ROMANTICISM (1827-1900)

There were always romantic elements in music and still are. The 19th century Romantic movement began in English and German literature about the years of 1770 (Sturm und Drang-Storm and Stress movement which was also reflected in some of the symphonies of Haydn), and found its musical voice during the early part of the 19th century. Then romanticism remained as a dominating force in music for a hundred years.
In very broad terms, romanticism is an attitude of mind that rejects the logical intellect and instead trusts in the instinct and emontion. This age is a reaction against the previous Classsicism which was the Age of Reason. Romantic art is emotional, exaggerated, fantastic, unbalanced, full of excitements, does not feed itself upon the conscious mind. The artist discovers his isolation and enjoys his solitude in his dreams.
The adjective “romantic” comes from romance, which had an original literary meaning of a Medieval tale or poem treating heroic personages or events and written in Latin language which was roman: Arthurian Romances of King Arthur.
Therefore, when the word ROMANTIC came into use in the middle of the 18th century, it carried the cannotation of something far off, legendary, fictional, fantastic, marvelous, fanciful and imaginary. The ideal world of the Romantics was contrasted with the actual world of the peresent. It was addition of strangeness to beauty. The artists began to praise the Gothic art for its irregularity rather than the symmetry of the Classics. There was a change from the symmetrical and simple art of the Classical Age towards the irregular and complex exposition of the Gothic Age.
Industrilizaton, scientific discoveries, and the crowded cities pushed the artists away from the society. The rising men were bankers, politicians, military generals, who did not have time for art in any form. There occured a gap between the artist and the audience. Then the artist had turned into himself, exploring his own emotions and discovering the depths of his personality. Art regarded as a mirror of the artist’s soul. Art existed for its own sake, instead of existing for the sake of society.
For the inspiration, artists looked at the vanished ages, distant lands; irrational, unusual and fantastic stories and exotic subjects. Witches, fairies, ghosts, supernatural forces and far off ages, like the Middle Age, became interesting.
Nationalism, as a typical characteristics of the late romanticism, blossemed as an effective force in music after the mid of the century.
The 19th century music is remarkable for its consistent exploration of new sounds. In expressing the inner emotions, the composers began to use dissonant (disharmonic-restless, opposite of consonant) sounds as well as very deep melodical lines. Classical theory of consonance no longer supported practice. By the end of the century the theories of coherence in a composition, (which was the ideal of classicism) had collapsed. And this collapse became a gate to the modern music of the 20th century.
Romanticism was seen as a revolt against the limitations of classicism.
Programme music, huge orchestrations, the piano, lied, grand operas with spectacular scenes as well as light operettas, Verdi’s heroic operas, Wagner’s musical dramas-monumental-, are some of the characteristics of this age.

Cultural uniformity (International) National-local
Artist :An ordinary member of society In isolation, rejoicing solititude
Daily, natural Remote, strange
Order, control. Freedom, passion.
Perfection within limits Endless pursuit of unattainable
Being rather than Becoming
Achieving “ “ Striving
Rational expression “ “ Emotional and inspired
Taste of ordinary man “ “ Idealized mankind (audience)
Consious mind “ “ Unconsciousness
Balance, moderation “ “ Exaggeration, fantasy,excitement
Proportion “ “ non-proportionate
Form must control content “ “ Content decides form.

The following poem of Wordsworth is a good example for a romantic artist rejoicing his solitude:

The world is too much with us; late and soon,Getting and spending we lay waste our powersLittle we see in Nature, that is ours;We have given our hearts away, a sordid boon!The sea that bears her bosom to the moon;The winds that will be howling at all hours,And are upgathered now like sleeping flowers;For this for everything we are out of tune;It moves us not.-Great God! I'd rather beA Pagan suckled in a creed outworn;So might I, standing on this pleasant lea,Have glimpses that would make me less forlorn;Have sight of Proteus rising from the sea;Or hear old Triton blow his wreathed horn.
William Wordsworth-1806
ROMANTIC LITERATURE: Goethe; Wordsworth, Victor Hugo, Balzac,Therau., Pushkin. Nietzche (in search of the ideal mankind)
ROMANTIC PAINTING: Millet, Delacroix, T.Rousseau, Goya.
Natural scenery became very influential-the country side became very attractive for escaping from the industrilized city life. All the poems, novels and paintings described nature with an admiration. Thus music in the Romantic Age, more than before, sought to paint picture or tell a story and carried a programme in this sense.
The individual patronage of the 18th century began to dissapear.There was a growth of concert societies and musical festivals and this was a transition from a small, homogenous and cultural audience to the huge and unprepared middle class public. Composer used to know his small audience previously. But now he had to reach a vast new audience. This situation had driven the composer into his isolation. Now he was not composing for a patron, to entertain a small group in the society, but for an imaginative audience, hoping to be appreciated one day.
In contrast to the amateur musicians of the Classical Age (that each member of aristocracy was playing an instrument, like lute or harpsichord), the professional standards of performers improved. That opened the gates to the virtuosity (excellence) in performing.
Opposed to music given in aristocratic houses under the patronage of nobility, public concerts were invented. John Banister, a London violonist arranged the first concert series in a City Tavern. In Paris the famous “Concert Spirituel” series had been inagurated in 1725. The concerts of the Leipzig Gewandhaus came later in the century, in 1781. These were the concerts similar of today: Paying money and buying tickets. The concert halls were also built in this century. They came on the scene by the decline of the private patronage as well as the immense growth of large scale symphonic music. Performers were too crowded for a small room, they needed large stages. Then big concert halls with acoustically (perfect audible conditions) well decorated interiors were constructed.
Since the symphonic music gained importance at the beginning of the Romantic Age, the composers required a crowded performer group for their works and the chamber music that used to be performed with a few performers in small rooms became less important during this period. We may say that chamber music dominates the Classical Age, and symphonic music dominates the Romantic Age.
Another novelty that rose with the symphonic music was the presence of a conductor. In the early days of symphonic music, relatively small forces of musicians were used in performance. The members of the orchestra would be coordinated by a keyboard (e.g.harpsichord or lute) player. He set the tempo, helped those who had gone astrays to find the places again, provided a harmonic support of the ensemble and stressed the rhythmic pulse. Orchestration, in the age of Mozart and Haydn was a relatively straight forward matter. With the increasing orchestral recources, there was no way that the entire orchestra could follow a tempo given by someone seated among them, directing from a keyboard. There became a conductor, giving the beat with a baton or roll of music papers. After the fashion of some dance-band maestros, some conductors faced the audience while conducting the orchestra. By the middle of the 19th century, with the immense orchestral forces around him, the conductor needed a very sophisticated ear to judge the balance of the players. Towards the end of the 19th century, by the increase of the members in the orchestra, the conductor had to keep control over a hundred players. (Since the age of recording, the job of a conductor has become more complex-to learn the ever increasing repertoire, because public is less tolerant for the mistakes..)
Symphony means “sounding together”. So the orchestral music is called symphonic music. It can be considered in four catagories in the Romantic Age:
1)Symphony-A German preoccupation. German and Austrian composers like Schubert, Schumann, Mendelssohn, Brahms, Mahler and Bruckner contributed to this genre. The main characteristic of a 19th century symphonic writing was the thematic unity, wherein all the musical ideas in a symphony were derived from one or two main thematic germs (as in Beethoven’s 5th symphony). Cyclic unity was an off spring of this idea, which experimented in binding together the various movements (sections), either by referring back to the important themes or by continual reference to one basic motto theme.
2)Programme Symphony- Following the precedent of Beethoven’s Pastoral symphony, musical description became an important element in symphonic writing. The weight of symphony no longer depends on pure musical logic, but on expressing the drama of the composer’s inner life. Most composers were using picturesque descriptive elements, emotional excurtions and theatrical effects. The characteristic 19th century symphony is a sympony with programme. Sometimes the story is explained in so many words by the composers, sometimes it was merely implied (felt by the listener to be there). In any way, there was a problem of symphonic form. This was a problem of musical unity. It was impossible to trust in the story and let the music look after itself! So the programme-music composers evolved systems for ensuring musical coherence. Hector Berlioz evolved “Idee Fixe” (fixed idea method), where the obsessional idea used during each movement, as in his Fantastique Symphony. This system gave way to the cyclical symphonic forms of later 19th century (Cesar Franck). Franz Liszt used a system that he called “Metamorphosis of themes”. There are some MOTTO movements that are recurring and providing a unity for the piece. This is also parallel to the “leitmotive” usage of Wagner in opera.
The programme music gave way to symphonic poem, which is a large free form in one movement, intended to outline a definite story or paint a picture. Franz Liszt is the father of symphonic poems. Later on Richard Staruss became a master of it.
3) Concert Overture- Mendelssohn’s Fingal’s Cave is a descriptive tone-poem reflecting the romantic affects of sea scape and storm. A concert overture is identical in structure with the operatic overtue (a movement in the sonata form of ABA). It is short and descriptive. It is performed as the introductory piece within the symphonic concert programmes. Opera overture is played before the rise of the curtain of the opera performance.
4) Solo Concerto- With the rise of virtuoso performer and the increase in public concerts, the solo concerto became popular. It kept many of its classical features, but there were certain important structural modifications that emphasized the dramatic effects. Romantic concerto was different in style and manner. Mozart treated the soloist and orchestra as partners of equal standing. There was a polite interchange, a mutual understanding between the soloist and the tutti (ensemble). Romantic composer thought in terms of virtuosity and technical brillance. The polite conversation turned into a pitched battle- sometimes a fight to death between solo and orchestra. Most 19th century concertos are for piano and violin. These two instruments suited to display the emotional intensity.
Expansion in excat knowledge and scientific methods, as a reaction, music was searching something beyond the boarders of rational and going into the unconsciousness and supernatural. (e.g.Berlioz- Fantastique Symph.)
The essential spirit of romantıc age, was both idealistic and secular. None of the famous composers wrote liturgical (sacred, pertaining to liturgy, like Bible) pieces.
Instrumental music was thought to be more romantic than the vocal compositions. Because the words of vocal music may divert the pure feelings. But with an instrumental music, the listener may dream his fanciful images as much as he wants.
There is no typical romantic symphony or composer, as no novel, poem or artist. Complex personages were the characters of the operas. Intensitiy of feeling displayed. Melancholy led to pathological states of nihilism, plus insanity, plus suicide (e.g.Young Werther). Mad scenes, hysterical reactions in opera became fashionable: Flying Dutchman, Lucia, Butterfly.
USA-Andrew Jackson, the 7th president of the States. RUSSIA-1.Tsar Nicolai . AUSTRIA-Prince Metternich. FRANCE-Louis Philippe (last king of the country). ENGLAND- Queen Victoria
Romantic musician tends to support political stability. He hated wars and political unstability. He hated social disorder.
INDUSTRIALIZATION was a principal historical trend of the time. Watts discovered the steam machine in 1769. That opened the gates to the trains and railroads and communication facilities. In the cities with the mechanical development and establishment of factories, offered a cacophonic (ill-sounding) life for the artist.
Art was used as an escape from such a mechanical society. Each artist of the epoch praised an unspoiled, pre-industrial nature.
MUSIC-technical changes: If remotness and boundlesness were romantic qualities, then music is the most romantic of all arts. Its material is almost completely detached from the concrete world of objects, and this makes music able to reflect the flood of impressions, thoughts and feelings.
Romantic music has very long melodic sentences; where classical music was phrase dominated. Melodic line floats. Music seems to be reaching, striving, yet it never reaches to a final goal. Cadence is a final pause of harmonic progression. The end of a sentence. In romantic music, there is a feeeling as if the cadances are never to come, the piece is never to end. Cadences are in a tension. A second meaning of the “cadence” is that the soloist in a concerto shows his/her virtuosic abilities by the hard passages, almost in an imrovisatory mood and without the orchestral accompaniment.
Tempo and nuance (dynamics-sound level) markings increased. For the classical composers musical terminology were simpler, but for the romantics terminology became complicated. Such as, a simple “allegro” gained modifying adjactives as “molto allegro ma non troppo”. Not a simple “forte” (f) but using extremes of dynamic indications: ffff, or not a simple piano (p) but pppp, could be used.
Harmonic dissonances (disagreeable sonority) were also used instead of consonant (agreeable) sound of classicism. Harmonically the music is dense. The orchestra was enlarged, creating a rich sonority ( mass tone of voice.)
Tonality (definition of a given key) is widened: Unprepared shifts from one key to another was tolerated. This was to give a more dramatic expression. Minor tones, instead of Major tones, became popular for their mystical colors. Almost all of the Requiems (prayer for dead) were written in minor tones.

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