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MUL 2010
Cristina Verdesoto – Broward College
Romanticism 1820-1900
Cultural movement that emphasized emotion, subjectivity and imagination.
Artists stressed individuality and freedom of expression. Their personalities came
through in their works, many were autobiographical.
Several sources of inspiration for Romantics:
fantasy, world of dreams, the supernatural and irrational
o The Middle Ages, there was a “Gothic Revival”
o Folk music from home countries or beyond
o Literature
o Romantic love
The Industrial Revolution caused great changes in society, bigger urban areas, larger
middle class.
Paris, France becomes artistic center of Europe.
Characteristics of Romantic Music:
- Individuality of style
- Expressive subjects
- Expressive tone color (importance of specific instruments). Larger orchestra ~100 musicians.
- Exploited and played with the sounds of instruments, register, dynamics, tempo, etc.
p, pp, pppp, f, ff, ffff
- The piano was the favorite instrument, which had been improved in the 1800’s to be more
- More colorful harmony, more dissonances and tension.
- Forms were mostly the same from Classical period (symphonies, concertos, etc) but either
much larger, or “miniatures”: very short works.
- NATIONALISM – important political movement that influenced music. Love for one’s own
country, its history, legends, folk music, etc. More intently felt within smaller, less dominant
In U.S.: Louis Moreau Gottschalk (1829-1869), first American concert pianist to gain
recognition, wrote music using African-American, Cuban, Latin influences.
- EXOTICISM – fascination with music or culture from foreign lands. (Asia, Africa, etc)
- PROGRAM MUSIC – music that has a “program”, it has a title and is associated with a story,
poem, scene, idea.
Romantic Composers:
Inspired by Beethoven as “free artist”.
Wrote music to fulfill their needs, not as commissions. Most were middle class people
from non-musical families and who wrote music for a middle class audience.
Had no wealthy patrons, aristocracy could no longer afford orchestras/composers.
More public concerts, music organizations and conservatories formed. More music
students than ever before.
Virtuoso players and solo recitals appear.
The piano is very important and very popular, many people had one at home.
Composers had to teach, perform, conduct or write besides writing music to make ends
Piece for voice and piano. The piano sets scene.
Based on poetry.
Known as “Lied” (the German term for art song with German text)
Strophic: same music for all stanzas.
Through-composed: different music for each stanza.
Song cycle: set of several songs unified by a similar theme, same poet, etc.
FRANZ SCHUBERT (1797-1828)
Austrian composer and pianist
Wrote many works for orchestra, piano and voice for the middle class.
Spent his time at “Schubertiads”, playing his music.
Known for his more than 600 art songs like the “Erlkonig” (or Erlking)
Ex. The Erlking
Art song (piano and voice)
A poem set to music
Polish composer and virtuoso pianist
Wrote almost exclusively for the piano, made the piano “sing” with very passionate,
lyrical melodies.
Moved to Paris, gave lessons, performed, wrote music. Lived in luxury.
Ex. Nocturne Op.9 No. 2
A nocturne was a light piece intended to be played at night.
For piano solo
FRANZ LISZT (1811-1886)
Hungarian virtuoso pianist and composer
Waned to become the “Paganini of the Piano”, practiced a lot to become greatest
pianist in Europe.
Handsome, charismatic showman with incredible ability for piano. Considered a“ living
Taught piano, wrote books, conducted.
Wrote many piano works exploiting the piano, created the “symphonic poem” (1 mvt
orchestral work based on literature)
Inspired by death, the devil, the supernatural.
HECTOR BERLIOZ (1803-1869)
French composer
Wrote mainly monumental orchestral and vocal works.
Wrote a program symphony: "Symphonie Fantastique", based on an autobiographical
o 5 mvts
o For huge orchestra
o includes "fixed idea" - recurring melody representing the "beloved"
Russian composer
International style mixed with Russian flavor
Wrote symphonies, concertos, and very famous ballets:
o Swan Lake
o The Nutcracker
o Sleeping Beauty
Romantic Opera
Mainly Italian composers such as Verdi and Puccini.
Bel canto (beautiful singing) opera, some of the most beloved and well-known operas.
RICHARD WAGNER (1813-1883)
German composer
Wrote mainly orchestral works and operas
Involved in all aspects of his operas: music, libretto, production, scenery, etc.
Called his operas "music dramas"
o continuous flow of music (no recitatives, arias, etc)
o Included "leitmotifs": melodies associated with a character, place, idea, etc
o Dissonant, a lot of tension in music
o "The Ring" - set of 4 operas, well known
Built his own concert hall to perform his operas in Bayreuth, Germany
German nationalist, his music was Hitler’s favorite and was used as Nazi propaganda