Poetry as an art form predates written text. The earliest poetry is believed to have been recited or sung. It was used as a way of remembering oral history, genealogy, and law. Poetry is often closely related to musical traditions. The earliest poetry exists in the form of hymns (such as the work of Sumerian priestess Enheduanna).
Poetic Import for a New Direction
Our subject today: So many styles and mannerisms currently floating. What direction will the arts take? Times and tendencies are cyclic. I believe we are heading for a more gentile, kinder and well-mannered age. Poetry can again lead the way. Consider the poetry of Heinrich Heine: Christian Johann Heinrich Heine (German: [ˈhaɪnʁɪç ˈhaɪnə]; 13 December 1797 – 17 February 1856). He was a Germanpoet, journalist, essayist, and literary critic. I found some comments on Heine in “Music” by Frederic V. Grunfield. It is part of the World of Culture Series.Publisher is Newsweek Books. Grunfield asserts that Heine is “the quintessential product of German musical romanticism.”
Robert Schumann explained how Heine’s poems inspired a whole new genre of music. “Thus arose a more artistic and profound style of song. Earlier composers could know nothing of this. It created a spirit in music that became the new Romantic era music.” Schumann wrote of musical currents in his magazine: Die Neue Zeitschrift für Musik.Robert Schumann co-founded it with his teacher and future father-in law Friedrich Wieck, and his close friend Ludwig Schuncke. The first issue appeared on 3 April 1834.
Perhaps my own books of poetic import, with those many upcoming poets, can lead us to a new Romantic Movement? Here is a short excerpt from my The Oquaga Spirit Speaks. It is entitled: Maple Tree Seeds:
Helicopter blade seeds
Spinning as they drop,
Blowing in the wind,
Care not where they’ll stop.
These maple navigators.
Sugar, silver and red,
Hope for only one thing;
And that’s that they’ll be bred.
The entire book is available as a product on DSOworks.com.
Schubert Contrasts Beethoven as Freedom v. Structure. Most agree that Beethoven was the link between the Romantic and the Classical periods of music. Schubert’s life overlaps Beethoven’s. Schubert life was much shorter. January 1797 – 19 November 1828), He was an Austrian composer. Schubert died at age 31. But he was extremely prolific during his lifetime. His output consists of:
Ludwig von Beethoven was baptized 17 December 1770 – 26 March 1827. He outlived Schubert by some 26 years. Schubert was born when Beethoven was 27 years of age. However Franz Schubert picked up the Romantic ball of composition and pushed it further. Classical music most often had significant development sections in a sonata, or symphony. Here the parts or pieces of a theme were developed to show off the composer’s ingenuity. Schubert’s themes resist “development. Most are complete in themselves. Alfred Einstein discusses also this topic in his Music in the Romantic Era. To quote him about Schubert: ” His themes have felicity in themselves. They resist dissection: development.”
To read more about my thoughts on Beethoven, click on this internal link above.
How Schubert Contrasts Beethoven with the “Development” of his Themes
With Beethoven, any “side-stepping” keeps the theme in mind. His “digressions” are parallel paths to the theme. Schubert, in contrast, becomes involved in the mist of a beautiful melodic journey. Development is often not called for. To him it seems too intellectual.
Romanticism’s span was approximately from 1800 – 1850. It elevated folk art and ancient custom to something noble. Spontaneity became a desirable characteristic (as in the musical impromptu). Some of Schubert’s great creativity is to be found in with his Impromptus. In contrast to the Rationalism and Classicism of the Enlightenment, Romanticism revived medievalism . Elements of art and narrative perceived as authentically medieval. This was an attempt to escape population growth, early urban sprawl, and industrialism.
We Need a Return to Romanticism
We need the return of beautiful song once more. “Composing” today is created by formula. Many songs of today use only three harmonies. The three harmonies always appear in the same order. Their melody is about as limited as their harmony to three tones. Here is the point: When you feel constricted by difficult times, you need to “cut loose.” Singing or performing constricted music can make you feel even more hemmed-in. Our current composers need the style of the “beautiful melodic journey” of Schubert.