Sep 19, 2019 in Analysis

Music History

1. The music of modernism was heavily influenced by the cultural, technological and scientific progress. In their music, modernist composers expressed their vision of influence of the Industrial Revolution and technological innovations of people’s life. Especially, it was reflected by new techniques, applied by modernist composers, such as twelve-tone and atonality. Additionally, the technological and scientific progress influenced the emergence of new instruments and technological improvement of existed instruments that impacted the new sounding in music. New tendencies in aesthetics and philosophy made composers to create music, which illustrated these changes in social mind. They moved away from traditional concepts of music as well as the society moved away from conservative views.

2. Impressionism was a movement in classical music that was impacted by the same-name movement in painting. This was evoked by the desire of composers to describe the life in its emotional and impressive colors. Impressionist music created a density of harmony and timbre became much stronger in Impressionist compositions. Such composers as Clod Debussy and Maurice Ravel were one of the founders of Impressionism in music. One of the most striking examples of impressionism in music are Debussy’s “Reflections in Water” and “Playing Water” of Ravel.

3. The most compelling similarity between the impressionist music of Ravel and Debussy with music Germanic composers such as Wagner, Mahler and others is its extreme emotionality and ardor of the rhythm and structure. However, if German Romantic music was tended to put standards in musical harmonies and conventions than Debussy and Ravel tried to break these formal rules. Debussy and Ravel often used non-Western musical elements in their works in opposition to Wagner and other Romantic composers. On the other hand, comparing to bombastic and intrinsic Wagner’s “Flight of Valkyries” and Bach’s “Mass in B Minor”, Impressionist compositions were rather light.

4. Visual support of music in “L’apres-midi d’un faune” of Claude Debussy creates the specifc atmosphere. It adds more aggressive elements even in the beginning of the composition. Without visual composition, “L’apres-midi d’un faune” performed exclusively by the orchestra sounds more calm and monotonous. On the other hand, the attention of the audience is not distracted by visual elements of ballet. As a result, in my opinion, music is perceived deeper when it comes without visual support. Although with the help of ballet, “L’apres-midi d’un faune” sounds more vivid, it prevents from perceiving all richness of music.

 

5. “The Rite of Spring” by Stravinsky does not have a formal plot. It describes how the nature returns to life in the spring time. The movements of ballet dancers reflect the resurrection of flowers, trees, etc. The costumes of dancers illustrate the tribe, which awake the nature through dance. The ballet is divided into parts with sunrise and sunset. Music reflects the events on the scene. As well as the beginning of spring, the music starts calmly and lightly. When it comes to ancient tribal rites, the music turns from calm and light into aggressive and impetuous.

6. Arnold Shoenberg was fired from the conservatoire when the Nazi regime was established in Germany. Expressionism as well as other non-conventional musical styles were considered wrong and music of degradation. Many other composers and artists had to leave Germany after Nazis came to power.

7. Bela Bartok was heavily influenced by folklore music of Eastern music. He passionately collected folklore compositions in rural areas. He mostly used Romanian, Serbian, Bulgarian and Hungarian folklore tunes in his compositions. The influence of East European folk music is evident in such Bartok’s compositions as “The Wooden Prince” and “The Miraculous Mandarin”.

8. Among numerous composers who wrote great music compositions for ballet, the most significant and impressive is Igor Stravinsky. His ballets, such as “Petrushka”, “The Rite of Spring” and others became the greatest ballet performances in the early 20th century. Writing music for ballets, Stravinsky created music that was incomplete without visual support. In combination with dance, his music acquired the necessary meaning, emotions and feelings, which were invisible while playing only with the orchestra.

9. Impressionism in music was derived from the similar movement in painting. All impressionist composers were influenced by French impressionists and their music was tightly linked with impressionists paintings. However, a composer whose music is the most connected with impressionist paintings is Claude Debussy. He got most inspiration from paintings of the most significant impressionist artist Claude Monet.

10. The music of Igor Stravinsky and the ballet “The Rite of Spring” provoked a harsh riot in Paris, in 1913. The premiere of this ballet caused great disputes as the audience completely rejected it. It was a revolutionary moment in the music history. The rejection of “The Rite of Spring” was caused by unusual and innovative elements used in this ballet. However, the further reception of Stravinsky’s ballet proved that the first reaction of public was wrong and this ballet played a crucial role in forming the modern ballet.

11. The term “tyranny of the barline” is referred to a tendency to use predictable accents, stable tones and harmonies in music and usual meter. “Tyranny of the barline” was especially evident in Baroque music. Many modernist composers tried to reject the tyranny of the bar line by using irregular accents and changing the meter more often than usual.

12. Austrian composer Arnold Shoenberg coined the term “the emancipation of dissonance”. He tended to use this term to justify his frequent use of concept of atonality. He meant that there is nothing destructive and negative for music in using atonality and dissonance. Shoenberg claimed that it does not mean the absence of tone, but its fuller sounding. The term meant that the emancipation of dissonance should not be blamed as contemporary music needed some refreshment.

IV. Listening component.

After visiting the concert of the so-called new music, I had very mixed impressions. On the one hand, this music could not leave anyone emotionless and indifferent. Sometimes it might be captivating and compelling, but in a few bars, I hardly suppressed the desire to leave the concert. Undoubtedly, this music is much more unpredictable and vivid, comparing to Romantic music, which I always considered the etalon of Western classic music. That music conducted the function that it should. Listening to the romantic music of Wagner and Tchaikovsky and other distinguished composers, my body and soul felt free and refreshed. This “new music” does not have the similar effect. Although it is supposed to illustrate the feelings and emotions, I consider that it makes it too harsh and bold as brass. This music could turn from calm sounding of flute to loud and bombastic performance of the entire orchestra. It would be a pity if this music will become a music of the future. I hope that these modernist composers would return to the origins of classical music, which made it famous. The problem of this music is that it lacks soul, it only pretends to be realistic. In reality, it does not evoke any emotions and feelings. However, sometimes I was deeply impressed with several moments in Shoenberg’s pieces, but on the other moment it was spoiled .Webern’s orchestral piece no.2 was extremely awful with all that dissonance, which they are eager to emancipate. I consider such desires should be rather suppressed as in this moment, I wanted nothing but to close my ears and run away as far as possible. Only an extremely tolerant person can listen to this, and a very strange person can call it a music at all. It has no rhythm, no tune, no melody and none of the elements, which the true music must have. I would not advise anyone to visit such concerts, if they want to save their ears and money.

logotype

Related essays