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Introduction to Western Music History

This week, one text will provide the basis for both parts of the task. Please read chapter 27, “Romantic Opera and Musical Theater to Midcentury”, in
• J. Peter Burkholder, Donald J. Grout, Claude V. Palisca, A History of Western Music, 8th ed. (New York, London: Norton, 2009). pp. 661-684,
• J. Peter Burkholder, Donald J. Grout, Claude V. Palisca, A History of Western Music, 9th ed. (New York, London: Norton, 2014), pp. 651-677.
Please make sure that you answer all questions from both sections. There are two main questions in each section, but there are also sub-questions to
some of them!
A. Recapitulation from week 3 (Italian opera)
1. Listen to the duet between Lucia and her lover Edgardo at the end of act 1 of Lucia di Lammermoor. There are many recordings on Naxos; a more
recent one is conducted by Valeri Gergiev.
Compare the structure of this duet with the standard format of the solo scene explored last week with the example from Norma.
a) The duet largely follows the four-part form of the scene from Norma. In the duet, where do the main sections start and end? Please use the
technical terms.
b) How is the standard four-part form modified to accommodate the second voice, and the dramatic situation? Pay particular attention to text
repetition, the role of the orchestra, the vocal lines, and changes in tempo and dynamics.
Lucia, perdona
Se ad ora inusitata
Io vederti chiede: a ragion possente
A ciò mi trasse. Pria che in ciel biancheggi
L’ alba novella, dalle patrie sponde
Lungi sarò.
Che dici!
Pè franchi lidi amici
Sciolgo le vele; ivi trattar m’ e dato
Le sorti della Scozia.
E me nel pianto
Abbandoni così!
Pria di lasciarti
Asthon mi vegga io stenderò placato
A lui la destra, e la tua destra, pegno
Fra noi di pace, chiederò.
Che ascolto!.. Ah! no … rimanga nel silenzio sepolto
Peror l’arcano affetto …
Intendo! Di mia stirpe
Il reo persecutor
De mali miei
Ancor pago non è! Mi tolse il padre …
Il mio retaggio avito … Nè basta?
Che brama ancor?
Quel cor feroce, e rio?
La mia perdita intera, il sangue mio?
Ei mi abborre …
Calma, o ciel! quell’ ira estrema.
Fiamma ardente in sen mi scorre!
M’ odì.
Edgardo! …
M’ odi, e trema.
Sulla tomba che rinserra
Il tradito genitore,
Al tuo sangue eterna guerra
Io giurài nel mio furore:
Ma ti vidi … in cor mi nacque
Altro affetto, e l’ira tacque …
Pur quel voto non è infranto …
Io potrei compirlo ancor
Deh! ti placa … deh! ti frena …
Può tradirne un solo accento!
Non ti basta la mia pena?
Vuoi ch’ io mora di spavento?
Ceda, ceda ogn’ altro affetto:
Solo amor t’infiammi il petto …
Ah! il più nobile il piû santo
De’ tuoi voti è un puro amor.
Qui, di sposa eterna fede
Qui mi giura, al cielo innante
Dio ci ascolta, Dio ci vede …
Tempio, ed ara è un core amante;
Al tuo fato unisco il mio.
Son tuo sposo.
E tua son io.
A miei voti amore invoco.
A miei voti invoco il ciel.
Porrà fine al nostro foco
Sol di morte il freddo gel.
Separarci omai conviene.
Oh parola a me funesta!
Il mio cor con tè ne viene.
Il mio cor con te qui resta.
Ah! talor del tuo pensiero
Venga un foglio messaggiero,
E la vita fuggitiva
Di speranza nudrirò.
Io di te memoria viva
Sempre, o cara, serberò.
Veranno a te sull’ aura
I miei sospiri ardenti,
Udrai nel mar che mormora
L’ eco de’ miei lamenti …
Pensando ch’ io di gemiti
Mi pasco, e di dolor.
Spargi una mesta lagrima
Su questo pegno allor.
Io parto …
Addio …
Ne stringe il cielo! …
Lucia, forgive me for asking to see you at this unusual hour: it is for a very important reason.
Before dawn whitens the morning sky I shall be far from my native land.
What are you saying?
I am to set sail for France’s
friendly shores: there I must work
for Scotland’s future.
And you leave me
here to weep?
Before leaving you,
I must see Ashton… I will offer him the hand of peace, and ask your hand
in marriage to seal our pact.
What do I hear? Ah, no…let our love remain a secret for now.
I understand! The evil persecutor
of my family is not satisfied
with my misfortunes! He robbed me of my father,my ancestral heritage. Is that not enough? What more does he want, that bloodthirsty villain?
My utter ruin?
My life?
How he hates me!…
Oh heaven, calm his mad fury.
A searing flame writhes in my heart!
Listen to me.
Hear me and tremble!
Over the tomb where
my betrayed father lies,
in my rage, I swore to wage
eternal war on your kin.
But I saw you and another emotion
stirred in my heart, and anger fled.
But that vow is not broken,
I could well fulfil it yet!
Come, calm your anger; control yourself.
A single word can betray us!
is my suffering not enough?
Do you want me to die of fright?
Banish all other feelings
save love from your heart;
a nobler, holier vow
than any other is pure love, ah, only love,
Here, pledge yourself eternally
before Heaven to be my bride.
God hears us, God sees us;
church and altar is a loving heart;
to your destiny I link mine…
I am your betrothed.
And I yours.
I call on love to witness my vows.
I call on heaven to witness my vows.
Ah, only icy death
can quench our passion.
We have to separate.
Oh, how I dread those words!
My heart goes with you.
My heart stays here with you,
Ah, if sometimes you think of me
and send me a letter,
fresh hopes will fortify
my fleeting life.
I shall always cherish
vivid memories of you, dearest.
On the breeze
will come to you my ardent sighs,
you will hear in the murmuring sea
the echo of my laments.
When you think of me
living on tears and grief,
then shed a bitter tear
on this ring,
ah, on this ring,
I’m leaving …
Remember, Heaven has joined us!
2. Italian opera was hugely popular, even with people who couldn’t or didn’t attend the opera house themselves. Listen to two arrangements – or
rather re-compositions – of operatic melodies and think about the following questions:
• Franz Liszt, Réminiscences de Lucia di Lammermoor, op. 13 (c. 1840)
• Johann Strauss II, Neue Melodien-Quadrille op. 254 (both on Naxos)
a) What is the social function of each piece? Who would have played it, and for whom, and in what context?
b) Liszt and Strauss treat the operatic melodies they use very differently. Try to characterise their different approaches to the musical
material: do they quote, vary, extend, compress, combine, transform, etc.?
B. Preparation for week 4: French and German Opera
1. Richard Wagner is famously the most written-about composer in music history. This also extends to the digital realm, where there are hundreds or
possibly thousands of pages dedicated to his life, his music and his ideas. So finding good-quality material is on the one hand very easy and on the
other hand very difficult.
Using a search engine, try and find two websites dedicated to Richard Wagner (or aspects of his work, e.g. individual operas or writings) which
fulfil the following criteria:
• They should be reliable – an opportunity to reflect how you assess reliability.
• They should offer information that leads you further into the topic, offering avenues for further research – so not just at-a-glance
biographical information for total beginners.
• They should use the technical possibilities of the internet in an engaging and innovative way, e.g. by using multimedia, providing
hyperlinks, storing materials for further work.
2. Carl Maria von Weber’s opera Der Freischütz has spoken dialogues rather than recitatives, as was the case for many German operas of the 1820s and
1830s. Think about the implications for the librettist as well as the composer: What are the drawbacks of spoken dialogues, what are the advantages
for the librettist and the composer?
3. Listen to the third scene of act 3 of Der Freischütz. The scene is sung by Ännchen, the friend and confidante of the heroine Agathe. Agathe is
afraid for the safety of her fiancé Max, and Ännchen tries to cheer her up. At the end of the scene, other girls join the two and bring along a
wreath of flowers for the bride.
a) Ännchen’s solo is designated as a “Romanze und Arie” (romance and aria). In what respect does the form differ from the solo scenes you know from
Italian opera? On the other hand, do you also hear similarities?
b) In the first part, Ännchen pokes fun at romantic clichés. How does the music contribute to the fun?
c) The girls sing the famous chorus “Wir winden dir den Jungfernkranz” which is actually designated as a “folk song” in the score. How does Weber
invoke folk music in this chorus?
Nr. 13 – Romanze und Arie
Einst träumte meiner sel’gen Base,
Die Kammertür eröffnete sich,
Und kreideweiss ward ihre Nase,
Denn näher, furchtbar näher schlich
Ein Ungeheuer
Mit Augen wie Feuer,
Mit klirrender Kette –
Es nahte dem Bette,
In welchem sie schlief –
Ich meine die Base
Mit kreidiger Nase –
Und stöhnte, ach! so hohl! und ächzte, ach! so tief!
Sie kreuzte sich, rief,
Nach manchem Angst- und Stossgebet:
Susanne! Margaret! Susanne! Margaret!
Und sie kamen mit Licht –
Und – denke nur! – und –
Erschrick mir nur nicht! –
Und – graust mir doch! – und –
Der Geist war: – Nero – der Kettenhund!
Agathe wendet sich unwillig ab.
Du zürnest mir?
Doch kannst du wähnen,
Ich fühle nicht mit dir?
Nur ziemen einer Braut nicht Tränen!
Trübe Augen,
Liebchen, taugen
Einem holden Bräutchen nicht.
Dass durch Blicke
Sie erquicke
Und beglücke,
Und bestricke,
Alles um sich her entzücke,
Das ist ihre schönste Pflicht.
Lass in öden Mauern
Büsserinnen trauern,
Dir winkt ros’ger Hoffnung Licht!
Schon entzündet sind die Kerzen
Zum Verein getreuer Herzen!
Holde Freundin zage nicht!
Horch, da kommen die Brautjungfern schon!
Im Abgehen
Guten Tag, liebe Mädchen! Da, singt immer die Braut an. Ich komme gleich wieder.
Brautjungfern in ländlicher Feiertracht, doch gleichfalls ohne Kränze und Blumen.
Nr. 14 – Volkslied. Chor
Wir winden dir den Jungfernkranz
Mit veilchenblauer Seide;
Wir führen dich zu Spiel und Tanz,
Zu Glück und Liebesfreude!
einen Ringelreihn um Agathe tanzend
Schöner grüner, schöner grüner Jungfernkranz!
Veilchenblaue Seide! Veilchenblaue Seide!
Lavendel, Myrt’ und Thymian,
Das wächst in meinem Garten;
Wie lang bleibt doch der Freiersmann?
Ich kann es kaum erwarten.
Schöner grüner, schöner grüner Jungfernkranz!
Veilchenblaue Seide! Veilchenblaue Seide!
Sie hat gesponnen sieben Jahr’
Den goldnen Flachs am Rocken,
Die Schleier sind wie Spinnweb’ klar,
Und grün der Kranz der Locken.
Schöner grüner, schöner grüner Jungfernkranz!
Veilchenblaue Seide! Veilchenblaue Seide!
Und als der schmucke Freier kam,
War’n sieben Jahr’ verronnen;
Und weil sie der Herzliebste nahm,
Hat sie den Kranz gewonnen.
Schöner grüner, schöner grüner Jungfernkranz!
Veilchenblaue Seide! Veilchenblaue Seide! No. 13 – Romance, Recitative and Aria
My late cousin once dreamed
That her bedroom door opened,
And her nose turned as white as chalk
Because there crept nearer, and terribly nearer,
A monster
With eyes like fire,
With clanking chains,
It came up to the bed
She was sleeping in –
I’m talking about cousin
With her chalky nose –
And moaned oh, so hollowly
And groaned oh, so deep!
She crossed herself, called out,
Susanna, Margaret, Susanna, Margaret!
And they came with lights –
And – just imagine – and –
Now don’t be terrified! –
And – though it appals me – and –
the ghost was: ? Nero, the watchdog!
AGATHA turns away displeased
Are you cross with me?
But can you say
I don’t feel for you?
But tears don’t become a bride!
Sad eyes,
Darling one, don’t suit
A sweet bride.
With her glances
She should refresh
And delight
And captivate,
And enchant everyone about her –
That is her most lovely duty.
Within their bare walls let
Penitents mourn;
To you the light of rosy hope is beckoning!
Already the candles are lit up
For the union of true hearts!
Dearest friend, do not be downhearted.
The bridesmaids are coming, Agatha.
She goes out.
Good day, dear girls! Sing for the bride, I’m back in a moment.
Bridesmaids in festal local costume but without wreath or flowers.
No. 14 – Folksong
We’re twining the maiden’s wreath for you
With violet-blue silk;
We’re leading you to games and dancing,
To happiness and joys of love!
dancing round Agatha in a circle
Lovely green, lovely green maiden’s wreath!
Violet-blue silk! Violet-blue silk!
Lavender, myrtle and thyme,
They grow in my garden.
But how long will the suitor tarry?
I can hardly wait for it.
Lovely green maiden’s wreath!
Violet-blue silk!
She has spun for seven years,
Golden flax on her spindle,
The veil is as transparent as a spider’s web
And green the wreath in her locks.
Lovely green maiden’s wreath!
Violet-blue silk!
And when the handsome suitor came
Seven years passed by;
And as he’s taken the darling
She’s won the wreath.
Lovely green maiden’s wreath!
Violet-blue silk.

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