Johann Sebastian Bach

BachJ.S. BachJ. S. Bach
Approximately 200 of these sacred works are extant, an estimated two thirds of the total number of church cantatas he composed. The Bach Digital website lists 50 known secular cantatas by the composer,Bach's secular cantatas in BWV order, each followed by a link to the Bach Digital Work (BDW) page of the cantata at the Bach-Digital website: about half of which are extant or largely reconstructable. Bach's cantatas vary greatly in form and instrumentation, including those for solo singers, single choruses, small instrumental groups, and grand orchestras.

Igor Stravinsky

StravinskyStravinsky, IgorStravinskian
However, composers including Maurice Ravel, Béla Bartók, and Reynaldo Hahn found much to admire in the score's craftsmanship, even alleging to detect the influence of Arnold Schoenberg. In July, with war looming, Stravinsky made a quick trip to Ustilug to retrieve personal effects including his reference works on Russian folk music. He returned to Switzerland just before national borders closed following the outbreak of World War I. The war and subsequent Russian Revolution made it impossible for Stravinsky to return to his homeland, and he did not set foot upon Russian soil again until October 1962.

Johannes Brahms

BrahmsBrahms, JohannesJ. Brahms
Their early chamber works (and those of Béla Bartók, who was friendly with Dohnányi) show a thoroughgoing absorption of the Brahmsian idiom. Zemlinsky, moreover, was in turn the teacher of Arnold Schoenberg, and Brahms was apparently impressed by drafts of two movements of Schoenberg's early Quartet in D major which Zemlinsky showed him in 1897. In 1933, Schoenberg wrote an essay "Brahms the Progressive" (re-written 1947), which drew attention to Brahms's fondness for motivic saturation and irregularities of rhythm and phrase; in his last book (Structural Functions of Harmony, 1948), he analysed Brahms's "enriched harmony" and exploration of remote tonal regions.

Claude Debussy

DebussyDebussy, ClaudeC. Debussy
In his final years, he focused on chamber music, completing three of six planned sonatas for different combinations of instruments. With early influences including Russian and far-eastern music, Debussy developed his own style of harmony and orchestral colouring, derided – and unsuccessfully resisted – by much of the musical establishment of the day. His works have strongly influenced a wide range of composers including Béla Bartók, Olivier Messiaen, George Benjamin, and the jazz pianist and composer Bill Evans. Debussy died from cancer at his home in Paris at the age of 55 after a composing career of a little more than 30 years.

Arnold Schoenberg

SchoenbergArnold SchönbergSchönberg
Arnold Schoenberg or Schönberg (, US also ; ; 13 September 1874 – 13 July 1951) was an Austrian-American composer, music theorist, teacher, writer, and painter. He was associated with the expressionist movement in German poetry and art, and leader of the Second Viennese School. With the rise of the Nazi Party, Schoenberg's works were labeled degenerate music, because they were modernist and atonal. He immigrated to the United States in 1934.

Robert Schumann

SchumannRobertR. Schumann
Most of Schumann's late works, particularly the Violin Concerto, the Fantasy for Violin and Orchestra and the Violin Sonata No. 3, all from 1853, have entered the repertoire. Schumann had considerable influence in the nineteenth century and beyond, despite his adoption of more conservative modes of composition after his marriage. He left an array of acclaimed music in virtually all the forms then known. Partly through his protégé Brahms, Schumann's ideals and musical vocabulary became widely disseminated. Composer Sir Edward Elgar called Schumann "my ideal."


fugalfugatodouble fugue
Béla Bartók's Music for Strings, Percussion and Celesta (1936) opens with a slow fugue that Pierre Boulez (1986, pp. 346–47) regards as "certainly the finest and most characteristic example of Bartók's subtle style... probably the most timeless of all Bartók's works – a fugue that unfolds like a fan to a point of maximum intensity and then closes, returning to the mysterious atmosphere of the opening." Igor Stravinsky also incorporated fugues into his works, including the Symphony of Psalms and the Dumbarton Oaks concerto.

Ludwig van Beethoven

BeethovenBeethoven’sBeethoven, Ludwig van
Opinion has changed considerably from the time of their first bewildered reception: their forms and ideas inspired musicians and composers including Richard Wagner and Béla Bartók, and continue to do so. Of the late quartets, Beethoven's favourite was the Fourteenth Quartet, op. 131 in C minor, which he rated as his most perfect single work. The last musical wish of Schubert was to hear the Op. 131 quartet, which he did on 14 November 1828, five days before his death. He wrote the last quartets amidst failing health. In April 1825 he was bedridden, and remained ill for about a month.

Benjamin Britten

BrittenBritten, BenjaminEdward Benjamin Britten
Other works for voices and orchestra include the Missa Brevis and the Cantata academica (both 1959) on religious themes, and the late cantata Phaedra (1975), a story of fated love and death modelled on Handel's Italian cantatas. Smaller-scale works for accompanied voice include the five Canticles, composed between 1947 and 1974. They are written for a variety of voices (tenor in all five; counter-tenor or alto in II and IV and baritone in IV) and accompaniments (piano in I to IV, horn in III and harp in V). The first is a setting of Francis Quarles's 17th century poem "A Divine Rapture", and according to Britten was modelled on Purcell's Divine Hymns.

Chamber music

chamberchamber ensemblechamber works
Some analysts consider the origin of classical instrumental ensembles to be the sonata da camera (chamber sonata) and the sonata da chiesa (church sonata). These were compositions for one to five or more instruments. The sonata da camera was a suite of slow and fast movements, interspersed with dance tunes; the sonata da chiesa was the same, but the dances were omitted. These forms gradually developed into the trio sonata of the Baroque – two treble instruments and a bass instrument, often with a keyboard or other chording instrument (harpsichord, organ, harp or lute, for example) filling in the harmony. Both the bass instrument and the chordal instrument would play the basso continuo part.

Sonatas and Partitas for Solo Violin (Bach)

sonatas and partitas for solo violinSonatas and Partitassolo violin works
Today, Bach's Sonatas and Partitas are an essential part of the violin repertoire, and they are frequently performed and recorded. The Sei Solo a Violino senza Basso accompagnato (Six Solos for Violin Without Bass Accompaniment), as Bach titled them, firmly established the technical capability of the violin as a solo instrument. The pieces often served as archetypes for solo violin pieces by later generations of composers, including Eugène Ysaÿe and Béla Bartók. Correct Italian would be "sei soli". Some believe the literal meaning of the title's "sei solo" (You are alone) is an intentional reference to the recent sudden death of his wife.

Leoš Janáček

JanáčekJanacekLeoš Janácek
Janáček took these stylistic principles much farther in his vocal writing than Modest Mussorgsky, and thus anticipates the later work of Béla Bartók. The stylistic basis for his later works originates in the period of 1904–1918, but Janáček composed the majority of his output – and his best known works – in the last decade of his life. Much of Janáček's work displays great originality and individuality. It employs a vastly expanded view of tonality, uses unorthodox chord spacings and structures, and often, modality: "there is no music without key. Atonality abolishes definite key, and thus tonal modulation.... Folksong knows of no atonality."

Classical music

classicalWestern classical musicWestern classical
The beginnings of the sonata form took shape in the canzona, as did a more formalized notion of theme and variations. The tonalities of major and minor as means for managing dissonance and chromaticism in music took full shape. During the Baroque era, keyboard music played on the harpsichord and pipe organ became increasingly popular, and the violin family of stringed instruments took the form generally seen today. Opera as a staged musical drama began to differentiate itself from earlier musical and dramatic forms, and vocal forms like the cantata and oratorio became more common. Vocalists for the first time began adding extra notes to the music.

Sheet music

scoremusical scorescores
This has been done not only with folk or traditional music (e.g., Bartók's volumes of Magyar and Romanian folk music), but also with sound recordings of improvisations by musicians (e.g., jazz piano) and performances that may only partially be based on notation. An exhaustive example of the latter in recent times is the collection The Beatles: Complete Scores (London: Wise Publications, 1993), which seeks to transcribe into staves and tablature all the songs as recorded by the Beatles in instrumental and vocal detail. Modern sheet music may come in different formats.

Contemporary harpsichord

Harpsichordpowered-up version
In the Preface to his piano collection Mikrokosmos, Béla Bartók suggests some ten pieces as being suitable for the harpsichord. American composer Vincent Persichetti composed a number of sonatas for the harpsichord. Benjamin Britten included harpsichord parts in his opera A Midsummer Night's Dream and his cantata Phaedra. Harpsichordist Hendrik Bouman has composed pieces in the 17th- and 18th-century style, including works for solo harpsichord, harpsichord concerti, and other works that call for harpsichord continuo. Other contemporary composers writing new harpsichord music in period styles include Grant Colburn, and Fernando De Luca.

Glossary of musical terminology

uptempoup-tempocolla parte
The term Grand ballabile is used if nearly all participants (including principal characters) of a particular scene in a full-length work perform a large-scale dance. bar, or measure : unit of music containing a number of beats as indicated by a time signature; also the vertical bar enclosing it. barbaro : Barbarous (notably used in Allegro barbaro by Béla Bartók).

Dmitri Shostakovich

ShostakovichShostakovich, DmitriDimitri Shostakovich
Shostakovich also played the piano solos in recordings of the Cello Sonata, Op. 40 with cellist Daniil Shafran and also with Mstislav Rostropovich; the Violin Sonata, Op. 134, with violinist David Oistrakh; and the Piano Trio, Op. 67 with violinist David Oistrakh and cellist Miloš Sádlo. There is also a short sound film of Shostakovich as soloist in a 1930s concert performance of the closing moments of his first piano concerto. A colour film of Shostakovich supervising one of his operas, from his last year, was also made. A major achievement was EMI's recording of the original, unexpurgated opera Lady Macbeth of Mtsensk.

Cantata Profana

The Nine Splendid Stags
Cantata Profana (subtitled A kilenc csodaszarvas [The Nine Enchanted Stags], Sz 94) is a work for double mixed chorus and orchestra by the Hungarian composer Béla Bartók. Completed on 8 September 1930, it received its premiere in London on 25 May 1934, with the BBC Symphony Orchestra and Wireless Chorus conducted by Aylmer Buesst. Tenor Trefor Jones and baritone Frank Phillips were the featured soloists. The work was presented in an English translation by M.D. Calvocoressi. The source texts which Bartók used to create the libretto were two Romanian colinde that he collected from Transylvania in April 1914.

George Frideric Handel

Mattheson, however, summarized his opinion of Handel's church cantatas written in Halle: "Handel in those days set very, very long arias and sheerly unending cantatas which, while not possessing the proper knack or correct taste, were perfect so far as harmony is concerned." Early chamber works do exist, but it is difficult to date any of them to Handel's time in Halle. Many historians until recently followed Chrysander and designated the six trio sonatas for two oboes and basso continuo as his first known composition, supposedly written in 1696 (when Handel was 11). Lang doubts the dating based on a handwritten date of a copy (1700) and stylistic considerations.

Franz Liszt

LisztLisztianLiszt, Franz
Although there was a period in which many considered Liszt's works "flashy" or superficial, it is now held that many of Liszt's compositions such as Nuages gris, Les jeux d'eaux à la villa d'Este, etc., which contain parallel fifths, the whole-tone scale, parallel diminished and augmented triads, and unresolved dissonances, anticipated and influenced twentieth-century music like that of Debussy, Ravel and Béla Bartók. From 1827 onwards Liszt gave lessons in composition and piano playing. He wrote on December 23, 1829 that his schedule was so full of lessons that each day, from half-past eight in the morning till 10 at night, he had scarcely breathing time.

Sonata for Solo Violin (Bartók)

Sonata for Solo ViolinmusicSonata for violin solo
The Sonata for Solo Violin Sz. 117, BB 124, is a sonata for unaccompanied violin composed by Béla Bartók. It was premiered by Yehudi Menuhin, to whom it was dedicated, in New York on 26 November 1944. Violinist Yehudi Menuhin commissioned a work for solo violin from Bartók in November 1943. It was written in New York and in Asheville, North Carolina, where Bartók underwent treatment for leukemia. Bartók finished composing the piece in March 1944. He wrote letters to Menuhin in April and June 1944 to agree on minor changes to make the Sonata easier to play. The Sonata consists of four movements: 1. Tempo di ciaccona 2. Fuga. Risoluto, non troppo vivo 3. Melodia. Adagio 4. Presto.

Paul Hindemith

HindemithHindemith, Paul[Paul] Hindemith
He continued to write for unusual groups of instruments throughout his life, producing a trio for viola, heckelphone and piano (1928), 7 trios for 3 trautoniums (1930), a sonata for double bass and a concerto for trumpet, bassoon, and strings (both in 1949), for example. Around the 1930s, Hindemith began to write less for chamber groups, and more for large orchestral forces. In 1933–35, Hindemith wrote his opera Mathis der Maler, based on the life of the painter Matthias Grünewald. This opera is rarely staged, though a well-known production by the New York City Opera in 1995 was an exception ( Holland 1995). It combines the neo-classicism of earlier works with folk song.

Sergei Prokofiev

ProkofievProkofiev, SergeiSergey Prokofiev
Alexander Nevsky, Op. 78, cantata for mezzo-soprano, chorus, and orchestra. Violin Sonata No. 1 in F minor, Op. 80. The Three War Sonatas:. Piano Sonata No. 6 in A major, Op. 82. Piano Sonata No. 7 in B major, Op. 83. Piano Sonata No. 8 in B major, Op. 84. Betrothal in a Monastery, Op. 86, opera. Cinderella, Op. 87, ballet in three acts. War and Peace, Op. 91, opera in thirteen scenes. String Quartet No. 2 in F major, Op. 92. Flute Sonata in D, Op. 94 (later arranged as Violin Sonata No. 2, Op. 94a). Symphony No. 5 in B major, Op. 100. Piano Sonata No. 9 in C major, Op. 103. Symphony No. 6 in E minor, Op. 111. Ivan the Terrible, Op. 116, music for Eisenstein's film.

Carlos Chávez

ChávezChávez, CarlosCarlos Chavez
Although this early period saw the creation of the Sonatina for violin and piano (1924), it was only in the 1930s that Chávez returned to another of the main musical interests of his maturity, prefigured in the juvenilia: the traditional genres of the sonata, quartet, symphony, and concerto. He composed six numbered symphonies. The first, titled Sinfonía de Antígona (1933), was reworked from incidental music for Jean Cocteau's Antigone, an adaptation of Sophocles' tragedy. In it, Chávez sought to create an archaic ambiance through the use of modal polyphony, harmonies built on fourths and fifths, and a predominant use of wind instruments.

Sonata form

sonata-allegro formsonata-allegrosonata
As the title for a single-movement piece of instrumental music—the past participle of suonare, "to sound", as opposed to cantata, the past participle of cantare, "to sing"—"sonata" covers many pieces from the Baroque and mid-18th century that are not "in sonata form". Conversely, in the late 18th century or "Classical" period, the title "sonata" is typically given to a work composed of three or four movements. Nonetheless, this multi-movement sequence is not what is meant by sonata form, which refers to the structure of an individual movement. The definition of sonata form in terms of musical elements sits uneasily between two historical eras.