Days of Future Passed|
|Great work, can't wait for the 20th century list.|
|awesome list |
|there's a disturbing lack of rachmaninoff here though|
i mean yeah yeah he's sort early 20th century too but still
|User lists and such, like reviews, should be able to get prominent feature places in the staff blog. Lest the potential beastliness of some of us of the unwashed mass get wasted in obscurity|
|@toxin Yeah Rachmaninoff will be in the next list, don't worry. It's hard to really separate the two centuries cleanly, and I only included the last handful because I didn't want to mix the impressionist/symbolist guys with the many 20th century movements. |
I agree Adash, I've been bashing my head against Sputnik trying to avoid cynicism for a long time. There are of course users who respond to new and interesting things, or genres outside of the popular centre of Sputnik, but I think it can only go so far unless the staff and contributors really push for more variety, and maybe even deeper discussion of different issues (baby steps, I know...)
|lilied, who's your favorite on the list? (if you had to pick)|
|niccolo paganini - violin concerto in d minor no 4 (drooool)|
|A favourite? I don't know, maybe Wagner (I just love Tristan und Isolde) or Debussy, or Mahler. Generally I just like the later romantic stuff, and the more progressive composers. I find Cesar Franck really interesting too.|
|I was listening to Tristan und Isolde the other day. Love it.|
|liled are you familiar with the stuff coming out on Neos as of recent?|
|I have a few of their CDs right above my computer at the moment, and a few other downloads, but there are many more I want to get. Great label. Any particular releases you fancy?|
|Oh and for any Spotify users, a great way to find this stuff, and other classical music, is through the Ulysses' Classical app. You can view playlists with complete chronological works for many composers.|
|Awesome awesome. I'm looking to devour the label and was wondering if you had explored it. Probably going to start with Sofia Gubaidulina's Chamber Music With Double Bass.|
|Sweet, that's a fantastic starting point. I highly recommend Gyorgy Kurtag's Complete Works for String Quartet. |
|I'll definitely check that out too, thanks |
|I wish I was more into classical. Ive been getting into jazz much more. How does the OG classical recordings work? When did they start recording them? Are there a bunch of performances of pieces to choose from that are better than others and so forth? That part always threw me off because I never knew where to look to download the stuff.|
|good question yank i too am curious |
|@liled, fair enough.|
You know, if you ever have time, a "brief history of 'classical' music" (classical not meaning the era) would be an awesome list. Even as a classically trained pianist, it's hard for me to really get a handle on classical music just due to the sheer amount of masterpieces out there (and when you think about it, most of the famous pieces by most musicians are, indeed, masterpieces). Just listing a few elements of each movement and works/composers who embody these traits would really help in giving plebs the background to really get "into" classical music.
Also seconded what Yankee said. I remember I was telling my friend (Bach-obsessed cellist who's a huge classical enthusiast) about how much I love Elgar's Cello Concerto, and his first question: "who's playing it?" I think it was Yo-Yo Ma (someone had linked to it on FB) and he just laughs and says "Listen to du Pre's performance. She's not my favorite but she's miles better than Ma." I'm just like :$ the entire time.
|Also, seconded @ Aids. liled review more so you can become staff like ASAP please|
|To an untrained ear it's extremely hard to tell the quality of one performance compared to another. That said, for the more famous pieces there are recognized superior and inferior recordings. Sometimes the orchestra itself is a sign of quality, sometimes the conductor e.g. Monteaux's rendition of Symphonie Fantastique|
|Ive been digging the more "modern" stuff like Steve Reich, Arvo Part, Philip Glass, Stravinsky, Varese, Feldman, Schoenberg, Webern, Messiaen, Gorecki, Ligeti, Schnittke, Cilio, Richter, Meredith Monk, Gershwin, Olafur Arnalds, Johannsson, Penderecki, Terry Riley, Moondog, Xenakis, Stockhausen, Scelsi, Jarrett, Charlamagne Palestine, Ground Zero, Radulescu, Tierson, Einaudi, Luigi Nono, etc.|
I find it simpler because usually theres just albums to hear and not a bunch of different performances for each piece. At least as far as I know.
|"That said, for the more famous pieces there are recognized superior and inferior recordings"|
Yeah, that's what I'm saying. I loved Elgar's Cello Concerto but upon hearing Du Pre's rendition, it became one of my favorite works ever. My problem with classical is it's hard to tell one the quality of interpretations if you're a mere pleb, but they still make a HUGE difference, even if you can't pinpoint what that difference is.
|Yeah I think it is great to just find any performance, and if you like the piece, check out others. Comparative listening to two renditions of the same piece can really hone your listening skills, and will really change the way in which you listen to music. You don't have to be a musician to do it, either. A great resource for finding good recordings is Rate Your Music, because you can see which actual releases get praised, as well as the pieces. Once you become more familiar with the classical world, you will become familiar with leading performers, ensembles and conductors, which makes it easier to choose an album to look into. Also, labels like Deutsche Grammaphon have a generally high standard, so you can always rely on those kinds of judgment too. As for the other list idea, that sounds pretty good. Maybe after the next list I'll give it a crack, just for a basic overview of the development of classical styles.|
I may also review more, who knows.
|fuckin bomb list dude|
i'm analyzing Berlioz' Symphonie Fantastique right now, shit is so cash (and harmonically crazy, although I shouldn't say that yet since we're moving onto Wagner and then Mahler D: )
|sweet I'm looking forward to your later lists. And I'll follow your advice about looking up performances on RYM---not sure why that didn't cross my mind.|
|Nice bro. A long time ago I started something like this but it was tailored to specific regions. I never ended up finishing it though :/|
|but you just did|
|I'm deeply saddened by your disinterest.|
|my symphonie fantastique lp just came in the mail woohoo|
|"i'm analyzing Berlioz' Symphonie Fantastique right now, shit is so cash (and harmonically crazy, although I shouldn't say that yet since we're moving onto Wagner and then Mahler D: )"|
Sounds awesome dude. Wagner is harmonic bliss, and Mahler is a beast also. I haven't actually looked at any of Berlioz's scores, I may have to do that. Which recording is your LP?
|the Symphonie Fantastique score is so great, the harmony is so killer and how he constantly incorporates and constantly changes and plays with the idée fixe is so cool|
and it's Karajan with the Berlin Philharmonic
|Are you bored Kill?|
|Would I say that Kill? Would I?|
Listen to Moonmadness.
|All about Chord Change. That solo.|
Failing that IDK maybe some Periphery? ;-)
Failing that spin Overnite Sensation.
|Or just stop being gay.|
|fuck yeah good list man can't wait for the 20th cetury edition|
|hot sex. liled how does it feel to be a level above most other humans|
|You're making me blush bro, stop it|
|Ace of Spades, docperkins' list on sputnik@awesome!!! Thankies man.
|Haha the next list on the 20th century may be a little more doc-ish|
|I'm gwan make a list entirely on Mozart so good that it gets a permafeature and becomes required reading for young generations of Sputnik internauts|
|include his fantasia cuz that's the only thing i ever learned by him lol|
|Had time to go through this today, you did a fantastic job here. It's a lot to take in, even though I've previously studied many of these composers. To answer your last.fm shout, I'm definitely going to make my own list at some point, although I'm not sure if I'll simply list my favorite works or if I'll do something more creative with it.|
Bit of a random question, but have you ever heard of Charles-Valentin Alkan? 19th century composer, very enigmatic, wrote some fascinating stuff
|What of his works would you recommend?|
|Thanks Havey, I'm sure you'll come up with something interesting. I've never heard of that guy actually, though looking at his RYM page I have a feeling I've seen a couple of those album covers before. Anyway, I'll definitely check him out, thanks for the tip.|
|Wish Scelci could included on here but he's too late. What are your thoughts on Barraque?|
|Scelsi will definitely be on the next list. Barraque I haven't listened to a great deal, I think I have only heard his sonata and that's it. Interesting stuff though.|
|Currently making a romantic era spotify playlist and this list is being a great help :]|
|objectively the best list ever|
|I recognize like 45 % of these, what do I win? :'/|
|45% isn't that bad! Take this opportunity to get yourself acquainted with the others :]|
|AWWWWW that's cute :]|
|i only know the europeans lol|
|Romania, France, Italy,, Germany vs New York|
|Oh yeah I should finish up the next list.|
|don't forget to add the Zimmermann mr|
| bequethen romantic duo|
|Awesome job, man. You really kicked some ass with this list.|
|rip greatest sput user ever|