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Romantic Era


(3) Mood: The intimacy of expression that is captured by these pieces. ... He married his second wife Cosima (who was the daughter of Franz Liszt) ... – PowerPoint PPT presentation

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Title: Romantic Era

Romantic Era
  • 1820-1900

Historical Background
  • The Industrial Revolution (just one of the 19thC
    revolutionary movements) entirely changed the
    face of society
  • Country people left their rural environment to
    work in the growing cities.
  • The middle class standard of living rose as
    technology and machines replaced handworkand
    production greatly increased but the lower
    classes suffered from the exploitation in the
    factories, mills, and sweatshops created by the
    Industrial Revolution.

Historical Background
  • It was a cultural movement that stressed emotion,
    imagination and individuality.
  • It was partly a rebellion against the
    neoclassicism of the 18th Century and the age of
    reasonand their dissatisfaction with the real
  • The movement was very diverse and complex because
    its aim was to broaden horizons and encompass the
    totality of human experience.
  • It was international and influenced all of the
  • Romantic writers broke away from convention…and
    emphasized freedom of expression. The term was
    actually adopted from literatureand the literary
    romantics themselves
  • Beethoven is credited for elevating the awareness
    level of the people with regard to music as a
    major art formbecause now music was treated with
    a new respect in certain cultivated circles and
    was taken more seriously than it had been in the

  • Nationalism became an important movement in the
    latter part of the 19thC, as European countries
    sought to establish their political and stylistic
  • Nationalistic writers, painters, and musicians
    turned to the colorful folk tales, legends, and
    sounds of their own countries.
  • The term romantic comes from romance, actually
    the word for a medieval story or poem of a heroic
    nature in one of the Latin-derived, or romance,
  • Term implies appreciation of the distant, the
    mythical, the ideal, the heroic, and the
  • The future as well as the past, intrigued the
    romantic imagination, and science fiction became
    an important genre during this period.
  • Distant places were also considered fascinating
    and exoticism was one characteristic of Romantic

Music Overview
  • Composers of this period continued to use the
    forms of the preceding classical period.
  • There are many differences between the twonamely
    that the composers, or genuine artists were
    expected to have a personal style, yet they were
    united by common interests with regard to the

Composer Overview
  • Composers worked to break down the barriers of
    harmony and form
  • They experimented with chords, chord progressions
    (that had previously been forbidden by the
  • Music had special prestige and status because
    people felt that music could express inner
    experience more deeply than the other arts
    because the musicians imagination is not tied
    down to the meaning of the words (as in the
    poets) or to the representation of things (like
    the painters)
  • It had depth, freedom of emotional expression and
    that continuous infinite quality.

General Characteristics
  • Romantic works
  • Have greater range of tone color, dynamics and
  • Broader harmonic vocabulary
  • Emphasis on colorful, unstable chords
  • Music is linked more closely to the other arts,
    esp. literature
  • New forms developed
  • Greater tension, less emphasis on balance and
  • Individuality of style
  • Emphasis on self-expression
  • Their sound reflects their personalities
  • Wrote for the middle class.
  • Expressive aims and subjects
  • Composers explored a universe of feeling
    (flamboyance, intimacy, unpredictability,
    melancholy, rapture longing).
  • Countless works glorify romantic love

Nationalism Exoticism
  • Important political movement that influences 19th
    century music.
  • Composers deliberately created music with a
    specific national identity (using folk songs,
    dances, legends and history of their homelands.)
  • Drew on colorful materials from foreign lands.
    Frenchman, BizetCarmen set in Spain Italian
    Puccinievoked Japan in Madam Butterfly
    Russian Rimsky-KorsakovArabian atmosphere in

  • Larger (both symphony and opera were more varied
    in tone color than classical orchestra) up to 100
    musicians (20-60 in classical)
  • Brass, woodwind and percussion sections took on a
    more active role.
  • New sounds for all of the instruments, new
    instruments (English horn, contrabassoon and bass
    clarinet became regulars)
  • The piano was the favorite instrument of the
    romantic age and it became improved during

  • Tone Color
  • Rich and sensuous sound.
  • Used tone color to obtain variety of mood and
  • Never before had it been so important.
  • For the first time, the sheer sensuous quality of
    sound assumed major artistic importance on a
    level with rhythm, melody, and musical form.
  • New combinations of instruments. (Composers are
    mixing instrumental colors with freedom.)

  • Melody
  • Is more emotional, effusive and demonstrative.
  • Melodic lines cover a wider range than the
    restrained melodies of the Classical era.
  • Build to more sustained climaxes
  • More irregular in rhythm and phraseologyrendered
    them sounding more spontaneous.
  • Shades of feelings dreamy, passionate, ecstatic,
    passionate, etc.
  • Melodies inseparable from harmonies.

  • Harmony
  • Made the greatest technical advances
  • Explored with new chords
  • Use of chromatic harmony (uses chords containing
    tones not found in the prevailing major and minor
    scales.) Chromaticismis a term for a style that
    employs all twelve tones of the chromatic scale.
  • Wide variety of keys
  • Rapid modulations
  • Feeling of tonal gravity less strong

  • Dynamics
  • Expanded range of dynamics
  • Sharp contrast from whispers to sonorities of
    unprecedented power
  • Dynamic extremes fff-ppp
  • Used frequent crescendos and decrescendos and
    sudden dynamic shifts.

  • Pitch
  • Expanded range.
  • Composers reached for extremely high and low
  • Increased brilliance and depth of sound
  • Exploited instruments like the piccolo and
  • Mood
  • Underlined by accelerando and ritardandos.
  • Fluctuations in tempo.
  • Use of rubato (a slight holding back or pressing
    forward of the tempo)

FORMS-Miniature Monumental
  • Miniatures
  • Piano pieces by Chopin and art songs by Schubert,
    last a few minutes
  • Short forms were meant to be heard in intimate
    settings (salon or home)
  • Growing number of people owned pianos
  • Composers created a tense mood through a melody,
    a few chords or unusual tone

  • Monumental
  • Gigantic works by Berlioz and Wagner.
  • Call for a huge number of performers.
  • Compositions more extended and lasted for several
  • Designed for large opera houses or concert halls.
  • Symphonies, sonatas, string quartets, concertos,
    operas and choral worksindividual movements were
    longer (19th century symphony were 45 minutes
    18th century were 25 minutes)

New Techniques
  • New techniques used to unify long works (same
    theme or themes might occur in several different
    movements of symphony).
  • Short themes are freely varied at relatively wide
    and unpredictable intervals of time.
  • Use of thematic transformation occurs in
    Berliozs Symphonie Fantastique (1830) where a
    lyrical melody from the opening movement becomes
    a grotesque dance tune in the finale

Role of Composers
  • Role in society changed radically
  • They became freelance or free artists.
  • They often composed to fulfill an inner need
    rather than a commission.
  • They were interested in pleasing their
    contemporaries and being judged favorably by
  • They wrote primarily for Middle class audiences.

Composers and New Forms
  • Franz Schubert (1797-1828) Vienna
  • Earliest master of the lied or art song
  • Never held an official music position, or a
    regular job.
  • Not a conductor, nor virtuoso.
  • His income came from his compositions, teaching
    and publicationsand also contributions from a
    circle of friends (who called themselves the
    Schubertians)they saw him as a genius and
    promoted his songs and helped pay his bills
  • Composed an extraordinary amount of masterpieces
    while in his teens
  • Composed close to 700 songs symphonies, string
    quartets, chamber music, sonatas and short pieces
    for piano operas.
  • He died in a typhoid fever epidemic at age 31,
    and never heard a performance of his late
    symphonies. We learned about most of his music
    after his death.

  • Art Song A composition for solo voice and piano.
  • The Lied is a particular type of German song that
    evolved in the late 18th century and flourished
    in the 19th, and one of the most important
    miniature genres of Romanticism.
  • The melodies of lieder share three
  • (1) Accompaniment The lied is always
    accompanied by a piano and the accompaniment is
    an integral part of the composers conception.
    The pianist serves as a partner, rather than an

  • (2) Poetry The text of a lied is usually a
    Romantic poem of some merit (The art of the lied
    depends upon the sensitivity of the composers
    response to the poetic imagery and feeling.)
  • (3) Mood The intimacy of expression that is
    captured by these pieces. The singer pianist
    appear to be sharing an emotional insight with
    younot with the entire audience.
  • Composers intended lieder to be sung and enjoyed
    in a salon or at homenot in the concert hall.

  • The Erlking the poem is by Johann Wilhelm
    Goethe, the greatest literary figure of the day.
    Though the poem consists of 8 parallel stanzas,
    they are not set to the same music. So it is
    called through-composed---different music for
    different stanzas. Strophic is a song that uses
    the same music for each stanza of the poem.
  • Song cycle A group of songs with a common poetic
    theme or actual story connecting all the poems.
  • Art Song-(P. 225)

Robert Schumann (1810-1856) Germany
  • Embodied musical romanticism.
  • His works are intensely biographical, have
    descriptive titles, texts or programs
  • Original piano pieces and songs
  • Writer and critic At age 23 he founded a music
    magazine (he inherited from his father a great
    flair for literature) to campaign for a higher
    level of music Die Neue Zeitschrift fur Musik
    (The New Music Journal)and it is still being
  • Worked as a teacher and conductor
  • Married Clara a famous pianist at 15 when they
    met (daughter of his piano teacher) had to wait
    until she was 23. He wrote around 150 love songs
    for Clara the year in which they were married
    1840prior to that his early compositions had
    been almost entirely for the piano.

  • He suffered mood swings and breakdowns
  • In 1845 he was tormented by voices and
    hallucinations and loss of memory and tried to
    drown himself in the River Rhinewas committed to
    an asylum. He died two years later.
  • 2 Carnaval Estrella, N0. 13 Reconnaissance,
    No. 14 (Page 229) Carnaval is a cycle of 21 brief
    pieces with descriptive titles evoking a festive
    masked ball.

Clara Wieck Schumann, Germany (1819-1896)
  • Acclaimed child prodigyVirtuoso and leading 19th
    C pianist who composed her own works to play at
    her own concerts
  • Premiered many of her husbands works, she was a
    better pianist
  • Renowned as a teacher, edited his collected works
  • Stopped composing at age 35.
  • She relied on performing and teaching because she
    had to support 8 children after her husband died
    when she was 37.
  • Works songs, piano pieces, piano concerto, trio
    for piano violin and cello and Three Romances
    for Violin and Piano
  • 3-Schumann, C - Liebst du um Schönheit (If you
    love for beauty) joint song cycle. (P. 232)

Frederic Chopin (1810-1849) Polish/French
  • He had a personal and original style.
  • Made his living as a highly fashionable piano
    teacher and by selling his music to publishers.
  • Mostly wrote exquisite miniatures, among them are
    over 50 Mazurkas and Polonaises which are
    stylized Polish dances
  • They evoke a variety of moods
  • Always elegant, graceful and melodic
  • Made the piano sound beautiful (as no one else
  • He was a frail and fastidious personality, and
    the major event of his personal life was a
    10-year romance with Madame Aurore Dudevant (an
    early feminists and a famous novelist under the
    pen name George Sand). They were introduced by
    Franz Liszt. They had a rocky relationship and
    when the affair ended in 1847, his health
    declined with his spirits
  • In 1848 he toured England and Scotland and died
    the next year at age 39 of tuberculosis, a major
    killer of the 19th century.
  • 4 CHOPIN Nocturne in E Flat Major, Op. 9, No.
    2 (P. 234)
  • 5 CHOPIN Etude in C Minor, Op. 10, No. 12 (P.

Franz Liszt Hungary (1811-1886)
  • Virtuoso, superhuman feats at the piano, and
    irresistible to women.
  • Abandoned his career as a traveling virtuoso (age
    36) to become a court conductor and to compose.
  • Conducted works by his contemporaries Berlioz,
    Schumann, Wagner(a strong advocate of the music
    of Wagner and the two men learned from each
  • Taught hundreds of gifted pianists free of
  • He went to Rome for religious studies, took minor
    holy orders (1861) and became an Abbéand stunned
    his contemporaries because he was known as a
    notorious Don Juan and diabolical virtuosoand
    now he is a churchman composing oratorios and
  • He found new ways to exploit the piano (his
    melodies are sometimes surrounded by arpeggios
    that create the impression of three hands
  • Liszt wrote transcriptions so that people could
    play operas and symphonies at their pianos.
  • He created the Symphonic Poem, or tone poem. (A
    one movement orchestral composition based on to
    some extent on literary or pictorial ideas.)

Felix Mendelssohn Germany (1809-1847)
  • He may be the only great composer who has ever
    come from an upper class family of converted Jews
    who made their fortune in banking.
  • Was a romantic whose music was rooted in the
  • Brilliant pianist by the age of 9.
  • At age 15 he was conducting the family orchestra
    (home performances in their mansion) in his own
  • He was a successful composer, pianist, organist,
    conductor, educator, musicologistand he found
    the Leipzig Conservatory of Music
  • His older sister Fanny was also a great composer
    (all kinds of music including oratorios).
    Unfortunately, her compositions never left the
    mansion because the cultivated upper
    middle-class family that encouraged Felix,
    adhered to the middle class social values which
    would not allow the women-folk to lower herself
    by becoming a professional musician
  • Her sudden death at age 42 devastated her brother
    so much so that it hastened his own death, less
    than six months later. Concerto for Violin and
    Orchestra in E Minor (P. 242)

  • Instrumental music associated with a story, poem,
    idea or scene.
  • Depict emotions, characters and events of the
    sounds of naturethese nonmusical ideas are
    usually specified by the title or by the
    composers explanatory comments (the program)
  • The story is the program.
  • It wasnt new, but gained new importance and
    prestige during this time.
  • The aim is expression more than description

New Forms
  • A Program symphony is a composition in several
    movements. (a symphony with a program). Entire
    symphonies with programs spelled out movement by
    movement. Each movement has a descriptive title
    (See Berlioz, Fantastic Symphony)
  • A Symphonic Poem, or Tone Poem is in one
    movement. Takes many traditional forms sonata
    form, rondo theme and variationas well as
    irregular forms
  • Absolute Music Non program music.

Hector Berlioz France (1803-1869)
  • The first great composer to play no standard
    instrument at all. He did play the guitar.
  • He was also one of the first great conductors and
    toured extensively as a conductor of his own
    music, where he was welcomed with open arms in
  • Daring creator of new orchestral sounds. He
    thought the unthinkable. His grandiose
    program symphonies had no precedent and were not
    matched in ambition until Mahler. He had an
    incredible imagination when it came to tone
  • He was inspired by literary models, especially
  • His unconventional music irritated the opera and
    concert establishment.
  • He had to arrange concerts at his own
    expensejust to get people to listen to them
  • Had a faithful following, but not enough to
    support him, so he turned to music
    journalismbecoming a brilliant music critic.
  • He received constant ridicule from the musical
    establishment and he ultimately managed to get
    most of his enormous compositions performed and
    to attain favorable recognition in Paris, which
    was musically conservative.

  • Music is unique in its abrupt contrast,
    fluctuating dynamics and many changes in tempo.
  • Imaginative orchestrator (assembled more players
    than the average size to achieve new power).
  • Created the idée fixe (fixed idea) use of a
    single melody to represent the beloved.
  • 6 Symphonie Fantastique Fourth Movement -
    March to the Scaffold
  • (P. 248)

Bedrich Smetana Czech (1824-1884)
  • Founder of Czech Nationalism. Bohemia was trying
    to gain their independence from Austria.
  • He returned from Sweden where he was working and
    dived into a self-appointed task of establishing
    a Czech brand of Opera. That meant the libretto
    had to be in Czech (the language issue was
    central in Bohemian politics)and Smetana had to
    teach himself Czech because he had grown up
    speaking German.
  • Works are steeped in folk music and legends of
  • Active composer, pianist, conductor and teacher.
  • Bartered Bride, his most famous opera. Tells the
    story of peasant life in Bohemia.
  • 7 The Moldau (P. 254)

Antonin Dvorák Czech (1841-1904)
  • Followed Smetana as the leading composer of Czech
    national music.
  • He infused his symphonies with the spirit of
    Bohemian folk song and dance.
  • Was a little known composer until Brahms
    recommended Dvorak to his own publisherand then
    his fame spread.
  • Came to New York in 1892, encouraged American
    composers to write nationalistic music.
  • He was head of the New York National Conservatory
    of Music (ancestor of Juilliard).
  • The music of African Americans got a powerful
    boost from this first major European composer to
    spend time in America. He announced his special
    admiration for spirituals, and advised his
    American colleagues to make use of them in
    concert musicas he did himself.
  • He incorporated the essence of spirituals so
    skillfully in his ever-popular New World
    Symphonythat one of his tunes was actually
    adapted to made-up folk song words, --Goin
  • 8 Dvorak Symphony No. 9 in E Minor (P. 257)

Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky Russian (1840-1893)
  • Most famous Russian Composer. He attended the new
    St. Petersburg Conservatory. Once he got started
    he composed prolifically. (6 symphonies, 11
    operas, symphonic poems, chamber music, songs and
    some of the most famous ballet scores Swan
    Lake, Sleeping Beauty and The Nutcracker.
  • He fused national and international elements to
    produce intensely subjective and passionate
    music, and his pieces may sound Russian, but he
    was not considered a devoted nationalist
  • His famous Piano Concerto No. 1 was premiered in
    Boston in 1875, and then he toured America in
  • He was a depressive personality who attempted
    suicide several times.
  • He was subsidized by a remarkable woman (Madame
    von Meck), a wealthy widow. They never met but
    exchanged letters for 13 years She eventually
    terminated the relationship with no explanation.
  • He died after drinking unboiled water during a
    cholera epidemic.
  • His music was widely admired and his Romeo
    Juliet (concert overture) is one of the best
    loved orchestral works.

Johannes Brahms Germany (1833-1897)
  • A Romantic who breathed new life into classical
    forms. Considered to be the most Romantic of
  • He devoted a great effort to traditional genres
    such as string quartets, and other chamber works,
    symphonies and concertos. The typical romantic
    genre he cultivated was the miniaturethe lied
    and the characteristic piano piece.
  • Created masterpieces in all of the traditional
    forms except opera.
  • He declared his ideal music to be folk songs,
    and he composed sensitive arrangements of folk
  • He wrote rhythmically exciting, contrasting
    patterns and syncopations (2 against 3, one of
    his trademarks-one instrument plays two even
    notes to a beat, while another instrument plays
  • The German Requiem established Brahms (at age
    34), as a leading composer of his day.
  • 9 Brahms Symphony 3 in F Major,
  • Third Movement (P. 264)

Giuseppe Verdi (1813-1901) Italy
  • Considered the greatest of Italian opera
    composers and most popular of all opera
  • He was the dominant figure in the 19th century
    opera houses.
  • He had a staunch commitment to the human voice
    and the bel canto principals (a style of singing
    that brings out the sensuous beauty of the
    voice). He never allowed the voice to be
    overshadowed by the orchestraeven though the
    orchestra plays a much richer role than in those
    of his predecessors.
  • His name actually became a patriotic acronym for
    the popular choice for KingVittorio Emmanuele,
    re dItalia long live Victor Emmanuel, King of
    Italy)and after independence was achieved the
    was made an honorary deputy in the 1st Italian

  • Composed for a mass public whose main
    entertainment was opera.
  • Expressive vocal melody is the soul of a Verdi
  • His last three opera are his greatest Aida,
    Otello, and Falstaff. (Falstaff considered the
    greatest and a comic masterpiece). The last two
    on Shakespearian subjects were written when he
    was in his 70s
  • He died a national institution at age 88, and
    mourned throughout Italy.
  • His operas remain the most popular of all in the
    international repertory.
  • He wrote 24 operas including Aida, La Traviata
    and Rigoletto a requiem mass, choral works and a
    string quartet.

Giacomo Puccini Italy (1858-1924)
  • Worked under the shadow of Verdi. He was the only
    composer of his time whose melodies could stand
    comparison to Verdis.
  • Created some of the best-loved operas.
  • His Marvelous sense of theater and gift of the
    theatrical has given his operas lasting
    appealthey impressed the international audiences
    in his day and still today.
  • He is especially moving in his depiction of
    afflicted woman (the abandoned woman, Cio-Cio
    san in Madame Butterfly the woman dying of
    consumption (Mimi) in La Boheme and the woman
    (Floria Tosca) who fights off a lecherous police
    chief in Tosca. It appears that their stories are
    know everywhere and have resurfaced on Broadway
    (as Miss Saigon and Rent.)
  • Melodies have short, memorable phrases and are
    intensely emotional.

  • He used the orchestra to reinforce the vocal
    melody and to suggest mood
  • Some of this operas, (Tosca), reflect a
    verismo?realism, or the quality of being true to
  • Or they reflected exoticism Madame Butterfly
    (set in Japan), and Turandot (China). He made a
    careful study of non-Western music for use in
    these operas.
  • 10 Puccini La Boheme, Act 1
  • (P. 271)

Richard Wagner Germany (1813-1883)
  • Made a powerful impact on his time. After
    Beethoven he was the most influential of all the
    19th century composers.
  • He worked as an opera conductor as a young man in
  • He married his second wife Cosima (who was the
    daughter of Franz Liszt).
  • His early operasThe Flying Dutchman, Tannhauser,
    and Lohengrin although in the tradition of early
    Romantic opera, began to hint at his
    revolutionary ideal he had for opera

  • He started this new music drama after being
    exiled (for 13 years) from Germany because of the
    role he played in the Revolution of 1848-49.
  • He was supported by the mad King Ludwig II of
    Bavaria and was able to produce his music
    dramasand then promoted the building of a
    special opera house in Bayreuth, Germany for
    these music dramasand to this day, the opera
    house performs only Wagner.
  • Called his works music dramas, rather than
    operas. It was a new kind of opera in the
    1850s, Music shares the honor with poetry, drama
    and philosophyall furnished by Wagneras well
    as the stage design and acting.
  • He coined the word, Gesamtkunstwerk (meaning
    total work of art) for his powerful concept, and
    made that distinction between his workswhich
    were music dramasand ordinary operas.

  • His operas and artistic philosophy influenced
    musicians, poets, painters and playwrights.
  • Wrote his own librettos (based on medieval
    Germanic legends myths)
  • His strictly musical innovations, in harmony and
    orchestration, revolutionized instrumental music
    as well as opera. Tension of his music is
    heightened by chromatic and dissonant harmonies.
  • Uses brief recurrent musical themes called
    leitmotifs (guiding or leading motives.)
  • A leitmotif is a short musical idea associated
    with a person, an object, or a thought in the
  • He created a storm of controversy in his
    lifetime, which has not died down today. (He
    wrote endless articles expounding all of his
    ideas and unfortunately his anti-Semitic remarks
    (50 years after his death) were taken up by the
  • .

  • It is said that he was half con man, half
    visionary, a bad poet and a very good musician.
  • He was a major figure in the intellectual life of
    his time whose ideas were highly influential not
    just in music but also in other artsand in this
    sense he was the most important of the Romantic
  • 11 Die Walküre (The Valkyrie) Act I (P. 280)
    Is the second and most widely performed of the
    four music dramas in Wagners gigantic cycle, Der
    Ring des Nibelungen (The Ring of
    Nibelung)Wagners view of 20th century society.

  • In a nutshell
  • Romantics had enthusiasm for fantasy, nature
    and the Middle Agesand Romantic music puts
    unprecedented emphasis on self-expression and
    individuality of style…which reflects their