Impressionist-music

tag yourself as movements in classical music
  • Medieval: often ignored, shy, secretly gay, likes to stay in the same place all the time, dreams of being a monk
  • Renaissance: loves to dance, likes fancy things (but not too fancy), nobody else could pick them out in a crowd but everyone is friendly to them
  • Baroque: very particular about everything, draws immensely detailed doodles, gets super side-tracked on pointless tangents, everyone's distracted dad friend
  • Classical: very neat bedroom, makes bad puns constantly, has a 9-5 job, everyone's helpful but slightly exasperated mom friend
  • Romantic: can never make up their mind about anything, gets shivers when they go to art museums, cries a lot (and you'll know about it), sad bisexual (TM)
  • Impressionist: super gay, loves music that isn't in their native language, cries easily, just wants to have a good time
  • Early Modernist: just like Romantic but also does drugs and is afraid of but also super interested in sex
  • Serialist: angry at everything, "you don't understand my torment", probably a communist
  • Neoclassical: wants to be just like classical but has never gone to sleep before 1AM, keeps a very neat bedroom except for a single massive pile of clothes in the closet they refuse to acknowledge, occasionally steals Renaissance's hoodies
  • Total Serialist: 500% angrier than serialist and proud of it, has never had fun, has probably killed someone
  • Academic Avant-Garde: has never done the same thing twice, trusts nobody else, has an on-again-off-again relationship with total serialism
  • Minimalism: loves technology, still wears Google Glass and the Apple Watch, meditates for fun, trying to learn Hindi (and horribly failing), often incomprehensible to everyone else but is actually super friendly
  • Polystylism: originator of the term "pastel grunge", wears immensely clashing outfits, steals everyone's looks, memes

Top 25 Favorite Composers

No.3: Maurice Ravel (7 March 1875 - 28 December 1937)

A Basque-French cosmopolitain, who rejected conservative academia as it rejected him, Ravel was one of the greatest French composers of all time. Growing out of late 19th century French music, he took conventions and reshaped them through impressionist harmonies and his fantastic sense of orchestral coloring, paired with influences from Faure to Debussy to Satie. Many say Ravel was the greatest orchestrator in history, and notably point to his Bolero, a study in color and repetition, and his orchestration of Mussorgsky’s Pictures at an Exhibition. He was able to capture the atmosphere of both real and mythological subjects in his work. Though his mentality toward music was that music should be lighter and as entertaining as well as moving, the perfectionist in him helped produce some of the finest pieces of music, even coming from a very small oeuvre. My favorite works by him are his two piano concertos, the mysterious piano suite Gaspard de la Nuit, the post-romantic showpiece Tzigane, his almost grotesque La Valse, and Daphnis et Chloe.

youtube

Satie - Embryons Desséchés

Desiccated embryos. A short work of three movements that presents an example of Satie’s musical jokes. Each movement has a little quip towards music history and other composers. The first movement is to a sea cucumber, and quotes a popular cabaret song at the time “My rock of Saint-Malo”, and in the score he writes “I observed a sea cucumber in the bay of Saint-Malo”. This is probably him poking fun at the music of his good friend Debussy, who he criticized for his prelude “The Sunken Cathedral”. That prelude was referring to a church in a fictitious underwater city, and Satie wanted to respond by writing music depicting something real. The movement ends with an overwritten coda of the tonic chord played over and over, keeping the listener on edge as to when the music actually ends. The second movement is for a type of small shrimp. It is in the form of a short funeral march, referencing Chopin’s famous funeral march from the second piano sonata, but he calls it a famous Mazurka by Schubert. The final movement is for crustaceans like crabs and lobsters, and after a fun toccata it ends with another overwritten coda, “obligatory cadenza [by the composer]” and its pomposity and false grandeur is silly to put at the end of such a short and nonsensical work. Again, Satie likes to delight in the absurd.

Movements:

1. Holothurian

2. Edriophthalma

3. Podophthalma

Stay tuned this week for more music by Erik Satie, here on Musica in Extenso! 

- Nick Olinger

youtube

Debussy - Prelude no. 10 “La Cathédrale Engloutie”

For Debussy’s birthday I want to pay more attention to one of my favorite preludes by him. I fell in love with the Sunken Cathedral back in high school mostly for the evocative imagery, a great Gothic church under a blue hue, choral gently waving around it, fish swimming up in the buttresses and rafters like birds, a familiar building in an alien world. It is based off of a Breton legend of a city named Ys which sunk into the ocean, and every morning the cathedral of Ys would rise up and one could hear its bells, its organs, its singers. This prelude is full of chords and passages trying to evoke the sound of muted church bells and organ music. The melodies are gorgeous over mostly pentatonic harmonies, and the passages act like a chorale and are bursting with energy.

Elégie In C Minor, Op. 24
Jacqueline Du Pré & Gerald Moore
Elégie In C Minor, Op. 24

Gabriel Urban Fauré (1845-1924).

Fauré's talent became clear when he was a small boy. At the age of nine, he was sent to a music college in Paris, where he was trained to be a church organist and choirmaster. Among his teachers was Camille Saint-Saëns, who became a lifelong friend.

The Élégie (Elegy)Op. 24, was written in 1880, and first published and performed in public in 1883. Originally for cello and piano, the piece was later orchestrated by Fauré.

The Heart of the Fauré Elegy is the vivid expression of the wide-ranging emotions that accompany loss; when Fauré was 34, devastated and grieving over his broken engagement to his long-time love. Tonal shifts, the use of dissonance and harmonic ambiguity, and expansive register changes on the cello give this piece tremendous emotional range and depth. 

String Artist. Richard Emil Miller (American, 1875-1943).

One of the many Americans who worked at Giverny, Miller became a familiar of Frederick Frieseke and together they often met at Monet’s home to paint, critique, and socialize. Miller readily adopted an aesthetic similar to that of Frieseke: wistful maidens relaxing in sun-flecked gardens or interiors painted with broken strokes in impressionist colors.

Top 25 Favorite Composers

No.24: Claude Debussy (22 August 1862 - 25 March 1918)

Debussy is one of the great and iconic French composers, and is essentially the Father of Impressionism in music. How is music impressionist? By focusing on ambiguity, and the sense of musical works as a whole instead of specific details, very loose programs, giving hints of ideas but making the audience put them together. Debussy’s strength was the recognition of individual subjectivity, and how any artistic experience will impact a listener in different ways. My top favorite works are La Mer, an epic poem to the sea, Nocturnes, three orchestral impressionist paintings, and his two sets of Preludes for piano, bringing a new dimension to the genre.

youtube

Same Old Seine, Variation 1

youtube

Maurice Ravel - Pavane for A Dead Princess

Pavane pour une infante défunte

youtube

Fauré - Piano Quartet no.2 in g minor

Thunderstorms are rolling overhead and this morning has been a grey blur. Scrolling through my iPod, my finger fell over an album of Fauré’s piano quartets, which I haven’t gotten familiar with. On the one hand, you can hear Parisian salon music, something light and charming for entertainment…but at the same time Fauré takes unexpected shifts in key, harmonic backdrop, and rhythm, often enough to keep the music interesting. The second quartet opens with a deliberate rush in the piano, and the strings pull out a passionate melody to add to the dense texture. Of the “impressionist” composers, Fauré is a bit ignored in favor of the more rebellious Debussy and Ravel. Even so, Fauré’s more  “conservative” language has some obscure and impressionist  “vocabulary”. The music constantly modulates, but despite touching so many keys, it’s easier to follow the logic and flow, and it’s great to get lost under the watery surface. The second movement is a fun syncopated mini scherzo. The piano’s notes are light and staccato, the strings switch from warm bows to harsh plucking. The slow movement opens with a calm chord passage on the piano, that is paired with a mournful melody in the strings after each iteration, and the work builds up to a heavy outburst that subsides back into the calm of the opening. The finale throws us into the hectic energy that opened the work. Again, the chromaticism tosses us around the musical horizon up until the spirited and dizzy coda. I would put this in my list of “perfect rainy day music”

Movements:

1. Allegro molto moderato

2. Allegro molto

3. Adagio non troppo

4. Allegro molto

Works of art make rules; rules do not make works of art.
—  Claude Debussy (French Composer 1862-1918, one of the most prominent figures associated with Impressionist music)