The Impact Of Beethoven On The Development Of The Symphony Until Mahler

3555 Words Nov 1st, 2014 15 Pages
Discuss the impact of Beethoven on the development of the symphony until Mahler.
Difficult as it may be to define the true relationship of an artist to his successors, this difficulty is enormously increased when the subject is as complex a man and musician as Beethoven. His role as both a “preserver of the eighteenth-century tradition1 and a pioneer of romantic self-expression, has secured his status as one of the most revered composers in the history of Western music. Throughout his symphonic cycle, Beethoven’s own journey of self-discovery can be very clearly heard. The Third, Fifth, Sixth and Ninth symphonies were particularly pioneering; they used new ideas such as programme music, orchestral and symphonic expansion and the prolongation of dissonance, inspiring a new generation of romantic symphonists. However, there is an equally strong argument, suggesting that musical fashion and history had turned away from Beethoven towards the end of his life. In the music of his immediate contemporaries, with the exception of Schubert perhaps, his work hardly played a vital force and it was not until the latter half of the 19th century that his influence began to dominate the musical scene. Composers such as Brahms and Bruckner developed the motivic and intrinsically musical ideas in Beethoven’s music whilst others such as Berlioz, Liszt, Mahler and Wagner embraced the extra-musical programmatic ideas. Through an extension of Beethoven’s work in both of these strands, his legacy…
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