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The History of Program Music and its Composers - Essay Example

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The researcher of this essaay discusses the Programme Music, as well as its History and Significant Composers, such as hungarian composer Franz Liszt, who actually coined the term “programme music” in the mid 19th century, a time when Romantic music was very pravalent…
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The History of Program Music and its Composers
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The History of Program Music and its Composers

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To further stress this point, the great Frederick Niecks, however, remarked that programme music has always been regarded controversially as its definition is vague and narrow (1). In this context, Niecks wrote (referring to musicians) in the preface of his book entitled Programme Music in the Last Four Centuries: A Contribution to the History of Musical Expression, that "they should embrace all possible kinds, degrees, and characters: the outward and the inward, the simple and the complex, the general and the particular, the lyrical, epic, dramatic, melodramatic, descriptive, symbolical, etc. They should embrace also music with the programme merely indicated by a title, and music the programme of which is unrevealed. The absence of programme and title does not prove the music to be absolute (iii)."
Despite having been the one to come up with the phrase "programme music", Frnza Liszt was not its inventor. Programme music has been in existence and practice ever since the 16th century, or probably even before then (Hoffman para. 3). To be able to trace its history, Frederick Niecks outlined six periods while citing the significant composers or musicians during its time.
The first period was during the 16th century, a time when allusions were usually made to descriptive vocal compositions that were often inadequate and incorrect (F. Niecks 7). During the second and third quarter of this century, the descriptive vocal pieces of Clement Jannequin emerged. These were La Guerre or La Bataille (War), La Chasse du Livre (The Chase), Le Chant des Oiseaux (the Imitation of Animal Voices), and L'Alouette (Bird Voices) (F. Niecks 7). Battle pieces became the primary favorite then.
A...
The researcher of this essay states that since the ancient times, music has been used to mimic the sounds of life and nature, real or imagined. As musicians wanted to build a bridge between literature and music, various sounds from animals and nature like tweets, cuckoos, toots, shrieks, cries, horns blowing, hiccups, roars, rain pouring, wind blowing and the like are being used to form a coherent musical composition that conveys a story or a plot. This form of music has been existent since the ancient times, yet it was the Hungarian composer Franz Liszt who actually coined the term “programme music” in the mid 19th century, a time when Romantic music was very pravalent. For the purpose of discussion, programme music may be defined as instrumental music that attempts to convey a story or arouse mental images without the use of words. Liszt calls composers of programme music as “poetizing symphonsts”. Furthermore, he also strived to be able to distinguish the programme and its object. He claims that “the programme has no other object than to indicate preparatively the spiritual moments which impelled the composer to create his work, the thoughts which he endeavoured to incorporate in it. Given the examples of the composers and their works, that were mentioned in the essay, it is hence apparent how experimentation in the genre of programme music was important. It was indeed a risk for these composers to hence pattern the form of their composition to a certain programme they have pictured in their minds. ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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