Beethoven's Fifth Symphony: Music Analysis

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‘Romanticism encouraged composers to seek individual paths for expressing intense emotions, such as melancholy, longing, or joy. Composers respected conventions of form or harmony to a point, but their imagination drove them to trespass limits and explore new realms of sound’ (Burkholder, Grout and Palisca, 2014) Discuss this statement as an interpretation of the Romantic concept of music in relation to one or more genres. Cite as many examples as you think appropriate; choose one work in particular and write a detailed critical/analytical account of that work. The evolution of music can be viewed as a linear timeline of key, innovative composers who have far-reaching influences upon the sphere of music and perhaps epitomise the societal views…show more content…
Beethoven’s Fifth is revolutionary due to the fact that there is no melody with an accompaniment, which is atypical of the classical period. Instead, Beethoven introduces the idea of a motif, which is evidenced in the opening four bars of the piece. This motif is used as a structural device to bring coherence to the piece; “the constantly invoked connection between the two four-note units is crucial to the movement.”(Steinberg, 1998). If it were not for this motif, then the piece would not have structural integrity. The opening few bars of Beethoven’s Fifth perhaps perfectly encapsulates what it means to be a Romantic, with a juxtaposition between the urgency of the quavers and the freezing of motion accomplished by the fermata over the long note of the phrase. Abnormally for the classical period, the piece does not begin with a perfect cadence, instead starting with the tonic (C minor) and then moving to the supertonic in bars three and four. This technique may have been used to cause anticipation, as the audience of the time would not have been used to hearing such a striking, unfamiliar chordal progression at the opening of the piece. Although Beethoven’s Fifth is a revolutionary piece, it does still adhere to the classical aesthetic in the sense of form, with the first movement of the…show more content…
Exoticism, in simple terms, is a depiction of a place or time which is different to the here and now. During the Romantic period, musicians and composers had a renewed interest in literature, particularly folklore, poetry and theatrical productions set to music. Many composers wrote pieces known as tone poems, which were instrumental compositions intended to portray the event of a poem, play, or a certain mood, theme or aspect of nature. Due to the fact that poems or plays were often set in either distant places or the past, composers thus had to invent ways of portraying distant lands or periods of time through their music. This led to a dramatic growth of the harmonic spectrum with a pronounced focus on chromaticism, exotic scales such as the introduction of the octatonic scales, and new harmonic colourings with the introduction of modal harmonies, such as the 9th being used to add warmth and depth to a chord. Additionally, in order to narrate a story through music, one must invent a way of portraying different characters through their music, which led to an increased use of thematic content to depict certain moods and conventions such as the leitmotif being utilized to depict different characters in a tone poem of a
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