The History of Program Music and its Composers

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Since the ancient times, music has been used to mimic the sounds of life and nature, real or imagined (Hoffman para. 2). As musicians wanted to build a bridge between literature and music, various sounds from animals and nature like tweets, cuckoos, toots, shrieks, cries, horns blowing, hiccups, roars, rain pouring, wind blowing and the like are being used to form a coherent musical composition that conveys a story or a plot.


Liszt calls composers of programme music as "poetizing symphonsts" (F. Niecks 278). Furthermore, he also strived to be able to distinguish the programme and its object. He claims that "the programme has no other object than to indicate preparatively the spiritual moments which impelled the composer to create his work, the thoughts which he endeavoured to incorporate in it. It would be childishly idle, indeed in most cases a mistake, subsequently to devise programmes and wish to explain the emotional content of an instrumental poem, as then the word must destroy the charm, desecrate the feelings, and tear the finest webs of the soul, which assumed just this form because it could not be put into words, pictures, and ideas." (qtd. from F. Niecks 279).
As programme music is described as music that tells a story or portrays a scene, it is distinct from the abstract classical music composition in the sense that the music was chosen to suit the programme, story, poem, or scene (Schmidt-Jones para. 18). ...
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