A Guide to Orchestral Music: The Handbook for Non-Musicians by Ethan Mordden

By Ethan Mordden

Comfortable and available widespread, this authoritative advisor is the 1st symphony guide for non-musicians. The booklet starts off with a common advent to the symphony and brief items at the orchestra and musical types. Mordden is going directly to describe, chronologically, over seven hundred pieces--from Vivaldi to twentieth-century composers. additional aids to the reader comprise lists of repertory developers and a word list of musical phrases. "Easy and enjoyable to read...a really priceless consultant for the song lover who has no longer had a musical schooling yet loves live performance music."--John Barkham reports

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In other words, this statement-variation-restatement syndrome is the plan that was evolved, more or less fortuitously, as the overture, then the concerto, then the symphony, then the tone poem (in that General Introduction 33 chronological order) evolved. It seemed "logical," natural, spontaneous. No symphonist ever looked up this code for form in some book; it just happened to be what was going on in symphony. And, again, no composer ever held himself to these forms if he thought of something else to do.

This isn't contention for its own sake, but a learning clash of listening tastes. That one will develop this taste is inevitable. But it does help to recognize that such considerations as tempo relationships, which instrumental line to bring out in a tutti, the very size and shape of sound vary from performance to performance. Hearing, for example, Furtwangler's, Mengelberg's, Toscanini's, Charles Munch's, George SzelPs, von Karajan's latest, and—perhaps the best of them all— Carlos Kleiber's recordings of Beethoven's Fifth more or less at the same period in one's life is to undergo certain epiphanies as it were 56 A Guide to Orchestral Music from within the work, to experience at first hand its ecumenism.

When the Classical symphony grew bold and expansive under Beethoven, the last movement was enlarged to balance the first movement, and it, too, became necessarily a sonata movement. Before we go on to deal with the two middle movements in the symphony, let's deal with a tricky structural question. Since the first movement of a concerto is in sonata form, who sounds the first and second themes—the soloist or the orchestra? Back in the days of the concerto grosso and its group of soloists, there was no.

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