Sunday, 2 August 2015

The Romantic Generation Charles Rosen - 1996

“Here , in the last pages of the “Abegg” Variations, Schumann plays the motto theme A-B-E-G-G (B in German notation is the English B) not by sounding the last four notes but by taking them away, one by one, from the chord of B-E-G. This is the first time in history that a melody is signified not by the attack but by the release of a series of notes.” (Rosen, 1996, p.11).

“For Beethoven, music was still shape, realized and inflected by instrumental sonority. (…) For Schumann, however, as for Chopin and Liszt, the conception was worked out directly in clay or marble. The instrumental sound is shaped into music.” (Rosen, 1996, p.30).

“Not until Schumann’s generation was it possible to end with a dissonance.” (Rosen, 1996, p.41). “The form is circular: the opening of each section in turn resolves the previous one and ends, itself unresolved – only a dissonant close is possible.” (Rosen, 1996, p.44). “A unique tonal center is replaced by a controlled movement of tonal change.” (Rosen, 1996, p.212). “The melody of many of the songs, however, appears to derive from the previous sing, without rising (or descending, if one likes) to the level of actual quotation.” (Rosen, 1996, p.213).“When the voice enters, it is almost perfectly doubled by the piano – almost, as tge voice begins by repeating one note that the piano ties, and anticipates the next note (B) a sixteenth before the piano.” (Rosen, 1996, p.46).

“Schumann treats the relative minor here and elsewhere as a variant form of the tonic, using it rather for a change of mode, not tonality.” (Rosen, 1996, p.47). “The A major that enters with Heine’s poetry is, in fact a surprise. (…) Schumann has elaborated a form in which the tonic is itself unstable. (…) Without for a moment challenging the system of tonality, Schumann here stands basic tonal structure on its head.” (Rosen, 1996, p.47).

“Schumann’s technique of songwriting, in which the general musical line is individualized only intermittently into words: the full line is either in the piano or passed from piano to voice. This technique would become the basis of the Wagnerian music drama, in which the general musical line is alos intermittently individualized into words, but transcends both orchestra and voice; the technique of the complete phrase only incompletely realized by either voice or accompaniment is, however, largely developed by Schumann.” (Rosen, 1996, p.61).

“Music does not communicate emotions or even, properly speaking, express them. What it does is inspire and stimulate emotion.” (Rosen, 1996, p.132).

 “The relation of tonic to dominant is the foundation of Western triadic tonality. The attempt of the early nineteenth century to substitute third or median relationships for the classical dominant amounted to a frontal attack on the principles of tonality, and it eventually contributed to the ruin of triadic tonality.”  (Rosen, 1996, p.237).“attacked was the coherence of the tonal hierarchy, which in the eighteenth century gave opposing functions ti the chords of the dominant and the subdominant. Movement to the dominant raised the tension of the music; an allusion to the subdominant decreased it.” (Rosen, 1996, p.237).

“The mediants for Beethoven were not primarily coloristic episodes, as they were for Mozart, but a harmony of greater tension than the more ordinary dominant,. Beethoven replaced the polar opposition of the dominant with a median, and established it with equivalent weight. This is one of the essential characteristics of eighteenth century harmony that is weakened in the new style: a classical form of opposition is retained but it has become slightly blurred. The new key are not formally established: the music slides from tonic to median.” (Rosen, 1996, p.244).

 “In all these examples from the first half of the nineteenth century, musical style is moving from the dissonant passing notes of classical tonality towards the dissonant “passing phrases” (to use Bernard Shaw’s excellent term about Strauss’s music) of the early twentieth century. Renouncing the force of tonal  opposition may eventually have weakened the tonal language, but it did not weaken the music, which in fact had gained a new source of power.” (Rosen, 1996, p.257).

“In fact one might say that the test of a great contrapuntist is the ability to compose a single unaccompanied line that makes harmonic sense.” (Rosen, 1996, p.290). “The replacement of harmony by melody, therefore, is conservative, although the sonority is unexpected. The replacement of some of the functions of melody by rhythm is considerably more startling.” (Rosen, 1996, p.292).

“Chopin exemplifies in this passage one of the great lessons of Bach’s counterpoint: not only can many voices be produced out of one, but one can be produced out of many.” (Rosen, 1996, p.302).

“This is the point of greatest difference between Chopin’s forms and those of his classical predecessors, for whom the exposition of material required not merely contrast but a clear heightening of tension. Chopin delays this large scale increase of tension until all thematic material has been heard.” (Rosen, 1996, p.316).

“The structure and harmony of this opening melody could not appear to be less sophisticated. (…) The sophistication lies in the smallest details: the artful and accomplished voice leading, the coda, the placing of the few indications of dynamics, and, above all, the way the phrases open either on the bar line or on an upbeat.” (Rosen, 1996, p.330).

“There is a parody at the heart of Chopin’s style, in its unlikely combination of a rich chromatic web of polyphony, based on a profound experience of J.S. Bach, with a sense of melody and a way of sustaining the melodic line derived directly from Italian opera.” (Rosen, 1996, p.344). “Chopin’s heterophonic counterpoint, two voices playing the same melody together in different rhythms.” (Rosen, 1996, p.349). “It also allows the accompaniment to become melody at any moment.” (Rosen, 1996, p.350). “Another is the melody achieved through a complex interplay of two or more voices, but without any sense of contrapuntal opposition.” (Rosen, 1996, p.353). “The importance of this technique may be understood if we reflect that in this passage the individual voices in the original notation are not very interesting by themselves.” (Rosen, 1996, p.354). “What Chopin reproduces of Bach, therefore, is not the theoretical structure on paper, but the aural experience.” (Rosen, 1996, p.355).

 “”In his concentration on tone color Liszt may be seen as the most radical musician of his generation. His example attacked some of the basic assumption of Western music, in which pithc and rhythm wre the essential determinants of form, and spacing and tone color were subordinate, only a means to the realization of sound.” (Rosen, 1996, p.507).

“In tonal music each form of the triad has a different function and a different sonority that endow it with a special expressive color: the root position is used for cadences, and has the most stable effect; the first inversion, or sixth chord, is consonant but not final, and can be used for intermediate resolution . without being dissonant it is nevertheless indecisive. (…) the second inversion is a dissonance, a 6/4 chord, and the harsh sonority of the fourth requires resolution, and consequently gives the greates sense of tension.” (Rosen, 1996, p.550). “Berlioz’s toncis can be more unorthodox than other composers’ most complex chromatic chords. They work by first sounding wrong; then what follows half or fully convinces us of their necessity.” (Rosen, 1996, p.552).

“The rules of species counterpoint are exceedingly simple: the countermelody must not make parallel octaves or fifths with the cantus, since that would be too much like a simple doubling o f the original line: the countermelody must not often leap into a dissonance and never out of it, but the dissonance must be approached and, above all, resolved in stepwise motion, directly and simply, to the nearest consonance – this last is a recipe for maing dissonant movement seem graceful and beautiful, and is central to all tonal music.” (Rosen, 1996, p.553).
“The rules of counterpoint apply not only to several voices but also, paradoxically, to simple unaccompanied melodies: the successive notes of a melody are conceived as dissonant or consonant to one another. A tune in C major defined the C major triad.” (Rosen, 1996, p.553).

“In classical terms – but not always for Berlioz – counterpoint has priority over harmony because the relations of consonance and dissonance that govern harmony and melody are derived, as we have seen, from counterpoint.” (Rosen, 1996, p.553).

“Every chord, every note of the harmony, therefore, is the result of conflicting forces: the demands of the melody (the harmony it implies when it is playd by itself) and the similar demandsof the individual subordinate voices which make up the harmony, all subject to the same constraints.” (Rosen, 1996, p.554).

“Meyerbeer’s approach to opera may seem cynical. His music is not, like Donizetti’s, an immediate expression of the sentiments of his characters but a calculated manipulation of the audience.” (Rosen, 1996, p.645).

 “When is a key not a key? When it is nothing more than a simple chord; whenthe relation of tonic and dominant does not function within it; when the tonic note is not the center or the basis of resolution.” (Rosen, 1996, p.652).

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