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  • Created on: 15-03-21 09:20


- at the start of the classical era many composers were writing symphonies under a system of patronage from aristocratic benefactors

-during the late classical and Romantic era the rise in the educated and wealthy middle classes in many European countries lead to subscription concert series and larger public concert halls, for which composers were commissioned to write by concert promoters.

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Early Classical period-Stamitz

Mannheim Palace, Germany (Charles III, Elector Palatine)

-       Stamitz was employed at the Mannheim palace for around 15 years, in which time he wrote (and performed) 100s of works, including 58 symphonies

-       The Elector Palatine invested heavily in his court entertainment, and recruited the finest musicians, best instruments makers and the largest orchestra in Europe

-       The size (approx. 38 players) and ability of the orchestra allowed Stamitz to write pieces such as Symphony Op2 no3 in D (1750), which introduced ‘Mannheim’ effects with great impact and influence on later composers:

o   Roller/Hammerstrokes/Crescendo/Sighs/Grand Pause [+description and/or reference.]

-       The state of the art wind instruments available (and ability of players) give rise to independent Oboe/Horn lines. 

-       Violin lines are at times very technically demanding 

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Early Classical period-Haydn

Esterházy Palace, Austria (Nikolas II, Prince Esterházy)

-       Prince Esterházy employed Haydn for 27 years, in which times he wrote around 70 of his symphonies.

-       Esterházy’s faith in Haydn and the palace’s relative isolation gave Haydn much creative control 

-       While Prince Esterházy was big supporter of the arts, the orchestra size available Haydn was only around 16 players, and similar to late Baroque ensembles (oboes/bassoon/horns/strings+harpsichord)

-       Haydn would write many symphonies for specific occasions, such as his Symphony no26, first performed during Easter season in 1768:

o   An Easter plainchant is used as the 2nd subject in the 1st movement, given to the 2nd violins and oboes

o   This movement uses Sonata Form, where the 1st subject uses the dramatic Sturm und Drang style, influenced from German literature

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Mature Classical period- Haydn 104

-Haydn was the main headline figure in Salomon’s subscription concerts.

 -Haydn’s final 12 symphonies were written for Salomon’s subscription concerts at the King’s Theatre in Haymarket, of which no.104 is the last. His desire to entertain can be seen by:

-       Much catchy melodic material, with singable and memorable lines (1st subjects of 1st and 4th movements are diatonic and periodically phrased and 3rd movement Minuet theme has instant appeal)

-       being playful with his audience / General Pauses are used for dramatic, surprising and even comic effect (1st movt b242, 2nd movt b56, 3rd movt b45) / unexpected sforzandos (3rd movt 1st phrase, 4th movt 1st subject)

-       using contrasts of dynamic extremes to toy with audience expectations, e.g. 1st movt b31-32, 2nd movt b41-42, 4th movt b18-19)  

The orchestra assembled by Salomon was larger than Haydn would have written for before coming to London: uses double WW and brass, including the ‘new’ clarinets

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Beethoven no.9

Beethoven 9 was actually given it’s premiere in Vienna before transferring to London, where it was given it’s 1st London performance in the a concert hall (Argyll Rooms) holding an audience of 650. The size of audience (and therefore amount of money from tickets) enabled a growing size of orchestra and choir, including:

-       double WW + piccolo & contrabassoon

-       9 brass (4.2.3)

-       4 percussionists

- Due to the London taste in Italian Opera, the vocal parts in the 4th movement were translated into Italian for the 1st London performance.

- The length of the work (approx. 70min) reflects the long concerts in London which audiences were used to.

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Mendelssohn conducted the premiere. By 1833 the London Philharmonic Society had moved to a concert hall (Hanover Square) with an audience capacity of 800.  With need to appeal to popular taste of the educated Londoners and his desire for personal expression, Mendelssohn portrays scenes from his travels in Italy:

-       1st movt exudes with joy (e.g. cheerful duple compound time in a major key / ‘Harlequinesque’ 1st subject)

-       2nd movt depicts Monk procession in Naples (e.g. plaintive, hymn-like 1st theme in Aeolian mode / plodding walking bass using harmonic minor)

-       3rd movt is a graceful Minuet which is more reminiscent of Germany than Italy (e.g. decorative and charming Minuet theme using periodic phrasing / ‘Hunting call’ using horns & bassoons in the trio)

-       4th movt is a depiction of rustic Italian dances e.g.

o   1st subject Salterello theme: very fast quadruple metre with a feeling of compound time / melody played by flutes mimicking Italian folk pipes / violins play a ‘twanging’ drone mimicking folk guitar accompaniment

o   Tarantella theme (b122): fast continuous quavers / quasi-fugal texture

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Late Romantic Lizst

Liszt Faust Symphony (1857)

Based on Goethe’s Faust, the symphony was written to commemorate a new statue in Weimar (the German town where Goethe lived), and 1st performed under Liszt’s baton. The symphony appeals to the German taste in Romantic literature, and Liszt portrays characters from story in different movements:

-       1st movt (Faust): anguish depicted by features such as the start, where a sequence of unharmonised augmented triads unfold a 12-note chromatic tone-row

-       2nd movt (Gretchen): the gentler slow movement depicts Faust’s love

-       3rd movt (Mephistopheles): portrayal of the Devil character by fast tempo / tremolo dim7 chords in strings / tritone melodic shapes / chromatic scales

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Late Romantic Bruckner

Commissioned by the Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra. Leipzig was one of the first cities in Europe to introduce subscription concerts (over 100 years before), and by the 1880s they had become so popular that they employed an orchestra of over 70 musicians and had so many subscribers they had to leave their original concert hall in 1884.

Bruckner 7 was premiered in the Leipzig Opera House, which could hold an audience of over 1000.  The size of orchestra therefore available to Bruckner is seen by:

-       double WW

-       15 brass parts, including the new Wagner Tubas. The 2nd movement includes a brass chorale where Bruckner uses the differences in brass timbre and the 4th movements has a powerful ff fanfare.

-       4 percussionists

-       a large strings section to balance the WW/brass/perc volume

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Late Romantic Dvorak no.9

By 1890 Dvorak had an international reputation, and his publisher (Simrock) commissioned his 8th symphony. This shows the emerging power of publishing houses, as they anticipated recouping their commissioning costs from hire and sales of the music from a prominent composer.

-       It was premiered in Prague for a series of concerts called ‘Popular Music Concerts’, and the appeal to Prague audiences (and the rise in nationalism in music) is reflected in the inclusion of Bohemian and Czech folk elements: modal writing in the 1st movt (Aeolian) and 2nd movt (Phrygian) / Bohemian folk waltz for the 3rd movt / 4th movt uses fast Czech folk rhythms

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