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Classical vs. Modern music

By Hayley-Gurriell Nov 03, 2013 1506 Words
Classical Music vs. Modern Music
Classical and Modern music have many differences as well as similarities. In this paper, I compare classical and modern-day music through a means of artists, performances, and specific pieces. Although modern and classical music have different meanings, for example classical music back in the early 19th century was only played for the rich and royal and took some composers multiple months to compose, while modern music can be created in just hours with electronic sounds instead of musical instruments and listened to by anyone, compositions of each can share similar beats, rhythms, and melodies that connect them to each other. Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart was born on January 27, 1756, in Salzburg, Austria. He was born to an overbearing and ambitious father, Leopold, who was more than anxious to exploit his son's amazing musical gifts. Mozart began composing at an early age, and he began touring around the same time. Throughout his life, Mozart made many enemies, many his own fault, through his naive arrogance and harsh critique of his musical colleagues. He worked anxiously, composing symphonies and operas, as well as touring constantly. Mozart died of overwork and kidney failure on the 5th of December 1791 while still ironically at work on the "Requiem Mass" for an unknown client. Though he lived for a relatively short time, Mozart’s prolific musical career, in which he composed hundreds of musical works, gained him a place among the all time greatest composers. Henry Vieuxtemps was born in 1820 in Verviers, Belgium, a fertile ground for violinists. He had his first lessons from his father, a weaver and amateur violin-maker and player. Vieuxtemps made his first public appearance as a violinist at the age of six, playing a concerto by Rode. In 1836, Vieuxtemps wrote his first violin concerto, the Concerto No. 2 in F sharp minor, published as Opus 19. In 1843 and 1844 he toured America and during that time, he wrote his Concerto No. 3, Opus 25, a work now as a great poem rather than a concerto, influenced by Beethoven’s Violin Concerto. In his later years, Vieuxtemps devoted much of his time to teaching, but suffered a stroke in 1871, making virtuoso playing impossible. Afterwards, in 1877 he resumed teaching and conducting in Paris. Illness led finally to his resignation in 1879, but he continued to compose, completing his Concerto No. 6 in G Major, Opus 47, and soon thereafter Concerto No. 7 in A minor, Opus 49. He died in 1881 and was buried in his hometown of Verviers. I was able to get ahold of a recorded version of “Mostly Mozart Festival, Avery Fisher Hall, Lincoln Center.” This musical performance included three works from Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart - Symphony No.32 in G, K.318, Piano Concerto in D minor, K.466 and Symphony No.35 in D, K.385 ("Haffner") - and one from Henry Vieuxtemps - Violin Concerto No.5. Emmanuel Krivine conducted the performance, with featured soloists Joshua Bell (Vieuxtemps violin concerto) and Stewart Goodyear (Mozart piano concerto). A full orchestra performed the symphonies. Overall, the Mostly Mozart Festival was a tremendously enjoyable experience to watch. The qualities that define the works of Mozart are often the same as those that are used to describe those of the “classical” period of music, from his smooth melodies and flowing rhythm, to his pleasing use of dynamics to create an atmosphere of complete satisfaction. One of the most defining principles of the style of Mozart is the connection to nature and God, and the seeming “oneness” and harmony that can be achieved simply by listening while the melodies take you to a higher plane of thought. The most enjoyable piece from the performance was “Allegro,” from Mozart’s Concerto in Dm. It is unbelievable the way he crafted and rhythmically shaped this piece. One of the most outstanding elements of this piece is the harmony created between the piano and the strings as they accompany each other with seeming perfection. The resulting experience is exciting to say the least. Accentuating the piece even more was the performance by the virtuoso pianist, Stewart Goodyear. Although still in his early twenties, this musical genius has already far surpassed many of his contemporaries and his solos are breathtaking, as he routinely improvises and takes even the most perfect piece to new heights.

In addition to Mozart, the performance also included a Violin concerto by Henry Vieuxtemps, a romantic era violin virtuoso, with Joshua Bell performing on the violin. Vieuxtemps uses many of the attributes of the romantic era, such as an incredible freedom of movement and rubato time, which leaves much up to interpretation by the performer. Perhaps the most exhilarating part of this piece was the solo performance of the violin, as the incredible speed along with dramatic dynamic seems to flow in such a way that would not seem possible. It would be logical to assume that the other people who watched this performance shared this opinion, as response was very powerful, and lasted for some time. In the more modern era, Claude-Michel Schonberg was born in Paris in 1944 of Hungarian parents; he began his career as a singer, writer and producer of popular songs. He wrote the musical score of La Revolution Françoise in 1973, Les Misérables in 1980 and Miss Saigon in1989. Since then he has also supervised overseas productions of Les Misérables and Miss Saigon and co-produced several international cast albums of his shows. He is currently working on a new production of his last musical Martin Guerre. He lives in Paris with his wife and two children. Herbert Kretzmer was born in South Africa, where he began his journalistic career writing the commentary for a weekly movie newsreel. In 1960 he joined the staff of the Daily Express and later became its chief drama critic, a post he held for 18 years, covering about 3000 first nights. From 1979 to 1987 he wrote television criticism for the Daily Mail, winning two national press awards. Kretzmer wrote the book and lyrics of the West End musical Our Man Crichton, which starred Kenneth More and Millicent Martin, and the lyrics for The four Musketeers. For his Les Misérables" lyrics he received Tony and Grammy awards. In 1996 he was elected an Honorary Doctor of Letters at Richmond College. I was lucky enough to see the broadway performance of Les Misérables in New York a couple years back. ““Les Misérables,” Imperial Theater, Broadway,” perhaps the most popular and best loved musical on Broadway, Les Misérables contains some of the most defining elements of the modern musical. The composer is able to convey many moods, from joyous to sad, as well as provide a perfect platform for the lyrics, which comprise almost all of the spoken language of the musical. The moods are perhaps the most noticeable element of the musical, for example, the feeling conveyed though “Master of the House” is lightheartedness and comic. On the other end of the scale, there is the hostile emptiness felt in “On My Own,” a song about unknown and one-sided love. There is also a very noticeable flow to the entire performance, one that seems to be moving along and carrying the story. It is very instinctual and subconscious at the same time, providing for a very pleasant experience altogether. Working hand in hand with the instrumental aspect, the lyrics of Les Misérables lend themselves wholly to the mood of the pieces. From “Can You Hear the People Sing,” a march drumming up support for the upcoming revolution, to “A Little Fall of Rain,” in which a dying Eponine professes her hidden love, the lyrics portray perfectly the mood and complement the music wholly. The success of these portrayals is reflected by the response of the audience, which was energetic and highly appreciative. When comparing the two performances, it is important to notice the influence that one may have had on another. For example, the music of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart had a terrific impact on the musical world, and later, practically every musician is influenced in some way by his input. Therefore, it would be logical to assume that Schonberg was influenced by the works of Mozart. Though they vary in elements such as instruments as well as words, many have much in common, such as structure, which follows a basic formula of repeating melodies and reprisals. They also share much in the sense of flow, tones, and dynamics. The effect of both performances on me as a listener was a good one. Not only have both exposed me to various sides of the musical world, they have also increased my knowledge and understanding of music, as well as its roots and the relationships between different genres. The final facts are not only relevant because I thoroughly enjoyed both performances, but also because I was experiencing a diversity of styles and compositions. Through exposure to different forms of musical interpretation, it is possible to understand better how music evolves and how it becomes part of our culture and shapes the way we live, as well as how it is used as a form of communication, and helps us better understand ourselves.

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