The romantic period
1820-1900

romantic painting

Representative composers:  Beethoven, Schubert, Berlioz, Mendelssohn, Robert Schumann, Clara Schumann, Chopin, Liszt, Verdi, Wagner, Brahms, Dvorak, Tchaikovsky, Musorgsky, Mahler

MELODY:  Long, singable lines with powerful climaxes and chromatic inflections for expressiveness.

Chromatic:  moving fret to the very next fret…1/2 steps 

HARMONY:  Greater use of chromaticism makes the harmony richer and more colorful; sudden shifts to remote chords for expressive purposes; more dissonance to convey feeling of anxiety and longing.

            Dissonance:  a discordant mingling of sounds.

            Consonance:  pitches sounding agreeable and stable. 

RHYTHM:  Rhythms are flexible, often languid, and therefore meter is sometimes not clearly articulated.

COLOR:  The orchestra becomes enormous, reaching upward of one hundred performers: trombone, tuba, contrabassoon, piccolo, and English horn added to the ensemble; experiments with new playing techniques for special effects; dynamics vary widely to create different levels of expression, piano becomes larger and more powerful.         

TEXTURE:  Predominantly homophonic but dense and rich because of larger orchestra; sustaining pedal on the piano also adds to density.

        Homophonic:  a texture in which all the voices, or lines, move to new pitches at roughly the same time; often referred to in contradistinction to             polyphony.      

FORM:  No new forms created, rather traditional forms (strophic, sonata-allegro, and theme and variations, for example) used and extended in length; traditional forms also applied to new genres such as Lied, symphonic poem, and orchestral song.

Strophic form:  a musical form often used in setting a strophic; or stanzaic, text, such as a hymn or carol; the music is repeated anew for each successive strophe.

Sonata-allegro:  A dramatic musical form of the Classical and Romantic periods involving an exposition (the principal section, in which all thematic material is presented), development (where they play around with the exposition), and recapitulation (the return to the exposition), with optional introduction and coda (a final and concluding section of a composition).

Theme and Variations:  a musical form in which a theme continually returns but is varied by changing the notes of the melody, the harmony, the rhythm, or some other element of the music.

Lied:  (German for “song”) the genre of art song, for voice and piano accompaniment, that originated in Germany ca. 1800.

Symphonic poem (tone poem):  a one-movement work for orchestra of the Romanic era that gives musical expression to the emotions and events associated with a story, play, political occurrence, personal experience, or encounter with nature.

Orchestral song:  a genre of music emerging in the nineteenth century in which the voice is accompanied not merely by a piano but by a full orchestra.