Romanticism in Music

Topics: Ludwig van Beethoven, Romantic music, Music Pages: 5 (1642 words) Published: March 10, 2008

Romanticism was an artistic movement that took place from the nineteenth to the early twentieth century. Drastic changes in the arts took place over the course of this time period. During this movement, much emphasis was placed on emotion and imagination in the arts. Prior to the Romantic Period, music had been seen more as recreation and njoyment than as an integral part of culture. The term "Romanticism" was first used in England and Germany in reference to a form of literature. It soon after spread to music and the visual arts.

Romanticism was largely a product of two important revolutions in Europe. The new society that came about after the French Revolution emphasized the importance of the individual. This brought great changes in influences and ideas regarding music. It encouraged uniqueness and originality in art. Also, with the Industrial Revolution, music was more accessible by the public. Music changed from being a form of entertainment experienced solely in palaces and churches, to an art, witnessed and performed by the masses. Public concert halls were built, new instruments such as the tuba and saxophone were invented, and professional orchestrators came into existence. In conjunction with this greater publicity that music began to receive during this time, there was also a technical advancement in the music. The Industrial Revolution brought about new technological improvements in instruments, like valves on brass instruments. Also, new music conservatories were established in all major cities. These two things helped to increase the skill level of the musicians of the period. Composers were now writing music that previously would have been unplayable.

There are three fundamental ideas of Romanticism in art. First, romantic art should be universal. It should cross the boundaries between genres. Second, it should be progressive. It should always be evolving and seemingly incomplete. It should be in a constant state of becoming. Finally, romantic art should be reflective. It should represent a train of thought, and reflect on itself. Romantic author and philosopher Novalis commented on his idea of the importance of the reflective quality of absolute music (textless music), saying "Absolute music is the most important art, because it is self-referential". Absolute music refers to nothing but itself.

Carl Dahlhaus, one of the great thinkers of the Romantic Period believed that Romanticism brought together three key characteristics. The first of which is exoticism, meaning an interest in anything that is not familiar. Some commonly used examples of this in the romantic arts were influence from the Far East, and mythology. A specific occurrence of this was German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche's idea that music came from the God Apollo and the Goddess Dionysus. A second characteristic is folklorism, meaning drawing from folkloric music. Third and finally, romanticism exhibits historicism, meaning that it commonly shows interest in artists of the past, and in the re-creation of their works. The music of the famous Baroque composer Johann Sebastian Bach, for example, was re-discovered during the Romantic Period. Dahlhaus believed that by these three characteristics, the former Classical style was being abandoned.

There are several fundamental ideas of Romanticism about music in particular that still exist as well-known musical concepts today. The concept of inspiration in music came about during this time period. The idea of a gesture of apotheosis, meaning a triumphant ending or finale, also was first commonly used at this time. Two new notions about musicians were created. The first is the idea of the "suffering musician" as an outcast, differing from the bourgeoisie. The second notion, quite contrary to the first, is the idea of musicians as celebrities. Another idea that started around this time is the idea that absolute music can be educational, and as such, comparable to...
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