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Opera and Instrumental Music


Aiming at restoring the Greek drama, Peri and Caccini, the members of Bardi’s camerata, introduced the notion of opera. Still, it was during the Baroque period that opera received proper attention and became a particularly elaborate work of music, singing, dancing and design. The notions of opera seria (drama) and opera dutta (comedy) appeared at the time. Among the most notable composers of the period, Monteverdi or Henry Purcell can be mentioned.

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In contrast to the Baroque period that favored opera seria, during the Enlightenment period, opera buffa has gained popularity. The notable composers of the European opera of the time are Rossini, Bellini, Donizetti, Verdi, and Wagner. At the same time, we must take into account that other cultures also developed their kind of “musical drama”. For example, in Japan this kind of art is presented by the genres of bunraku and kabuki, and the Chinese Opera is very different from what Western people tend to associate with the term.

The modern age brought new understanding of how music should be organized. The XX century was the time of experimenting which can be illustrated by the introduction of the so-called “rock operas” (for example, “Jesus Christ Superstar”). Another important change of the modern age is the development of technologies that simplified the processes of music recording and distribution. The opera, classical or modern, still appeals to the public.

Richard Wagner is my favorite opera composer. He promoted a new, more elaborate kind of opera emphasizing the importance of every of its elements (music, poetry, philosophy, acting). Being a superb conductor and orchestrator, Wagner was capable of managing a work of such complexity. The way he used his art to express his vision of the world, for example, his interpretation of the feeling of love as it is presented in “Tristan and Iseult”, is what makes his works particularly appealing to me.

Instrumental Music

Instrumental music (to put it short, the music that does not require words) was first introduced during the early Baroque period. It is closely connected with dancing (minuet, sarabande) which flourished during the time. As the genres of fugue, variations, and concerto developed, the works of composers like Girolamo Frescobaldi manifested the rise of instrumental music. Other famous composers of the Baroque period are Vivaldi and Bach.

During the Enlightenment period, sonatas and symphonies (that had developed during the Classical period) became particularly popular due to the works of composers like Mozart and Haydn.

Among the most prominent figures in the history of 19th century Beethoven should be mentioned. The period of Romanticism was characterized by the piano pieces of Schubert, the ‘Songs without words” of Mendelssohn, and Chopin’s nocturnes. The Late Romantic period is connected to the names of Tchaikovski, Mussorgsky.

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The modern age brought new understanding of how music should be organized. This was the time of experimentation, for example, “the emancipation of dissonance”. Debussy’ Nocturnes could be described as the impressionism in music, Berg’s opera – as its expressionism. An important part of the instrumental music of the XX century is the music designed for films (Max Steiner, Nino Rota, Akira Kurosawa). The development of electronic equipment that allowed creating, recording and storing music in new, more convenient way has facilitated its distribution and offered us new opportunities of getting acquainted with both classical and modern instrumental music.

I enjoy violin music, and this is why one of my favorite composers is Antonio Vivaldi. He was a virtuoso violinist, and he is especially famous for his violin concertos. Even though he created music for other instruments as well, his deep understanding of the violin is not even doubted.

Super Bowl Halftime Show in Houston

A halftime show is a traditional element of a football game in the US. It is a show that is performed during the short break between the halves of a football game. The importance of the event should not be underestimated, however. It is a particularly popular part of the game that is extremely appreciated by the fans; given the fact that the Super Bowl is a most significant event for the football fans of the US, the significance of its half-time show rises accordingly.

The specifics of this kind of show are defined by its relatively short duration (20 minutes), the fact that it is connected to the football game, and the fact that it is hosted in different places which means that the introduction of the cultural peculiarities of every new place could be appreciated. It is not unusual for a halftime show to include marching bands or modern pop-music stars’ performance. An event of such significance can afford inviting most prominent US stars, and this is what happened in Houston in 2004, when the Super Bowl halftime show was performed by Janet Jackson, P. Diddy, Nelly, Kid Rock, and Justin Timberlake.

At the same time, it would be logical to connect the program of the event to the culture of the place that hosts it. This was done in 1974 when the halftime show included the marching of University of Texas Longhorn Band and the performance of Miss Texas 1973, Judy Mallett, who played the fiddle. This time, the prominent pop-stars of Houston, for example, R&B singer Beyoncé or the rock group ZZ Top may be invited to perform.

At the same time, less popular bands or performers could also be able to contribute. For example, the particular music movement of Texas known as Tejano that is a combination of folk and pop music could be demonstrated to the public as a peculiarity of the region’s culture.

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