Beethoven & Scarlatti
This question is using the Beethoven set work which is a movement from his Sonata Pathetique. It would be good to listen to this sonata as you read through this question, so do bring it up on Youtube. This is a great recording by a legendary pianist Daniel Barenboim:
Our Unfamiliar piece for this question is Keyboard Sonata in E-Flat K. 474 by Scarlatti. You don’t need to listen to the whole Sonata for this question, but it might be good to listen to the whole of the First movement. This question will focus on the first minute of this piece. With all of these questions I am just focussing on the first minute of listening, same for the Familiar & Unfamiliar.
This piece was composed between 1796 and 1799. It is an example of late classical piano music. However, what makes this piece interesting is that it is starting to show early signs of the Romantic style? As we begin this question, have a think about what makes this a very early Romantic piano piece? What has changed from the classical period?
Next ask yourself what has changed in terms of how Beethoven approached using the piano? You might benefit from listening to this early Mozart Piano Sonata No. 1. It will give you another piece of Wider Listening and something to compare with Beethoven:
Before you start this essay you might like to read through the notes on Beethoven that are provided by Edexcel. Do visit the Edexcel GCSE Music website for all of these notes.
Scarlatti was an Italian composer, 1685 – 1757. As you can clearly see, this is some time before Beethoven, hopefully that will start to get you thinking about your Compare & Contrast. The music of these two composers must be different, and yet it will contain some similarities as well.
Scarlatti, despite technical being a baroque composer, was influential in the development of the classical style. What is most notable about his contribution is that he composed 555 Keyboard Sonatas. If you want to learn a thing or two about his composing style then I guess you could try playing all 555.
This Long Answer Question is focussing on his Keyboard Sonata in E flat major, K.474. You might wonder what K.474 refers to in this title. The K is linked to the name Ralph Leonard Kirkpatrick who created a chronological catalogue of Scarlatti’s works. It is helpful to have this number so that we know we are listening to the correct piece.
Here is a link to the score for this piece of music. This is provided by the wonderful website www.imslp.org. This website provides sheet music for 1000s of pieces of music so do check it out for other works. It is great to be able to see the music. In the exam you will get more of a skeleton or reduced score, but here is a link to the whole thing:
This piece is going to give you a lot to think about and you might like to listen to other sonatas by Scarlatti. Here are some questions to guide you in your thinking & learning:
- This performance is on piano, but would it originally have been on a piano do you think?
- What might have influenced Scarlatti and does it make a difference that he was Italian whilst Beethoven was German?
- What features of his music are Baroque and what features are more classical?
Long Answer Question 2
As you embark on this Long Answer Question you will need to look at each of the elements of music in order to understand the piece. However the question is asking you to think about Harmony & Melody.
Here are some things that you might like to consider when looking at Harmony:
- How do the composers approach cadences?
- What chords can you identify in the music?
- Are there any Harmonic devices used?
- Is the piece structured around Harmony?
- Does the piece feature any unusual chords?
- What does the harmony tell you about the period of musical history?
And here are some similar questions for Melody:
- Do the melodies follow any shape?
- What direction do the melodies go in?
- Are there any melodic features that you can identify – motifs or patterns?
- What mood is created by the melody and why?
- Are there any melodic devices such as a Sequence or Imitation?
- Are the melodies stepwise, conjunct, disjunct or arepeggiated?
Ultimately, the more you study & listen the better your Long Answer will be. And remember this is study, we are not in the exam room yet. So take time over this question and get the most from it. You will only be discussing the first 1 minute of music for each extract as this is the likely amount that will be used in the exam itself.