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Late Romanic Era

Page history last edited by PBworks 16 years, 4 months ago



The Era


    The romantic era was between the 1820s and 1910, and the late romantic era was between 1860 and 1910. The romantic era was a reation to the enlightment era, which coincided with the Classical Period. While the enlightment dealt with logic and reasoning, the romantics responded by the use of intuition, imagination, and feelings for the expression of ideas. This dramatic emotion was shown through conflicting tensions throughout the orchestra.

      While in earlier periods music was written for the church, in the romantic era music was frequently being written for concert halls or opera houses. Romantic pieces were also being written for large orchestras, with string and wind instruments. These instruments include clarinets, english horn, tuba, harp, and some percussion instruments. Although music was more popularly written for large orchestras, there was also an increasing use of solo piano and voice, and string quartets. 

     A large part of the romantic period was the growing national movement. Composers were now taking a lot of pride in their country and writing for their country. Composers were modifying traditional folk music of their native country.


      Romanticism more of a radical kind of expression, seeking out the new,curious, and adventurous composers and musicians.  Romantic art differs from classic art by its greater emphasis on the qualities of remoteness and strangeness. A fundamental trait of Romanticism is boundlessnes. Throughout the Romantic period, the human mind was peculiarly attracted by disproportionate and excessive features. The tiny piano piece and the brief lyrical song, forms which had been of no consequence during the Classical period, now assumed the highest significance. On the other hand, the moderate length of the classical symphony and opera was hugely extended (Mahler's symphonies, Wagner's operas). As against the classic ideals of order, equilibrium, control, and perfection within acknowledged limits, Romanticism cherishes freedom of expression, movement, passion, and endless pursuit of the unattainable (fantasy and imagination); a search for new subject matters. Because its goal can never be attained, romantic art is haunted by a spirit of longing. The creations of the romantic artist were emotional in character rather than guided by structural rules.


*New forms: symphonic poem, song cycle, music drama,
*Study of the folk-heritage in music and imitation of folk-like melodic simplicity,
*Predilection for exotic effects through employment of foreign national coloring or the folkloristic heritage (Chopin, Tchaikovsky, the Russians) [Chopin's more than 50 mazurkas represent one of the earliest examples of overt nationalistic sentiments in music],
*Break-up of stylistic unity but more individualism,
*Higher interest in melody and color rather than harmony and form,
*Higher dissonances and a freer employment of them,
*A more innovative treatment of chromatic harmony,
*Extensive use of diminished seventh chords,
*Greater interest in modal techniques (flat seventh [common to many modes], flat second [Phrygian], augmented fourth [Lydian]),
*Assimilation of older elements, especially the revival of polyphony and Baroque forms under the influence of JS Bach [Mendelssohn, Brahms],
*Thematicism plays a more important role in a sonata movement than tonality,
*Thematic metamorphosis: A programmatic approach to composition often associated thematic material with a character or idea. Changing circumstances or emotional states were represented by the transformation of the thematic material (as in Faust Symphony or Symphony Fantastique),
*Cell development technique in nationalist music,
*Use of a cyclic device: Material from one movement recurs in another (a technique related to thematic metamorphosis, idee fixe and leitmotive) (Serenade for Strings by Tchaikovsky; Mendelssohn's Eb string quartet; Beethoven's Symphony No.9),
*Manipulation of sonata form, including mosaic and additive structures. More organic treatment of the form,
*Postludes in the Lieder (especially by Schumann),
*Unity on a large scale: merging of separate movements into a single span (Liszt's Sonata in B minor),
nThe Late Romantic Era




The Composers of Late Romantic Period


Note on composer 's role in society:

The role of composers in society differed greatly from the role they once played . Before, composers mostly wokred for a court and composed for the church. Now, romantic composers mostly wrote for opera houses and salons. Also, they were becoming celebrities in public. This is why there is more information on composers from the romantic period to today than in earlier eras.

Peter Ilich Tchaikovsky (Russian, 1840-1893)





Background Information

·         Comes from a family without musical background, father was a mine inspector

·         Started piano lessons at age of 5, quickly showing gifts for music. At age of 10, he is sent to School of Jurisprudence at St. Petersburg.

·         Was influenced to start composing when his mother dies when he was 14.

·         Travels Western Europe, and in 1863 he entered the Conservatory, also undertaking private teaching. Three years later he moved to Moscow with a professorship of harmony at the new conservatory

·         1868, his First Symphony is performed in Moscow, and pleases public

·         Has unsuccessful marriage.

·         Visits US in 1892.

·         Suffers through out his life because his sexuality

·         In 1893, as he was working on his Sixth Symphony, he dies of “cholera”.

Styles and Characteristics of Music

·         Expressive and well defined themes

·         Has tendency to contrast blocks of material rather than provide organic transitions

·         Lyrical and melodramatic

·         Sometimes uses folksong tunes

·         Happy, sunny mood.

List of famous Works

·         Symphonies 4-6

·         Swan Lake

·          Sleeping Beauty

·         The Nutcracker.

Other Late Romantic Era Composers

Antonin Dvorak (1841-1904)

Background Information

·   Studied at Prague Organ School from 1857 to 1859.

·A capable viola player, he joined the band that became the nucleus of the new Provisional Theatre orchestra, conducted from 1866 by Smetana.

·Supported financially by private lessons and composing

Musical Styles and Characteristics

·      His works display the influences of folk music, mainly Czech (furiant and dumky dance traits, polka rhythms, immediate repetition of an initial bar)

·        Equally seen as an American style composer.(pentatonic themes, flattened 7ths)

List of Works

·         Symphony 1, c Minor, "The Bells of Zlonice"

·         Symphony 2, B-flat Major, Op. 4

·         Symphony 3, E-flat Major, Op. 10

·         Symphony 4, d Minor, Op. 13

·         Symphony 5, F Major, Op. 76

·         Symphony 6, D Major, Op. 60

·         Symphony 7, d Minor, Op. 70

·         Symphony 8, G Major, Op. 88

·         Symphony 9, e Minor, Op. 95, "From the New World"




Johannes Brahms (1833-1897)



Background Information

·         He studied the piano from the age of seven and theory and composition with Eduard Marxsen from age of 13

·         As he worked as an arranger for his father's light orchestra he was exposed to the popular alla zingarese style associated with Hungarian folk music

·         He meets Robert Shumann



Musical Styles and Characteristics

·         Uses lots of variations

·         Taught forms, but loose distinctions between genres

·         Manipulation of themes

·         Lyrical

·         Structure variation



List of Works

·Second Piano Concerto in B-flat

·         Violin Concerto (dedicated to Joachim

·         Fouth Symphony

·         German Requiem (1868)


Operas of Romantic Period

Wagner (1813-1883):


Lived in Dresden. Wagner as a youth was influenced greatly by Gothic elements of Weber's Der Freischutz. He enrolled at Pastor Wetzel's school at Possendorf, near Dresden. Also, he was inspired by other composers such as Beethoven, esp. the 7th and the 9th symphonies.

Wagner was politically involved, he was part of the Republican party, Vaterlandsverein. Wagner. is appointed music director at a travelling theater based in Magdeburg. His début as an opera conductor with Don Giovanni. His second opera is in 1836, Das Liebesverbot. His sixth is in 1948, Lohengrin. Wagner's style of music was very influencial and was after wards called Wagnerian Music. He is also known as to create his own instrument for specific use.




He is noted with grand majestic style

big orchestration( size and use of specific instruments for their texture, and creation of new instruments for specifict parts

gigantic settings of opera, unimaginably huge, and grand. life like.


He fused old German folksongs and stories with his music

-Der Nibelungen-Mythus for the ring cycle

-The Der Nibelungen-Mythus. This is the original story line and also the differences between the opera and the original.

-Lohengrin based on the saga of Siegfried


He used leitmotif in his opera.  

-leit motif: a recurring musical theme, associated within a particular piece of music with a particular person, place or idea



List of works:

Early Works:

  • (1832) Die Hochzeit (The Wedding) (abandoned before completion)
  • (1833) Die Feen (The Fairies)
  • (1836) Das Liebesverbot (The Ban on Love)
  • (1837) Rienzi, der Letzte der Tribunen (Rienzi, the Last of the Tribunes)

    Late Works:

  • "Die Feen"
  • "Das Liebesverbot"
  • "Rienzi"
  • "Der fliegende Holländer" (Flying Dutchman)
  • Scene from Der fliegende Holländer
  • "Tannhäuser"
  • "Lohengrin"
  • "Der Ring des Nibelungen"
    • "Das Rheingold"
    • "Die Walküre"
    • "Siegfried"
    • "Götterdämmerung" (Twilight of the Gods)
  • "Tristan und Isolde"
  • "Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg"
  • "Parsifal"

     Tristan and Isolde (Tristan und Isolde)

    tristan und Isoldeby Edmund Blair Leighton


    based on the legend TristanIt takes place at various settings;A ship at sea; outside King Marke’s palace, Cornwall; the platform at Kareol, Tristan’s castle. It has three acts.

    Plot: "Tristan, having lost his parents in infancy, has been reared at the court of his uncle, Marke, King of Cornwall. He has slain in combat Morold, an Irish knight, who had come to Cornwall, to collect the tribute that country had been paying to Ireland. Morold was affianced to his cousin Isolde, daughter of the Irish king. Tristan, having been dangerously wounded in the combat, places himself, without disclosing his identity, under the care of Morold’s affianced, Isolde who comes of a race skilled in magic arts. She discerns who he is; but, although she is aware that she is harbouring the slayer of her affianced, she spares him and carefully tends him, for she has conceived a deep passion for him. Tristan also becomes enamoured of her, but both deem their love unrequited. Soon after Tristan’s return to Cornwall, he is dispatched to Ireland by Marke, that he may win Isolde as Queen for the Cornish king.


    The music-drama opens on board the vessel in which Tristan bears Isolde to Cornwall. Deeming her love for Tristan unrequited she determines to end her sorrow by quaffing a death-potion; and Tristan, feeling that the woman he loves is about to be wedded to another, readily consents to share it with her. But Brangäne, Isolde’s companion, substitutes a love-potion for the death-draught. This rouses their love to resistless passion. Not long after they reach Cornwall, they are surprised in the castle garden by the King and his suite, and Tristan is severely wounded by Melot, one of Marke’s knights. Kurwenal, Tristan’s faithful retainer, bears him to his native place, Kareol. Hither Isolde follows him, arriving in time to fold him in her arms as he expires. She breathes her last over his corpse." (http://www.musicwithease.com/tristan-isolde-synopsis.html)

    Influences to music:

    Tristan Cord: it was a move away from the classical tonal harmony. Use of 7th for ambiguity.

    Lenghtened unending cadences, creates greater feeling of passion.

    harmonic suspension: uses of a nonchord tone, nonharmonic tone, or non-harmony note is a note in a piece of music which is not a part of the chord that is formed by the other notes sounding at the time to create musical tension by exposing the listener to a series of prolonged unfinished cadences.

    It is a lead into the Impressionism.


    Giuseppe Verdi(1913-1901)

    Background:Verdi is an Italian Romantic composer, who was considered among the most influential:Bellini, Donizetti, and Rossini. Verdi received his first training in composition in Busseto. He movd to Milan whe he became 20 to continue with his studies as a musician. He attened to many operatic perfomances, of many which were German. This influenced him to becom a theatretic composer.

    List of Works


    Piece: Prelude in Db Major ("Raindrop") by Frédéric Chopin


    Ø Two sections, first in Db major, second in C# minor.

    Ø Polyphonic

    Ø A constant defined rhythm in each section.

    Ø Instruments: Piano

    Ø Many dynamic changes between piano and forte


    The part of Prelude in Db major has two sections. The first is 27 measures long (0:00 to 1:34) and then second is 12 measures long (1:35 to 2:11). This piece is four plus four.

    Ø In the first section, the melody is in the highest voice. The lowest voice provides the steady rhythm while the middle voice acts as an accompaniment

    Ø The first idea (A) is from the first to the eighth measure. The idea is four measures long and then repeats itself.

    Ø The second idea (B) is also eight measures long, and it also repeats itself, but it each time it repeats itself it variates. The first time it repeats the rhythm is different, the second time, the rhythm is slightly different and it is only three measures long.

    Ø The bass leads into the second section.

    Ø In the 3rd idea (C), the bass clef has the melody while the treble clef is the rhythm. This idea is mainly in piano, with a small crescendo.

    Ø The 3rd idea repeats again, with an added middle voice.


     Ø Written in 1839, this piece is from the romantic era.



    Piece: Twelve Etudes, Op 25: No. 10 in B minor

    By: Frédéric Chopin



    v ABCA, three different sections

    v Piano

    v Meter changes from duple to triple from sections A to B

    v A section is loud and dramatic

    v B section is soft and melodic

    v C sections serves as a transition between B and A; greatly crecendos and gives off a hypnotic mood

    v Short section A at the end, which finally concludes in forte


    v 3:48

    v ABCA

    v First section A: 0:00-0:50


    ~some melody, built most used with scales and chords

    ~Both hands are monophonic



    ~long fermata between sections

    v Section B 0:52- 2:55

    ~More melodic

    ~Both hands are polyphonic, right hand has the melody


    ~slower than first section

    v Section C 2:56-3:19

    ~Right hand starts piano with a hypnotic melody

    ~left hand plays short melody, then joins in with right hand in hypnotic melodY

    ~large crescendo; leads in section A

    v Section A repeat 3:20-3:48


    ~exactly like section A





    Composer: ChopiN

    Written in 1800s, Romantic era

     Praeludium and Allegro

    In style of Pugnani




    •        Instruments: violin solo, piano accompanyment

    •        Composer: Fritz Kreisler (1875-1962). Attributed to some of the composers of the 18th century

    •        20th century era

    •        Style: music itself is written in baroque style; keyboard and violin, simple rhythm, cadence and division of sections. However, the playing style is romantic; change of tempo and rhythm, long lyrical phrasing.



    •        In G major

    •        Homophonic.

    •        Overall: flexible in rhythm. Usually the change of chord and note is emphasized by a longer note.




    Part 1: 0:00-0:48

    •        Allegro

    •        4/4, all quarter notes.

    •        Starts with VI chord, and then IV.

    •        Change of key near the end 19-20 to A major

    •        Legato. First notes, E emphasized, and the change of notes and chords emphasized with accent and legato.

    •        Tempo: although marked allegro, is slower.

    Part 2: 0:49-1:35

    •        Andante

    •        ¾, triple.

    •        Polyphonic. Scale wise.

    •        Minor.

    •        16th notes

    Part 3: 1:36-2:36

    •        repetition of Allegro

    •        longer cadence

    •        Tempo 1

    Part 4: 2:37-3:15

    •        Allegro molto Moderate

    •        ¾, short staccato notes

    •        Alternating between spicatto and slurred notes in group of two.

    •        Major, IV second inversion ends in minor and then major

    •        Double notes. Dissonance.



     Listening Logs on the Folktune "Johnny Comes Marching Home" and the origional Irish song/lyrics:

    Listening Logs Johnny[1].doc 


    Works Cited


    Bockman, Guy Alan Scored for Music, A Guide for Listening. Publisher: Unknown, 1972.




    site highlighting key differences and traits of romantic period:



     Site about Wagner:


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