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Early Romantic Era Continued: Chopin and Nationalism

Taking a break from program versus absolute music, we will explore another major force at work in European art in the early Romantic period: Nationalism. We’ll see how Chopin perhaps unknowingly started a powerful trend in European music, and we’ll enjoy his gorgeous and unique works for solo piano. The European industrial revolution created wealth, … Continue reading Early Romantic Era Continued: Chopin and Nationalism

Programmatic versus Absolute Music: Part 1

In the early 19th century, a debate had already started about what music should be as an art form. You can’t touch or see it, and it begins and ends, but can be repeated. This intangibility and finite nature made it difficult to define it, and having an opinion on this matter became fashionable and … Continue reading Programmatic versus Absolute Music: Part 1

Early Romantic Vocal Music

We’ve given lots of attention to instrumental music lately, and I don’t want to give the impression that the entire Classical period went by without any noteworthy vocal music being written and performed. Mozart wrote some of the most iconic operas in history, and both Haydn and Beethoven, among others, left behind wonderful choral works. … Continue reading Early Romantic Vocal Music

Classical Era & Beyond: Beethoven

Ludwig van Beethoven (1770-1827) is probably the most recognizable name not only in the Classical era but in Western music as a whole. His compositions are among the most known and loved, and the story of his life is as inspiring as the compositions themselves. Few artists, music and otherwise, have such a compelling and … Continue reading Classical Era & Beyond: Beethoven

Classical Era: Haydn’s String Quartets

We’ve established classical era music as a delicate balance between a logically satisfying format and emotionally stirring character, and looked at how Mozart’s symphonies embodied these concepts. Another hugely influential medium developed during the Classical era was the string quartet, which we’ll look at today through the same analytical lens we used in the last … Continue reading Classical Era: Haydn’s String Quartets

The Classical Era: Good Clean Form

The end of the Baroque era tends to be placed in 1750, the year of Bach’s death. Even before this, though, tastes were changing in Europe. Regardless of what era or art medium, it’s interesting to observe that tastes tend to alternate between opposites through time. Music embodies this by going through alternating states of … Continue reading The Classical Era: Good Clean Form

Baroque Continued: Bach’s Instrumental Suites

Continuing in the vein of solo instrumental works, today we will look at Bach’s writing for solo stringed instruments. Bach wrote six cello suites and six sonatas and partitas for solo violin. He also wrote many works for soloist and accompaniment, for example sonatas for gamba and keyboard accompaniment, but our focus today will be … Continue reading Baroque Continued: Bach’s Instrumental Suites

Baroque Instrumental Music: Trio Sonata and Concerto Grosso

All of the Listening Club entries so far have focused on vocal music, and there’s a reason: music that has words is usually more accessible to the untrained ear. Word painting is a powerful technique that anyone can appreciate if made aware of it. With no words to paint, instrumental music is easy to listen … Continue reading Baroque Instrumental Music: Trio Sonata and Concerto Grosso

Introducing the Baroque Period

By 1600, the Renaissance had morphed into a new, adventurous frontier both in the arts and in sociopolitical life. The church’s artistic monopoly had been relaxing throughout the Renaissance, and in the now-named “Baroque” period the royal courts began taking the creative lead in earnest. The royal courts were also more socioeconomically powerful than the … Continue reading Introducing the Baroque Period