Title: AMADEUS MOZART
- Total Pages: 2
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- Document Type: Essay
ESSAY 600 WORDS: ( ARTISTS IN 18TH CENTURY)
Compare and contrast the characters of Salieri and Mozart as experienced in the movie Amadeus directed by Milos Forman. Identify at least two cultural values/ideas that inform each musician’s approach to his music and his life. Support your response with specific references to and quotations from the movie (if you think you may want to select this prompt for the text, I suggest that you view the movie with the prompt in mind and a notepad at hand).
Recommendation: The film Amadeus. An Oscar-winning movie, it is highly entertaining, funny and sad, authentic in costumes and manners, has gorgeous music and gives an accurate account of the role of the artist in the 18th century.
Although many people group all "serious" music under the term Classical, it is only in the 18th century that this music first appears. Baroque music, highly complex, ornamental and emotional, did not appeal to the cool, rational and logical mind of the Age of Reason, and so in the second half of the 18th century the Classical style emerged. The emphasis on Reason and Logic is seen in the highly structured, repetitive, almost mathematical formula that characterizes most compositions of this time.
A good example of classical music is the Sonata form, which consists of three parts:
• Exposition: the introduction of the theme(s) and of the melody.
• Development: the same theme(s) and melody, but with elaborations and variations.
• Recapitulation: a review, a conclusion, the bringing together of the themes and melodies, will all the elaborations and variations introduced and developed, plus further variations. It all ends in a big wrap-up, a Coda.
The Sonata form becomes the base for symphonies. Symphonies themselves often are divided into four movements, which vary in key, tempo, and mood. The first movement is normally long and upbeat; the second is slower and more serious; the third, in contrast with the often somber second, is based on a dance, the minuet; and the last is faster and often has a grandiose conclusion.
Orchestras had more instruments than before, including clarinet and piano, woodwinds and percussion. Melodies are stressed, and the homogenous cordal style (single melodic lines as opposed to the polyphony of the Baroque) makes the music easy to hum. Music not performed not only in court for a select group, but also in the concert hall for much larger groups.
Symphony #94 - Franz Joseph Haydn (1732-1809)
Haydn developed the sonata form, as well as the chamber music we know as a string quartet. His originality was in spotlighting each instrument in the quartet in turn, in contrast to the instruments of the Baroque, which seem to fight with each other.
Listen to CD 2, track 9 to hear selections from the 2nd movement of Haydn's Symphony #94. As is often the case with the second movement of a symphony, the tempo is slow. Listen to the repeated theme, occasionally broken up by a modulation of pitch, (a big bang) which changes the melodic line from soft to loud. This modulation of pitch introduces variations in the theme. As the theme is repeated, you will hear these variations in key as well as tempo.
Contrary to much Baroque music, where it is difficult to follow the musical thread, in Classical music, with its thematic repetitions, you can not only hum and tap your foot to the music, you can predict what is next. While the repetition might create a boring piece of music, the variations in key, tempo, mood and instrumentation give it constant interest.
Serenade in G Major, K. 525 “Eine Kleine Nachtmusik,” I- Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (1756-1791)
A performer and composer since the age of six, Mozart not only wrote perfect sonatas but also composed operas, concertos, symphonies, religious music. He only lived 35 years but composed more than 600 works.
In the hands of a lesser talent, the sonata form and its concern with form and proportion might make it monotonous and rigid. In Mozart's hands, it achieves a quality of beauty and perfection unsurpassed to this day, as well as an emotion, which seems to contradict all we know about the Enlightenment. He manages to maintain the symmetry and balance of design characteristic of the Classical period, but infuses it with passion and feeling.
Reminiscent of Michelangelo's statement "the sculpture is already in the stone--I just had to pull it out," Mozart worked entire pieces of music in his mind and said, "Though a composition be long, it is complete and finished in my mind."
Unable to deal with the hierarchical society of his time, in which the nobility and church had privileges and artists were servants, Mozart did not fit in. He was uncouth, tactless, and argumentative. Like Voltaire, he dared to present social criticism under the guise of comedy. In his opera The Marriage of Figaro, a clever servant outwits a dumb and wealthy master, a theme that the wealthy audiences would find unacceptable. Mozart's own inability to accept his status as a servant led to alienation from his patrons and from his family, and he died in poverty at a very young age.
First movements often are more upbeat and have a quicker tempo than the traditionally more serious and somber second movements. See how the first theme is introduced, then a second minor theme comes in. That is the Exposition. Then we experience the Development, where the themes clarified. After that comes the Recapitulation of the second and first themes, and finally a conclusion, or musical Coda, a big wrap-up. This is a lovely piece of music, which is anything but monotonous, although it follows the balanced format, and mathematical precision of Classical music.
Marriage of Figaro, “Dove sono,” Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
Listen to CD 2 track 11 for an aria from Mozart’s famous opera “The Marriage of Figaro” mentioned above, and be sure to read page 459 of the blue text, which comments on this work.
It often happens that the characteristics of a certain era contrast with those of the preceding era. Such is the case with the 18th century, called the Enlightenment. In contrast to the ornamentation, the passion, and the emotional appeal of the 17th century Baroque, the 18th century calls for reason and logic. The culture’s pace increased in the 18th century due to mobilization of populations, increased literacy, print texts, increased interaction with the New World, and scientific revolution. Sir Isaac Newton’s definition of the Law of Gravity and the ability to express certain regularities in the universe in mathematical formulations was a great stimulus to scientific progress, and it encouraged a scientific, empirical approach to knowledge. As we discovered the scientific laws of the universe, we earnestly pursued definitions of the laws of nature and society. Truth based on observation of nature rather than study of ancient texts saw intellectuals identifying the institutions of man—especially the Church—as enslaving the human mind. While not renouncing religion altogether, many 18th century intellectuals adopted Deism, which accepted the existence of God but rejected God’s hand in human affairs. The responsibility for man’s experience in this world, then, rested on the behaviors of men. In other words, Man’s focus and responsibility should focus on improving life in this world, rather than working toward rewards in the next.
A study of the art, music, literature, and philosophy of the century reveals a cultural attraction to the mind rather than the heart. The pursuit of the question “what does it mean to be human?’ found answers in neo-classical renewals of reason, and emphasized developing both the human mind and the human body. The German philosopher Immanuel Kant offered the motto of the age in his admonition, “Dare to know.” The period became characterized as a one of great optimism, with the "light" in the word Enlightenment representing the light of Reason.
The time of the absolute ruler epitomized by Louis the XIV, the Sun King who ruled by Divine Right and was fading; in its place emerged the enlightened monarch. Politically, enlightened thought emerged in the adoption of a form of enlightened absolutism practiced by a few highly educated monarchs, specifically, Frederick of Prussia, Joseph and Maria Theresa of Austria and Catherine the Great of Russia. These rulers sought to serve the state by surrounding themselves with educated advisors from diverse areas; they pushed for reforms of government that emphasized preservation of rights and property. If you are able to watch the movie Amadeus, you will see a fair depiction of an enlightened monarch in the character of Joseph of Austria.
With the death of Louis XIV, the nobility began to travel away from Versailles. Gathering in the salons of Paris, they participated in an equal exchange of ideas with educated men and women of the upper middle classes. Discussions in the salons often focused on topics framed by a general set of ideas derived from the work of an English philosopher, John Locke (for a further discussion of Locke, see the lecture in this folder on Locke and Hobbes) and elaborated on by a group of published intellectuals known as the philosophes. Three important tenets of Locke’s philosophy that informed the French philosophes’ treatise include
1. Natural Human Rights: a belief that life, liberty, property, freedom were inalienable rights accorded to all men who in their original state are characterized as rational and tolerant.
2. The Social Contract: creation of a state with limited power charged with the protection of individual rights. If the state failed in its charge, revolution was required.
3. Tabula Rasa & Empiricism: man is not considered a creature born with innate ideas or moral precepts, but rather the mind of man begins as a clean slate (an empty mind) which acquires knowledge through sense perception. “No man’s knowledge here can go beyond his experience.” J. Locke.
Obsessed with mathematics and science, the Enlightenment thinkers were convinced that by using reason and logic they could better understand the universe and thus lead to progress. A very important group of men of science and letters, known as the Philosophes, influenced by the writings of John Locke, observed their society and saw the social and economic inequalities, the injustices, the abuses, and the corruption. They set out to correct what was wrong. While we refer to them as a group who agreed on basic tenets, they were, individually responsible for articulating ideas that have become the foundation of western culture. Their common goals included doing away with the privileges of the rich and noble, to give equal rights to everyone, to create a significant place for the largely-ignored middle class. Individually we see Diderot addressing metaphysical norms—natural rights, natural religion, natural economies--to which societies must conform. Montesquieu analyzed the faults of the French political system in his book Spirit of the Laws where he argued against despotism, clericalism, and slavery and called for fundamental laws to curb the power of monarchies. Voltaire, a writer with a sharp and biting wit, attached the follies of his times, particularly those related to the Catholic Church. He called for tolerance between groups with varying ideologies and theologies. Rousseau, more focused on emotion than rationality rejected all compromise with current social structures and called for moral reformation in secular and religious sectors; he represents the shift toward Romanticism, so we will look more closely at his work in our next unit.
Thomas Jefferson who took many of his ideas from Voltaire’s Treatise on Toleration, represents the American Enlightenment in his The Virginia Statue of Religious Liberty. Like Voltaire, he saw the institutions of religion as corrupted by possessions and position, and he felt the church should be removed from public education. Like Locke and Montesquieu, Jefferson believed that man’s mind was created free and that man is born with inalienable human rights, thus neither political systems nor religion could bar civil liberties. He felt the law had no right to choose a man’s religion, to punish him for his faith, or to bar him from public office.
Mary Wollstonecraft argues in her Vindication of the Rights of Woman that existing social and educational arrangements, as well as the absence of political rights, treated women as thought they were les than rational creatures and often prescribed less than rational roles for women. She advocated for a social view of women as fully rational beings who must receive education and be permitted to exercise their independence. Wollstonecraft also felt that a woman’s duty as citizen was to be an active and involved mother to her children (to raise good citizens) and an active and involved wife to her husband rather than a vessel through which the children come and an ornament decorating the marriage. She believed the consequence of giving women and education would benefit them as they served in these roles. She also believed that if a woman could not, for whatever reason, serve as wife or mother, she should be allowed, as a citizen, to serve in other arenas such as the law, medicine, or education.
The philosophes reached their audience (the people) through print media, books, newspapers, monthly journals, and pamphlets. They promoted a central government that controlled reform under a doctrine of progress. This doctrine is defined by four important tenets:
1. People are good but the institutions are bad and have corrupted the people (remember, the people are basically a product of their environment)
2. Reform of the institutions will improve the people
3. Reform of the role of King will reform the other institutions
4. Progress is achieved through education
As social and political voices, they were not revolutionaries. However, they planted the seeds of revolution in the minds of the people. Never had such idea as "all men are created equal" been voiced.
Meanwhile, the people began to see that the court in Versailles had been a sponge, absorbing the money and the labor of the French people and giving nothing in return. While the economy and the people had prospered under Louis XIV, under Louis XV, who had neither the charisma nor the intelligence of his grandfather, the gulf between rich and poor grew, as did the discontent of the middle class. In our next unit, we will see that the seeds of individual rights sown in the Enlightenment culture of France will result in an explosion of violence and revolution. The intellectual movements combined with economic hardships turned France, the most powerful country in Europe, into a hot bed of revolutionary turmoil.
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Amadeus. Dir. Milos Forman. Perf. F. Murray Abraham, Tom Hulse. Orion Pictures, 1984.