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Sturm und Drang

Definition

  • The name was taken from a play by Friedrich Maximilian Klinger (1776), but the ideas associated with the movement were formulated earlier. Its adherents were stong believers in personal freedom, especially freedom for the artist, who, to develop one’s genius to the fullest, should not be chained by restrictions or law or convention.1

  • It is most easily defined by its artistic aims: to frighten, to stun, to overcome with emotion. In line with these aims was an extreme emphasis on an anti-rational, subjective approach to all art.

  • A musical parallel is best approached in the theatre, where all the arts meet. Stimulating strong emotional responses was a prime aim of the operatic reform about 1760. What was experienced at the time as a most potent weapon for passionate, unbridled expression was obbligato (or orchestrally accompanied) recitative. In the hands of Italian masters like Jommelli and Traetta, this language of orchestral commentary was pushed to unheard-of lengths of tone-painting.3


1 Pauly, Reinhard G. Music in the Classic Period. Prentice Hall Publishing. 2000: 30

2 Heartz, Daniel and Daniel Heartz / Bruce Alan Brown: 'Sturm and Drang', Grove Music Online ed. L. Macy (Accessed [1st April 2006]), <http://www.grovemusic.com/shared/views/article.html?
section=music.27035>

3 Ibid.






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