Absolute Music Composers

Instructor: Summer Stewart

Summer has taught creative writing and sciences at the college level. She holds an MFA in Creative writing and a B.A.S. in English and Nutrition

Early German Romantics innovated music by introducing a revolutionary new instrumental form called absolute music. In this lesson, we will describe what absolute music is learn about some of its most important composers.

Background

The innovation of absolute music by the German Romantics radically changed the way society perceived music. These composers wrote music for the sake of music and not to accompany productions, such as plays or operas. That is, in fact, the very definition of absolute music. Absolute music is instrumental music written without words or for performances; it is music that doesn't have an external part. Absolute music is all about the aesthetics and is independent of any other designs. Many Romantic composers were strong proponents of absolute music. We will learn about four of them in this lesson: Clara Schumann, Felix Mendelssohn, Johannes Brahms, and Antonín Dvorák.

Clara Schumann

Absolute music was truly elevated by the stunning composition and performances of German pianist Clara Schumann (1819-1896). Schumann was at the height of her career in the mid-nineteenth century, but her love for music started much earlier. Her father, Friedrich Wieck, had her performing in public at the age of nine. She even went on tour. She was a wonder to the music world.

Clara Schumann was not only a brilliant pianist, she was a bold woman who had no fear of performing in public, which was something most women did not do at this time. Clara is exceptionally special to absolute music as she played pieces by many well-known composers, including those of her husband, Robert Schumann, who couldn't play his own music because of an injury.

Clara Schumann is best known for her composition of the Piano Trio in G Minor, which was written after the birth of her fourth child. The piece featured inverted middle segments and four parts.

Felix Mendelssohn

Felix Mendelssohn (1809-1847) was a German composer, musician, and teacher. Mendelssohn was a musical genius who composed his first piece of music at the age of 11. Before the middle of his career, he had composed music in many genres, including sonatas and concertos.

He is known for composing the Overture to A Midsummer Night's Dream. More importantly, he composed Violin Concerto in E Minor, a piece that includes three movements that are played without pause. The composition is cyclical, which means that each part refers to the previous one.

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