Influences | Storm & Stress | Classical Era | Classical
The literary movement known as Sturm und Drang (‘Storm and Stress’) takes its name from a play of 1776 by Maximilian Klinger, about the American Revolution. Confined to the German-speaking lands, although it had parallels elsewhere, it contradicted (or reacted to) much current ‘enlightened’ thinking by emphasizing the emotional, the passionate, the irrational, the terrifying. It belonged initially in the theatre, where it was taken up by Friedrich von Schiller, especially in Die Raüber (‘The Robber’, 1780–81), and Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, and passed to the graphic arts – the paintings of John Henry Fuseli, and the fashion for storms and shipwrecks and gothic dungeons. Other manifestations of the same spirit are found in the pseudo-primitive Ossian ballads. In music, the melodramas popular in northern Germany, by Georg Benda (1722–95) in particular, show the agitation and terror typical of the movement. A strong case can be argued for Haydn being influenced by Sturm und Drang in his symphonies of this time, those with numbers in the 40s, several of them in minor keys and passionate in tone; minor-key symphonies by others (Johann Baptist Vanhal, 1739–1813, J. C. Bach, Mozart) should be included, too, among the products of this curious outburst, which subsided after some five years, as suddenly as it had arrived.
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