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Classical Symphony and Classical Chamber Music Essay

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Updated: Jun 9th, 2021

Oratorio vs. Cantata

In their genre style, the cantata and oratorio are close to each other; however, differences exist. According to Kamien (2018), the compositions of the first style were associated with Renaissance choral performances and were aimed at displaying one selected theme. One of the most outstanding cantata composers was Johann Sebastian Bach, and his “Cantata No. 140” is still one of the greatest works of the Baroque era.

Like many other similar works, it keeps the public in suspense and reflects the grandeur and monumentality of the chosen theme. As Kamien (2018) notes, “an oratorio contains a succession of choruses, arias, duets, recitatives, and orchestral interludes” (p. 142). Consequently, the variety of plots distinguishes this type of the music of the Baroque era from cantatas. George Frideric Handel was one of the composers working in this genre, and his “Messiah” is still the world famous oratorio.

Classical Period

The classical period was marked by the transition from traditional church motifs to more diverse works where sound coloring played a significant role. As Kamien (2018) remarks, the polyphonic structure ceased to be the main one, and new ideas emerged, which were realized by brilliant composers. One of the outstanding figures of the classical period was Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, the brilliant composer.

His “Symphony No. 40” is included in the list of the greatest musical works. Another representative of the classical period was Ludwig van Beethoven, and his music was “a higher revelation than all wisdom and philosophy” (Kamien, 2018, p. 198). Beethoven’s “Moonlight Sonata” conveys deep feelings and is the object of cultural heritage.

Classical Symphony and Classical Chamber Music

Although such styles as the classical symphony and classical chamber music have much in common, there are some differences that distinguish these genres. Certain criteria may be taken into account, including the target audience, the specifics of the presentation, and other factors. According to Kamien (2018), the classical symphony “is an extended, ambitious composition typically lasting between twenty and forty-five minutes, exploiting the expanded range of tone color and dynamics of the classical orchestra” (p. 175).

These compositions are usually performed in concert halls with a large number of spectators, and their monumentality is one of the most obvious qualities. As Kamien (2018) argues, classical chamber music is different in that it is performed in an intimate setting and is not intended for mass evaluation. The target audience, as a rule, listens to performers attentively, and the chamber is to encourage particular feelings and experience different emotions under the influence of a special situation. Such properties of the two styles distinguish them from each other.

Among the brilliant representatives of the classical symphony, Joseph Haydn should be mentioned, the outstanding Austrian composer and one of the founders of this musical genre. Kamien (2018) notes that in his lifetime, Haydn wrote 104 symphonies, which is an impressive result (p. 178). One of his most famous works is “Symphony No. 94,” which also has the name “Surprise.” In this composition, the author combines various harmonic and melodic tricks, creating the unique and charming image of the original classical culture. In the genre of chamber music, it is also possible to distinguish outstanding composers.

One of them was Franz Schubert who became famous for his unusual and memorable waltzes. According to Kamien (2018), “Schubert’s imaginative harmonies and dissonances provide some of the most poetic moments in music” (p. 226). The composer is famous for many works, and some of them have left riddles. For instance, the greatest “Unfinished” Symphony has a non-standard structure and consists of two parts but not four, which classical practice provides. These and other features make Schubert’s music unique and charming.

Reference

Kamien, R. (2018). Music: An appreciation (9th ed.). New York, NY: McGraw-Hill Education.

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