- Canon in music is used to describe a body of works in a particular genre (eg: symphony)
- These works are recognised as masterpieces
- Institutions are also linked to the canon (eg: Royal Albert Hall)
- There are several classical canons, or smaller ones within the main canon (eg: 19th century opera, string quartets)
- Canonical statues is shaped by performers, audiences and institutions.
Handle - Messiah
An oratorio for SATB, written in 1741 (Baroque)
- its superb music
- its popularity
- its ability to be performed by professionals and amateurs
- relates to the Bible, descibes the events in the life of Jesus (Part 1 = Christmas, Part 2 = Easter, Part 3 = Book of revelations)
- Mozart also had an arrangement of the Messiah, with a larger orchestra (18th century)
- no definitive text, shaped by performers and conductors.
- some groups (eg: Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment) aim to give an 'authentic performance', playing on the authority of the Baroque movement.
Holst - I Vow to Thee My Country
A hymn (1921) in SATB form, created from a poem by Sir Cecil Spring Rice, set to music by Holst
- hugely popular and well-known
- asscoiated with important events, including armistice day commemorations and Diana's funeral
- taken from music for The Planets, a popular orchestra work
- poignant lyrics.
- poem refers to the sacrifise in WW1.
- hymn tradition from Greek Homeric hymns (8th century BCE)
Mozart - Non Piu Andrai
a tenor aria from The Marriage of Figaro, written in 1786
- a Mozart opera
- undisputed part of operatic canon
- comic opera
- first performed in Vienna
- adapted from a banned play, considered risque because of comedy of the upper classes
- great portrayal of character in opera
- catchy march in a major key
Cole Porter - Anything Goes
a song from the musical of the same name about an oceangoing liner, written in 1934.
- from the Great American Songbook (GAS), a core repetoire of singers and jazz musicians from 1920s to 1960s (eg: Gershwin, Berlin, Kern and Porter)
- sharing of common musical struture featuring a verse and chorus (32 bar chorus of AABA or ABAC form)
- numerous versions and performances (eg: Ella Fitzgerald, Frank Sinatra)
- links to the musical Anything Goes
- lines incidentely used by Malcom X in a speech
- also features in Dancing at Lugnasa (Brian Friel), 20th century society encroaches on traditional Irish rural life
Schubert - Der Erlkonig
a German song called Lied, written in 1815
- from the Lied repertoire, a type of popular song written by Beethoven, Shcubert, Schumann and Brahms
- based on a poem by van Goethe, tells the story of a child who dies in his father's arms having been killed by the Erl-king.
- written for 1 voice who plays the 4 parts (father, child, Erl-king and narrator)
- has been transcribed by Listz and Berlioz, also members of the classical canon
- highly charged music which is incredibly difficult to perform successfully due to 4 parts for 1 voice and demanding piano part of rapid triplet figures.
Vaughan Williams - The Vagabond
from a song-cycle Songs of Travel which aimed to express an ongoing theme or thread.
- composer was an avid collector of folk songs.
- established the English song as part of the canon
- poem from Robet Louis Stevenson, have simple stanzaic structures which lend themseleves to being set to music
- demonstrates the travel theme, a predominant theme in literature at the time
- the first part of the cycle which introduces the traveller.
- 'all I seek is the heaven above, and the road below me'
- AABA structure, changes denote the only point the traveller dreams of a 'fireside haven'
Beethoven - The Symphony
nine in total, written between 1800 and 1824
- symphony mainly developed in Austria and Germany, centred on Vienna.
- his music was widely available in catalogues and newspapers, this attracted many reviews
- described as 'supassing many of his predecessors' in the musical form
- conforms to typical structure (1. opening fast movement, 2. slow movement, 3. minuet or scherzo, 4. fast closing movement)
- eroica, use of 3 (the 3rd)
- pastoral, use of country imagery and birdsong with Piccolo (the 6th)
- addition of new instruments, as orchestra grew in size
- use of Mozart and Haydn prototype
- his deafness was part of his appeal
- turbulence of life
- from death onwards his reputation contiued to grow.
The Stradivarius Violin
- best in the world
- musicians develop a close bond with their instruments (eg: Nathan Milstein)
- subtle instruments
- linked to virtousity
- instruments used across genres (eg: Gupta's use in Raga Jaunpuri)
- 18th century violin in a modern cross cultural context
John Adams - Dr. Atomic (Batter my Heart
from a controversial opera, embracing several genres.
- subject matter is political, focuses on Dr. Oppenheimer and the test of the first atomic bomb (the Trinity Test)
- Oppenheimer enjoyed classical music and sonnet writing as well as having a deep interest in Baudelaire whose work he read before the first test.
- part of the opera canon, in 2 acts (1. a few weeks before, 2. the day of the test)
- the liberetto is constructed by Sellars using quotes from literary and historic documents as well as Hindu scripture and poetry.
- Act 1 concludes with Batter My Heart, written by John Donne, a passionate appeal to God to physically hurt the speaker and shows a tension between earthy and spiritual love. It is a petrachan sonnet comprised of octave and sestet, the alliterative words battle one another, there is no clear rhythm.
- Adams creates a highly emotional, drawn out soliloquy with Oppenheimer alone on stage, with dramatic orchestral interjection to show the turbulence experienced by him.
- Oppenheimer enjoyed metaphyiscal poetry which was highly intellectual (think Marvel 'The Definition of Love', references to parralel lines and Donne 'A Valediction', reference to twin compasses.)