Impressionism (French: impressionnisme, from impression – impression), the direction in art of the last third of the XIX – beginning of XX centuries.
The application of the term “impressionism” to music is largely arbitrary – musical impressionism does not constitute a direct analogy to impressionism in painting and does not coincide chronologically with it (its heyday was the 90s of the 19th century and the 1st decade of the 20th century).
Impressionism arose in France when a group of artists – C. Monet, C. Pissarro, A. Sis-lei, E. Degas, O. Renoir and others – made their original paintings at Parisian exhibitions of the 70s. Their art sharply differed from the smooth and faceless works of the then academic painters: the Impressionists came out of the walls of the workshops into the free air, learned to reproduce the play of living colors of nature, the sparkle of sunlight, the colorful highlights on the moving river surface, the motley color of the festive crowd.The painters used a special technique of runaway smears, which seemed erratic near, and at a distance gave rise to a real feeling of a lively play of colors, bizarre overflows of light. The freshness of the instant impression was combined in their canvases with the subtlety and sophistication of psychological moods.
Later, in the 80-90s, the ideas of impressionism and partly its creative techniques found expression in French music. Two composers – K. Debussy and M. Ravel – most vividly represent the course of impressionism in music. In their piano and orchestral plays-sketches with a special harmonic and modal novelty, the sensations expressed by the contemplation of nature are expressed. The noise of the surf, the splash of the stream, the rustle of the forest, the morning twitter of birds merge in their works with the deeply personal experiences of the musician-poet, who is in love with the beauty of the world. Both of them loved folk music – French, Spanish, Oriental, admired its unique brilliance.
The main thing in musical impressionism is the transfer of moods, acquiring the meaning of symbols, subtle psychological nuances, a tendency to poetic landscape programming. Refined fiction, poetry of antiquity, exoticism, interest in timbre and harmonic colorfulness are also characteristic of it. With the main line of impressionism in painting, he is related by an enthusiastic attitude towards life; moments of acute conflict, social contradictions in it cost.
The classical expression “musical impressionism” was found in the work of C. Debussy; his features also appeared in the music of M. Ravel, P. Duke, F. Schmitt, J. J. Roger-Ducas and other French composers.
Debussy is rightfully considered the initiator of musical impressionism, enriching all aspects of contemporary composer art – melodics, harmony, orchestration, form. His pioneering experiments were partly inspired by the outstanding discoveries of Russian realist composers, primarily M.P. Mussorgsky. At the same time, he embraced the ideas of new French painting and symbolist poetry. Debussy wrote many piano and vocal miniatures, several pieces for chamber ensembles, three ballets, and the lyric opera Pelléas and Meli-zanda.
Musical impressionism inherited many features of the art of late romanticism and national music schools of the XIX century. (The Mighty Handful, F. Liszt, E. Grieg, and others.). At the same time, the impressionist contrasted the art of restrained emotions and transparent, mean texture, fluent variability of images to a clear relief of contours, pure materiality and oversaturation of the musical palette of late romantics.
The creativity of the impressionist composers in many ways enriched the expressive means of music, especially the sphere of harmony, which reached great beauty and sophistication; the complexity of chord complexes is combined with the simplification and archaization of modal thinking; in the orchestration, pure colors, whimsical glare, rhythms of unsteady and elusive prevail. The colorfulness of the harmonic and timbre means comes to the fore: the expressive value of each sound, chord is enhanced, previously unknown possibilities of expanding the mode of the sphere are revealed. A special freshness to the music of the Impressionists was given by their frequent appeal to song-dance genres, to the elements of the musical language of the peoples of the East, Spain, and the early forms of Negro jazz.
Spiritual paintings of nature with amazing, almost visible concreteness are conveyed in his orchestral plays: “Preludes to“ Afternoon Faun “”, in the cycle “Nocturnes” (“Clouds”, “Festivities” and “Sirens”), three sketches “Sea”, cycle “Iberia” (three sketches of nature and life in southern Spain), as well as in piano miniatures “Island of Joy”, “Moonlight”, “Gardens in the Rain” and others. The works of Maurice Ravel (1875-1937) reflected a later era. The picture of his works is sharper, sharper, the colors are sharper and more contrasting – from tragic pathos to ulcers tion of irony. But in his compositional style is also found zvukopis sophisticated, complex and variegated play of colors, typical of the musical impressionism.