Saturday, November 10, 2007

1803 – 1830 Beethoven and Schubert

1803 Beethoven's Eroica Symphony
1804-14 Napoleon, Emperor of France
1814-24 Louis XVIII, France
1815 Waterloo
1824-30 Charles X

This generation must be subdivided: 1803-15 was Beethoven's second style period and time of greatest influence, including symphonies 3-8 and Fidelio, and 1815-27 was his third style period in which he revived the art of counterpoint, including the Ninth Symphony, Missa solemnis and "Grosse Fuge" for string quartet. Schubert composing in the second half of the period led the transition to Romanticism. Rossini and Weber's operas also fell into the second half of the period.

Vocal Music

Italian Opera

The last generation of the Neapolitan tradition, led by Gioacchino Rossini (1792-1868), composed the last important roles for castrati and last used recitative secco. This is the last generation of opera seria. Rossini began to write out the important virtuosic ornamentation in his 38 operas composed from 1810 to 1829, including the serious operas Tancredi (1813) and Otello (1816), and the comic operas L'Italiana in Algeri (1813), La Cenerentola (1817), and Il Barbiere di Siviglia (1816).

French Opera

Heroic operas in the tradition of Gluck continued with La Vestale (1807) by Gasparo Spontini (1774-1851) and Joseph (1807) by Nicolas Méhul (1763-1817).

German Opera

Beethoven's Fidelio (1808) was strongly influenced by the revolutionary French operas of Cherubini. Transitional works were Undine (1813) by E.T.A. Hoffman (1776-1822) and Faust (1816) by Ludwig Spohr (1784-1859) The model for German Romantic opera was established with Der Freischütz (1821) by Carl Maria von Weber (1786-1826). Less successful were his Euryanthe (1823) and Oberon (1826). Some common features were (a) sonata-allegro overture, (b) spoken dialogue, including melodrama in Fidelio Freischütz, (c) chorus, (d) dramatic arias and (e) important orchestral accompaniment.


Though the simple strophic style of the Second Berlin Song School prevailed in the early period, the through-composed Romantic Lied was established with Franz Schubert's (1797-1828) "Gretchen am Spinnrad" (1814). His over 600 songs included the song cycles Die schöne Müllerin (1823) and Winterreise (1827) on texts by Wilhelm Müller. Beethoven's An die ferne Geliebte (1816) is considered the first song cycle. Carl Loewe (1796-1869) was most successful in songs in the ballade form.


Symphonic masses in the form established by Haydn were Beethoven's Mass in C (1810) and Schubert's 6 masses. Beethoven regarded his Missa solemnis (1822), a huge choral symphony in five movements, as his greatest work.



The four classes of romantic piano pieces were established in this generation.

  • Beethoven brought the full force of symphonic style to the piano sonata. Though retaining the basic classical structure, he experimented with expressive content and thematic development in Op. 53 "Waldstein" (1804) and Op. 57 "Appassionata" (1804). From the late period came the last five of his 32 sonatas, including Op. 106 "Hammerklavier" (1818). Schubert composed 22 sonatas which emphasized theme over development.

  • Sets of variations were composed both as sonata movements and as individual pieces, including both as sonata movements and as individual pieces, including 21 sets by Beethoven who transformed them into0 character pieces with only a motivic relationship to the theme, especially Diabelli Variations, Op. 120 (1823).

  • Short single movements called character pieces led the transition to romantic piano style, including Beethoven's Bagatelles Op. 119 (1823) and Op. 126 (1825), Weber's Momento capriccioso (1808) and Schubert's Moments musicals (1828), Impromptus (1827) and Klavierstücke (1828).

  • The 100 etudes of Muzio Clementi's Gradus ad Parnassum (1817-26) set the example for later sets.


Greater importance of the orchestra balanced more virtuosic solo writing in Beethoven's No. 4 (1805-6) and No. 5 "Emperor" (1809) Piano Concertos and his Violin Concerto (1806). Violin technique advanced in the First Violin Concerto (1820) of Niccolò Paganini (1784-1840).


Beethoven's "Cariolan" (1807) and "Egmont" (1810) were overtures for plays. Fidelio had four overtures composed at different times: Leonore I (1805), Leonore II (1805), Leonore III (1806) and Fidelio (1814).

Chamber Music

  • Beethoven's 16 string quartets, including Rasoumovsky Quartets, Op. 59 (1807), were increasingly contrapuntal, climaxing in the "Grosse Fuge" Op. 133 (1825). Schubert's quartets, including No. 14 "Death and the Maiden" (1826) were homophonic.

  • The piano trio was composed nine times by Beethoven, including No. 7, Op. 97 "Archduke" (1811). Two examples were by Schubert.

  • Most important of Beethoven's ten violin sonatas was No. 9, Op. 47 "Kreutzer" (1803); also five cello sonatas.

  • Other chamber combinations by Schubert included the Cello Quintet in C (1828) and the "Forellen" Quintet, Op. 114 (1819) for violin, viola, cello, bass and piano.


Still the dominant form, the symphony reached its peak in Beethoven's No. 3 in Eb "Eroica" (1803), No. 4 in Bb (1806), No. 5 in C minor (1808), No. 6 in F "Pastoral" in five movements, often considered the first program symphony (1808), No. 7 in A (1812), No. 8 in F (1812), No. 9 in D minor "Choral," with Schiller's Ode to Joy set for chorus and vocal quartet in the last movement (1823), Traits were:

(a) variation movements (3, 5, 7),
(b) scherzo replaced the minuet,
(c) introduction, development and code sections lengthened to include more thematic development,
(d) lengthened cadences, a cliché of the generation, e.g. the last 40 measures of the finale of No. 5,
(e) orchestral recitative (especially No. 9),
(f) expanded winds (3, 5, 6, 9),
(g) mastery of the relationship of theme and tonality, and
(h) great emotional intensity.
Schubert's included No. 5 in Bb (1816), No. 8 "Unfinished" (1822) and No. 9 in C "The Great" (1828)

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