As a result of the structural changes made, Beethoven was able to better project the type of emotion that he had intended to while composing. Gordon goes on to explain that the overall effect that is ultimately produced by these slow, repetitious triplets is an emotional one: One mood is thus sustained and unbroken throughout the movement, thereby establishing a serene but intense emotionalism. 24 Op. 27, no. 2 provides evidence suggesting the possible beginnings of Beethoven’s attempt to clearly project a specific emotion or a definite state of mind in his sonata. The structure of Moonlight Sonata and the majority of the sonatas composed afterwards became subjected to the emotional content that was being projected. After the Moonlight Sonata, Op. 53 and 57, and Beethoven’s usage of experimentation has become all but uncommon, Beethoven’s late period of sonata compositions begins to take place. Beethoven has now broken so far away from the traditional, classical sonata form that his works are now widely considered by many to be romantic. It is no longer as simple to examine one of Beethoven’s sonatas which once so easy to compare to the other sonatas of the same time period. It is also interesting to note that some of these late compositions including Op. 109 are considered by some modern musicologists to not be sonatas at all. 25 In this final section of Beethoven’s sonata analysis, only a brief overview is offered. Most of Beethoven’s final piano sonatas all contain very detailed directions regarding tempo and expression that were written in German rather than the traditional ?at ease’ and ?sustained’.
In doing so, Beethoven, as a composer, is communicating to the performer the way in which the music should feel in a very clear and understandable way rather than including the standard, often vague allegro or allegretto. As mentioned in the introduction, the attempt to express emotion or lyricism better is definitely an aspect of romantic music. Many of the sonatas composed in the late period contain a type of lyricism that separates them from the earlier and middle sonatas and placing them into the romantic era of music. Similar to the problem we encountered when explaining the Moonlight Sonata, it is very difficult to explain how this type of lyricism is produced in Beethoven’s later piano sonatas. The opening movement of Op. 101 (1816) is an excellent example of Beethoven’s usage of musical lyricism. Gordon compares Op. 101 to Beethoven’s earlier Moonlight Sonata by explaining that both sonatas have an uninterrupted melodic intensity that is sustained from beginning to end. However, the musical structure of the first movement and those that follow it are very different from those found in his early and middle sonatas. Such structural differences include but are not limited to: a short development in the introduction of the second and last movements, abrupt changes in tonality and, most importantly, the usage of a style similar to the fugue of the baroque era. These final changes made to the sonata lead many people to consider them to be romantic. It can be understood from the evidence given in the previous section, concerning the musical changes that Beethoven made in his sonatas alone, that he was indeed a catalyst in the development of romantic music in Europe. This point can be found in countless essays, articles, and books on Beethoven and the role that he played in helping the transition. Many sources pay little or no attention to other pre-romantic composers. For example: The Development of Western Music, a text book in which the chronologically progression of western music is examined, dedicates the entire section on the transition from classical music to romantic music to Beethoven only.
But, should Beethoven alone receive credit for sparking the transition into the romantic era of music? Should the studies of the transitional period be limited to only Beethoven’s works? Is the time in which Beethoven composed the only time period that can be considered the transitional period? My answer to all of these questions is easy to anticipate: no. Beethoven’s significant contributions to the transitional period from classical to romantic music should not overshadow the contributions of other composers, Schubert in particular, working in the same time period and slightly after most what most would consider ?transitional.’ It can also be argued that the transitional period extends slightly beyond the time in which Beethoven was composing. Beethoven is necessary in understanding the development of romantic music but, studying his compositions, alone, is not sufficient in fully understanding the musical progression from classical to romantic. The first questions that this argument raises are, Who can also be credited with having helping move western music forward into the romantic era and when did this take place? The time period in which we are most concerned with in this situation will not be the period before Beethoven was composing but the period during and immediately after.
The Sonata Since Beethoven, in a chart depicting the production spans of romantic composers , provides us with an idea as to when the most important composers of the now romantic era were producing their works. In the short time period before the greatest composers that we now recognize as romantic began writing” Liszt, Chopin, Schumann, Mendelssohn, and Wagner”and during the same time in which Beethoven was composing, we see afore mentioned Austrian composer, Franz Schubert. Of course, as is to be expected, there is a slight overlap between Schubert and these romantic composers. However, it is clear that Schubert was composing before all of them. This leads us to consider the possible influences that Schubert may have had on these composers and, quite possibly, Beethoven himself. In order for us to begin to understand the possible influences that Schubert had on the composers of the romantic era and the involvement that he had in creating the transition, it is important to very briefly examine some of Schubert’s compositions. Unlike the previous section in which Beethoven’s sonatas were analyzed more specifically, however, a much broader, less specific overview of the changes that Schubert created is offered. Rockstro’s remarks that Schubert’s method of working differed entirely from Mozart’s and Beethoven’s. He never prepared a perfect mental copy, like the former.[He] wrote almost always on the spur of the moment, committing themselves on paper, as fast as his pen could trace them.Taking this into consideration, it is perhaps easier to understand why the works Schubert are considered to be different from those of Beethoven and the former composers of the late eighteenth and early nineteenth century composers. It also helps further suggest that many of the changes brought forward by Schubert were, for the most part, very original thus making his contributions more meaningful. From the beginning of Schubert’s compositions until the very end, we can view a type of evolution or progression similar to that of Beethoven’s as viewed in the prior analysis. The difference lies within what the two composers experimented and contributed during the evolution. One of the major contributions made by Schubert during the transition into the romantic era which is not found so much in Beethoven’s compositions pertains mainly to harmonics. Gordon comments on the contributions of Schubert by saying that Schubert’s musical style contains a mixture of the traditional and the forward looking.
When Gordon mentions the traditional he refers to the traditional musical structure established in the classical era; looking forward refers to Schubert’s new harmonic experimentations. The other aspect of Schubert’s musical compositions that has proven to be a critical part in the development of romantic music and very unique to his style is his creation of lyrical or songlike melodies in his piano and other non-voice compositions. Schubert went beyond Beethoven in creating very lyrical themes or melodies. Songs without words they are often referred to as. Similar to Beethoven’s case, it is difficult to analyze and explain exactly why these piano pieces and other works have such attractive, sweet melodies. W. H. Hadow (1859-1937), a critic of early and late romantic music, writes: In clarity of style [Schubert] was inferior to Mozart; in power of musical construction he was far inferior to Beethoven, but in poetic impulse and suggestion he is unsurpassed. Schubert’s later piano sonatas present his lyrical melodies and unique harmonic experimentation and progression better than his early ones. His seventeenth piano sonata (D. 845, composed 1825) contains these strange harmonies and his romantic melodies. D. 845 received great attention in the beginning of 1826 with positive reviews by Schumann and Fink, a music critic from Frankfurt. Fink comments on sonata No. 17 in an article written in 1826 by saying, it moves so freely and originally within its confines, and sometimes so boldly and curiouslyIt is easy to see that these [original melodic and harmonic] inventions are often somewhat odd and that their exposition is even more curious.
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