IB Music/Music History/Romantic Period

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Characteristics[edit | edit source]

Individuality of style[edit | edit source]

  1. Self-expression important
  2. People can distinguish composers easily

Expressive aims and subjects[edit | edit source]

  1. Love glorified
  2. Fascination with fantastic and diabolical
  3. Nature important influence

Nationalism and exoticism[edit | edit source]


  1. music created with specific national identity
  2. Used folk songs, dances, legends, history of homeland
  3. fired up by French Revolution and Napoleonic wars
  4. led to unification --> this caused composers to write in styles, language and history of their homeland


  1. use of colorful materials from foreign countries
  2. Remote, picturesque, mysterious

Program music[edit | edit source]

  1. Instrumental music associated with story, poem, idea
  2. Accompanied with an explanation in a program
  3. “Union of the arts”

Expressive tone color[edit | edit source]

  1. Timbre really important
  2. Orchestra could have 100 musicians
  3. Brass, woodwind, percussion had more active role
  4. Mahler used 25 brass instruments in 2nd symphony
  5. Contrabassoon, bass clarinet, English horn, piccolo added to woodwind section
  6. New sounds drawn from old instruments
    • Low-range flutes
    • Pizzicato
  7. Piano made better, so better tone; damper pedal added

Colorful harmony[edit | edit source]

  1. New chords
  2. Chromatic harmony
  3. Dissonance more acceptable
  4. Wide variety of keys, rapid modulation
  5. Tonic less clear

Expanded range of dynamics, pitch, and tempo[edit | edit source]

  1. ffff, pppp used
  2. Frequent crescendos and decrescendos
  3. Range of pitch expanded with piccolo, contrabassoon
  4. Accelerando, ritardando, rubato

Form: miniature and monumental[edit | edit source]

  1. Short piano pieces for the home by Schubert and Chopin
  2. Several-hour Berlioz and Wagner pieces
  3. Symphonies, sonatas, string quartets, concertos, operas, choral works still produced
  4. individual movements longer than in classical
  5. Themes quoted in different movements to unify
  6. “Thematic transformation”
  7. Transitional passages between movements

The art song[edit | edit source]

  • a vocal composition
  • written for 1 singer with piano accompaniment
  • fairly short usually about 5 mins
  • written to be sung at home
  • fusion of poetry and music
  • lieder is a german art song
  • often set up by a brief piano introduction and finished with a conclusion called a postlude
  • typically strophic

Franz Schubert[edit | edit source]

  • (1797-1828) An Austrian composer.
  • He wrote some 600 Lieder (songs), completed seven symphonies, with his first at 16.
  • He is particularly noted for his genius for original melodic and harmonic writing.
  • He was the primary inventor of the Art Song.
  • strongly influenced by Beethoven

Robert Schumann[edit | edit source]

  • (1810-1856) A German composer and pianist.
  • His music was often introspective and often whimsical
  • his early music was an attempt to break with the tradition of classical forms and structure which he thought too restrictive.
  • most of his pieces had little kid titles like carnival and papillons which is french for butterflies
  • he wrote songs and short piano pieces
  • appreciated radical composers like chopin and berlioz
  • composed many piano pieces early in his career and then art songs in the middle, later turning to symphonies and chamber music under the influence of Clara

Clara Wieck Schumann[edit | edit source]

  • (1819- 1896) a German musician
  • one of the leading pianists of the Romantic era, as well as a composer, and wife of composer Robert Schumann. (social restrictions because she was a woman)
  • she was close friends with Brahms so early in her career she allowed Brahms and Schumann publish some of her works as she coolant as she was a woman
  • was a child prodigy at 9 on the piano
  • so many of her pieces contain virtuosities
  • she wrote for piano, violin and cello

Frederic Chopin[edit | edit source]

  • (1810-1849) is a Polish born composer
  • wrote almost exclusively for piano
  • friends with Liszt and Berlioz
  • after leaving Poland the Russians conquered and burned down Warsaw, his home town making compositions of that time quite grieving
  • most pieces are short, however many moods are portrayed within them
  • his music is very elegant and graceful
  • expressed his love for Poland in mazurkas and Polonaises (dances)
  • added ornamental tones similar to that sung in the Italian Opera
  • allows lots of rubato throughout his pieces

Franz Liszt[edit | edit source]

  • (1831-1886) raised in Hungary, at 11 moves to Vienna where he met Schubert and Beethoven, then in his later teens moved to Paris
  • the best pianist of his time (he deserved it with his practicing of 8-12 hrs per day)
  • he was determined to become the Paganini (best violinist, very virtuosic) of piano
  • developed a new form of program music
  • later in his career he became deeply religious writing masses and oratorios with his notion to revive, renew and reform church music
  • considered controversial (some consider it to be vulgar and bombastic while others revel in its extroverted romantic rhetoric
  • his dynamics ranged from ppp--> fff
  • his music is quite disjunct as it has many leaping octaves
  • lyric melodies are embellished with rapid runs
  • wrote program music
  • used continual changed in tempo and mood and alterations between diabolical fury and meditation to give a feeling of improv.

Felix Mendelssohn[edit | edit source]

  • (1809-1847) born into a wealthy family in Hamburg, Germany
  • considered to be as good as Mozart
  • music was deeply rooted in classical tradition
  • child prodigy in composing
  • friends with Schumann
  • wrote all forms but opera

Hector Berlioz[edit | edit source]

  • (1803-1869), born in France
  • one of the first French Romantic composers and a daring creator of new orchestral sounds
  • he was very strict to orchestration of music, it must be played the way it was written
  • highly influenced by Shakespeare
  • considered one of the best composers of the time
  • his music was considered controversial as it was quite wild and impassioned sometimes considered diabolical.
  • his pieces "are passionate expressiveness, inner fire, rhythmic drive, and unexpectedness." ~Berlioz
  • used abrupt contrasts between high woodwinds and low strings, snarling brass and rumbling percussion
  • lots of dynamic fluctuations and tempo changes
  • he used orchestras of hundreds of people, much larger than any other of the time
  • uses long melodies that take unexpected turns and are irregular and asymmetrical in construction
  • most works are for orchestra
  • lots of call and response

Peter Illyich Tchaikovsky[edit | edit source]

  • (1840-1893) from Russia but he studied in St. Petersburg
  • Great ballet composer

Bedrich Smetana[edit | edit source]

He was a bohemian nationalist composer.

Antonin Dvorak[edit | edit source]

Johannes Brahms[edit | edit source]

Guiseppe Verdi[edit | edit source]

Giacomo Puccini[edit | edit source]

an Italian composer whose operas, including La bohème, Tosca, and Madama Butterfly, are among the most frequently performed in the standard repertoire. (successor to Verdi)

Richard Wagner[edit | edit source]

a German composer, conductor, music theorist, and essayist, primarily known for his operas (or "music dramas" as he later came to call them). Unlike most other great opera composers, Wagner always wrote the scenario and libretto for his works himself. Wagner's compositions, particularly those of his later period, are notable for their contrapuntal texture, rich chromaticism, harmonies and orchestration, and elaborate use of leitmotifs: musical themes associated with specific characters, locales, or plot elements. Wagner pioneered advances in musical language including extreme chromaticism and atonality which greatly influenced the development of European classical music.

Gustav Mahler[edit | edit source]

(1860-1911) Gustav Mahler was a Bohemian-Austrian composer and conductor. Mahler was best known during his own lifetime as one of the leading orchestral and operatic conductors of the day. He has since come to be acknowledged as among the most important post-romantic composers. The spirit of the Lied (German for song) constantly rests in his work. Keenly aware of the colourations of the orchestra, the composer filled his symphonies with flowing melodies and expressive harmonies, achieving bright tonal qualities using the clarity of his melodic lines. Among his other innovations are expressive use of combinations of instruments in both large and small scale, increased use of percussion, as well as combining voice and chorus to symphony form, and extreme voice leading in his counterpoint. His orchestral style was based on counterpoint; two melodies would each start off the other seemingly simultaneously, choosing clarity over a mass orgy of sound. This is shown most clearly by his approach to the issue of so-called 'progressive tonality'. Progressive tonality is the name given to the compositional practice whereby a piece of music does not finish in the key in which it began, but instead 'progresses' to an ending in a different key.

Contextual[edit | edit source]

  • during the french revolution and the napoleonic wars
  • causing many aristocrats to no longer be able to afford to maintain private opera houses
  • causing many musicians to lose their jobs when small states of Germany were abolished as political units and were merged with neighbouring territories. (In Germany, the court and its orchestra were disbanded for this reason)
  • composers wrote for mostly the middle class which had increased due to the industrial revolution
  • public concerts developed in 18th c but became a thing in the 19th
  • due to the creation of conservatories during this period many people who didn't have the opportunity before could now become a professional musician for example woman by the late 1800's could study music composition
  • the audience was captivated by virtuosity
  • pianos became very common, they became a fixture in every middle class home
  • most composers came from the middle class