Saturday, November 10, 2007

1780 – 1803 Haydn and Mozart

1780 Death of Maria Theresa, Austria
1781 Mozart moved to Vienna
1786 Death of Frederick the Great, Prussia
1789 French Revolution

This was the generation of Mozart's maturity, Haydn's late style and Beethoven's first style period.

Vocal Music

Opera seria

The mature operas of Mozart followed the established forms of his day and included two opera seria, Idomeneo (1781), considered his best in this form, and La Clemenza di Tito (1791) on a libretto by Metastasio.

Opera seria
Opera buffa
Opéra-comique & Singspiel
Reform opera
Secco and accompagnato recitative
Secco recitative
Spoken dialogue (melodrama)
Orchestral recitative
Arioso, da capo arias, ornamentation
Flexible arias
Popular songs
Flexible arias, less ornamentation
Little chorus or ensemble
Ensemble finales
Singspiel:  ensembles and choruses
No ballet
No ballet
No ballet

Opera buffa

Mozart composed his best operas in this form on librettos by Lorenzo da Ponte (1749-1838): Le Nozze di Figaro (1786), Don Giovanni (1787), considered a dramma giocoso (including elements of both seria and buffa), and Cosi fan tutte (1790). Elements of his style included characterization through music, even in the complex ensemble finales, and elaborate orchestration which made the orchestra equal in importance to the voices. Other important opera buffe were Giovanni Paisiello's (1740-1816) Il Barbiere di Siviglia (1782), on the same libretto as Rossini's famous opera (Mozart's Figaro may be considered a sequel), and Il Matrimonio segreto (1792) by Domenico Cimarosa (1749-1801).

Mozart cadence


This was the third type of opera composed by Mozart, including Die Entführung aus dem Serail (1782), Der Schauspieldirektor (1786), and Die Zauberflöte (1791). Except for the use of spoken dialogue, Mozart's style resembled his opera buffa. Other popular examples were Doktor und Apotheker (1786) by Karl Ditters von Dittersdorf (1739-99) and Der Dorfbarbier (1796) by Johann Schenk (1753-1836).

French Opera

Operas in French continued in the heroic style of Gluck, including Piccinni's Atys (1780) and Didon (1783), Luigi Cherubini's (1760-1842) Lodoiska (1791), Médée (1797) which used melodrama, Les Deux Journées (1800), an early rescue opera, and Antonio Salieri's (1750-1825) Les Danaïdes
(1784). The first rescue opera was Richard Coeur de Lion (1784) by Gretry.


Influenced by Handel after trips to England in 1791-2 and 1794-6, Haydn composed the important oratorios The Creation (1798) and The Seasons (1800) on texts translated into German by Baron Gottfried van Swieten (1737-1803). He used simpler arias than Handel, but added a symphonic overture and descriptive orchestral passages. At this time Ludwig van Beethoven (1770-1827) composed his Christus am Ölberg (1800).


In a new form, these were symphonic masses with contrapuntal choruses and a quartet of soloists integrated into the choral movements. Examples were Haydn's Lord Nelson Mass (1798), Missa in tempore belli (1796) and Harmoniemesse (1799); also Mozart's Requiem (1791).

Second Berlin Song School

Influenced by Goethe and Klopstock, an important early collection was Lieder im Volkston (1782) by J.A.P. Schulz (1747-1800). The composers, including Johann Friedrich Reichardt (1752-1814) and Carl Zelter (1758-1832), self-consciously imitated folk style in strophic songs with subordinate accompaniment. A new form was the ballade, usually through-composed songs on narrative poems by Johann Zumsteeg (1760-1802).

Instrumental Music

Sonata Form

Most instrumental genres were built on the mature sonata form.

  • Sonata-allegro (Tonic)
    Exposition Development Recapitulation

    ||: A ........B.........:|| A....... B...............A........B........Coda

    Tonic - domanant Various keys Tonic – Tonic - Tonic

  • Adagio or andante (subdominant or relative major)
  1. Song form ABA
  2. Modified sonata-allegro

  3. Variations AA'A''A''' etc.

  • Minuet and trio
    Minuet...........Trio............ Minuet

    ||: A :||: BA :||: C :||: DC :|| ABA

  • allegro finale (Tonic)
  1. rondo ABACA or ABACABA
  2. variations
  3. sonata-allegro

Increasingly, two contrasting themes became associated with the two key areas of the sonata-allegro exposition, and the real development of these themes occurred in the development section. The minuet in a somewhat faster tempo became the standard third movement in symphonies and string quartets and appeared occasionally in piano sonatas.


The piano had become the preferred instrument.

  • The sonata was not yet the serious dramatic form found in the classic symphony but was increasingly influenced by the sonata form. Haydn composed 52 keyboard sonatas, Mozart 21. Influential in the development of piano technique and style were the early sonatas of Muzio Clementi (1752-1832), Op. 13 (1785). The first fifteen sonatas of Beethoven belong to this period, including the Pathétique Sonata, Op. 13 (1799) and Moonlight Sonata, Op. 27, No. 2 (1892).

  • Mozart composed 17 sets of variations.

  • A fantasia was a sectional improvisatory work, as in Mozart's Fantasia in C minor, K.475 (1785).


There was greater equality between the keyboard and orchestra, fuller orchestration, and cadenzas sometimes appeared in all three movements. Mozart's 17 Vienna Concertos were in modified sonata form, including No. 21 in C major, K.467 (1785), and Beethoven's No. 1 (1797), No. 2 (1795), and No. 3 (1800).

Chamber music

  • Traits of the mature classical string quartet were
  1. greater equality of parts with a new kind of classical counterpoint,
  2. four movement sonata form, and
  3. true development sections.
Haydn's mature style was established in Op. 33 (1781); of his 83 quartets, the Emperor Quartet, Op. 76, No. 3 in C major (1799) was an important example. Others were Mozart's Six Haydn Quartets (1785, he composed 26) and Beethoven's Op. 18 (1798-1800).

  • Mozart composed significant chamber works for other combinations of instruments, including the G minor viola quintet, K.516 (1787), the clarinet quintet, K.581 (1789), piano trios, violin sonatas and piano quartets. (A quintet is named for the instrument added to a string quartet. A piano trio includes piano, violin and cello.)


Mozart's most important example was Eine kleine Nachtmusik (1787).

Opera Overture

Mozart's opera overtures were usually in first movement sonata-allegro form.


The mature classical symphony (a) omitted the continuo part, (b) was in four movement sonata form with some slow introductions, especially in Haydn, (c) included variation movements in Haydn, and (d) used an orchestra composed of five-part strings, woodwinds in pairs, including flutes, oboes, and bassoons with clarinets occasionally, two natural horns, optional trumpets and two timpani. Examples were Mozart's No. 39 in Eb, No. 40 in G minor and No. 41 "Jupiter" in C, all from 1788, Haydn's Paris Symphonies, Nos. 82-87 (1785-87) and his London Symphonies, Nos. 93-104 (1792-95), including No. 94 "Surprise" (1792) and No. 104 "London" (1795), and Beethoven's No. 1 in C (1800) and No. 2 in D (1802).


Historisch-biographisches Lexicon der Tonkuenstler in two volumes (1790, '92) by Ernst Ludwig Gerber was an early biographical dictionary of musicians.

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