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ROMANTIC ERA
1820-1900
Journal Entry #1
Music history focuses on composers, rather than
performers. Has that changed, or will history
remember the song writers of today? Why/why not?
Literature
Victor Hugo – The Hunchback of
Notre Dame (1831)
Charles Dickens – Oliver Twist (1844)
Alexander Dumas – The Three
Musketeers (1844)
Edgar Allen Poe – The Raven (1845)
Mark Twain – The Adventures of
Huckleberry Finn (1884)
Art
Claude Monet – Impressionism,
Water Lilies
Poppies Blooming
Paul Cezanne – Still Life with Apples
Van Gogh – Starry Night (1889)
History
Monroe Doctrine (1823)
Marx and Engels: The Communist
Manifesto (1848)
Darwin – Origin of Species
American Civil War: 1861-1865
Alexander Graham Bell invents the
TELEPHONE: 1876
Spanish-American: 1898
Chapter 1.
Romanticism in Music
1820-1900
ROMANTICISM
Cultural mvmt: emotion, imagniation,
individuality
A rebellion against the age of reason
The totality of the human experience
International mvmt, influenced all arts
Romantics drawn to fantasy: unconscious,
irrational, world of dreams
Nature inspired art
The physical world was seen as a source of
consolation, a mirror of the human heart
Romantic
Large amount of composers during
this time testifies to the richness and
variety of romantic music and to its
continuing impact on today’s concert
and operatic repertoire
Forms from classical period
Greater ranges of tone color,
dynamics, and pitch.
Romantic
More emphasis on colorful, unstable
chords
Close link to the other artsparticularly literature
New forms developed that showed
greater tension and less emphasis on
balance and resolution.
This period cannot be overly
generalized—many traditional vs. radical
composers.
Characteristics of Romantic
Music
Individuality of style
Unprecedented emphasis on selfexpression and individuality of style
Unique and often reflected their
personalities
Expressive aims and subjects
Exploration into feeling--flamboyance
and intimacy, unpredictability and
melancholy, rapture and longing
Songs, operas glorify romantic love;
lovers are often unhappy and face
overwhelming obstacles
Characteristics of Romantic
Music
Nationalism- political movement that
influenced 19th c. music.
Musical Nationalism- romantic
composers deliberately created music
with a specific national identity
Using the folk songs, dances, legends,
and history of their homeland
Exoticism- fascination with national
identity leading composers to draw on
colorful materials from foreign lands
Characteristics of Romantic
Music
Program Music- instrumental music
associated with a story, poem, idea,
or scene.
Expressive Tone Color - Timbre is
more important than ever before
Larger orchestras, more varied in
tone color (up to 100 musicians)
Brass, Woodwinds, Percussion took
on more active roles
Characteristics of Romantic
Music
New tone colors in woodwinds:
contrabassoon, bass clarinet, English
horn, piccolo (became regulars in the
orchestra)
Piano was improved during the
1820’s and 30’s
A cast-iron frame was introduced to hold
strings under greater tension, hammers
were covered with felt, range was
extended, use of damper pedal
Characteristics of Romantic
Music
Colorful Harmony
Explored new chords and new ways of
using familiar chords
Rich, colorful, complex harmonies
Chromatic harmony: use of chords
containing tone not found in the
prevailing major or minor scale- use of
chromatic scale tones
Unstable, dissonant chords used more
Use of wide variety of keys and
modulations
Characteristics of Romantic
Music
Expanded Range of Dynamics, Pitch,
and Tempo
Wider dynamics, extremes- ffff,
pppp
Extreme high and low pitches for
increased brilliance and depth
Use of accelerandos, ritardandos, and
subtle variations of pace
Rubato: slight holding back or pressing
forward of tempo
Characteristics of Romantic
Music
Form: Miniature and Monumental
Very much and age of contradictions
Short songs and piano pieces, gigantic
works- long, large number of performers
Typical romantic symphony may last 45
minutes
New techniques used to unify long works
such as thematic transformationa melody returning in a later movement or
section
its character may be transformed by
changes in dynamics, orchestration, or
rhythm
Chapter 2.
Romantic Composers and
Their Public
More freelancing than previous eras
Outside aristocratic or church patronage
Inspired by Beethoven
Composed to fill an “inner need”
rather than fulfill a commission
Partly due to economics
French Revolution, Napoleonic wars left
aristocrats unable to afford to maintain
private music endeavors
Merging of many tiny states into fewer,
larger ones, left many musicians
unemployed without courts
Industrial Revolution – enlarged
middle class
Composers wrote even more for them
Romantic Era a time of many public
subscription-based concerts opening
London Philharmonic Society (1813)
New York Philharmonic (1842)
Many conservatories opened in
Europe and United States
Public captivated more than ever by
virtuosity
Best known Romantic virtuosos:
Pianist Franz Liszt
Violinist Niccolò Paganini
Private music making more popular
than ever – nearly every home had a
piano
High demand for solo piano repertoire
Even operas and orchestral works
arranged for piano
Few Romantic composers were able
to support themselves through
composition alone
Other income: lessons - especially to the
wealthy, who could be overcharged
(Chopin taught wealthy young women);
music criticism; conducting