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Thread: The Mannheim Rocket

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    Member vavaving's Avatar
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    Default The Mannheim Rocket

    It sounds intriguing:

    - "The Mannheim Rocket is a series of rapidly ascending broken chords from the lowest range of the bass line to the very top of the soprano line"

    - "A swiftly ascending melodic figure"

    - "Rapid upward arpeggio over a large range, combined with a crescendo"


    You know, I've listened extensively to orchestrations of the Mannheim School, yet it hasn't occured to me that a rocket has flown by at any point during the movements. Did rockets even exist in those days? Anyway, I'd like to hear some examples of this infamous Mannheim Rocket! If you please, do point out the time at which this sequence takes place in a recording or two...

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    Quote Originally Posted by vavaving View Post
    Anyway, I'd like to hear some examples of this infamous Mannheim Rocket!
    Infamous? Why?

    Well known examples:
    the first movement of Beethoven's first piano sonata,
    the last movement of Mozart's Serenade Eine Kleine Nachmusik, and of the 40th symphony.

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    Infamous because "Mannheim Steamroller" borrowed the name and little else...
    The well known examples aren't from Mannheim composers, after all.

    I'm thinking it would be nice to know at what point in the movements the rocket blasts off, so to speak: given a particular recording, how much time has elapsed since the track began? That kind of thing.

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    Quote Originally Posted by vavaving View Post
    I'm thinking it would be nice to know at what point in the movements the rocket blasts off, so to speak: given a particular recording, how much time has elapsed since the track began? That kind of thing.
    The very first notes at the opening of the last movement of Mozart's 40th Symphony are a superb example (as mentioned above). The name 'rocket' refers to fireworks, which had existed in China for centuries and Europe for some time prior to the Mannheim School. The rocket is very often found right at the opening of a movement (and therefore also at the repeat of the Exposition and the beginning of the recapitulation in a Sonata-form movement). You're right about the best known examples not being in compositions by the Mannheim School, but this is because we aren't as familiar with the music of Stamitz and Cannabich as earlier audiences would have been. Sic transit gloria mundi....

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    Thanks, I'm not entirely sure though as I don't yet know of many examples to compare; perhaps someone can listen to this sample and point out whether its featured and at what point in time:
    Gossec's Symphony in G major, op. 12 no. 2 (sound clip from Encarta)

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    It's just a rising arpeggio. Like the first seven notes in the aforementioned Beethoven sonata.

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    That sounds more like a bottle rocket.

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    Quote Originally Posted by YsayeOp.27#6 View Post
    the first movement of Beethoven's first piano sonata.
    An even better example comes at the beginning of the last movement of his second sonata, Op.2 No.2.

    The last movement of Schubert's A minor piano sonata D.784 has several fiery 'rockets' in contrary motion. Very difficult to play, particularly the irregular ones.

    Another example comes at the beginning of the first movement of Schubert's 'Trout' Quintet.

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    This is great there should be more of this kind of thread, it is amazing what comes up

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    The mannheim rocket is a common transitional passage in the sonata form, it often occurs in the transition from the thematic material, usually when doing a transitional modulation. Eg. Haydns sonata 52 in D major. But sometimes it is used as a thematic material as well, like in Haydn's E minor sonata, and this is one of the most interesting procedures of this brilliant sonata as it plays with the distinction of theme and acessorial material and makes smoother the transition from development to recapitulation.

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