Symphonies - a superiour form of music
When talking about classical music, we can’t avoid asking ourselves about the structure of a certain musical form and how it appeared. Of course,Mr.Manciu provided us with a lot of important answers.We spent one hour talking with him and he was trying to make us understand the terms, giving us lots of definitions, but being patient and ready to listen to any comment we were making. His way of talking, made us very interested in the information and we decided to call him our “personal music teacher”.
“You told us on another occasion about the main representatives of classical music. They were so many…and their works never sounded the same.They were different every time they composed.What a brilliant mind you have to possess to be able to compose such complex works. These must be the symphonies .We are very curious to find out, about the way they composed the symphonies and what were they consisted of.”
“The Symphony is one of the most important form of music in the occidental world. Some of the best musical pieces and symphonic works were compiled in this way and they have continued to evolve until nowadays.
Let’s start in the beginning with some details about the origin of the word.Perhaps you have heard at school, during the Latin classes that “sym” means “together” and “phonia” means “sound”.In essence, a symphony is a very large score prepared for the orchestra, in which all the constituent parts are played intrinsic.The symphony evolved from various sources and reached a musical self-standing form only in the first half of the eighteenth century, when it became the classic Viennese ideal in the works of composers such as Haydn, Mozart and Beethoven.
At the end of the Baroque period, an important part of the instrumental music was composed in the form of suites with multiple distinct parts, for the church.The sonata, characteristic for this form, had the usual arrangement in four parts slow-fast-slow-fast. The composer Alessandro Scarlatti was the one who first gave up the first part and composed instrumental works in three times (steps): fast-slow-fast. The combination of the formal plan and the evolution of the Italian Overture, created the logical structure which can be found in classical symphonies.”
“What period was dominated by the apparition of symphonies and sonatas?”
“The first decades in the eighteenth century were the first great period of classical prosperity.This period was dominated by the appearance of sonatas, which were the beginning part of the classic symphony.A sonata has two parts, the first containing a section, exposing the main themes, and the second part, containing two sections: the development and the resume. Did you know that Joseph Haydn spent 40 years of his life composing 107 symphonies?”
We were flabbergasted.
“Haydn’s role in the evolution of symphonies evolution was extremely important and his large works would become the classic Viennese model.”
“So did he influence Mozart and Beethoven?” we asked Mr. Manciu.”
“Yes. Haydn’s symphonies confirmed the Viennese form, in four parts as it follows: first was an alert sonata, the second a slow one, the third a minuet, and the fourth an alert and triumphant final , sometimes using themes from the first part. Some of the best works of Haydn’s Symphonies are Parisian and London Symphony.”
Symphonies of Mozart and Beethoven
“Tell us about Mozart's symphonies.<We are very anxious to find out about his work.”
“If Haydn developed his symphonic language especially by refining his own techniques,Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart took over the stylistic elements from the Italian and Viennese model presented by Haydn. A characteristic of Mozart's style is the way he used the Italian melody lines, such as the union of the first and second parts. His imagination and mastery are reflected especially in symphonies No. 39-41.”
“What can you tell us about Beethoven?”
“When Ludwig van Beethoven entered the scene of classical music, his symphonies influenced the history and as you well know, the entire music. As a disciple of Haydn, the first two symphonies of Beethoven's reflected the Viennese tradition. The third one, “Eroica”, was a turning point in the evolution of this musical form. The work reflects different aspects of his personality and was influenced by several factors, including his deafness. The human aspect of his music made his works become the inspiration sources of the romantic period.”
“We like romanticism so much! What were the important changes that marked this period?
“The nineteenth century was the period of prosperity and propagation of symphonies. Personalities like Johannes Brahms created a new synthesis, putting in balance the ideals of classicism and romance, using larger orchestras and longer romantic themes.
Piotr Ilici Chaikovsky was the founder of the Russian symphonic school, taking themes from the national folklore.
In the twentieth century, symphonies passed through many transformations and became truly international, taking local influences from different countries. Some representatives of this period are: Gustav Mahler, the British composer Edward Elgar, Arnold Schoenberg. At the end of the century, the number of new symphonies began to decline, once the vanguardist current appeared. Even though the symphony suffered a significant depreciation, its dominant position over 200 years has conferred a place in the philosophical logic of western music.”
Who knows? Maybe someday...
“Now that we have made an idea about the symphonies of the most important composers, tell us who the representatives of symphonic music in our country are. We have learned a lot about the universal representatives, but we know little about our national composers. Although, something makes us believe that George Enescu founded symphonies in our country. Are we right?”
“Yes. You are! The national tradition of Romanian symphonic music was marked by George Enescu, who began his career with the brilliant work "Poema romana”, proving the strong link between music and tradition, and also between traditions and the spiritual values of Romanian musical culture.”
Our nation has been blessed with so many talents and values: starting with poets, sculptors, and musicians’ world - renowned and ending with the happy children we see every day playing in the park. Lots of them are potential artists. Though, we have to know how to develop our talents, to invest in them and to believe they will evolve. We can never know which of them bring a major contribution in tomorrow's symphony...