Solo Instrumental Music
Although concerts by solo instrumentalists
are an important part of
today's musical culture, the solo concert is a relatively new phenomenon.
Before the 19th century, public concerts were devoted almost exclusively
to opera, choral, and orchestral music. Solo works were performed in
smaller, more private settings. In the Romantic period, virtuoso
performers such as Paganini (a violinist) and Liszt (a pianist) became so
phenomenally popular, that solo concerts quickly became commonplace.
The instruments most often heard in solo
concerts are the piano and the
guitar. These instruments are capable of playing several notes
simultaneously, so they can play both melody and harmony. No
accompanying instrument is necessary.
Solo instrumental music comes in many forms.
One of the most significant
is the sonata, a large, multi-movement structure that became popular in
the Classical period. Other common forms include the theme and
variations and the suite, a collection of short, often dance-like pieces.
There are many names for the short solo composition (prelude,
impromptu, and intermezzo, for example), works which generally have a
simple musical structure.
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