Development of 1st movements

  • Created by: lilac123
  • Created on: 14-03-21 16:15


-Across the period of 1750-1900, the first movement in symphonic music developed consistently through an increased length, the development of sonata form and contrasting themes.

-The expansion of the orchestra gave composers, such as Beethoven, the opportunity to expand their themes and develop the mood of the opening movement.

-This essay will trace the development of symphonic music from Stamitz’s Symphony no.2 (1750) to Tchaikovsky’s Symphony Pathétique (1893).

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Early Classical period

-the first movement was usually in sonata form, which had developed from binary form and became a popular first movement form as it provided balance and contrast for composers.

-the first movement would be played allegro or vivace to create excitement and set the mood of the symphony.

*For example, in Stamitz’s Symphony no.2 (1750) the first movement is allegro and in sonata form, however during the recapitulation Stamitz reverses the order of the subject and the tonic returns in the equivalent of the development at this point, which shows the important principle in mature sonata form of a ‘double return’ of the tonic

*In C.P.E Bach's Symphony in E minor (1759), the first movement is in Ritornello form, with the opening unison passage coming back in various keys throughout the movements, which shows that the usual first movement structure of sonata form was not fully established in the early Classical period because composers, including Bach, looked for other structures that suit better for their expressive needs.

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Mature Classical period

-there were still links to the early Classical period, seen in Haydn’s Symphony no.33 (1760), were movement 1 is played vivace.

Although, Haydn plays around with the first movement more humorously because of the relative simplicity and predictability of sonata form.

*This shows development in the first movement because not only is it in 3/4 time, stylistically unusual for the period as during the early Classical period the first movement was usually be in 4/4, but also through developing sonata form, taking advantage of its simplicity to provide humour.

-Haydn is also known for his monthematicism as well as slow introduction leading into the first movement.

*the first movement of Haydn’s Symphony no.104 (1795) there is a slow introduction, which exhibits extensive musical invention due to the mood the introduction was creates, contrasting with the allegro section

*in sonata form, and has 2 subjects, however Haydn uses monthematicism. Instead of the contrasting lyrical theme as expected, we hear S2 in the dominant key of A major.

achieves the contrast through key changes. 

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-Eroica Symphony (1804), lasting around 15 minutes, which contrasts to Haydn’s Symphony 104 (1795), where the first movement lasts for 9 minutes.

-Beethoven was also able to make the first movement more dramatic, due to the increased orchestral resources.

-Although the first movement of Beethoven’s 3rd symphony, is in sonata form, it was in 3/4 timewhich is unusual as first movements are usually written in 4/4.

-The movement itself is hugely expanded through the extension of the coda, with its unexpected harmonies and contrasting dynamics, making the opening much more dramatic.

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Early Romantic period

-Schubert developed the first movement, even though he was rather over-dependant in over repetition and his lead up to developmental passages were sometimes a disappointment, he adapts the sonata form.

-His 5th Symphony in 1816 was his first symphony to not begin with a slow introduction, which could be suggested as innovative as instead of starting with a slow introduction or plunging right in, Schubert begins with four introductory bars.

*during the first movement at the recapitulation which begins in the subdominant key rather than main key, showing innovation.

-In contrast to Beethoven, instead of creating a dramatic opening to this symphony, Schubert allows the melody to take on an increasingly important structural role in his music as he loosens and expands traditional classical patterns of composing.

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-Mendelssohn was a more conservative composer, as seen in his Italian Symphony (1833), which uses the same forces as Haydn’s Symphony 104.

-However, he did develop the first movement of the symphony as the structure of his first movements were less regular and more ‘free’ than might be expected due to his tendency to ‘bridge over’ the formal divisions, in an attempt to create larger continuities.

-Although the first movement follows the broad outline of sonata form, including the expected tonal plan of tonic to dominant and back again, there are some considerable developments such as the third idea introduced in the development and the false reprise.

-The effect of the false reprise deceives the audience by returning to the opening theme in the tonic key while still in the development section. 

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Late Romantic

-composers focused on contrasting themes, which helped to create a programme for the audience, linking to the expansion of the orchestra.

-An example of a programmatic work is Liszt’s Les Preludes (1854), which has a melodic motif presented with different rhythms, textures and tonalities to portray different situations. Therefore, composers didn’t strictly adhere to sonata form due to its emotional limitations.

-In Tchaikovsky Symphony no.6 (1893), the first movement is loosely structured in sonata-allegro form, however Tchaikovsky doesn’t stick closely to this form because the first subject has many themes within it.

*These multiple themes allow Tchaikovsky to convey a sombre tone and represent the various emotions he was feeling. 

*in the exposition there is a lot more chromatic sequences than of actual melody. This technique provides a more complex composition and sets a tone that can be interpreted as a sense of uneasiness.

*Such shifting and uneasy sense of melody adds to the heightened emotional and dramatic feel 

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