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Germany Modern Music


The German Lied continued to have great success in the form of accompanied monody and became increasingly popular with composers such as H. Albert (1604-51) and A. Krieger (1634-66). The opera, on the other hand, did not have an autonomous development, remaining linked to Italian models, with the exception of the activity of the Hamburg theater, where the Singspiel was born and R. Keizer (1674-1739) operated . Composers such as JA Hasse (1699-1783) and CH Graun (1702-1759), as well as Handel, also applied themselves successfully to Italian opera. Virtuosos like JJ Quantz (1697-1773) and JG Pisendel also belong to their generation (1687-1755) and above all G. Ph. Telemann (1681-1767), whose vast production, despite being contemporary with that of Bach, is much closer to the imminent affirmation of the Rococo taste. Around the middle of the century. XVIII the transformation of taste was carried out in such a radical way that JS Bach was immediately forgotten and even in the work of his sons, three of whom were among the protagonists of the so-called age of the “gallant style”, no traces of his influence remained. Alongside the brothers Johann Christian (1735-82) and Wilhelm Friedemann (1710-84), especially C. Ph. Emanuel Bach (1714-88) emerged, for originality and for brilliant romantic anticipations, as a representative of the so-called empfindsamer Stil. The Berlin court with Frederick the Great was in that period one of the greatest centers of German music: next to it the so-called Mannheim School occupied a leading position, where mainly Bohemian musicians converged and whose contribution to the birth of the modern symphony was decisive. The synthesis of genres and styles developed in Europe in the “gallant” period (symphony, quartet, sonata) was carried out by the great representatives of Viennese classicism (FJ Haydn, 1732-1809; WA Mozart, 1756-91 and L. van Beethoven, 1770 -1827), which at the end of the century and at the beginning of the XIX century represented the culminating moment of the Central European musical civilization.


According to Smartercomputing, Mozart and Beethoven also influenced the emergence of a German national opera, which had precedents in the Singspiele by JF Reichardt (1752-1814), JA Hiller (1728-1804), KD von Dittersdorf (1739-99). The popular flowering of the Lied merged into the Singspiel, represented by Reichardt himself, by CF Zelter (1758-1832) and by JM Zumteeg (1760-1802). The development of German opera took place in the Romantic period with CM von Weber (1786-1826), ETA Hoffmann (1776-1822), L. Spohr (1784-1859), HA Marschner (1795-1861), CO Nicolai (1810-49), P. Cornelius (1824-74) and also GA Lortzing (1801-51), F. von Flotow (1812-83) and E. Humperdinck (1854-1921). G. Meyerbeer (1791-1864), not attributable to national tradition for having worked in Italy and France, was known throughout Europe as the greatest representative of the grand-opéra . After Weber, the greatest German musician of the nineteenth century in the field of musical theater was R. Wagner (1813-83), whose original poetics and linguistic innovations greatly influenced the whole German (and European) musical situation of the turn of the century and of the early twentieth century. To Wagner and to F. Liszt (1811-86), of Hungarian origin and “European” culture, was linked to the Neo-German school, which supported the need to overcome a music based on pure formal values ​​in the name of “program music”. Alongside the works of minor authors, the symphonic poems and theatrical works by R. Strauss (1864-1949) and some compositions by the Austrian H. Wolf (1860-1903), who devoted himself mainly to the Lied, must be linked to this current . In the Romantic period, on the other hand, F. Schubert (1797-1828), F. Mendelssohn-Bartholdy (1809-47), R. Schumann (1810-56) and J. Brahms were linked to the great classical instrumental forms. (1833-97), reinterpreting them with originality; the crisis of traditional forms, already clear in Schubert, appeared more clearly in the symphonies of the Austrian A. Bruckner (1824-96) and more radically in those of the Bohemian G. Mahler (1860-1911). Outside the classical formal models there was a preference for short forms, open to greater freedom and fantastic mobility: hence the great flowering of the romantic Lied, first of all with Schubert, then with Schumann, Brahms, Wolf, Cornelius, JKG Loewe (1796-1869). Hence the development of the short piano piece, which reached heights of extraordinary genius in Schumann, and of the “characteristic piece” (Mendelssohn, Schumann himself and many minors). Another important aspect of nineteenth-century pianism is the affirmation of virtuosity: after JN Hummel (1778-1837), F. Ries (1784-1838), JB Cramer (1771-1858) and C. Czerny (1791-1857), who connected with Beethoven and Weber’s brilliant pianism, F. Liszt exerted an enormous influence in Germany, among whose pupils were FAB Dräseke (1835-1913), HG von Bülow (1830-94) and E. d’Albert (1864-1932). The piano music of Brahms, on the other hand, is attributed to Schumann. The taste for virtuosity was also widespread in the field of violin literature: among the composers it should be mentioned in the first place L. Spohr, among the performers the violinist J. Joachim (1831-1907), a friend of Brahms. Alongside the aforementioned Strauss, Wolf and Mahler, they should be remembered among the musicians operating at the turn of the century. 19th and early 20th century the Italian F. Busoni (1866-1924), who was mainly active in Germany, M. Reger (1873-1916), F. Schreker (1878-1934), the Austrian A. von Zemlinsky (1872-1942) and the Wagnerian epigone HE Pfitzner (1869-1949), whose conservative attitudes had great success in Germany even after 1900, especially in the years of Nazism.


In the sec. XX German musical life presents many aspects: to the three Austrian composers A. Schönberg (1874-1951), A. Berg (1885-1935) and A. von Webern (1883-1945), who however did not find immediate following in the German world, we owe a decisive contribution to the music of the century. XX, consisting in the radical overcoming of tonality. Musical expressionism substantially coincided with their personalities, which in some respects also approached P. Hindemith (1895-1963), who was a protagonist in the years following the First World War of the New Objectivity and later attempted a recovery of tonality (albeit not in the more traditional sense). He has also reconnected to the New Objectivity K. Weill (1900-50), Brecht’s great collaborator, with more precise and declared political determination. The coming to power of National Socialism marked a fatal date for German music: all the major musicians or anyway significant ones were forced into exile. Among those who remained there were tired followers of the Neo-German school or musicians such as W. Egk (1901-83) and C. Orff (1895-1982), whose substantially conservative taste went from recoveries of the Italian Baroque to nationalistic attitudes aiming equivocally to reconnect with an “originally” German dimension. While E. Pepping (1901-81) and H. Distler (1908-42) attempted to resurrect ancient sacred polyphony, musicians such as KA Hartmann (1905-63), W. Fortner (1907-87), B. Blacher (1903-75) and JN David (1895-1977) found themselves forced into isolation from the liveliest currents of contemporary music, and not it is by chance that their most significant works date back to the years after 1945. After this date we can see in these last composers, as well as in GW Klebe (b. 1925), a growing interest in dodecaphony and the avant-garde historical. Active generations starting from the 1950s were inspired by Schönberg, Berg and Webern, radicalizing their conquests: however, this is not a specifically German phenomenon, because all the best European composers born around 1930 are protagonists of the “New Music”. their point of reference, especially in the 1950s, was the Ferienkurse (summer courses) in Darmstadt. Furthermore, in Cologne, H. Eimert (1897-1972) set up the first electronic music studio in 1951. Among the main contemporary German composers we should mention K. Stockhausen (b. 1928) and D. Schnebel (b. 1930). The most interesting author among the Germans who have not adhered to the currents of the “New Music” is HW Henze (no. 1926). In East Germany in the postwar years the linguistic radicalism of the “New Music” was not shared, while H. Eisler (1898-1962), author of the national anthem, and P. Dessau (1894-1979), both Brecht’s collaborators.

Germany Modern Music