1.      Write an
essay on Beethoven’s Symphony No. 7, evaluating the ways in which Beethoven both
exploits and challenges Viennese-classical symphonic conventions.

Beethoven was arguably one of the
most influential composers of his time. His compositional timings cross-over
the two different musical periods, the Classical period and the Romantic
period. Beethoven was not afraid to redefine the boundaries of tradition
music-writing in his time, having said that, he also countlessly used common
practises of the time to compose some of the most interesting music,
analytically, of his time.

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Para 1:

Background information on the 7th
Symphony

Beethoven’s musical performances
saw an increase from 1808 onwards, this can be explained due to the five
all-Beethoven concerts that were put on in the Liebhaber concert series,
alongside the two all-Beethoven concerts held in the Theater an der Wien, and
the all-Beethoven concert that took place in the Kleine Redoutensaal. All of
these concerts were organised by Vienna’s old aristocrats, and therefore the
concerts were mainly performed to select groups of people and not to the
general public. The Society of Associated Noblemen took over the Theater an der
Wien in 1806, and so these concerts were exclusively performed for aristocrats
also. Beethoven’s 7th Symphony was written in the early nineteenth
century (1812) which was in the middle of Beethoven’s composing after a four year
break from the release of Beethoven’s Pastoral Symphony. His 7th and
8th Symphony were finished in the same year as each other. At this
time in Beethoven’s life, he was experiencing a major shift in political context
– 1813 marked the height of the Napoleonic Wars, including the Battle of Leipzig
(1813), the Treaty of Fontainebleau and Congress of Vienna (1814), and the
Battle of Waterloo (1815). The political landscape of the country was crucially
different after this, and the initiation of the Vormarz period characterised a state under heavy control for the
government. The Napoleonic occupancy of Austria ultimately led to the
diminishing morale of Beethoven and also the country. The events that led up to
1809 resulted in Beethoven feeling defeated by the political scene of the
country, ‘During this time
we have been suffering concentrated misery. Let me tell you that since May 4th
I have produced very little coherent work… The basis for my livelihood,
recently established, rests on shaky foundations… What a destructive, desolate
life I see around me, nothing but drums and cannons and human suffering of
every sort.’1
Beethoven’s 7th Symphony was received with huge success whereas the
8th Symphony brought about less popularity amongst audience members.
‘To Richard Wagner,
Beethoven’s Seventh Symphony was “the apotheosis of the dance.’2

Para 2:

Talk about what constitutes the
Viennese-classical symphonic style.

The progression from the Baroque
period (1650 – 1750)
to the Classical period saw a few major changes in musical style including the
introduction to the symphony – a multi-movement work for orchestra. Early
symphonic works tended to be modelled on the overtures of Baroque Italian
operas. Examples of this can be seen in works of Giovanni Battista Sammartini
(1701 – 1755), such as the first movement, Symphony in G major which was
composed around 1750. The symphony gained more and more popularity and over
time, larger symphonies were written for larger orchestras. In the late
eighteenth century – early nineteenth century, Beethoven found great commercial
success in Vienna. Beethoven was considered a proto-Romantic composer by his successors,
and some of his music had mixed reviews, with some of his first audience
members finding his music a little awkward and violent, at times.

The conditions for composers in
early 1800’s Vienna were somewhat difficult to constitute simple, and
successful abilities to spread and adapt music traditions. Firstly, there was a
lack of purpose-built concert halls, meaning that composers such as Beethoven
had to utilise theatres, ballrooms or large rooms (in private palaces) when he
wanted to perform orchestral music.3
Theatres could generally be seen as the best option for concerts or
performances, however, the availability of these buildings was hard to accommodate.
The most convenient time for theatre availability tended to be in the few weeks
leading up to Easter, although this meant that, in a time when operas were,
arguably, the most popular form of musical performance, they could not be used,
as opera was forbidden in these few weeks. The premiere of the seventh symphony
was performed for the wounded soldiers of the battle of Hanau and was arguably
one of Beethoven’s most successful concerts. The Viennese contingent were
hoping for a victory over Napoleon who had been miserable from the occupancy
that his fleets had in Vienna from 1805 and 1809. Although Beethoven’s 7th
was very popular at the time and still to this day, he was still not the most
performed or published composer of the time. This was Rossini who Beethoven
competed for prestige over.

Previous to his seventh symphony,
Beethoven was famous for not following convention. For example, his sixth
(Pastoral) symphony consisted of five movements rather than the usual four
movement work. Beethoven also used a relatively contemporary idea of
programmatic themes in his Pastoral symphony, along with using cyclical
expansions. Each symphony that Beethoven wrote provides a very influential
model across the nineteenth century. Dahlhaus argues that Beethoven’s ‘models remain influential regardless
of chronological distance’ and overall that the symphony becomes a vehicle for
idealism on the largest scale, a ‘world-historical’ genre. The seventh
symphony has, arguably, brought about the most speculation and dispute about
the interpretation and meaning that Beethoven was trying to portray. Unlike,
most of Beethoven’s other ‘major’ symphonies, there was no definitive
descriptive nature about the symphony left to give listeners a clue as to what
Beethoven was trying to portray, if indeed he was trying to portray anything at
all. For example, there was the Eroica symphony and the Pastoral symphony,
whereas the seventh symphony has been left to pure speculation – which has
brought about multiple debates throughout history.

Para 3:

Give examples that follow
convention

The first, most obvious way in
which the seventh symphony follows convention is the number of movements of the
work. As you would expect, the symphony is made us of four movements, unlike
Beethoven’s sixth symphony (previously mentioned) which is made up of five
movements.

In the development, the harmony
begins in C major and gradually moves towards E without any mediation, which is
not what would be expected in the development. However, this is the kind of
harmonic progression that would be expected in the exposition. Both parts feel
like they are being cut into one and fighting against each other. Therefore, Beethoven
is using convention but with slightly altered timings to both follow tradition
at the time of composition, however, he is also changing it in a very simple
way that makes the music unique of the time. Beethoven does something similar
to this again within the symphony. Instead of using a structural PAC within the
exposition, Beethoven transfers this concept to the coda. And again, is using
conventional ideas, but with a twist in order to excite the listener and to
utilise his own twist on the tradition and what was expected. Beethoven does
use the concept of a Fermata in bar 88 in conclusion of the antecedent. We
would expect this use in this particular place, in accordance with symphonic
works of the time. However, what is not expected is the length of the
antecedent. So, the main theme begins in bar 67, which means that there is a
very unusually long introduction, however, continuing, the antecedent begins in
bar 68 and lasts until bar 88. Given that an antecedent phrase is usually
around 8 bars long, this makes for a very long phrase and we refer to it as a ‘Grand
Antecedent’.

Para 4:

Give examples that defy convention

The first movement moves away from
the fundamentals of classical practice by using a slow martial introduction.
The introduction can be seen as its own fully-fledged form in itself, following
the format of A – TR (transition) – B – TR (A’) – B’. This framework leads
overall into an expansive sonata form rather than an introductory ‘framing
function’ for the rest of the symphony. The first movement also plants a strong
chromatic counter-structure based around C and F, which continues in various
forms throughout the symphony and is fundamental in tying all the movements together
and creates the tonal narrative of the symphony.

 

Overall, Beethoven follows certain
aspects of a conventional symphony that we would expect to see of a work of its
time. The overall structure is familiar to that of an expected symphony – four movements:
Exposition; Development; Recapitulation; and a Coda. However, it is easy to
argue that ultimately the seventh symphony really is a unique approach to music
at the time of composition. Beethoven sets out to distinguish the similarities
and differences in simple ideas that develop hugely into intricate and
determining factors to set the symphony apart from all others of the time. The exceptional
approach to rhythm that Beethoven uses in this symphony rather than any of his
others, stands the music out and represents a completely new way of writing and
composing. The way that Beethoven sets up each movement with a different dance
rhythm, which becomes the foundation for the thematic progression in each
movement. Some examples of dance rhythms include the gigue, scherzo, contredans.
Overall, the symphony was revolutionary in terms of rhythmic concept. Looking
at other composers use of Beethoven’s innovative conception of rhythmic use, we
can see the ideas resurface in Schubert’s C major (‘Great’) symphony, in
Schumann’s First symphony and later also used in multiple works of Bruckner.

“We are all students in this life, and there is always something to
learn”

“Yet, as several music scholars have at different times
remarked in passing, developments in the late 18th-century Viennese
music ideology may be seen as prototypical of a subsequent (and, eventually,
international) shift.”4

http://www.columbia.edu/itc/music/ito/history/

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Analysis Summative 1: Question 2

Is Mozart’s ‘Jupiter’ Symphony a teleological
symphony before its time? Explore its formal, cyclical, topical and contrap.untal
features in your answer.

The ‘Jupiter’ Symphony is one of the
six Viennese symphonies composed by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, and was, in fact,
the last one that he completed in 1788. Mozart’s C Major Symphony K551, became known as the Jupiter symphony
due to its association with the music that accompanies the aria, ‘Un bacio di
mano’ (“A kiss on the hand”) from Mozart’s opera Le gelosie fortunate, that was completed alongside the symphony in
1788. The music that accompanies the aria makes a sneaky appearance in
the symphonies first movement – an addition that is completely unnecessarily
added in terms of harmony or thematic material, however Mozart still adds it
and gives himself the challenge of modulating from C major to G major in a
short space of time.

At the time of composition, it is
no longer believed that Mozart was impoverished, but having temporary cash flow
problem – probably widely effected by the Turkish war.5 ‘According
to some biographers, …. the Jupiter symphony was written without any
projected performances’.6
Although, it is widely accepted today that this symphonic trilogy (along with
that of the E flat symphony and the G minor symphony) was meant for a subscription
series that Mozart was planning for the autumn or winter of 1788, however, it
is not known whether this sis take place or not.

Following on from Mozart’s move to
Vienna from …..,
he experienced new and innovative styles of music than was generally acknowledge
previously. Prior to 1788, Mozart was heavily influenced by his teachings and
of which spiked his interest in Viennese music from the earlier part of the
century. The events leading up to the composition of the Jupiter symphony
account for many features addressed within the symphony: the study of Viennese
church music; access through Salieri’s generosity to the other musical holdings
of the Hofkapelle and through van Swieten to the Imperial library; his
pedagogical work with strong doses of Fuxian strict as well as free
composition; and the heavily documented encounters with North German Baroque
music. Along with Mozart’s heavy interest in Michael Haydn’s music, establishes
a broader background for the compositional writing of the “Jupiter” Symphony.

The access that Mozart would have
had to the Imperial music, meant that he was privy to both works in the prima
and seconda prattica – the styles of both fasting and feasting periods within
the liturgical year. With access to this kind of music, Mozart would have been
in possession of music relating to the Emperor’s and Empresses opera music for birthdays,
weddings, funerals and so on, within the Imperial clan.

Para 3:

Telos is the Greek work that could
be defined as viewing an action in terms or their ultimate goal or end. “The
principal innovation of… tonality is the ability to instil in the listener an
intense longing for a given event: the cadence.” (Feminine Endings, 125). What
McClary is trying to do here is to point out that analysts are most comfortable
interpreting (tonal) music in terms of teleology.

Para 4:

The “Jupiter” s=Symphony follows
the high-classical four movement arrangement, including: Allegro; Slow movement;
Minuet; and the Finale. Whilst each movement follows conventional forms, however,
there is a huge presence of sonata form within the movements: Allegro – Sonata form;
Slow movement – Sonata form; Minuet – Composite ternar form; Finale – Sonata form.
The extensive Finale goes against the classical tradition of a ‘lieto fine’ and perhaps points towards
the nineteenth century ‘summative’ finale.

The first movement of the “Jupiter”
Symphony begins as expected with a presentational phrase from bars 1 – 8,
followed by continuation inclusive of model-sequence fragmentation to bar 21,
and finally cadencing around bar 23 with a HC (half cadence). With the inclusion of a presentation,
continuation and cadence it could be argued that the beginning of the first
movement is a sentence. However, there are a few issues with this being a
conventional sentence. Firstly, the continuation is far too long for a predictable
sentence. There is also the fact that sentences usually cadence on a I:PAC (a
perfect authentic cadence in the global tonic), however it is not completely
unheard of to finish a sentence with a HC. Within the entry of the main-theme
group there is a MC (medial caesura) effect in bar 23, but it cannot actually
be classes as an MC, due to the fact that there is no entry of a second subject
after bar 23. It is also questionable as to whether bar 24 should be classed as
transitional material, with the statement and ‘response’ underneath a
countermelody. However, instead we could say that the transitional material
begins at bar 37, and that there has instead been a very large antecedent
phrase and consequent phrase beforehand. Caplin would disagree with this
notion, as he would suggest that there needs to be a hierarchy within the
cadences of the antecedent and consequent phrases. However, up to now, there
have only been HC’s and therefore there is no hierarchy between the phrases.
The consequent also turns into a dissolving consequent and transforms itself
into the transition which in turn means that there is no clear dividing factor
between the transitional material and the A1. Bar 55 results in a HC MC (half
cadence, medial caesura), which means that there have still only been HC’s up
to this point in the music. So, the main-theme (A) is comprised of a ‘Grand
Antecedent’ that concludes with a MC effect followed by a …

Para 5:

We can split each bar even further,
topically. Bar 1 is classed as a coup d’archet – which is a public gesture. And is followed by a bar of
sensibility (example). This process continues in the following two bars
with the alternating coup d’archet and sensibility following the same pattern too. Bar 5
introduces a fanfare theme – a military dance topic, a march. Strings continue
to the use of coup d’archet underneath the fanfare. Overall, there are three
different topics in bar 5. The form functional design and topic discourse work
very well together.

The second subject begins in bar 56
in a singing style, when the bass enters there is imitation, thus giving the
music a sense of counterpoint or learned style. This sets up the continuation
of the vocal and private style of the opening of the symphony. Bar 70 and 71
uses a V:PAC (perfect authentic cadence in the dominant) – which provides
essential expositional closure, however, the bass material continues with the
sensibility material which is overridden by melodic continuation. Between are
79 and 81 the topic changes, and the singing style has now dissolved. Bar 81
begins in C minor which is the subdominant minor and could be interpreted as a
Sturm und Drang or tempest topic due to the … In bars 87 – 89, we finally receive the essential
expositional closure that has been wanted for by the use of a V:PAC which
elides with the C section.

The codetta shows a return to the
coup d’archet

Para 6:

Conclusion

So, in some ways we can understand
telos in terms of a kind of behaviour a piece engages in when teleological effects
are desired. By investigating musical features and determining what makes
particular features signal a teleological orientation, we could speak about
degrees of teleological orientations.

The ideals of the teleological symphony,
responding to narratives (such as…..), however, the tendency is to replace the
goal-orientated processes with circular structures, suggesting a more Adornoian
pessimism. – more postmodern thought than anything.

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