Performance | Rockets & Sighs | Classical Era | Classical
A group of composers at the electoral court of Mannheim between about 1740 and 1778 developed a style which was to be important both to the development of the orchestra and to the history of the symphony. They were best known for their dynamic effects, influenced by Italian opera, which included a kind of crescendo passage, known as a ‘roller’, that was apparently so thrilling that audiences would rise in their seats with it, and perhaps more famously the ‘Mannheim rocket’, a leaping triad, and the ‘Mannheim sigh’, an expressive falling phrase. The high performance standards of the orchestra members perhaps encouraged this flamboyant compositional style; they knew how to exploit their talents to create new and bold effects.
The orchestra’s first musical director, Stamitz, was also extremely influential in the early development of the symphony; he was strongly influenced by the style of the Italian overture, and was the first composer to write symphonies consistently in four movements (with a minuet). He favoured a large orchestra usually with a full wind section, and developed new and imaginative instrumental styles, giving more emphasis to the wind section. His sons and his pupils, most notably Christian Cannabich (1731–98), continued his developments in the second half of the century.
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