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Brahms: Clarinet Sonatas and Clarinet Quintet Essay


Introduction

Music is important in human life. Those who believe that music should be developed are right, still classical music will always remain the basic for all music trends. Listening to Bach, Mozart, and other famous contributors into the classical music, it becomes obvious that music is a miracle. Johannes Brahms is a prominent musician of his time. Additionally, his pieces of music are still remembered and many people love his performances.

Each piece of music has its own background, personal history and peculiarities connected with its composition. It is obvious that the time of music composition and the peculiarities of the personal condition impact the music outcome.

The main purpose of this article is to dwell upon two pieces of music created by Johannes Brahms, Clarinet Quintet and Clarinet Sonata. We are going to consider the background for music creation including the historic period of time and personal life of the composer and discussing the peculiarities of music performance.

Historical Background for Music Creation

To begin with, it should be mentioned that listening to Clarinet Quintet in B minor, Op. 115 by Brahms one may easily create the parallels with Mozart’s clarinet quintet. These parallel points should be considered for better understanding of the historical background of music creation.

Two compositions express melancholy, they both integrate clarinets by means of string texture, they both use clarinet as a solo instrument that was not really spread in that time. Therefore, it may be concluded that Mozart influenced the development of Brahms’ music and vision of this music.

The tendency of the whole time period was regulated by Mozart’s vision of the music and his performances. Still, much attention should be paid to the epoch and personality of Johannes Brahms as even though music tendencies play much in composer’s development, vision of the music is really important.

Much attention is paid to clarinet during the early 19th century. Colin James Lawson characterizes the time period as follows, “an age devoted to virtuosity the clarinet achieved a natural pre-eminence among wind instruments, whilst at the same time lending an important tone-color to the Romantic orchestra palette” (3).

Clarinets were used for solo and for quintets which may be considered as the time period tendency, but solo compositions were more appropriate during the second period of the 19th century. The main reasons of shift from quintets to solo compositions may be divided into political and social.

From the political side, “many of the small courts were beginning absorbed into larger duchies or kingdoms, with a consequent loss in the number of the orchestras available” (Lawson 7) and from the social side, “the clarinet was becoming more accessible to a wider cross-section of general population, more an instrument of a drawing room or a small concert hall” (Lawson 7).

Thus, having considered the historical situation in the society when Clarinet Quintet in B Minor, Op. 115 and Clarinet Sonata No. 1 and No. 2, Op. 120 were composed, the discussion of each of them should be completed for better vision of all of the peculiarities and specifics of sound.

Clarinet Quintet in B Minor, Op. 115

Clarinet Quintet in B Minor, Op. 115 was composed by Johannes Brahms in 189 and this piece of music may be considered as the greatest achievement in chamber music. It worse mentioning that only few compositions were created in this manner by the time when Brahms created his quintet. Hoverer, Mozart’s piece of music had already been composed and it may be concluded that Brahms based his clarinet quintet on Mozart’s one.

Richard Mühlfeld also influenced Brahms vision of the clarinet music. As the music he has composed encouraged Brahms for completing his already started piece (37). Dwelling upon this piece of music in detail, it should be mentioned that Clarinet Quintet in B Minor, Op. 115 consists of four movements, Allegro, Adagio, Andantino, and Con moto. The first movement begins with the strings and clarinet appears only in the middle of the piece of music.

The melancholic mood supports while the whole composition. The second movement begins with the relaxing melody of clarinet and then shifts to the gloomy atmosphere. The clarinet sound introduces technical runs by means of playing from all ranges. The third movement is the shortest and is played like the first one (in the same mood).

To the point, this piece is played similarly as the first one with the only difference that it is performed in a 2/4 meter. The final forth movement is the most impressive due to high number of variations. It does not look like any particular piece if compared to the previous movements. The final notes are described as a loud chord which fades away unexpectedly.

Clarinet Sonata No. 1 and No. 2, Op. 120

Johannes Brahms dedicated his Clarinet Sonata No. 1 and No. 2, Op. 120 to Richard Mühlfeld, a person who impacted Brahms’ compositions greatly. The history of this composition is really interesting. Brahms promised to retire from composing in 1891. But, he could not keep this promise as his friendship with Richard Mühlfeld impacted him greatly. Fräulein Klarinette was one of the greatest impacts which encouraged Brahms for composing his Clarinet Sonata No. 1 and No. 2 ().

The Clarinet Sonata No. 1 consists of the following movements, Allegro appassionato, Andante un poco Adagio, Allegretto grazioso, and Vivace. Clarinet Sonata No. 2 consists of the following movements, Allegro amabile, Allegro appassionato-Sostenuto-Tempo I, and Andante con moto – allegro. The piece of music is played with tragic melancholy, the old bachelor music may be heard.

The sounds of waltz in this piece are explained by the genre popularity during the time when the music was composed and these notes may be easily heard in Brahms’s sonata. The meter of the composition changes from part to part, from movement to movement (2/4 and 3/4 meter. Generally, the composer uses moderate tempo. People consider some of the parts of the piece of music performed as intermezzos, but I can see only lightness (even gracefulness).

Conclusion

Therefore, it may be concluded that e pieces of music created by Johannes Brahms was composed after a small period in his work, after he promised to retire. However, the desire to create music was much greater. Johannes Brahms composed his clarinet pieces of music according to the tendencies which were in the society. Having created a clarinet quintet, he shifted to sonatas which were more appropriate in the later period of time.

Two people impacted Johannes Brahms, Mozart and Mühlfeld and both these people may be seen as the contributors to the compositions completed by Brahms. Each of the pieces of music is unique and each of them is a great contribution to the world of music both during the period of time when they were composed and now.

Works Cited

Lawson, Colin James. Brahms, clarinet quintet. Cambridge University Press, 1998. Print.

McClelland, Ryan C. Brahms and the scherzo: studies in musical narrative. Ashgate Publishing, Ltd., 2010. Print.

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IvyPanda. (2019, December 14). Brahms: Clarinet Sonatas and Clarinet Quintet. Retrieved from https://ivypanda.com/essays/brahms-clarinet-sonatas-and-clarinet-quintet-essay/

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"Brahms: Clarinet Sonatas and Clarinet Quintet." IvyPanda, 14 Dec. 2019, ivypanda.com/essays/brahms-clarinet-sonatas-and-clarinet-quintet-essay/.

1. IvyPanda. "Brahms: Clarinet Sonatas and Clarinet Quintet." December 14, 2019. https://ivypanda.com/essays/brahms-clarinet-sonatas-and-clarinet-quintet-essay/.


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IvyPanda. "Brahms: Clarinet Sonatas and Clarinet Quintet." December 14, 2019. https://ivypanda.com/essays/brahms-clarinet-sonatas-and-clarinet-quintet-essay/.

References

IvyPanda. 2019. "Brahms: Clarinet Sonatas and Clarinet Quintet." December 14, 2019. https://ivypanda.com/essays/brahms-clarinet-sonatas-and-clarinet-quintet-essay/.

References

IvyPanda. (2019) 'Brahms: Clarinet Sonatas and Clarinet Quintet'. 14 December.

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