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Old 06-27-2002, 11:27 PM   #1
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Classical music biotches...

I was wondering if someone with a wider knowledge of classical music that I could list some of the major artists and give a brief description of their main style. I mean calling Bach, Beetoven, Mozart and Wagner just 'classical' music is too vague for me. I mean if someone said that The Beatles, Elvis, Led Zep and U2 were all 'Rock and Roll' they would still be right, but there is so much variation in their styles that it can be confusing to someone unfamiliar with the different styles within the vast category of 'Rock & Roll'. With classical I was wondering who was harder, more conventional, more abstract/dynamic, who developed their style greatly, who stayed more grounded to their basic style etc etc.

Here are a few I was curious about:

Bach, Mozart, Beetoven, Wagner, Tchikovsky, Vivaldi and any others that you can think of.
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Old 06-28-2002, 12:34 AM   #2
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without any question, classical music is the greatest music of all time.

nothing creates excellence like an orchestra.

unforunately, i do not know enough about the artists you mentioned to be able to give you any in-depth answers.

ive heard very little mozart, but i was grown up on bach and beethoven.

only recently have i started to get back into it again after liking it when i was 9-12.
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Old 06-28-2002, 12:52 AM   #3
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Quote:
Originally posted by Zoomerang96
nothing creates excellence like an orchestra.

woo! i have played violin for 11 years now...woo for people liking orchestras.

i can try to answer your questions if you define them more. see, in classical music, there are groupings that classify them further...baroque, romantic, classical, contemporary...

characteristics?

mozart: generally will write waltzes...3/4 or 6/8 time. his pieces will be scales running up and down with slight variations in them to change the key. his tempos rarely change (meaning everything stays steady) and the melody will float...violins first, second violins second, violas, then cellos, then basses. rather simple melody lines with variations on them for complexity.

tchaikovsky: generally will write in a minor key and most of his songs sound ominous. even the nice ones have a bitter backing.

bach: he, like mozart, will have a lot of scales running.
however, his melody will be the notes that are hit on top and bottom of the scales. string players classify both his and mozart's works as "left hand excercizes." meaning that it's more work for the left hand to get all of the notes in.

vivaldi: think four seasons...cos that's pretty much what he is famous for and what his other works are similar to. he is a musicians composer...his melodies don't really float like mozart's but each of the parts are interesting nonetheless.

uhh..i hope that helps you a little bit.
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Old 06-28-2002, 12:57 AM   #4
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Quote:
Originally posted by Lilly


mozart: generally will write waltzes...3/4 or 6/8 time. his pieces will be scales running up and down with slight variations in them to change the key. his tempos rarely change (meaning everything stays steady) and the melody will float...violins first, second violins second, violas, then cellos, then basses. rather simple melody lines with variations on them for complexity.

tchaikovsky: generally will write in a minor key and most of his songs sound ominous. even the nice ones have a bitter backing.

bach: he, like mozart, will have a lot of scales running.
however, his melody will be the notes that are hit on top and bottom of the scales. string players classify both his and mozart's works as "left hand excercizes." meaning that it's more work for the left hand to get all of the notes in.

vivaldi: think four seasons...cos that's pretty much what he is famous for and what his other works are similar to. he is a musicians composer...his melodies don't really float like mozart's but each of the parts are interesting nonetheless.

uhh..i hope that helps you a little bit.
thanks for takin the time to write that. i should download some of that stuff, but so much of it is soo long. bah.
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Old 06-28-2002, 01:31 AM   #5
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Did you finally download that Timbaland remix of 'My Sacrifice' feat. Nas, D. Piddy and Big Pun?
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Old 06-28-2002, 06:09 AM   #6
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Bach is the king of Baroque music - lots of running notes (not too many pauses in the music), generally the dynamics are a bit restricted compared to later styles (no huge/fast changes). Bach's music is probably the least overtly emotional music out of all of the choices you've listed, so at first you might find it a little dry compared to heart-on-your-sleeve romanticism or grand sweeping dramatism that you'd find from Liszt or Wagner - but there is plenty . Some good examples would be Chaconne in D minor (either the solo violin version or the piano version adapted by Busoni), Brandenburg Concertos, Mass in B-minor, solo partitas for various string instruments (violin, viola, cello) and keyboard, and lots and lots of preludes and fugues (48 for keyboard in the Well Tempered Clavier, numerous others for organ and other instruments). For most of the keyboard music that is now played on piano, remember that Bach played on harpsichords, which generally did not have the ability to have infinite shades of dynamics (usually there were loud and soft pedals, so that's why the music will have "terraced dynamics" where a phrase will be played loud or soft and then repeated with the opposite dynamic). Bach's style really didn't evolve or change that much over his lifetime.

Vivaldi fits in before Bach - early baroque/late renaissance. The Four Seasons is by far his most popular work and a good representation of his style. In general, small ensembles, mainly strings and perhaps a harpsichord, with a kind of verse/chorus aspect where an instrumental soloist (usually violin) takes the "verse" and the ensemble joins in on the chorus. Dynamics aren't all that diverse, and the music is fairly simple (with the exception of the solos).

Mozart is the most popular composer from the classical period, and you'll find a much lighter and more lively temperament in his music (generally, there are some very cool dark pieces Mozart wrote). I disagree with Lilly's statement that Mozart will generally write waltzes. While he does, I'd say more of his music is in regular 4/4 timeOne thing you'll notice in Mozart's music as compared to bach is the the melody really dominates - where in Bach's music there'll be several different melodies interacting with each other, in Mozart's music there is more often one main melody and then accompaniment (like the oom-pa-pa type accompaniment). I'd recommend any of his symphonies - The Jupiter is a good starting point - his later piano concertos, his string quartets, his later piano sonatas, and even a few operas if you're up to it (magic flute, marriage of figaro). With Mozart's keyboard music, he was using harpsichords at first and then the first prototypes of the piano, which had pretty limited dynamics and were pretty fragile instruments - so while there will be more dynamic change, it's still kept pretty polite. Mozart's style did evolve over his lifetime, but not too drastically - it generally stayed well within the classical idiom.

Beethoven is where it starts to get interesting. Beethoven could be called the last of the classicals/first of the romantics. He really forms the bridge between the two genres - borrowing a lot of traits from the classical but adding a lot more passion and emotion into the music. The 3rd, 5th, 7th and 9th Symphonies are all outstanding, Violin Concerto #1, Piano Concerto #5, virtually all of his piano sonatas, and some of his string quartets should give you a good taste of the evolution from Mozart. Also, pianos were evolving and getting stronger and capable of great dynamic contrast, so that shows in beethoven's music as well. beethoven's style evolved quite a bit. His early period sounds a lot like Mozart and Haydn, his middle period starts to branch out a bit, and his late period really shows some very unique writing and very passionate and emotional music (the 9th symphony was written well after Beethoven was virtually entirely deaf).

Tchaikowsky is a good example of a romantic composer. The music is more free - more use of rubato (tempo isn't nearly as strict as Mozart, Bach or Beethoven). I'd recommend listening to his 1st piano concerto. Big, bold sweeping themes - lots of flash and flare, and tender melodies in slow sections.

Wagner is....interesting. I'd classify him as a late to post-romantic composer. Definitely wide-open heart-on-your-sleeves emotion. Wagner really opened up the use of the orchestra, with lush orchestrations using a much larger orchestra than Mozart or Beethoven would be accustomed to. Wagner tends to be pretty dark and brooding, and also you might notice that Wagner's large scale pieces tend to be pretty darn long . I really haven't spent much time listening to Wagner's music - some of it can be really beautiful, but overall I find it to be too overdone.

I think I've written myself out...it's been a while since I've had a chance to talk about classical music...I kinda miss school! I'll come back later to add in my own favorites from various styles.
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Old 06-28-2002, 03:27 PM   #7
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It should also be noted that Bach is especially famous for his organ fugues and use of conterpoint harmonies and melodies. He was a genius when it came to this.

Some other things about Beethoven - Beethoven basically reinvented the piano. His piano pieces like Eroica and Moonlight Sonata brought an emotional intensity to classical music that nobody had ever heard before. When playing his pieces, Beethoven basically beat the shite out of the pianos and usually broke the strings, which forced piano makers to improve on the piano. This might sound silly, but I've always thought of him as the Bono/U2 of classical music because all of his songs are so emotionally intense. With Symphony No.9's "Ode to Joy", Beethoven became the first composer to incorporate a choir into a symphony.

Mozart was the master of the sonata-allegro form of symphony writing. He is often regarded as the best classical composer by some, but I like Beethoven better becuase Mozart's music sounds a lot more restrained and is not nearly as intense.

As for Tchaikovsky - Think Nutcracker...

Vivaldi - Diemen pretty much summed him up.

Wagner - Diemen did a nice job there as well. His pieces do tend to be incredibly long! He had one called The Ring Cycle that was meant to be performed over 3-4 nights.
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Old 06-28-2002, 03:55 PM   #8
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Just a little nit to pick - Eroica is the title of Beethoven's 3rd symphony, not a piano sonata . Some of the biggy sonatas along with the moonlight are the Pathetique, Tempest, Pastoral, Waldstein, Appassionata and Hammerklavier sonatas. All excellent works.

(I like Beethoven )
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Old 06-28-2002, 09:04 PM   #9
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That was a very interesting read, Diemen & kariatari, thanks. What did you think of the film Amadeus?

You kinda focused on the emotional aspects when describing each man's music. What is the intellectual side of classical music? For instance, within rock, we have the emotional music (most of mainstream rock) and then we have the more intellectual, experimentational sort (like Sonic Youth, My Bloody Valentine). Also, within 20th Century art, we have the expressionists who were interested in conveying emotion (think Mark Rothko) and on the other hand we have the more intellectual artists who rid their art of emotion (think Ad Reinhardt, Barnett Newman).

I guess my question is, 'Is classical music always expressionistic (i.e conveys emotions) or can it engage you cerebrally as well--and if so, how?'

Thanks!

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Old 06-29-2002, 04:37 AM   #10
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Classical music can be extremely engaging cerebrally - much more so than most rock music, I'd say - even the lush, rich romantic music. If you want emotional detachment from music, then there was a big movement in the 20th century for atonal/asymmetrical/minimalist music that followed more of a mathematical approach than an emotional one. But even in that music there was emotional involvement. Try listening to Milton Babbitt, Arnold Schoenberg or John Cage for an idea of this. Overall, because of the large-scale nature of many of the works in classical music, there's a lot more going on and a lot more to listen to. Try listening to a Mozart, Beethoven or Brahms symphony and concentrate on just one instrument section (violins for example). Then switch to clarinets. Then to trumpets, then cellos, then timpani, etc. These pieces don't just have guitar, bass, vocal and percussion. They have dozens of different parts written, all fitting in together to form the big picture. Plus the way these composers knew how to create an overall sound from the combination of instruments. Mozart's orchestras were often fairly small and you won't find too many big powerful brass sections in his music. Someone like Berlioz or Wagner used huge orchestras with vast brass sections, expanded percussion (gong, xylophones, timpanis, snare drums, bass drums, tubular bells, etc). Just to sit down with an orchestral work and see and listen to how each part fits into the whole can really be a rewarding experience. With a lot of rock music it's not really hard to guess what chord is coming next. Try doing that with Prokofiev, Ravel or Schoenberg!

I guess what I'm trying to say is that classical music is much more theoretically based than rock music will ever be, and classical composers were very aware of the theory and were able to incorporate much more intricate, complex and experimental structures/sounds/ideas into their music. You'll find exotic-sounding harmonies, lots of unusual chord and key changes, a wider variety of textures and melodies, and just all sorts of stuff that is very limited in rock music because of it's very nature.
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Old 06-29-2002, 05:20 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally posted by Diemen
Just a little nit to pick - Eroica is the title of Beethoven's 3rd symphony, not a piano sonata . Some of the biggy sonatas along with the moonlight are the Pathetique, Tempest, Pastoral, Waldstein, Appassionata and Hammerklavier sonatas. All excellent works.

(I like Beethoven )
Ah! Pathetique...THAT'S the one I was thinking of when I said Eroica...I knew that didn't sound right. My bad! Thanks for the correction Diemen!
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Old 06-30-2002, 06:48 AM   #12
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btw, I liked Amadeus (haven't seen it in aaaages) because it shows a side of Mozart that many people don't often get to see - the darker side. though he's best known for his more cheerful stuff, he wrote some incredible dark stuff that I think in many ways was much better than his happy stuff.

But I prefered the film Immortal Beloved (about Beethoven) - Gary Oldman did a fantastic job as Beethoven, and the overall story is more compelling for me.
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