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    Biedermeier Culture

    前言: 這兩年 AMusTCL的考試的 set piece,範例作品,是  Schubert  在 1816 年完成的 Bb 大調 交響曲第五號。由於這首作品的風格,跟舒氏自己在約五個月前寫作的交響曲第四號 ( 悲劇,Tragic),有很大的分別,樂隊編制也相對細少得可憐,很多聽眾都因而感到大為困惑。寫何在同一個時期寫作的作品會有這麼大的差距呢? 當我教授這首作品時,我就提出了當時在維也納一帶湧現的一個藝術風格,稱為 Biedermeier Style。我相信個算是比較突然出現,但看來不大持久 (1815-1830),並具有地域性限制的風格,是影響舒伯特寫作這首樂曲的主要來源。可是,何為 Biedermeier Style 呢? 同學相信可從以下簡論找得答案。


    Biedermeier Culture (David Leung)
    Few historians will deny that employing the single term “Romantic period” to characterize the European music of the 19th century, at least in the first half of the century, is problematic. While Hugo Riemann recognizes the presence of anti-Romantic or non-Romantic trends in music, one of his contemporaries, Walter Niemann, speaks of the “near-Romantic” composers such as Sphor and Kuhlau, who were in a lesser rank, though they also composed within this Romantic period. Such style has attracted greater scholarly attention in the recent studies of German literary, art history, and music history, and has been labelled the “Biedermeier” style, which emerged in the year immediately following the French Revolution and its Napoleonic aftermath. The Biedermeier style is characterized as a retreat from Romantic striving and pathos, an abhorrence of excess in all forms, and a love of bourgeois tranquility, and it also concerns the things of everyday, modesty, decorum a reverence for the past, and the idea of self-improvement. Carl Dahlhaus, a modern German Musicologist, regards Biedermeier as a kind of culture and an artistic life which coincided with the 19th century Romanticism as its sister movement.
    Since the intrinsic value of Biedermeier is “realistic”, rustic, domestic, and in favor of restoring the revered past, the Biedermeier music is based upon the classical model enchanted with somewhat noble simplicity and elegance, which easily associates with the Mozartean beauty. The Biedermeier thematic melody tends to favor the uses of classical topos and the phrases are usually short-breathed, easily assimilated with turns of phrase and gesture borrowed from the past. The graceful ornaments commonly found in music often retain much of the shape and expressive gestures of their Mozartean antecedents and are more concerns of an attractive melodic surface than an expression of a strong personal feeling. Even the employment of chromatic materials in music tends to be localized (within a diatonic framework) and ornamental, more than structural. As a result, at the turn of the 18th century when Romanticism started to play a leading role in all kinds of art, the Biedermeier music was written to conform to the stylistic expectation of 19th century “public”, and to embody the cultural aspiration of the conservative side of the society. Its essence and values originate in its appeal to and its comprehensibility by the rising middle class. Through the Biedermeier music, the disappearing musical conventions of the Classical era reappeared and were restored in a nostalgic haze, by which the aesthetics and core values of the music of the previous era thus were temporarily redeemed.
    David Leung (theorydavid)
    2011-03-09 (published)
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