Archive for the ‘masterworks1’ Category


Tuesday, March 23rd, 2010

Debussy is a classic impressionist artist in the sense that he broke away from the traditions of older musicians like Hadyn, Mozart, Beethoven, and even Berlioz.  His style is unique because it doesn’t seem to follow any rules or traditions like Sonata form.  However, contrary to many assumptions, there have been studies of Debussy’s music that pose theories that his music does indeed follow rules, but they are mathematical.  Roy Howat was a prominent figure in studying Debussy’s work and discovering patterns of the golden ratio and Fibonacci’s sequence in several of Debussy’s songs.  Howat argues that since Debussy would always be in touch with artists of other professions like painters, architects, etc. it was extremely likely that he came across the golden ratio and Fibonacci’s sequence.  Furthermore, Debussy loved all art work and even praised other forms of art more than music itself so it wouldn’t be a surprise if Debussy would have tried to imitate paintings or sketches utilizing the golden ratio in his music.  An example of Debussy using the Fibonacci is in the song La Mer where the 55 bar introduction is broken into 5 sections that are 21, 8 , 8, 5, and 13 bars in length.  In Debussy’s La cathedrale engloutie, Howat argues that Debussy made changes to the music in between the final manuscript and the printed edition.  These changes instruct for the music at bars 7-12 and 22-83 to be played twice as fast as the remainder, creating a golden proportion.  As remarkable as these findings are, Howat has been unable to find golden ratios in Debussy’s later works and there are no sketches or calculations that Debussy made to show evidence of the golden ration and Fibonacci sequence.

Symphonie Fantastique Mvt. 4

Friday, March 12th, 2010

Symphonie Fantastique Mvt. 4

Symphonie Fantastique is arguably Berloiz’s most famous piece due to how different this composition is from other pieces before and after its time in the cassical genre.  Accompanied with the music is a program that depicts a story (Berlioz’s story) that the music follows.  Movement 4 of Berlioz’s Symphonie Fantastique impressed me the most out of the movements not only because of the unusual irony but also because of how personable it is.  Berlioz does a superb job of lining up the summary of this movement with the music which made it incredibly easy for me to understand what Berlioz was actually thinking when he wrote this movement.  Although I have never taken opium, the music gives me a pretty good idea of what would happen if I did because most of this movement is in chaos.  The irony of the chaos is that it is set to a march, which are normally pieces that follow a strict set of rules showing no chaos.  This movement shows fleeting moments of order and brighter melodies common in marches, however these melodies are always overshadowed by horrible visions in this artist’s dream.  No matter how chaotic the piece gets, the bass drum can always be heard in the background keeping step as the artist dreams about marching to his death.  The greatest asset of this movement is how realistic the instruments Berlioz uses can be with what actions are going on in the story, especially at the end.  I could clearly tell when the guillotine fell killing the artist and the somewhat of a fanfare that follow to simulate the cheering of a crowd.  I believe this movement highlights Berlioz’s genius and what kind of a composer he is better than any other movement in this symphony.

A Fifth Of Beethoven

Thursday, February 25th, 2010

A Fifth of Beethoven

Arguably one of the most widely know pieces of music to date is Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony in C Minor.  It’s classic motifs are used in movies, jokes, television, and any other form of media.  An extremely popular adaptation to the classic composition is a song called A Fifth of Beethoven arranged by Walter Murphy in 1976.  This song did not reach its popularity until the next year when it was featured in Saturday Night Fever at the height of disco.  This song epitomizes the era of disco due to the funk beat creating a back drop for the melodic tune Beethoven created almost 200 years before.  The song takes the most memorable parts of the first suite of the symphony and creates a collaboration of motifs from Beethoven and melodies that Murphy creates himself.  The melody still travels from instrument to instrument like in the original but the dynamics are taken out of the cover.  The passion and romanticism that made Beethoven’s symphony genius is lost behind the loud instruments Murphy uses to accompany the string melody.  However, this isn’t partially Murphy’s fault, due to the times, instruments popularly used, and the public demand for music to sound and feel a certain way, Murphy ultimately chose not to venture away from the norm similar to Beethoven and other musicians of that time period.  In Conclusion, the adaptation of Beethoven’s fifth symphony became extremely popular because it appealed to the mass population since it combined famous, classical music with popular and catchy beat that everyone could dance to.

Wagner vs. Mozart

Friday, February 5th, 2010

Mozart and Wagner are arguably two of the greatest composers ever to live and compose two completely different styles of music.  Mozart’s songs are technically and musically brilliant and genius, yet their doesn’t seem to be any depth or personality in his music.  When one listens to Mozart, one can easily understand how special the song is, but its hard find any personalbility in Mozart’s work.  One finds it hard to relate to Mozart’s piece due to how genius it is, the lack of emotion in the song, or for some other reason.  Conversely, Wagner’s compositions thrive on emotion, and sometimes goes over the limit with too much emotion.  Whether the underlying tone blasts tense, dark, and angry emotions to the back row of the opera house, or delicately soothes the coldest heart with a romantic love melody, Wagner pours all of his emotions into every piece he writes.   Even with these clear differences in taste, the reason for what style they compose in is suprisingly similar.  Both composers seem to employ their experiences, personalities, and external forces in their music they write.  Mozart’s possible lack of emotion or distance between the audience and his music could be accouted for in the fact that his father took care of his money in life and when Leopold died, Mozart was not able to care for himself financially and had the personality of a child.  Wagner similarly had money problems but the difference between him and Mozart was that his personality was more developed emotionally and he was therefore able to express his emotion through his compositions.  In Wagner’s social life, he was emotionally involved in politics and philosophy.  He wrote papers about Anti-Semitism, and would boast about his genius intellect for music and thought at any chance he got.  Wagner and Mozart’s life outside of the music world played an influencial role in their opposing music styles, nevertheless, they will both stay cemented in the hall of fame of classical composers of all time.

Mozart: Carmina Burana

Monday, January 25th, 2010

My name is Riley Baver and besides from playing tennis for Mary Washington’s Men’s Team, previously for Radnor High School, and USTA junior tournaments, playing the trumpet in concert band, marching band, and jazz band has been my biggest hobby since elementary school.  Over the years I have become familiar with a variety of popular musicians, classical and modern.  During my years at Radnor High School, I had the privelege of playing one of Mozart’s famous pieces: Carmina Burana.  This work of art was one the few pieces I have ever played that I vividly remember playing because the emotion in this song is incredible.  Right from the first note this song creates insensity seldom heard in music.  Even when the music is at its softest, one can feel the building power and crescendo moving the piece forward.  While practicing this peice in band, the conductor drilled the accented notes every day because the crescendos, decrescendos, and staccatos bring life and power to this song.  This piece would not have any emotion or intensity without the wording that goes with the notes.  The song is fairly conjunct throughout, however the beauty doesn’t come from the the notes themselves, but from how the notes are played.  The combination of the key in which the music is in, plus the accents that give the notes life contribute to the dark and ominous feeling this song portrays.  This combination of emotion, intensity, and dark and ominous feelings throughout the song make Carmina Burnana one of Mozart’s most popular works.