The Rise of the Romantic Movement

The Rise of the Romantic
Basic principles of Romanticism
Rooted in Enlightenment empiricism
Emphasis on individuality
Revolutionary value — personal liberty, social equality
Subjectivity — emphasis on emotional experience
Organic unity
– as natural phenomenon
– between humanity and nature
– as a mode of thinking — G. W. F. Hegel, Charles Darwin
Themes in Romantic art — attached to
subjective experience
• Love
• Death
– religion (Catholicism)
– the supernatural
• Nature
– effect on emotions
– nature reflecting or interacting with humans
• Politics — liberalism, patriotism
– war, epic, and history
– local color and exoticism
Comparing Classic and Romantic styles
in art
economy, restraint
clarity, articulation
form controlled by function
luxuriousness, extravagance
obscurity, blurring
form and style free of function
Beethoven’s second period — 1802–1814
• Dealing with deafness — the Heiligenstadt Testament
• Heroism — the Napoleonic ideal and the “Eroica”
• Love — the “Immortal Beloved” and An die ferne Geliebte
• Compositional struggle and musical originality — books of
sketches and drafts
• Musical style
– increased resources
– innovations in form, including organicism and programmaticism
Beethoven’s third period — 1814–1827
• Isolation — personal and social/cultural
• Philosophical reflection
• Extreme experimentation in composition — topics,
harmony, counterpoint, form
• Grand works — Missa solemnis, Symphony no. 9
• Intimate works — piano sonatas, string quartets
The Romantic Lied
• Contrasting approaches to setting poetry
– strophic, volkstümlich
– ballade — narrative and through–composed
• Franz Schubert (1797–1828) and the Lied
– musical content based on poetic motion/emotion
– modified strophic form
– two great cycles, based on poems of Wilhelm Müller
• Die schöne Müllerin
• Winterreise
Operatic styles and composers after the
Congress of Vienna
• Italy — postclassical style, rooted in opera seria and
opera buffa traditions
– Gioacchino Rossini (1792–1868)
• France — post-Revolutionary styles
– Luigi Cherubini (1760–1842)
– Daniel-François-Esprit Auber (1782–1871)
– Rossini, Guillaume Tell (1829 — his last opera)
• Germany — Romantic opera
– Carl Maria von Weber (1786–1826)
Questions for discussion
• Should the Enlightenment and Romanticism be
considered phases of a single set of broad artistic
values in music? Why or why not? If so, what
comprehensive term would identify those values?
• In general, was the spread of democratic government
and egalitarian thinking a positive or negative influence
on quality in European music?
• Why was the writing of composers’ biographies largely
a new interest beginning in the nineteenth century? The
“biographical fallacy” suggests that works of art should
be understandable in their own terms and not require
knowledge of the artist’s life. Is that true for Romantic
• How did developments in literature affect music in the
early nineteenth century?

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