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Romantic Era
Classical Era
Ludwig van Beethoven is considered
to be the composer who effectively
ends the Classical Period and begins
the Romantic Era. The works of his
Middle and Late Periods dramatically
differ from his early works in both
structure and character, culminating
with the monumental Symphony No.
9 in D minor, known as the “Choral”
Composers who continued the
tradition of the Classical Period
at the height of Beethoven’s
career include Peter Winter,
Anton Reicha, Muzio Clementi,
and the famous German opera
composer Carl Maria von Weber.
Italian opera of the early 19th century
initially resisted the trends of
Romantic tendencies. However,
composers such as Gioachino
Rossini, Gaetano Donizetti, and
Vincenzo Bellini continued Italian
opera’s dominance through their
innovations in both opera seria and
opera buffa.
A contemporary of Beethoven,
Franz Schubert is known for his
monumental output, most
especially for his lieder, or German
song, compositions, for their everchanging harmonies, textures, and
flowing vocal lines.
Paris in the early Romantic Period
became the center of Europe’s
musical scene with the development
of grand opera, led by composers
such as Giacomo Meyerbeer. His
treatment of the orchestra would be
echoed by later composers, including
Hector Berlioz, Richard Wagner, and
Richard Strauss.
The 19th century was also a showcase
for virtuoso performers. Composers and
instrumentalists such as Niccoló
Paganini, Franz Liszt, and Frédéric
Chopin dazzled audiences with their
musical prowess, usually performing their
own compositions.
The Romantic movement also saw
the rise of programmatic music, or
instrumental music that tells a
definite story. Its main pioneer was
the French composer Hector
Berlioz, whose works inspired an
entire generation of future
orchestral composers.
Richard Wagner was the most
influential German opera
composer of the 19th century,
using mythological librettos to
create grand works designed to
promote German nationalism. He
also pioneered the use of the
leitmotif, or “leading motive”, a
technique used to serve as a
musical representation of a
character, event, or feeling
associated with the emotional
content of the drama.
The Ride of the Valkyries is the popular term for the beginning of Act III of Die Walküre, the second of the four operas
by Richard Wagner that constitute Der Ring des Nibelungen. The main theme of the Ride, the leitmotif labelled
Walkürenritt, was first written down by the composer on 23 July 1851. The preliminary draft for the Ride was composed
in 1854 as part of the composition of the entire opera, which was fully orchestrated by the end of the first quarter of
1856. Together with the Bridal Chorus from Lohengrin, the Ride of the Valkyries is one of Wagner's best-known pieces.
In the opera house, the Ride, which takes around eight minutes, begins in the prelude to the Act, building up successive
layers of accompaniment until the curtain rises to reveal a mountain peak where four of the eight Valkyrie sisters of
Brünnhilde have gathered in preparation for the transportation of fallen heroes to Valhalla. As they are joined by the
other four, the familiar tune is carried by the orchestra, while, above it, the Valkyries greet each other and sing their
battle-cry. Apart from the song of the Rhinemaidens in Das Rheingold, it is the only ensemble piece in the first three
operas of Wagner's Ring cycle. Outside the opera house, it is usually heard in a purely instrumental version, which may
be as short as three minutes
Before the 19th century, instrumental
music consisted mostly of what is
known as absolute music, or music
that can be described simply from its
form or structure. It is meant to exist
solely for its own sake, and does not
conjure up specific images designed
by the composer or any external
Although composers experimented with
musical imagery before Romanticism,
composers had not written instrumental
music to tell a definite story. Musical
imagery served more to convey general
impressions to the listener, such as in
Vivaldi’s Four Seasons quartet. With the
emphasis on literary and highly charged
emotional content, composers of the
Romantic era began to write works that
were based on specific literary references,
specifically from the writings of
Shakespeare and many others.
Program music, is labeled specifically as
instrumental works without vocals that tell a
definite story that goes beyond mere musical
impressions or imagery. Over the course of the
century, composers from all over Europe
would write programmatic works, mostly based
on literary or folk tales of a nationalistic idiom.
Among them would include Tchaikovsky The
Nutcracker Suite. However, the first composer
to bring program music to the forefront of the
Romantic movement was the French
composer, conductor, and writer Hector
Berlioz (1803-1869).
1. How old was Berlioz when he completed
his music studies?
2. How did people respond to Berlioz?
3. How did he describe his Symphonie
Berlioz became the
leading symbol for
French Romanticism
after rising to the
forefront of orchestral
music in the 1840’s.
This is particularly
evident in his first major
symphony, the
Fantastique, Op. 14.
During this time, Berlioz
was deeply in love with
the Irish actress Harriet
Smithson, who became
his muse for the idée
fixe, or main idea that
pervades the piece.
In the symphony, the
artist (Berlioz) is in the
throngs of “hopeless love”
and poisons himself with
opium. The resulting
hallucinations result in the
five movements of the
Another short berlioz video:
For wordle
1800's 1800's 1800's 1800's 1800's 1800's 1800's 1800's 1800's 1800's 1800's
Romantic Romantic Romantic Romantic Romantic Romantic Romantic Romantic Romantic Romantic Romantic Romantic Romantic Romantic Romantic
Program Music Program Music Program Music Program Music Program Music Program Music Program Music
Piano Piano Piano Piano Piano Piano Piano Piano Piano
Chopin Chopin Chopin Chopin Chopin Chopin Chopin Chopin
Liszt Liszt Liszt Liszt Liszt Liszt Liszt Liszt Liszt
Berlioz Berlioz Berlioz Berlioz Berlioz Berlioz Berlioz Berlioz Berlioz Berlioz Berlioz Berlioz Berlioz Berlioz Berlioz
Expression Expression Expression Expression Expression
Emotion Emotion Emotion Emotion Emotion Emotion Emotion
Individuality Individuality Individuality
Nationalism Nationalism Nationalism
Opera Opera Opera Opera Opera Opera Opera Opera Opera
Beethoven Beethoven Beethoven Beethoven Beethoven Beethoven Beethoven Beethoven Beethoven Beethoven Beethoven
Symphony Symphony Symphony Symphony Symphony
Wagner Wagner Wagner Wagner Wagner Wagner Wagner Wagner Wagner
Lied Lied Lied Lied Lied
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