Progressive Centers (20): Vienna (music)

Posted on November 20, 2022

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Article from Human Progress.

Our twentieth center of progress is Vienna, nicknamed the “City of Music”. From the late 18th century through most of the 19th century, the city revolutionized music and produced some of the greatest works of the Classical and Romantic eras. The patronage of the then powerful Habsburg dynasty and the aristocrats of the imperial court in Vienna created a lucrative environment for musicians, attracting them to the city. Some of the greatest composers in history, including Ludwig van Beethoven, Johannes Brahms, Joseph Haydn, Franz Schubert, and Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, lived in Vienna and created music. Thus many of the most important symphonies, concertos and operas in history originated in Vienna. Even today, pieces composed during Vienna’s golden age still dominate performances of orchestral music all over the world.

Today, Vienna is Austria’s capital and most populous city, with a population of two million. The city is known for its cultural icons, including many historical palaces and museums, as well as its cafes, upscale shops, and high quality of life. The historic center of the city is listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The city is still presented as the “Music Capital of the World” and hosts many concerts. In addition to its historic role in revolutionizing music, Vienna has continued to inspire musicians in recent times. Vienna’s official tourism website says the city has been the subject of more than three thousand songs, including two songs by the old Beatles and Billy Joel’s hit of the same name.

The site near the Danube River, where Vienna stands today, has been inhabited since at least 500 BC, when evidence indicates that ancient Celts were living in the area. Around 15 BC, the site hosted a Roman fort. Vienna’s location along the Danube made it a natural center for commerce. Coins from the Byzantine Empire arrived in Vienna in the sixth century AD, indicating that the city engaged in extensive trade. In 1155 Vienna became the capital of the Margraviate of Austria, which was elevated to a duchy the following year. Over the centuries, the wealth and political importance of the region has grown steadily. In the middle of the 15th century, Vienna became the seat of the Habsburg dynasty and the de facto capital of the Holy Roman Empire. The Habsburgs were once among the most influential royal families in Europe. Although its power has greatly diminished, the family is still active in politics today (for the record, the current head of the Habsburg family was the first person in the royal family to contract Covid).

As an important center of trade and culture, the city became a target for military attacks and vulnerable to foreign diseases. Vienna suffered Hungarian occupation in the 15th century, attempted Ottoman invasions in the 16th and 17th centuries, and a devastating epidemic (possibly bubonic plague) in 1679 that killed a third of its population. Even today, a column decorated with carvings can be seen in the city center to celebrate the end of the epidemic. In 1804, as the Napoleonic Wars raged, Vienna became the capital of the new Austrian Empire. Despite the wars and diseases, Vienna’s status as a cultural hotspot has only grown.

The Habsburgs and the imperial court sought to increase their prestige by funding the arts, especially music. Thanks to their close ties to Italy and the Catholic Church, the Habsburgs brought to Vienna more than a hundred Italian musicians early in the seventeenth century and introduced cutting-edge Italian musical innovations such as operas and ballets as well as increasingly extravagant productions. sacred music. As part of the Counter-Reformation, major musical and artistic projects were encouraged by the Catholic Church.

In 1622, Holy Roman Emperor Ferdinand II (1578-1637), head of the Habsburg family, married music lover Eleonora, Princess of Mantua (1598-1655). Empress Eleonora’s artistic patronage is credited with making the Viennese court a center for Baroque music and emerging theatrical forms such as opera. As the Habsburgs funded increasingly lavish musical performances to celebrate family occasions such as birthdays and major religious musical performances, the financial incentive attracted more and more musicians from all over Europe to the city. By the 1760s, music was so ingrained in Viennese culture that members of the nobility as well as the prosperous middle class began to act as patrons.

Often called the “Father of the Symphony” and “Father of the String Quartet,” Austrian composer Joseph Haydn (1732-1809) rose from humble origins, the son of a wheelwright and a cook, to become Europe’s most famous composer for a time. He cut his teeth as a court musician for a wealthy family on a remote estate, but was eventually drawn to Vienna where he received many grants and was treated like a celebrity. L’magnum opus by Haydn, Creationan oratorio celebrating the biblical book of Genesis, was premiered at a private performance for a society of noble Viennese music lovers. Creation It was presented to the public at the Burgtheater in Vienna in 1799 and was sold out long before the performance. While in Vienna, Haydn became a teacher of Mozart (1756-1791) and a tutor of Beethoven (1770-1827).

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, the son of a music teacher from Salzburg, first performed at Vienna’s Schönbrunn Palace when he was just six years old, alongside his ten-year-old sister. Habsburg Empress Maria Theresa (1717-1780) paid the brother and sister 100 gold ducats and gave them expensive clothes as a thank you. Mozart is widely considered one of the greatest composers of all time. It was in Vienna where he achieved the greatest financial success of his career. There he and his wife rented a chic apartment, bought expensive furniture, had many servants, sent their son Karl to a prestigious school (in Prague) and led a luxurious lifestyle. Maria Theresa’s son and successor, Joseph II (1741-1790), appointed Mozart as composer of court music, and gave him a stipend in addition to the income he received from his concerts and other patrons.

However, Mozart struggled financially during his later years. As the Austro-Turkish War (1788-1791) raged and the prosperity of Vienna and its aristocrats diminished, it became difficult to secure funds for musicians. Even as his income drops, his expenses remain high and he goes into debt. He was beginning to recover financially by finding new sponsors outside of Vienna when he died suddenly at the age of 35 from an illness that could have been influenza or a streptococcal infection (some say toxin). one of his greatest masterpieces, mass, remained incomplete. To add to the mysterious character of the work, his widow claimed that it had been commissioned by a mysterious stranger and that Mozart felt as though he was composing the Requiem for his own death.

Beethoven is also one of the most beloved composers in history. He left Bonn for Vienna at the age of 21. He quickly established a reputation as a pianist and became a favorite of the imperial court. Archduke Rudolf (1788-1831), Cardinal of the Catholic Church and member of the Habsburg family, is one of its notable patrons. Beethoven’s most profitable concert is the revivals celebrating Napoleon’s defeat at the hands of the Duke of Wellington (Opus 91) and his works. Seventh Symphony (Ref. 92), also inspired by the Napoleonic Wars. Beethoven’s achievements are even more impressive as he became virtually deaf at the end of his life but continued to compose innovative music. his greatest Ninth Symphony (opus 125), premiered in Vienna in 1824. It remains one of the most frequently performed pieces of music worldwide.

Schubert (1797-1828), a native of Vienna, produced a body of acclaimed works in his short life thanks to the patronage of the city’s aristocracy. his greatest work, Winterries The Winter Journey, whose lyrics are taken from a series of poems by Wilhelm Müller, explores themes of loneliness and suffering. He died at the age of 31, possibly of typhoid fever or possibly syphilis.

Brahms (1833-1897), born in Hamburg, also worked most of his working life in Vienna. to her Fourth Symphony It is often cited among his best works. Brahms believed in “absolute music”, that is, music that does not “speak” of anything in particular and does not explicitly refer to a particular scene or story. However, some experts believe that Fourth Symphony It may have been inspired by Shakespeare’s play, Anthony and Cleopatra.

After the eras of classical and romantic music, Vienna continued to play a major role in cultural innovation. It was at the center of the Art Nouveau movement in the 20th century and produced famous artists such as Gustav Klimt (1862-1918), born in Vienna. But still, Vienna is famous for its musical achievements in the 18th and 19th centuries.

Music has influenced human existence since prehistoric times

Carbon dating indicates that flutes excavated in Germany and carved from mammoth ivory are between 42,000 and 43,000 years old. The oldest written melody, preserved on a clay cuneiform tablet, is an ode to the ancient garden goddess, which was first composed in the 14th century BC. The oldest fully translated, intact piece of music, with lyrics and melody, may date back to 200 BC and is written in ancient Greek. It is inscribed on a marble column that marks the tomb of a woman named Euterpe (literally, “rejoice well”). It bore, as it should be, the name of the Museum of Music. The lyrics, believed to have been written by Euterpe’s widower, read:

“As long as you’re alive, shine
No grief
Life only exists for a short time
And time takes its toll.

The melody is cheerful, a celebration of Euterpe’s life. You can hear a Greek translation of this tune here.

Centuries later, in Vienna, Beethoven also sought to convey the sense of joy in history’s most beloved and best-performed symphonic movements,Ode to joy affiliate Ninth Symphony. As a powerful way of expressing feelings and arousing emotions, music has always played an important role in people’s lives, lifting spirits through generations. Humanity has never stopped inventing new musical techniques and styles. But the cultural achievement of Vienna is great. By producing many pieces of music that revolutionized the field and continue to appeal to audiences centuries later, Vienna has earned the nickname “The City of Music”.

The musical heritage of Vienna enriched humanity. The city also demonstrated the role of prosperity in financing great works of art. Vienna has radically changed the way music is performed, endowed the world with more leading composers than any other city, and was the birthplace of compositions that for many represent the pinnacle of musical achievement. Therefore, Vienna has earned its place as the twentieth center of progress.

Counterpoint translation

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