Classical music has existed for a long period spanning over 500 years back. It has many notable composers and writers associated with it, starting from Johann Sebastian Bach to Ludwig Van Beethoven. This paper takes a look at two major today’s musical styles. The Mozart and Stravinsky music styles are two extremely different modes of music composition. They are at the opposite end of the spectrum with one being a classical, while the other is a neoclassical. The paper will compare and contrast the two styles in terms of instrumentation, form, dynamics and articulations of sound. The paper also takes a look at the history of the music styles and that of the two artists.
The two styles of music were created by two very much acclaimed composers of music in the industry. Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart and Igor Stravinsky are the two composers behind the Mozart and the Stravinsky music styles respectively. In essence, the two represent the growth of the music industry. While Mozart is an epitome of the more controlled and balanced classical music, Stravinsky, on the other hand, stands on the more contemporaneous, neoclassical musical style. Mozart was a creative and powerful composer of the classical era coming up with works that received global recognition in the music world. He had over 500 pieces of work that were unique and different from the other works of that time. He also did a lot of work for many religious masses. His works received acknowledgement as pinnacles of symphonic, concert ante, chamber, operatic and choral music. He learned the art of music through watching others play, and through the passion he came up with a fusion that brought light and darkness together and mixed gracefulness with passion to bring out a powerful blend that has been in existence since then. This paper focuses at his work called the Eine Kleine Natchmusick or more commonly known as the serenade no. 13 for strings in G major. This compositional work involves four movements called allegro, romanze, menuetto and rando.
Igor Stravinsky came up with his own style of music, a master in his own right, he came up with what was then considered as a shocking style in the music world, which broke away from the more balanced and controlled classicism. As Steve Schwartz puts it, “Stravinsky wrote music with the expertise of a fine jeweler. Nearly everything he wrote is of very high quality, and much of it has entered the standard (repertoire)”. He had a flavor and technique that changed the way the world listened to music for good. He mixed the old style of classical music with the neoclassical style to achieve a blend of harmonic and rhythmic innovations that are today’s contemporary music. The paper takes a look at his main work the rite of spring. He was quoted as saying, “I heard and I wrote what I heard, I am the vessel, through which the rite passed”.
Indeed the two styles of music take very divergent approaches at music composition. While one conforms to the old classical character of controlled and balanced music, the other is more adventurous and has paved way for the development of modern music styles. In contrasting the two styles of music, one can not help but feels as though they are finding the differences between classical and street music. Such is the extent to which the two are different. However, in relation to instrumentation, style, form and the extent of contrasts evident in dynamics and articulation of sound, the distinction might come out more clearly.
In the experiential analysis, the Mozart, eine kleine nachmusick (k29), was performed by unique equipment, which consisted of two violins, viola, allo and a double bass. When listening to his work, the introduction displays the genius of Mozart. His use of the G major is limited in the introduction from, which he switches to a specific dominant key, slowly building the tempo of music with slow ascending steps. It varies in dynamics from being loud to soft then loud again. The Mozart is clear in its articulation, and it has a clearly controlled and maintained tempo.
The rite of spring on the other hand, has a rather unharmonized introduction that captivates the mind of the listener. His dynamics vary in respect to the suspenseful pauses, which become louder in an ascending manner. The comparative aspect of the two music creations is the management of rhythm, note values and sound in time. The Mozart established the concept of a ‘tempo’. This is considered as the theoretical difference between the Mozart and the Stravinsky. Tempo is the total control of sound patterns. It include the specific keeping of time and preserving note values, the ability to vary note values at will, controlling rhythm at will and be able to conform to a set beat and to be able to change it at will.
In simple terms, the difference would be whether the artist has to keep a balanced beat going, either in a percussion or rhythm section of his or her own body, by tapping a foot to keep track of the beat or whether the artist does not have to do so and remain physically calm and unmoving. Tempo suggests an idea rather than express a clear concept, tempo is the core of music and this core, this odd building block without, which music is not really music, is completely the artist’s responsibility. Generally this is the main outstanding difference between Mozart and Stravinsky (Wayne & James 2012).
When listening to the Mozart, one gets the feeling of total control and balance; there are no surprises in terms of the instrumentalization and sound patterns. There is an order in the flow of note values and rhythmic variations; the tempo is controlled, and the whole tonal variation is maintained and controlled. It is the true old classical, which maintains the tempo and balance of the music. The Stravinsky, on the other hand, is the adventurous, unpredictable and unbalanced style of music, which is more contemporaneous in nature, than the Mozart. It is a fusion of the old classicism and neoclassicism. He employs the idea of pitch as the centre of gravity to achieve a steady tempo for the ear. His early ballets made use of the pitch clusters instead of keys to create stability for the listeners.
The two musical geniuses are centuries apart. Mozart was born in 1756, while Stravinsky was born in 1882. They took different paths to the musical scene. Mozart begun his musical career at a very early age, at the age of 5, he was already a master of the keyboard and the violin and was performing at the royalty. During his childhood, Mozart had a financial stable life. His father was a composer though of little note, and a teacher of considerable experience. He was a deputy Kapellmeister to the court orchestra of the Archbishop of Salzburg. Mozart developed a pleasant personality due to stability in his childhood; this personality played a significant role in his musical compositions. The influence of his childhood is seen in the composition of more melodious and upbeat pieces when compared to that of Stravinsky, who studied music by taking private lessons behind his father’s back.
During the time of Mozart, there were historical changes, which affected his music. He used to incorporate a lot of social and political themes in his work, which was, the reason why his work was more popular among the middle classes. His piece, “the marriage of Figaro”, displays his sensibility and maturation on the political views of that period. While Stravinsky, on the other hand, was attending piano lessons and musical classes during his boyhood. His passion for music grew through time as he went through his education. Despite his love for music, his parents forced him to do law as their preferred course. He joined the University of Saint Petersburg for four years to pursue law as per the request of his parents. His mind was so into music that he ended up attending less than 60 law classes at the end of four years at the university (Morton 2009).
He started studying music when he went to Germany for holidays and spent his time at the home of Nikolai-Rimsky Korsakow, who was considered to be arguably the leading Russian composer. Nikolai advised him to start taking private lessons in music composition. The university was closed for two months during the aftermath of bloody Sunday and thus Stravinsky could not finish his degree. After the death of his father, he concentrated fully on his passion for music under the tutorship of Nikolai-Rimsky, whom he considered as his second father until his death. Stravinsky wrote several pieces before he could achieve recognition. His first major work was fireworks, which were performed at a concert in Saint Petersburg. This work was watched by Sergie Diaghiler, who was immensely impressed by Stravinsky’s work and commissioned him to complete some orchestrations and then compose a full-length ballet score, The Firebird.
His work, the Rite of Spring was done in 1913 and caused shock waves across the music world, which was not used to the new style created by Stravinsky. In this piece, He moved away from the folk classicism to bring to the fore a new neoclassicism that was unique and powerful. The rite of spring exposed him to distinctive use of rhythm and his ability to break away from the traditional classical music. Andrew J Browne, is quoted as saying, “Stravinsky is perhaps the only musician who has raised tempo in itself to the decorum of art.” Today, Stravinsky is considered to be one of the leading composers of the 20th century (Andrew 2007).
The study of classical music indeed reveals lots of details and information unknown to the many lovers of this beautiful brand of music. The comparison between Igor Stravinsky and Amadeus Mozart brings one to the comprehension of the development of classical music and the transition to the neoclassical music. The two composers stand on the opposite of the spectrum of this development and transition, and there works have led to the growth of music all together. Studying their early lives and the different roads they took to become the greatest composers and writers of music, helps one appreciate the nature of the works and the inspiration that brought to the centre of the music world.