What is happening culturally at the beginning of the Renaissance period?
a. Industrial Revolution
b. Abolition of slavery worldwide
c. Urbanization (wealth for some, misery for others)
d. Libraries, education emphasized (this is the Enlightenment in action, but see Item e)
e. Demise of Enlightenment ideals: 18th-century optimism did not survive
a. Darwin’s theory of evolution
b. Edgar Allen Poe, Mary Shelley, Wordsworth, Keats, Longfellow
c. Revival of interest in Shakespeare
d. Birth of philanthropy and free public education
e. Socialism, Communism (Karl Marx) on the rise
common denominators of romanticism
1. A “return to nature”: emphasizing the natural world and people in their “natural” state

2. A different kind of interest in the past
a. Continued reinterpretation of Classical (ancient Greek/Roman) scholarly material
b. Use of medieval subjects for operas, and celebrating stylistic elements relevant to Palestrina , J.S. Bach

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3. Artists affected by political, social conflicts
Changed social station of musician composers now write to:
a. “Inner necessity” rather than to demands of commission and to communicate personal ideologies and emotions to a receptive audience
b. Satisfy public, on whom they are now dependent.

4. System breakdown results in composers with no access to formal training, so markedly individual styles result rather than the “collective thought” relevant to Classicism

5. Theme of nationalism are prevalent: celebration of common history or a native land that is distinct from other groups

6. Middle class a more relevant consumer
a. Piano (and guitar) are now household ornaments and sheet music is more available
b. Public concerts regular occurrence

7. Interest in altered states of reality and “dark side” of nature, including supernatural.

8. Interest in things far away (and long ago): Escapism; the opposite force is a concern with now: realism (or verismo)

10. An interest in integrating literature, visual art, music (One outlet? Program music)


focusing on the here and now

Why did Romanticism sprout in Germany and England?
a) merging of Enlightenment ideals and contradicting ideologies, b) nature worship, c) national sentiment, d) anti-Napoleonic feeling, e) rise of middle class, and f) industrialization
Romanticism not a radical break with Classicism, what changed?
a. Classical forms are now vehicles for individual emotional expression
b. And new forms evolve, often with literary associations
How does historicism play in the grounding of Romantic music?
This rise in historicism means the study of music is grounded in:
a. Editions of earlier music
b. Bach revivals and a performance of other music from earlier periods.
Composers communicate how?
Through periodical literature on music
How did Romanticism as an artistic movement affect music? Problems?
a. Music tends to go to extremes: of dynamics, length, performing forces, virtuosity
b. Flexibility in tempo, more explicit directions
c. Long, seemingly unending melodies (think Wagner)
d. Harmony: unexpected combinations and modulations, all for the sake of expression

>>Problems this created:
1. Tonality was the structural anchor for Classical forms (i.e., sonata form), so…
2. Experimentation leads to breakdown of tonal system

e. New themes attracting composers: obsessive love, nature, mythology, magic

f. Proliferation of program music (this connects to literary parallels)

Popular Genres of Romantic period (6)
a. Concerto: opportunity for extreme virtuosic displays
b. Opera: national styles continue to develop
c. Symphony: expanded in length, instruments, expressive devices
d. Chamber: many new combinations, but string quartet still strong
e. Symphonic poem: new form of programmatic music
f. Solo piano: programmatic character pieces abound
g. Lieder: the ultimate union of poetry (literature) and music
Question & Answer
Real Answer vs. Tonal Answer
Romanticism collective ideal?
Doesn’t exist
Romanticism started in what?
Visual Arts and Literature
Art’s one function?
Problem with Enlightenment?
Rossini’s overtures? What did they influence?
Schubert Symphony No. 6 C Major
1. Slow intro, sonata form, fast codas
2. Heavy on: wind solos, driving rhythms, crescendos built by repeated motives where instruments added in succession
Schubert’s Symphonies?
a. Early orchestral music for ensemble similar to Mozart’s or Haydn’s

What makes it Romantic:
1. Extended use of winds in high tessituras
2. Frequent borrowed harmonies and minuet-type movement in minor key (rather than typical major)
3. Unexpected tonal relationships in sonata-form movement

1822 Schubert’s symphonies?
A turning point in 1822:
1. Began new style with No. 8: B minor; “Unfinished”

a. 2 completed movements show Schubert at his most adventurous:
1. 1st movement introduction material dominates recap (rather than expo’s themes)
2. 2nd theme: hear those magical major/minor contrasts
*Listen: Movement I
1. String theme gives way to oboe/clarinet melody
2. Transition modulates down to G for cello theme
3. 2nd theme boasts Austrian dance qualities

2. The last one: in 1825 began most ambitious orchestral work: the “Great C Major”, now catalogued as No. 9
a. Completed 1828; first performed in 1839
b. What makes it “great”?
1. “Heavenly length”(Schumann’s term)
2. Imaginative brass writing
3. Insistent dotted rhythms in driving (un-Schubert-like??) finale

Schubert Overtures
a. All show Rossini’s influence (he’s big in Vienna in 1820s)
b. Examples: Rosamunde Overture (actually written for a drama called Die Zauberharfe)
Mendelssohn orchestra output
Orchestral output: 5 symphonies, violin concerto, overtures (independent of stage works)
Mendelssohn’s Overtures
Programmatic concert overtures: Most loved overtures are the seascapes: Hebrides and Melusine; both provide excellent examples of sonata form
Mendelssohn’s concertos
1. Piano concertos mostly forgotten
2. Violin Concerto in E minor is wildly famous and holds equal appeal to performer, listener, scholar, audience

*Listen: Concerto in E minor for Violin 1844
1. No break between movements
2. Soloist starts instead of orchestra
3. Brilliant cadenza precedes recap
4. Extremely technical, cyclic

**Note: Symphony numbers don’t match composition date

1. 14 early “sinfonias” between 1821 and 1824; most for string orchestra alone
2. 2 important mature works preserve impressions from his travels
a. No. 4 in A Major, Op. 90 (pr. 1833; rev 1834; pb. 1851)
b. Outer movements: “sunny, vibrant”; dance-like finale

a. No. 3 in A minor, Op. 56 (comp. 1842); deceptively labeled No. 3
b. Driving finale with bombastic coda balanced with incredible slow movement
c. Movements linked with thematic material and no breaks between
d. Folk flavor: pentatonic melodies, bagpipe sounds

Schumann Orchestral Output
Orchestral output: 4 symphonies and quasi-symphony with no slow movement; Concertos: piano, violin, cello; some miscellaneous concert pieces and overtures (earliest overture from 1852)
Schumann’s Symphonies
Symphonies chronology
a. Symphony No. 1 in B-flat Major (“Spring”); 1841: partly cyclic: slow movement epilogue (trombones) main theme of scherzo

b. Symphony No. 2 in C Major (composed 1845-46; published 1847) is more cyclic:
1. Brass theme in intro recurs in scherzo and finale
2. Main theme of slow movement becomes 2nd theme in finale (but minor to major)

c. Symphony No. 3 in E-flat Major (“Rhenish”); 1850: 5 movements

d. Symphony No. 4 in D Minor (composed 1841 as No. 2, but revised and published in 1851); All movements related: concise work based on germ-motives

The instrument: evolves in range, power, action, sustain
a. Escapement evolves, improving action (i.e., making fast repeated notes possible)
b. Pedals for sustain and muting (think expressive capabilities!)
c. Later 18th century: wing shape, 3 strings per note (allowing damper pedal mechanism), extended range, even faster action
d. More solid construction, more responsive instrument
What composers reacted and what did they do when the piano debuted?
Relevant composer/pianists take advantage of new capabilities and the business surrounding it:

In London:
a. Muzio Clementi: Italian who lived in London at end of 1700s
1. Pianist, composer, manufacturer, publisher
2. Style influenced Beethoven: in ornamentation, passagework, chromaticism, dense textures

b. Jan Dussek:
1. Bohemian working in London
2. Churned out 32 piano sonatas
3. Influenced Beethoven, Schubert, Liszt

In Russia:
John Field (1782-1837)
1. Irish by birth, lived in Russia most of his career
2. Sonatas, concertos, chamber music, but best known for nocturnes:
Nocturne is one of many fanciful titles for a piano miniature: small form, single movement “character piece”
1. Programmatic content
2. Not rigidly structured (that is, no strict sonata form)
3. Extremely expressive thru exploitation of piano’s new capabilities
4. Evocative of night (often described as dreamy, airy, broken chord accompaniment often)

From Bohemia: A whole herd: Tomasek, Hummel, Moscheles, Dussek, Czerny
a. Vaclav Tomasek:
1. Many fanciful pieces in free structures (eclogues, rhapsodies)
2. Light, enjoyable pieces, not too virtuosic (appeals to middle-class amateurs)

b. Johann Hummel:
1. Beethoven’s performance rival in Vienna
2. Playing style more conservative (delicate, restrained) than Beethoven’s
3. This style of playing and composing persisted thru Schubert, Mendelssoh, Chopin

c. Ignaz Moscheles:
1. Beethoven’s friend
2. Celebrated virtuoso but not a prolific composer

d. Carl Czerny:
1. Beethoven’s pupil (born in Vienna of Bohemian parentage)
2. Famous for pedagogy
3. Teacher of Liszt


Performed but rarely: didn’t enjoy large audiences
b. Moved in highest social circles
c. Earned living by teaching
d. Several love affairs over years: long-term partnership with novelist (Aurore Dudevant, known by pen name George Sand)
e. Focused compositional efforts on piano and wrote idiomatically for it
1. His music dependent on new technology
2. He exploited construction advances of instrument
f. Incorporates Polish dance rhythms into music
>Examples of nationalism in polonaise, Polish mazurka (Note: these are “stylized dances”)

Felix Mendelssohn
. Genuine child prodigy
2. Grandfather famous philosopher and Jewish theologian.
3. Famous as conductor, composer, and performer.
4. Directed Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra, founded conservatory
5. Interested in past: revived Bach’s St. Matthew Passion among other works
6. Revered just after his death, but becomes the object of ridicule by those who will take up the “progressive” stance in composition and by the Nazi party in 1930s and 1940s
Mendelssohn’s Style
Essentially a Classical composer with Romantic tendencies
a. For example, used 4-movement sonata cycle plan and other traditional structures with changes that didn’t obscure well-known patterns
b. Studied and performed (conducted) works of Bach, Mozart, Handel
c. Some programmatic music (i.e., overtures and “Scottish” symphony), but not overly explanatory: left absolute music “abstractness” appreciated by classically minded (read: conservative) enthusiasts
Mendelssohn representative piano works
Representative piano work:
Lieder ohne worte, Op. 30, No. 6
a. 48 total in 8 books, very successful in their time
b. Miniatures, some sonata structures, but all too brief to be published separately
c. Scholars wonder: does the title challenge listeners to “hear” a text?
Mendelssohn representative piano works
Representative piano work:
Lieder ohne worte, Op. 30, No. 6
a. 48 total in 8 books, very successful in their time
b. Miniatures, some sonata structures, but all too brief to be published separately
c. Scholars wonder: does the title challenge listeners to “hear” a text?
Paris for Berlioz
Berlioz’s Paris
1. After Napoleon’s fall in 1814, the Bourbons were restored as legitimate kings of France, with only a limited sharing of power with middle class (due to a new constitution)

2. In July 1830, Louis Philippe (1773-1850), the “citizen king,” was installed after King Charles X scared them with his “absolute power” nonsense

Paris and culture
1. By this time, Paris had displaced Vienna as the center of European music making
2. But, no composer/performer enjoyed annuities like those bestowed on Beethoven: after the Revolution, the wealth of the French aristocracy was largely confiscated
3. Musical life in Paris concentrated in the opera house (more to come) and the concert hall

Orchestral music in that concert hall
1. The principal orchestra in Paris was sponsored by Society of Conservatory Concerts
2. Programming emphasized orchestral music of Beethoven
3. Berlioz becomes a distinctive voice in musical culture of Paris in 1830s, 1840s

Berlioz’s Bio
1. Born in southeastern France and largely self-taught in music

2. Learned to play flute, guitar but in 1821 went to Paris to study medicine

3. Dropped medicine to study with Jean Francois Lesueur, a leading composition teacher

4. Won Prix de Rome in 1830: earned 4-year stipend and 2-year residency in Rome

5. Grew composer and conductor reputations after returning to Paris in 1832: made extra money writing music reviews, organizing concerts

6. Later toured Europe to promote music: found approval among German audiences

7. Wrote orchestration text which remains a classic: Treatise on Instrumentation

Berlioz’s output
1. No piano music
2. Some chamber, but lost
3. Some songs
a. Most popular type of song in France was the romance
b. Later 19th century: French began writing more complex songs called melodies
c. Berlioz’s songs from Les nuits d’ete are of this later type
4. Operas: aspired to make his reputation in opera
a. 3 main works: Benvenuto Cellini (1837), Les Troyens (1858), and Beatrice et Benedict (1862)
b. None found success in Paris
5. 3 main programmatic symphonies: Symphonie fantastique (1830); Harold in Italy (1834); Romeo and Juliet (1839; brings in solo and choral voices) and some concert overtures
6. Choral music: La damnation de Faust (1846; cantata-like composition for solo voices, chorus, orchestra); a Requiem Mass (1837); L’enfance du Christ (1854)
Berlioz’s Symphonies
Specifics on symphonies:
1. None traditional in form or style
2. All work to relay dramatic ideas as coherently as does opera
3. Became leader among programmatic composers
4. Genius at orchestration and in exploiting orchestral color

Symphonie Fantastique: Episode de la vie d’un artiste
An intensely autobiographical narrative

The printed program:
At first performance in December 1830, Berlioz distributed the story to the audience: “to fill the gaps which the use of musical language leaves in the development of dramatic thought”

Analysis of the work:
a. Form: 5 movements (extension of sonata cycle idea)

b. Idee fixe
1. Theme associated with beloved’s qualities
2. Repeated and transformed thru-out piece
3. Cyclic principle: Idee fixe

c. Orchestra resembles ensemble of French grand opera more than orchestra of Beethoven

d. The movements:
1. Passions
a. Idee fixe 1st heard after “pause” in development section
b. Sonata form with blurred outlines: long intro before exposition

2. A ball
a. In triple meter waltz
b. Idee fixe appears near middle of movement

3. Scenes in the field
a. Mood setting: he sees her on a summer evening
b. Piping of shepherds imitated with offstage obo
c. Stormy contrasting section depicts his beloved’s thoughts and idee fixe heard in winds

4. March to the Scaffold
a. Narrative sequence: he takes opium, which instigates a dream that he has killed her and then is led to be executed for his crime
b. Duple meter, march-like; formal plan resembles sonata form (2 themes, repeated exposition and a return of the main theme)
c. Idee fixe comes 4 minutes into movement for one last look at his beloved (clarinets)

5. Witch’s Sabbath
a. He envisions his funeral and she returns as a witch
b. Combines Dies Irae sequence with idee fixe here
>most dramatic tranformation of idee fixe here: grotesque and strange

Schumann General Specs
1. Son of author, publisher, bookseller.

2. Dual interest in literature and music
a. Founding editor of Neue Zeitschrift fur Musik (twice a week, 1844)
b. Articles supported progressive composers

3. Kept diary from which we get much biographical information

4. Law student at Leipzig, music “late in life”

5. A pianist: but permanently damaged his hand and turned to composing

Personality and life events:
a. Obsessive: one example? Heard Paganini play, decided to become piano virtuoso
>>Paganini (1782-1840): transplant to Paris, astounded audiences
1. Dazzled with technical proficiency on violin
2. Composers, performers emulated virtuosity in their performances and comps

b. Began taking piano lessons with Friedrich Wieck; his daughter, Clara, became love of his life

c. Finally married Clara in 1840 (she 20, he 30)

d. 1854: Asked to be taken to an asylum; spent last 2 years of life in institution.

Schumann’s output
a. 1840 “year of song” (about 170 Lieder)
b. 1841: orchestral (we’ll come back to these)
1. 2 of 4 symphonies are programmatic
2. Wrote in larger forms only when Clara encouraged
3. Unorthodox use of form: for example, he adds a 2nd trio to a 3rd movement, has 4 (or 5!) movements played without a break, and puts new theme in recap
c. 1842: chamber (and we’ll come back to this), including 3 string quartets and important pieces with piano (a quintet and 3 piano trios)
d. 1 opera: Genoveva (1849)
e. Piano, cello concerto
f. Main contributions: vocal and miniature piano music
Schumann’s Style
a. Very Romantic: most programmatic; much introverted and intensely personal (to the extent that the music seems autobiographical)
b. Influence of Bach, Beethoven, Schubert, Clara, Chopin
>i.e., borrowed themes, motives from Clara’s compositions
c. Rhythm: cross-rhythms, syncopation
d. Many brief pieces arranged in cycles, with extramusical association to unite them
Schumann’s Piano Works
Schumann’s piano works:
a. In 1830s he began his compositional career by writing almost exclusively for piano: something typical of the aspiring virtuoso
b. Piano dominates creative activity from 1828 to 1839
c. Wrote miniatures that were often gathered into cycles (Papillons, 1831; Carnaval, 1835; Kinderscenen, 1838) and large-scale sonatas
d. Later works, particularly songs, chamber, rely on piano: he thought pianistically and composed at piano
Carnaval by Schumann
Pieces are a “set” and each one bears a title of a person or event at an imaginary masked ball during carnival season
a. “Preambule” begins the ball with a waltz (many pieces included here are dance like)
b. Throughout cycle Schumann’s acquaintances appear along with stock characters from commedia dell’arte (like Pierrot, Harlequin)

2. Cryptic allusions to his own world are found in these: Clara (Chiarina), Chopin, Paganini are all at the dance, and Schumann’s “alter-egos” Florestan and Eusebius, too

3. The pieces are unified by a theme derived from letters ASCH

4. Hear dissonant harmonies: inversions and secondary dominants, non-harmonic tones (linger with sustain pedal)

Schumann’s Lieder and Song Cycle
The Lieder: 300+ and 2 song cycles
a. Piano in important partnership with voice

b. Most published in groups (miniatures) linked by poet, narrative, theme

c. Hear lyrical melodies partnered with expressive harmonies

d. He liked genre, but infused his moodiness into this genre

1840: “Year of song”
a. Just before marriage to Clara in September, a turn from piano to songs
b. 170 total, including 2 cycles: Dichterliebe and Frauenliebe und Leben

“Mondnacht”: Op. 39, No. 5 (1840); Eichendorff
a. Modified strophic form = static conception of a moment in nature
b. Subtle word painting: rising melodic figure on ‘heaven’ and solid tonic arrives on word ‘home’
c. Schumann-esque traits: lengthy piano prelude, interlude, postlude

The song cycles:
a Dichterliebe (Poet’s Love): Op. 48, 1840; Heine
16 songs from more than 60 in poem collection
b. Frauenliebe und leben (Woman’s Love and Life): Op. 42, 1840; Chamisso

Clara Schumann
1. Daughter of accomplished musician; formal training from early age

2. 9 years younger than Robert

3. Celebrated virtuosa.
a. Premiered works by Chopin, Schumann, and Brahms.
b. Continued to concertize until age 70.

4. First female concert pianist of international stature.
a. One of first to command stage for entire recital
b. One of first to memorize repertoire

5. Wrote works for piano, ensemble, voice.

6. R and C toured together

7. Submitted work to Robert for criticism and did his works on recitals more than her own

Song output: 26 Lieder
Examples: Liebst du um schoneheit; Op. 12, no. 2; Ruckert (1854)
>Arguably unsophisticated music (very repetitive), but captures direct sentiments: love me only for the sake of love, not beauty, youth, wealth

Geheimes flustern hier und dort, Op. 23, No. 3; Rollett; (1853)

a. Nature theme throughout: the forest speaks to the poet, and music repeats (strophic) to effect the consistency of its message

b. 16th-note broken chords: pictorial writing for rustling leaves

The Lied
a. Really only genuinely new form of the Romantic period
b. In Romanticism, voice and piano are at least equal partners in the composition

Intellectual, social and musical sources:
a. Lied essentially began with its greatest poet, Goethe

b. But minor poets like Holty and Muller and gifted amateurs like Mayrhofer had their importance.
1. German poetry found natural counterpart in increasingly sophisticated musical language available to contemporary German-speaking composers
2. Made particular appeal to rapidly expanding German-speaking educated classes

c. Main quality of the new verse was not literary merit but emotional tone
>This has a discernible central theme: personal, individual feeling affected by powerful external forces, whether of nature, history or society.

d. The Romantic lied directly mirrored literary developments by combining themes of opera with the folk or traditional and reducing result to terms of voice and keyboard.

1. Poetry of individual feelings could thus ideally be expressed by one person who might be poet, composer, singer and accompanist simultaneously.
2. Piano had evolved so it could render orchestral sound-effects

Tremendous prodigy
a. Studied with Beethoven’s teacher, Salieri.
b. Native to Vienna

2. Did not benefit from patronage system, but received education at his father’s school and as a singer in Imperial choir

3. Never held a post, and was not a virtuoso or a conductor: instead, eked out living from composition and occasional teaching (avoided concertizing)

5. Wrote some of most famous works as a teenager

6. Not well known as composer in his own day
a. most works not published while alive
b. Not a huge force in development of music history
c. Works taken seriously only much later, when innovations he pioneered were by then “ordinary”

Schubert’s Output
Schubert’s Output: 900 works in 31 years
a. 9 symphonies (survey to come)
b. Chamber music (survey to come: string quartets, quintets, etc.)
c. Piano sonatas
d. Operas and singspiels
e. Choral works (masses, other liturgical music)
f. Songs – over 600
Schubert’s Style
Musical Style:
1. Classical in many ways, especially with instrumental music
>Used Classical formal structures, making no radical changes

2. Avoided program music

3. Main style traits are a knack for melodic composition and love of modulation: skilled at surprising modulations and this makes Schubert a Romantic

4. Schubert’s style relies on repetition rather than development: melodies are “closed” and don’t yield to development

Schubert’s Lieder
Schubert’s Lieder: some of his most Romantic music

Stylistic specialties
>Formal choices:
1. Strophic: one melody for each stanza, usually w/refrain

1 a: Modified strophic: changes so music follows more closely mood established by text

2. Through-composed: different music for each stanza

>The piano’s role: more than merely accompaniment
a. Adds expressive content to song
b. Pre- and postludes offer text painting

>Vocal style: Typically a mix of declamatory and more lyrical singing

a. Span from 1811 to 1828
b. Art songs known during lifetime
c. Set standards for 19th-century genre: music mirrors text to the point that music is a translation of text
d. Set good and bad poetry
e. Believed so much in poetic expression that he didn’t add expression marks

Schubert’s Song Cycles
I. Die schone Mullerin: Muller’s narrative cycle of 23 poems

Why a song cycle?
a. Ongoing interest in song groupings
b. Influenced by Beethoven’s song cycle An die ferne geliebte of 1815–16

The cycle:
1. Boiled Muller’s verse down to 20 poems
2. Made it less “tragic love story” than a metaphor on the Romantic conviction: that true love on earth finds its fulfillment only in death
3. Many are strophic with preludes and postludes

II. Winterreise: (1827)
1. 4 years later Schubert returned to Muller
2. More an emotional portrait, again of a lovesick wanderer
3. 24 songs treat pilgrimage of a man who lost his lover
4. Songs structurally more complex and varied

**Listen: Der Lindenbaum
a. folk song-like, dealing with nature
b. “Der Lindenbaum” sees protagonist dreaming of a tree where he used to sit thinking about his love
c. Modified strophic: maintains unity with repeat of intro piano material for interludes and postlude

French Opera Review
a. Tragedie lyrique:
i. Mythology; reflects well on monarchy; dance
ii. Fluid move from recitative to brief arias (without vocal fireworks), to chorus, to ballet
iii. Dies out during revolution because it is associated with aristocracy.

b. Opera comique:
i. Acquires more seriousness and is used as a vehicle for Revolutionary propaganda: virtue over aristocratic vice.
ii. Uses spoken dialogue; everyday people in modern history; reflects well the values of middle class

>>A sub category to opera comique: Rescue opera: Popular late 18th, early 19th century
i. Revolutionary opera direct in its appeal: simple harmonies, rhythmic, triadic melodies
ii. Luigi Cherubini: an Italian in Paris; contributed Les Deux Journees (1800)

New development in French Opera
By the 1830s we see some new developments

1. Three separate houses in play for 3 separate genres: The Opera was for grand opera, the Opera-Comique was for opera comique, and the Theatre-Italien presented Italian operas in original language

Grand opera
a. Blends social statement, history, spectacle with long, action-filled scenes
b. Strictly in French language and a rule barred works with spoken dialogue

2. And…. by the 1870s, lyric opera
a. A genre somewhere between spectacle and skimpy: merger of grand and comique
b. Topics of tragic love
c. Example: George Bizet’s Carmen (which is often also categorized as comique)

Context surrounding French Romantic Opera
1. In mid-19th century, opera was primary yardstick by which a composer would be measured and government subsidy made “big” opera possible

2. Keep in mind, though, that the arrival of Rossini in Paris threatened to extinguish a viable French school of opera composition

3. First example of truly French grand opera was Auber’s La Muette de Portici (1828)
a. Historical drama, elements of realism, a mix of musical styles
b. Berlin-born Giacomo Meyerbeer (1791-1864) will, however, become a much more successful composer of this style (more about him below)

French Grand Opera
. Flourished 1830’s and 40’s.

2. Extravagant in every way: length, staging, size of instrumental and vocal resources

3. Exerted great influence on succeeding composers, Verdi (Aida) and Wagner (Rienzi).

4. Deals with heroic subject matter taken from history (could be critical of past), especially with religious themes and application to current issues.
a. Stories exploit melodramatic and violent situations, nearly always ending tragically
b. May present controversial themes – religious intolerance or rebellion against oppression, for instance.
c. Include major characters from the lower classes, portraying them in a heroic light

5. Typically sung throughout

6. Later works in 4 acts but more often in 5

7. Enormous performing forces required:
a. Many leading characters and secondary roles
b. Chorus represented different groups in conflict
c. Ballet assumed amore extensive role and orchestra grows in size and variety
i. Special orchestral effects abound (offstage instruments, muting and so on).
ii. Scores contain a wide range of formal types and styles.

1. Virtuoso airs with extensive ranges
2. Solo music as part of larger complexes: choruses and long ensembles to advance drama in as impressive a way as possible

For whom was French Grand Opera written and for where?
For whom and where?
1. A grand style was considered essential for works written for the Paris Opera House

2. Patrons of this opera are the upper middle class: opera comes to reflect their tastes

3. That means spectacle: Give them what they want:
a. Ballet scenes
b. Spectacular scenic effects and machinery
c. Big crowd scenes with elaborate costumes
d. Coloratura passages often overdone in relation to drama.

1. German born, Venice-trained Giocomo Meyerbeer (1791-1864).
2. Virtuoso pianist, studied operatic composition in Italy before becoming permanent resident of Paris in 1826
3. Famous for Le prophete (1849), Robert le Diable (1831) and Les Huguenots (1836)
Meyerbeer’s eclectic style

1. Germanic approach to harmony and tonal structures, experience in Italian lyricism and commitment to French traditions

2. Rivaled Berlioz in introducing new orchestral effects

3. Simple forms and vocal style to contrast with the more fully scored choral sections.

4. Divertissements provided contrast: simple dances to more complicated pantomime, choruses and ensembles link to form a larger whole.

Berlioz and Grand Opera
. 3 (or 4? Or 5?) operas completed, all different in style and dramatic stance.
a. Determination varies as he also wrote several intensely operatic musical mixed forms that are played in concert as well as performed on stage

b. Dramatic expression is very pulse of his music, so operatic elements heard in many non-operatic works (especially symphonies, larger choral works)

2. Sketched more, at least 1 project in mind at nearly all points of his working life.

3. Opera was medium of predecessors he admired most (Gluck, Spontini, Weber) and most cultivated form of music in Paris during his first years there.

a. Best-known are Benvenuto Cellini 1830s and Les Troyens 1850s

b. Estelle et Nemorin, composed in 1823, has not survived.

c. Les francs-juges (1826): 6 complete numbers and overture survive

d. 1833: considered Much Ado about Nothing for Opera-Comique

e. 1845: Began composition of Le damnation de Faust

f. By 1850: seems to have abandoned thoughts of opera, but dream of a grand opera on Virgil’s Aeneid began to surface (Les Troyens)

g. Last opera was comique: Beatrice et Benedictwas begun in 1860, performed 1862

Les Troyens
Les Troyens specifics:
1. Composed 1856-58; 2nd half premiered 1863, 1st in 1890.

2. Performance history: Not neglected, but no single production has followed exactly Berlioz’s instructions

3. 5 acts, divided into 2 parts
I-II: Takes place at Troy III-V: At Carthage
4. Libretto by Berlioz: Adapted Virgil to suit needs of a libretto

5. Truly an epic opera: grand in conception and execution

6. All is faithful to text (that means it’s anti-Italian, pro-French)

Features of grand opera in Troyens:
1. Off-stage effects, vision scenes (ghost of Hector, ghosts of Trojans)
2. More obvious features like ballet, choruses, mime: huge resources required

Great scenes include:
1. Enormous finale of Act 1: Cassandra’s wails of doom (reality) contrast with Trojans’ faith in the Wooden Horse (fantasy)

2. Royal Hunt and Storm: meeting of Dido and Aeneas enacted in symbolic mime

3. Final departure of Aeneas

Damnation of Faust

1. Not originally conceived as a work to be performed scenically on stage

2. Premiered at Opera Comique on December 6, 1846 as a concert: poorly attended

a. More a static series of scenes than dramatic plot
b. Berlioz: “Once started, the score emerged with a lightness such as I have very seldom experienced in my other work. I did not seek the thoughts, I let them come, and they arranged themselves in a completely unsuspected sequence.”

Notable listening: Scenes 16-18- Fausts’s “Invocation to Nature”: just before sealing his pact with the devil, Faust goes to the woods and caves (returning to nature, of course)

1. Syllabic text rendering of much of the singing (typical French is music adapted to natural speech patterns and specific rhythms and accents)

2. Orchestral accompaniment punctuates dramatic issues: eliminates static nature of recitative

Post-Berlioz French Opera
Later French opera
a. Berlioz died, broken and embittered
b. 1870, Prussia crushed France and in 1871 victorious German armies parade thru Paris
c. Economics: downturn in extravagance of Second Empire and of opera production
d. National Society of Music founded: “Ars gallica”

This means a rebirth of French instrumental composition:
i. To provide musical alternatives to German symphonic thought or music drama
ii. Restore French music: weed out external influences, contaminants

Cultural impact:
i. widens range of activity: more chamber and orchestral
ii. higher standards for music education

Types of opera post-1870:
A. Opera lyrique
1. None of grandeur of grand opera.
a. More human scale, sentimental and melodic.
b. Less intensity, overt sensuality, violence of contemporary Italian and German opera.

a. Charles Gounod, Faust
b. Jules Massenet, Manon

B. Operetta
a. New kind of comic: satirical, mocks social customs and other operatic styles
b. Uses popular music of the time
Examples: Offenbach’s Orpheus in the Underworld; Tales of Hoffmann

C. Opera comique will almost die out under opera lyrique

George Bizet (1838-1875)

Carmen (1875)
1. First performed at comique house with spoken dialogue but met with hostility by audiences and the press

2. Much more receptive audience in Vienna later in 1875 (and with recitative added )

3. Full success not until 8 years after Bizet died

4. An opera comique?
>Generally not “comic” but opera in France with spoken dialogue, characters, scenes, plot of common life placed in that category

How Carmen breaks the mold:
1. Motivation of the action is often tawdry
2. Audience sees degradation of male lead and sees the female lead die
3. Treatment of love ranges from cynical to contemptuous
4. A “heroine” who does not suffer and refuses to surrender to demands of society

Tosi and Mancini


Italian Opera
a. Opposing genres (seria and buffa) still recognized until 1850s
b. Why? Later onset of Romanticism (than in Germany) meant a certain stagnation of the opera business from 1790 to 1810 (besides: if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it)

Basic traits review:
1. Italian opera sung throughout: shuns spoken dialogue
2. Virtuoso singing above all: star singers continue to rule the genre
3. Elaborate ensemble finales
4. Operas not conceived to last: written for season.
5. Italian composers continuing traditions: that meant familiar musical numbers (aria, duet, ensemble, chorus) and familiar subjects (librettists continued this): tragedies due to human desires were most popular

Major names: Rossini, Donizetti, and Bellini (all 3 are treated at length below)
1. Inheritors of long-standing tradition: more linked with the spirit of their own time than with any utopian “music of the future”
2. All 3 also contributed personal distinctive touches to form, style, story lines
3. All worked in Paris at some time or another

Gioachino Rossini (1792–1868); **a transitional figure**
a. Truly codified Italian operatic conventions, brought them to peak in 39 operas total (some are French revisions of Italian works)
b. On the other hand: discarded some past formulas for new rules
c. Naples, Rome, Venice, Milan before settling in Paris (1824): works in demand all over by opera companies inside and outside of Italy
d. In Paris: directed the Theatre-Italien and wrote operas in French for the Paris Opera
e. Incredibly successful: retired after William Tell (1829), enjoying 40 years living alternately in Italy and France

Style and legacy:
1. “The” composer of post-1815 counter-revolution and the most popular composer all over Europe during the 1820s
2. International rep by age 30: known for fluency
3. Output: Variety of forms: seria, comic, grand (yes, that’s a French style…)
i. Barber of Seville (1816)
ii. La Cenerentola (1817)
iii. Guillaume Tell (1829)
4. Wrote sacred music, too: Masses, a Stabat mater (1832) as well as songs, piano music

Rossini’s Style
A few more details toward Rossini’s stylistic survey: these traits largely define the styles of others in this Italian school
a. 2 acts (French usually 4 or 5)
b. Number operas: predictable deployment of arias

Overtures (typical especially of earlier works)
a. Slow intro, an abridged sonata form, then a faster coda
b. Hear wind solos, driving rhythms, “Rossini” crescendo
c. These instrumental additions impacted orchestral music of the time
The ensembles:
a. Frequently canonic, often strophic settings
b. Simple choral writing

Arias: Consider the voice type preferred at the time and the dramatic episode structure

The voice type
a. Exploit bel canto style: naturally beautiful voice, even throughout range, effortless delivery of a florid, ornamented melody
b. Rossini wrote ornaments in the score to curb singer abuse

The dramatic episode: made up of a scena followed by an aria (scena ed aria complex)
This formula allowed Rossini to give the star singer the entire scene, like a soliloquy in Shakespeare. It breaks down like so:

1. “Scena” (sometimes labeled “primo tempo”) prepares for the aria (the formal number) (COMPLEX RECIT, SETS UP ARIA, CHORAL AND ORCHESTRAL MATTERS, NOT JUST ACCOMPNAMENT)

2. This “scena” is a complex of recitative (conversational or arioso), orchestral figuration, choral participation, and parlante (instrumental more interesting than voice)
a. Stylistic change that puts musical interest in orchestra
b. Recitative-like singing but engaging accompaniment

As for that aria….
1. Typically 2-parts: cantabile and cabaletta PLUS some intervening components

i. “Cantabile” (sometimes called “cavatina” if it is singer’s “entrance” aria)
>Slow tempo usually: time for character to reflect on whatever went down in the “scena”

a. Tempo di mezzo (one of the intervening components): anything from chorus to messenger’s arrival
b. *Tempo di mezzo separates cavatina and cabaletta*

ii. “Cabaletta” (or “stretta” if it’s a duet): quicker tempo to release dramatic tension, with plenty of vocal fireworks!

Barber of Seville

1. Based on play by 18th-century French playwright Beaumarchais: the story is, in essence, followed by the story of The Marriage of Figaro
2. Before set to great success by composer Paisiello (1782)… who??
3. Rossini signed a contract with the impresario of a Rome theater for a new opera and had to use whatever libretto the impresario provided
4. Composed music in 3 weeks and it is a number opera: scena ed aria complex, ensembles, and choruses separated by simple recitative

Donizetti (1797-1848)
1. Composed both buffa and seria
a. Stories of modern history by authors like Hugo, Scott
b. A love for madness, violence, doomed love
2. Prolific: 70+ works for the stage
b. L’elisir d’amore (1832); Lucrezia Borgia (1833)
c. Lucia di Lammermoor (1835): based on Scott’s Bride of Lammermoor
i. Action set in Scotland at end of 17th century
ii. Entire score divides into repetitions of scena ed aria cycle
Bellini (1801-35)
a. Long, arched vocal melodies
b. Keen sense of pacing and atmosphere
c. Declamation of text: more purity
d. Dramatic use of key

1. Only 10 operas, all serious: dramatic tragedies that are outgrowth of the old opera seria
2. Also, tales from modern history, Shakespeare

Example: Norma (1831)

**Listen “Casta Diva”
a. Tranquil accompaniment: cantabile
b. Carefully controlled melodic style; strophic
c. With chorus: SSTTB and…. 2 flutes, 2 oboes, 2 clarinets, 2 bassoons, 4 horns, strings
d. Then flamboyant cabaletta reminds Norma’s listeners of her power to levy war

German Opera
Struggles to identify its own traditions at least until 1821. Why?
a. Singspiel develops only sporadically among disparate composers (remember Mozart’s Die Zauberflote was a Singspiel)
b. There remained an intense interest in foreign works (i.e., Italian opera)

19th-century German opera developing characteristics:
a. Stories involving supernatural through plots taken medieval history, legend, fairy tale
b. Ideal? To bring the arts together: bridge literature and music, painting and poem
c. Nationalism a factor (although different than Verdi’s cause): interest in German subjects high
d. Orchestral color good for dramatic expression
e. Harmony: sophisticated musical language here brings on breakdown of the tonal system
1. Dissonance the leading means of expression
2. Formal structure depend less on tonal principles

Weber (1786-1826)
a. One of leading German composers of early 19th century opera
b. Also wrote 2 symphonies, a few masses, songs, chamber music
c. Held important posts as music director (one in Prague as a theater director and conductor)
d. Concertized to settle debts

Weber’s impact on Orchestration:
a. Basically used Beethoven’s orchestra, but trombones as permanent members
b. Unique treatment of winds as solo instruments
c. Influenced Wagner, Berlioz

Weber’s Operas
a. 4 main masterpieces
b. Der Freischutz the outstanding success: Singspiel

This work definitively established German Romantic opera
a. Contributed to theatrical reform: precursor to Wagner’s all-inclusive music drama
b. Mingles supernatural and human, good and evil
c. Nature painting, relationship between man and nature = German romantic ideal on stage

Listening: Wolf’s Glens Scene:
a. At midnight in the wolf’s glen, 7 magic bullets are cast
b. For each bullet: the music depicts another scene in nature: moon, a wild bird, boar, storm
c. The last one strikes Agathe, but she’s protected by bridal wreath
d. Bullet hits Caspar instead

Instrumental effects
a. String tremolos, low wind instruments
b. Diminished 7th chord for demonic atmosphere
c. Dialogue often leading into singing, sometimes using melodrama: background music accompanies spoken dialogue
d. Recurring motives and associative key centers
i. C major associated with benevolent powers
ii. D major with natural, normal, healthy world
iii. Note: Samiel never sings (evil never sings, but a diminished 7th chord is associated with him, which provides key scheme for this scene)