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Program and Absolute Music Symphonic music gained an air of prestige in the 19th century. This coincided with the rise of philharmonic orchestras; professional societies of musicians dedicated to the performance of orchestral music. The music of Ludwig Van Beethoven greatly influenced the standard repertoire of these orchestras. What made it into the musical canon of these symphonic institutions was a question of how a particular piece of music mea
  Program and Absolute Music Symphonic music gained an air of prestige in the 19 th  century. This coincided with the rise of philharmonic orchestras; professional societies of musicians dedicated to the performance of orchestral music. The music of Ludwig Van Beethoven greatly influenced the standard repertoire of these orchestras. What made it into the musical canon of these symphonic institutions was a uestion of how a particular piece of music measured up against that standard. !any composers egan to compose in such a way as to e seen as continuing Beethoven#s legacy.  Program  and absolute  music were among these stylistic traditions. $ach can e seen as   oth dealing and aligning themselves with the legacy of Beethoven.The programmatic tradition of symphonic music saw Beethoven as an innovator. Beethoven had set a new standard for music% e&hausting the e&tent of musical creativity in one direction of the symphony. 'rogrammatic composers% such as (ector Berlio)% felt that continuingthe legacy of Beethoven was to em race innovation. *t was +,a uestion of ta-ing it the symphony/ up at that point, not further, ut as far in another direction0 Berlio) 123/. 4nder the further influence of 5omantic ideals% such composers sought to meld music with other artisticgenres. !any egan to ma-e use of e&tra6musical features% such as descriptive titles and poetic or narrative te&ts made availa le to the listening audience. These were intended to wor- in tandem with the music synergistically% filling in the communicative gaps in each other#s art. (ector Berlio)# Symphony Fantastique  too- the programmatic style to new heights. The symphony ma-es innovative use of an incredi ly descriptive te&t. *t depicts a young artist dealing with an intense and ultimately destructive infatuation with his ideal woman. The final movement%  Dream of a Witches Sabbath,  carefully details how the artist poisons himself with opium% transporting his consciousness to a hellish drug induced realm. The program was no  mere additional feature ut +, indispensa le for a complete understanding of the dramatic outline of the wor-0 7risch 8318% 9/. The ela orate story also serves to clarify otherwise am iguous musical :noise# in the symphony. 7or e&ample% ghosts and monsters% accompanied y sinister noises and laughter% attend the artist#s funeral in the final movement. Building on this feature of the plot% the rum lingof drums :paint a picture# of ominous sounds. The string section employs a col6legno techniue% stri-ing the strings with the wood of their ows very rapidly% giving the music a disconcerting :spider6li-e# uality. The program descri es how the ies irae and the sound of funeral ells  preside over the :devilish orgy#. The ies irae were dar- medieval funeral hymns uite well -nown at the time. Beyond their association with the dead% the hymn#s words gave an apocalyptic vision of the final <udgment. =s the horn section plays the ies irae% it is interspersedwith the ringing of actual funeral ells rought onto the stage. *t serves as an eerie representation of death y literally ringing part of the scene to the listener. The symphonic narrative is tied together y the idee fi&e. The idee fi&e% roughly translated as :o sessive idea#% musically represents the artist#s eloved and the emotional tumult the he undergoes whenever he thin-s of or sees her. *t unifies the symphonies narrative and supports its dramatic development y eing presented in different thematic forms. Berlio) accomplishes this y ma-ing slight variations in the instrumentation and timings used in his  presentation of the melody. 7or e&ample% when the artist sees his eloved at a all% the melody is in the form of a walt). *n the final movement% amongst ghosts and monsters% his eloved parta-esin the hellish scene. =t this point% +, the eloved melody reappears, now it is only a vile dancetune% trivial and grotesue,0Berlio) 123/. The melody is played y various woodwinds which purposefully end and distort the notes% giving it the feeling of a disgusting parody.  The a solute music movement saw Beethoven as the founder of a timeless tradition. >ontinuing in his tradition was to continue within the serious and comple& art mastered y him. !usic was seen as autonomous from the other arts. 'rogrammatic supplementations +, were crutches used y composers who could not master what were self6standing musical techniues and structures0 7risch 8318% 133/. The symphony was meant to engage the listener in a cere ral e&ercise. *n virtue of its purely musical ualities% a solute music was seen as capa le of affectingall people% at all times. The repeated reflection and depth of inuiry reuired to recogni)e the   eauty of such wor- made the listener a etter person. =ccording to 19 th  century music critic and a solute music proponent $duard (anslic-% this gave a solute music symphonies% +... an ethical element,0 Weiss?Tarus-in 19% 3@/ distinct from simple entertainment.Aohannes Brahms# Symphony No 1    Movement 4  is a paradigm e&ample of a solute music.The wor- is meant to stand alone and e appreciated for its e&traordinary comple&ity and purely aesthetic elements. >hief among these is the use of counterpoint. This is a very difficult compositional techniue which layers various melodies into a comple& set that are played simultaneously. *t reuires a certain level of tenacity to uncover the various nuances developed throughout the entirety of the symphony. 'arts of the counterpoint in one phase of the movement may recall or foreshadow other parts of the symphony% reflecting each other as part of an interconnected and organic process. (anslic- asserts that this comple&ity in Brahms is +,so utterly unconcerned with common effects that it hardly lends itself to uic- understanding, Su seuent repetitions will ma-e it good0 (anslic- 3263/. This gives the wor- the ethical character uilding element indicative of the a solute music ideal. Brahms clearly wrote his Symphony No 1  as an homage to Beethoven% ringing his  personal voice to Beethoven#s compositional style. 7or e&ample% the fourth movement of the  symphony% mirroring Beethoven#s Symphony No  % egins in > minor and progresses to > ma<or. This ma-es for a triumphant ending% reminiscent of Beethoven#s heroic style. Brahms contrasts the musical comple&ity of the counterpoint with a fol-6 li-e tune. 4nli-e the counterpoint% the tune is simple and could e hummed y the average person. *t is very similar to a fol-6li-e tune used y Beethoven in the final movement of his Symphony No ! #$e to %oy&  . Such musical devices put Brahms so suarely in line with Beethoven that the symphony was du ed :Beethoven#s 13 th  Symphony#. The moni-er served to show how Brahms was continuing the comple& and serious lineage of a solute music esta lished y Beethoven.The program and a solute musical traditions oth fueled and reflected a trend of musical seriousness in the 19 th  century. *n his life% Beethoven composed only nine symphonies% in large  part ecause of their immense comple&ity and depth. Beethoven#s symphonies e&tended eyond mere entertainment to eing wor-s of inspiration and heroic la or. 'rogram music adherents saw such wor- as giving profound e&pression to su <ective individual e&perience. Symphonies were seen as a form of communication y composers who had a depth of insight into the human soul. The a solute music tradition saw the symphony as providing a pu lic service of ethical enrichment. By grappling with the comple&ity of symphonies li-e Brahms#% one ecame a etter  person. *n order to receive the :ethical nutrition# +,audiences were e&pected to e uiet and listen attentively and/, a new seriousness in concert ehavior arose/0 Bur-holder 193% 8C/.Both traditions went toward ma-ing music into a uasi6religious e&perience% and sought to em ody the tradition of Beethoven in their own way.
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