Composers Of 19th And 20th


Composers Of 19th And 20th Essay, Research Paper

This essay will consist of information about nine composers and one piece of

work that they are known for dating from 1862 to 1990. The names of these

composers are: Aaron Copeland, Claude Debussy, Charles Ives, Scott Joplin,

Bessie Smith, Louis Armstrong, Leonard Berstein, Igor Stravinsky, and Arnold

Schoenberg. The first composer I will discuss will be Aaron Copeland (1900 ?

1990). Mr. Copeland was born in Brooklyn, New York USA to Russian American

immigrant parents. His style is strongly tonal with polychords, polyrhythm,

changing meters and percussive orchestration. His influences include his teacher

Nadia Boulanger, Picasso, Stravinsky and Ernest Hemmingway. Some notable history

about Mr. Copeland is that he created Appalachian Spring for Martha Graham and

he used American folklore as the subject with many of his works. The piece I

will be discussing will be Appalachian Spring Section VII Theme and Variations

on Simple Gifts I (1943-1944). The media of this piece is the orchestra and the

texture is definitely homophonic. The melody is songlike, lyrical, and

danceable, with conjunct motion. The harmony is tonal because the tune is easily

recognizable. This piece is in duple meter with a moderate tempo. The form is

theme and variations because the theme is recognizable throughout the entire

piece. One of the programmatic ideas is that this piece is to be performed as a

ballet. The ballet is a story of a pioneer celebration in spring around a newly

built farmhouse in the Pennsylvania hills in the 1800?s. The second composer

is Claude Debussy (1862 ?1918). My Debussy was born in St. Germain?en-laye,

Paris France. His style is typically impressionistic, he used unprecedented tone

color with subtle changes in timbre. He used frequent instrument solos and the

woodwinds were used in unusual registers. Mr. Debussy also used catatonic scales

and whole tone scales. Some of his influences were Richard Wagner, Asian music,

literary and pictorial ideas and Russian model music. The music of The Prelude

to the Afternoon Faun (1894) is a piece of work that Mr. Debussy wrote after

reading the poem by Stephane Mallarme. ?This poem evokes the dreams and erotic

fantasies of a pagan forest creature who is half man, half goat?. The media of

this piece is orchestra with shifting textures. The melody is based on the E

Major scale, and the harmony is tonal. The meter is very vague with a moderate

tempo, and the form is definitely ABA with a vagueness of rhythm and distinct

cadences. Charles Ives is the third composer I will discuss (1874 ? 1954). Mr.

Ives was born in Danburry Connecticut, USA. His style is eclectic with his

influences being his father who was a bandmaster, the war, personal experiences,

and Horetio Parker. His music also has features of American tradition. Mr. Ives

is also known as a transcendentalist. A transcendentalist is someone that lives

on intuition. Some notable history about Mr. Debussy is that he made his

?living? selling insurance so he could spend time composing his music. He

also won a Pulitzer Prize. The representative work I will discuss is Three

Places in New England Putman?s Camp, Redding, Connecticut (1912). The media is

orchestra, with the texture having a distorted polyphony. The melody has super

imposed familiar melodies against a chromatic background. The harmony is tonal

with a complex rhythm and a fast tempo. The form is a one movement orchestral

work, most commonly known as ABA form. Three Places in New England is a set of

three pieces for an orchestra to excite memories of American history and

landscapes. Putman?s Camp is a child?s impression of a Fourth of July picnic

with fireworks and carnival rides. The fourth composer I will be discussing is

Scott Joplin (1868 ? 1917). Scott Joplin, the "King of Ragtime"

music, was born near Linden, Texas on November 24, 1868. He moved with his

family to Texarkana at the age of about seven. Mr. Joplin?s style of music is

ragtime yet he was trained in ?classical? music and wrote a ballet and two

operas along with many piano rags. His influences were his parents, and Julius

Weiss, who became his teacher when he was eleven. His music is a unique blend of

European classical styles combined with African American harmony and rhythm.

True-life events and real places inspired many of Mr. Joplin?s songs. One of

his first compositions was The Great Crush Collision, which was inspired by a

great locomotive crash near Waco Texas. The piece I will be discussing in this

essay is Maple Leaf Rag (1899) which is a classical example of ragtime. The

media for Maple Leaf Rag is the piano with a homophonic texture. The melody has

conjunct motion with tonal harmony. The meter is in duple with a steady rhythm

and a moderate march tempo. The form is standard ragtime form, which is AA BB A

CC DD. Standard ragtime form has exactly sixteen bars in each section. Maple

Leaf Rag was named after a saloon in Missouri, where he worked as a pianist. The

success of this song helped Mr. Joplin to quit his job and move to St. Louis,

where he taught piano and composed. The only female composer I will be

discussing will be the great Bessie Smith who is also known as ?the empress of

blues? (1894 ? 1937). Mrs. Smith was born in Chattanooga, Tennessee USA.

Some of her influences include her brothers Clarence and Andrew, and Ma Rainey

who was known as ?the mother of blues?. Mrs. Smith recorded as many as 160

songs from 1923 to 1933. Some notable history concerning Mrs. Smith is that she

was introduced into the Blues Foundation Hall of Fame in 1980 and the Rock and

Roll Hall of Fame in 1989. The piece I will be discussing will be Lost Your Head

Blues (1926). The media for this song is the cornet, piano and voice with a

homophonic texture. The melody is structurally shaped with a tonal harmony. The

meter is in 4/4 with a flexible and syncopated rhythm. The form is the typical

twelve bar blues. The song is heartfelt and very personal. The song is about a

woman who plans to leave her man because she has ?been treated wrong.? The

sixth composer I will be discussing in this essay will be the great Louis

?Satchmo? Armstrong (1901 ? 1971). Louis Daniel Armstrong was born in the

Storyville District of New Orleans, Louisiana, on August 4, 1901, he always

celebrated his birth as July 4, 1900 because that is what he was told and that

is what he believed. His real date of birth was not known until after his death

July 6, 1971. Mr. Armstrong?s style of music was New Orleans Style Jazz. Some

of his influences include his family, Peter Davis, and Joe ?King? Oliver.

Some notable history pertaining to Mr. Armstrong is that he came from a

crime-ridden community. He was arrested at thirteen for firing a gun in the air

at a New Years Celebration, and then was virtually saved by the system because

he was sent to a reform school where he met his mentor, Joe Oliver. He served as

Goodwill Ambassador in the 1950?s and 1960?s. Mr. Armstrong was able to

invent extraordinary solo?s that transformed any melody into a jazz melody. He

revealed new dimensions of the trumpet, showing that it could be played in a

higher register. The piece I will discuss will be Hotter Than Hot that was sung

by Louis Armstrong and His Hot Five. The media is cornet, piano, trombone,

guitar, and voice. The texture is very varied with the melody being disjunct and

moving around. The harmony is tonal while it is in quadruple meter with a rapid

tempo. The form is New Orleans Style Jazz, which is characterized by scat

singing. Scat singing is a combination of singing, talking and vocalizing a

melodic line with nonsense syllables. The next composer I will be discussing

will be Leonard Berstein (1918 ? 1990). Mr. Berstein was born in Lawrence,

Massachusetts USA. His style of music was very versatile. He wrote musicals,

operas, and ballets and theater pieces, choral works and three programmatic

symphonies. The piece I will be discussing is Tonight from the musical West Side

Story. The media of this song is orchestra and voice and the texture is

homophonic. The melody is syncopated and it has disjunct motion. The harmony is

tonal with a 2/4 meter and it is fast and very rhythmic. The form is American

Theater, or commonly known as a musical. West Side Story was a 1949 version of

Romeo and Juliet written by Jerome Robbins, Leonard Bernstein and Arthur

Laurents. This musical was about rival gangs and two young lovers entwined in it

all. ?West Side Story remains true to its Shakespearean model. Things look

good for the young lovers in the beginning, but when Tony–much like

Romeo–accidentally kills his lover’s brother while trying to break up a rumble,

violence erupts. The musical received rave reviews for its unflinching portrayal

of gang life.? The eighth composer I will be discussing is Igor Stravinsky

(1828 ? 1971). Born in St. Petersburg, Russia. Mr. Stravinsky?s style is

mainly primitivism. ?Stravinsky’s forms are additive rather than symphonic,

created from placing blocks of material together without disguising the

joins?. His influences include Nicolai Rimsky-Korsakov who he studied with,

Claude Debussy, Maurice Ravel, and his father. Mr.Strainsky directed the Russian

Ballet at the request of Segei Diaghilev in 1909. The piece I will be discussing

is The Rite of Spring Omens of Spring-Dances of the Youths and Maidens (1913).

The media for this piece is orchestra with no textures, very disjointed and

irregular. The harmony is very fragmented and disjunct. This song is in duple

meter with a pounding rhythm and a fast tempo. The form is ballet. This ballet

about pagan Russia caused quite a fuss in the Theatre des Champs-Elysees at its

premiere in 1913. It was definitely one of the most famous riots in the history

of music. The structure of the work is interesting. 1. ?The Adoration of the

Earth  Introduction  The Adoration of the Earth

Harbingers of Spring  Dances of the Adolescent Boys and Girls

Mock Abduction  Spring Rounds  Games of the Rival Tribes

Procession of the Tribal Sages  Adoration of the Earth

Song of the Earth 2. The Sacrifice  Introduction  The Sacrifice

Mysterious Circles of the Adolescents  Glorification of the

Chosen One  Evocation and Ritual of the Ancestors  The Chosen

One’s Dance of Death? The ninth and final composer I will be discussing is

Arnold Schoenberg (1874 ? 1951) born in Vienna Austria. His style was

definitely full of expressionism with Brahms and Wagner being his influences. In

1908, Mr. Schoenberg abandoned the tonal system. Yet he felt himself forced to

move on from the principles which had underlain all their music, above all the

principle of tonality. For all of them, as for many other composers, music had

to be written in a key, though it might frequently move from one key to another.

The point about using the key system is that some notes are stronger than

others, the strongest being the tonic (typically indicated by the title of a

work; e.g. "Symphony in C minor"), the next the dominant (five notes

above the tonic), and so on. This "tonal system" functions, both

melodically and harmonically, as a set of tensions and relaxation?s; the

further a piece is from the tonic, the more a need for resolution is felt, and

the greater the sense of homecoming when the tonic is reasserted. As Eric

Salzman writes, they are "large-scale, thematic, wholly 12-tone structures

in which the technique becomes fluent and pliable, focused in a way that

parallels the role played by tonality in similar Classical forms.? The piece I

will be discussing is Vulgarity (1912) also known as No.1 Gemeinhet, which is

from an opera, by the name of Pierrot Lunaire. The media for this piece is

orchestra, voice, and a homophonic texture. The melody is very disjunct, with a

definite atonal harmony with no meter. This is from an opera with bizarre ideas.

The song is about an evil clown drilling a hole in a skull and smoking tobacco

out of it. This is also a form of sprechtimme which in German means

speech-singing. This is the end of my essay and I must admit that I learned more

about these composers than I expected.

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