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History Of Music

The Romanticism

Course Outline
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Introduction to the Class
What is Classical Music?
Elements of Music
The Middle Ages
The Renaissance
The Baroque
Take home Work
The Classicism
The Romanticism
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History, Music and Visual Arts




The Romantic Period flourished during 1820-1900.



       -A fascination with fantasy.

       -An enthusiasm for the culture of the Middle Ages.

       -An interest in exoticism and the past.

       -Emotional subjectivity

       -Interest in the strange and unknown.

       -Wide ranges of emotional expression


       Other characteristics:

-Exoticism, idea or scene.



              -Nationalism (deliberate intent to draw creative inspiration from the composers own homeland)




The most important inspiration for romantic art was Nature.


Nationalism: (deliberate intent to draw creative inspiration from the composers own homeland).


Composers expressed musical nationalism in their music by:

              -using the rhythms of the dances of their homelands

              -By using their national legends as subject matter

              -By basing their music on the folk songs of their country.


Exoticism: Drawing on colorful materials from foreign lands.



Romantic Composers:

       -Giuseppe Verdi          -Robert Schumann

       -Frederick Chopin              -Clara Schumann

-Niccolo Paganini              -Franz Liszt


-Because of the French Revolution and the Napoleonic Wars, many aristocrats could no longer afford to maintain private opera houses, orchestras, and composers in residence


-Romantic composers wrote primarily for a middle-class audience whose size and prosperity had increased because of the industrial revolution.


-The rise of the urban middle class led to the formation of many orchestras and opera groups, and the development of regular subscription concerts. Also, the piano became a fixture in every middle-class home.


-The New York Philharmonic, created during this period, is tied for third place as the oldest orchestra in the world. 


-Many Music Conservatoires were founded during the 1860s. In America, Music Conservatories were founded in Chicago, Cleveland, Boston, Oberlin, and Philadelphia during this time.


-When music conservatoires were founded, women were at first accepted only as students of performance, but by the late 1800s could study musical composition.


-Ludwig van Beethovens career was a model for many romantic composers.


-The Nineteenth-century public was captivated by virtuosity. Clara Schumann, Niccolo Paganini, Franz Liszt, and Frederick Chopin were romantic composers who also were virtuoso instrumentalists.


-Franz Liszt earned his living as a touring virtuoso.

-Niccolo Paganini earned his living as a violin virtuoso.


-Music critics became a profession during this period. Music criticism was a source of income for both Hector Berlioz and Robert Schumann.


-In the 1830s, Paris was considered the artistic capital of Europe and the center of romanticism.

                                   INSTRUMENTAL MUSIC


Program music: Programmatic music is a new development during the romantic period. Program music is instrumental music associated with a story, poem.


Absolute Music: Nonprogram music. It is instrumental music written for its own sake, and for which the composer did not intend a program.


Program Symphonie: An instrumental composition in several movements based to some extent on a literary or pictorial idea.


Symphonic Poem: a one-movement orchestral composition based to some extent on a literary or pictorial idea. The symphonic poem was developed by Franz Liszt.


Incidental Music:  Music intended to be performed before and during a play to set the mood for scenes or highlight dramatic action. (Todays movie scores may be regarded as examples of Incidental Music.


The Orchestra: The orchestra was larger and more varied in tone color than the classical orchestra. The orchestra grew in number of instruments during the romantic period. Toward the end of the Romanticism, an orchestra might include close to 100 musicians.

The Piano:  During the romanticism the piano technology and resistance were improved. A cast-iron frame was introduced to hold the strings under greater tension. The pianos hammers were covered with felt. The damper pedal was developed allowing a sonorous blend of tones from all registers of the piano.


Musical Elements:

-In 1844 Hector Berlioz wrote a Treatise in Modern Instrumentation and Orchestration. This book signals the recognition or orchestration as an art in itself. 


       -Romantic music puts unprecedented emphasis on self-expression and individuality of style.

       -Romantic composers relied upon a more prominent use of chromatic harmony, or the use of chords containing tones not found in the prevailing major or minor scale.

       -A romantic composition tends to have a wide variety of keys and rapid modulations.


Characteristic technichs of the romantic performance:

-Ritardando: A slight slowing down of the tempo.


-Accelerando: A slight speeding up of the tempo.


-Rubato: A slight holding back or pressing forward of tempo. It is used to intensify the expression of the music.


-Thematic transformation: Altering the character of a melody by changes in dynamics, orchestration, or rhythm.


The Romantic Art Song: A musical composition for solo voice and piano. The accompaniment of a romantic art song is an integral part of the composers conception, and it serves as an interpretive partner to the voice. The mood of an art song is often set by a brief piano introduction and summed up at the end by a piano section called a postlude.

       -When the same music is repeated for each stanza of a poem the form is known as strophic

       -When a composer writes a new music for each stanza of a poem the form is known as through-composed


Song Cycle: Is a set of romantic art songs that may be unified by a story line that runs through the poems, or by musical ideas linking the songs.


Lied: A romantic Art Song with a German text.

       -The German composers of Art songs favored, among others, the lyric poetry of Johann Wofgang von Goethe and Heinrich Heine.


Franz Schubert:

       -Schubert was the first great master of the romantic art song.

       -At the time of his death, Schuberts reputation was mainly that of a fine song composer.

       -In addition to symphonies, operas, string quartets and other chamber works, Schubert composed over six hundred songs.

       -He wrote in every musical genre except for concertos.

       -He wrote a number of symphonies and chamber works that are comparable in power and emotional intensity to those of his idol, Beethoven.

       -His primary source of income came from his musical compositions. He led a

bohemian existence, living with friends because he had no money to rent a room of his own.


Robert Schumann:

       -He was also writer and a critic. He founded and edited the New Journal of Music . He discovered and made famous some of the leading composers of his day. At the time, he wrote appreciative reviews of young radical composers like Chopin and Berlioz.

       -His music works are intensely autobiographical, essentially lyrical in nature, and  usually linked with descriptive titles, texts, or programs.

       -During the first ten years of his creative life, Schumann published only piano pieces.

       -Schumanns genius is most characteristically expressed in his songs and short piano pieces, both of which he usually organized into sets or cycles.

       -His symphonies are romantic in their emphasis on lyrical second themes, use of thematic transformation, and connections between movements.


Clara Wieck Schumann: 

       -Wife of Robert Schumann

       -Also a composer and concert pianist. She was also the mother of a large family.

       -She frequently performed the works of her husband and of her close friend Johannes Brahms.

       -She was a child prodigy and later one of the leading concert pianist of the nineteenth century.

       -She stopped composing at the age of thirty-six when her husband died.

       -As a composer she wrote songs, piano pieces, a piano concerto, and a trio for piano, violin, and cello. She considered herself primarily a performer.


Romanze: term used for short lyrical pieces for piano or solo instrument with piano accompaniment. 


Frederick Chopin:

       -He was shy and reserved. He disliked crowds and preferred to play in salons rather thanin public concert halls.

       -He expressed his love of Poland by composing Polonaises and Mazurkas. (A Polonaise is a dance in triple meter that originated as a stately procession for the polish nobility.

       He wrote a set of nocturnes. (A nocturne is a slow, lyric, intimate composition for piano, associated with evening.

       He wrote two set of 12 etudes. (A Etude is a study piece, designed to help a performer master specific technical difficulties. For example Chopin'

       While in Paris he earned a good living by teaching piano to the daughters of the rich.

       More of his pieces are exquisite miniatures.


Franz Liszt:

       As a youth, he was influenced by the performance of Niccolo Paganini

       -During his teens and twenties, he lived in Paris.

       -He toured Europe as a virtuoso pianist until the age of thirty-six.

       -Liszt abandoned his career as a traveling virtuoso to become court conductor at Weimar, where he championed works by contemporary composers. He became a champion of modern music during his time.

       -His work was inspired by the literary works of Johan Wolfgang von Goethe.

       -Liszt typified the romantic movement because he was an innovative composer and stupendous performer with a charismatic personality.

       -To display his incomparable piano mastery, Liszt composed his transcendental Etudes and made piano transcriptions of Paganinis violin pieces.


       -Liszt created the symphonic poem, a one-movement orchestral composition based to some extent on a literary or pictorical idea.

       -In many of his works, Liszt unified contrasting moods by a process known as thematic transformation.

       -His piano works are characterized by :

                            -an unprecedented range of dynamics.

                            -rapid octaves and daring leaps



Felix Mendelssohn:

       -By the age of thirteen, he had written vocal works, sonatas, symphonies and concertos of astounding quality.

       -Mendelssohn is known as the man who rekindled an interest in the music of Johann Sebastian Bach.

       -The high point of his career was the triumphant premiere of his oratorio Elijah in England.

Mendelssohn wrote in all musical forms except for operas.

       -Today, one of his most popular piece is the Violin Concerto. The three movements of this work are played without pause. Another unusual characteristic of this piece is that in the opening of the concerto, the main theme is presented by the soloist. The cadenza of the first movement appears at the end of the development section as a transition to the recapitulation.


Hector Berlioz:

       -In 1839 the Paris  Conservatory awarded Berlioz the Prix de Rome

       -In his young years, his works were influenced by the writings of William Shakespeare.

       -On of his most important works is the Fantastic Symphony. This work reflects Berliozs love for the actress Harriet Smithson. At the time, Parisians were startled by Berliozs Fantastic Symphony because of its sensationally autobiographical program. The work makes a vivid description of the weird and diabolical. Musically, this work presents an amazingly novel orchestration. The contrasting episodes of this work are unified by the recurrence of a theme known as the idee fixe

       -Despite his success, Berlioz turned to musical journalism in order to support his family.

       -Outside France, Berlioz enjoyed a great career as a conductor. Hi was extraordinarily imaginative in treating the orchestra creating tone colors never before heard.