QuestionQuestion

The Paper
You will write a 2-3 page paper (double-spaced, Times New Roman, 12 font, acceptable margins, etc.) reporting on what you heard in the concert. Please include concrete information about the performance, such as instrumentations, lengths, etc., as well as a description of each of the pieces in the concert using musical terminology from the Elements of Music handout. You are welcome and encouraged to share your opinions on the music, but please make sure description is primary. This paper should be in grammatically correct English written to a collegiate standard. It should also be free of information drawn from elsewhere, unless you are citing an outside academic or musical source to make a point. (If so, please use quotation marks and identify the source to avoid plagiarism.) If you need assistance with the writing, please go to the Writing Center.

Please do the bulk of your work before you go to the concert. At the concert, it will be helpful to take a few notes while attending. However, the audience is also expected to be silent during the performance, so you’ll need to take notes extremely quietly or time your writing during pauses between pieces and movements. (Note that audience is also expected to clap only after a piece is completed, not between movements. A good way to not get caught out if you’re unsure is to wait and follow the rest of the audience’s lead.)
When you submit your paper, you must include proof of attendance, which you can do by attaching your ticket stub.
Though all three works will be important components of both your concert experience and reflection on it, the largest portion of your paper should be devoted to Pyotr Tchaikovsky’s Piano Concerto No. 1. The questions below will give you a “roadmap” of the structure and content of the piece by helping you identify and articulate what you hear in the work. You do not need (and will not have space) to answer every question in your paper, so you should choose to address the questions that you think best help you describe the piece. You must, however, answer the last question (about character) for every movement. Your paper is not to be a list of short answers to these questions; you should work up the answers into a satisfying essay, writing in full paragraphs. Any interesting observations you want to make about the music along the way are most welcome.

Here is a suggested format for the paper.
I. Introduction: details about the event you saw (day, time, place, name of conductor and orchestra, general comments).
II. Your comments about Pyotr Tchaikovsky’s Piano Concerto No. 1. Answer many of the questions below (as directed above, in prose form—no one word answers or bullet points) and make sure that much of what you write centers around verifiable aspects like mode (major/minor), meter, tempo, dynamics, texture, orchestration, use of motives and themes, musical character, etc. You should also comment on your own reaction to the music.
III. Discuss briefly the two other pieces on the program and make comparisons between the pieces. Did the pieces go together well? If so, why? If not, why not?
IV. Conclude your paper with further general observations. You may wish to consider the concert as an event (Why do orchestra members wear dress clothes and what is the effect? What about the custom of quiet in the audience?), the level of performance, the difference between the live and recorded experience, and/or your own experience of and reaction to the concert. Do you see yourself returning to another orchestral concert? Why or why not?

“Roadmap Questions” for Pyotr Tchaikovsky’s Piano Concerto No. 1 in Bb
Movement 1 :
1. This piece begins with horn lines alternating with powerful chords. Is this beginning in major or minor and what is its emotional effect?
2. At 0:47 the piano enters and the orchestra plays a melody. What type of instruments play this melody? Is it major or minor?
3. Does this section feel like it conveys a different mood or emotion? If so what? How does the change in the featured instruments impact the mood or emotion?
4. Based on the first minute and a half, is the movement in a duple or triple meter? What sort of tempo is it?
5. At 1:28 what instrument takes over the melody?

6. At around 1:54 the orchestra drops out and the piano plays a passage featuring strong diminished harmonies. This creates a lot of tension. Where/when does this tension feel resolved?

7. Listen to the next several minutes of the movement. Does the alternation between major and minor continue? If so, where are some places this happens? What emotional effects does this achieve?
8. At 6:44 the piano has a very tender moment. Can you describe what happens to the music over the next couple of minutes?
9. Which instruments play the melody from 9:30-9:50? Is this melody in a major or minor key?
10. What is the texture when the piano enters at 9:30?
11. At around 11:00 what rhythmic value is the orchestra playing?
12. How would you describe the relationship between the piano and orchestra starting in 12:10?
13. How would you describe the dynamic at 13:00?
14. What interval is the piano melody made up of at 13:40-14:00?
15. What instrument plays the melody at 14:10 and which instruments take over at 14:30?
16. Does the movement end in a major or minor key?
17. What do you think about the character of this movement? Do you find it easy or difficult to follow?

Movement 2 :

1. Which instruments play the opening music of the movement? (options: Strings, woodwinds, percussion) What technique are they using? (arco [bowed], pizzacato [plucked]) What dynamic are they playing? (forte, piano) What is the meter of the music? [20:45] (duple, triple)
2. When the first theme begins, which instrument is playing it, and who takes over shortly after? [20:57] (options: flute, horn, piano, violin)
3. When the theme repeats again, which instrument takes it? (oboe, piano, trumpet) What technique do the strings change to when this happens? [21:23] (arco [bowed], pizzacato [plucked])
4. Which family of instruments joins the piano at [21:49]? (percussion, woodwinds, brass)
5. Who takes over the theme at [22:12]? (piano, strings, woodwinds
6. Who is playing the theme at 22:53? (two trombones, four horns, two cellos)
7. Which woodwind instrument takes the theme at 23:20? (oboe, clarinet, flute)
8. Are there other instruments that join in with the oboe here? (horns, cellos, flutes)
9. How does the tempo and expressive quality of music suddenly change at 23:50?
10. The soloist takes a more ornamental role at 24:10. Which two family of instruments sequentially provide the melodic music here? (brass, strings, woodwinds, percussion)
11. The cadenza of the movement begins with a full orchestra hit at 24:59. What is a cadenza, and how does this type of passage support the purpose of the concerto? (open ended)
12. What technique in the piano does the music employ to signal the cadenza’s end end and the return of the orchestra?
13. At 25:34, when the piano comes into the texture, what melody does the music return to? (give the timecode of another example of this theme played earlier in the movement). Which section of the orchestra is providing the accompaniment to the piano? (Strings, horns, percussion) What is the dynamic and expressive quality of the music here? (piano, forte; open ended)
14. At 26:04, what instrument takes over the theme? (flute, violins, oboe) What technique is being deployed in the piano during the beginning this passage? (trill [rapid oscillation between two pitches], glissando [sliding down many successive notes in a continuous gesture)
15. Beginning at 26:19, what happens to the tempo of the music? (it speeds up, it slows down) What tempo marking is used to express this in the music? (Accelerando, ritardando, allegro)
16. At 22:46, in the closing passage of the movement, we hear the final variations on the main theme, only it is truncated and re-harmonized. What is the name for this type of closing section that is added on to the end of the piece to signal that the music is ending? (Prelude, Development, Coda)
17. What is the dynamic level at the close of the movement? (forte, piano) What is the expressive quality of the music at the end of the piece? (open ended)

Movement 3 :
1. At the very beginning of the movement, before the piano enters, at 27:16, a musical idea bounces around the orchestra four times. In order, what sections of the orchestra are primarily playing before the piano starts?:
2. At 27:52, Tchaikovsky composed a rhythmic idea called a ‘hemiola’, is there a musical term that we learned this year that relates to this rhythmic idea, which upsets the audience’s hearing of the regular downbeats?
3. At 28:00, there is a large orchestral tutti, how does this make you feel? How does this contrast with the following piano-clarinet duet at 28:10?
4. At 28:24, a completely new mood is introduced. How does the length of the phrases and the style of playing in the strings and piano contrast with what came before this moment?
5. At 29:00, the piano plays a quick descending scale which is then echoed in other sections to transition back into the musical ideas presented in the beginning of the movement. What sections of the orchestra play these scales in response?
6. At 29:19, the character of the music changes abruptly from the first material in the movement. How does the playing in the piano and strings change at this moment?
7. What material do the strings play starting at 30:05? Is it major or minor?
8. At the 30:30 minute mark, the pianist plays a passage that is immediately echoed in the woodwinds, then the pianist plays it again, and then finally the strings play the same passage. How would you describe this passage? Conjunct or disjunct? Leaping intervals or scalar? Ascending or descending? What happens immediately after the strings play the passage?
9. Beginning at 31:03 until 31:32, how would you describe the character or   timbre of the piano part?
10. At the 32:17 mark, what is the pianist doing? How would you describe the dynamic and sound? What do you notice about both of her hands? Is the texture monophonic/homophonic/or polyphonic at this exact moment?
11. What do you hear the pianist and orchestra play at 32:31?
12. How would you describe the ending of Mvt. 3? Use descriptive words to talk about the character. Does it end in a major key or a minor key?

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On November 4, 2017 I filed into the Concert Hall to witness the Stony Brook Symphony Orchestra perform three pieces by Russian composers: Scheherazade by Rimsky-Korsakov, Piano Concerto No. 1 by Tchaikovsky, and Night on Bald Mountain by Mussorgsky. I was ushered into my seat and began looking at the program pamphlet before the concert began. The audience was relatively chatty until conductor Jens Georg Bachmann entered: then the audience quieted down and clapped after Bachmann bowed to the audience. Then the concert hall went silent before Bachmann wound the orchestra into action. The first sounds came from the brass, confirmed by the strings, and answered by the woodwinds—Scheherazade began. The ominous sounds felt like a minor key. Whatever the truth of the chord was, it called immediate attention to itself and created an intense atmosphere to the curious ears in the audience.
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