Part Three was a welcome return for me to an area of music with which I had some acquaintance and “history”. Although my personal preference, background and area of interest is and has always been the baroque-influenced end of electronica, rock/metal and ambient instrumental music, no one can deny the influence that the classical and romantic periods have had on the development of Western music over the last two hundred years.
Although Mozart and Beethoven have always been part of my listening repertoire, part three has given me the opportunity to listen more critically to the output of this most creative of eras and I believe that I have a greater appreciation of the work because of it. Because I was already acquainted with and understood the music presented, it didn’t have such an impact on me as did the work in part two. The subject matter was also less contentious so I didn’t have to reason with myself so much when trying to describe the pieces.
Having said that, I did find the actual writing more of a struggle with this section as this period in Western art music is well known to all of us and we all have opinions, feelings and at least a degree of knowledge of most of the pieces presented or referred to tangentially. Because of this the temptation is to keep writing as we move deeper into the subject, following rich seams of content and concepts and moving away from the focus and point of the argument. I have a small amount of knowledge regarding instrument construction (see www.mmguitars.co.uk) and the temptation to ramble on about fingerboard radii when playing double-stops (or whatever the subject might be) is strong. It’s an interesting yet frustrating exercise; having to temper ones enthusiasm for a particular subject to keep the text pertinent and to avoid straying into the realm of the dull and geeky. I’m afraid that my writing in this section has suffered because of this, especially the pieces on Beethoven (here) and the assignment (here).
One section that I’d never really considered in depth before and which has made at least an academic difference to my outlook on a certain sector of romanticism was my research for the piece on Wagner and Nazism (here). I was loosely aware of the connection between the two, mostly from a book that I read in my twenties (The Isle of Sea Lizards (Bellairs, A. (1989))) but I would never have known of the depth of feeling from so many of the prominent composers of the day.
In all, I come away from this section with a renewed interest in the development of the orchestra as a composition tool and palette for the artist and although I had to stop work for a month in the middle of the allotted timeframe I’m quite happy with my progress in listening and the results of my research.