Last Updated 25 Mar 2020

Strauss and Brahms

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On October 16, 2010 at 8:00 pm I attended the “Strauss & Brahms” concert by the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra at the Woodruff Arts Center. The program consisted of three compositions, each which received the longest standing applause from an audience that I have ever witnessed. The first piece performed was On the Beautiful Blue Danube, Waltzes, Opus 314 by Johann Strauss, composed in 1867 during the late Romantic era. This piece is similar and different from Fredric Chopin’s Mazurka in B-flat that we studied in class.

Similarities include both are dance music in triple meter and are in major key attributing to their mostly bright and cheerful mood, though the Blue Danube is also more romantic. Differences are the type of dance music, the Mazurka we studied being shorter in length with a heavy accent on the second or third beat of each measure, and the Waltz being almost quadruple in length with a heavy accent on the first beat as is customary. In addition, Strauss would reintroduce themes with very little if no variation, whereas Chopin would use various variations of the theme as well as contrast.

The second composition performed was the Concerto for Violin and Orchestra by Alan Berg with the famous violinist Julian Rachlin as the featured soloist. I understood the piece to be program music right away when the conductor gave us a brief narrative or story on which the music was based. Composed in 1935 during the Expressionism period, the music is similar to the style of the time in that it focuses more on representing the emotional experiences of Manon Gropius (whom the piece is about) rather than representing her physical characteristics or physical experiences and such.

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The concerto is divided into two movements, each which are divided into two sections. In movement one in the Andante section, the music is played in sonata form with the last three sections in ternary form (A-B-A) before transitioning into the Allegretto section, which is more dance-like. In the second movement, in the Allegro section, the tempo is faster and the mood is more agitated, and in the Adagio section the tempo is slower and the mood is calmer. Throughout the composition, Berg combines the twelve tone system we studied in class by Arnold Schoenberg with a whole tone scale pointed out by the conductor before the performance.

To me the music sounded kind of eerie and strange, though I liked the parts when the violin reached very high notes. The last piece performed was Symphony No. 2 In D Major, Opus 73 by Johannes Brahms, composed in 1877 also during the late Romantic era. I find this piece to be reflective of the time period because it certainly has a form and structure similar to the classical period, most notably works of Beethoven. The symphony has the classical symphony structure of four movements and each are in major key.

In the first movement, Allegro non troppo, the harmony and rhythm of the melody consistently changes. In the second movement, Adiago non troppo, there are variations of many different themes throughout. In the third movement, Allegretto grazioso, the form changes from the sonata form of the previous two movements, and in the last movement, Allegro con spirito, the form returns back to sonata form. In terms of dynamics, each movement alternated between loud (forte) and soft (piano) music. The most memorable part that stood out for me was the melody that I recognized as a lullaby.

The melody would often change to where it did not sound like before, but was always wide-ranging and conjunct for the most part. Overall, I enjoyed the concert. In honesty, it was the first classical concert I ever attended, so it was pretty funny to see the conductor when he was fervently waving his arms around with his hair bouncing up and down like madman. I was also extremely impressed by the performance of solo violinist, who was outstanding. Everyone working at the Symphony Hall was really nice and well mannered. I would love to attend here again for my second concert report.

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Strauss and Brahms. (2018, Sep 04). Retrieved from https://phdessay.com/strauss-and-brahms/

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