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This essay recounts the life and death of Prince Johann Ernst of Saxe-Weimar (1696–1715) on the basis of previously unexamined archival documents. The Prince was a gifted musician who played a significant role in the careers of both Johann Sebastian Bach and Georg Philipp Telemann. Evidence presented here for the first time reveals that Telemann was a particularly important presence during the Prince’s final year. The bond they forged during this difficult time led the Prince to entrust Telemann with the publication of concertos he had composed as a youth but which were reconceived in light of his illness as a kind of musical testament.
Part I, ‘Hearing Subjects’, turns attention to Robert Schumann, addressing the composer’s early grappling with the Romantic problematisation of subjectivity and personal identity frequently present in his music of the 1830s and early 1840s. In ‘Hearing the Self’, I trace the historical development of subjectivity in music up to Schumann’s time, before turning to an early and notable exemplification of the composer’s practice in Carnaval. This forms the starting point for a more detailed consideration of the ways in which a sense of subjectivity can be manifested in Schumann’s piano music of the 1830s, including such features as allusiveness, idiosyncrasy, interiority, a fantasy principle in connexion of moods, and the questioning of continuity and coherence. Finally, I look at the sense of subjectivity conveyed in Schumann’s concertos and the sense in which they collapse distinctions between self and world.
Clara Schumann embarked on her Piano Concerto in A minor, Op. 7, not only at a pivotal moment in her own musical development, having previously focused on ‘small forms’ (Kallberg, 1992), but also in the history of the genre. To write a piano concerto in the 1830s was to engage with an established tradition that was in a state of change. Significant in this regard were the continued advancements in the modern piano, the expansion of form, evolving relationships between the soloist and the orchestra, and shifting attitudes towards virtuosity, all of which gave rise to new ways of navigating the nineteenth-century piano concerto.
This chapter offers a contextual reading of the expressive worlds of Schumann’s Concerto, with reference to selected passages from all three movements. At its core lies an emphasis on the ways in which the piece blurs the boundaries between the public and the private, the physical and the intimate. In exploring these areas, the chapter demonstrates the ways in which Schumann situates her Concerto in a web of intertextual associations, establishing dialogues with other composers, while simultaneously putting her own stamp on the genre.
Thomas Adès’s piano concerto In Seven Days (2008) outlines the biblical creation story in seven connected movements, merging the figurative and the abstract to parallel modern allegorical readings of Genesis 1:2. This capacious model of musical growth and transformation will include the development of a vast tonal edifice from two primary harmonies, reference the birth of the modern orchestra and repurpose traditional compositional techniques from the Renaissance to the present. But In Seven Days embraces a meta-musical role as well, through allusions to select works that have broached the subject of creation. As the composer avers, it tells ‘the story of the material and also of “material”, all of it, in the world’ writ large, as a musical paradigm of world-building that draws on medieval, Baroque and contemporary compositional techniques to recover the inexhaustible promise of the musical past.
The music of early modern Naples and its renowned artistic traditions remain a fruitful area for scholars in eighteenth-century studies. Contemporary social, political, and artistic conditions had stimulated a significant growth of music, musicians and culture in the Kingdom of Naples from the beginning of the seventeenth century. Although eighteenth-century Neapolitan opera is well documented in scholarship, historians have paid much less attention to the simultaneous cultivation of instrumental genres. Yet the culture of instrumental music grew steadily and by its end became an exclusive area of focus for the royal court, a remarkable departure from past norms of patronage. By bridging this gap, Anthony R. DelDonna brings together diverse fields, including historical musicology, music theory, Neapolitan and European history. His book investigates the wide-ranging role of instrumental genres within late eighteenth-century Neapolitan culture and introduces readers to new material, including recently discovered instrumental works of Paisiello, Cimarosa and Pleyel.
The benefit concert in early eighteenth-century London is traditionally associated with professional singers and vocal music, but it has equal importance for instrumental music and the Italian concerto in particular – a genre whose success in Britain preceded that of opera seria. As with opera seria it was Continental composers and performers working in London who were the driving force behind the performances of concertos at benefit concerts. The new Italian concerto sought to rival the da capo aria in musical, physical, and aural experiences – a situation unique to Britain at the time. The rise in status of the concerto is also reflected in changes to the language of benefit advertisements. By the 1720s, rather than the earlier and more generic mention of ‘instrumental music’, readers now expected to know the composers and soloists of any concertos presented, just as they came to expect to know the names of singers, operas and arias – a distinction not always given to other instrumental genres.
During his lifetime, Brahms accumulated a sizeable fortune. Although the early days were not without difficulties, his finances then accumulated steadily and virtually uninterruptedly. When he died in 1897, he left behind not only manuscripts of his own works, but also an extensive collection of other composers’ autograph manuscripts (including of Mozart, Haydn, Beethoven, Schubert, Schumann, etc.) as well as bonds worth over 181,000 Gulden. The size of the sum is evident when one compares the rent that he paid his landlady Coelestine Truxa between 1887 and 1897 for his three-room apartment in Vienna’s Karlsgasse, which amounted half-yearly to 347 Gulden and 25 Kreuzer.
Brahms grew up in the Hamburg‘Gängeviertel’, an area of workers, small-scale artisans and tradesmen in modest circumstances [see Ch. 1 ‘Childhood in Hamburg’]. Later on, when he could determine his own lifestyle, luxury still held no appeal.
On 22 November 1883, ten days before Hans Richter was to conduct the premiere of Brahms’s Third Symphony Op. 90 in Vienna, Brahms organised a musical evening in the elegant Ehrbar Salon. With the Austrian pianist Ignaz Brüll, he presented the new symphony in his arrangement for two pianos to a distinguished group of invited guests: Hans Richter and his wife Mariska, critic and author Eduard Hanslick and his wife Sophie, historian and composer Carl Ferdinand Pohl, Gesellschaft der Musikfreunde professor Josef Gänsbacher composer and Vienna Conservatory professor Robert Fuchs, physician Josef Standhartner, critic and later Brahms biographer Max Kalbeck and choral conductor and composer Richard Heuberger.
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