Grieg was dependent on many precedent traditional conventions of the whole Romantic era. Just like nationalism in Russia and Europe, basically, there are a lot of folk musical materials in Grieg’s music. The nationalism in his music is obvious that he portrays the natural and realistic scenes of his country. Most of Grieg’s piano works are relatively small-scale like the Lyric Pieces. As he is also a composer who gives the programmatic titles to compositions, his music highly presents the “poetic”. For example, such as Op. 43 (Butterfly), Op. 65 (Wedding day), Op. 71 (Remembrance) and so on. All of these piano works are very song-like and indicate the scenes in real life. Meanwhile, the folk music is also everywhere in his numerous songs. Somehow, his music might also reflect the society and the history of Norway that in his age, the independence movement(s) might strongly influence his composing.

As Mussorgsky is one of the composers from the “New Russian School”, it highly implies the nationalism and program music. According to the title Pictures at an Exhibition, we can see the music is totally based on the pictures and the composer is indeed inspired by those pictures. Also, in the terms of program music, Mussorgsky titles each part just as what they are originally.Thus, there would be the extra-musical ideas in the music that Mussorgsky attempted to directly convey the image of the exhibition to listeners. There are ten pictures in this exhibition and among them, Mussorgsky uses the theme called “Promenade”, which is actually a reflection to Russian folk music. Generally, the Pictures at an Exhibition is just like a real tour of an exhibition. In a word, this composition is just fantastic and full with the composer’s powerful emotion.

For me, Strauss’s music is always not just music itself. Both his tone poems or operas [or drama] imply the attempt to present extra-musical ideas that entirely indicate the “poetic”. There is the same case in Strauss’s Der Rosenkavalier. However, in  this opera,  I found more classical traditions than in Strauss’s other compositions. Compared to his tone poems, this opera might reveal more musical essences that its music can relatively remind me of Mozart or others of classical period. It might act as a role of catering to the general taste in that age. If we say that his symphonic music is profound and hard to understand, the Der Rosenkavalier is much easier to understand even if we neglect the dialogue. We can catch the significance of his tone poem by the programmatic titles, but in this opera, we can just enjoy the poetic of the music itself.

What I gain from Wagner’s music dramas, also from his Parsifal, Act III,  is the idea of “Artwork of the Future” / “Music of the Future” and also his poetic intention. Wagner is composer who highly value the significance of poetry and the dramatic effect. As he is also one of the composers of the “New German School”, he espouses program music over absolute music and regards heself as the heir of Beethoven. He shapes the poetic sketches in music which is also like his “language of music”. Actually, his music is not only the music itself, it is expressed by the word and tone poet, consists of emotions and sensations and also entirely expresses the humanity. As he calls his operas as “Music Drama”, his idea is that drama is like the embodiment of music that it makes music visible. Meanwhile, he considerably works on the continuity in music. His music dramas is no longer necessarily composed in the operatic form, but take the subject as a whole. In his music drama, the leitmotivs repeat but are never totally the same. He set them in the dramatic situation, too.

Don Carlos was composed at Verdi’s late period  in 1867 and actually its first performance did not really acchieve a good reaction. Later than that, however, Verdi revised this opera. Basically, this opera is based on the dramatic play by Schiller and also on the real history.

Verdi’s musical style was entirely influenced by the previous Italian opera composers and also by the revolution. People even regarded him as a symbol of the nation because that there might be usually the nationalism we could observe in his operas. In Don Carlos, we can also see the heroic style in his music even if it is a relatively sorrowful love story. 

Also,  even though Verdi is highly influenced by other Italian opera composers and his earlier operas might reveal other composers’ style, in his later period, his style and personality may be more distinct. There are more orchestrations in his later operas. The orchestral part further and better enhance the emotion of the opera.

Without the doubt, at the 19th cenrtury, the female composers might be relatively restrained in all directions. In that age, women were much less advantaged than men. However, even if the female composers might not have many occupational opportunities, there are still many great works such as the works by Fanny Mendelssohn and Clarara Schumann.

For me, the piano trio in D minor by Fanny Mendelssohn is generally better than the No. 2 of Clarara’s Three Romances. However, there is no denying that Clarara is a brilliant pianist and composer. Her composing style is highly influenced by Robert. By the way, I really like her piano trio Op. 17. To the piano trio by Fanny Mendelssohn, basically, it really sounds like Felix’s style. We can compare this piano trio with the piano trio No. 2 by Felix Mendelssohn. There are potentially many similarities between these two pieces. The piano part is complex that it has so many notes while the strings play the melody. For players, somehow, it is hard to unify the three parts in a concordant balance.

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Generally, the Guillaume Tell is one of the most famous operas by Rossini. This opera based on Friedrich Schiller’s play Wilhelm Tell. Basically, the story of this opera is stirring and the long overture is relatively like a metaphor to the opera itself. There is something interesting that as Rossini is an Italian composer, the original text of this opera is in French. Actually, at his most gorgeous period, he lived and worked in Paris for years. This opera was also exactly premiered in Paris on 3, August 1829.

The act II of Guillaume Tell is somehow the turning point of the whole story. The first part of this act is that Mathilde waits for Arnold. The aria Sombre forêt here implies the desire and yearning of Mathilde in a extremly beautiful and gentle melody. Then the second part is that after Arnold arriving, Tell and Walter come and interrupt the sweet talking of Mathilde and Arnold. As Arnold is told that his father was killed, the sudden sorrow and hatred urge him to revenge with Tell and Walter. In fact, this part of the establishment of “Swiss alliance” is one of the representatives of this opera because of it is the most decisive moment of the whole story. Also, musically, it is also certainly dramatic.

As this opera is based on the story of Cinderella and  regarded as a drama giocoso, it is entirely dramatic. Generally, the music is considerably vivid that Rossini skillfully transform the musical feeling among parts of different characters. In the Act I, what I feel most directly is the contrast between Angelina(Cinderella) and her two sisters. Besides the contrast of keys and tempi, also, from the setting of the stage, we can see that while the two sisters always stand in the light, the Cinderella just stayed in the shadow with the beggar. Actually, this story of Cinderella is basically dramatic and finally ends with the happy ending even if the course is relatively unfavorable. The essence of this story is exactly to represent the  misery of Cinderella so that cause the sympathy to her. For me, the contrast would better construct the structure of the whole story and make the story more distinct and easy to understand.

Schubert based this piano quintet in A major on the Lied Die Forelle. Basically, the meanings of this two different pieces are the same — Schubert attempts to display an image in which the trout plays and swims in a brook and it is finally captured by the fisher. In the lied, we can feel the change of the mood by the acceleration and the crescendo also supported by the accompaniment at the text “Doch endlich ward dem Diebe… …”. Actually, the former texts just showed the picture of swimming trout and the fisher who was trying to capture the trout for so long. Then, from the text “Doch endlich ward dem Diebe”, music become much more agitated opposite the feeling before. We can see that it expresses the sympathy to the trout and the spite to the fisher/thief from the texts.

There is the texts and translation here:

In einem Bächlein helle,                               In a bright little brook
Da schoß in froher Eil                                    there shot in merry haste

Die launische Forelle                                     a capricious trout:
Vorüber wie ein Pfeil.                                    past it shot like an arrow. 

Ich stand an dem Gestade                           I stood upon the shore
Und sah in süßer Ruh                                    and watched in sweet peace

Des muntern Fischleins Bade                    the cheery fish’s bath
Im klaren Bächlein zu.                                 in the clear little brook.  

Ein Fischer mit der Rute                             A fisher with his rod
Wohl an dem Ufer stand,                            stood at the water-side,
Und sah’s mit kaltem Blute,                       and watched with cold blood
Wie sich das Fischlein wand.                    as the fish swam about. 

So lang dem Wasser Helle,                         So long as the clearness of the water
So dacht ich, nicht gebricht,                     remained intact, I thought,
So fängt er die Forelle                                 he would not be able to capture the trout
Mit seiner Angel nicht.                              with his fishing rod.

(feeling changes from here)

Doch endlich ward dem Diebe               But finally the thief grew weary

Die Zeit zu lang. Er macht                        of waiting. He stirred up
Das Bächlein tückisch trübe,                  the brook and made it muddy,
Und eh ich es gedacht                              and before I realized it, 

So zuckte seine Rute,                                 his fishing rod was twitching: 
Das Fischlein zappelt dran,                     the fish was squirming there,
Und ich mit regem Blute                          and with raging blood I 

Sah die Betrogene an.                               gazed at the betrayed fish. 

In the Piano Quintet in A Major (Trout),  Schubert uses the theme from Die Forelle. Generally, the music is in a merry mood. Even if there might be a representation of the captured trout in the fourth movement which is a variations, it turns to the brightness again very soon. Also, the music is always vivid that each part imitates the sound of nature. As a result, we can clearly understand the images that the trout is swimming fast or leaping out of the brook.

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The Missa Solemnis is certainly one of  Beethoven’s master works in his late period. Actually, this composition is always regarded as a symphony but not the sacred music. In some ways, this composition is entirely special and unique — only Beethoven has the talent and inspiration to handle the boundary between the ancient music form and his abundant emotion. He spent even four years (1819-1823) to complete this symphony and it was eventually premiered in 1824.

The first movement is composed in a traditional ABA form. Personally, it might somehow remind me of the Bach or Mozart because that the structure and counterpoint are balanced and it generally poetic and gentle. Specifically, at the beginning, the text “Kyrie” is sung three times by the choir and each time the choir is answered by a soloist. There is a wavelike emotional feel to the music. With each intonation of “Kyrie” the music swells and then backs off, all the while building in energy.

The second and third movements are much more dramatic than the Kyrie. In the Gloria, potentiallly, there is the text painting used especially in each representation of the Gloria text. Beethoven uses music to emphasize text — bring the music down low for solemn parts and letting it go strong during the Gloria text portions. Then, the Credo is one of the largest movement of Beethoven’s, both in time and in amount of text used. At the opening part, there is a memorable theme sung in a fugue form with a strong orchestration which supplies the colorful harmony. This theme is also associated with the subsequent repetitive Credo text. Nevertheless, in general,  the complex modulation and the quick shift between the different sections are profound and hard to understand.

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