Emergence of the Titans and their history | Sunday Observer

Emergence of the Titans and their history

7 February, 2021

Looking back at the classical music world, let us see how they appeared in the eight eras they represented:

Early music (1000 - 2000)

Medieval (1200 - 1450)

Renaissance (1450 - 1600)

Baroque (1600 - 1750)

Classical (1750 - 1820)

Early Romantic (1800 - 1850)

High Romantic (1850 - 1910)

Modern (1900 to the present)

No generic term of music of the 20th or 21st centuries has emerged to adequately cover serialise, neo classics and fragmentations of the past hundred years. The labels given to each of these periods are convenient approximations and invariably overlap. Maybe these periods span a thousand years or more. Mankind's pleasure has always been music-making.

For example, cave paintings about 40,000 years ago depict man dancing along with representations of music instruments dated 40,000C. Getting closer to these revelations, the 'Book of Daniel' 3:15 (sixth century BC) says, 'Now, if you be ready that at what time you hear the sound of cornet, flute, harp, sackbut, psaltery and dulcimer, and all kinds of music ya, fall down and worship the image which I have made'

Medieval music in Europe where the study and use of chords are used is called harmony. Diaphony means 'two-voiced' music. It dominated musical compositions until the arrival of the 13th century and the application of the two-part singing was called 'organum' where voices would sing one octave or a major third apart.

Polyphony on the other hand means many sounds or many voices and is concerned with more sounding than one note but through melody. The addition of three, four or more independent musical lines sung or sounded together was the next obvious development.

In early music, the beginning of modern musical notations were introduced which included Impressionism, Post-Romanticism, Neo-classism, Expressionism, Gigantism, Atonal and dissonant music, Serial (twelve-note) music, jazz, rock, pop, as well as, electronic and computer music and minimalism.

This is a part of chronology and the rest is noise.

There were many great musicians who left their mark in the world of music. Others who followed were equally outstanding; the lesser known ones too made their contribution and the list is endless. Together, they made classical immortal.

Classical music

Baroque led the way to be followed by Classicism which was followed by early Romantics. Classical music has two meanings. Firstly, it is 'serious' music such as opposed to dance such as jazz or anything in the pop scene.

Secondly, it defines a period in the development of music. They both belong to the Classical era. Though they characterise masterly economy of form and resources, they lack overt emotionalism. For example, if Bach and Handel dominated the first half of the 17th century, Haydn and Mozart as their counterparts dominated the latter part and epitomised the virtues of Classical style.

Tracing back to the generation before Haydn's birth more powerfully to the invigoration keyboard works of Demonic Scarlatti whose ambience over five-hundred short sonatas composed in his sixties demonstrated brilliance, only Bach equalled. Scarlatti whereas, scored in a smaller scale, had the intent of delighting the young ones, and amazingly, the Queen of Spain happened to be one of them. He was of the opinion that writing music was not an effort but a simple pleasure.

C.P.E. Bach's music represented a cross between Franco-Italian, emerging from the Classical School and his keyboard music was written as though an advent to Beethoven. The expressive powers of the newly invented pianoforte redefined the theme 'sonata' which was used previously.

It then became a formalised structure that related to keys and themes. Bach developed these to extended movements, leaving behind short movements of the Baroque form. Listening to these sounds, everyone was aware of their originality. Along with symphony, concerto for instruments that gave brass and woodwind greater performance-power, effort and his orchestral crescendos, excited the audiences so much to an extent to rise from their seats.

When in London, visiting Handel House Museum has always been on my agenda, walking from Brook Street to this sacred abode of one of music's great sons.

Handel House Museum is dedicated to the soul and sprit of George Frederic Handel, the great baroque composer who scored his famous scores from 1723 to 1959, Messiah, Zadok the Priest and Music of the Royal Fireworks among many others.

It is a beautifully restored historic house and gives the feeling that you are in the 18th century somewhere, as it is alive with music as if it were during his time, played back to back and enhancing the atmosphere are paintings and prints of the composer and of his contemporaries as a backdrop to Handel's life in London.

Every visitor makes it a point to listen to the Messiah that Handel himself played on his own harpsichord, the instrument that is preciously preserved and exhibited in a prominent place and powerfully evocative.

Each and all leave the Museum breathless. So, each time I left, Messiah left its strain lingering in my system. I believe the best classical music is incredibly simple but very poignant and moving; modifying his lyrical contents to suit the spiritual needs of his followers. Many a time I found his music physical, emotional and intellectual. I found his scores as interplay between the conscious and subconscious and I am not his first disciple to say so.


To me his music is an ocean; waves tossing spewing forth in harmony within the walls of the Museum and Handel riding them. One gets the feeling he is all over any time of the day no matter how busy Brook Street is.

Inspired by an invitation to Dublin to gift one of his works to charity, Handel wrote the Messiah, completing it in a feverish 25 days to meet the occasion. It was one man's genius and musical achievement, most remarkable with a burst of creativity followed by a succession of oratorios. It showed Handel at the height of his powers.

Apart from Handel, others are amazing and to single one out is like picking a needle from a haystack. All people, especially music lovers have their individual favourites for various reasons. It was a daunting task for me to pick Paganani among,

  •  Joseph Haydn
  •  Luigi Boccherini
  •  Muzio Clementi
  •  Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
  •  Luigi Cherubini
  •  Ludwig van Beethoven
  •  Johanne Hummel
  •  John Field
  •  Daniel Auber
  •  Nicolli Paganin
  •  Maria von Weber
  •  Gioachine Rossini
  •  Franz Schubert
  •  Gaetano Donizetti

While these belong to one era, there were others equally magnificent that blazed the music trail.

Paganini and Mozart

Two colossus on equal platform but divided among their following. Both composers' brilliance is unmatched but Paganini I believe is a little ahead because of the way he handled the violin, like no other.

No other composer of the first two decades of the 19th century so mesmerised the public as Paganini. He impacted enormous succeeding generations of musicians now loosely called the 'the Romantics'.

He was tall, emaciated with wavy black hair up to his shoulders, dressed in black immobile, a showman, a dare-devil and the greatest violinist who had ever lived. His charisma had virtuosity which was an important element in music making which rocketed the instrument to another level.

He would simply take centre stage. Lift the violin for the audience to see and snap break three strings, leaving G string solo and played not only his compositions but all the other masters seen as the synthesis of all violins’ idiosyncratic qualities, dazzling pyrotechnics and expressive cantabile.


Mozart, the musical genius on the other hand was different. He was gentle with all musical instruments.

Certainly for Mozart the indispensable oboe clarinet works are inseparable and one feels that his intimate side is more rewarding than anything else and placing G minor String Quintet among most sublime of all his scores, is in a position to make claims for No. 5 in D major K593. This claim can rattle many students until clarity dawns with time.

It is strange that of the 23 string quartets he wrote before 1733 and then stopped using this medium for the next nine years that resulted between 1782 and 1785 to produce six quartets that inspired his friend Haydn, who played the first violin to Mozart's violin in quartet performances.

The stunning variations found in No. 4 G minor K516, appeared a rewarding moment for ensemble. Mozart was passionate about this quintet by its opening slow movement though it was not the way he wanted but somehow he accepted its debuting moment because of its creativity and the charm with which the brilliance was brought together, tied-up without a pause or lapse to gently away in coda the way most of Mozart's works comes to an end.

His mind contained such gifts that are beyond the comprehension of ordinary mortals. At the age of 35 before he died the phenomenon he was, is history, divine and like God-given. Thereby, Mozart is arguably the most naturally gifted musician in history.

Like the wide ocean, his mind had no limited boundaries as the breathtaking foam upon ripples, stretching one end of eternity to heights of heaven where angels get entangled on those strings, in his melody.

That was his music, no depth, no height but human spirit in abundance on these strings,. A composer, who could hear his lengthy works and write them down not by notes afterwards and score a complicated piece while planning another.

(This article is dedicated to Malcolm Cardinal Ranjith for his commitment to classical music.)