Romantic Period (circa 1800-1900)
The Romantic Era sprung from literature and free thinking caused by the French Revolution (1789-1794). Stories and poems of heroics written in the Romance languages French, Spanish, Italian and other Latin-based languages conjured images of fantasy and imaginary other worlds. The Romantic period was somewhat detached from reality, and focused less on the present than on the past and future. Music was seen as the best medium to express the values of the Romantic Era. Many composers, apart from Mussorgsky, are renowned for their Romantic works; these include: Schubert, Mendelssohn, Chopin, Liszt, Verdi, Tchaikovsky, Dvorak and many others. During the Romantic period musical style and its characteristics were dramatically different from the style of the Classical period preceding it. Lyrical melodies were emphasized, rather than rhythm, and complex harmonies were employed. Chromatic harmonies were very prominent. Adherence to musical form was not exceedingly strict, and a deep, rich orchestral tone was sought. The Industrial Revolution made instruments cheaper and better, thus leading to larger orchestras, and brass, woodwind and percussion instruments played more active roles in the orchestra. New orchestral effects were introduced. Composers were more precise in the expressive elements to be utilized in their pieces, elaborating on the articulation, dynamics, phrasing and descriptive terminology. The rhythm involved frequent alterations in tempo and time signature. However, not all changes from classical style were positive a distinct decline was evident in the skill of improvisation. Romantic music also defines a clear gap between absolute music and program music music which is written to reflect a specific scene, story or theme. In fact, program music was referred to as "the music of the future". The Romantic period was a time for great change in the musical world, which opened up many pathways leading to the...
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