Researched Graded Discussion 1: Early vs. Late Romantic Era
This discussion topic is the first of the two hefty researched discussions for this class.
These two big discussions take the place of a term paper in this course.
There was a short discussion in week 2 on Art Song Most students did very well on
that. It was intended to be a fairly easy warm-up for this more demanding graded
discussion topic, and a way to consolidate what you've gotten from the reading
without being just another quiz.
As you read the directions for this discussion, notice that there is more independent
searching for music required to fit the topic parameters, and more that you are
expected to say about it.
Main Post: 800words
Select a typical Romantic era genre to focus on. Find a piece of music in that genre
from early in the Romantic era, and another from quite a bit later in the Romantic
era. If you choose multi-movement pieces, select just one movement from each.
For each piece you choose for this comparison, provide
the full name of the composer
the complete title of the piece
the movement number or title (if a multi movement work)
approximate date of composition (very important)
genre (kind of piece)
The correct url (to the exact movement) to each piece, using Naxos or YouTube
To make an effective comparison, find pieces that are at composed @ 20 years apart
or longer. Choose genres that are as similar as you can find, and movements that
are similar in tempo. It is much easier and more convincing to make an "apples to
If you are comparing two multi-movement works, focus on a single movement from
each. In Naxos, each track is typically a single movement. If you use YouTube you’ll
have to make sure you provide a link with a starting point at the movement you
The date each piece was composed reinforces your comparison of early vs. late
Compare those pieces. Comment on what you hear that changed the most, and
what you think unites the two pieces. For each piece you chose, create a brief
"listening map” with 3 musical observations with track timings for your readers to
listen for. Use your own words for these so other students can understand what
you’re referring to as they listen, avoid paraphrasing musical analyses that you have
not made yourself.
Tell your readers something interesting about the piece. (a fun fact) Was there a
particular reason or occasion that led to its composition? Was it well received when it
premiered, or not? Was it written for a particular performer?
There’s no need to repeat biographical information of a composer that covered in our
reading, but do mention how the piece you chose fits into his/her career. If you have
a piece by a composer that is not covered in our ebook reading, keep the bio fairly
short and pertinent to the piece you’ve chosen.
Supply a brief bibliography at the end of your main post: correct urls to web-based
sources that other students can easily consult.
Ideas to get started:
Think about the listening so far in the ebook. For instance if you liked Art Songs by
Schubert or the Schumanns, pick one and then find an art song from a composer
later in the era such as Mahler or later in Brahms’ career. (please do not use the
exact pieces/movements from the ebook).
A quick way to determine early vs. late Romantic era is to use the timelines on pages
298-301 in the ebook. Notice that the composers covered in the ebook are listed in
bold face type. You’ll see there that Franz Schubert is the earliest one listed, and
Richard Strauss and Antonin Dvorak are the latest.
If you liked piano concertos, explore a movement of the piano concerto by Chopin
(1830) and compare it to a movement of Piano concerto No. 1 by Tchaikovsky.
If you like opera, compare similar movements from operas by different composers
who lived early and late in the Romantic era. For instance, choose an aria or chorus
from an opera by Rossini, or by Verdi from the middle of his career (La Traviata,
1853) and compare it to an aria or chorus by a later Romantic opera composer, such
as Puccini (Madame Butterfly, 1898).
If you like solo piano works, you can compare slightly different genres but stick to
piano alone – if one piece you select includes orchestra or string quartet along with
the piano and the other one does not, those are not closely related genres. For
instance, a piano miniature by R. Schumann or a Chopin impromptu (1830s) can be
compared with one of the Brahms seven fantasias (1892).
It’s easy to get complete lists of the major Romantic era composers’ works. I simply
googled “chopin complete works” and got this page
Then I googled “brahms complete works”
Other search terms such as “list of compositions” along with the composer’s name
will bring up results.
Find a list of works that clearly provide dates and genres to speed your research.
The easiest way to find specific movements is to use Naxos. The tutorial “Fun with
Naxos” can help you if you are unfamiliar with it.
YouTube has a great variety of music and it is not hard to find the sharable url.
Please make sure you are providing the url for exactly the movement you are writing
about…and that may be a little harder at YouTube. For instance, the Piano Concerto
No. 1 by Tchaikovsky is over 35 minutes long as a single video track. Unless you’re
writing about the first movement, you’ll need to determine at what point in the track
the movement your discussion starts and use that start point in your sharable link.
When bringing up the sharable link, there is a box you check that says “start at ….”
You’ll want to save that link at the correct start point for yourself early in the process
of doing your detailed listening and musical description. Let your readers know at
what time in the YouTube track the movement ends.
….repeating the exact musical examples in the ebook. It’s OK to use a different
movement of a piece covered in the ebook, but I think it’s much better to find
another piece altogether. That makes it much easier for you provide a “fun fact” or
two as background for the piece that's not already in the ebook!
There really is no shortcut for finding music that fits our topic guidelines, researching
it yourself to provide some background, and then listening to it repeatedly to create
a listening map for each track.
Genre as we refer to it in this class is not usually listed as something you can copy
and paste from the track information at Naxos or YouTube. You’ll need to verify
through your research and listening that your piece is an Art Song, a symphony, a
concerto, a sonata, a string quartet, aria or chorus from an opera, dance number
from a ballet, a tone poem, a concert overture, piano miniature, piano character
piece….etc. When in doubt about the genre, list what kind of instruments or voices
the piece is written for (for instance, Sonata for violin with piano; Caprice for solo