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Classical Music

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 Language Learning Forum : Music, Movies, TV & Radio Post Reply
19 messages over 3 pages: 1 2 3  Next >>
Josquin
Heptaglot
Senior Member
Germany
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Speaks: German*, English, French, Latin, Italian, Russian, Swedish
Studies: Japanese, Irish, Portuguese, Persian

 
 Message 1 of 19
31 August 2011 at 11:39pm | IP Logged 
Hello everybody,

what has classical music got to do with language learning? Good question! But I do not think that those two are very much apart. Indeed, classical music can be a very good trigger for language learning! Just think of all the Italian terminology in classical music, or even of all the Italian operas by Verdi, Rossini, Mozart etc. Those interested in German will find classical music interesting as well. What about Wagner's operas, "Die Zauberflöte" by Mozart, "Fidelio" by Beethoven or Brahms's "German Requiem"? Even the Latinists will be interested in classical music taking into account that nearly all church music has been written in Latin. So, why not listen to Bachs "Mass in B minor", Mozarts "Great Mass in C minor" or Beethovens "Missa Solemnis"?
What do you like about classical music? Is it an incentive for your target languages? Or isn't music a language itself that has to be learned? I'm hoping for an active discussion.

Best wishes,

Josquin
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Iversen
Super Polyglot
Moderator
Denmark
berejst.dk
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9084 posts - 16476 votes 
Speaks: Danish*, French, English, German, Italian, Spanish, Portuguese, Dutch, Swedish, Esperanto, Romanian, Catalan
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 Message 2 of 19
01 September 2011 at 1:10am | IP Logged 
My first impetus for learning Italian was actually the Italian terms in musical scores (I composed music myself back then). But apart from that the connection has been very indirect. Not only do I prefer instrumental music, but insofar opera texts can be heard at all they don't represent the kind of language I want to speak. So the only directly relevant element is the titles of the pieces. There is an indirect connection: listening to music from a certain language can put you into the mood for reading or listening to a certain language. But I can also get into the mood for reading French or Russian while listening to German music, so the connection isn't very strong.

PS: did you choose your nick because of Josquin DesPrez?

Edited by Iversen on 01 September 2011 at 1:13am

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nway
Senior Member
United States
youtube.com/user/Vic
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Speaks: English*
Studies: Spanish, Mandarin, Japanese, Korean

 
 Message 4 of 19
01 September 2011 at 4:31am | IP Logged 
Classical music is actually one of the three principle reasons for why I'd like to learn German (the other two being the friendliness and intelligence of German-speaking peoples, and how well their economies are doing). I actually can't stand opera or lied (or most post-Pergolesi vocal classical music), so oddly enough, instrumental music by the likes of Mahler and Bruckner is my principal inspiration for learning German. That said, most of my favorite classical music is from the early classical era (think Il Giardino Armonico and Musica Antiqua Köln), which of course was long before nationalist-conscious German composers started titling their works using German rather than Italian terminology.

I've never liked French classical music all that much, and non-operatic Italian classical music for the most part lost relevance post-Vivaldi, so since the Russian language has traditionally played third to Italian and particularly French for most of the pre-Soviet Russian musical canon, that leaves a bunch of smaller languages that individually never had nearly the degree of activity that the big four (IT/FR/DE/RU) non-English European languages have had. Unfortunately, I don't love Bartók/Liszt/Ligeti, Dvořák, Grieg, Sibelius, Villa-Lobos, or even Chopin enough to learn Hungarian, Czech, Norwegian, Finnish, Portuguese, or Polish, respectively.

I suppose the oddball out that I forgot to mention is Spanish, due to its classical guitar canon, but I'm already learning that anyway, and I definitely wouldn't learn it solely for the sake of Spanish classical guitar—ditto for Japanese with respect to Takemitsu. ~.~
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Josquin
Heptaglot
Senior Member
Germany
Joined 2798 days ago

2266 posts - 3992 votes 
Speaks: German*, English, French, Latin, Italian, Russian, Swedish
Studies: Japanese, Irish, Portuguese, Persian

 
 Message 5 of 19
01 September 2011 at 11:38am | IP Logged 
Hello Iversen,

yes, I chose my nickname after Josquin Desprez. But only, because I like the sound of that name, not because I am such a big fan of his. Well, I do like his music, but there are a few Renaissance composers which I value far more than him, especially the English composers Thomas Tallis and William Byrd.

Dear nway,

you're right. It's the four big languages IT/FR/DE/RU which dominate in opera. I would not learn, for example, Czech to understand Dvořák's "Rusalka" or "The Bartered Bride" either. But I have been tempted to learn Russian for some time now and it would come in rather handy to be able to understand Tchaikovsky's "Eugene Onegin" as a positive side-effect.
Unfortunately there is not much of English vocal music in the classical repertoire except for some vernacular church music by Tallis, Sheppard and the likes and for Britten's "War Requiem" of course. Oh, nearly forgot Handel's "Messiah" which is really a good reason for learning English.
I am not much into French music myself either. For example, I do not own a single recording of a French opera. But it's a great gift of being able to understand all the German music that is about: Mozart, Beethoven, Brahms, Wagner, Schubert and Schumann, for example - as much as it is a gift of being able to understand the rich German literature.
Last, but not least, there is Italian. I really love that language but I do not like most of the operas written in it. I adore Mozart's "Le nozze di Figaro" and I also like "Don Giovanni" and "Così fan tutte", but I am not a fan of Rossini's or Verdi's. So, yes, classical music definitely is an incentive for my language learning even though it may not be of crucial importance.
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g-bod
Diglot
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United KingdomRegistered users can see my Skype Name
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 Message 6 of 19
01 September 2011 at 2:01pm | IP Logged 
I would say that I have always considered my interest in music to be quite seperate to my interest in languages. I'm not such a fan of choral music (beyond some of the rennaissance masters you mention) and I do not particularly enjoy opera. I don't think you need particular linguistic abilities to appreciate instrumental music any better, although I did rather enjoy reading Satie's performance instructions once my French was at a reasonable level.

As for whether music is another language? I've started thinking about this long and hard and there are certainly parallels. It's a way of communicating via sound which also has a literary tradition of sorts in the form of scores. There are rules of harmony and rhythm which some would say must be learned like a grammar perhaps? When I studied it at university I was even introduced to a method of semiotic analysis which has its roots in linguistic theory. And yet I'm still not comfortable with this analogy, as my gut feeling is that all this talk of rules and analysis belongs in the classroom rather than the concert hall. You don't need to understand music to appreciate, or even fall in love with it.
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Josquin
Heptaglot
Senior Member
Germany
Joined 2798 days ago

2266 posts - 3992 votes 
Speaks: German*, English, French, Latin, Italian, Russian, Swedish
Studies: Japanese, Irish, Portuguese, Persian

 
 Message 8 of 19
01 September 2011 at 4:01pm | IP Logged 
Oh my God, Kuikentje, I absolutely forgot about Purcell, Fauré, Puccini and Mahler. Of course I like them all very much! On the contrary, I cannot understand how one can hate "Le nozze di Figaro". It's the best opera ever written IMHO!


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