March 6, 2014 – History
Symphony Fantastique: opera without words
• Idée fixe: theme that depicts Hariet, every movement it changes until the last movement
in which the theme has changed to a horrid grotesque parody of the theme. Thematic
transformation. Theme is a character.
o Movement 2: thinks of her at a ball and the idée fixe becomes a waltz
o Movement 3: scene in the fields, two shepherds piping to each other (oboe is off
stage being answered by the English Horn), jealous thoughts start to darken the
feel. Distant thunder effect
o Movement 4: march to the scaffold
o Movement 5: Witches Sabbath, ugly orchestration (E-flat clarinet), uses Dies Irae
(plain chant, used for requiem, day of wrath), round dance combines the idee fixe
and dies irae.
• Liszt wrote a transcription of this symphony which was widely popular.
Mendelssohn: father was a banker, highly cultivated family, grandfather was a well-known
philosopher of the enlightenment, very wealthy family, Hamburg for Berlin, they had a mansion
with a garden house (Sunday afternoon concerts). Mendelssohn he was well trained, landscape
painter in music, octet chamber piece, trained by Zelter (conservative, taught him to revere
Bach, already written 13 string symphonies, classical romantic) Conservatory training in
Leipzig he developed the full curriculum. Hired many teachers (Clara and Robert Schumann),
Mendelssohn has overshadowed Fanny. Fanny took over the Sunday afternoon concerts.
Mendelssohn family had a heart disease that took his father, Fanny and him. He was c