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Essay on Two Songs from Baroque and Classical Era

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Fugue in G Minor, BWW


Fugue in G Minor is a musical work of art composed by John Sebastian Bach in 1705, during the Baroque era. John Sebastien Bach is a legendary composer and musician who lived and worked in Germany from 1685-1750. His Fugue in G Minor was written when he was only around 20 years old. This was around the time he was working at the church in Arnstadt. Fugue in G Minor has since then become a widely recognized tune among Bach's many works. Although this music was written to be played by an organ, it has been arranged by others many times for different instrument voices.

In 1940, the famous twentieth century conductor, Leopold Stokowski created an orchestral arrangement of Bach's Fugue in G Minor for Walt Disney's film, Fantasia. Stokowski was well-known in Hollywood for his influential classical music arrangements, and his Fugue in G Minor arrangement continues to be admired today.

Fugue was a popular form of music during Bach's day. The term comes from the same root as the word "fugitive", because of the way the voices in a fugue tend to "chase" each other. Imitative counterpoint is the distinctive characteristic of a fugue. A piece would consist of two to four independent voices playing variations of the same tune, with each new voice that is added seeming to "persue" the one before it.

The song begins as many fugues do, with the introduction of the theme being played by one organ voice. This is often called the subject, and it can be quickly recognized throughout other parts of the song and lasts four and one-half measures each time. The theme starts out slowly, but the entire song picks up speed as it progresses. The song is written in 5 parts, called episodes. The subject is absent at the beginning of each episode, but then reappears at points called middle entries. The subject switches octaves each time it is heard - from tenor, to alto, to bass, to soprano and finally back to bass. It can be picked out though, for its distinct rhythm and an occasional pause from other voices before the subject joins in.

Throughout the episodes in this work, Bach uses a particular polyphony technique that was made famous by a popular composer of the day, Arcangelo Corelli. In it, two voices use imitation on an eighth-note upbeat figure that first leaps up a fouth octave then falls back down one step at a time.

All of the different melody variations and harmonizing among the voices help create a sense of grandeur. The tune seems to grow in importance as the rhythm grows faster. It is noteworthy that a song like this being played in the Baroque era not only would have sounded impressive, but would have looked impressive as it was played. The huge, elaborate organs in the churches were truly a sight to behold, and could produce a variety and volume of sound that was unsurpassed among the instruments of the day.

The contrast among the various voices can be hears even easier in Leopold Stokowski's version of Fugue in G Minor. Stokowski was able to use the variety of instruments in an orchestra to his advantage. He kept all of the notes the same, but spread them out among different instruments and combinations of instruments, such as the oboe, English horn, bassoon, and trombone.

Overall, Bach's Fugue in G Minor is a truly memorable piece of art, and a great example of the Baroque period in music.

The Marriage of Figarro, Act 1

"Cosa sento"

The Marriage of Figarro is the name of the classic Italian opera, written by the legendary composer and muscician, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. This comic opera was composed in 1786, and provides a perfect example of the musical elements invented in the Classical era to enhance the dramatic actions performed on stage.

The opera, The Marriage of Figarro, is a combination of both humor and suspense. It is based on the play, La Folle Journee, ou le Marriage de Figaro written by Pierre Beaumarchai in 1784. The play - which is actually a sequel to Beaumarchai's play The Barber of Seville, centers around the Count and Countess



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