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Appassionata a Romantic piece, ...what? (Read 4005 times)

Offline mattgreenecomposer

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Appassionata a Romantic piece, ...what?
« on: June 22, 2007, 01:22:15 AM »
Someone posted this and I let it go.. but it's been mentioned here twice now, so I have to say something as I feel somewhat knowledgeable on the subject.

This piece was written between 1804-1805.  Not that the year is always a definitive factor in the era of a piece but it is in Sonata form.  More importantly it  follows classical sonata form as it was in that day.  It clearly has the defining factor of classical repertoire-The Tonic versus Dominant feud and in this case a minor tonic versus its relative major.  The sonata hits this Ab major as a pedal point in m. 90 as a pedal.  This was the basis of pretty much all sonatas up to that point. (T vs dom, or tonic vs rel major)  The sonata ends in its home key (typical) during the recap. as both themes in the exposition are repeated in the home key.  (Now Beethoven does bend the rules a bit I know)
As far as the harmonies go nothing new here.
Virtuosic-somewhat yes for the time but Mozart had plenty difficult stuff as well.
This piece is not based on a poem or a ballad or what not typical of the romantic era, so why are people posting it as Romantic?  Doctorate students, teachers, or someone knowledgable on the subject please enlighten me.. :)
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piano sheet music of Sonata 23 (Appassionata)


Offline cherub_rocker1979

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Re: Appassionata a Romantic piece, ...what?
«Reply #1 on: June 22, 2007, 01:51:38 AM »
Someone posted this and I let it go.. but it's been mentioned here twice now, so I have to say something as I feel somewhat knowledgeable on the subject.

This piece was written between 1804-1805.  Not that the year is always a definitive factor in the era of a piece but it is in Sonata form.  More importantly it  follows classical sonata form as it was in that day.  It clearly has the defining factor of classical repertoire-The Tonic versus Dominant feud and in this case a minor tonic versus its relative major.  The sonata hits this Ab major as a pedal point in m. 90 as a pedal.  This was the basis of pretty much all sonatas up to that point. (T vs dom, or tonic vs rel major)  The sonata ends in its home key (typical) during the recap. as both themes in the exposition are repeated in the home key.  (Now Beethoven does bend the rules a bit I know)
As far as the harmonies go nothing new here.
Virtuosic-somewhat yes for the time but Mozart had plenty difficult stuff as well.
This piece is not based on a poem or a ballad or what not typical of the romantic era, so why are people posting it as Romantic?  Doctorate students, teachers, or someone knowledgable on the subject please enlighten me.. :)

Beethoven was the bridge between Classicism and Romanticism.  The fact that it is a sonata doesn't mean that it is classical.  Would you consider Brahms', Schumann's, Rachmaninov's, or Prokofiev's sonatas classical?

The Appassionata is a Romantic work that just happened to be created towards the end of the Classical Period.  It's not like one day the composers decided to start a new period.  This sonata is classical and romantic at the same time.

Offline soliloquy

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Re: Appassionata a Romantic piece, ...what?
«Reply #2 on: June 22, 2007, 08:24:59 AM »
Where are people telling you that the Appassionata is a romantic work?


It's late-Classical, not early-Romantic.  The bridge between them has nothing to do with time or composer; Romantic music is music that is directly succeeding Classical and dismisses classical form; the Appassionata sonata follows Classical structural and harmonic form.  And, Schubert certainly crossed closer into Romantic than Beethoven anyway.  These are probably the same people that say Die Zauberflote is a Romantic Era work, which is asinine =/  In fact, that particular Mozart opera is probably straying closer to the line of classicism/romanticism than the Appassionata anyway.  The actual "sonata" form isn't what needs to be focused on in determining this; it's the harmonic structure of the piece, and the structure of each movement.  The Appassionata is fairly horizontal, and the repetitions, placement of harmonic progression and expositions are entirely consistent with classical compositional forms.  Just because it doesn't sound like Mozart doesn't mean it isn't classical; in fact, if an extremely exacting interpretation was made of this piece, as opposed to what is now the standard interpretation which is highly INFUSED with romantic affectation, I don't think such a statement would ever be made.  For instance, take a reading through the Mozart Variations K573 and play it highly affectatiously, and you will probably find that it has more of a romantic aesthetic than the Appassionata does.  I was blissfully unaware that people were trying to form an argument for this piece being "romantic" =/  Can I see some sources?

Offline mattgreenecomposer

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Re: Appassionata a Romantic piece, ...what?
«Reply #3 on: June 22, 2007, 02:16:43 PM »
Soliloquiy-I agree with you 100%

Cherub-Rocker-I think you missed the point of the entire post I wrote.  It's not that it's in Sonata form.  As you say, "Prokofiev wrote sonata's."  According to Caplin, it's the Tonic vs. Dominant feud that most importantly determines the classical era.  I even put it in bold.

and 1804 is not at the very end of the classical era.  Classical period didn't end until 1827-Beethovens death.  If it was a late Opus # I would agree with you but it's not.

In addition, rules of chromaticism are followed here, no unresolved dissonances and extended chordal harmonies that are so frequently common in the Romantic period.
Still its a great piece, no matter what era it belongs in.
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Offline iumonito

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Re: Appassionata a Romantic piece, ...what?
«Reply #4 on: June 22, 2007, 03:40:07 PM »
Why does it matter?  Would you play it any differently if you put it in one box or another?

From a musicological point of view, there isn't really a break between the romantic and classical periods.  You find the same aesthetic features in Mozart, Beethoven or Brahms, much Chopin can be analytically traced back to Hummel and Mozart, Schubert, who is for the most part contemporaneous with Beethoven has close stylistic ties to Zumsteg and CPE Bach.

The place where you find more of a difference, which is extramusical subjects in non-vocal works, is as much property of Beethoven as it is of Schumann.  Note that neither had opera as a significant outlet, like Mozart.

But most importantly, should you decide to play the Appasionata is Classical restraint or with Romantic abandon, you should make that decision based on the music itself, rather than on a cookie cutter vision of how it should be played.
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Offline jabbz

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Re: Appassionata a Romantic piece, ...what?
«Reply #5 on: June 22, 2007, 05:21:26 PM »
The music is Romantic, despite not being written in the romantic period. Other 'late classical' music is a world appart from the Appasionata. It is entirely removed from the classical idiom.

Offline soliloquy

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Re: Appassionata a Romantic piece, ...what?
«Reply #6 on: June 22, 2007, 05:36:37 PM »
The music is Romantic, despite not being written in the romantic period. Other 'late classical' music is a world appart from the Appasionata. It is entirely removed from the classical idiom.

Could you please give specific reasons (preferably citing measures) based on the structure of the piece that supports this argument?

Offline elevateme_returns

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Re: Appassionata a Romantic piece, ...what?
«Reply #7 on: June 22, 2007, 07:51:11 PM »
totally agree with iumonito.
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Offline thalbergmad

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Re: Appassionata a Romantic piece, ...what?
«Reply #8 on: June 22, 2007, 08:19:38 PM »
Depends on your description of romanticism i feel.

For me, the Romantic movement is all about freedom from form and the use of other art forms as inspiration.

In this respect, Appasionata is not a romantic work, but who cares.

In the hands of some pianists it sounds like one.

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Offline jabbz

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Re: Appassionata a Romantic piece, ...what?
«Reply #9 on: June 22, 2007, 09:37:24 PM »
Could you please give specific reasons (preferably citing measures) based on the structure of the piece that supports this argument?

The structure is classical, Beethoven was well known for maintaining classical structures largely.
Obvious deviations would be (from top of the head) 5th concecto, and op27. no1.

But in term of musical elements, even in the first movement, the second subject is totally unlike anything of classical period, you'll not find anything remotely like that in Haydn of Mozart.

Offline Nightscape

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Re: Appassionata a Romantic piece, ...what?
«Reply #10 on: June 23, 2007, 10:40:08 AM »
Doesn't matter Doesn't matter Doesn't matter.

This is a piece that doesn't neatly fit into our little music history categories.


But seriously, why on earth does it matter!  You shouldn't play this piece as if it were Mozart, but you shouldn't play it like Liszt either.  You should play it like Beethoven!

Offline soliloquy

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Re: Appassionata a Romantic piece, ...what?
«Reply #11 on: June 25, 2007, 12:24:49 AM »
The structure is classical, Beethoven was well known for maintaining classical structures largely.
Obvious deviations would be (from top of the head) 5th concecto, and op27. no1.

But in term of musical elements, even in the first movement, the second subject is totally unlike anything of classical period, you'll not find anything remotely like that in Haydn of Mozart.


What about Soler?

Offline iumonito

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Re: Appassionata a Romantic piece, ...what?
«Reply #12 on: June 25, 2007, 04:40:11 PM »
The structure is classical, Beethoven was well known for maintaining classical structures largely.
Obvious deviations would be (from top of the head) 5th concecto, and op27. no1.

But in term of musical elements, even in the first movement, the second subject is totally unlike anything of classical period, you'll not find anything remotely like that in Haydn of Mozart.

What? If by second subject you mean the A flat motive squarely rooted in a triad, that is actually quite Haydnesque.  I think what you feel (and I feel you are not articulating) is that this musi is louder and more resonant.

Well, for that, thank the larger pianos, the influence of Clementi (whose music has these loud textures several years before Beethoven), and poor Ludwig having to generate a lot of resonance in order to be able to feel the vibration of the music in his wooden floor.

The structure is not any more classical than Brahms or Mendelsohnn.  In fact, here you have no repeat of the exposition in the first movement, and a development in the rondo that almost makes it an allegro at the end, with the development repeated.  Sure it is Classical (in the sense that Haydn, Mozart and Clementi enjoyed similar freedom in their structural outlay) but it certainly it is not text book.  Sorry Czerny.
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Offline minstrel

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Re: Appassionata a Romantic piece, ...what?
«Reply #13 on: June 25, 2007, 09:59:49 PM »
It's not that surprising this piece is considered romantic (by some).

Appasionata=Passion=Romanticism

There is a lot of emotional energy in it.. Still uses a more or less classical form, but so did many romantic pieces.

Personally I don't feel comfortable with either of the labels "late-classical" or "early-romantic".  It is what it is.

Offline jabbz

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Re: Appassionata a Romantic piece, ...what?
«Reply #14 on: June 26, 2007, 08:07:15 AM »
What? If by second subject you mean the A flat motive squarely rooted in a triad, that is actually quite Haydnesque.  I think what you feel (and I feel you are not articulating) is that this musi is louder and more resonant.

You have a total misunderstanding of what romantacism is. Just because tonally, and harmonically the music is based on the tonic-dominant relationship (which, might I add, is common in nearly all romantic music until Scriabin), doesn't make it any less romantic. Romantacism was about using music as an emotional form of experession, without the niceness  of the Style Galant. Even the modulations to remote keys in the Appassionata (which Beethoven pioneered) are typically Romantic.

Offline counterpoint

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Re: Appassionata a Romantic piece, ...what?
«Reply #15 on: June 26, 2007, 09:11:29 AM »
I would propose to distinguish between the naming of the epoch to which a composer belongs and the more free, descriptive use of terms like "baroque", "classical", "romantic", "impressionistic".

There a "impressionistic" parts even in Beethoven's compositions as well as "baroque"

Some of J.S.Bach's pieces could be labeled as "romantic", others as "Renaissance"  or even "atonal"

The music world is not fenced like garden plots. There are certain preferences in each epoch, but you find all sorts of expression in every epoch. To say, this composer has this style and another composer has another style is a rough simplification and is not appropriate to many special works.
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Offline theodopolis

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Re: Appassionata a Romantic piece, ...what?
«Reply #16 on: June 26, 2007, 09:42:19 AM »
I think all people interested in this kind of Classical/Romantic debate would benefit from reading this short article by James Webster. It demonstrates a very different and arguably more sensible approach to this area in the history of music.

Theo
Does anyone else here think the opening of Liszt's 'Orage' (AdP - Suisse No.5) sounds like the Gymnopedie from Hell?

Offline mcgillcomposer

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Re: Appassionata a Romantic piece, ...what?
«Reply #17 on: June 26, 2007, 10:04:47 AM »
I think all people interested in this kind of Classical/Romantic debate would benefit from reading this short article by James Webster. It demonstrates a very different and arguably more sensible approach to this area in the history of music.

Theo

Thanks for posting this article. Have you ever read his article entitled "Bach the Progressive"?
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Offline iumonito

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Re: Appassionata a Romantic piece, ...what?
«Reply #18 on: June 26, 2007, 05:44:29 PM »
You have a total misunderstanding of what romantacism is. Just because tonally, and harmonically the music is based on the tonic-dominant relationship (which, might I add, is common in nearly all romantic music until Scriabin), doesn't make it any less romantic. Romantacism was about using music as an emotional form of experession, without the niceness  of the Style Galant. Even the modulations to remote keys in the Appassionata (which Beethoven pioneered) are typically Romantic.

I am sorry you think I am misguided on my understanding of what romanticism is.  Perhaps I can illustrate it some more.

You talk about using music as an emotional form of expression, "without the niceness of the Style Galant."  Well, Sturm und Drang predates Beethoven by a lot.  Haydn and Mozart (let alone maverick Clementi) pretty much everywhere match your description.  The Empfindsamer Style is just as classical, and Beethoven (all Beethoven) is well rooted in it.

Beethoven did not pioneer remote modulations, you find them everywhere in Haydn and Mozart, and in fact further back in Haendel, Bach and Scarlatti, all of whom were quite familiar to Beethoven.

What sets apart Beethoven from his predecessors is not a fundamentally different aesthetic, but rather his personal philosophical approach to music, which is full of the spirit of the French revolution.  Much of what you feel is bigger and stronger is simply the result of Beethoven having bigger and stronger instruments coupled with his personality.  Was it Goethe that called Beethoven "ungebaendigt"? (sorry, no patience for umlaut).

The clue, though, is that Beethoven's philosophical thinking has just as much Hegel as Rousseau in it, and that braids it to the music of Mozart and Haydn much more profoundly than to that of any of the romatics, perhaps save Liszt, Brahms and Wagner (sorry Schumann, no soup for you).

So, dear, what is it that I am so sorely misunderstanding about romanticism?
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Offline jabbz

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Re: Appassionata a Romantic piece, ...what?
«Reply #19 on: June 26, 2007, 07:57:20 PM »
Yes, entirely.

You totally over intellectualize what romantasicm is. The Classical period supplied music to please the listener. The Romantics provided music to challenge the listener. By that definition, the Appassionata sonata is romantic.

Sorry.

Offline counterpoint

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Re: Appassionata a Romantic piece, ...what?
«Reply #20 on: June 26, 2007, 07:59:23 PM »
The Classical period supplied music to please the listener.

Where did you get this information from?  ::)

Beethoven never wanted to please anyone!
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Offline rallestar

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Re: Appassionata a Romantic piece, ...what?
«Reply #21 on: June 26, 2007, 08:11:51 PM »
Yes, entirely.

You totally over intellectualize what romantasicm is. The Classical period supplied music to please the listener. The Romantics provided music to challenge the listener. By that definition, the Appassionata sonata is romantic.

Sorry.

That's just an enormous simplification. Saying romantic music is more challenging to the listener is simply just wrong - Many romantic pieces are simple, easy flowing pieces, while plenty of classical pieces are harder to appreciate and much more complicated.

The borders between eras in art are simply not that well-defined. Generally, it could be said that classical music focused on transparent, refined music, in a reaction to baroque complicity, while romantic music reacted against this by wearing its heart on its sleeve.

But that evolution took many years, and many works that are just not clearly defineable as either.

What is most accurate is perhaps to say that the Appassionata is a late-classical piece, showing many signs of what was to become central aspects of musical romanticism.

Offline iumonito

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Re: Appassionata a Romantic piece, ...what?
«Reply #22 on: June 26, 2007, 09:11:04 PM »
Yes, entirely.

You totally over intellectualize what romantasicm is. The Classical period supplied music to please the listener. The Romantics provided music to challenge the listener. By that definition, the Appassionata sonata is romantic.

Sorry.

Thanks.  I actually think what's at play here is precisely the opposite, I feel you are unromanticizing Haydn and Mozart (cough cough and Clementi and early Beethoven).

Again, it bodes well for your growth as a human listener and a musical being to shed yourself from these categories and listen and study each work as an individual aesthetic and organic entity.  You must understand the historical and personal context of the piece, which requires that you understand what connects it to what came before and after it, but most importantly what sets it apart.  If you listened to this for the first time and had some knowledge, you would never mistake it for Liszt, Schumann, Chopin or Brahms, nor Haydn, Mozart or Schubert.  It is unique and that is wonderful.

I shall not spend more time on this with you.  Good luck, and post your recording soon.  I expect it to be full of fire, as it should be.
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Offline mcgillcomposer

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Re: Appassionata a Romantic piece, ...what?
«Reply #23 on: June 26, 2007, 10:24:52 PM »
Where did you get this information from?  ::)

Beethoven never wanted to please anyone!
You mean he didn't care if he pleased them or not...BIG difference.
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Offline counterpoint

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Re: Appassionata a Romantic piece, ...what?
«Reply #24 on: June 26, 2007, 11:21:25 PM »
You mean he didn't care if he pleased them or not...BIG difference.

He didn't care? Yes, he didn't care and it was not his intention to please his audience. In the contrary: Beethoven was the most ruthless composer of his time. He often snubbed his audience by totally ignoring the conventions, that a composer was expected to comply with. Beethovens music is music of his personal strong conviction, not music that has an interest in what the audience wants to hear.
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Offline mcgillcomposer

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Re: Appassionata a Romantic piece, ...what?
«Reply #25 on: June 27, 2007, 12:17:23 AM »
He didn't care? Yes, he didn't care and it was not his intention to please his audience. In the contrary: Beethoven was the most ruthless composer of his time. He often snubbed his audience by totally ignoring the conventions, that a composer was expected to comply with. Beethovens music is music of his personal strong conviction, not music that has an interest in what the audience wants to hear.
Ya exactly...he was INDIFFERENT to whether or not it pleased them. You said he didn't want to please them...if this were the case he would have tried his damndest to write things that would have displeased the audience.

There is a difference between being "indifferent" and "not wanting to please".
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Offline jabbz

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Re: Appassionata a Romantic piece, ...what?
«Reply #26 on: June 27, 2007, 08:49:46 AM »

I shall not spend more time on this with you.  Good luck, and post your recording soon.  I expect it to be full of fire, as it should be.

I'm just pleased we could have this discussion without it becomng a heated and sensitive mess. Being pleasent is never a bad thing. Unfortunately, I shall not be posting a recording anytime soon, as I am an amature pianist (although I enjoy it plently), and am still learning. However, my profession is composition.

What I said was an enormous simplification, and not entirely what I mean. And it's true, Beethoven never wrote anything to please anyone but himself. From what my ears pick up, this perticular sonata is full of edgyness, and angst that was a large theme in the Romantic period. Even if musically this sonata is 'late-classical', surely it can be reguarded as a romantic piece, even if it's not part of the romantic period?

Offline counterpoint

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Re: Appassionata a Romantic piece, ...what?
«Reply #27 on: June 27, 2007, 08:59:37 AM »
Ya exactly...he was INDIFFERENT to whether or not it pleased them.

Not quite INDIFFERENT - he had much fun in provoking people - just like many composers of the 20th century :D
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Offline iumonito

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Re: Appassionata a Romantic piece, ...what?
«Reply #28 on: June 27, 2007, 03:36:08 PM »
My profession is composition.

I would love to read your music if you are interested in sharing.  Works with piano I hope?
PM or or start a thread.

I enjoyed the exchange as well.
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Offline jabbz

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Re: Appassionata a Romantic piece, ...what?
«Reply #29 on: June 27, 2007, 10:23:26 PM »
At the moment my commissions are mostly technical studies for a British music magazine, and of course, piano! I'm currently compiling 31 daily studies, and I'm doing preparatory work for an opera, but it would be interesting to talk about composition in more depth, so, PM me!  ;D

Offline gruffalo

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Re: Appassionata a Romantic piece, ...what?
«Reply #30 on: June 28, 2007, 12:23:27 PM »
Not quite INDIFFERENT - he had much fun in provoking people - just like many composers of the 20th century :D

If this is true, then he didn't do a very good job of it because he was immensely popular.

btw, this wasn't an attack against Beethoven, i love him really.  ;)

Offline maxy

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Re: Appassionata a Romantic piece, ...what?
«Reply #31 on: July 06, 2007, 03:23:40 PM »
I like to take the "academic" point of view.  Usually, when we read : "classical sonata required", all Mozart, Haydn and Beethoven are fine.   8)

Do we really care if it is fundamentally true?

Offline mcgillcomposer

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Re: Appassionata a Romantic piece, ...what?
«Reply #32 on: July 07, 2007, 03:09:33 AM »
Why does it matter?  Would you play it any differently if you put it in one box or another?

From a musicological point of view, there isn't really a break between the romantic and classical periods.  You find the same aesthetic features in Mozart, Beethoven or Brahms, much Chopin can be analytically traced back to Hummel and Mozart, Schubert, who is for the most part contemporaneous with Beethoven has close stylistic ties to Zumsteg and CPE Bach.

The place where you find more of a difference, which is extramusical subjects in non-vocal works, is as much property of Beethoven as it is of Schumann.  Note that neither had opera as a significant outlet, like Mozart.

But most importantly, should you decide to play the Appasionata is Classical restraint or with Romantic abandon, you should make that decision based on the music itself, rather than on a cookie cutter vision of how it should be played.
This is the only answer needed...
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