Monday, October 29, 2007


I rather liked the chapter on Berlioz in Charles Rosen's The Romantic Generation. Berlioz could not play the piano, so it was necessary to discuss something else. I was fascinated with the discussion about how everyone at the Paris Conservatory studied The Well Tempered Clavier, and Berlioz didn't. They studied species counterpoint, while Berlioz played the guitar. As a result he didn't automatically think about voice leading.

Berlioz was aware of the opposing concepts of expectation and emotion. He varied the phrase lengths effectively because he knew of the underlying expectation of regular phrases. The classical period effectively created a set of expectations that the romantics manipulated for effect. Berlioz was key in this.

He tried to explain why Berlioz wasn't incompetent, but his heart wasn't really in it. He said if you do something three times, it becomes truth. I think if what you are doing is physics, this isn't enough, but if it's music, I think it is.

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