The Romanic Era Essay, Research Paper
In the early nineteenth century everyone used power looms and seed drills, the entire world was becoming industrialized. During the Enlightenment years before, people wanted to use reason in order to justify why things occurred; however, during the industrialization era, a few select traditionalists wanted to incorporate feeling, nature, emotion and instinct into art. (Mazour 535-536) In many forms of art, the change from rationalization to using feeling began the romantic era. Beethoven, the man who is given credit for initiating the romantic race in music, was criticized for writing in such a manner. He wrote powerful concertos and symphonies that were based on his emotions while he was composing. (Beethoven) Soon, many other artists such as Salieri, Haydn, Bruch, and Schubert followed. Although the times were changing, even these civil men were considered bizarre for writing such untraditional and emotional music. (Klaus vii-10)The overall question being asked in this paper is whether or not studying select composers can in fact change a musician’s playing style and overall out look on music. I believe that studying these people’s lives can cause a drastic change in a person. For example, if I were to study Beethoven’s life, I would probably have a better grasp on how he was feeling at the time he composed the music; understanding the composers feelings would in fact change how I would interpret and therefore play the music. A sad mood in a piece would cause a violinist to play his instrument with more emotion, feeling and expression; however, a joyful phrase might cause the musician to play in a cheerful nature. In other words, the composer’s mood during the time of composition can reflect how the musician will play. I feel that all of these composers must have shared a common event during their lifetime that would cause them to write music in such an unorthodox manner.Schubert was one of the original men to begin composing romantically. Born into a poor, yet educated family, Franz was often exposed to music. His father taught in a school owned by him and five other families; the school was also attached to a small multiple family house that they lived in. Although their family was not wealthy, they still enjoyed the luxuries of music. Franz took viola lessons from his father and his eldest brother when he was young. He developed such a love for the art that he joined the choir. As soon as young Schubert was skilled enough to play the viola that he had been learning, his family began to play as a quartet for fun. (McLeish 1; Reed 11-12) By the time Franz had turned eleven, his father believed that he had such a fantastic voice, that he should try out for a scholarship for the Imperial College Music School. At his audition, the judges were so impressed with his singing abilities that he was immediately sent to their grammar school. While at the boarding school, Schubert was quite a good student; unfortunately, he soon discovered his latent musical talents; this caused him to just focus on music rather than his studies. Eventually Franz joined the orchestra and turned out to be a remarkable leader. The concertmaster at the time, Josef von Spaun, thought that Franz had such great potential as a musician that he encouraged him to write music. Before he knew it, the young genius was composing left and right. The school orchestra began to take interest in his music and not before long, was playing a few of his pieces. (McLeish 3-4; Reed 13-17)Even though the life of this man might seem joyous and happy until this point, at age fifteen, Franz’ voice broke, his mother died, and his grades began to drop; nevertheless, a caring father was not about to let his son’s bright future go to waste. He promised his child that if he kept his grades up, he could study privately with the well-known composer Salieri. The young adolescent was excited at first about this new arrangement; regardless, he was too involved in his passion for music to study adequately. At seventeen years old Franz dropped out of school and began working as a teacher for his fathers’ school. In spite of the fact that teaching allowed him to have plenty of time to compose, Franz turned out to be a horrible teacher: the children got on his nerves, he became frustrated easily, and he pulled toddlers ears. Figuring out that his only passion was music; Schubert began to compose short songs for money. He was able to adequately support himself on these small jobs for most of his life. Although Franz was not recognized during any moment of his life as a brilliant composer, he, just as many other composers of this era are now, almost two hundred years later, being considered saviors of the musical epoch. For if baroque music continued to flourish, the only thing we would be able to listen to today would be repetitive rests and octaves. (McLeish 5-17; (Reed 16-27) Joseph Haydn lived in a mere peasant’s hut; his parents were poor, yet educated. His father played the harp and Joseph would always listen to wonderful folk tunes. Even though the family was poverty stricken, the schoolmaster of the village managed to obtain a violin, which was used solely by him. Since Joseph was only four at this time, he was not allowed to play; however, he imitated its movements. This determination was quickly seen by Haydn’s parents; they managed to scrape up enough money to send him to Hainburg, where he could be educated in music and in other fields. Although he was only six years old, he quickly became familiar with most of the musical instruments in an orchestra. Also, by this time he could play the violin and harpsichord at a fair level. During his two years at this school, Joseph was put to work for lengthy hours copying music and cleaning up; nevertheless, he became accustomed to many different types of music. When the opportunity came, Haydn took a job as a choirboy for a man in Vienna.He was fed poorly and had to basically follow every command directed toward him; however, Joseph learned to sing and sight-read expertly and improved his skills on the violin. (Hollis 1-4; Hadden 1-13) As fate had it, Haydn’s voice broke as well, and having no more use as a choirboy, he had to work sixteen to eighteen hours daily playing at countless churches and ensembles. (http://www.classicalmus.com ) Despite the long hours, Joseph was able to play violin in a quartet featuring Mozart, Dittersdorf, Wanhal and himself. (http://www.vol.it/MIRROR2/EN ) After a few years of hectic days and nights, Haydn was offered the position as music director and composer for the Bohemian Count Ferdinand Maximilian von Morzin. This wealthy man hired an orchestra to play for him and his wife year round; this job was quite a find for a struggling musician and composer. After another two years of being director, he once again changed positions. His final professional job was court musician for Prince Paul, for whom he served many years conducting an extremely talented orchestra. (Hollis 4-8, 30; Hadden 14-36)
Even though I am not a famous composer or an unmatchable musician, I feel that how violinists begin playing their instruments nowadays is an important topic. It gives a person a better grasp on what musician’s years before had to accomplish in order to be accepted into society. When I was about six years old, my mother, having no musical background, wanted her son to play an instrument. I began taking group lessons in violin every Saturday at John Muir School. I do not think much was accomplished in my technique my first year playing because it is more difficult to learn things in a group setting rather than having individual help. Eventually I met up with a girl about my age that played violin also. Our mothers wanted us to take private lessons; however, since we were not serious about the instrument yet, it would be a waste of money to spend twenty dollars a week on individual lessons. That is when they decided to get a teacher to teach the both of us each week. This way of learning was important because I was able to hear another person at my level play. (This gives me an opportunity to learn what pitches are correct and vice versa.) I suspect that small group lessons continued on for about three months. My technique slowly began to improve, while I could have been drastically refining my skills if I was taking lessons privately. One day I went to the auditorium at John Muir; a woman was teaching privately on the stage. My mom thought that this could be my opportunity to improve. This lady’s name was Bonnie Greene. We became very good friends and after a few weeks of teaching me on the stage, I began to go to her house for lessons. This woman was amazing; I loved her. She encouraged me to join a program that she ran called Music Makers. This group played for dinner parties, museum openings, weddings, and many other events. I even recall hearing that they played for the president. Lessons with Bonnie continued for two years; unfortunately, she moved to Texas so I was only able to see her when she came for visits about every year. My mother then decided that taking lessons at the Conservatory of Music was best. I was a stubborn child, but quite talented when it came to the violin; however, the only way I would practice was if my mom forced me to. As a result of all the grief my mother went through to get me to practice, I did win a scholarship through the Conservatory. Although the Conservatory might sound grand, my teacher wasn’t very good and she and I didn’t get along very well. My family went back to the drawing board. We eventually found out about a woman named Laurie Asch; she taught a friend of mine from Music Makers. Before I was able to take lessons from her, she had me audition. By this time, I was probably ten and a half years old; my four and a half years of violin had paid off. I was the head of the elementary school orchestra, when I was in fourth grade, Mr. Brodie, the music director, allowed me to play with the fifth grade orchestra. Although studying with Laurie was a good experience, we did not get along well either. We were too stubborn for each other. I was at the point in my life where I would much rather listen to an alternative CD, than a classical composition. I really just had no interest in such deep and dramatic music. My skills did improve drastically though; the turning point in my musical career so far was playing Czardas for a recital: (This is a Hungarian piece with faced paced rhythms and contrasting adagios.) Laurie’s husband played for the Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra, and he had been eyeing me all along. By the time my skill level was proficient enough to play Czardas, he asked his wife if he could teach me instead. I have been taking lessons from Glenn ever since that day. My opinions about music in the past three years have changed so drastically that I don’t even recall why I disliked classical music before. Now I am at the point in my playing that I experience happiness when the piece is Allegro, and experience sadness during a great adagio; however, I feel that learning to play romantic era music has sparked the biggest change I have gone through yet as a musician. Hearing the deep mellow voice of the violin sooths me even more than taking a two-hour nap. I love playing more than anything imaginable. Now, at fifteen years old, I really believe I do feel how composers of the romantic period felt when they became overwhelmed with music.After studying two well-known composers, I feel that if I were to play a piece by them, I would incorporate more feeling than ever before. When playing Haydn, I would think about living in a hut for six years of my life, then cleaning plates and barely getting fed while trying to earn an education. (Hollis 1, 3) The overall interpretation and feeling that would be expressed through my playing would change. Not only would I look at a piece by Schubert and think of a short melody, I would feel anxiety, rejection, and frustration. All of these thoughts would bring on more expressive playing and strong legato bowing. Before I studied a musician’s life, I thought of music as just notes; however, after reading books and Internet pages about musicians, a feeling of understanding began to develop. After hours of reading, I have discovered what major event has encouraged a person to pursue music: Enlightenment. (This word can probably be best described as being totally mesmerized by the desire to compose.) Every single composer has experienced something similar. One day, while playing, each of them realized how much they really loved the art. The mystery and romance of a certain type of music captivated every one of them. What I want to be understood is that music cannot be interpreted as just notes and rhythm, it is truly a reflection of a person’s character.