What Did Romanticism Come Out Of? Out of the Need for Expression…

15 March 2017, 7:00 pm
Warsaw Philharmonic

Was Beethoven both a Classic and the first Romantic (as the 19th-century wanted to see him)? Was Brahms his heir and the last of the Classics? Periodisation in music history (and more generally – in all art) has always been the matter of convention, developed from the perspective of the generations that followed. Commentators often spoke of predecessors and of forms foreshadowing the given period, as well as its later echoes and retrospective music. This project juxtaposes music compositions which, though chronologically outside the Romantic era, already anticipated the free and subjective, Romantic type of expression – with works which, while representing high Romanticism, made use of old classical forms, and filled them with completely new content.

Beethoven is said to have confessed to someone that the opening sounds of his Symphony No. 5 – probably the most recognisable musical motif of all time, which contributed to the immense popularity of the work – was inspired not by the image of fate knocking on the door (as the well-known though almost certainly apocryphal anecdote tells us), but by the song of an inconspicuous bird called the ortolan. Though the authenticity of this version is not certain, either, quite apart from the story of the famous motif the composition continues to enjoy well-deserved fame due to its innovative form and instrumentation, and first and foremost – to its extraordinary power of expression. Perfectly familiar as this symphony may be, it never fails to evoke vivid emotions among the audience.

In our programme this famous symphony, heralding the rise of the Romanticism, will be preceded by the works of Beethoven’s predecessors who particularly contributed to the development of the genre. Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach, Johann Sebastian’s second son, based his form on the tripartite Italian sinfonia, which originally functioned as an operatic overture. His Hamburg Symphonies for strings (to which the Sinfonia in C Major presented in this programme also belongs) were written in the pre-Romantic empfindsamer Stil, with characteristically enhanced expression in the slow movements. Joseph Haydn’s impressive London Symphonies, including the Symphony in D Major known as “The Clock” because of the “ticking” motif in the Andante, were written in 1791-95 and represent (along with Mozart’s last three works in this genre) the final stage in the 18th-century evolution of this form, before the master from Bonn took it up and transformed it.

/Warsaw Philharmonic/

Polish Sinfonia Iuventus Orchestra
Hidemi Suzuki – conductor

Hidemi Suzuki foto

Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach – Symphony in C major Wq. 182 no 3
Joseph Haydn – Symphony No. 101 in D major The Clock
Ludwig van Beethoven – Symphony No.5 in C minor Op. 67


filharmonia narodowa - logotyp