Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Music in style

I love music. And really most any kind, although I'm afraid I'm not a big fan of country music. One of my favorite styles of music is classical, particularly from the Baroque era (the mid-1600s to the mid-1700s) and Classical style period (the mid-1700s through the early 1800s). The Baroque era was a time of flowery, extravagant, and emotional music, whereas the Classical style, in some ways, was a reaction to the excesses of the Baroque. The Classical style was sparer, more reserved, and more controlled. It's been described as "music with a corset on."

I should probably point out the difference between the Classical style and classical music. The term classical music is used to refer to music composed in the Western Hemisphere over the past few hundred years (not including recent pop or folk music). It's music that's generally composed for an orchestra or a combination of orchestral instruments, keyboards, guitar, or voice. But the Classical period is only one of the musical eras that make up classical music, and music from that era is in the Classical style.

My favorite composer of all time is Bach, who is from the Baroque era. Haydn and Mozart are two of my favorites from the Classical style period (although Mozart's music all starts to sound the same to me after awhile). I find the histories of these composers very interesting. For instance, did you know that Bach, with the help of two wives, had 20 children; Haydn, a most pleasant and cheerful guy, constantly played little jokes on people, and made fun of things and himself; and Mozart drove his rivals nuts because composing came so easily to him. Musical ideas sprang into his mind, fully formed, almost as if he were taking dictation---all he had to do was write them down.

And here's a story about Haydn that may really surprise you. Music writers refer to him as "Papa Haydn" because he practically single-handedly standardized the structures of the symphony and the string quartet. But when he was very young, he was a prized boy soprano at St. Stephen's Cathedral in Vienna. As he grew older, his teacher told him that he would be able to keep his beautiful high voice forever if he were to have a "simple little operation." Because his teacher kept the details from him, Haydn was eager for this miracle. He was all set to go in for this operation when his father found out (only a matter of hours before the surgery) and prevented it. Imagine what would have happened if Haydn had had the operation. Sure, he would have kept his beautiful high voice, but he may never have developed the string quartet and the symphony. And nobody would ever have called him "Papa."

1 comment:

  1. I have been listening to Hadyn's Masses lately - recording from Cambridge University. They were unknown to me but are unbelievably beautiful.