Friday, March 7, 2014

Famous Fugal Finales

On Wednesday we discussed the fugue. Though famously used by Bach and other composers throughout the Baroque period, composers of later generations picked up on this genius technique and used it in combination with modern forms of their time.

One example of this can be found in Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart’s Symphony No. 41 “Jupiter.” In the finale of this work, Mozart combines the classical era’s symphonic style with Baroque characteristics by beginning with a theme taken from a famous book, Gradus ad Parnassum written by the famous Baroque music theorist Fux. He then follows this with his own themes that climax at the very end of the movement in a 5-voice fugue.

The complexity of this feat is overwhelming. Weaving this number of independent musical themes together to simultaneously create music that actually “works” and sounds incredible is simply phenomenal.

Tonight’s 6 o’clock symphony features Mozart’s Symphony No. 41 “Jupiter.” When it arrives at the finale, listen carefully to hear these various themes come back in the conclusion, working together as a fugue.

What do you think of this work? Do you enjoy the technique of combining modern forms in music with features from the past?

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