Writer's Corner

From Bach Revival to Lisztomania

Final Master’s Organ Recital

Featuring: Maria Welna

Tuesday 8th November 2011, 2:00PM

Verbrugghen Hall, Sydney Conservatorium of Music

 

Program:

 

J.S. Bach (1685 – 1750)

Toccata and Fugue in F major, BWV 540

 

S. Prokofiev (1891-1953)

Transcribed for organ by Jean Guillou (1930- )

Toccata in D minor, Op. 11

F. Liszt (1811-1886)

 

Fantasy and Fugue on Ad nos ad salutarem     undam  

In the year of Liszt, and with his 200th birth anniversary (22 October 1811) just behind us, it is perfect timing for indulging in a number of firsts, most obviously the first Verbrugghen Hall performance of Liszt’s Fantasy and Fugue on Ad nos ad salutarem undam. Today’s recital will showcase a striking number of elements featuring the often startling nature of the Romantic tradition and its aesthetic of expression and emotion as applied to the King of Instruments through pioneering composition, and the art of expert transcription/improvisation. Such a program opened with J. S. Bach’s masterful Toccata and Fugue in F major is by no means an anomaly. Instead, it is an attempt at reconstructing the historical performance practices of the Romantic era (both filling in the gaps of deficient notation, and transcending the score itself in accordance with 19th century norms concerning interpretative freedom) with particular consideration given to Liszt, his organ protégés, the group of German Romantic composers influenced by his works (Reubke, Reger, Straube), the links with Cavaillé-Coll /French Romantic organists in general, and the implications for carrying the Romantic tradition through to modernity (as embodied in the person of French organist, professor and composer Jean Guillou).

Whilst Guillou and Liszt himself, may serve as starting points for further contemporary developments (including that of an avant-garde nature) the source of the cycle of influence originates with Johann Sebastian Bach.  An inspiration not only for Liszt’s numerous transcriptions, organ works, sojourn in Weimar and Guillou’s transcriptions/performance repertoire, the Great Master’s organ works occupied the centre of attention in the so-called ‘Bach Revival’ brought about by Romantic composers such as Mendelssohn, Liszt and Schumann. Viewed through the context of the times, it is crucial to note that the music of Bach did not suddenly merge into the clear and precise versions heard today. On the contrary, Bach’s organ works (back then) would have been performed with 19th century performance practices (lack of terraced dynamics, romantic registration, tempo fluctuation). This is reinforced by the forward thinking ideas of Johann Töpfer, his students and naturally, Liszt himself. “Liszt could not tolerate the cautious, colourless renderings [of Bach] prevailed in Germany at the time”. (1) In fact, he criticised Alexander Gottschalg, one of his students, for playing a Bach fugue all on one manual. “In terms of technique it is totally satisfying … but where is the spirit? ... Surely Bach did not play his works in such a manner; he, whose registrations were so admired by his contemporaries! When you are playing on a three-manual instrument, why should the other two manuals be ignored?” (2) The latter certainly presents food for thought for the introduction of subtle registration changes in present renditions of Bach’s works.

Johann Sebastian Bach (1685-1750), in turn came from a long line of hereditary and historical influences himself. Neglected for his compositional skill during a lifetime full of tragedy and toil, he was acknowledged for remarkable organ virtuosity and innovations. His rightful honour as the “great genius of Baroque music” (3) was restored through the efforts of composers instrumental to the ‘Bach Revival’. Bach’s organ works span a wide range of influences from the geographical north (Sweelinck, Buxtehude, Bruhn, Böhm), south (Pachelbel, Froberger, Vivaldi, Corelli) through to the west (Couperin, de Grigny). (4) “Bach was bolder than any of his contemporaries: from the first he set no limits to his keyboard skills, and accepted no restrictions to his horizons – from the breadth of the foundations of his style to the comprehensive range of genres in which he composed. The stylistic basis was laid in his youth, and it was undoubtedly important that growing up in the central German environment of his time gave him the opportunity to learn about different stylistic tendencies side by side, without any bias towards one rather than another.” (5)

The manual virtuosity and incessant motoric rhythm of the Toccata in F major is a clear sign of Italian influences. (6) The formal structure of the work draws on Vivaldi’s ritornello concerto form, as evident in the trio and solo-tutti sections. Debate exists over the work’s actual dating (7), with the Toccata placed in Bach’s Weimar or Cöthen periods (an argument for the latter could be based on the Toccata’s pedal range up to f1 which was beyond the scale of Thuringian organs to be found during the Weimar period) and the Fugue supposedly composed at a much later date. Both the Toccata and Fugue are unique amongst Bach’s ouvres. The former is Bach’s “longest extant organ prelude” (8) with 108 bars of consecutive semi-quavers and 7 sections (including 3 trios) suggesting a merge between a pedal toccata and concerto or riternello form. The 60 bars of pedal solos, are reminiscent of the pedal solos of North German composers, Buxtehude and Bruhns. The latter is the only example of a “thorough-going, double Fugue” (9) where two subjects are presented separately and then combined.

French organ virtuoso and composer, Jean Guillou (10) was born in Angers on the 18th of April 1930. Even though the Toccata featured in the program was composed by Russian composer and pianist Sergei Prokofiev (1891-1953), particularly revered for his pianistic compositional output, prime of place will be sacrificed to Guillou for the precise embodiment of the extension of 19th century, Lisztian and Romantic organ traditions as evident through his artistic and compositional activity. Guillou studied with Marcel Dupré at the Paris Conservatoire and composition/harmony with Olivier Messiaen and Maurice Duruflé. Garnering a reputation for the interpretation of Bach’s organ works, improvisation and the revival of the “long forgotten Reubke piano sonata” (11) Guillou is an international concert organist and composer to be reckoned with. Dubbed the l’enfant terrible (12) of the organ world by critics, his compositions stretch boundaries and genres.  For instance, his revolt of the organs is scored for Great Organ, eight positive organs, percussion instruments and conductor and he has written music for two or more organs, organ and various ensembles. (13) In a sense the outrageous elements (rhythmic instability, bombastic registration, textual alterations, predominance of his own interpretation over the composer’s interpretations, transcription) so abhorrent for some in his performances, are all elements of performance practices advocated by 19th century composer/virtuosos and show that not all historical traditions have been irrevocably lost.

The availability of a composer’s performance of his/her work via recordings (modern and historical) is particularly useful in Guillou’s instance (14). Various recordings/videos of the Toccata transcription exist. A comparison of both scores (Prokofiev’s original and Guillou’s) leads to challenging findings. Guillou’s version is a rather faithful copy of Prokofiev’s Toccata for piano (in terms of notation), save for allocations made to the pedal line and different manuals. Thus, Guillou’s treatment consists of applying different performance practices related to style, registration, colour, tempo alterations. Without analysing the recording this would not have been that evident. Unlike Liszt’s transcriptions, which are essentially new works, one may have to ponder where one’s loyalties lie (in staying true to Prokofiev or Guillou when playing the latter’s version). If approaching from the perspective of the former, dryness of tone, rhythmic drive and percussive continuity would have to be of prime importance in the Toccata. However, Prokofiev was also wont to take liberties with scores of other composers, in favour of his own style, a style that scandalized his contemporaries for its moderness, while still featuring traditional harmonic and formal elements.

Finally, it is time to indulge in a dose of the sometimes hysterical, always emotional historical phenomenon of ‘Lisztomania’ (15). Ferenc Liszt, the common link between the old and the new (from Bach through to the New German School and eventually serialism, atonalism and the avantgarde) was born in Raiding on the 22nd of October 1811 and died at Bayreuth on the 31st of July 1886. A 19th century virtuoso pianist of superstar proportions, his fame and pianistic innovations were undisputed during his lifetime. However, his compositional output was largely misunderstood similarly to Haydn and Beethoven’s late works. Liszt’s works deserve to be championed for their pivotal role in pioneering new forms, instrumentation, experimentation in tonality which would eventually pave the way for 20th century models implemented by Schoenberg, Berg, and Webern. Whilst extensive research has examined biographical information, catalogues and treatment of works (particularly pianistic), a gap exists in regards to organ literature and recognition of Liszt’s achievements as an organist and organ composer. Liszt’s three major organ works, the Prelude and Fugue on BACH, the Fantasy and Fugue on Ad nos ad salutarem undam and the Variations on Weinen, Klagen, Sorgen, Zagen, are considered to be the epitome of peak Romantic literature. The first two, Weimar works, foreshadow the late Romantic/symphonic direction of organ building and literature.

The Fantasy and Fugue on Ad nos ad salutarem undam was written in 1850, and premiered at Meresburg Cathedral for the newly restored organ (completed by North German organ builder Friedrich Ladegast between 1853-1855). It included 4 manuals, 81 stops, 5, 685 pipes, 37 chimes, and was the first example of the romantic organ in Germany, with precursors of crescendo divisions/pedals. Ladegast was an apprentice of iconic German organ builder Silbermann and Cavaillé-Coll in Paris. The instrument was restored back to ‘Baroque’ specifications, however a rebuild back to its romantic state is currently pending. Reubke (a pupil of Liszt) was also influenced by the Meresburg Cathedral organ as were Schumann and Mendelssohn.

An average performance of the Ad nos lasts 30 minutes and the work is solely mono-thematic, based on the chorale theme from Meyerbeer’s opera Le Prophet.  Mirroring a symphonic poem in treatment and structure, it creates its own set of dramatic activity rather than relying on the dramatic content of the opera. (16)

Winterberger premiered the Ad nos at Meresburg Cathedral in 1855 and took the piece on tour through Holland and other parts of Europe. Liszt was often viewed in a derogatory light due to a lack of pedal technique, however he made up for this deficiency through Winterberger’s performances of his works. “Alexander Winterberger … operates with his feet in a way that others can not manage with their hands, and that sureness in the handling of the pedal-board gives his playing an amplitude and magnificence which I have never before encountered, although I have heard the most renowned organists”. (17) Liszt devised a notational system for pedalling, in use before the heel-toe system of Lemmens, Mendelssohn and was known for fast tempi (According to Gottschalg, his pedalling could not keep up with what Liszt demonstrated on the manuals).

Along with improvisation, transcription is an art regularly associated with the legacy of the ‘composer-virtuosos’ of the 19th century. Liszt had an urn at his concerts for audience requests and would routinely improvise on requested themes. Ad nos possesses many improvisational qualities, especially in the Fantasy section, which in its freedom is reminiscent of the North German stylus phantasticus (18). The work additionally exists in a four-hands version, and Busoni wrote a transcription (rare edition) for piano. Conflicting sources (19) suggest that Liszt could have also written a transcription for piano but the original manuscript and subsequent editions are lost. He did however write a transcription of the Prelude and Fugue on BACH, and two versions of the piece (the shorter, 1870, version is the one commonly played now) (20).

In Liszt’s original, organ writing is transformed by pianistic elements carried through to the organ.  A number of virtuoso pianists were also organists (or composed for organ) and this is evident in the works they left behind (for example Mendelssohn, Saint-Saëns, Mozart). (21) Criticised as a defect in Liszt’s organ compositions, the pianistic elements are actually strong points when considering the possibilities of a mechanical action organ.

Historical recordings, correspondence, and other scholarship point to the necessity of a pianistic treatment of the Ad nos, with agile and facile passagework, greater rhythmical and textual freedom (particularly with accelerando and rushing at peak points) fast, even frenetic, tempi (as indicated by and a deeper grounding on what is allowable in the work based on an understanding of different editions and versions such as the four hands Liszt version and Busoni transcription). (22) Furthermore, whilst knowledge of the historical instrument at Meresburg Cathedral and its links with the Ad nos Fantasy and Fugue is beneficial, it is also necessary to realize the technical limitations of the instruments at the time (before Cavaillé-Coll’s developments in Paris). As such Verbrugghen Hall’s Pogson instrument, although not a Romantic organ, makes possible in execution certain elements, which were not feasible in Meresburg in 1855/6. Namely, there are no limits due to delay of sound, lack of registrational aids, and heaviness of action (at least to the same extent) when coupled through in order to achieve crescendo and decrescendo effects.

Bibliography

Bragg, Chris. "Organ Spectacular - Jean Guillou Brilliant Classics 92386 [CB]: Classical CD Reviews - Feb 2005 MusicWeb-internaTIONAl." MusicWeb International. http://www.musicweb-international.com/classrev/2005/Feb05/organ_spectacular.htm.

Bukofzer, Manfred F. Music in the Baroque Era - From Monteverdi to Bach. Von Elterlein Press, 2008.

Busoni, Ferrucio B. Franz Liszt Fantasie und Fuge über den choral 'Ad nos, ad salutarem undam'. Leipzig: Breitkopf & Härtel, 1897.

Collins, Paul. The Stylus Phantasticus and Free Keyboard Music of the North German Baroque. Ashgate Publishing Limited, 2005.

Eads, Chris. "A Study of J.S. Bach’s Toccata in F Major, BWV 540." 2009. http://www.jbu.edu/assets/academics/journal/resource/file/2009/chriseads.pdf (accessed October 3, 2011).

Gillespie, John. Five Centuries of Keyboard Music: an Historical Survey of Music for Harpsichord and Piano. Unbridged republication of the work originally published in 1965. New York: Dover Publications, 1972.

Guillou, Jean. "Guillou plays Liszt B-A-C-H his fantastic syncretic version." You Tube. March 3, 2008. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ror7pByUgNE (accessed September 30, 2011).

—. "Guillou plays Liszt, an atonal improvisation, and prokofiev." You Tube. March 3, 2008. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_NPR7T_h0LM&feature=related (accessed September 30, 2011).

—. "Jean Guillou : La Révolte des Orgues." You Tube. April 15, 2009. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z1XDr3ZzK0A&feature=related (accessed September 30, 2011).

—. "The young Guillou plays Prokofiev Toccata." You Tube. March 1, 2008. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1aCmTXNZ1tc&feature=related (accessed September 30, 2011).

Kregor, Jonathan. Liszt as Transcriber. New York: Cambridge University Press, 2010.

Last. fm. Jean Guillou. http://www.last.fm/music/Jean+Guillou (accessed September 30, 2011).

Marshall, Kimberly.   Bach and the Italian Influence/Marshal. Program and Notes. http://www.gothic-catalog.com/Bach_the_Italian_Influence_Marshall_p/lrcd-1023.htm (accessed October 3, 2011).

Moellering, Steven Edward. Visions Fugitives, Opus 22: Insights into Sergei Prokofiev’s Compositional Vision 2007. A Doctoral Document (DMA), University of Nebraska, 2007.

Ochse, Orpha. Organists and Organ playing in Nineteenth-Century France and Belgium. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1994..

Schott music. Jean Guillou. http://www.schott-music.com/shop/persons/az/jean-guillou/ (accessed September 30, 2011).

Searle, Humphrey. "The Organist's Repertory. 6: Liszt's Organ Music." The Musical Times (Musical Times Publications) 112, no. 1540 (Jun 1971): 597-598 .

Stinson, Russell. " Franz Liszt ." In The reception of Bach's organ works from Mendelssohn to Brahms, by Russell Stinson. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2006.

—. The reception of Bach's organ works from Mendelssohn to Brahms . Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2006.

The International Historical Organ Recording Collection: Alfred Sittard - Selected recordings from 1928-38. The International Historical Organ Recording Collection. March 7, 2009. http://ihorc.blogspot.com/2009/03/alfred-sittard-selected-recordings-from.html (accessed September 23, 2011).

Walker, Alan. "Music Reviews." Edited by Frances Barulich. Notes, Second Series (Music Library Association) 48, no. 2 (Dec 1991): 665-669.

Wolff, Christoph, Walter Emery, Peter Wollny, Ulrich Leisinger, and Stephen Roe. "Bach." Grove Music Online. Oxford Music Online. http://www.oxfordmusiconline.com/subscriber/article/grove/music/40023pg10 (accessed September 7, 2011).

 

Endnotes

1. Alan Walker, “Music Reviews,” ed. Frances Barulich, Notes, Second Series (Music Library Association) 48, no. 2 (Dec 1991): 665-669, 667.

2. Gottschalg (1899, translation from Sutter 1977) quoted in Russell Stinson, “ Franz Liszt ,” in The reception of Bach's organ works from Mendelssohn to Brahms (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2006), 117.

3. Manfred F. Bukofzer, Music in the Baroque Era - From Monteverdi to Bach (Von Elterlein Press, 2008).

4. John Gillespie, Five Centuries of Keyboard Music: an Historical Survey of Music for Harpsichord and Piano, Unbridged republication of the work originally published in 1965 (New York: Dover Publications, 1972).

5. Christoph Wolff, Walter Emery, Peter Wollny, Ulrich Leisinger and Stephen Roe, “Bach,” Grove Music Online. Oxford Music Online. http://www.oxfordmusiconline.com/subscriber/article/grove/music/40023pg10 (accessed September 7, 2011) - Organ Music section

6. Kimberly Marshall, Bach and the Italian Influence/Marshal. Program and Notes, http://www.gothic-catalog.com/Bach_the_Italian_Influence_Marshall_p/lrcd-1023.htm (accessed October 3, 2011).

7. Chris Eads, “A Study of J.S. Bach’s Toccata in F Major, BWV 540,” 2009, http://www.jbu.edu/assets/academics/journal/resource/file/2009/chriseads.pdf (accessed October 3, 2011).

8. Marshall, Bach and the Italian Influence/Marshal.

9. Marshall,   Bach and the Italian Influence/Marshal.

10. Schott music, Jean Guillou, http://www.schott-music.com/shop/persons/az/jean-guillou/ (accessed September 30, 2011)- Profile section

11. Last. fm, Jean Guillou, http://www.last.fm/music/Jean+Guillou (accessed September 30, 2011). “Julius Reubke (March 23, 1834June 3, 1858) was a German composer, pianist and organist. In his short life — he died at the age of 24 — he composed the Sonata on the 94th Psalm, in C minor, which was and still is considered one of the greatest organ works in the repertoire.” “He was one of Liszt's favourite pupils.” -http://www.absoluteastronomy.com/topics/Julius_Reubke.

12. Chris Bragg, “Organ Spectacular - Jean Guillou Brilliant Classics 92386 [CB]: Classical CD Reviews - Feb 2005 MusicWeb-internaTIONAl,” MusicWeb International, http://www.musicweb-international.com/classrev/2005/Feb05/organ_spectacular.htm.

13. Schott music, Jean Guillou – Works section.

14. Jean Guillou, “Guillou plays Liszt B-A-C-H his fantastic syncretic version,” You Tube, 3 March 2008, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ror7pByUgNE (accessed September 30, 2011). Jean Guillou, “Guillou plays Liszt, an atonal improvisation, and Prokofiev,” You Tube, 3 March 2008, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_NPR7T_h0LM&feature=related (accessed September 30, 2011). Jean Guillou, “Jean Guillou : La Révolte des Orgues,” You Tube, 15 April 2009, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z1XDr3ZzK0A&feature=related (accessed September 30, 2011). Jean Guillou, “The young Guillou plays Prokofiev Toccata,” You Tube, 1 March 2008, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1aCmTXNZ1tc&feature=related (accessed September 30, 2011).

15. “ ‘Lisztomiania’ was the term coined by the poet Henrich Heine for the wildly enthusiastic public response to Liszt’s performance in Berlin.” - Stinson, “Franz Liszt,” 106.

16. Searle, 597.

17. Liszt’s letter quoted in Walker, 668.

18. Paul Collins, The Stylus Phantasticus and Free Keyboard Music of the North German Baroque (Ashgate Publishing Limited, 2005).

19. Yves Rechsteiner, “Franz Liszt et l'orgue, quelques remarques sur l'utilisation de l'orgue à son époque ,” yves-rechsteiner.com, 24 June 2010, http://www.yves-rechsteiner.com/articles (accessed October 17, 2011) and Alan Walker, “Music Reviews,” and Jonathan Kregor, Liszt as Transcriber (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2010).

20. Searle, 597.

21. Orpha Ochse, Organists and Organ playing in Nineteenth-Century France and Belgium (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1994).

22. Recordings of Alfred Sittard, directly connected to the Berlin Organ School of the 19th and 20th centuries  (boasting names such as Max Reger and Karl Straube) are an enlightening find. Recorded on a historic 163-stop organ in Harburg, 1912 (damaged during World War II) they are the only remaining record of the instrument and “showcase great musicianship, an excellent sense of drama, and virtuoso technical ability with glaring textual liberties in the Ad nos.” – The International Historical Organ Recording Collection: Alfred Sittard - Selected recordings from 1928-38, The International Historical Organ Recording Collection, 7 March 2009, http://ihorc.blogspot.com/2009/03/alfred-sittard-selected-recordings-from.html (accessed September 23, 2011).

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Liszt's Fantasy and Fugue on 'Ad nos salutarem undam' - A Window into the 19th Century Performance Scene

Abstract: Twentieth century performance norms dictate that a performer should strive to carry out the composer’s intentions, in order to faithfully portray the work being performed (presupposing the existence of the ‘work’ as a separate entity as opposed to an ever developing continuum in which the performer transcends re-creation alone). However, the most common ‘practical’ method of ascertaining those intentions (following the letter of the score) is deficient. In the case of organ composers of the Romantic Era, the deficiency may be rectified through a study of original 19th century instruments (for possible registrations), stylistic traits, organ schools and other performance practices.  Whilst the organ works of Mendelssohn, Franck, and the French romantics have received considerable attention from scholars and performers alike, research on Liszt the organist has been sparse and organists have neglected and misunderstood his works. The Fantasy and Fugue on ‘Ad nos ad salutarem undam’, when approached in the context of historical performance practice serves as a window into the 19th century world. It is the entry point for exploring the art of transcription (particularly Lisztian), improvisation and the relative freedom with which 19th century performers treated a musical work.  As such it raises the issue of ‘authentic’ performance (1) and the seeming loss of 19th century performance elements in ‘modern’ renditions of the works.  In addition to exploring the aforementioned elements this study will examine the implications of their implementation (for example, Yves Rechsteiner recorded Liszt’s ‘Ad nos’ with added cadenzas and other insertions, dubbed unnecessary by critics. (2) Should that discourage other performers from following suit?).

In the year of Liszt’s bi-centenary and literally several days after the 200th anniversary of his birth (b. Raiding, 22 October 1811, d. Bayreuth 31 July 1886), it is fitting to draw back the relative curtain of obscurity surrounding his works (particularly organ repertoire) and give them the recognition they deserve. 2011, the Lisztian year (3) has already served as an inspiration for a number of scholars in striving to fill in the gaps of Lisztian scholarship.  Performance practice issues (the art of tasteful registration, the ‘ethics’ of transcription, improvisation, and interpretative questions) raised by the study of Liszt’s organ works, may potentially transform the misunderstood perceptions of this composer, and empower performers with the knowledge and understanding needed for bringing Liszt, the phenomenal pianist but also organist, and 19th century virtuoso back into the spotlight. In order to do so most effectively, it is necessary to explore the matter from two, somewhat paradoxical, perspectives (which throughout the course of this investigation merged together on many points). Firstly even if one desires to follow the tenets of the 20th century modern ideology of following the letter of the score, ones needs to consider the limits of the score and missing information not contained therein. This is where performance practice study enters the scene by entailing a search for background information leading to an understanding of historical registration, instruments, practices that were not notated in the score because they were so prevalent during the time period in question etc. Secondly, one needs to realise that some Lisztian (and Romantic, to be more broad) practices have been lost to a deeper extent, than just not being notated in the score, giving way to more modern practices. Examples would include arpeggiation, dislocation, and general creative license in regards to interpretation (as opposed to rigidly following the letter of the score and the composer’s ‘intentions’). Additionally, a historical survey of the ‘historical or ‘authentic’ performance practice movement proves helpful in addressing the latter point by raising questions of subjectivity and expression in interpretation. Peter Hurford states that “We would be unwise to slavishly emulate the manner of performance ‘possibly’ employed by the composer, for the creator’s view of his own work is not ultimately definite” (4). Heckmann (5) suggests that interpretation is never correct or incorrect but only good or bad. In essence music is subjective, and little interpretative freedom is characteristic of the performance style dating from the 1970’s onwards into modernity (“Strict adherence to the composers' texts by no means assures authentic performances” (6)). One may ponder over the extent to which a work once published remains the property of the composer, or the performer to interpret, 18th/19th century aesthetics in general (in which the goal was to elicit an emotional response from the audience (7)) and the direct implications for transcription and historical Lisztian performance.

In the past (as part of my undergraduate thesis dealing with the genesis of the piano recital, and various attempts at recreating the form/style of Lisztian concerts) I have always approached Liszt from the perspective of innovations relating to performance/virtuosity (pioneering the solo piano recital, inventing a new form of pianistic technique, the concept of an artistic persona, a composer/virtuoso all in one) and not his works as such. My findings suggested that Liszt’s innovations, and ‘performance practices’ relating to the concert platform, were largely ignored in favour of the concert, recital and interpretative practices of the so called ‘Old German School’ (represented by Clara Schumann and others) who seem to provide a better match for the ideology of modern performance practices (concert form, interpretation) prevalent today. In essence, for all of Liszt’s virtuosity and fame of superstar proportions he was misunderstood and labelled ‘superficial’ by many of his contemporaries. (8) Similarly to the treatment of Haydn and his compositional output, Liszt’s legacy as a composer (particularly once outside the bounds of the pianistic) was ignored by scholars for decades, with many attributable reasons, for instance envy. (9) Another parallel can be drawn to Beethoven’s works, in that they too were misunderstood if not completely disregarded. (10) Liszt’s works deserve to be championed for their pivotal role in pioneering new forms, instrumentation, experimentation in tonality which would eventually lead the way to 20th century models implemented by Schoenberg, Berg and Webern. (The Prelude and Fugue on BACH contains chromaticism based on the diminished seventh chord (11) and the Mephisto Waltz no 4/Bagatelle without Tonality is an example of moving away from a distinguishable tonal centre). Whilst extensive research has examined biographical information, catalogues and treatment of works (particularly pianistic), a gap exists in regards to organ literature (in fact, it is difficult to obtain complete editions of the organ works, with rarer works often out of print) and performance practice scholarship as opposed to theoretical analysis (of surface level proportions). (12)

After the 18th century organ music lost pride of place compared to the Baroque period when every reputable composer composed for the instrument. Although the ranks of organ literature were enriched by Beethoven’s pieces for mechanical clock, Rossini’s little organ pieces, Mozart/Haydn’s mechanical organ compositions and German organ composers such as A.W Bach, Ritter, Fischer, J.G Topfer, J.C.H Rinck (characterised by smooth legato technique, a marked departure from the detached nature of Baroque articulation) and Hesse a substantial body of literature did not exist. Composers became frustrated with the instrument’s lack of expression, necessity for block dynamics, bland registration, unstable wind supply, and lack of registrational aids. Whilst Baroque music could thrive on the former, the spirit of Romanticism required far more and categorised the organ as an inadequate vehicle.  Nonetheless, Felix Bartholdy Mendelssohn rose to the challenge as the only influential German composer (for organ) of the first decade of the 19th century. Although a staunch proponent of terraced dynamics and polyphonic texture in Bach’s organ pieces (and instrumental in the ‘Bach Revival’), Mendelssohn’s works contain elements of the Romantic aesthetic of expression. At a time preceding the arrival of the swell pedal (used for crescendo and diminuendo effects) Mendelssohn manipulated registration in order to achieve a similar outcome (in his sonatas published in 1845). (13)

In England, France and Germany the development of the ‘expressive’ organ was closely interlinked. The “bombastic thunderstorm improvisations” (14) of Lefébure-Wély in Paris are a good example, with the phenomenon spreading over to Germany via Lemmens and Vogt. Liszt was present at the latter’s Freiburg Cathedral thunderstorm criticised by George Sand.  He reportedly sat down at the organ console afterwards to give a perfect rendition of an improvisation on Mozart’s Dies Irae (complete with chimes/bell effects). The mid 19th century saw the rise of more imitative stops, no doubt influenced by the legendary Cavaille-Coll who started revolutionary organ-building work in 1833 (Paris).  In Germany, the Ladegast organ was installed at Meresburg Cathedral in 1855. The country’s largest instrument at the time, it in all likelihood had no expressive capacity (although Rechsteiner (15) argues that it did possess a rudimentary swell pedal precursor), but encompassed many imitative stops and limited registrational aids. Therefore, when trying to recreate the conditions of historical instruments, it is necessary to consider their limitations. Evidence (analysis of Liszt’s organ works from the Weimar period, student recounts and the fact that Liszt’s Fantasy and Fugue on ‘Ad nos’ and Prelude and Fugue on BACH are considered peak romantic literature even though written well before all peak developments) suggests that Liszt composed music well before his time, foreshadowing the late Romantic/symphonic direction of organ building and literature. Later instrumental developments (particularly of the symphonic, and 20th century concert organ type) allow for the execution of the fast tempi, and registrational effects his performance style needs.

During his Weimar period (1848- 1861) Liszt thoroughly immersed himself in the footsteps of the organ tradition, and the revival of Bach’s organ works, (transcribing six of Bach’s organ Prelude and Fugue’s for piano and playing/hearing numerous instruments in the region) together with composers such as Mendelssohn and Schumann who played a pivotal role in championing the lost works and legacy of the Great Master. “Liszt could not tolerate the cautious, colourless renderings [of Bach] prevailing in Germany at the time” (16) In fact, he criticised Alexander Gottschalg, one of his students, for playing a Bach fugue all on one manual. “In terms of technique it is totally satisfying … but where is the spirit? … Surely Bach did not play his works in such a manner; he, whose registrations were so admired by his contemporaries! When you are playing on a three-manual instrument, why should the other two manuals be ignored?” (17)

The above raises challenging implications for modern performance practice.  In modern performance practice, Bach is performed strictly, perhaps rigidly, with no major registration changes, keeping to block dynamics. Still, there is place for subtle changes, bringing out imitation/echo effects etc.  Since the Bach revival occurred during the Romantic era, it is necessary to remember that Bach organ performance did not change into the clean and precise renditions of today, overnight. Composers instrumental to the revival (Mendelssohn, Liszt and others) would have played Bach with a penchant for Romantic registration practices (employing crescendos, imitative stops, transcribing and taking other liberties with the text).

Transcriptions would have also challenged the modern notion of adherence to the score. After all, the piano is a transcription instrument (a large body of repertoire played prior to the advent of the modern piano is in essence a transcription).  While the romantic era was rampant with transcribing and improvisation, it was well grounded in earlier practice (for example the Bach-Vivaldi Concerto transcriptions for organ).

The Fantasy and Fugue on ‘Ad nos’ was written in 1850, and premiered at Meresburg Cathedral for the newly restored organ (completed by North German organ builder Friedrich Ladegast between 1853-1855). It included 4 manuals, 81 stops, 5, 685 pipes, 37 chimes, and was the first example of the romantic organ in Germany, with precursors of crescendo divisions/pedals. Ladegast was an apprentice of iconic German organ builder Silbermann and Cavaille-Coll in Paris. Sadly the instrument was restored back to ‘Baroque’ specifications, however a rebuild back to its romantic state is currently pending. Reubke (a pupil of Liszt) was also inspired by the instrument, as were Schumann and Mendelssohn.

Whilst two of Liszt’s ‘best’ and monumental organ works were centred around Weimar, his extensive concert activity across many geographical and cultural boundaries (entailing access to different types of instruments) may have had significant influence on his organ works. In later years, Liszt was on familiar terms with the French organists centred around Cavaille-Coll (Saint-Saens, Widor, Chauvut) in the 1860’s and 70’s (Saints-Saens’ organ symphony is dedicated to Liszt, Franck dedicated his organ recital to Liszt in 1866 at Saint-Clothilde (18) and Bruckner played the organ at Liszt’s memorial service in Bayreuth (19).

An average performance of the ‘Ad nos’ lasts 30 minutes and the work is solely mono-thematic, based on the chorale theme from Meyerbeer’s opera ‘Le Prophet’.  Mirroring a symphonic poem in treatment and structure, it creates its own set of dramatic activity rather than relying on the dramatic content of the opera.

Liszt’s piano students have received sound documentation, either through his correspondence or historical recordings, which reveal significant liberties with the score, changing tempi, ‘Brahmsian’ rushed crescendo, dislocation and arpeggiation. (20) It is fascinating to attempt to ascertain whether those practices were carried through to the organ since Liszt acted as a mentor to a group of Weimar organists studying with Johann Topfer, the municipal organist in Weimar, fine performer, organ builder and organist with forward looking ideas on organ registration. (Liszt coached Gottschalg, Winterberger, Carl Muller-Hartun, and others. (21)

Winterberger premiered the ‘Ad nos’ at Meresburg Cathedral and took the piece on tour through Holland and other parts of Europe. Liszt was often viewed in a derogatory light due to a lack of pedal technique, however he made up for this deficiency through Winterberger’s performances of his works. “Alexander Winterberger … operates with his feet in a way that others can not manage with their hands, and that sureness in the handling of the pedal-board gives his playing an amplitude and magnificence which I have never before encountered, although I have heard the most renowned organists”. (22) Liszt devised a notation system for pedalling, in use before the heel-toe system of Lemmens, Mendelssohn and was known for fast tempi (According to Gottschalg, his pedalling could not keep up with what Liszt demonstrated on the manuals).

Liszt’s only documented public recital was held on May 1843 at Moscow’s Evangelical Church of Sts Peter and Paul. The repertoire included a Fugue by Handel, and Beethoven transcriptions (Piano Sonata in A flat major, op. 26 and the slow movement of the Fifth Symphony). His legacy lives on through his Weimar organ students. No direct organ recordings of Liszt or the students exist (Liszt died 9 years before the invention of the phonogram) but American recordings from the 1930’s studied by Rechsteiner (23) point to fast tempi and textual modification. 

Additionally recordings of Alfred Sittard (directly connected to the Berlin Organ School of the 19th and 20th centuries which consisted of names such as Max Reger and Karl Straube) are an enlightening find. Recorded on a historic 163-stop organ in Harburg, 1912 (damaged during World War II) they are the only remaining record of the instrument and “showcase great musicianship, an excellent sense of drama, and virtuoso technical ability with glaring textual liberties in the ‘Ad nos’.” (24)

Along with improvisation, transcription is an art regularly associated with the legacy of the ‘composer-virtuosos’ of the 19th century. Liszt had an urn at his concerts for audience requests and would routinely improvise on requested themes. ‘Ad nos’ possesses many improvisational qualities, especially in the Fantasy section, which in its freedom is reminiscent of the North German ‘stylus phantasticus’. The work additionally exists in a four-hands version, and Busoni wrote a transcription (rare edition) for piano (25). Conflicting sources (26) suggest that Liszt could have also written a transcription for piano but the original manuscript and subsequent editions are lost. He did however write a transcription of the Prelude and Fugue on BACH, and two versions of the piece (the shorter, 1870 version is the one commonly played now) (27).

A perusal of the four-hands version helps in filling in performance practice gaps applicable to the organ version. (28) For example, in all the recordings perused, the ossia pedal line found in the Budapest edition (29) (sourced from the four- hands version but missing in other editions) is omitted. 

Feruccio Busoni, although never a student of Liszt, “became a celebrated Liszt scholar and pianist. … His playing of Liszt’s works met with the approval of Liszt pupil Arthur Friedham” (30) The transcribed material is sometimes left verbatim however in most instances pedal lines are doubled, runs are added and other usual romantic treatment is applied. Busoni’s remarkable technique is a match for this monumental piece in its piano version. Reversed analysis may also be useful for providing insight into performing the organ version as the various pianistic effects give an indication of timbre/colour indicative of registration choice.

In Liszt’s original, organ writing is transformed by pianistic elements carried through to the organ.  A number of virtuoso pianists were also organists (or composed for organ) and this is evident in the works they left behind (for example, Mendelssohn, Saint-Saens, Mozart related to piano-organ connection) (31). Criticised as a defect in Liszt’s organ compositions, the pianistic elements are actually strong points. On a mechanical action organ (when compared with a piano) clearer tonal control and clarity is possible (although it is more difficult to achieve legato, and a smooth tone in ‘Ad nos’ due to the absence of the sostenuto pedal and continuity of sound, though the benefit of continuous sound is that it can be modified after the attack, unlike on the piano).  Another benefit includes the added possibilities that pedals, registration and manual changes can provide in creating a tonal palette of sound and the marked difference between each organ (resulting in multiple interpretations).

Yves Rechsteiner, a performance practice scholar, organist, and harpsichordist recorded a historical project of Liszt’s complete organ works at Schweren Cathedral, on a Ladegast organ preserved in original condition. (32) His rendition of Liszt’s organ masterpieces was hailed as groundbreaking and yet unnecessary and disruptive to the clarity of the chorale (Meyerbeer) theme (even though skilful). I analysed the scale of the modifications and was expecting modifications of epic proportions. In actual fact, the improvisations verge on ornaments, runs and minor cadenza passages (all easily missed if not careful) showing how scandalous it is to depart from the ingrained letter of the score. (33) In my opinion, Rechsteiner’s rendition of the Prelude and Fugue on BACH is mesmerising (with tempo fluctuations) capturing the essence of Lisztian style more completely than in the ‘Ad nos’ which seems to drag on a bit (here the tempo appears steadier).

According to Rechsteiner’s findings and my observations, playing Liszt requires organ action that will not hinder precision and alacrity, registrational aids, more stable wind pressure, attack, and no delay in sound. All of the above were a hindrance in the Winterberger performance at Merseburg cathedral, which is why historical reproductions can only go so far. Therefore, to play Liszt in the spirit of his intentions requires concert hall instruments, which offer no hindrances in regards to tempi. Liszt composed the ‘Ad nos’, Prelude and Fugue on BACH, Variations on Veinen, Klagen, Sorgen, Zagen (1863) with the aid of a pedal-piano acquired in 1854 (consisting of three manuals, plus pedal-board. As such he did not face any of the hindrances mentioned above). It is indeed fascinating to discover that a performance of Liszt at Verbrugghen Hall, on a non-romantic organ may well be a step on the way to a historical performance. The inhibitions of developing organs, and cathedral acoustics are removed, and there are no physical limits beyond performer limitations. According to Mark Swed, Liszt’s ‘Ad nos’ should be played madly, frenetically, put simply: too fast.  That care, while appreciated, was the loose leash. Ultimately, a stubborn Lisztian wants neither reason nor restraint, rather full- out madness. But as I said, it was a nasty night, and Haselbock left us just sane enough to hit the waterlogged freeways while still so Liszt-logged that this nutty, magnificent music danced to the rhythm of every insistent raindrop.” (34). This is far removed from the cautious interpretations advocated today.

The scope of this investigation has centered around two focal points, that of filling in the gaps of performance practices not discernable in the notation of the score but, crucial to the informed performance of selected Liszt organ works (particularly the Fantasy and Fugue on ‘Ad nos Salutarem Undam’) and lost Lisztian (and 19th century) practices which are foreign to the strict adherence to the score/predominance of composer’s intentions that modern performance styles champion. In investigating the former, it was necessary to move away from the rigid and sometimes pedantic interpretations of Liszt’s organ music that can be arrived at by looking at the score only, to performances that will incorporate stylistic practices that were a given for Liszt, his organ students and other 19th century contemporaries. In application this leads to a more pianistic treatment of the ‘Ad nos’, with agile and facile passagework, greater rhythmical and textual freedom (particularly with accelerando and rushing at peak points) fast, even frenetic, tempi (as indicated by historical recordings, correspondence, and other scholarship), and a deeper grounding on what is allowable in the work based on an understanding of different editions and versions such as the four-hands Liszt version and Busoni transcription.  Beyond that, a historical performance of Liszt’s ‘Ad nos’ and other organ works also entails a willingness to engage in a personal interpretation, showcasing not just the composer but also the performer of the work. Artistic freedom lies at the core of 19th century performance practice, and as such has its place in modern renditions of the work. Originally, the decision to perform the ‘Ad nos’ on the Verbrugghen Hall organ (not a romantic organ) could have been frowned on by some modern specialists. However, throughout the course of this investigation the decision has emerged from that of one based on personal interpretation alone to one with historical basis (based on the benefits modern organs possess when compared with their developing, Romantic counterparts).

Discography

Bleicher, Stefan Johannes. Complete Organ Works. Comp. Franz Liszt. Arte Nova Classics LC 3430. 1998.

Haselbock, Martin. Liszt, F.: Organ music, Vol. 1. Comp. Franz Liszt. New Classical Adventure NCA60157-215. 2005.

Howard, Leslie. The complete music for solo piano, Vol. 17 - Liszt at the Opera II. Comp. Franz Liszt. CDA66571/2. 1992.

Herrick, Christopher. Organ Dreams 4. Comps. Franz Liszt, et al. Hyperion Records Limited CDA67436. 2005.

Rechsteiner, Yyes, Monique Simon, and Amandine Beyer. Liszt: Organ Works. Comps. Franz Liszt, Felix Mendelssohn and Johann Sebastian Bach. 2005.

Salle, Lise de la. bach liszt lise de la salle. Comps. Johann Sebastian Bach and Franz Liszt. Naïve. 2005.

 

Bibliography

Bethards, Jack M. "A Brief for the Symphonic Organ (Part One)." The Diapason 96, no. 9 (Sep 2005).

Busoni, Ferrucio B. Franz Liszt Fantasie und Fuge über den choral 'Ad nos, ad salutarem undam'. Leipzig: Breitkopf & Härtel.

Caldwell, John, Christopher Maxim, Barbara Owen, Robert Winter, Susan Bradshaw, and Martin Elste. "Keyboard music." Grove Music Online. Oxford Music Online. http://www.oxfordmusiconline.com/subscriber/article/grove/music/14945pg2 (accessed September 7, 2011).

Carter, Gerard. Rediscovering the Liszt Tradition. Ashfield, NSW: Wensleydale Press, 2006.

Corleonis, Adrian. "Liszt: Organ Works / Yves Rechsteine- Notes & Reviews." ArkivMusic.com The Source for Classical Music. http://www.arkivmusic.com/classical/album.jsp?album_id=92322 (accessed September 7, 2011).

Elcombe, Keith. "Review: Making Music on the Organ by Peter Hurford." Early Music (Oxford University Press) 17, no. 2 (May 1989).

Fabian, Dorottya. "The Meaning of Authenticity and The Early Music Movement: A Historical Review ." International Review of the Aesthetics and Sociology of Music (Croatian Musicological Society ) 32, no. 2 (Dec 2001): 153-167.

Gibbs, Christopher H., and Dana Gooley. Franz Liszt and His World. Princenton: Princenton University Press.

Hamilton, Kenneth, ed. The Cambridge Companion to Liszt. New York: Cambridge University Press, 2005.

Hurford, Peter. Making Music on the Organ. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1990.

Kregor, Jonathan. Liszt as Transcriber. New York: Cambridge University Press, 2010.

Liszt, Ferenc. Összes Orgonaműve: Sämtliche Orgelwerke I. Edited by Sándor Margittay. Budapest: Editio Musica Budapest, 1970.

Ochse, Orpha. Organists and Organ playing in Nineteenth-Century France and Belgium. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1994.

Rechsteiner, Yves. "Franz Liszt et l'orgue, quelques remarques sur l'utilisation de l'orgue à son époque." yves-rechsteiner.com. June 24, 2010. http://www.yves-rechsteiner.com/articles (accessed September 7, 2011).

Bethards, Jack M. "A Brief for the Symphonic Organ (Part One)." The Diapason 96, no. 9 (Sep 2005).

Busoni, Ferrucio B. Franz Liszt Fantasie und Fuge über den choral 'Ad nos, ad salutarem undam'. Leipzig: Breitkopf & Härtel.

Caldwell, John, Christopher Maxim, Barbara Owen, Robert Winter, Susan Bradshaw, and Martin Elste. "Keyboard music." Grove Music Online. Oxford Music Online. http://www.oxfordmusiconline.com/subscriber/article/grove/music/14945pg2 (accessed September 7, 2011).

Carter, Gerard. Rediscovering the Liszt Tradition. Ashfield, NSW: Wensleydale Press, 2006.

Corleonis, Adrian. "Liszt: Organ Works / Yves Rechsteine- Notes & Reviews." ArkivMusic.com The Source for Classical Music. http://www.arkivmusic.com/classical/album.jsp?album_id=92322 (accessed September 7, 2011).

Elcombe, Keith. "Review: Making Music on the Organ by Peter Hurford." Early Music (Oxford University Press) 17, no. 2 (May 1989).

Fabian, Dorottya. "The Meaning of Authenticity and The Early Music Movement: A Historical Review ." International Review of the Aesthetics and Sociology of Music (Croatian Musicological Society ) 32, no. 2 (Dec 2001): 153-167.

Gibbs, Christopher H., and Dana Gooley. Franz Liszt and His World. Princenton: Princenton University Press.

Hamilton, Kenneth, ed. The Cambridge Companion to Liszt. New York: Cambridge University Press, 2005.

Hurford, Peter. Making Music on the Organ. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1990.

Kregor, Jonathan. Liszt as Transcriber. New York: Cambridge University Press, 2010.

Liszt, Ferenc. Összes Orgonaműve: Sämtliche Orgelwerke I. Edited by Sándor Margittay. Budapest: Editio Musica Budapest, 1970.

Ochse, Orpha. Organists and Organ playing in Nineteenth-Century France and Belgium. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1994.

Rechsteiner, Yves. "Franz Liszt et l'orgue, quelques remarques sur l'utilisation de l'orgue à son époque." yves-rechsteiner.com. June 24, 2010. http://www.yves-rechsteiner.com/articles (accessed September 7, 2011).

Saffle, Michael. Franz Liszt: a guide to research. 2nd Edition. New York & London: Routledge, 2004.

Saffle, Michael. "The "Liszt Year" 2011; Recent, Emerging and Future Liszt Research." Notes (Music Library Association) 67, no. 4 (Jun 2011).

Searle, Humphrey. "The Organist's Repertory. 6: Liszt's Organ Music." The Musical Times (Musical Times Publications) 112, no. 1540 (Jun 1971): 597-598 .

Stinson, Russell. " Franz Liszt ." In The reception of Bach's organ works from Mendelssohn to Brahms, by Russell Stinson. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2006.

—. The reception of Bach's organ works from Mendelssohn to Brahms . Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2006.

Swed, Mark. "Music Reviews: Liszt finds a kindred spirit in the organist." Los Angeles Times. February 22, 2005. http://articles.latimes.com/2005/feb/22/entertainment/et-organ22 (accessed October 17, 2011).

"The International Historical Organ Recording Collection: Alfred Sittard - Selected recordings from 1928-38." The International Historical Organ Recording Collection. March 7, 2009. http://ihorc.blogspot.com/2009/03/alfred-sittard-selected-recordings-from.html (accessed September 23, 2011).

Walker, Alan. "Music Reviews." Edited by Frances Barulich. Notes, Second Series (Music Library Association) 48, no. 2 (Dec 1991): 665-669.

Walker, Alan, Maria Eckhardt Rena, and Charnin Mueller. "Liszt, Franz." Grove Music Online. Oxford Music Online. http://www.oxfordmusiconline.com/subscriber/article/grove/music/48265pg18 (accessed October 3, 2011).

Wolff, Christoph, Walter Emery, Peter Wollny, Ulrich Leisinger, and Stephen Roe. "Bach." Grove Music Online. Oxford Music Online. . http://www.oxfordmusiconline.com/subscriber/article/grove/music/40023pg10 (accessed September 7, 2011).

 

Endnotes

1. Fabian, Dorottya. “The Meaning of Authenticity and The Early Music Movement: A Historical Review.” International Review of the Aesthetics and Sociology of Music (Croatian Musicological Society) 32, no. 2 (Dec 2001): 153-167.

2. Adrian Corleonis, “Liszt: Organ Works / Yves Rechsteiner- Notes & Reviews,” ArkivMusic.com The Source for Classical Music, http://www.arkivmusic.com/classical/album.jsp?album_id=92322.

3. Michael Saffle, “The "Liszt Year" 2011; Recent, Emerging and Future Liszt Research,” Notes (Music Library Association) 67, no. 4 (Jun 2011).

4. Peter Hurford, Making Music on the Organ (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1990) and Keith Elcombe, “Review: Making Music on the Organ by Peter Hurford,” Early Music (Oxford University Press) 17, no. 2 (May 1989).

5. Quoted in Dorottya Fabian, “The Meaning of Authenticity and The Early Music Movement: A Historical Review,” International Review of the Aesthetics and Sociology of Music (Croatian Musicological Society ) 32, no. 2 (Dec 2001): 153-167, 158.

6. Aldrich, 1957 quoted in Fabian, 159.

7. Fabian, 162.

8. Kenneth Hamilton, ed., The Cambridge Companion to Liszt, ed. Kenneth Hamilton (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2005), 28.

9. Michael Saffle, Franz Liszt: a guide to research, 2nd Edition (New York & London: Routledge, 2004), 9.

10. Saffle, Franz Liszt: a guide to research.

11. Humphrey Searle, “The Organist's Repertory. 6: Liszt's Organ Music,” The Musical Times (Musical Times Publications) 112, no. 1540 (Jun 1971): 597-598.

12. Michael Saffle, Franz Liszt: a guide to research and Michael Saffle, “The "Liszt Year" 2011; Recent, Emerging and Future Liszt Research,” Notes (Music Library Association) 67, no. 4 (Jun 2011).

13. John Caldwell, Christopher Maxim, Barbara Owen, Robert Winter, Susan Bradshaw and Martin Elste, “Keyboard music,” Grove Music Online. Oxford Music Online, http://www.oxfordmusiconline.com/subscriber/article/grove/music/14945pg2 (accessed September 7, 2011), The Romantic Section.

14. John Caldwell et al, 3.

15. Yves Rechsteiner, “Franz Liszt et l'orgue, quelques remarques sur l'utilisation de l'orgue à son époque,” yves-rechsteiner.com, 24 June 2010, http://www.yves-rechsteiner.com/articles (accessed September 7, 2011).

16. Alan Walker, “Music Reviews,” ed. Frances Barulich, Notes, Second Series (Music Library Association) 48, no. 2 (Dec 1991): 665-669, 667.

17. Gottschalg (1899, translation from Sutter 1977) quoted in Russell Stinson, “ Franz Liszt,” in The reception of Bach's organ works from Mendelssohn to Brahms (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2006), 117.

18. Walker, 668.

19. Walker, 669.

20. Gerard Carter, Rediscovering the Liszt Tradition (Ashfield, NSW: Wensleydale Press, 2006).

21. Walker, 667.

22. Liszt‘s letter quoted in Walker, 668.

23. Rechsteiner, “Franz Liszt et l'orgue”.

24. “The International Historical Organ Recording Collection: Alfred Sittard - Selected recordings from 1928-38,” The International Historical Organ Recording Collection, 7 March 2009, http://ihorc.blogspot.com/2009/03/alfred-sittard-selected-recordings-from.html (accessed September 23, 2011).

25. Ferrucio B Busoni, Franz Liszt Fantasie und Fuge über den choral 'Ad nos, ad salutarem undam' (Leipzig: Breitkopf & Härtel).

26. Yves Rechsteiner, “Franz Liszt et l'orgue” and Jonathan Kregor, Liszt as Transcriber (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2010). Jonathan Kregor, Liszt as Transcriber (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2010) and Walker, “Music Reviews”

27. Humphrey Searle, “The Organist's Repertory. 6: Liszt's Organ Music,” The Musical Times (Musical Times Publications) 112, no. 1540 (Jun 1971): 597-598, 597.

28. Leslie Howard, The complete music for solo piano, Vol. 17 - Liszt at the Opera II, comps. Franz Liszt, CDA66571/2, 1992 and Kenneth Hamilton, ed., The Cambridge Companion to Liszt, ed. Kenneth Hamilton (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2005).

29. Ferenc Liszt, Összes Orgonaműve: Sämtliche Orgelwerke I, ed. Sándor Margittay (Budapest: Editio Musica Budapest, 1970).

30. Gerard Carter, Rediscovering the Liszt Tradition (Ashfield, NSW: Wensleydale Press, 2006), 42.

31. Orpha Ochse, Organists and Organ playing in Nineteenth-Century France and Belgium (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1994).

32. Yyes Rechsteiner, Monique Simon and Amandine Beyer, Liszt: Organ Works, comps. Franz Liszt, Felix Mendelssohn and Johann Sebastian Bach, 2005.

33. Adrian Corleonis, “Liszt: Organ Works / Yves Rechsteine- Notes & Reviews,” ArkivMusic.com The Source for Classical Music, http://www.arkivmusic.com/classical/album.jsp?album_id=92322 (accessed September 7, 2011).

34. Mark Swed, “Music Reviews: Liszt finds a kindred spirit in the organist,” 22 February 2005, http://articles.latimes.com/2005/feb/22/entertainment/et-organ22 (accessed October 17, 2011).

 

 

 

 

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The Collective Genius of Bach, Mozart and Mendelssohn

(As showcased in a 50-minute Organ Recital performed by Maria Welna)

 Tuesday 7 June 2011, 10.20am

Verbrugghen Hall

 

Program:

 

J.S. Bach (1685 – 1750)          Toccata Adagio & Fugue in C major, BWV 564

J.S. Bach (1685 – 1750)          From the Clavierübung Part III:

                                             Vater unser im Himmelreich, BWV 682

W.A. Mozart (1756 – 1791)      Fantasia in F minor, K. 608

F. Mendelssohn Bartholdy         Sonata No. 6 in D minor, Op. 65

                   (1809 - 1847)

 

               

Today’s recital features a striking ‘collaboration’ or correlation between the works and lives of three geniuses who may also add the titles of ‘virtuoso’ organist and prolific composer to their exhaustive list of collective achievements. All three masters composed for a broad instrumental spectrum (‘clavier’, piano, organ, voice, orchestra etc), within a variety of genres and for both sacred/secular settings. Bach and Mozart’s lives were plagued by great hardship and suffering, whilst Mendelssohn played a pivotal role in bringing Bach’s compositions to light (in Leipzig a hundred years later), during his tragically short life. As if to highlight this fact, Mendelssohn’s work featured in the recital program today and Bach’s Vater unser im Himmelreich, BWV 682 are both based on a setting of Luther’s ‘Our Father Who Art in Heaven’ chorale.  

 

A further connection arises due to the prodigious nature of the performers’ talents. Mozart and Mendelssohn started off as child prodigies, building up a remarkable reputation for pianistic and organ virtuosity with elements of the former transcending into the latter. Bach, although not a prodigy, compensated doubly through his remarkable output as an organist, organ builder, pedagogue and pioneering composer. The final link concerns ‘the art of the fugue’, or the use of contrapuntal techniques. All works featured in the program (especially that of Mozart, which naturally may come as a surprise) employ complex contrapuntal writing.

 

Johann Sebastian Bach (1685-1750)

 

Johann Sebastian Bach, “the great genius of Baroque music” (1) came from a long line of musical influences, at once hereditary and historical. He commenced organ lessons with his eldest brother, in turn passing on knowledge to his sons. Although only acknowledged for his organ virtuosity and innovations (as opposed to compositional skill) during his lifetime, Bach’s works are now regarded to be masterpieces. Moreover, they span a wide range of influences from across the geographical north (Sweelinck, Buxtehude, Bruhns, Böhm), south (Pachelbel, Froberger, Vivaldi, Corelli), and west (Couperin, de Grigny) with particular emphasis on North German compositional characteristics. (2)

 

The Toccata, Adagio and Fugue in C major is reminiscent of the three part Italian concerto form prevalent in that time period. (3) An early work, it was composed during Bach’s Weimar years (1708-1717) and as such its dates roughly correspond with the composition of works such as the English suites (originally written for harpsichord). Rooted in the stylus phantasticus, the first section (Toccata) flows with the dexterity and spontaneity found in the Preludes and Fugues of Buxtehude or Böhm. The pedal solo featured in the exposition of the first section, is a continuation of the style, albeit in the longest instance of a pedal introduction. (4) The second section consists of a Trio or ‘Aria’ movement (marked Adagio-Grave) in which the cantus firmus is accompanied by a pedal and left hand part resembling that of the orchestral basso continuo. In the final section, the fugue concludes without an elaborate cadenza or improvisatory (stylus phantasticus) elements. Busoni wrote a famous transcription of the work for piano.

 

Bach published four volumes of the Clavierübung, translated as ‘Keyboard practice’. Wont to indulge in symbology reflecting the theological properties of the music he composed, the third part of the Clavierübung is a fine example of the use of numerology in order to portray finer spiritual meaning. Throughout the volume the combinations of the number 3 are supposed to suggest the Holy Trinity (for example there are 27 pieces in total: 3x3x3). (5)

 

The Catechism Chorales are based on settings taken from Luther’s Lesser Catechism and are ‘oratorical’ in nature (this may have been as a result of Bach’s traditionalist response to Schiebe’s attack on his music). (6) Vater unser im Himmelreich (‘Our Father, Who Art In Heaven’), BWV 682, a setting of the Lord’s prayer, presents the highest contrapuntal and rhythmic complexity out of all the pedaliter preludes featured in the 3rd part of Clavierübung. Its texture mirrors that of a trio sonata, which then transforms into a canonic progression. The lombardic rhythm corresponding to the placement of ‘father’ serves to highlight the importance the word was given in Luther’s original text. (7)

 

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (1756 – 1791)

 

Mozart composed prolifically, amassing over 600 works in his short lifetime. Displaying the trait of sheer virtuosity on a number of instruments (piano, violin, organ etc), he evolved from a child prodigy to a man of genius. Mozart’s uncanny abilities (for example, the flawless notation of Allegri’s Misere after hearing it in performance) were fruitlessly dissected by scientists in search of answers. Although his organ proficiency was unquestionable, it was eclipsed by his fame as a virtuoso pianist. Nevertheless, Mozart did perform on the organ, to an exceptionably high standard. The following excerpt from the correspondence of Mozart’s father serves to illustrate the young prodigy’s immense potential on the instrument from the very beginning: “I explained to Woferl the use of the pedal. Whereupon he improvised some preludes and tried it stante pede, shoved the stool away and played standing at the organ, at the same time working the pedal, and doing it all as if he had been practicing it for several months. Everyone was amazed. Indeed this is a fresh act of God’s grace, which many a one only receives after much labour.” (8)

 

The Fantasia in F minor, K. 608 was initially “an organ piece for a clock” (9) and as such raises the issue of “automatic genius” (10), through both the instrument it was composed for and the genius of its creator (Mozart). In dire financial difficulty, Mozart accepted Count Deym’s commission for a work to be featured in a Viennese waxwork exhibition (where it was assigned the morbid purpose of being played as funeral music for a mausoleum). The particular instrument is a point of contention, if only due to its long lost state. However, rather than a small toy, scholars point to a large organ-like clock, with at least two flute and one reed stops (11). The classical era in general, saw the heightened fascination with the unlimited virtuosity possible through a ‘mechanical’, or machine-like instrument not requiring human involvement. Vaucanson’s invention of the mechanical flautist (a robotic flautist with moving lips and fingers that produced the most sublime and perfect sounds) is a clear example of the preoccupation with the concept of the ‘robotic virtuoso’. The divide between serious music and the superficial machine eventually resulted in the gradual obliteration of mechanical instruments. Nonetheless, the Fantasia fuses the machine-like properties of the instrument with those of Mozart, the ‘automatic’ genius, as he was sometimes referred to.

 

Paradoxically, the formal structure of the piece perfectly counteracts any superficiality that may be the result of instrumental and contextual limitations. Namely, it consists of fine contrapuntal writing and complex texture (especially in the outer, fugal F minor sections), which is finally “destabilized” (12) in the final fugal entry by a set of chromatic runs. Interestingly, an analogy that can be applied here is that the mechanism of the clock is spinning out of control. The central, Adagio, section is a set of classical variations, perfectly Mozartian in character, melody and phrasing. One almost hears the various timbres of the orchestra.

 

Over time the Fantasia has proved to be one of the most consummate of Mozart’s works, a feat that is surprising considering the absence of both the original manuscript of the piece and instrument it was written for. (13)

 

Felix Mendelssohn Bartholdy (1809-1847)

 

Robert Schumann described Mendelssohn as the “Mozart of the nineteenth century”. (14) In spite of composing for every possible medium, conducting, teaching, and performing on the piano, Mendelssohn still found time to indulge his fascination for the organ. No ordinary organist, he was first and foremost a superb pianist (a circumstance that was becoming more and more unusual since the universal keyboard player of the Baroque era had slowly faded away making room for specialization). (15) A staunch admirer of Bach, Mozart and Haydn he extolled formal structure and clarity. Mendelssohn showed his appreciation for Bach in his repertoire choice, among other things, by playing only Bach in his organ recitals (with the exception of own compositions and improvisation).

 

Mendelssohn’s organ compositions retain the improvisatory qualities from which they are initially derived, integrate Baroque and Romantic elements, often use Lutheran chorale melodies for the basis of each cantus firmus and feature fully developed fugues. The organ sonatas of Op. 65 were commissioned for the English publisher Charles Coventry. The initial plan was for 3 voluntaries, however Mendelssohn changed the term to that of sonata. The formal structure of the piece/s is not in accordance with sonata form, perhaps, that of a set of suites provides a more accurate description. The absence of substantial registration suggestions points to a practical approach. Knowing that registration practices will vary from organ to organ, Mendelssohn provided dynamics as a guideline. Sonata No. 6 was reportedly written in 1845 in just two days, before being revised for a longer period of time. (16) It opens with variations on the chorale Vater unser im Himmelreich, of which the final variation is an improvisatory toccata. A developed fugue follows, and the sonata ends with a reflective movement that slowly dies away into nothingness for the ultimate conclusion. 

 

REFERENCES

Anderson, Keith. Liner notes to The Great Organ Works. Comp. J.S. Bach. Naxos 8.5538598. 1995.

Anderson, Martin. Liner notes to The Complete Organ Sonatas and Selected Pieces for Organ. Comp. Felix Mendelssohn. Saphir LVC 1094. 2009.

Bukofzer, Manfred F. Music in the Baroque Era - From Monteverdi to Bach. Von Elterlein Press , 2008.

Gillespie, John. Five Centuries of Keyboard Music: an Historical Survey of Music for Harpsichord and Piano. Unbridged republication of the work originally published in 1965. New York: Dover Publications, 1972.

Kibbie, James. “Clavierübung, Volume III.” 1999. http://www-personal.umich.edu/~jkibbie/clavieruebung_volume_iii.htm (accessed May 7, 2011).

Osborne, William. “Mendelssohn the Organist.” The Diapason (ProQuest Direct Complete) 98, no. 7 (2007): 19-21.

Richards, Annette. “Automatic Genius - Mozart and The Mechanical Sublime.” Music & Letters (Oxford University Press) 80, no. 3 (1999): 366-389.

Sprague, Catherine. “Mozart and The Organ.” Mozart Forum. 2005. http://www.mozartforum.com/VB_forum/archive/index.php?t-700.html (accessed May 17, 2011).

Street, Alan. “Review `untitled`. Reviewed work(s): The Esoteric Structure of Bach's Clavierübung III by David Humphreys.” Music Analysis 4, no. 3 (1985): 303-308.

Ward, Peter. “Mendelssohn and the Organ.” In Mendelssohn in Performance, by Siegwart Reichwald, edited by Siegwart Reichwald, 260. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2008.

Yearsley, David. “In Buxtehude’s footsteps.” Early Music 35, no. 3: 339-354.

Zaslaw, Neal. “Wolfgang Amadè Mozart's Allegro and Andante ("Fantasy") in F Minor for Mechanical Organ, K. 608.” In The Rosaleen Moldenhauer Memorial. Music History from Primary Sources: A Guide to the Moldnehauer Archives, edited by J. Newsom and A. Mann, 327-340. Washington, 2000.

 

ENDNOTES

1. Manfred F. Bukofzer, Music in the Baroque Era - From Monteverdi to Bach (Von Elterlein Press, 2008).

2. John Gillespie, Five Centuries of Keyboard Music: an Historical Survey of Music for Harpsichord and Piano, Unabridged republication of the work originally published in 1965 (New York: Dover Publications, 1972).

3. Keith Anderson, liner notes to The Great Organ Works, comps. J.S. Bach, Naxos 8.5538598, 1995.

4. David Yearsley, “In Buxtehude’s footsteps,” Early Music 35, no. 3: 339-354.

5. James Kibbie, “Clavierübung, Volume III,” 1999, http://www-personal.umich.edu/~jkibbie/clavieruebung_volume_iii.htm (accessed May 7, 2011).

6. Alan Street, “Review `untitled`. Reviewed work(s): The Esoteric Structure of Bach's Clavierübung III by David Humphreys,” Music Analysis 4, no. 3 (1985): 303-308.

7. Kibbie, 1999.

8. Leopold Mozart, in a letter from June 11th 1763 as quoted in Catherine Sprague, “Mozart and The Organ,” Mozart Forum, 2005, http://www.mozartforum.com/VB_forum/archive/index.php?t-700.html (accessed May 17, 2011).

9. Annette Richards, “Automatic Genius - Mozart and The Mechanical Sublime,” Music & Letters (Oxford University Press) 80, no. 3 (1999), 366.

10. Richards, 381.

11. Richards, 367.

12. Richards, 375.

13. Neal Zaslaw, “Wolfgang Amadè Mozart's Allegro and Andante ("Fantasy") in F Minor for Mechanical Organ, K. 608,” in The Rosaleen Moldenhauer Memorial. Music History from Primary Sources: A Guide to the Moldnehauer Archives, ed. J. Newsom and A. Mann, 327-340 (Washington, 2000).

14. William Osborne, “Mendelssohn the Organist,” The Diapason (ProQuest Direct Complete) 98, no. 7 (2007): 19-21.

15. Peter Ward, “Mendelssohn and the Organ,” in Mendelssohn in Performance, ed. Siegwart Reichwald, 260 (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2008).

16. Martin Anderson, liner notes to Felix Mendelssohn, The Complete Organ Sonatas and Selected Pieces for Organ, comps. Felix Mendelssohn, Saphir LVC 1094, 2009.

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Devilish Insects and Other Equally Maddening Disturbances

I thought I would enjoy several hours of focused repertoire practice at the Performing Arts School today. Usually, practising away from home is like embarking on a solitary retreat that takes one far away from useless interruptions, temptations and loud annoyances. There are no ringing phones, eager conversationalists that chatter loudly during my playing only to stop when I finally give up in frustration, raucous neighbours or grating household appliances. Perhaps the location of my music room is partially to blame since it adjoins the study and kitchen. Nonetheless is it so hard to be granted several hours of peaceful practice?

 

After removing to a setting guaranteed to yield quality practice time I found myself disappointed yet again. To my detriment, all the noisy factors were removed only to make room for a terribly annoying and nosy old fly. Unfortunately the devilish bug seemed to have a sound knowledge of pianistic repertoire and used it to relentlessly disturb, whether physically or psychologically during the most complex sections imaginable. It would appear out of nowhere whilst I was trying to run through my recital repertoire under concert-style conditions. How dare it take advantage of my powerlessness to defend myself? I had no hands remaining to swat at it with, thereby giving the fly free reign over me. The maddening insect wasn't satisfied with buzzing solely around the piano but sat down on all the keys, checked out the three pedals, flew through pages of music lying on the floor and finally resigned itself to sitting on the piano lid for the remaining movements of Beethoven's Appassionata Sonata. The whole bizarre routine would be repeated for the duration of any other pieces I was running through and then as soon as the concluding bars were over the fly would depart to another corner of the room, ever ready to return for the next piece.

 

Have I been cursed? It seems that procuring a quiet practice space for several hours is quite an impossible feat indeed. After all, this isn't the first time I have been troubled by interruptions in musical venues. Whilst doing preparatory recital practice last week at a certain concert hall I was woken from my musical reverie by a fire alarm, of all things. As if that wasn't horrible enough I was the only one in the hall at the time and had to quickly find my way out which was easier said than done since I was playing a pipe organ located up many flights of stairs. Fortunately I was well into several hours of playing by then so didn't lose significant practice time due to the disturbance.

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Wojciech Kilar - a Silesian Composer

as portrayed in An Interview with Wojciech Kilar written by Leszek Polony in 1996

 

An Interview with Wojciech Kilar provides readers with the opportunity of stepping into the world of a renowned composer eager to share personal reflections on his musical journey, compositional output and outlook on life and art. The book portrays Kilar as a kind-hearted man full of paradoxes whose works deal with basic values of morality (right, wrong, love and justice). For Kilar music is art and art is a gift, the gift of creation.

 

Kilar hails from Lvov, Ukraine (part of Poland up until 1932) where he was born on the 17th of July 1932. In spite of experiencing the two morally reprehensible systems of communism and fascism during his Lvov childhood, Kilar prefers to remember the place as a beautiful and captivating town, which he was forced to flee during World War II. He has not returned to this day for fear of shattering the delicately preserved memories and illusions of something that no longer exists.

 

Kilar’s first experience of art came from the familial home where his father (a doctor) and mother (an actress) would host discussions about the importance and meaning of art, into the wee hours of the morning. Thus it should come as no surprise that two people so passionate about all things artistic would enrol their son in piano lessons. Kilar admits that he was forced to learn music and that he couldn’t quite grasp simple concepts of musical notation. His second piano teacher (in Krosno) succeeded in making an ideological impact by stressing the calibre of Bach and Beethoven’s genius to his pupil.

 

The years 1945-46 saw Kilar move to Rzeszow for what he retrospectively considers to be the pivotal part of his music education. During this time Kilar’s mother enrolled him in a Music School where he continued piano lessons and had the opportunity to reacquaint himself with the broader musical world. Kazimierz Mirski, his first teacher in Rzeszow, proved to be a colourful character and source of musical inspiration. An Austrian ex-army officer and man of the world who wrote for the ‘Musical Times’, Mirski was the very image of a man of the west. Under his tutelage, Kilar swiftly progressed from playing obscure repertoire to working on Beethoven’s sonatas and other contemporary works.

 

Around this time Kilar was fascinated by De Falli’s Fire dance, Debussy’s Arabesque and Szymanowski’s Mazurek, a fascination that still exists until this day. In fact, the latter work contains a synthesis of elements (nationalism, highlander folk influences, vitality, rhythmical drive) which Kilar strives to work towards years later. His first compositional efforts produced a Mazurek influenced by Szymanowki’s piece and a couple of miniatures a year later. Kilar also wrote a Polonaise verging on the twelve tone system without ever hearing of Schoenberg or laying eyes on his ideas. Mirski noticed that playing the piano bored Kilar and gave him permission to pursue composition, which is what Kilar was ultimately after (since he did not want to waste at least four hours a day on piano practice). Composition would be ideal seeing as it did not require daily effort of that sort.

 

Kilar’s outlook on composer and artists as creators underwent a major change. Before his Rzeszow education, Kilar was wont to see composers in the light of unearthly beings, geniuses not to be understood. Through meeting artists such as Stanislaw Wislocki, Antoni Graziado (Kilar’s step-father, wrote theatre music) and Zygmunt Mycielski, Kilar finally understood that an artist or composer is just as much human as the rest of the population but to be an artist one must dabble in creation of some sort.

 

In 1947 Mirski recommended that Kilar study in Krakow. He was enrolled in the prestigious ‘Nowodworek’ High School, whilst living quarters were provided with the Reiger family (professor Maria Bilinska-Rieger was one of Mirski’s numerous musical contacts). Krakow proved to hold an overwhelming cultural influence over the young composer. He was magnetically drawn to all concerts (i.e he heard Panufnik’s and Malarski’s compositions played) and plays since witnessing/participating in the live performance of musicians and actors, was an excitement of the highest order. Predictably, the concert-going had a dire effect on Kilar’s studies because he chose concerts over practicing piano and thereby managed to fail the first semester of academic coursework.

 

Kilar pursued private composition studies with Artur Malawski, a strict man who emphasized harmony/contrapuntal technique, in this manner focusing on the acquisition of correct compositional technique. Professor Rieger organised a gathering for the purpose of determining Kilar’s future or lack of. Stanislaw Wiechowicz, Maria Dziewulska and Malarski served in the capacity of jurors, deciding that Kilar’s compositional future was promising if he quickly applied himself to working within the rules of harmony and contrapuntal technique. This influenced Kilar’s thought processes and musical taste. He realised that music must be disciplined, that in order for it to be a beautiful craft, perfection (as opposed to the intentions of the composer) must dominate.

 

Seeing that Krakow had a detrimental influence on Kilar’s work ethic, professor Rieger suggested a move to the ‘Music High School’ in Katowice. The ‘music’ high school was and still is a silent phenomenon where it was silently acceptable to stress the importance of musical subjects and give very slight attention to general subjects. In this environment, Kilar experienced musical life at its full glory, being able to share his interest for music with like-minded friends and colleagues. He studied piano with Wladyslawa Markiewiczowna, an easy-going, low-pressure woman who taught him several difficult pieces (Grieg’s Ballade, works by Chopin, Bartok’s Sonatina and Szostakowicz’s Polka) and composition (privately) with Boleslaw Woytowicz. Kilar took part in the Bach competition but it proved to be a complete disaster given that he did not learn the required concerto in time and preferred to indulge in entertainment instead of working hard (going to cafes, drinking). Participation in the Festival of Young Democrats in Budapest constituted his first international trip.

 

During 1950-55 Kilar studied at the State Higher School of Music in Katowice (currently the K. Szymanowski Music Academy) with Woytowicz who initially had hopes of moulding him into a pianist. Woytowicz noticed Kilar’s talent and aptitude, consequently pushing him to prepare repertoire for the International Chopin Competition in Warsaw. Eventually Woytowicz understood that Kilar found piano practice tedious and had no pianistic ambition whatsoever. Moving on to composition, Wotowicz stressed in a manner diametrically opposite to Malawski’s, that knowledge of the rules of harmony and counterpoint is useful only as a starting point, not when followed to the dot. For instance, in reality the fugal answer does not have to be identical to what the rules dictate. Compositional studies with Woytowicz included learning about different forms, genres, instrumentation and then having to put that knowledge into practice. Kilar first composed pieces for piano, then piano with flute, clarinet, a sonata for French horn and finally a symphony for strings (influenced by Szostakowicz’s Fifth Symphony). As a compositional giant and colossal figure at the Higher School of Music, Boleslaw Szabelski also exerted a great deal of influence over Kilar’s compositional studies.

 

Throughout the course of his time at the Higher School of Music, Kilar had access to various types of contemporary or so-called new music. In spite of the socialist times, scores were readily available and Woytowicz gave him complete access to his personal music collection (Kilar particularly liked Stravinsky, Ravel, Bartok and Debussy). Kilar graduated with top honours and received his diploma in 1955 along with household names such as Witold Szalonek, Zdzislaw Szostak, Jozef Swider and Jozef Podobinski. Kilar’s Scherzo from the First Symphony for Strings was performed at his graduation recital receiving an unfavourable review from Grazyna Bacewicz.

 

Kilar pursued postgraduate studies at the State Higher School of Music in Krakow (currently the Music Academy) from 1955-58 with Woytowicz. His compositional output of the time included the: ‘Beskidy’ Suite for tenor, choir and small orchestra, Second Concertante Symphony for piano and orchestra, Ode: Bella Bartok in memoriam for solo violin, wind, brass instruments and percussion ensemble (written due to a short fascination with this kind of musical trend), Lullaby for soprano, three clarinets, horn, harp and piano. In 1957 Kilar participated in the International New Music Summer Course in Darmstadt where he met Karlheinz Stockhausen, Luigi Nowo etc. In 1959 Kilar studied under the direction of Nadia Boulanger in Paris as a fellow of the French government.

 

Kilar’s real compositional start in terms of a significant career occurred during the 50’s and 60’s. In spite of times later know and analysed for their avantgarde tendencies, Kilar felt like he was basing his first works on the tradition of pre-war composers and colleagues like Bartok, Stravinsky, Prokofiev, Lutoslawski, Bacewicz and Baird. He does admit to using a different tonal colour but that in itself had no effect on his creative personality or temperament. The 70’s witnessed the rise of more tonal works and structured melodies. The younger generation of composers influenced the older (i.e Lutoslawski and Szabelski). The 80’s saw the rise of the second Katowice group (Eugeniusz Knapik, Alexander Lason, Andrzej Kraznowski), which was well received by critics. Similarly to Szymanowski, Kilar’s passion and love for the Tatra Mountains inspired: Koscielec, Siwa Mgle, Orawa, Chorale Prelude. Kilar is also characterized by deep religious views, liking to think of his works as a mixture encompassing personal, national and religious matters (depending on the circumstances) tied together with his characteristic compositional technique.

 

Kilar composed a substantial amount of film music (over 130 titles) and openly admits that financial incentives and opportunities (for example travelling, meeting interesting people) were all reasons that helped him decide on pursuing this avenue. Kilar composed music to movies directed by some of Poland’s finest directors, including Krzysztof Kieslowski, Krzysztof Zanussi, Kazimierz Kutz and Andrzej Wajda. In terms of artistic satisfaction, Kilar states that films about Silesia lie closest to his heart, and writing music for them gives him a sense of completion. He considers music written for Wajda’s and Kutz’s films a personal best, yet classifies composing for Zanussi as on the difficult side of the spectrum. Kilar composed the music to F.F Coppola’s Dracula and has a high opinion of this director since he was always an avid ‘Godfather’ fan.

 

Kilar believes that a true composer is one who relies solely on a finished compositional technique. For him musical composition is a never-ending battle with intervals, instruments and musical material. The actual purpose and meaning of a work only factors in after the piece is finished. Inspiration turns into technique, for exaple in the Angelus Kilar used the daily prayer to portray repetition. Kilar emphasizes the importance of form within a composition. The piece must tell a story. It must have a beginning, a plot and a conclusion. Ideally every work should mirror Ravel’s Bolero in that there should be no room for inserting an extra bar or two. Lately Kilar has started giving weight to attention to detail within a composition. He considers the Exodus to be his best piece (to the extent of not wanting to change a single note), values the Orawa for the compositional techniques used, mentions that Krzesany is the most popular and that Hersttag is the most unsuccessful.

 

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A Synopsis Of Silesian Organ Music History

based on Polish Musical Culture in Upper Silesia and Cieszyn's Silesia in the period 1922-1939 by J. Bauman-Szulakowska

 

Over the centuries Silesia, now a region of Poland with the city of Katowice as its capital was home to political turmoil and upheaval. Historically it became a German and Slavic battleground with areas of the land belonging to the old Polish kingdom, Bohemia, the Holy Roman Empire, the Austrian and Austro-Hungarian Empires, Prussia (Upper and Lower Silesian division first introduced), post World War I Germany and Poland, Nazi Germany and finally Poland again which resulted in the German depopulation of the area. Prior to World War II Silesia was home to 2,100 pipe organs, the largest number in any German province at the time. The war and depopulation that followed caused more than half of the region's instruments to be destroyed with the ones remaining made practically unplayable. Failure to rapidly restore damaged parts even after the collapse of the communist regime in Poland, forever silenced the sound of many of these instruments.

 

Record's show that Silesia's first pipe organ dating from 1218 was built for the Cysterek Monastery in Trzebnica. H. Feichta Wanc from Zywiec appears in archives from 1381 onwards as the first Polish organist of the region. In the fourteenth century instruments in Zagan (Lower Silesia) and Zgorzelec are mentioned and the death of organ builder Magister Orthulphus is recorded as having occurred in 1383. 1425 saw the composition of the Zagan organ mass, one of Europe's oldest organ music notations. Wroclaw became the most active city in terms of organ building during the fifteenth century with instruments by Stephan Kaschendorf built at St Mary Magdalene's Church (1455) and St Elizabeth's Church (1460-63). Towns such as Legnica (1438), Klodzko (1464), Swidnica and Brzeg were all in possession of a pipe organ by the end of the century.

 

The sixteenth century saw the installation of an organ built by Simon Faber in Nysa (1548), a new organ in a small town now called Jawor (1517), and instruments in Glogow, Bytom Odrzanski and Broniszow as shown by records from a papal visit in 1580. Well know organ builders who worked in Silesia at the time included: Michael Hirschfeldt of Zory, Matthias Nebek of Wroclaw, Burghart Dinstinger, and Melchior Blum. The seventeenth century witnessed the rise of organ building activity. New Evangelical-Lutheran churches were formed due to the increasing German presence in the region. By 1652 Upper Silesia was home to instruments in Raciborz, Zory, Wodzislaw Slaski, Toszek (1679, 1687), Gliwice, Kedzierzyn-Kozle, Kozuchow, Zielona Gora, Szprotawa, Ujazd and Lesnica. The Casparini and Engler families from Wroclaw built instruments in the area during this time. In the eighteenth century there was a decrease in Polish compositional output due to lack of ethnical interest and strong German compositional influences. Notable organ music composers included Tobias Volokmar, Georg Gebel and Johan Heinson.

 

The 19th century saw the rise of the romantic era in the Silesian region. Increased fascination with organ playing and composition juxtaposed against church music reform gave birth to two compositional movements: the virtuoso/concert movement (consisting of a group of composers creating sonatas, trios, preludes, fantasies and other works) and the practical movement (practical church music such as liturgical cycles, preludes and improvisation during masses etc). The industrial development of the times, as shown by the rise of factories, formation of industrial cities and erection of stylized churches directly caused a demand for pipe organ factories. These included the Schlag factory in Swidnica (1834), Muelle and K.A Spiegel factories in Wroclaw, Duerschlag factory in Rybnik (1864), Rieger factory in Karniow and Jan Hawel from Pyskowic factory built in Katowice.

 

The establishment of music schools and institutions played a significant role in shaping the development of Silesian musical culture in general and organ culture specifically. In 1892 a music centre ('Dom Polski') was founded in Bytom, later renamed as the Tomasz Cieplik Conservatorium (1910) in honour of an acclaimed organ master and industrial musician of the region. In 1925 S. M Stoinski established the Musical Institute in Katowice (7 Teatralna street), where a 3-year degree from the Department of Church Music was made available for organists (School of Church Music). Church authorities oversaw this section of the Institute. The establishment of the Silesian Conservatorium of Music in Katowice served to highlight the crucial nature of the year 1929 in terms of cultural development.

 

The post World War I and pre World War II period was synonymous with the thriving development of musical creativity and output in terms of composition as well as organ music. The nature of this compositional output was well reflected by the times and land on which it developed, thus citing several centuries of foreign rule as one of its defining factors. Therefore the earlier phases of the compositional output were strongly shaped by the romantic and German neo-romantic movements (Western European romanticism, with a late conservative phase). The unshakable religious faith of the Silesian people also had an enormous effect on compositional works of the time. Religious zeal constituted a significant and deciding factor in terms of the survival of Christianity (particularly Catholicism). Combined with local and national Polish patriotism, religion ('a nation's faith') served to unite a nation, which had been repressed for so long, thereby helping resuscitate Polish culture at the same time ensuring its ultimate survival. If one takes into account the roots of Silesian music (of the post World War I and pre World War II period) and the factors from which it stemmed, there can be talk of a continuation of two different movements (virtuoso/concert movement and practical movement) prevalent during the Romantic Era (nineteenth century).

 

The following composers were integral to the 'practical' movement, predominantly composing religious works of a practical nature to be used for liturgical purposes: father Antoni Chlondowski, father Ryszard Gajda, fathers Leon and Wendelin Swierczkow and father Karol Hoppe. Father Antoni Chlondowski was reared on the Rybnicki land and came from a religious and musical family. He studied in Rome and Rytyzbon (School of Church Music), obtaining a Ph.D. from the Gregorian University in Rome. Father Chlondowski founded the Silesian School for Organ Builders in Przemysl (open until 1963), and was the first chancellor of this institution (1916-1924). He composed more than 100 opuses published in print form, 11 Latin masses, textbooks on harmony with examples and organ preludes. In 1962 Father Chlondowski died in Warsaw. Father Robert Gajda (1890-1952) was an organ builder, composer, and parish priest (Welnowiec) originally from Swietochlowiec. He completed theological and Gregorian chorale studies in Wroclaw and Rome respectively, afterwards serving as professor at the School of Church Music in Katowice. He composed a Latin mass entitled Regina Pacis, offertories, the St. John the Baptist oratorio, as well as various organ pieces obtaining a Papal Order for his religious and musical contributions. Father Karol Hoppe (1883-1946) was undisputedly a great musician of the post World War I and pre World War II period. This organist and composer born near Szopienice, studied in Warsaw and taught organ building at the St Gregory School of Church Music in Katowice. He was also a regional organ and church bell expert. Father Hoppe composed 2 passions, one requiem, choral songs, 6 masses, organ pieces (for example five chorale 'igraszki' op 4, pastoral preludes op 8) and an organ version of Skowronek's Journey to Heaven (Droga do Nieba) hymnbook.

 

Boleslaw Szabelski (1896-1979) and Jan Gawlas (1901-1965) (associated with the Silesian Music Conservatorium in Katowice) were both integral to the virtuoso/concert movement during the post World War I and pre World War II period, predominantly composing works of a virtuoso/concert nature. The former was a composer and organist born in Podole. He studied organ performance at the Wroclaw Music Conservatorium (1915) and composition at the K. Szymanowski Music Academy in Katowice (1923-1929). From 1945 onwards B. Szabelski and B. Woytowicz laid the foundations for the 'Silesian Compositional School' through their combined compositional output. Szabelski's pre World War II works include the Passacaglia and Fugue, Prelude and Fugues for organ, I and II choral symphonies, piano variations and a string quartet. Szabelski's organ pieces were characterized as sacred pieces (hidden prayers) with sublimely virtuosic tendencies.

Jan Gawlas was a composer, organist and choir conductor born in Zaolzie to a famous musical family. He studied at the Pedagogical Seminary in Cieszyn and at the Silesian Conservatorium of Music in Katowice (pipe organ performance, composition and theory with Boleslaw Szabelski and W. Frieman, piano performance with Alinowna) between 1929-32. Gawlas taught in Silesian music schools in Chorzow and Cieszyn (1927-38). Since 1945 he taught organ, composition and music theory at the Silesian Music Conservatorium in Katowice, also stepping in as dean, head of department and chancellor of the institution respectively. Examples of his numerous organ pieces include: Fantasy and Fugue (1929), Fantasy and Fugue (1936-1937), Prelude and Fugues (1938), Fantasy on a theme based on the hymn Boze cos Polske (1939) and Chorale Preludes op 4. Julian Gembalski writes that Gawlas' compositional output is the richest quantitative output in terms of a set of organ works composed during the twentieth century in Silesia. Gawlas' works reach back stylistically to traditional influences since the composer had a fascination with Baroque music. As an organist, Gawlas often included works by Bach and Reger in his recitals, thus showing his intrigue with the chorale as a compositional entity. In spite of a strong traditional foundation and lack of modern characteristics Gawlas' works rise above the 'practical' movement through the sheer compositional, technical and expressive standards encompassed within each piece.

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Bygone Eras

I have always found myself drawn to bygone eras due to their intricate elegance, charm and focus on values lacking in today’s society. This may explain my passion for all things classic, whether musical or literary. I read my first classic novel (Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice) at the age of ten and since that time have pursued works by Jane Austen, the Bronte Sisters, Charles Dickens, Fyodor Dostoevsky, Alexandre Dumas, George Eliot, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Elizabeth Gaskell, Thomas Hardy, Henry James, D.H Lawrence, Mary Shelley, William Thackeray, and Leo Tolstoy most avidly. Hence I am on a constant lookout for period costume films that do justice to some of the best literary works ever written.

 

As far as textual adherence, historical accuracy and detail are concerned the BBC mini-series versions of timeless classics reign supreme. A recent view of their Jane Eyre (2006) and North and South (2004) left me spellbound. The latter is a four-hour adaptation of Elizabeth Gaskell’s novel set in Victorian England featuring the dramatic collision between the north and south as portrayed by the characters of John Thornton and Margaret Hale played by Richard Armitage and Daniella Denby-Ashe. Superb cinematography, casting, directing, sets and costumes reinforce the novel’s underlying themes (for example, the problems mill owners and workers were forced to face due to the Industrial Revolution) most brilliantly. The two leading actors (as well as the supporting cast) are an excellent choice with Armitage giving a passionate, penetrating and brooding performance that equals, perchance supersedes, that of Colin Firth in BBC’s Pride and Prejudice (1995). Brian Percival’s direction serves to lighten an otherwise heavy, bleak and sombre novel through the inclusion of stunning visual scenery such as the dreamy look of a cotton mill with snowy fibres floating in the air. Whilst watching this surreal adaptation of one of my most favourite novels I could not help but notice parallels to my life. I too had moved (albeit temporarily) from the figurative south (Australia) to the bleak, industrial north (Katowice).

 

Jane Eyre (2006) cannot compare to North and South, possibly due to the fact that I am much more familiar with the novel itself (having re-read it endlessly) and other film versions making it harder to actually impress me. However, the cast is once again first-rate with Ruth Wilson depicting a passionate, strong, moving yet tender Jane Eyre, Toby Stephens adding specks of humour to an otherwise dark and passionate Mr. Rochester and supporting characters such as Christina Cole (in the role of Blanche Ingram) giving fine performances. The scenery successfully emphasizes the Gothic elements present in the novel thereby creating great tension and a feeling of oppression. Unfortunately, too little time is allocated to Jane’s traumatic and distressing past as well as her time spent with the Rivers family after her flight from Thornfield. Obviously the director preferred to focus on the section of the novel that convincingly conveyed the fierce love between a poor, lonely governess and her brusque, troubled employer.

 

ITV’s Northanger Abbey, Persuasion (which I watched recently) and Working Title’s 2005 Pride and Prejudice will always be vastly inferior to any BBC adaptation. I utterly disliked the 2005 Pride and Prejudice due to its focus on attaining cinematic hit status instead of pleasing Austen readers. The famous cast was not to my liking, especially Keira Knightley who offered an insipid rendition of Elizabeth Bennet. Textual inaccuracy was another issue but this is what comes of trying to cram as much as possible into a very limited time frame. ITV’s Northanger Abbey (2007) was my favourite out of all the ITV adaptations that came out recently. Felicity Jones offered a perfect portrayal of youthfully naïve Catherine Morland and J. J. Fields as Henry Tilney wasn’t too bad even though he got on my nerves due to his total lack of seriousness. The location of Bath wasn’t filmed as well as in the BBC version of Northanger Abbey but the adaptation had one advantage, namely that the gothic parody present in the novel wasn’t taken to extremes.

 

ITV’s Persuasion (2007) was worthy of admiration although, as usual, not to be compared with its BBC counterpart. The leading cast (Rupert Penry-Jones as Captain Wentworth and Sally Hawkins as Anne Elliot) was perfect, more than making up for the movie’s other deficiencies. Amanda Hale provided a remarkable rendition of the hypochondriacal Mary Musgrove, causing me to laugh myself into stitches, Anthony Head as Sir Walter Elliot and Julia Davis as Elizabeth Elliot were also exemplary. Regrettably, glaring textual/ plot changes were made such as the swapping of dialogue between characters and different action syntax. This significantly altered the narrative for the worse. Embellishments such as Anne frantically running in various places of the movie were commendable since they served to reinforce her passionate, troubled plight and the mental torture she was forced to go through before finally being reunited with Wentworth.

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Western Music Aesthetics-Chapter summary

E. Lippman's book entitled A History of Western Musical Aesthetics consists of five parts and fifteen chapters. In this work I will limit myself to discussing the traditional conceptions of music, the emergence of aesthetic issues and will also touch on aesthetics throughout the eighteenth century.

 

As a whole, the first chapter deals with harmonic and ethical views of western music in ancient times. To be more precise, it discusses the nature of music fundamentally viewed as either metaphysical and/or ethical. The former belief is characterised by the 'harmony of the spheres’ theory, which presents two realms of thought namely that music/harmony (meaning fitting together successively) reflects the cosmos and constitution of mankind whilst also forming character and society in general. Such a view is reinforced in Plato's Republic where sensory descriptions of harmony, equal intervals and sirens serve to illustrate the inspirational power of music and art as a whole. Other works of Plato such as his Timaeus contain purely arithmetic descriptions of the intervals and ratios of Pythagorean tuning, serving to enforce that in his opinion the musical system was a model for the human soul.

 

According to Pythagoras' speculative theory, music in ancient times was also considered to be of epistemological value for cosmology and anthropology. Pythagorean mathematics (string length, pitch) caused harmonics to become part of the quadrivium (arithmetic, geometry, music, astronomy), which later played a large role in forming philosophy. Works such as Cicero's Republic concerned themselves with the metaphysical nature of music in this case replacing the Fates and sirens with an abundance of science, tones and pitches. In his Dream of Scripio Cicero discusses the aesthetic as well as metaphysical properties of music whilst Plato in his Republic limits himself only to the former.

 

There were problems with accepting the metaphysical nature of music, namely the harmony of the spheres. The theory posed questions of audibility since it was meant to consist of seven tones forming one harmony but if they sounded together this would create a dissonance. The example in Cicero's Republic is unclear on this matter and Plato's Timaeus suggests a scale. However, Macrobius and Chalcidius, through their treatises, ensured the survival of cosmic harmony well into the middle ages.

 

The ethical properties of music and the way it could influence others became the second most important point of investigation (after harmony) during the ancient times and well into the 17th century. Some musical instruments and modes were identified as being able to exert a good or bad influence. This was reflected in works such as Shakespeare's Merchant of Venice. Ancient stories up until the 18th century also extolled the power of music (albeit healing this time) and people believed that although the view of music as an exemplification of a harmonic nature of the world may fade in time, the power of music never would. The harmony and ethics of music were also shown to be interconnected since the harmony of the spheres inspired philosophy, which in turn influenced rhetoric and theology.

 

Plato's Timaeus suggested that certain modes and rhythms were capable of provoking various emotions characteristic of different styles. During the 17th century this was illustrated through the 'vital spirits' view in which music supposedly influenced the body's various humours (blood, phlegm, yellow/black bile). In ancient times music was also credited with ethical properties that were able to influence for good or evil but the description as to how this was possible was mathematical unlike the physical 'vital spirits' belief of the Baroque Era. Ancient music relied on participating in a social ritual, participation was the key element and not listening. Therefore music was able to exert an ethical influence during ancient times as well as throughout he 17th century, but in a completely different manner.

 


Chapter two is part of three chapters that deal with the emergence of aesthetic issues but its specific purpose is to discuss the conception of music as a fine art. During the sixteenth century musical aesthetics first began to surface along with the conception of music as an art belonging to the fine arts but also stemming from the liberal arts. The latter form of art had always been aristocratic for it represented intellectual activity and social status. The fine arts, on the other hand, symbolized manual skills and inventiveness. In Ancient Greece more value was placed on contemplation thus ennobling the theoretical character of the liberal arts and dividing the fine arts. Aristotle's Poetics aided the unification of art during the Renaissance where the joint action of individual arts in composite ones was seen as serving one purpose that is to imitate the character and passions of human beings. Previously this unity was exemplified in Ancient Greek drama now it applied to modern drama, poetry, instrumental music and dance. The Static spatial arts (excluding architecture) weren't considered to be part of such a unified group since they were not educative or ethical like music but just an employment of hands.

 

Low esteem for manual activity slowly developed into a more positive attitude throughout the sixteenth century. This was aided by the realisation of the fact that spatial arts (painting/sculpture) required mathematical and anatomical knowledge. Architecture also underpinned itself on mathematical theorems thereby resembling contrapuntal composition in its elemental structures. Comparing arts became very popular during the time and this helped make them more equivalent to each other. After all, rhetoric during the Renaissance influenced both the musical arts as well as language, poetry and drama whilst manual arts such as painting were compared to music and poetry as far back as in Horace's Ars Poetica.


Nicolas Listenius was the first to record the new conception of the musical work in his Musica (1537). He believed that to be truly an art, music had to give rise to works of art. This was ever more attainable because of the advent of printing which gave works a notational foundation. Polyphonic music was now arranged as a score instead of in individual parts, which highlighted the complexity of musical works. Musical composition became regarded as an independent endeavour although counterpoint remained pedagogical in nature. German theorists revolutionised the Aristotelian division of music into theoretical, practical and constructive. Whereas musical composition was considered to be musica practica before the division it now emerged as the independent musica poetica. Thus sixteenth century music strived to resemble nature through its art, which was a reflection of the universe's beauty. Listenius' Musica also influenced 18th century music, which was an elaboration of his ideas revolving around the autonomy and coherence of musical works of art.

 

 

Chapter three investigates expression and rhetoric. A conflict between the liberal arts and the quadrivium developed in which mathematics was pitted against rhetoric. The first Aesthetic principles appeared causing music and language to be valued for the aesthetically pleasing numbers and ratios that they both contained. However the mathematical connection proved to be more visible and intimate in music. Various musical innovations appeared such as the polyphonic ars perfecta which was based on ratios of senario (integers one to six) and regulated dissonance(a replacement of the earlier Pythagorean tuning system). Theorists of the time found authority for these innovations within Greek writing on music.

 

Three major theorists concerned themselves with the issue of rhetoric versus expression. Glareanus wanted the advent of greater musical expression aided by compositional techniques such as word painting, Zarlino protested against expression saying that it needed to be carefully controlled whilst Vincentino called for the superior reign of expression over harmony. The latter theorist was responsible for constructing microtonal intervals on a microtonal piano. Such a radical movement challenged the ars perfecta. Other conflicts included that of the new polyphonic practice represented by the theorist Giovanni Artusi against Claudio Monteverdi, a composer of expressive madrigals.

 

The problem of expression versus harmonic law reappeared in the dispute between polyphony and monody. The monodic development differed greatly from that of the ars perfecta in which the new and old polyphonic practices finally merged together to form one wholly reformed style. With monody the new and old practices were also mixed together but remained independent of each other. For example polyphonic compositions were now sung monodically by dividing the work into a sung soprano line and instrumental accompaniment, singers improvised to accompaniment attempting to imitate recitation/intoned speech and lute songs were established as a representative genre of the time.


In his Letters to Galilei G. Mei compares modern and ancient music within the context of the conflict between monody and polyphony. He regards modern works as a collection of diverse harmonies and melodies, which aim for the listener's auditory delight instead of arousing affections. Mei censures modern music for its employment of numerous parts, pitch, rhythm and chopped up words but values ancient music (which was monophonic) since it managed to emotionally and morally influence its listeners. On the other hand G. Mei, in his Florentine Camerata asserts that polyphony can not be expected to have moral effects but that textual abuse should be avoided taking into account the impossibility of quick reforms. He urges not to spoil the verse through ornamentation instead encouraging the imitation of speech to be the main focus. Years later Galileo rejects polyphony in his Manifesto forgetting about his own compositions and supposed respect for Zarlini's teachings. Eventually most opera librettos and scores begin to contain stylistic explanations. For instance Caccini's Euridice (1600) includes a prologue in which Caccini explains that the basso continuo (not monody) is important in the work. He also advocates the improvement of solo singing through employing the use of expressive, ornamented recitative over sustained bass. Caccini calls for little use of polyphony but does not denounce it completely.

 

As we delve deeper into the aesthetic controversies of the time it is easy to distinguish three conflicts that were occurring simultaneously. The first was within the polyphonic seconda practica, the second related to polyphony versus expressive recitative singing and the third concerned virtuosity/ornamentation in solo singing and the performance of polyphonic works monodically. Fortunately some aspects of music did not raise controversy such as stylistic diversity, the rhetorical conception of music and the performance of parallel rhetoric motets that were mathematically structured yet expressive at the same time.

 

 


Chapter four presents prevalent seventeenth century views of opera. As mentioned in the previous chapter librettists/composers wrote brief prefaces to librettos and operas. These notes usually had nothing to do with how to perform/produce the opera but explained the monodic style and why it was being used in the work. Giovanni Battista Dori exhorted the importance of operatic economy in his preface (1633-35). Taking inspiration from the dramatic genres of ancient Greece and Rome he defined three types of monodia (melody). All three were devoted to affective passages and consisted of narration, recitation and expression. For Dori, song was a more expressive form of melody that constituted a separate category.

 

Venetian opera during the latter half of the seventeenth century was a great contrast to earlier works. Operas were intensely complex and consisted of incoherent plots, numerous roles and prominent arias. All of these traits helped form a new aesthetic in which the genre became a public one able to promote values of delight and astonishment instead of inciting a moral/emotional effect. Many composers started to write out of caprice in order to entertain an audience serving to reinforce the aesthetic of entertainment. However, some composers and librettists protested against Venetian opera. Frugoni, for instance, disliked the style and wanted serious and comic element to be mixed together. Salvadori believed that drama in an opera should be brief, that there should be no repetition of words in a recitative and that arias should be natural(recitative like) unlike the arias of the day which were only there to relieve the monotony of continuous recitatives. Conversely, Perucci accepted drama and entertainment in opera. He objected to practical matters such as operatic obscurity in the form of fourty characters in a work.

 

French drama exerted a significant influence over Italian opera plots but the French neoclassical movement had little to no effect. The criticism of poetry caused the simplification of Venetian opera and the Arcadian movement produced the lyrical pastorale. The full effects of the French neoclassical movement would be felt only in the eighteenth century.

 

In 1660 French opera did not exist as such but was centred on comparing itself to Italian opera. The latter were the only ones performed in France and this was seen to be an insult to French pride and a huge financial burden. In 1659 Robert Cambert (Pierre Perrin-librettist) composed the Pastorale D'Issy. Perrin criticized Italian singing for its great number of liberties and ornaments. Unlike the Italian, the French style would not be vulgar but would be characterized by its finer qualities. Perrin considered Italian operas to be tedious since they were at least 7 hours long whilst the Pastorale went for only an hour. He was also against castrati deeming them to be unnatural.

 

Charles de Saint-Evermond in his Letter to the Duke of Buckingham also found opera tedious, this time because it did not occupy the mind. He didn't want everything to be sung and considered the words to be the most important part of the work. Therefore the musician should be subservient to the poet. For Evermond music was low on his scale of values unlike language and reason. He thought that recitative should be eliminated since opera is a type of tragedy subject to the aesthetics of spoken drama and that the aesthetics of entertainment was wrong. Boileau had similar views because he believed that using love as a theme corrupted the tragic form of operas and threatened morality.

 

Unlike French operas German ones were not restricted by the verbal tradition of drama. German authors gave more weight to music and valued the synthesis of operatic components above all other things. However, the religious condemnation of theatrical entertainment was more severe than the secular French public’s concern with moral corruption. In the 1680's a large conflict took place in Hamburg when Pietists denounced opera as the work of the devil and compared it to the orgiastic spectacles of Rome. The Catholics and Lutherans rushed to the genre's defence. Nonetheless, unlike Italian opera German opera became a patriotic genre that depicted heroic deeds and Christian virtues. Hamburg literary figures such as Konrad von Hoveln discussed the similarities and differences between opera and spoken drama. Daniel Georg Morhot believed that opera was eventually doomed to fail due to its complexity but that for the time being this trait would work to its advantage. This was because unlike itinerant spoken drama, opera was performed in permanent theatres to a constantly demanding public.

 

In general, English views of opera were similar to those in Italy. The genre's nature, musical values and importance of pleasuring the audience were widely recognized. John Dryden adapted English for opera but believed that it was far less suited for this purpose than say Italian. French opera was similar to the Florentine opera both through its aristocratic target audience as well as the emphasis on spoken drama. The negative views of opera differed across all countries with France disapproving morally/aesthetically, Germany harbouring religious hostility and Italy believing that opera contained abuse that needed correction.

 

 

Chapter five is part of three chapters that describe aesthetics during the eighteenth century. This chapter specifically discusses galant aesthetics. Eighteenth century music was characterized by an expressive melody with most of its ideas a repetition of the 1600's. Just like in earlier times musicians now took issue with polyphonic art connected with mathematical rules. However the purpose of earlier music was to express intense passions whilst now a clearly articulated melody was deemed to be of the utmost importance. In Germany the theorist Johann Mattheson considered 'galanterie', otherwise known as good taste or sound judgement, to be as essential to a work as melody and harmony. The Galant style that resulted proved to be the antithesis of German polyphonic church music thus creating conflict between the new and old, secular and religious. Further divisions arose as international music (i.e. opera) opposed contrapuntal provincial music. Social divisions also appeared as a result of the new galant style, proving that Germany was indeed a fertile ground for aesthetics. Mattheson advocated the priority of sense over reason. He investigated the matter of the fourth (whether it was a consonance), the affective properties of different keys as well as the national styles present in Germany.

 

Johann Heinrich Buttstedt was Mattheson's fiercest opponent. He objected to most of Mattheson's theories in his work Ut, mi, sol, re, fa, la, tota musica. Mattheson defended his beliefs in Das Forschende Orchestre where he also talked of the outer (sensuous) and inner(moral) purposes of music. For him the melody was the most important factor in a work and not its harmony. Due to this belief Mattheson had problems coming to terms with Rameau and his music. In his work Kern Melodischer Wissenchaft Mattheson states that mathematical relations of sounds do not correspond to passions and so it is not enough to examine a score rationally in order to understand the composer's soul. He divides sounds into good and bad ones but only according to how they are used and illustrates that a melody can't be beautiful solely because of the way it is constructed.

 

In Der voll Kommene Capellmeister Mattheson claims that a melody needs to have accessibility, clarity, fluidity, and loveliness whilst also being of a moving nature. He goes even further by defining that to be accessible it must be familiar, not difficult, brief, and within the range of an octave. To achieve clarity articulations of speech should be observed, cadences cannot be on accented beats, embellishments should be applied with discretion and simplicity should be the main goal. In order to achieve fluidity the rhythm should be varied yet not dotted, chromaticism and dissonances in vocal melodies should be avoided and cadences should be sparse. Finally to achieve loveliness a melody should be constructed from small intervals, runs should be kept to a minimum and parts cannot be overly repetitive.

 

Krause represented the Galant style in Berlin. In his Von der Musikalischen Poesie he discusses ways of combining music and poetry in past and present times and how poetry for music should be written now. He maintains that music must have a pleasing and moving effect and that there are two ways to achieve this namely by extension and repetition. Krause also valued church music but believed that it worked only on practiced listeners. He was concerned with the limitable nature of the power of music since unlike oratory it could not be specifically instructive. Krause also noted that since music moves its audience directly unlike painting, which only imitates, then music should be restricted to depicting the tender passions. He thought that violent passions were better suited to dramatic words. Krause also pondered on the question of music and morality coming to the conclusion that moral truths were foreign to music since they needed to be grasped through understanding and reason. He faced a dilemma because in stripping music of its moral powers he had to concede that virtue cannot exist without affectations and music is full of them.

 

The Galant style was essentially European but the aesthetics were mainly German. In Germany Scheibe criticised J.S Bach by saying that art could only imitate nature. J.A Birnbaum defended Bach by retorting that art could beautify nature. The issue here was over the property of artifice, which the former criticised and the latter defended. This conflict was highly reminiscent of Mattheson and Buttstedt. Quantz also considered German polyphonic music and Italian instrumental music to be pedantic and devoid of expression. He felt that music needed to be more diverse and appeal to a wider audience unlike German polyphony. The same applied to performance where a performer was expected to present variety in articulation/phrasing and to show real feelings for the music. That is to say, a performer along with the music he/she was performing needed to constantly arouse and still the passions of his/her audience. C.P.E Bach, on the other hand, called for a restraint of embellishments and diversity so that musical clarity, simplicity and expressiveness could prevail.

 

 

Chapter six is the second of three chapters that discuss aesthetics during the eighteenth century. The chapter deals with the issues of imitation and expression, successive conceptions of music (with the former giving way to the latter as of 1750) and a third idea related to the pathological effects of music. Definitions of imitation and expression are vague and highly ambiguous. The former is described as the musical imitation of nature through sound while expression may concern both the tonal sensuousness of music as well as the feelings it evokes in the listener. For example a certain work can express sadness and also provoke it. The matter of realism and rationism creates further uncertainty over whether feelings created by music are real or rational.

 

In France, the theory of imitation prevailed as the fundamental musical aesthetics during the first half of the eighteenth century. Its longevity was caused by the high value given to reason and the mistrust of feelings, which were associated with immorality. Imitation satisfied the condition placed on art in Aristotle's Poetics and Politics by connecting music with the realm of objectivity and knowledge. Feeling gained admission to the theory because of the manner in which Descartes subjected it to a logical classification of the passions of the soul in 1650. J.P de Crousaz wrote the first treatise of modern aesthetics in 1715. For him the issue of imitation was not central, making room for those of general philosophy and spatial art. He discussed beauty as mathematical, therefore symmetrical and well-proportioned. Crousaz managed to overcome the French distrust of feelings by disagreeing with Descartes over beauty solely involving the senses. Instead he proposed that one's feelings and ideas must both be in agreement in recognizing the beauty of a given object. J.B Du Bos presented a series of analogies in 1746 concerning imitation in poetry, painting and music. He showed that a musician could imitate nature by replicating tones of the spoken voice and using various sounds to express passions. Elements such as melody, harmony and rhythm could serve to make the imitation more pleasing but pleasure should not be separated from expression because a musical composition will not be moving unless it is imitative. In 1741 Y.M Andre, like Crousaz, dealt with the objectivity of beauty and called for mathematical order and unity within music. He saw imitation as equivalent to expression and thus discussed the expressive properties of music along with mathematical harmony.

 

During the 1740's imitation in itself became inadequate as the basis for musical aesthetics however well it worked in other arts. C Batteux wrote in 1746 that imitation is the basis of all fine arts but does not appeal to the musical experience. For him art is created to deceive, melodic lines are fabricated imitations of nature and tonal configurations express created passions. Nonetheless Batteux finds room for both imitation and expression by distinguishing two types of music where the first one resembles landscape painting and the second one is equivalent to portrait painting. The latter type represents the dominant value of musical aesthetics. In 1753/4 a disagreement between Rousseau and Rameau occurred over the nature of musical expression. Rousseau saw melody as an expressive force that imitated impassioned speech. Rameau on the other hand believed that harmony represented the highest form of musical expression.

 

The last few decades of the century focused on the expressive aspects of music and discarded literal imitation as an aesthetic principle. In 1779 Chabanon presented a definite rejection of imitation. Firstly he asked why animals, babies and savages respond to music without knowing anything about imitation and then he elaborated on the ear's voluptuous sensations and pleasures. He states that music pleases independently of imitation, often imitation is a secondary purpose as with therapeutical music. Chabanon refutes the idea that music imitates speech, arguing that if this is true a separate vocal idiom would be needed for each language. On the contrary, music does not depend on the pronunciation of words and remains the same whether it be instrumental, vocal, concert music, church music, Asian or European.

 

In England F. Hutcheson wrote a treatise entitled An Inquiry Concerning Beauty, Order, Harmony, Design(1725) which is similar in content to Crousaz's work of 1715. Hutcheson also based his ideas on Shaftesbury's concept of systematic aesthetics where beauty as a subjective aspect of aesthetics is the focus and not the theory of imitation. Two types of beauty are distinguished namely absolute and relative beauty with the former relating to the original object and the latter dealing with imitations or resemblances of objects. Hutcheson is mainly interested in original beauty as it relates to music.

 

Throughout the 1740's relative beauty was examined by questioning the adequacy of imitation in its application to music. Weaknesses of the theory of imitation were exposed and weight was shifted to expression and alternate theories. James Harris (Shaftesbury's nephew) in his essay entitled A Discourse On Music, Painting and Poetry (1744) discusses the three mimetic/imitative arts and tries to discover which of the three is the most excellent. The way the arts differ in accuracy of imitation, the subjects they imitate and the value of the imitation itself serve to determine which one of them is most superior. Harris believes music to be inferior to painting as it can only vaguely imitate by motion and sound. For him musical imitation only produces valuable effects when combined with poetry.

 

Charles Avison wrote An Essay on Musical Expression (1752) concerning the force and effect of music. In his opinion musical sounds and expression should excite the agreeable passions of the soul and subdue contrary passions. This view represents the avoidance of violent passions aesthetics prevalent during the eighteenth century. Avison compares music to painting through a series of analogies in which both arts deal with proportions (melody, harmony in music resembles design and colouring in painting), concords and discords relate to chiaroscuro and other such instances. Expression as a concept is discussed in great detail and is defined as the combination of elements such as melody and harmony, which are then applied to enhance a certain subject. An effort is made to distinguish imitation from expression with the latter defined only as exciting a reflex act of understanding rather than affecting the soul. Avison lists a number of prevailing musical defects such as the neglect of harmony or too much harmony for imitative purposes. Imitative music is defective due to its limited power as an imitative art. Therefore music must always be combined with poetry when serving to imitate. Avison then offers suggestions on how to improve musical imitation. For example, imitation should not be used in representing objects of which motion and sound are not the principle components, imitation can not be of disagreeable sounds and motions and imitation is only of use when it aids, meaning that a composer should not use it to conspicuously display his/her skills. Unlike Harris, Avison believes that expression should replace imitation.

 

In 1769 Daniel Webb investigated the relation between external feelings and those aroused by music. He assumed that music produces vibrations which in turn cause passions which then produce motions in the nerves and spirits of a human body. Webb names four types of musical impressions based on motion where an agitated motion corresponds to ideas of anger, courage, indignation and gentle, exalted and relaxed motions each have their corresponding feelings. Webb did not consider imitation and expression to be equivalent terms and did not believe in excluding painful passions from music (in accordance with the avoidance of violent passions aesthetics) due to the fact that painful feelings are almost always accompanied by a mixture of pleasant feelings.

 

In 1772 the orientalist William Jones contradicts the widespread identification of imitation and expression by conceiving them as opposite to each other. He believes that musical expression rests on a completely different principle than imitation, which he does not value. Painting can be strictly imitative in nature (then it is not a powerful influence) but music can not. Jones distinguishes the music of sounds from the music of passions, seeing no merit in harmony and polyphony. He introduces the concept of the sublime where the tender or pleasant passions produce beauty in the arts and the terrible passions produce the sublime. In 1776 James Beattie also deemed imitation as unimportant to music preferring expression. He saw pleasure as central to music due to the way it transformed unpleasant sounds into a pleasurable experience. The musical ear was a prerequisite for pleasure in music along with five factors. The first relates to the pleasure of melody and harmony. Sounds and tones are used to create certain effects and to affect the finer fibres of the human body. For example mellow sounds produce a sublime effect. The second factor discusses harmony namely concords and discords. Beattie deems discords necessary in order to help concords produce their full effect. The third factor relates to the chief excellence of music and how it should provoke useful, virtuous effects. The fourth factor promotes variety such as key changes, tempo, register and yet simplicity of structure through uniformity of all the elements. The last factor discusses association and the various impressions one may receive from music if one hears it at a pleasant place or has favourable associations with a certain work.

 

In 1789 Thomas Twining, an English classical scholar, examined the sole remaining means of discrediting imitation. He returned to Aristotle's Poetics and Politics, which was where the controversy first originated. Twining reduced the power of music to three effects upon the ear, passions and imagination, which resulted in delighting the senses, raising emotions and ideas. The last two effects were worthwhile because of their moral effects whilst the first was overlooked. This would later prove to be the whole mode of thought throughout the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. Twining claimed that the ancients understood imitation to be what we call expression, that is the arousal of emotions.


In his essay Of the Imitative Arts (1795) Adam Smith distinguishes three species of musical imitation. Generally imitation resembles discourse, particularly it expresses sentiment and feelings and finally a singer expresses these feelings through the use of their countenance, gestures and motions. In the imitation of passions, music has a great advantage over discourse that is not sung. Instrumental music may produce effects of imitation such as incantation but generate an original not sympathetic feeling. With the accompaniment of other arts such as opera, instrumental music takes on imitative powers because it supports the imitative qualities of the other art. For Smith, time and measure are to instrumental music what order and method are to discourse. He repeats Avison's views in regards to expression being the result of the combination of melodic and harmonic elements that enhance a musical work.

 

In Germany imitation was understood to apply to music until 1740. In 1739 Mattheson presented a rhetorical conception of music that mainly dealt with expressing and arousing passions. The 'affections' theory of physiological activity taken from Descartes and Heinichen served to explain the basis of musical invention. Critique of imitation was caused by foreign influence. Batteux's treatise was translated into German by J.E Schlegel who emphasized the difference between a work of art and its model. In 1754 Caspar Reutz rejected most of Batteux's theories by stating that music was not a copy of nature but a natural original language in itself. On the other hand J.A Hiller reviewed most of Batteux's treatise and then elaborated on it. He stretched the concept of imitation but did not break it by writing that a composition must not be too far removed from nature and yet must elaborate on nature. He presented two values (the wonderful elaboration on nature and the expression of passions) of high significance due to their close connection to imitation and the aesthetics of the Galant and opera.

 

In contrast to innovative Schlegel, Ruetz and Hiller, aesthetic writers of the 1750's and 1760's presented more traditional conceptions of music. Krause offered recipes for the arousal of affections whilst Marpurg applied science and pathology to his view of the affections. Sulzer's views were similar to Marpurg's since he saw music to be an intelligible language of feelings, which should exert a good moral force. J.G Herder, the German counterpart of Rousseau, provided a new foundation for musical aesthetics with his Viertes Waldchen of 1769. Beauty and sublimity was setaside with polemics against mathematics and physics taking precedence. Herder restates Rousseau in regards to melody and not harmony influencing feelings but his main focus is on tone not melody. Herder discusses two principles, the contrast of the eye and ear and the contrast of sound and tune. The first principle recurs in nineteenth and twentieth century aesthetics and deals with beauty of the eye being easier to see than the inner beauty of the ear. Herder's aesthetics is elementary but proves applicable to vocal and instrumental music. Heinse presented similar views to Herder but elaborated on the concept of genius as a crucial part of creative power.

 

In 1778 J.N Forkel relates musical imitation to the intrinsic properties of music. In opposition to pictorial representation every expression must be brought about by a creative power. Such a stance on this matter leads him to reject tone painting. Forkel imposes very traditional restrictions on the feelings accompanying music. He allows only one real feeling at a time and if unpleasant feelings are present they must transform into pleasant ones by the end of the piece. This view is antagonistic to Gluck's operatic achievements and to instrumental music as a genre. By the end of the century German aesthetics characteristically merges into a mixture of old and new practices. Romanticism slowly becomes embedded as shown by the novels of the period where the sentimental effects of music are constantly extolled combined with a constant expression of yearning.

 

Finally Kant, in his Critik der Urteilskraft (1790) sets art into the context of cognition. He delves into a detailed analysis of beauty, which is defined as judgement of taste according to quality, quantity, purpose and modality. Beauty is characterised as free and aesthetical with music falling into both categories. Kant discusses genius, which according to him occurs when the right amounts of imagination and understanding are present. He sees music mainly as a play of sensations and places it lowest of all the arts because of the lack of culture and expansion to the mind that it offers. Schiller was influenced by Kant as is evident in his conception of beauty as freedom in appearance, and his idealism of art. Schiller's ideas were applied to music by C.G Korner who provided a basic distinction between pleasure and beauty. According to Korner, music can be a pleasing art written solely for the audience's enjoyment or the composer should look for a higher self-contained value within his work. At this stage of the century the imitation of natural sounds has merged into a need for the expression of human feeling within music. Korner asks whether there is a higher goal than this and answers that the fundamental demand of a musical work should be moral. A work of art must also idealize nature through the presentation of various artistic ideas. This view is a counterpart of the aesthetic of the mature classical style represented by Haydn and Mozart due to its focus on an ideal and moral character within musical works.

 

 

Chapter seven discusses operatic aesthetics in Italy, France and Germany throughout the eighteenth century. In Italy, literary figures and librettists (as in the seventeenth century) continued their examination of opera criticizing several of its features. G.M. Crescimbeni, leader of the Arcadian Academy, voiced his disapproval of opera (melodrama), which in his opinion ruined the art of acting and killed spoken tragedy and comedy. He considered singing, the basis of opera, to be unnatural. L.A. Myratori proves to be an ever severe critic. He does not consider opera to be a genre in its own right and laments over the great harm it has done to poetry. Verisimilitude forms the basis of his argument in that drama must imitate real behaviour which singing is not thus meaning that opera violates the aesthetic principle of imitation. Myratori also expresses strong moral indignation towards theatrical music of the time due to its defective nature and corrupting influence. Giovanni Gravina also subjects opera to adverse criticism. He believes that the chief purpose of theatre is moral improvement and that the practices of his own time are highly amoral. He uses the standard of Greek tragedy to evaluate opera but contradicts himself by accepting some practices contrary to ancient tragedy prevalent in the early eighteenth century.


The satirical aspect of Italian operatic aesthetics becomes an independent genre around 1720. A series of opera buffas are devoted to the satire of serious opera while critics such as Benedetto Marcello subject operatic practices to ridicule by employing a variety of methods such as mock serious advice that in essence is not to be followed. A more positive attitude towards opera begins to emerge during the second half of the eighteenth century. In 1755 F. Algarotti, a musical connoisseur, anticipates future operatic practices and thoughts. He deems the poet's task to be more important than the composer's in order to delight the eyes, ears, and affect the heart without offending common sense. Algarotti recommends operatic improvements such as the greater use of obligato recitative and arias that are more congenial to nature. His views represent Galant musical aesthetics with discernable signs of French influence.

 

During the beginning of the eighteenth century in France, operatic aesthetics became a public issue due to the controversy over the merits of French and Italian music. The essays of F. Raguenet and J.L. Lecurf , who quarreled over the two different styles, present the dominant outlook of the century. Raguenet also involved himself in a quarrel between the ancient and modern styles, personally preferring modern Italian opera in spite of recognizing the superior aspects of French opera. J.L. Lecerf (like many French critics during the seventeenth century) was concerned with the literary point of view of opera. He criticized Italian opera mainly for its substandard literature and also valued ancient music in opposition to Perrault and Raguenet. The quarrel between Raguenet and Lecerf ended in the combination of French and Italian elements within a new aesthetics. In 1733 the second operatic controversy occurred in France, reviving the views of Raguenet and Lecerf. In this new quarrel one side supported the ancients(represented by the operatic composer Lully) whilst the other side supported modern opera( represented by Rameau). Rameau was careless about librettos, overshadowed recitatives and in general did not prove to be a satisfactory alternative to Lully.

 

In his work Le Neveu de Rameau (1760-64) Diderot developed complete poetics of opera and described the function and relationship between the composer and poet of an operatic work. Diderot delves into one of the finest discussions of operatic aesthetics in eighteenth century France, namely of how opera differs from spoken tragedy. In 1765 J. de Chastelux contradicted the theory of imitation by suggesting that vocal music was not derived from speech but from instrumental music. L. Garcin did not agree with this suggestion and so a controversy occurred with Diderot taking Chastelux's side. The last controversy in French operatic aesthetics during the eighteenth century occurred due to the battle between Gluck and Puccini with the former representing the French style and the latter representing the Italian style. Gluck also found himself in the midst of a conflict involving the older Galant aesthetics juxtaposed against those of the Sturm und Drang.

 

During the eighteenth century in Hamburg, Germany operatic aesthetics was shaped by a reaction to seventeenth century French neoclassicism. Many opponents of opera took issue with matters such as dramatic unity and verisimilitude. B. Feind, a proponent of opera cited Shakespeare as a model for German opera and not neoclassicism. J.U. Koning was critical of the Hamburg operatic tradition favouring French clarity, elegance and good taste. He considered opera to be the highest form of art when combined with an instructive and moral aim. Johann Mattheson held a positive view of numerous/varied components of opera, which was characteristic of German operatic aesthetics. He deemed poetry and music to be of equal importance within the genre. Gottsched was influenced by French neoclassical aesthetics as shown by his strict adherence to literary genres. He believed that since opera was neither tragedy nor comedy it therefore had no place in the system of arts. J.F Uffenbach defended opera in 1733 and was responsible for the systematic rejection of Gottsched's ideas. Uffenbach reasoned that criticism of opera stemmed from the genre's relative novelty and lack of precedents.

 

Unlike the commercial opera of Hamburg and Leipzig the Berlin opera was controlled by Friedrich II (as of 1740) and put on solely in Italian. Marburg's Der Critische Musicus an dur spree (1749) discussed the expressive capacity of the German language and advocated a simple, unadorned, antique musical style. Krause's Von der Musikalischen Poesie(1752) stressed conformity to the Galant, neoclassical, simple and natural styles and proved to be the chief product of Berlin operatic aesthetics. C.M Weiland composed native opera from 1772 and formed the 'singspiel', a distinctly German form of opera with suitable subject matter (lyrical), mood (pastorale) and sentiment.

 

After Gluck's reform operas appeared, the main focus of German operatic aesthetics shifted to examining the properties of these works. The aesthetic views produced by two types of opera (Gluck's innovations vs. Italian opera) were elaborated on by Wilhelm Heinse who also discussed the basic features of operatic dramaturgy. At the turn of the century, Goethe and Schiller viewed opera as the potential embodiment of an ideal type of tragedy.

 

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Formal Analysis of Beethoven’s ‘Appassionata’ Sonata in F minor No. 23, Op. 57 (second movement) and Chopin’s Etude in G flat major No. 5, Op. 10

The second movement of Beethoven’s ‘Appassionata’ Sonata in F minor No. 23, Op. 57 employs the formal technique of theme and variations, which is a quite common occurrence for Beethoven since he often used variations within a larger form/cycle. The initial theme is a slow paced four part hymn in a 2/4 meter built on a harmonic progression mainly using the tonic, subdominant and dominant functions. The theme is binary in form and therefore consists of two eight bar sections, the first being in D flat major and the second in the dominant key of A flat major. Each section is repeated and can be further divided into two phrases of four bars each. The first section (A) features a ground bass that moves down in fifths, up by octaves and consists of fast dotted rhythm configurations. The second part of the theme (B) is rhythmically uniform across all voices making frequent use of dotted figures. Timbral contrast also appears in this section. For example bar 9 (and similar bars) employs reed instrument articulation which is answered by a flute-like sounding D flat C D flat right hand motive in bar 10. The second part of the theme (B) culminates in bar 14 (with the aid of a building crescendo throughout the part and rinforzando within the bar) and closes with the cadential motive from A. Since the movement is maintained within the form of continuous variations the theme flows into the first variation without any break.

 

The first variation presents both parts of the initial theme largely intact with some alterations. Firstly, rhythmic values have been diminuted. For example crotchets in the right hand (bar 1) have been changed to quavers with rests (bar 17) and longer notes such as minims transform into semi-quavers. In section A of the variation the initial ground bass is recognizable but its diminuted rhythmic values (tied quaver notes) create off-beat syncopation when played with the right hand. Melodically the ground bass has been altered in bar 19 (for example) where a leap to G flat instead of A flat is introduced and chromatic notes have been added in other places. This helps keep the texture intact and maintains harmonic tension as present in the original theme. First time and second time endings are used to repeat part A of the variation thus helping maintain melodic and harmonic continuity (i.e. syncopated bass). In part B the timbral difference has been maintained because the diminuted rhythmic figures contrast with a dispersed rendition of the bar 10 D flat C D flat motive which now appears as a syncopated motive in the left hand (bars 25/26). The original climax has also been maintained because part B (like in the theme) starts off softly and leads to larger dynamics through the doubling up of sound (octaves) in both hands returning to a soft finish. The first time ending in part B (bar 32) is an almost exact rendition of bar 20 whilst the second time ending leads smoothly into the second variation through the use of legato semi-quavers.

 

In contrast to off-beat variation one the second variation is very sustained and cantabile. It consists of an almost unaltered ground bass in part A the only difference being registral. A descending semi-quaver and quaver figure in bar 37 replaces the dotted rhythm of bars 4 and 8. A right hand figuration (diminuted rhythmically to semi-quavers) based on the harmonies of the original theme accompanies the ground bass. The sforzando in bar 37 (corresponding to that of bar 5) remains intact however the texture has been condensed due to the figuration. The first time ending leads back to part A of the variation in the style of this part whilst the second ending leads to part B using phrasing more appropriate to the latter part. Part B when compared with the theme is less recognizable but the original melody from bar 10 is still apparent in right hand figurations (bar 42). The bass part makes use of a straight quaver rhythm instead of the original theme’s dotted rhythm. A pedal note (A flat) is repeated three times to make up for the loss of hymn-like polyphony but the texture within the variation is now homophonic. As in part A of this variation, embellished figures appear in the bass part (bars 42, 44, 46). The climax is maintained as originally with a crescendo to bar 46 where the left hand is enhanced harmonically (opposite to the theme where the right hand was enhanced harmonically) and the right hand presents a downward variation of the motive originally in bar 12. The timbre of part B of the original theme has been maintained as is evident in bars such as bar 43 where the treble part represents flute figures contrasted with the bass part, which is more reed like. Part B is repeated through diminishing intervals (5, 4, 3) in the left hand whilst the third variation flows after a smooth second time transition to semi-demi quaver figures.

 

The third variation draws on segmented material from the initial theme but alters it heavily thus it is more of a developmental section. In part A (bars 48-64) the ground bass is discarded but the harmonic progression and soprano line from part A of the initial theme is used. At first (bar 49 onwards) the right hand plays the soprano line over an Alberti Bass style figuration in the left hand, which is an embellishment of the harmonic progression of the initial theme. This variation constitutes the epitome of rhythmical diminution since the crotchets (bar 1) have now become semi-demi-quavers (bar 49). Frequent sforzando and dynamic changes help build up to a turbulent climax, which is a startling contrast to the character of the initial theme. In bar 52 a transitional passage in the left hand leads to the second half of the phrase where the melody is reinforced by additional harmony. After the built up cadence in bar 55, descending right hand figures lead to the theme now being stated by the left hand and figuration being played by the right hand. Compared to the beginning of this variation the texture is more built up, with the theme now consisting of triads and four note chords. In the right hand an emphasis on notes of the theme creates syncopation causing a build-up akin to outer Beethoven sonata movements. In bar 61 (second half of part A phrase) left hand desists texturally in stating the theme whilst right hand figurations embellish the cadence with thirds and syncopation. A short passage in A flat major leads to part B of the variation.

 

In part B of variation three the second part of the initial theme is hard to recognize because it is very fragmented. Once again the right hand plays the soprano line melody from the theme (i.e. bar 65 corresponds to bar 9) over left hand semi-demi-quaver figures. The accented notes in the left hand prevalent in bar 65, 66, 67, 68 correspond to the bar 10 soprano line motive in the right hand. These syncopated notes are taken over by the right hand in bar 69 helping build up to bar 71 and the close of part B of the variation in the right hand. The left hand now takes over part B of the varied theme and is accompanied by a slightly different right hand figuration. This time the developed motive in bar 73, although derived from the bar 10 D flat C D flat motive, is similar to bar 26 in variation one. This theme, over right hand figuration, enters in three different phrases each one louder than its predecessor, ultimately culminating in a highly virtuosic cadential embellishment (bar 79) of the original bar 15.

 

Finally, part A of the original theme is reprised with slight differences. Changes include a higher register, different right hand articulation and a new descending semi-quaver lyrical melody in the bass part, which is similar to the first time system bass part in variation two. Part B is reprised almost entirely except for registral changes and the bass part retaining melodic not harmonic qualities. Instead of ending on a quiet note the closing pair of diminished seventh chords strike like a thunderbolt, creating unresolved tension, which leads ‘attaca’ into the third movement.

 

Chopin’s Etude in G flat major No. 5, Op. 10 like many of his other etudes, is built on a seemingly simple ternary (ABA’+Coda) formal structure. The work progresses in a lively tempo, is rhythmically uniform with a mainly ternary pulse (emphasis on every semi-quaver triplet beat) within a 2/4 meter and limits itself to black key figurations in the right hand thus causing it to be commonly referred to as the ‘Black Keys’ Etude. Part A (bars 1-16) consists of four segments, which form one period. Each segment is four bars long (i.e. bars 1-4) and contains two phrases. The first phrase is always the same for each segment featuring harmonic functions in the bass part (centred around G flat major), which are enhanced by right hand semi-quaver triplet figures. The right hand figuration is constructed by the use of black keys only with the second bar of the phrase being a sequence of the first bar (i.e. bars 1 and 2). The second phrase (bars 3 and 4, 7 and 8 etc) of each segment enters sequentially in the tonic, subdominant and dominant with various changes such as pedal notes, accents (bar 7) sequential arpeggios, broken octave pedal notes in the right hand (bar 8) appearing with each modulation. Part A utilizes a vast scale of ranges helping to create light accompaniment for a shimmering bell-like treble register figuration.

 

Part B (bars 17-48) consists of an initial modulatory section where white keys make an appearance and which eventually builds up to the Etude‘s second theme (bars 41-48). The first segment in this section (bars 17-22) makes use of a left hand quaver note ‘sigh’ motive along with right hand figurations in sequences causing a whimsical undertone. In bar 20 large leaps occur in the left hand and as the right hand ascends higher, the parts move further away from each other. Right hand ascending figures from bar 23 follow the same construction pattern for four bars over sustained broken functions (in the bass) that change into an ascending three note crescendo motive (bar 25). The latter causes modulation and builds up dynamics and texture until bar 33. A left hand figure similar to that in bar 7 is now used starting from bar 27, reverting back to two bars of the crescendo motive. Right hand figures create a bell-like melody by use of the fifth finger and constant tonic notes with the lower half of the hand. In bar 29 the texture is built up by increasing dynamics, registral ranges and intervallic leaps leading to a cadence in the form of an accented octave resolving in A flat major (bar 33). At this point transitional arabesques appear over a pedal note and fanfare motive in the bass eventually leading to a two bar theme developed from the fanfare motive in bar 41 in which accompanying right hand figurations favour a binary pulse subdivision (emphasis on the first and third beats). In bar 45 the theme from bar 41 is embellished by chords formed on chromatic/passing notes causing a heavy return to the dominant.

 

In the final section (A’) of the Etude (bars 49-67) the opening segment from part A is restated in its entirety (whole four bars) and then the first half of the second phrase is used to create a transition based on a dominant to tonic progression. Cadential chords repeat in the bass increasing in distance and size in order to attain the climax in bar 65 and lead into the coda. Syncopation in bar 61 is slightly reminiscent of bar 23 and 27 favouring a ternary pulse. A flourishing lead up to the coda (bar 67 until the end) is possible because bars 57 and 59, 58 and 60, 61 and 62, 63 and 64 are repetitions of each other as far as right hand figuration is concerned whilst left hand chords are built up with an extra note. A rolling rallentando directs us to the climax note of E flat in bar 65 where the sforzando and delicate playing directions serve to disperse the tediousness of the constant dominant to tonic shifts prevalent since bar 55. A dominant seventh cadence smoothly resolves into the coda at the same time introducing the first right hand white key (F), within the piece.

 

The Coda (bar 67 onwards) features right hand figuration from part B (bars 17-18) but the next part (ascending figuration) is modified. The left hand plays a variant of the sigh motive whilst the right hand is altered rhythmically since it starts on the second beat and not on the first. The second segment of the left hand theme from part B is also the same but now has no rests whilst the first half of the right hand phrase is altered. A textural build up occurs in bar 75 along with a change to binary pulse leading to a contrary motion sequence with the bass part playing cadential arpeggios. The Etude finishes with a contrary motion broken chord passage (in ternary pulse) pouring into an octave run on black key clusters of two and three made conclusive by a G flat major arpeggio and a minim octave also on G flat.

 

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Amadeus

Last Sunday I was talked into watching Peter Schaffer's Amadeus. The movie happened to be showing at the unfortunate hour of 10pm. Usually this would be a perfect excuse to escape the thralls of insomnia but for the first time in my life I actually wanted to sleep. After yet another exhausting stint at the Academy and three days of less than four hour of slumber per night, the last thing I wanted to do was pull another all nighter. I had no choice though, for it was already bad enough that I, a serious musician, had managed to overlook this film up until this very moment. A sacrifice was necessary in order to atone for this very serious misgiving and so, with eyes drooping, brain shutting down and bones aching I turned on the television as the opening credits began to roll.

 

For the several minutes that followed my sleepy brain tried to fathom how Mozart could be portrayed as such an old man and that somehow nothing in this movie made sense. My muddled mind worked tirelessly at discovering the identity of the narrator, someone who was utterly obsessed with Mozart and his music whilst also hating him with a passion. As we delved further into Salieri's memories, fascinations and fixations, I became tangled up in the web of the movie's underlying comparisons between mediocrity and genius. It was no longer a biographical recount of Mozart's life and works but the horrific struggle that another man had to endure due to his feelings of musical inferiority when compared to a genius.

 

In spite of this, the character of Mozart still seemed to take centre stage. With his annoying laugh that had a tendency to burst forth in the most inappropriate situations and the uncanny easiness with which he created music, Mozart fascinated and bewitched me. I was incapable of feeling hatred for him and yet sympathised with Salieri's plight, the plight of recognising another man's genius but not being able to reconcile it with his own lack of similar ability. I was glad that Amadeus wasn't just another biographical recount but a true masterpiece that delved deeply into issues that have often plagued mankind, issues that the director managed to shed light on through phenomenal characterisation combined with authentic biographical information, at least as far as Mozart is concerned. Even though not historically correct (Salieri has often been portrayed as the one who killed Mozart but this is highly doubtful) this movie made a colossal impact on my life. I was positively shattered by the time the traumatic climax brought the whole journey to an end.

 

For the next few nights, Salieri himself and the 'supposed' ghost of Mozart's father made frequent appearances in my dreams. Recurring nightmares, which frequently featured scenes of Mozart on his deathbed, and his body in the communal grave also persistently made my life hell. That is not what matters, the essential point here is that Amadeus sparked my great obsession with Mozart which is remarkable considering the fact that I have been quite indifferent to this composer until now.

 

People have often pointed out that Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart incites passionate responses from others and that you either hate his music or love it. I am ashamed to have professed hatred that I most probably did not feel for it. How can I have truly felt it when my first musical training was conducted on his vocal pieces? Yes, I later learned to scoff at his piano works because they were not challenging enough for me but how could I have forgotten about all his instrumental and vocal output which earned him the eternal recognition he justly deserves? It is high time I start atoning for my heedless mistakes by vigorously and passionately obsessing about his works and the genius that created them. Which brings me to a dilemma that I am not yet ready to solve, should I train for opera? Unfortunately I'm afraid that my passion for music is dangerous, for when will it all be enough? I already compose, play piano, organ, violin, sing, now I want to train for opera. Sometimes I think I'm truly crazy and that there'll never be an end to new musical pursuits. Then again is that such a bad thing?

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Mind-blowing Experiences

I didn't realise how much I actually missed school and the pursuit of guidance under the eye of highly qualified individuals until I attended my first lectures at the K.Szymanowski Music Academy. Most of them were very interesting, even enjoyable and I welcome the years that await me listening to such lectures.

 

My philosophy lecture proved mind-blowing since the lecturer was out of this world. When he appeared I started fearing what awaited me since he looked like one of those historical philosophers: tall, grey-haired, with that philosopher's look on his face and he had the most eerie voice ever. Yet, his lecture drew me in to such an extent that I walked out of there so intensely mesmerised and influenced that I'm still talking about it today. I could sit there for hours listening to him, and this is short of a miracle since he was speaking in Polish but I could fully follow his lines of thought. I am glad that such people exist, people with enormous passion and talent for what they do.

 

I always thought philosophers were a strange brood of people, especially if a certain unmentionable Philosophy department is anything to go by. I always considered them to be people of a somewhat frightening nature because they spoke an intricately complex language that I didn't understand and used it to scare others into believing how superior and knowledgeable they were. What this lecturer had was the ability to speak in a clear and logical manner and yet say all that needed to be said. He was so addictive, and wove in bits of humour all the time in the most complex of places. He was nothing like the philosophers I knew (but did not understand) and I am glad because I am completely cured of my subconscious fear of philosophy. My mind is now open and willing to receive whatever he will deign to teach us next.

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A New Beginning

An eagerly anticipated moment finally arrived after years of waiting and dreaming. This Friday, I had a taste of what it is like to spend the rest of my life cultivating my musical talents so that I can be a professional musician of the highest standard. As I walked through the doors of MY musical conservatory and solemnly vowed adherence to the university’s education values and beliefs I felt a sense of achievement, a sense of finally being where I had always wanted to be. It was such a surreal experience, for I had always imagined a time when I could finally spend most of my breathing moments improving myself as a musician and not meandering through a consuming educational system which only tore me away from valuable practice and concert time. That time had finally arrived.

 

Of course I was also petrified because I didn't know whether the actual conservatory would live up to all the hopes I had of it and the new era in my life that it was helping me begin.

 

First and foremost, I have had to face the prospect of commuting to Katowice 1.5hrs each way and waking up at all sorts of unearthly hours in order to actually be on time. For instance, I have to wake up at 4am in order to catch the 6am train so that I am on time for my 8am lecture (got to love whoever thought of such a ridiculously early time to start lectures, thanks mate!!!!). As if that isn’t enough, I finish at 8pm and by the time I get home it is horribly late. To add insult to injury I have to repeat the whole unearthly hours cycle the next day and the next.

 

Obviously such a foreboding prospect did not bode well for my university experience. On Friday I somehow managed to pre-empt my alarm clock and woke up at 3am thinking it was time to go. It was eerily quiet outside and a good couple of hours before even a ray of sunlight would appear. I was already tired since I spent Thursday at university getting a few matters sorted before my first classes. In any case I tore out of bed and managed to arrive at university pretty much whole. The train ride was utterly mind numbing and I regretted the lack of work to occupy myself with but I somehow resigned myself to staring at the beautiful Polish countryside, which I could barely make out through the help of the huge moon hovering above. Upon arrival in Katowice, the sun decided to light the world with its presence and so added a more positive touch to this important day. I made my way to my first lecture and afterwards to the opening ceremony which was also a graduation ceremony-organised in that manner so that the new students could symbolically enter the university only after the others had graduated, creating places for them. There were surprisingly few people present and it was a striking contrast to our lavish graduation ceremonies in Australia but it still felt like an initiation, a new beginning. I made my vows and from then on was part of this wonderful institution, which will give me the education to achieve everything that I want to achieve.

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Maria Welna, a young Australian concert pianist, pipe organist, singer, composer, writer, and Arts advocate (to name a few) always had a clear vision of what her future would be like.  read more

 

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