Romantic music

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Romantic music is a stylistic movement in Western classical music associated with the period spanning the nineteenth century, commonly referred to as the Romantic era (or Romantic period). It is closely related to the broader concept of Romanticism—the intellectual, artistic and literary movement that became prominent in Europe from approximately 1800 until 1850.

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Romantic composers sought to create music that was individualistic, emotional, dramatic and often programmatic; reflecting broader trends within the movements of Romantic literature, poetry, art and philosophy. Romantic music was often ostensibly inspired by (or else sought to evoke) non-musical stimuli, such as nature, literature, poetry or the plastic arts.

Influential composers of the early Romantic era include Ludwig van Beethoven, Carl Maria von Weber, Franz Schubert, Felix Mendelssohn, John Field, Gioachino Rossini, Vincenzo Bellini, Gaetano Donizetti, Giacomo Meyerbeer, Robert Schumann, Frédéric Chopin, and Hector Berlioz. Later nineteenth-century composers would appear to build upon certain early Romantic ideas and musical techniques, such as the use of extended chromatic harmony and expanded orchestration. Such later Romantic composers include Bruckner, Brahms, Tchaikovsky, Dvořák, Liszt, Wagner, Mahler, Richard Strauss, Verdi, Puccini, Sibelius, Elgar, Grieg, Saint-Saëns, Fauré, Rachmaninoff, and Franck.

Background

Wanderer Above the Sea of Fog, by Caspar David Friedrich is an example of Romantic painting. Caspar David Friedrich - Wanderer above the sea of fog.jpg
Wanderer Above the Sea of Fog, by Caspar David Friedrich is an example of Romantic painting.

The Romantic movement was an artistic, literary, and intellectual movement that originated in the second half of the 18th century in Europe and strengthened in reaction to the Industrial Revolution ( Encyclopædia Britannica n.d. ). In part, it was a revolt against social and political norms of the Age of Enlightenment and a reaction against the scientific rationalization of nature ( Casey 2008 ). It was embodied most strongly in the visual arts, music, and literature, but had a major impact on historiography ( Levin 1959 , [ page needed ]) and education ( Gutek 1995 , 220–54), and was in turn influenced by developments in natural history ( Nichols 2005 , 308–309).

One of the first significant applications of the term to music was in 1789, in the Mémoires by the Frenchman André Grétry, but it was E.T.A. Hoffmann who really established the principles of musical romanticism, in a lengthy review of Ludwig van Beethoven's Fifth Symphony published in 1810, and in an 1813 article on Beethoven's instrumental music. In the first of these essays Hoffmann traced the beginnings of musical Romanticism to the later works of Haydn and Mozart. It was Hoffmann's fusion of ideas already associated with the term "Romantic", used in opposition to the restraint and formality of Classical models, that elevated music, and especially instrumental music, to a position of pre-eminence in Romanticism as the art most suited to the expression of emotions. It was also through the writings of Hoffmann and other German authors that German music was brought to the centre of musical Romanticism ( Samson 2001 ).

Traits

Characteristics often attributed to Romanticism:

Such lists, however, proliferated over time, resulting in a "chaos of antithetical phenomena", criticized for their superficiality and for signifying so many different things that there came to be no central meaning. The attributes have also been criticized for being too vague. For example, features of the "ghostly and supernatural" could apply equally to Mozart's Don Giovanni from 1787 and Stravinsky's The Rake's Progress from 1951 ( Kravitt 1992 , 93–95).

In music there is a relatively clear dividing line in musical structure and form following the death of Beethoven. Whether one counts Beethoven as a "romantic" composer or not, the breadth and power of his work gave rise to a feeling that the classical sonata form and, indeed, the structure of the symphony, sonata and string quartet had been exhausted. Schumann, Schubert, Berlioz and other early-Romantic composers tended to look in alternative directions.[ citation needed ] Some characteristics of Romantic music include [ citation needed ]:

Non-musical influences

Events and changes in society such as ideas, attitudes, discoveries, inventions, and historical events often affect music. For example, the Industrial Revolution was in full effect by the late 18th century and early 19th century. This event had a profound effect on music: there were major improvements in the mechanical valves and keys that most woodwinds and brass instruments depend on. The new and innovative instruments could be played with greater ease and they were more reliable ( Schmidt-Jones and Jones 2004 , 3).

Another development that had an effect on music was the rise of the middle class. Composers before this period lived on the patronage of the aristocracy. Many times their audience was small, composed mostly of the upper class and individuals who were knowledgeable about music ( Schmidt-Jones and Jones 2004 , 3). The Romantic composers, on the other hand, often wrote for public concerts and festivals, with large audiences of paying customers, who had not necessarily had any music lessons ( Schmidt-Jones and Jones 2004 , 3). Composers of the Romantic Era, like Elgar, showed the world that there should be "no segregation of musical tastes" ( Young 1967 , 525) and that the "purpose was to write music that was to be heard" ( Young 1967 , 527).

Nationalism

During the Romantic period, music often took on a much more nationalistic purpose. For example, Jean Sibelius' Finlandia has been interpreted to represent the rising nation of Finland, which would someday gain independence from Russian control ( Child 2006 ). Frédéric Chopin was one of the first composers to incorporate nationalistic elements into his compositions. Joseph Machlis states, "Poland's struggle for freedom from tsarist rule aroused the national poet in Poland. … Examples of musical nationalism abound in the output of the romantic era. The folk idiom is prominent in the Mazurkas of Chopin" ( Machlis 1963 , 149–50). His mazurkas and polonaises are particularly notable for their use of nationalistic rhythms. Moreover, "During World War II the Nazis forbade the playing of … Chopin's Polonaises in Warsaw because of the powerful symbolism residing in these works" ( Machlis 1963 , 150). Other composers, such as Bedřich Smetana, wrote pieces that musically described their homelands; in particular, Smetana's Vltava is a symphonic poem about the Moldau River in the modern-day Czech Republic and the second in a cycle of six nationalistic symphonic poems collectively titled Má vlast (My Homeland) ( Grunfeld 1974 , 112–13). Smetana also composed eight nationalist operas, all of which remain in the repertory. They established him as the first Czech nationalist composer as well as the most important Czech opera composer of the generation who came to prominence in the 1860s ( Ottlová, Tyrrell, and Pospíšil 2001 ).

See also

Related Research Articles

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Romanticism was an artistic, literary, musical and intellectual movement that originated in Europe toward the end of the 18th century, and in most areas was at its peak in the approximate period from 1800 to 1850. Romanticism was characterized by its emphasis on emotion and individualism as well as glorification of all the past and nature, preferring the medieval rather than the classical. It was partly a reaction to the Industrial Revolution, the aristocratic social and political norms of the Age of Enlightenment, and the scientific rationalization of nature—all components of modernity. It was embodied most strongly in the visual arts, music, and literature, but had a major impact on historiography, education, the social sciences, and the natural sciences. It had a significant and complex effect on politics, with romantic thinkers influencing liberalism, radicalism, conservatism and nationalism.

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Neo-romanticism literary movement

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Tonality Arrangements of pitches or chords to induce a hierarchy of perceived relations, stabilities, and attractions

Tonality is the arrangement of pitches and/or chords of a musical work in a hierarchy of perceived relations, stabilities, attractions and directionality. In this hierarchy, the single pitch or triadic chord with the greatest stability is called the tonic. The root of the tonic chord forms the name given to the key; so in the key of C major, the note C is both the tonic of the scale and the root of the tonic chord. Simple folk music songs often start and end with the tonic note. The most common use of the term "is to designate the arrangement of musical phenomena around a referential tonic in European music from about 1600 to about 1910". Contemporary classical music from 1910 to the 2000s may practice or avoid any sort of tonality—but harmony in almost all Western popular music remains tonal. Harmony in jazz includes many but not all tonal characteristics of the European common practice period, sometimes known as "classical music".

Absolute music is music that is not explicitly "about" anything; in contrast to program music, it is non-representational. The idea of absolute music developed at the end of the 18th century in the writings of authors of early German Romanticism, such as Wilhelm Heinrich Wackenroder, Ludwig Tieck and E. T. A. Hoffmann but the term was not coined until 1846 where it was first used by Richard Wagner in a programme to Beethoven's Ninth Symphony.

Neoromanticism in music is a return to the emotional expression associated with nineteenth-century Romanticism. Since the mid-1970s the term has come to be identified with neoconservative postmodernism, especially in Germany, Austria, and the United States, with composers such as Wolfgang Rihm and George Rochberg. Currently active US-based composers widely described as neoromantic include David Del Tredici and Ellen Taaffe Zwilich. Francis Poulenc and Henri Sauguet were French composers considered neoromantic while Virgil Thomson, Nicolas Nabokov, Howard Hanson and Douglas Moore were American composers considered neoromantic.

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Post-romanticism or Postromanticism refers to a range of cultural endeavors and attitudes emerging in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, after the period of Romanticism.

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Stephen Hinton is a British-American musicologist at Stanford University. A leading authority on the composer Kurt Weill, he has published widely on many aspects of modern German music history, with contributions to publications such as Handwörterbuch der musikalischen Terminologie, The New Grove Dictionary of Opera, The New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians, Die Musik in Geschichte und Gegenwart, and Funkkolleg Musikgeschichte. His most recent book, Weill's Musical Theater: Stages of Reform, the first musicological study of Weill's complete stage works, received the 2013 Kurt Weill Book Prize for outstanding scholarship in music theater since 1900. The reviewer for the Journal of the American Musicological Society described the book as "a landmark in the literature on twentieth-century musical theater."

Silke Leopold is a German musicologist and university lecturer.

Transition from Classical to Romantic music

The transition from the classical period of Western art music, which lasted around 1750 to 1820, to Romantic music, which lasted around 1815 to 1910, took place in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. The shift was associated with composers reacting to the political and philosophical changes brought by the Age of Enlightenment, which proposed that nature could be understood through science and rationalism. Composers began transitioning their compositional and melodic techniques into a new musical form which became known as the Romantic Era or Romanticism. The most famous classical piece acknowledged as a lead contributor to this movement was Ludwig van Beethoven's Symphony No. 5 in C minor due to the implementation of lyrical melodies as opposed to the linear compositional style of Classical music.

Helmut Loos is a German musicologist and emeritus scholar.

Hermann Danuser is a Swiss-German musicologist.

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