♪ Musical History

Date: Nov 23, 2018
Category: Art Category

Introduction

Nowadays, it is an absolutely true fact that people cannot imagine their lives without music. It is present in every sphere of human life. Without doubt, music strongly influences the way how people live, sometimes becoming an integral part of human existence. Even in ancient times, people knew that music possessed healing properties. Good music can heal different diseases. At the same time, music can hurt feelings and even kill them. In other words, it is important to be very careful with the choice of the right music. However, music itself is influenced by historical, economic, social, geographical and cultural affairs of this or that country. That is why various kinds of music have already appeared and still continue to appear turning into new music styles. Nevertheless, classical music is considered to be the ideal one for a vast majority of people. It makes no difference what class a person belongs to or of what age a person is, music immediately draws the attention of people, because of its unique diversity. Classical music comprises of various genres that are good enough to cause surprises. Moreover, it combines features of various historical periods, namely Medieval Period, Renaissance Period and Baroque Period. The composers try to combine the achievements of the previous periods paying attention to the tempo, dynamics and other qualities of music. Consequently, there is a great variety of composers, who have gained a wide popularity among people not only in the contemporary world, but also in the world of the past. In fact, all of them belonged to a certain group of people, who considered classical music to be an integral part of every individual’s life. There have always existed some eternal compositions, which helped to forget about troubles and become relaxed. Without doubts, Mozart’s symphonies belong to this list. They provide a significant impact on the listeners and give them new feelings and unforgettable emotions. The current paper is aimed at analyzing the most striking features of classical music as well as revealing the importance of Mozart’s symphonies in the modern world.

General Characteristics of Classical Music

According to the Oxford Dictionary, classical music is a special kind of music that comprises of long-established fundamentals, namely jazz, folk or popular traditions. One more dictionary gives another explanation of this notion: “Music of an orderly nature, with qualities of clarity and balance, and emphasizing formal beauty rather than emotion expression (which is not to say that emotion is lacking)” (Kennedy and Kennedy). Classical music considers transparency to be one of the most important features of music as a whole, paying attention to instrumental color and melodic expression. This kind of music is used for describing something extremely important and great. Furthermore, with the help of classical music it is possible to express the idea and make a listener a great thinker. Thus, contemporary music is totally different, because it is less complex than the classical one. Frankly speaking, contemporary music is written for entertainment, rather than for the deep analysis of vitally important issues, such as love, life or existence. Nevertheless, we cannot help sticking to the point that classical music is much better than contemporary one and it is on the far higher level.

One more relevant fact that should be mentioned is that classical music has a complex structure, because it comprises of examples of music from various periods of history, namely Medieval, Renaissance, Baroque, Classical and Romantic periods. Each of these periods had an enormous effect on the development of classical music. That is why it will be right to pay attention to the Classical Period as the most important period in the evolution of classical music. That period saw the birth of three vital trends of the development. The first one was associated with the reconstruction of opera. The ideal opera was considered to be Italian and composers began to change it because they wanted to pay more attention to the narrative, rather than to solo singers. Christoph Willibald Gluck is considered to be one of the composers who managed to modify opera. His most popular work was Ordered Euridice, where he emphasized the significance of a dramatic narrative. One more trend was a change in solo keyboard music. The representatives of this trend tried to utilize such musical instrument that can work softer or harder when it is pressed. The last trend is the appearance of symphony. The one who is considered to be a father of the symphony is Giovanni Battista Samartin. His symphonies were similar to Baroque Italian opera, and they gradually became popular among composers as well as common people. Ultimately, classical music made a long way for perfection.

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Actually, during this period of time a vast range of philosophers wrote about the ability of individuals to overcome obstacles themselves. Consequently, music of this period also predicted the confrontation of ideas. During this era, public concert became a part of the music scene, because at that time, only rich people had possibilities to listen to music. That is why this era made it possible for common people to enjoy the music.

The Main Styles of Classical Music

Under the influence of classical music, a great variety of new genres appeared. The composers were eager to combine different styles paying attention to tempo, expressive qualities and dynamics of music. What is more, great attention was given to the complex structure of the music and its thematic development. Nevertheless, composers tried to control emotions while creating their works. That is to say, although emotions are vitally important, especially when we speak about music, in the classical period composers tried to control them. This control was expressed in the usage of expressiveness and dynamics. In Baroque period, dynamics was connected with the expression of a solo emotion and was then replaced by a variation of various emotions in a given content. Basically, most of the classical styles became free and understandable. Among the most popular ones, we can list concerto, symphony, opera, chamber music, duos, trios, quartets, sextets and octets. We should consider each of these styles in order to have a better idea of the peculiarities of classical music.

♫  “The concerto called for a larger group of instruments than did the trio sonata. In the concerto, a soloist or small group of soloists contrasted with a larger ensemble” (Feld). The most important feature of concerto is the interplay between the soloist and orchestra. The most famous representatives of this style are Tchaikovsky, Beethoven and Mozart.

♫  Symphony is considered to be “a multi-movement work for orchestra” (Feld). The first musician who used this style was Ludwig van Beethoven. He used the voices of vocal singers in the final sections of his symphonies.

♫  Opera is a section that is a combination of music and theatre. The main components of opera are orchestra, choir and soloists. The main commitment of soloists is to act and sing. The most popular operas are the following: Mozart's Magic Flute, Bizet's Carmen and Puccini's Madame Butterfly.

♫  Suite is an extraction of short movements that are borrowed from different music styles and dances in order to form a huge work of music. The best examples of suite are Tchaikovsky's Nutcracker and Respighi's Ancient Airs and Dances.

♫  Chamber music may consist of one to eight performers and is designed for a small ensemble. The most distinctive feature of this style is a combination of a solo instrument and keyboard. What is more, the attention is also paid to the interplay between the instruments.

♫  Sonata is considered to be one of the most significant styles in the period of classical music. In fact, there are different definitions of sonata, namely “a new concept, the one inherent to the works of great masters; indeed, it is the secret and source of their being: the concept of organic coherence”. Basically, it is formed by three sections: the exposition, development, and recapitulation. Sonata is supposed to be the equivalent of a symphony. The most famous and multiple sonatas belong to Beethoven. Thus, he managed to write thirty one sonatas.

♫  Duos, trios, quartets, quintets, sextets and octets are music styles written for small groups of instruments. With the help of these styles, it is possible to combine any type of instruments. The general combination consists of two violins, viola and cello.

Ultimately, classical music has a difficult structure and consists of a wide range of styles that make its complexity understandable for common people.

In fact, nowadays, the attitude towards classical music has changed. A vast majority of people tends to think that classical music is difficult to comprehend because of its complexity of form and musical process. Nevertheless, according to the survey conducted in 60 Minutes and Vanity Fair, more than 900 individuals consider metal and rock music the most difficult ones. That is why people listen to classical music, not in at a large scale but still they are acquainted with this style of music. Actually, it does not matter what people think about different types of music, and jazz trumpeter Louis Armstrong was quite right when he said that “There’s only two ways to sum up music: either it’s good or it’s bad. If it is good you don’t mass about it – you just enjoy it” (Henley and Jackson).

Analysis of Mozart’s Symphonies

Without doubt, classical music strongly influenced the appearance of the world’s best composers, namely Tchaikovsky, Beethoven and Mozart. Their works help to relax and make it possible to enjoy the beauty of art. Let us look through the most significant symphonies of Mozart and analyze them.

“As the sweet enchantment of Mozart’s harmony and the overwhelming stream of his feeling never fail to raise his listeners to ecstatic heights, so the student of human nature cannot but admire the early development and rapid maturity of his creative genius” (Niemetschek). Mozart’s works have gained wide popularity through the centuries and up till now. His symphonies make it possible to reveal person’s feelings and emotions.

One of the most significant Mozart’s compositions is the Symphony No. 39. It was completed in 1788. Nowadays, we can regard it as one of the most accomplished and perfect musical compositions of all times. This symphony was written for the orchestra, including many different musical instruments, such as flute, bassoons, pairs of clarinets, timpani, strings, horns and trumpets. As a result, listeners can hear all varieties of musical tones.

Speaking about the structure, this symphony contains four separate musical parts or forms. The first movement is completed in adagio, which means that it is slow and solemn. The second movement combines the features of slow and fast paces. Such a combination creates a festive mood by joining soft opening and harsh outburst in one composition. The first two movements are followed by a slow walking pace, which inspires memories and dreams.

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Furthermore, the Symphony No. 39 contains an interesting minuet and trio, based on the folk elements and motives. Generally, we can say that this composition combines different styles and movements in order to create special impact on listeners.

The Symphony No. 40 was completed in 1788 too. Sometimes, it is called as a Great G Minor Symphony. In fact, Mozart wrote only two symphonies in G minor. However, both of them are famous and notable for the world of music. The manuscripts of that time show that Mozart rewrote his symphony several times, adding new instruments to it. This fact witnesses that Mozart took his writing seriously and wanted it to sound perfectly. Obviously, he managed to reach this goal in his Symphony No. 40.

The Symphony No. 40 also includes four movements. Such structure is typical for the classical compositions, in which fast rhythms follow the slow ones and vice versa. Interestingly, Mozart did not include the sounds of trumpets and timpani into this symphony. Their absence is quite noticeable. At the same time, it gives a special, fresh sound for the whole composition. In fact, this symphony is written for the pair of oboes, clarinets, horns, bassoons, strings and flute (Deutsch).

The first part, Molto allegro, is somber and glum. It is completed using low strings and pitches. As a result, it creates the impression of solemnity and sonority. Later, Mozart utilized this technique for his piano compositions. The second part is rather a lyrical and dreamlike one. The third movement is completed in the form of minuet. It starts with the harsh outburst, fast rhythm and rapid, angry tones. This is a very expressive part of the symphony. The final part demonstrates the tendency towards rhythmical consequences and repeating (Deutsch). In addition, it is important to mention that every part, except the third one, is accomplished in the form of sonata. This technique gives a special sound to the whole composition by making it lyrical, balanced and restful.

In general, this symphony has significantly contributed to the development of musical art. Later, its motives and elements were widely used in the romantic works and compositions.

The Symphony No. 41 is usually called a Jupiter Symphony (Sisman). It is the longest symphony completed by W. A. Mozart. Additionally, it is the last symphony he wrote. Therefore, it is a certain kind of conclusion of long years of composing. It sums up the accomplishment and sonority of Mozart’s creations and compositions. In fact, the symphony is very impressive and interesting. It combines different techniques and methods in one unique form. The Symphony No. 41 was the last one in the set completed during the year of 1788. This year was very fruitful for Mozart, and it gave the world immortal pieces of art and perfection.

Speaking about the structure of this symphony, we can observe that it is similar to previous compositions. It also contains four movements reflecting different moods and impressions. Nevertheless, all of them are harmonically combined with each other and form a unique image. Therefore, the first part is traditionally written in allegro tempo. The first part forms the main topic of the whole symphony. It combines two controversial elements, including glum solemnity and passionate emotions. Rapid outbursts follow the lyrical motives. This is the main characteristic features of the Symphony No. 41. The first two themes are competed in the form of sonata. This technique makes the symphony lyrical and romantic. It is an obvious fact that sonatas are the main musical genres of Romanticism. Therefore, we can see that Mozart tried to give his symphonies a romantic character in order to express personal feelings and emotions.

The other distinct element of the Symphony No. 41 is the presence of fugal elements. It means that separate themes show a tendency to repetitions throughout the entire composition. This helps emphasize the main topics and draw listeners’ attention to certain parts of the composition (Deutsch). Thus, we can see that this symphony combines a great number of different methods. It makes it lively and dynamic. At the same time, it represents all the power and strength of musical art. Indeed, it is an outstanding composition of all times.

Mozart’s symphonies have a great influence on listeners. They make people relax or think over their own feelings and emotions. In any case, they do not leave anyone bored or tired. Different symphonies make different impressions. However, there is one distinct feature, which makes them similar. It is a great power of inspiration, present in all Mozart’s symphonies.

Mozart’s symphonies create solemn and festive atmosphere. They give all possibilities for total immersion into the world of sounds and tones. A beautiful combination of low and high pitches, slow and dynamic rhythms, lyrical and folk motives provide listeners with unforgettable experience. What is more, Mozart’s symphonies give a place for romantic dreams and memories. The usage of sonatas in the compositions makes them romantic and tender, soft and touching. Therefore, we can say that Mozart’s symphonies are rather sentimental and delicate compositions, which describe the beauty of the loving relations.

At the same time, those compositions are quite active, lively and energetic. They provide harsh motives and loud outbursts of low pitches. Such techniques make listeners wake up from reality and reconsider their behavior and actions. In fact, these symphonies have a brilliant ability to inspire and give strength for further deeds. This is something that is called the power of art and music in particular.

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In addition, these symphonies help to recollect memories. Mozart widely used the technique of fugues. It is obvious that fugues have a dynamic and expressive character and make solemn and exalted impressions. Fugues help emphasize the important parts of the musical composition.

Conclusion

To sum up, classical music is still considered to be an ideal one. Various historical as well as stylistic features are worth paying attention to. Although, any kind of music is not easy to understand, when listeners try to feel emotions, they get involved in the story, and begin to realize that this music is desperately one of the best. Moreover, one should understand that most of the musical genres are influenced by economic, historical, political and cultural issues of the country where they have appeared. That is why music is a flexible notion, which is changing day by day. Nevertheless, classical music is developing and becoming popular, no matter what social or cultural factor it has been influenced by.

The complexity and strictness of the music process are the key features of this kind of music. The variety of genres makes it possible to understand the peculiarities of classical music. Such styles as concerto, symphony, opera, chamber music, duos, trios, quartets, sextets and octets are the most popular styles that classical music is comprised of. Each of these styles has its features that help depict musical diversity in every aspect. Moreover, representatives of classical music make it possible to reveal feeling and emotions. Their works help realize the importance of music as an art for the life of every person. The works of such composers as Tchaikovsky, Beethoven and Mozart still remain popular among music lovers of different generations. Mozart’s symphonies are real masterpieces in the world of music. They inspire different emotions and various moods. It is a real power of music, which leaves no one unsatisfied. The works of Mozart help understand the details of human life and analyze the philosophical problems of love, life and existence. On the other hand, they teach how to enjoy and appreciate every moment of our life as a significant gift we possess.

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