Beethovens Egmont Overture was performed by the Gewandhausorchester Leipzig, with the conductor as Kurt Masur, and soloist as Renaud Capucon. This piece was performed at the Church of St. Nicolai, Leipzig, Germany on October 9, 2009 to commemorate the beginning of the German reunification 20 years later. 70,000 people staged a peaceful demonstration calling for more freedom in the GDR In October of 1989. Kurt Masur initiated the claim “peaceful revolution” so that everything would go smoothly. That evening, the Gewandhausorchester played under his baton Brahms’ Second Symphony in the same location. The following regular ‘Monday Demonstrations’, which came to be described as the “Peaceful Revolution”, became a major milestone on the way to open the Berlin Wall one month later on November the 9th in 1989 and paving the foundations for the reunification of the two German states (EuroArtsChannel).
The classical period lasted from 1750 to 1825 during the Age of Enlightenment, which was essentially a challenge to traditional religious values in the eighteenth century. Enlightenment thinkers often thought diversely and independently, and because of this much of the Enlightenment can be associated with political revolutions and ideas, science, and philosophy. The French revolution that began in 1789 and ended in 1794 was the most significant event during the classical period. The monarchy fell when King Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette were beheaded, leaving a weak political system in France. The American Revolution was a crucial part of the classical period as well because America gained independence from England in 1776. Scientific advancements were substantial. The steamboat, the electric battery, and the modern factory were just a few things that became daily uses but helped to increase the advancement of more scientific discoveries. Jean-Jacques Rousseau was an influential French philosopher who was most popular for his work on A Discourse on the Sciences and Arts, an essay arguing that the progression of the sciences and arts has caused the corruption of virtue and morality.
Immanuel Kant was another philosopher who believed scientific knowledge, morality, and religious belief are mutually consistent and secure because they all rest on the same foundation of human autonomy. Free thinking is what made the classical period what it was during the Age of Enlightenment, helping to create new inventions and solid ideas (“The Impact of Enlightenment in Europe”). Classical music could be described as elegant, balanced, and simple. Those listening to this type of music when it first came about enjoyed it mostly because of how direct and uniform the pieces were. Classical music has a sense of form, harmony, and melody that was different from other types of music. Melodies were consistent with balanced and symmetrical patterns, they were kept short making the pieces more pleasant to listen to. The basic forms were binary, ternary, and rondo, which kept music balanced and well-constructed. Binary form was a two part structure that repeated, ternary form was a three section composition, and rondo form was a composition where the first part would be repeated again after the second part. Harmony was simple and elegant because of the mostly straightforward progressions (Nicholas).
I enjoyed this classical concert mostly because of how direct and uniform the pieces were. Classical music has a sense of form, harmony, and melody that is different from other types of music. The melodies were consistent with balanced and symmetrical patterns, they were kept short making the pieces more pleasant to listen to. There is a primary theme that helps him create unity throughout the piece. This theme is one of the most popular in classical music. There are patterns of repetition throughout the symphony, the first exposition is repeated twice. The harmony exhibits simplicity yet it is energetic and unpredictable. There are dramatic musical contrasts in which there seems to be the same melody with different levels of intensity, but there is still a maintained balance with the variety of instruments being used. Music was mostly instrumental and vocals were not present in the compositions because Beethoven was not known to have them.
This piece reflects the classical period that it came from because it demonstrated the diversity and wide range of independent thinking that was developing throughout Europe. Beethoven’s works were extremely unique and traditional, and this piece set the tone for that. Classical music is a wholehearted genre that reflected the seriousness and determination that went into generating new ideas during the Age of Enlightenment. Classical music was not about self expression as it was more about creating something new and exciting. People were acting on their curiosity because they wanted to spread knowledge, allowing their peers and the world around them to see how new things are constantly being created and expanded on. This performance is serious, dramatic, and energetic signifying the attitude society had during the classical period.
The Creatures of Prometheus was performed by the Orchestre de Chambre Pelléas and conducted by Benjamin Levy at the Concertgebouw in Amsterdam, on August 9, 2014. Beethoven’s Prometheus is a magical composition relating to the mythological story of the Titan of knowledge, based on the myth of Prometheus. The Greek philosophers, who knew of him, elucidate the story in the following manner, they depict Prometheus as a lofty spirit who, finding the human beings of his time in a state of ignorance, refined them through art and knowledge and gave them laws of right conduct. He is the symbol of enlightenment (Creatives). The listener can appreciate the beauty in the lightness and contrasts because of how well they worked together.
The music is precise, together, in tune, musical and has punch in dynamics. The basset hornist is superb, and the recording lets solo instruments stand out in sound and visually which is excellent. The conductor coordinated the ensemble balance and tempos nicely. He is passionate about his composition and the audience can tell he feels the beat of the music. His mood flows with the music as well which is really interesting to watch. It is a swift and easy composition, but it is also dramatic. There is a major presence of trumpets that is consistent throughout that makes this piece as dramatic as it is. The violins hold the melody along with the trumpet, drums, and cello. The trumpets switch between pitches, going high and then low. The rhythm has a mixed pattern because of the many instruments being used. There are different beats and in the beginning the performance does not have one steady tune. The form has contrast and fluctuates frequently. On May 7, 2015 Riccardo Muti performed Beethoven’s 9th symphony, which Beethoven himself performed exactly 191 years prior even though he could never hear it (Orchestra).
The symphony was remarkable for several reasons. It was longer and more complex than any symphony to date and required a larger orchestra, but the most unique feature of Beethoven’s 9th symphony was that Beethoven was the first major composer to ever include chorus and vocal soloists in the final movement. Beethoven’s deafness created one of the most touching stories in music because he created it although he could never hear it, he could only really feel it. When the symphony was completed, he remained facing the orchestra and could not hear the thunderous applause of the audience for his new symphony. Caroline Unger, the mezzo-soprano soloist, had to tap the deaf composers arm and have him turn around so that he could see how the crowd’s response. Many of those in attendance, including Miss Unger, had tears in their eyes when they realized the extent of Beethoven’s deafness (“The Unique Story of Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony). To celebrate the anniversary of Beethoven’s most glorious and jubilant masterpiece it was performed at the Chicago Symphony Orchestra and Chorus (Orchestra).
The conductor’s pacing of all four movements seemed ideal, supported by remarkable playing from all departments of the orchestra and undergirded by the flow of brass sound Muti seems to control very well. The inner movements were especially becoming. Muti’s relaxed tempo made for a slow movement that felt gracious, not overly martial. Even so, it seems that he may have approached the symphony too respectfully, but there were also parts where Muti seemed to engage with the music more fully and directly. Melodies in the second movement blossomed in merging phrases and they were accented dynamically. The melody throughout the piece repeats, at some short points the rhythm becomes more complex and at more lengthy points the rhythm continues to repeat as it does throughout the entire composition. The Chicago Symphony captured this spiritual surge and stress in mid-season form, in finely contoured string playing and woodwind exchanges of almost verbal precision, all punctuated by incisive brasses.
The fugue was outstanding, with clear, animated themes passing through the entire composition. The fast paced last movement that came from a stunning transition brought the work to completion with togetherness and finality. The strong finale was the best and most interesting part of the performance, except my least favorite part was close to the finale when one of the vocal soloists sang and overcame the entire orchestra it seemed like. Her part could have been better, or at least not so loud and dramatic. There was also a theatrical streak, as with the bells up winds, the dramatic standing line of horns, the crashing cymbals and timpani/bass drum roll.