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Wagner or Beethoven?

Shifts in the Musical Taste of Virginia Woolf

Neohelicon
Author: Mihály Szegedy-Maszák

Abstract  

The essay focuses on the role music played in Virginia Woolf’s life and writings. By relying on information gleaned from her diaries, correspondence, essays, and fiction, on Leonard Woolf’s autobiography and his reviews of gramophone recordings, as well as on the critical and autobiographical works of their contemporaries, the author gives a detailed analysis of Virginia Woolf’s musical background and education. He sees continuity between her early opera-going experiences and her later interest in the string quartets and piano sonatas of Beethoven, arguing that a major artist never forgets the inspiration of early, formative years. Furthermore, this essay addresses complex questions of whether and how a comparison of music and literature can lead to a better understanding of Virginia Woolf’s works.

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The Style Hongrois in the Music of Western Europe. BROWN: Schubert BÓNIS, Ferenc: "Beethoven és a magyar zene" [Beethoven and Hungarian Music] In

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This paper examines a painting by the prominent Biedermeier painter Josef Danhauser, Liszt at the Piano, a unique visual document of the Romantic generation’s cultic relationship and collective memory surrounding the virtually holy predecessor, Beethoven. It demonstrates the Beethoven reverence of (1) the commissioner Conrad Graf, a piano maker, who gave an instrument to Beethoven, (2) the painter Danhauser, who took the death mask of the German composer, and (3) Liszt, who considered himself the artistic heir to Beethoven. Although it is a well-known and thoroughly researched painting, its re-examination is still worthwhile. Focusing on aspects of cultural history, the contemporary reception of the painting should be reconsidered from a synthesizing point of view utilizing the results of art historical iconography and musicology. As a kind of cultural study, the paper attempts to demonstrate the background and motives that lead to the creation of the painting. I shall place the painting in the wider context of the history of ideas which is represented by the art-religious experience Liszt and his Paris companions gained from Beethoven’s music. An evaluation of the narrower, historical background — the Beethoven cult triggered by the piano concerts given by Liszt in Vienna in 1839–1840 — will also be discussed.

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The history of the genre of the sonata written for violoncello and pianoforte begins in 1796 with the five sonatas by Beethoven opp. 5, 69 and 102. The sonata op. 69 is a model for its special role until the 20th century: the lyrical character of the opening theme with a fantasy-like closing solo-cadenza and a fermata. Since the 1st Sonata of Brahms (1865), it was mostly young composers like Strauss (op. 6), Pfitzner (op. 1), Reger (op. 5) and Dohnányi (op. 8) who followed this tradition. As also the Sonata op. 4 by the young composer Kodály (1909) whose opening Adagio as “Fantasia” has the same conceptions: rhapsodic melody with closing cadenza and a fermata. The final return of the Adagio establishes a cyclic unity. The first performance of the sonata in 1910 with string quartets by Kodály and Bartók founded the beginning of modern music in Hungary. Also the Sonatina, originally the 3rd part of Sonata, published in 1922, has a Lento-introduction with rhapsodic-like parts wich begins a process-like evolution of composition. A relationship with the special features of the Sonata for Cello and Piano in the history of the genre includes also works by Debussy (1915) and Hindemith (1919).

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By the time of his death in 1827, the image of Beethoven as we recognise him today was firmly fixed in the minds of his contemporaries, and the career of Liszt was beginning to flower into that of the virtuosic performer he would be recognised as by the end of the 1830s. By analysing the seminal artwork Liszt at the Piano of 1840 by Josef Danhauser, we can see how a seemingly unremarkable head-and-shoulders bust of Beethoven in fact holds the key to unlocking the layers of commentary on both Liszt and Beethoven beneath the surface of the image. Taking the analysis by Alessandra Comini as a starting point, this paper will look deeper into the subtle connections discernible between the protagonists of the picture. These reveal how the collective identities of the artist and his painted assembly contribute directly to Beethoven’s already iconic status within music history around 1840 and reflect the reception of Liszt at this time. Set against the background of Romanticism predominant in the social and cultural contexts of the mid 1800s, it becomes apparent that it is no longer enough to look at a picture of a composer or performer in isolation to understand its impact on the construction of an overall identity. Each image must be viewed in relation to those that preceded and came after it to gain the maximum benefit from what it can tell us.

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The last decade of the eighteenth century was a transitional period in the political as well as the cultural history of Europe. Aesthetic values underwent far-reaching changes everywhere: the field of keyboard music and keyboard performance was no exception. In Vienna, the once legendary performances of W.A. Mozart already seemed out of date for some musicians before the turn of the century. ‘Pearly’ playing gave way to singing legato style, and the occasional use of damper pedals. Of course, the appearance of the young Beethoven made a profound effect on the Viennese piano scene. He competed with four pianists on the keyboard (Gelinek, Wölfl, Steibelt, Vogler) in the course of his first ten years in Vienna: through the contemporary descriptions of these events we can learn a great deal about the current styles of piano playing. The keyboard works of the pianist-composers of the time varied in their style and level of craftsmanship. Textures became denser, and more demanding to play. The general style approached the tone of the early nineteenth century, Schubert’s in particular. Of the younger generation, Hummel was the first who performed on Viennese stages before the end of the century. After 1800, the significant Viennese debut of three young artists, Kalkbrenner, Czerny and Moscheles, initiated a new kind of bravura in pianism, which prepared the era of the instrumental virtuosity of the nineteenth century.

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The psychological concept of the uncanny (“das Unheimliche”) has been established in studies by E. Jentsch (1906) and S. Freud (1919). On the grounds of cultural and textual references, which can be found in these studies, one might regard the uncanny as a discourse construct contained in various literary, evaluative, and visual texts stretching from the late 18th century to the First World War. In my paper, I wish to discuss the assumption that the scherzo genre, commonly seen as founded on Haydn’s opus 33 string quartets and coming to a first fruition in various Beethoven cycles shows a particular propensity to act as the musical vehicle for an uncanny quality. The closer scrutiny of two “programmatic” scherzi (those are the 3rd movement of Mahler’s 2nd Symphony and L’Apprenti sorcier by Dukas) might shed light on the advantages of a genre-oriented approach when musical meaning is concerned.

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countess Terézia/Theresia Brunswick de Korompa (27. 7. 1775 Bratislava – 23. 9. 1861 Pest), daughter of count Anton Brunswick de Korompa see: Newman, Ernest: Who Was Beethoven's “Unsterbliche Geliebte”. in: The Musical Times , Vol. 52, No. 820 (June

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Abstract

Recent studies of formal structure in themes in the Classical repertoire (William Caplin) as well as the music of Wagner (Matthew BaileyShea) point towards the enormous importance and potential of the Sentence phrase structure with its hybrid forms for analyzing tonal music. Initially described by Schoenberg, a Sentence is phrase consisting two main events of equal length, a presentation phrase (consisting of one repeated basic idea) and a continuation phrase. In this paper I will demonstrate Bartók's dependence upon Classical and Romantic phrase structures, including the Sentence, and also the Classical Period (consisting of an antecedent and consequent phrase). In both his small-and large-scale works, Bartók's sentences display a Classical coherence, despite the lack of a functional harmonic framework, due to their clear formal articulation and clearly defined modal pitch centers. Bartók also utilized chains of Sentences, Satzketten, in several works including Concerto for Orchestra. I will describe the different paradigmatic types utilized by Bartók in works such as Divertimento, the String Quartets, along with the Violin and Piano Concertos. Particularly significant is how Bartók alters the repeated basic idea and elaborates the continuation phrase and the creation of compound forms.

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