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Lecture 8 - Romantic Piano Music [Outlines for expansion] An overview of the preceding generation of composers from Haydn, Mozart

t and the classical approach mainly melody + accompaniment often featuring an Alberti bass. Clementi, the first composer to write in a true piano style. Large output of sonatas, sonatinas and fantasias. Gradus ad Parnassum includes a series of technical studies. Involved in piano manufacturing in London. Beethoven 32 Sonatas. Piano virtuoso. The left hand played a much more important role in the texture and he expanded the parameters of sonata form considerably. These sonatas are concert pieces for recital work and not for the amateur at home to play! Schubert was influenced more by Haydn and Mozart in his 11 sonatas. They are quite classical in their layout. His Wanderer Fantasia is a huge four movement sonata-like work with a set of variations based on his song of the same name for the slow movement. It was later rearranged for piano and orchestra by Franz Liszt. He introduced the idea of Impromptus or rather pieces which sounded as though they were improvised. They are structured in episodical form. Impromptu in Ab Mendelssohns Songs Without Words [48] are in mostly in song form without titles but some have titles [added by publishers] such as gondola or spinning pieces. They are also quite classically formed in their structure as Mendelssohn always thought of perfect balance in his music Chopins influence in his piano music was considerable although not German he was well-known to Schumann and Liszt. He certainly never thought of himself as writing programme music as he felt his absolute music was continuing the classical tradition. He is often referred to as the poet of the piano! He did admit that poetry had been the inspiration behind the occasional composition. His music is quite unique in character as he specialised in many dance forms: Polonaise, Mazurka & Waltz. Many of his polonaises are heroic in character and present a degree of virtuosity. His 24 Preludes were influenced by Bachs 48 and go through all the major and minor keys in a cycle of fifths. He followed in the footsteps of the Irish composer John Field in writing Nocturnes [Night Pieces]. His 27 Etudes [Studies] are masterpieces of musical invention and deal with many technical difficulties. Although called studies they are glorious musical compositions in their own right and deal with various aspects of keyboard technique. He also followed Schubert in writing Impromptus and invented a new form called Ballade of which he wrote 4. They are song-like but extended to through-composed pieces of considerable size and require technical expertise. It is thought that the romantic poem of the same was the impetus behind this new form but they are certainly not programmatic. His harmonic language was very advanced with startling modulations though a variety of distant keys. He had a great flare for sheer musicality, melody and adventurous

harmonic progressions and his virtuosity precedes Liszt who then pushed the boundaries of technique even further. It should be remembered that Chopin was quite specific about the use of rubato in works like the Nocturnes: He said the LH should always play in time whilst the RH can be free to play rubato in the melody. Study in C minor [Revolutionary] . Fantasy Impromptu in C# minor Polonaises in A major & C minor Schumanns solo piano output is considerable and his style was very different to Chopins pure absolute outlook. His wrote a number of collections under various titles and each of the pieces has programmatic titles. In Carnaval he portrays characters of Eusebius and Floristan, Chopin and Paganini! Most of these pieces are miniature in character. Collections include Papillons, Kinderszenen, Kreisleriana, Fantasiestcke, Novelletten and Album for the Young written for children. Franz Liszt was a legendary virtuoso whose output for solo piano is quite remarkable in the sheer quantity he produced. It ranges from the Years of Pilgrimage [Pieces with character titles] to arrangements of Beethoven Symphonies and Operatic paraphrases. His technique was staggering and his music requires a virtuoso pianist to execute it! He is remembered for his Hungarian Rhapsodies but for sheer brilliance of technique his 12 Transcendental Studies are outstanding! Number 4 Mazeppa was later turned into a symphonic poem for orchestra. His 6 Paganini Caprices taken from the famous virtuoso violinist are very demanding including the legendary La Campanella [the Bells]. Liszt, although writing a huge single-movement Sonata in B minor, favoured the programmatic approach in his piano writing. He toured Europe giving recitals to packed concert halls and played his programmes from memory! He also was the first pianist to turn the piano at a right angle to the audience and to have lid raised in order to project the sound into the hall. Mephisto Waltz Der Tanz in der Dorfschenke. Brahms was brought up in the port of Hamburg and showed great pianistic skills at an early age. He had to play the piano in some of the low dives in the port and this experience left a mark on his character. Brahmss piano music is virtually entirely absolute music with a couple of exceptions where he quotes a Scottish poet at the top of the music. He wrote much piano music following in the classical tradition of piano sonatas but he also wrote 4 Ballades as Chopin had done. He was also very interested in the music of the past and wrote Variations and Fugue on a theme of Handel, Chaconne for Left Hand on a theme by Bach and Variations on a theme of Paganini. He was very fond of the waltzes of Johann Strauss II and wrote collections of waltzes himself but they are smaller in scale when compared with Strausss concert waltzes. Towards the end of his life he composed some intimate Intermezzi with Ballade and Rhapsody. These are very personal works from a composer who had had a highly successful career and reflect a degree of satisfaction and sadness in the latter years of his life. Recommended Reading: A History of Western Music Donald J. Grout