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Mannheim school

Classical Period

Mannheim School

Mannheim school  refers to  an important group of German composers (mid 18th century) who wrote music for the court  orchestra of Charles-Theodore (1724-1799) in Mannheim . The term also refers  to the orchestral  techniques  pioneered by the same orchestra. Johann Stamitz (1717-1757), director of the Mannheim orchestra   launched an entirely new style of orchestral music, laying the foundations of the symphonic style of classical Viennese School.
The most notable of the revolutionary techniques of the Mannheim orchestra :
melodic prominence of the Violins in a non contrapunctual  but rather an homophonic texture. Abandonment  of imitation and fugal style. Presto character in quick movements. Use of  extended crescendos,  unexpected fortes  and long pauses. Use of orchestral  effects like tremolo and broken chords in quick notes. The basso continuo (thoroughbass) was replaced by written orchestral parts.
The ideas for this new style was  already in the music of many music composers  like G. B.Sammartini (1701-1775)  which is considered to  pave the way  for Haydn, Mozart and Beethoven.
Karl and Anton Stamitz, sons of Johann,  were to continue the work of their father
The importance of school Manheim  as the founders of the  modern symphony  was brought to light by Hugo Riemann (1848-1919), a German theorist and composer.

                             Johann Stamitz: Mannheim Sinfonia in A major

Johann Stamitz (1717-1757)

Czech composer and violinist. His  music is stylistically  in transition between  Baroque and  classicism. Little is known about his life. He studied for a year at the University of Prague (1734-1735). The left to pursue a career as a virtuoso violinist. We do not  know much about  his  activities until his appointment to the court of Mannheim, about 1742.
He married Maria Antonia Luneborn in 1744. They had five children  but only three were to survive.
It is possible that he went to Paris in the summer of 1754 for a year, at the invitation of a music patron. He appeared to the Parisian public and he published  his Orchestral trios op1  (in fact they were symphonies for string orchestra). Maybe he published some other works too. He probably  returned to Manheim in 1755 where he died in 1757 at the age of 39. HIs  most important  works are the 58 symphonies  and  his 10 trios for orchestra.

His Innovations in the Classical Symphony
from wikipedia,the free encyclopedia

Johann Stamitz's expanded orchestration included important wind parts. His symphonies of the 1750s are scored in eight parts: four strings, two horns and two oboes, although flutes or clarinets may substitute for the oboes. Horns provided not only a harmonic backdrop for strings but solo lines as well, and he was also one of the first composers to write independent lines for oboes.
The chief innovation in Stamitz's symphonic works is their four-movement structure: fast - slow - minuet and trio - dashing Presto or Prestissimo finale. While prior isolated four-movement symphonies exist, Stamitz was the first composer to use it consistently: well over half his symphonies and nine of his ten orchestral trios are in four movements. He also contributed to the development of sonata form, most often used in symphonic first movements but occasionally in finales (when not in rondo form) and even slow movements (when not in ABA ternary song form) as well.
Stamitz also adapted and extended traits originally developed in Italian opera in his instrumental works. He added innovative dynamic devices such as extended crescendos, simple tutti chordal textures and slow harmonic rhythm. Like Italian operas, Stamitz's compositions have a strong sense of rhythmic drive and distinctive thematic material.

                         Stamitz Clarinet Concerto No.1 in F Major, I. Allegro

Willi Apel: Harvard dictionary of music, second edition, eighth printing

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