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Topic: The Art of the Symphony

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  1. #1

    The Art of the Symphony

    The art of the fugue...the art of the symphony...what's next? I'll just tell you now: the art of the concerto.

    NEway,
    I know symphonies are orchestral works with four movements, but is there a specific pattern for those movements? From my collection of symphonies I'm guessing that the first is fairly quick, there's only one slow movement and that's either the second or third, and the last one is fairly quick and one of them is minor.

    Then again I could be completely wrong.
    In other words, I have no clue what I'm talking about and just spew out all your information about symphonies.

    -Chris

  2. #2

    Smile Re: The Art of the Symphony

    From a technical point of view, the Symphony is a big Sonata form for Orchestra.

    As in the Sonata it's important the caracter of the first mov., usually written as a big exposition of main and secondary themes, developed in the central part and coming back for the ripresa, in a conclusive more affirmative way (the "sonata" form, just extended).

    As in the Sonata following mov. are usually in contrast, like a light "scherzo" and a slow or heavy "adagio".

    The last one is usually a good conclusion, and recall the caracter of the first mov (or recall some theme and atmosphere of previous movements), but with a more heroic, contrapuntal and compelling caracter.

    But during centuries, like the Sonata, the Symphony enlarge or reduced his form, with additional movements, with choir and solos episode, or with a written "programma" like the Symphonic poem.

    Recent composers in contrast, are writing sometime little form, of dimension/duration similar to the first classic Symphony (Mozart, Haydn), to enjoy the coherent and solid form of Sonata/Symphony, in a concise and "not too long" concerto piece for orchestra.

    This is only the beginning: music history lovers, and professors, please "faites votre jeux..."!!

  3. #3
    Senior Member newmewzikboy's Avatar
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    Re: The Art of the Symphony

    This is a difficult subject that I was sucked into a while ago.

    The classical symphony as devised by Haydn is not the same model that you might find in something like W Schuman or Harris or anywhere in between

    The classical 3 movement form, usually something like SONATA, ADAGIO/MINUETTE, RONDO, was expanded with a SCHERZO by Beethoven...who experimented all to hell with the Sonata form in general, and perhaps anything that had movements involved... But yes, to get to the "spirit" of the symphony, looking at the classical form, as well as some of Beethoven, is a good basis.

    I'd invite others to list their favorite symphonie. Personally staying away from the Mahler/Bruchner lines and leaving for others...I'm a fan of Sibelius, some of the english and frenchie folks, and the franco-american school myself. With the french school, prefer the Debussy-like poems than formal symphonies...same with italian schools...

  4. #4

    Re: The Art of the Symphony

    Quote Originally Posted by newmewzikboy
    I'd invite others to list their favorite symphonie.
    Although listing musical references is helpful, sometimes the form is hard to pinpoint from just listening and I'd really like to keep this thread more informational than a big list.

    Fabio, thanks for the reply. So symphonies used to be only three movements? Thinking back on Beethoven's symphonies, his fifth follows that sort of form, but the main theme changes. The three eigth note half note motif is gone by the time the fourth movement comes along, except for a small section. But he was more romantic and it was a little more rebellious tward the rules.

    I'll have a listen to some Mozart symhponies and look at his scores. Mozart was the perfect one, right? Sometimes too perfect...

    -Chris

  5. #5

    Re: The Art of the Symphony

    Quote Originally Posted by cptexas
    Sometimes too perfect...
    Never too perfect!

  6. #6
    Senior Member newmewzikboy's Avatar
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    Re: The Art of the Symphony

    You will find flaws in EVERYONES music....even in Mozart. That's one of the great lessons you will need to learn and greater to accept.

    There are a number of good books on the history of the Symphony. Suggest a quick search on Amazon...

  7. #7

    Re: The Art of the Symphony

    Quote Originally Posted by newmewzikboy
    You will find flaws in EVERYONES music....even in Mozart. That's one of the great lessons you will need to learn and greater to accept.

    There are a number of good books on the history of the Symphony. Suggest a quick search on Amazon...
    Yes, hence his music was never too perfect!

  8. #8
    Senior Member newmewzikboy's Avatar
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    Re: The Art of the Symphony

    Actually his music sucks...all those damn sequences and alberti basses and trilled resolutions will drive you nutz!!

  9. #9
    Senior Member rwayland's Avatar
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    Re: The Art of the Symphony

    Quote Originally Posted by newmewzikboy
    Actually his music sucks...all those damn sequences and alberti basses and trilled resolutions will drive you nutz!!
    Yes, those alberti things are wearying. But I do like the trills most of the time. But I mostly don't like his development. I like his sonatas up to the first double bar. After that, I have a distinct tendency to let my attention wander when I play them.

    Is his music still unacceptable as audtion music for conservatory entry?

    Richard

  10. #10
    Senior Member newmewzikboy's Avatar
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    Re: The Art of the Symphony

    I dont remember Mozart being unacceptable audition material...The usual:

    Bach WTC or similar fugue
    Classical Sonata - Mozart or Early Beethoven
    Romantic - Chopin, Schumann, Brahms (short piece)
    Modern - Prokofief, Bartok


    BORING!!!

    What I would like to hear:
    Bach - Goldberg Variations
    Beethoven Hammerclavier Sonata
    Brahms Sonata OR Schumann Symphonic Variations
    Ives - Concord Sonata

    And all played within 2 hour audition...

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