Schubert, Strauss And Verdi Essay, Research Paper
Influenced by the literature and painting of the era, 19th-century music was, marked by intensely personal expressions of emotion. In order to state their individuality with greater freedom, composers disregarded the limits of set forms. They enjoyed writing music that was more pictorial than earlier works and often attempted to imitate nature. The new compositions often lacked the cheerfulness of the classical era. In the search for self-expression, composers of the Romantic period were aroused with a serious concern for detail. Great composers of the age were Franz Schubert, Richard Strauss and Giuseppe Verdi.
Franz Schubert was one of the originators of the Romantic style. The Viennese composer was also the greatest of the postclassicists. He served as a bridge between the two eras. He turned poems into music easily. He wrote eight songs in one day, 146 in a single year, more than 600 in his lifetime. His compositions brought the art of German songwriting to its peak.
Franz Peter Schubert was born in Himmelpfortgrund, near Vienna, Austria, on Jan. 31, 1797. His father was head of the parish school. Young Schubert learned to play the piano, violin, and viola, and he played the viola in the family string quartet. At the age of seven, he became a boy soprano in the village choir. Four years later his singing won him a place in the Vienna court choir–now known as the Vienna Choir Boys–and preparatory school. There he studied with the noted Antonio Salieri. He became first violinist in the school orchestra. He began to compose regularly when he was about 13. When he was 16 his voice changed, and he had to leave the imperial school. He taught until 1818 in his father’s school. Then he gave up this work and lived only for music.
Schubert was always poor. He applied twice without success for a position as an orchestral conductor. He wrote several operas in an effort to earn money, but they were never performed. In 1828 his friends arranged a benefit concert of his works.
Among Schubert’s best-known songs are ‘The Erl King’, ‘The Wanderer’, ‘The Double’, ‘Gretchen at the Spinning Wheel’, ‘Sylvia’, and the song cycles ‘The Miller’s Beautiful Daughter’ and ‘The Winter Journey’. He left many incomplete works. His chamber music includes 16 string quartets, and the well-known ‘Trout Quintet’ for violin, viola, cello, double bass, and piano, and the ‘String Quintet in C Major’. He also wrote many piano works, including about 20 sonatas.
However, all this incredible work and effort was left behind. Franz Schubert died in Vienna of typhus on Nov. 19, 1828. He was only 31.
Another famous composer of the Romantic Era was Richard Strauss. He was one of the most talked-of musicians of the early 1900s. Strauss was born in Munich, Germany, on June 11, 1864. His father was one of the greatest horn players of Germany. Young Strauss showed early signs of musical talent. When he was 4 years old he played the piano well. At the age of 6 he was composing, and at 10 he was studying seriously. Up to 1890 his compositions were not unusual. He was known chiefly as conductor of the Munich opera. Then he began introducing original innovations. Storms of criticism followed the appearance of each new work. However, he won a place among the leading composers of the day. In 1898 he settled in Berlin as conductor of the Royal Opera.
Although Strauss could write beautiful melodies, and often did, in many of his compositions for orchestra he seemed less interested in melody and more interested in injecting unusual tones into his music. He often created conflicting tone combinations and asked the orchestra to produce extraordinary effects. The hissing of steam was reproduced by rubbing a drumhead with brushes, and the trampling of horses’ feet by means of a wooden drum beaten with tubular sticks. Such effects have been widely used by numerous later composers.
Of Strauss’s operas, ‘Salome’ (1905) was probably the most innovative, and ‘Der Rosenkavalier’ (1911) the most liked. His symphonic poems, including ‘Till Eulenspiegel’s Merry Pranks’ (1894-95) and ‘Thus Spake Zarathustra’ (1895–96), have grown very popular. Many of his songs, with their melodic beauty, are universal favorites. Unfortunately, the his fame came to an end on Septemer 8, 1949 when he died at the age of 85.
One of the leading composers of Italian operas in the 19th century was Giuseppe Verdi. He was born on Oct. 10, 1813, in Le Roncole, a village near Parma in northern Italy’s Po River valley. The child of a poor family, Verdi showed unusual musical talent at an early age. A local amateur musician named Antonio Barezzi helped him with his education. At Barezzi’s expense he was sent to Milan when he was 18. He stayed there for three years, then served as musical director in Busseto for two years before returning to Milan. By 1840, just as he had established a reputation and begun to make money, he was discouraged by personal tragedies. Within a three-year period his wife and both of his children died.
With his opera ‘Ernani’ (1844), however, Verdi’s fame and fortune were made. The right to publish one opera brought him 4,000 dollars. Later he received 20,000 dollars for the first night’s performance of ‘Aida’. Verdi’s last opera, ‘Falstaff’, was produced just before his 80th birthday. Thousands of music lovers journeyed to Milan from all parts of Italy for its first performance, and the applause the aged composer received has seldom been equaled in musical history. In his nearly 30 operas, Verdi’s music shows the dramatic action. He often connects musical themes with specific characters and events, especially in such late masterpieces as ‘Otello’ (1887) and ‘Falstaff’ (1893). The emotional impact, drama, and soaring melodies that characterize his operas are also found in such works as his ‘Requiem’ and ‘Four Sacred Pieces’. His ‘Rigoletto’ (1851), ‘Il Trovatore’ and ‘La Traviata’ (both 1853), and ‘Aida’ (1871) will be staged as long as operas are performed.
He died in Milan on Jan. 27, 1901. A Verdi museum has been established in La Scala opera house in Milan to honor his work there.