Musical Classics as a Development Factor of the Spiritual Culture

Issue #2 • 1098

Along with the national musical heritage the great role in the formation of the spirituality of today’s youth is also played by the European musical culture. Having achieved the highest prime during the periods of classicism and romanticism it happened to become the common property of the past and present, taking today the important place in the system of the imperishable values common to all mankind.

The esthetic ideal of classicism – the antique art with its myths, heroes and plots, as well as its harmony, symmetry, rationality, clarity and stringency of form as principles of esthetic organization – was adequately reflected in the music of the 17th-18th century. In particular, such operas like “Alcestis”, “O`ha*sus”, “Atys”, “Perseus” and “Artemis” by the French composer Jean-Baptiste Lully (17th century) absolutes the whole code of rules: prologues honoring the King, obligatory and strict consequence of the items (arias, ensembles, choirs and orchestra sections). Recitatives written in the traditions of the “Alexandrian verse” were performed in a solemn and passionate manner that corresponded to the stylistics of both French opera and French tragedy. In the same elevated and passionate manner the sceneries were made, ballet scenes were performed; dramatic playing of the actors was done including their gestures, mimics and plastics. Makeup and costumes sustain traditions of the court fashion that was in line with the artistic etiquette of that time.

In the 18th century, in the epoch of the French Renaissance, musical classicism, having reserved its basic features, addresses to the large scale heroic topics glorifying deeds, fearlessness, and struggle of a strong nature for the moral ideals. Such are the operas “Orpheus”, “Iphigenie in Avlide” by Gluck that have organically connected heroic images with the classical forms. Classical trends were implemented in the symphonic works by Haydn, Mozart and Beethoven, who in their turn enriched the contents of the musical art with the real life motifs, intellectual depth, high-flown dramatic effect of feelings and emotions.

Beethoven’s creative work had absorbed and synthesized at a very high artistic level the previous experience and opened the first pages of musical romanticism. Monumentality and harmony of the conception, excellent equilibrium between the parts of the whole do not only define formal and structural but also ethical properties of his music full of efficacy and heroic and tragic power. The composer is concerned with the image of a new man making up a personality. He is a fighter, a thinker, a creator and an observer of earthy beauty. In Beethoven’s music praising of the real life in its complex and contradictory multifacetedness is deeply intertwined with the idea of greatness, integrity and immensity of the universe. Theatrical drama passion and pastoral idyll, wild passion and laid-back reverie, lyrics and folk humor, pictures of nature and everyday life are perceived by him from the philosophical point of view. It is not accidental that from the early piano sonatas composer consistently inclines for polyphonization: multiple elementality, prominence, relief of the topics, multiple facture, clearly expressed voice leadership, for a more liberal symmetry in topicality structure and etc.

In the works of the later style the composer displays the strive to monumental counterpoint forms (in the form of a strict fugue or separate fugued modes) testifying for his passion for polysyllabic conceptions. Fully in line with the philosophic frame of his mind the author realizes his interest to the quarter that has become the mouthpiece of the intellectual searches of Beethoven in music. Composer’s creative work, and especially stylistics of his instrumental works, lets in the folk melos that unlike the classicist tradition did not “dilute” in the universal figurative means but sounded in the mediated form merging with the “turns of speech” of the European sonata-instrumental writing.

Innovative in Beethoven’s program compositions was not the turn to the extra-musical associations but the literary, pictorial and vivid character of these associations. Elevated and emotional tune of the newest lyrical poetry, concrete and at the same time poeticized images of the fairy tale and fantastic epos, ancient sagas and psychological novel pulled out the frames of classicist canons and opened the road to new forms of self-expression.

New generation of composers of the romantic style appeared in the arena of the European culture in the 19th century. Bright melodies, semantic figurativeness, aspiration for the synthesis of arts made up the unifying starter of their search and gave a push to the development of opera-and-ballet genres and program music (symphonic and piano music). As the highest source of perception of the reality romantics have chosen not the mind but the human feeling and spontaneous emotional forces. It is not the mind that moves the world and history, it is art, they insisted. Art is like revelation, like confession of a lonely artist entering a sharp conflict with the surrounding reality.

It was the music immediately and emotionally reflecting the world that the romantics placed at the highest floor of the arts stair as distinct from the classicists that had proclaimed priority of poetry. They ranked the symphonic and instrumental genres among its higher forms. From here comes the maturity of the orchestra instrumental parts of operas and songs dominating over a word or enjoying equal rights with it in the structure of the vocal-scenic and song compositions.

Images of strong and whole people, protectors of kindness and justice contrasting with the modern men attract composers. In one case these are the rebels revolting against immorality and Philistine values. Rejected by the society with which they lost the spiritual ties, they are seeking death for themselves or are knocking around the world in search of the ideal and answer to the disturbing questions of the human objective reality. In another one, they are heroes of the Middle Ages attracting by the poetics of knights, legends, fantastic transformations and mysteries of the old castles.

The emotional power of the works strengthens due to the contrast between the leading lines: the nature living according to its own laws and a man whose consciousness has been bisected by contradictions, doubts, regrets for might-have-been hopes and destinies, past and present, reality and imagination. Longing for the bygone greatness of the people, discredited dreams and strivings, presentiment of unavoidable tragic outcomes – these are the most spread motivations of creativity of the representatives of the romantic style of the 19th century making up the summary of the author’s idea.

Turn to the national history, folk legends, biblical and mythological plots and to the spiritual world of a common person make up the following operas noteworthy: “Der Freischutz”, “Euryanthe” by Weber; “The Puritans” by Bellini, “William Tell” by Rossini; “The Huguenots”, “Prophet”, “Robert-Diablo” by Meyerbeer; “O`annhauser”, “Lohengrin”, “The Ring of the Nibelung”, “O`ristan and Isolde” by Wagner; “Romeo and Juliet” by Gounod; “Nabukko”, “Atilla”, “Jenna d’Arc”, “Rigoletto”, “Traviata” by Verdi. A number of opera librettos are based on the famous literary sources: dramas by Schiller, Shakespeare, Hugo, Dumas-son and other authors. Such operas as ‘Lakme” by Delibes; and ballets “Coppelia” by Delibes; “Jiselle”, “Danube Virgin” by Adam testify for the interest of the romantics towards the exotic countries.

The most concentrated expression of the romantic trends is found in the symphonic music. Free from the attributes of the stage arts (scenery, costumes, acting and drama playing, singing and plastics) it had inexhaustible sound, tempo-dynamic, harmonious-and-tonal as well as variant-and-variation opportunities for full-blooded conveyance of diverse phenomena, complicated emotions and associations.

Such program symphonies by Berlioz like “The Symphony Fantastique”, “Harold in Italy”, “Romeo and Juliet”, the author’s worries concerned with the personal drama or touch with the arts masterpieces. E.g., the main topic of “The Symphony Fantastique” is the topic of the rejected love and loneliness, and the main expressive means is the rich intonation and melodious pattern. Depth of revelation and bright emotional palette characterize such symphonies as “Romeo and Juliet” based on the Shakespeare’s tragedy and “Harold in Italy” standing out for the use of the folk music. Programming distinguishes both “The Scottish Symphony” by Mendelssohn and “Faust Symphony”, symphonic poems “Hungary”, “Tasso”, “Prometheus” by Liszt created on the basis of the historical or artistic impressions. Poetical moods permeate the fortepiano plays from “The Traveler’s Album” by Liszt, “Butterflies”, “Children’s Scenes”, “Carnival” cycles by Schumann and “Winterreise” by Schubert.

“Mazurkas”, “Polonaises”, “Ballads”, “Preludes”, “Fantasies” by Chopin reflecting the author’s perception of the animate nature, customs and culture of the native land, serve the examples of how composers interpret in their compositions folk melodies with their genuine rhythms, temperament, ideal and semantic load. National melodism saturates “Hungarian Rhapsodies” and “Racocci March” by Liszt, the cycles “Die schone Mullerin” and “Winterreise” by Schubert., “Polkas” by Smetana and “Slavonic Dances” by Dvorak. In their song creativity, composers often address to the poems written by Goethe, Haines, Shamisso and other famous poets striving for the synthesis of word and music.

Unlike the classicist music – buoyant, light and optimistic, clearly set out and finished in their composition, romantic’s music is athrob and elevated, confessional, personalized, deeply individual and unique in its forms and solution means. The composers disclosed unusually sensitive, vulnerable and at the same time generous for revelation, empathy, love and creation, world of the human sole by challenging spiritual poverty and cynicism. Civil and moral pathos of the romantic creation is in the feeling of great sympathy to a Human Being.

Next generations of the musicians representing different countries and cultures have grown on the traditions of the European musical classics. Uzbekistan composers work both in the academic, traditional and contemporary keys. Having combined in their searches diverse trends, they show inclination to the European technique. The young generation prefers new genre and style forms born by the merge of different concepts simultaneously showing freer attitdes towards musical realia. The most fruitful and perspective in their aspirations are those composers that are realizing the current idea about multidimensionality of the process, logistics of the expressive means where the musical classics are assigned a special place. In view of this we should attach attention to the creative works of M.Mahmudov, F.Yuanov-Yanovsky, N. Giyasov, T.Kurbanov, N.Narkhodjaev, N.Zakirov, A.Mansurov, B.Lutfullaev and a number of young composers of the Republic.

Chinese composers, Sen Sin Hai, Van Ten Chun, Van Li Sen, Ha Lu Tin, Li In Hai and others, went by the path of the intricate road of professional strengthening on the way to mastering European musical writing, specific, genre and stylistic multiplicity of musical classics. In their works they comprehend many-century national musical traditions anew and attract for this purpose the wide range of artistic and expressive means taking them to classical sources. One can hear the breath of living nature, symphony of rhythms and sounds in the works “The Huang He River” by Sen Sin Hai, “Shai Yun Chuei Yue” (“The Cloud is reaching the Moon”) by Van Ten Chun, “Lan Hua Hua” (“Dark Blue Flowers”) by Van Li Sen, “Mi Ton Tuan Di” (“Sounds of the Reed-pipe”) by He Lu Tin, “Siyan Se Ku” (“Rhythms of Music”) by Li In Hai. The romantic contemplation of beauty and agitation of the human heart are communicated in the confessional manner. In the end, it is the music of soul concordant with the poetics of the classical art speaking for the integrity of spiritual ties between the past and the present, about imperishable and common to all mankind meaning of true spiritual values.

Djou Min (China)

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