Baroque, Classical and Romantic Music Essay1. Introduction
In this essay I will characterize each work that belongs to different period of music development- Hallelujah by George Frideric Handel, Concerto for Hard, Flute and Orchestra by Mozart and The Nutcracker by Tchaikovsky. I will present form, texture, form, genre and performing medium of each work as well as unique characteristics. And then, contrast their differences and depict their similarities. Finally I will express my opinion regarding the musical work that I liked the most, try to attract attention to it and explain why this particular work is worth listening.
2. Hallelujah by George Frideric Handel
Hallelujah is the part of the oratorio Messiah written by Handel. Messiah has three parts; each presents definite events in Christ’s life. Hallelujah is the bright example of the baroque music. It is one of the most famous movements of Messiah, the Chorus that finishes the second part of the oratorio. The text for the Chorus was chosen from Revelation of New Testament, chapters 11 and 19. This musical piece can be characterized by changes in musical notations, and bright music ornamentation. There is a single emotion that is taken through the whole song with the dramatic and breathe-taking end. It can also be described with the use of counterpoints and polyphony.
3. Concerto for Harp Flute and Orchestra in C major by Mozart
This was the only piece of music that contained harp, as during the classical period, harp was only gaining its popularity and was not even included to the list of orchestral instruments.
The form of this musical piece is Sinfonia Concertante. The part of the harp doesn’t seem to be independent, as it sounds like the piano’s adaptation. Most harpistic effects are shown in cadenzas. It is very unusual, but all three movements of the piece have cadenzas. There are no rich glissandi and the counterpoint of the harp part doesn’t contain lush chords. So, three movements of this musical piece are played fast-slow-fast in the form of: Allegro, Andantino and Rondeau (Allegro). During Allegro, the orchestra plays both main themes. The first theme we are able to hear at once, and the second theme is presented by the horn. Both themes were written in the sonata form. Andantino presents short phrases introduced by strings, which later on lyrically extended. Then come variations of the main theme. During these movements, cadenza leads to the coda and the orchestra is totally concentrated on the lyrical theme. The last third part’s Rondeau harmonic form is presented in the scheme of A-B-C-D-C-B (cadenza) and again A (coda). It is not actually the typical rondo form, as musical themes from A, can be still heard in further sections.
In general, flute and harp in the piece have the main melody as well as supporting musical lines. There can be heard some pages when they are creating the counterpoint of each other, which holds breathes of the listeners.
4. The Nutcracker by Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky
The Nutcracker is the fairy-ballet composed by Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky. It consists of overture, two acts and three tableaus. The first tableau contains the scene of decorating and lightening of the Christmas tree, March, Little gallop of children and parents’ entrance, scene dansante, scene and dance of the grandfather, scene of guests departure in the day-time, and finally the scene of the battle. The second tableau consists of “a pine forest in winter” scene and the waltz of snowflakes. The thirst tableau of the second act contains the introduction scene, the scene of the Prince and Clara arrival, Divertissement (Spanish dance, Arabian dance, Chinese dance, Russian dance trepak, Dance of Reed-Flutes, and the Mother Ginger and the clowns), Waltz of the flowers, Pas de Deux: Adagio ( with two variations and coda), and the Final Waltz and Apotheosis. Overture has a kind of toy and mechanical music. There are two themes with modest repetitions (exposition and recapitulation). The first theme is light march, further decorated with various variations. The second theme is more lyrical and melodious. There is the drastic contrast between two themes, as the contrast between the action and the children’s dream.
Music from the ballet belongs to the Romantic period, but there can be heard composer’s reverence to Rococo music and the music of the late 18th century (Overture, Act 1).
Unique thing in the music of the ballet is the use of celesta instrument. The most famous solo theme is performed with this instrument- Dance of the Sugar Plum fairy (the second female variation from the Pas de Deux: Adagio).
5. Differences and similarities of three musical pieces.
All three pieces described earlier represent different musical periods- baroque, classical and romantic. The basic differences and similarities are stipulated by structural elements, which characterized definite period. Baroque music and Handel’s Hallelujah in structure and texture are more similar to the Mozart’s masterpiece. Baroque music had more music ornamentations, changes in musical notations, use of polyphony and counterpoint. The texture of classical music (Mozart) is homophonic, has less ornamentation, and possesses more articulated internal structure. There is modulation involvement in both styles, but more in classical piece. Classical music is also characterized by many varying emotions that are expressed in the short period of time, while baroque music has one single feeling and emotion that is gradually developed. Baroque music reaches its dramatic peak at the very end and in classical pieces music is developing to the dramatic climax and then trying to resolve it. Speaking about romantic music, I must say that even though it has some classical roots, it has its own outstanding features. Romantic music along with the Nutcracker encourages more tender emotions. It can be characterized with the modulations in increasingly remote keys and longer melodies, use of pivot note, freedom of form and design, and more personal expressions included. There are denser textures with dramatic contrasts and greater technical virtuosity shown.
6. My personal impressions
Hallelujah by George Frideric Handel is that rare music piece that it is not worth to say much, it is better to listen to it one time and everything will be clear. It is difficult to put this piece into word frames, and each every time I listen to it my emotions are risen to the totally different level of perception. For me this musical abstract is the remedy when I am emotionally depressed or overload with problems. It reminds me about which things in the world are important and which are not. And I start to understand that bothering with every day problems is meaningless, there are far more important things at our earth. Chorus Hallelujah is very inspiring to me and gives me the new breathe of fresh air. I am again full of enthusiasm about my life and feel myself capable to do everything I want, as each person is created unique and has his or her divine task at this earth. I guess that Handel fulfilled his task in the total extent, and by means of his music he is reminding people about their unique roles. It is touching people’s hearts and developed their best moral values. It is impossible to think about something bad or problematic while listening to the choir, the only thing that I could do is to stand and sing together crying. I don’t like to cry but these were tears that I could not control- they were a kind of freeing, from the bottom of my heart.