Music History 101.2
1700 – 1800
Once again here we are! The time around the early 1700s is an interesting mix of the old and new. The masters, ie Bach & Handel, were very much in their Baroque prime but the next generation was off to something different and experimental. This short period of 50+ years can be called pre-Classical, or Rococo, or Galant (meaning light and elegant).
By 1760-70 Haydn, Boccherini and Mozart were well on their way to making the Classical era one of the true peaks of music history. Some features of this style were ‘sonata form’ (1st and 2nd themes, development, recapitulation, coda), four movements (fast-slow-dance-fast),more dynamics (loud, middle, soft) and swells (crescendo). By the time Beethoven arrived in Vienna (1792) the Classical craft had been perfected, and it was Ludwig who started pushing the envelope into the new frontier. That is why he gets his own Tuesday next week! In the meantime – enjoy…
Giovanni Pergolesi (1710-1736) a violinist and organist, we can only imagine what else he’d have written if he lived longer.
This mass was composed at age 22. Note the sudden quiet mysterious sections in the middle and end of this otherwise exuberant Gloria.
Carl Phillip Emmanuel Bach (1714-1788) studied with his father, naturally, but forged his own style leading the way intothe pre-Classical era. Much admired by Haydn, Mozart and Beethoven, his music is often filled with outbursts as in this moto perpetuo concerto.
Christoph Gluck (1714-1787) mostly operatic composer whose works found success in Vienna and Paris. Great admirer of Handel with whom he worked in London. The aria ‘Che puro ciel’ is from one of his most popular operas, Orpheo and Eurydice.
Franz Josef Haydn (1732-1809) A long and fruitful life that began in the Rococo age and reached into middle Beethoven (whom he taught). Numerous compositions in every genre. Father of the Symphony (104). Father of the String Quartet (67). He directed Gluck’s Orpheo in 1778. Think he liked Che puro ciel? He borrowed the theme in this 1781 quartet!
Johann Christian Bach (1735-1782) Bach’s youngest son and 18th(!) child. Moved to London in 1762 and became John Bach. Had a major influence on the young Mozart who visited London with his own father in 1764. A composer of opera, sinfonias, keyboard and chamber works. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CgHTLFY-8g4
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (1756-1791) our wunderkind from Salzburg. Once ink was committed to score he almost never changed the notes. When you see his manuscripts the pen couldn’t move fast enough. I believe he was channeling from above. After working a few months with JC Bach in London, here is what came from the 8 year old — Symphony #1!
Luigi Boccherini (1743-1805) virtuoso cellist who would sub for violinists on tour (on his cello). As Handel ‘became’ English, so Luigi became Spanish as he spent most of his life in Madrid and Avila. His works for guitar and strings reflect that culture. Also wrote hundreds of string quintets, quartets, and trios along with 12 cello concertos.
Back to Haydn, mvt 4 (theme and variations) from the previous quartet (1781).
Mozart & Haydn continually influenced each other, back and forth, in the 1780s. Mozart dedicated 6 quartets to Haydn. Here is movement #4 from one of them. Note the similarities to the previous Haydn selection: same format (theme & var), same rhythm (6/8).
Giovanni Paisielllo (1740-1816) very popular opera composer of his day. Mozart’s Marriage of Figaro (1786) became the sequel to Paisiello’s Barber of Saville (1782). Here an aria from the latter.
From Mozart’s Don Giovanni (1787) – Leporello’s catalogue aria. A little Paisiellian influence, maybe? Note this aria and the previousPaisiello aria are in two sections, with the second sections in 3/4 time.
In Vienna at this time in the late 1780s Mozart had only a few years to live (d.1791) and Haydn, in his late 50s, was still writing wonderful works. Beethoven (1770-1827) was just getting started. He arrived in Vienna from Bonn in 1792. It is fascinating to line up their symphonic creations during this ripe and rich period of music history. So here are three first movements from each. Note they all have slow introductions, and that Mr. Beethoven decides he will begin in suspense with a dominant 7th chord. Unheard of!
Mozart Symphony 39 (1788)
Haydn Symphony 103 – ‘Drumroll’ (1795)
Beethoven Symphony #1 (1795)
And with that, a century in a nutshell!
Until next week and more Ludwig von B, stay safe!
This is one in a series of online guided listening programs that replaced our in-person “Musical Salons” hosted by Moby Pearson. This one was created on 4/14/2020.
Explore the list of online Salons.