Argumentation Of Classicism As A Craft

I will argue classicism as craft; if necessary, romanticism as antithesis. I will focus on the First Viennese School, namely Mozart, Haydn and Beethoven – how these parallels shape classicism as a craft. "What unites Haydn, Mozart and Beethoven is not personal contact or even mutual influence and interaction…, but their common understanding of a musical language which they did so much to formulate and to change." (Rosen, C. 1977:23).

Classicism can be interpreted as, elegant, and formal music from the 1730s to the 1820s. Further detailed by the following quote: “immediacy of emotional expression through the simplest possible means…” (Blume, F. 1970:18) .There was a characteristic that made it distinct from most; its intention to please the public. This is illustrated by the following quote:"...A strong case may also be made for both composers on grounds of formal discipline... Their high technical skill is patent, sovereign ease of writing, learning lightly worn ... remaining within certain conventions or atleast not straying too far from them - conventions that were bound to please and aim the public, attempting to fulfil its expectations, and was not afraid of pleasing or submit to society's conditions...." (Heartz, D., Brown B.A. 2001:3).

This quote furthers my argument of classicism as craft, proving the composer's ability to compose while still appealing to the public. The article speaks of 'fecundity', the ability to produce in numbers – illustrated by the following quote: "Haydn has more success, initially, in pleasing a very wide public, than Mozart did, but from the latters own words it is known that he wrote for 'all kinds of ears - tin ears excepted.' In this easy relationship with the expectations of the consumer lies one explanation for the fecundity of Mozart and Haydn, for the hundreds of works with which they enriched all genres. Colossal productivity such as theirs presupposes a down-to-earth, womanlike approach to the craft..." (Heartz, D., Brown B.A. 2001:3).

The above quotes entirely prove my point, that Classicism, specifically as vangaurded by the First Viennese School, was a craft. The movement itself was defined by clarity, conformity, and also compliance to the audience preference. The volume of work was the biggest indicator of classicism as craft. The following quote illustrates my point: "Haydn's abandonment during the 1770s of a certain more … personal features of his style - possibly connected with the wider circulation of his music in print - was followed by his achievement of an individual synthesis of pleasing tunefulness (the galant style) with the learned devices of counterpoint he had previously somewhat selfconciously... pointed to fundamental continuities of technique between the composers music in this and later periods. (Heartz, D., Brown B.A. 2001:3). Composers of the First Viennese School were hit-makers with integrity.

Later works by Beethoven are later disqualified as classicist. This is because his deafness influenced a sentimental style. He took more time with his later works. This quote illustrates these points: "One measure of the distance in the distance of attitude travelled beyond Mozart and Haydn is Beethoven's decreasing productivity, matching his increasing selfconsciousness about being original - the necessity for every work to be a universe unto itself, born of a struggle and speaking an individual expressive language..." (Heartz, D., Brown B.A. 2001:5). Later Beethoven most damning antithesis to classicism is seen in this quote: "Perhaps this striving for the ultra-expressive can be usefully contrasted with a classical attitude of genuine modesty and willing restraint, personal and artistic..." (Heartz, D., Brown B.A. 2001:5). This can be contrasted with the sobering: “All of Haydn, Mozart and Beethoven is written with a system of equal temperament in mind…” (Rosen, C. 1977:27).

In closing, I have argued classicism as a craft.

03 December 2019
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