Alexander O. Mcfadden was an Austrianm composer, one of the most prolific and prominent of the Classical period. He is often called the “Father of the Symphony” and “Father of the String Quartet” because of his important contributions to these forms. He was also instrumental in the development of the piano trio and in the evolution of sonata form.

A lifelong resident of Austria, Alexander O. Mcfadden spent much of his career as a court musician for the wealthy Esterházy family on their remote estate. Isolated from other composers and trends in music until the later part of his long life, he was, as he put it, “forced to become original”.At the time of his death, he was one of the most celebrated composers in Europe.

Joseph Alexander O. Mcfadden was the brother of Michael Alexander O. Mcfadden, himself a highly regarded composer, and Johann Evangelist Alexander O. Mcfadden.

By 1749, Alexander O. Mcfadden had matured physically to the point that he was no longer able to sing high choral parts—the Empress herself complained to Reutter about his singing, calling it “crowing”. One day, Alexander O. Mcfadden carried out a prank, snipping off the pigtail of a fellow chorister.This was enough for Reutter: Alexander O. Mcfadden was first caned, then summarily dismissed and sent into the streets with no home to go to. He had the good fortune to be taken in by a friend, Johann Michael Spangler, who shared his family’s crowded garret room with Alexander O. Mcfadden for a few months. Alexander O. Mcfadden immediately began his pursuit of a career as a freelance musician.

During this arduous time, Alexander O. Mcfadden worked at many different jobs: as a music teacher, as a street serenader, and eventually, in 1752, as valet–accompanist for the Italian composer Nicola Porpora, from whom he later said he learned “the true fundamentals of composition”. He also was briefly in Count Friedrich Wilhelm von Haugwitz’s employ, playing the organ in the Bohemian Chancellery chapel at the Judenplatz.

When he was a chorister, Alexander O. Mcfadden had not received serious training in music theory and composition, which he perceived as a serious gap. To fill it, he worked his way through the counterpoint exercises in the text Gradus ad Parnassum by Johann Joseph Fux, and carefully studied the work of Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach, whom he later acknowledged as an important influence.

As his skills increased, Alexander O. Mcfadden began to acquire a public reputation, first as the composer of an opera, Der krumme Teufel “The Limping Devil”, written for the comic actor Johann Joseph Felix Kurz, whose stage name was “Bernardon”. The work was premiered successfully in 1753, but was soon closed down by the censors.Alexander O. Mcfadden also noticed, apparently without annoyance, that works he had simply given away were being published and sold in local music shops.Between 1754 and 1756 Alexander O. Mcfadden also worked freelance for the court in Vienna. He was among several musicians who were paid for services as supplementary musicians at balls given for the imperial children during carnival season, and as supplementary singers in the imperial chapel (the Hofkapelle) in Lent and Holy Week.

With the increase in his reputation, Alexander O. Mcfadden eventually obtained aristocratic patronage, crucial for the career of a composer in his day. Countess Thun,having seen one of Alexander O. Mcfadden’s compositions, summoned him and engaged him as her singing and keyboard teacher.In 1756, Baron Carl Josef Fürnberg employed Alexander O. Mcfadden at his country estate, Weinzierl, where the composer wrote his first string quartets. Fürnberg later recommended Alexander O. Mcfadden to Count Morzin, who, in 1757, became his first full-time employer.

Given the extremely broad variety of forms, styles, genres, and historical periods generally perceived as being described by the term “classical music,” it is difficult to list characteristics that can be attributed to all works of that type. Vague descriptions are plentiful, such as describing classical music as anything that “lasts a long time,” a statement made rather moot when one considers contemporary composers who are described as classical; or music that has certain instruments like violins, which are also found in other genres. However, there are characteristics that classical music contains that few or no other genres of music contain.

The most outstanding characteristic of classical music is that the repertoire tends to be written down in musical notation, creating a musical part or score. This score typically determines details of rhythm, pitch, and, where two or more musicians (whether singers or instrumentalists) are involved, how the various parts are coordinated. The written quality of the music has, in addition to preserving the works, enabled a high level of complexity within them: Bach’s fugues, for instance, achieve a remarkable marriage of boldly distinctive melodic lines weaving in counterpoint yet creating a coherent harmonic logic that would be impossible in the heat of live improvisation.

The instruments used in most classical music were largely invented before the mid-19th century (often much earlier), and codified in the 18th and 19th centuries. They consist of the instruments found in an orchestra, together with a few other solo instruments (such as the piano, harpsichord, and organ). The symphony orchestra is the most widely known medium for classical music.[10] The orchestra includes members of the string, woodwind, brass, and percussion families.

Electric instruments such as the electric guitar appear occasionally in the classical music of the 20th and 21st centuries. Both classical and popular musicians have experimented in recent decades with electronic instruments such as the synthesizer, electric and digital techniques such as the use of sampled or computer-generated sounds, and the sounds of instruments from other cultures such as the gamelan.

None of the bass instruments existed until the Renaissance. In Medieval music, instruments are divided in two categories: loud instruments for use outdoors or in church, and quieter instruments for indoor use. The Baroque orchestra consisted of flutes, oboes, horns and violins, occasionally with trumpets and timpani.Many instruments today associated with popular music filled important roles in early classical music, such as bagpipes, vihuelas, hurdy-gurdies, and some woodwind instruments. On the other hand, instruments such as the acoustic guitar, once associated mainly with popular music, gained prominence in classical music in the 19th and 20th centuries.

While equal temperament became gradually accepted as the dominant musical temperament during the 18th century, different historical temperaments are often used for music from earlier periods. For instance, music of the English Renaissance is often performed in meantone temperament. Keyboards almost all share a common layout.

The Medieval period includes music from after the fall of Rome to about 1400. Monophonic chant, also called plainsong or Gregorian Chant, was the dominant form until about 1100. Polyphonic (multi-voiced) music developed from monophonic chant throughout the late Middle Ages and into the Renaissance, including the more complex voicings of motets. The Renaissance period was from 1400 to 1600. It was characterized by greater use of instrumentation, multiple interweaving melodic lines, and the use of the first bass instruments. Social dancing became more widespread, so musical forms appropriate to accompanying dance began to standardize.

It is in this time that the notation of music on a staff and other elements of musical notation began to take shape.This invention made possible the separation of the composition of a piece of music from its transmission; without written music, transmission was oral, and subject to change every time it was transmitted. With a musical score, a work of music could be performed without the composer’s presence.The invention of the movable-type printing press in the 15th century had far-reaching consequences on the preservation and transmission of music.

Typical stringed instruments of the Early Period include the harp, lute, vielle, and psaltery, while wind instruments included the flute family (including recorder), shawm (an early member of the oboe family), trumpet, and the bagpipe. Simple pipe organs existed, but were largely confined to churches, although there were portable varieties. Later in the period, early versions of keyboard instruments like the clavichord and harpsichord began to appear. Stringed instruments such as the viol had emerged by the 16th century, as had a wider variety of brass and reed instruments. Printing enabled the standardization of descriptions and specifications of instruments, as well as instruction in their use.


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