The Romantic Era - Duncanrig Secondary School Faculty of Music

The Romantic Era
The Romantic Period
• Approximately 1810-1900
• Growth of established forms; such as opera,
mass, symphonies and concertos.
• Greater experimentation and freedom to explore
timbre and harmony as the orchestra expands.
• Associations with other art forms and artists –
writers, poets, artists and other musicians.
Romantic Composers
Beethoven (d.1827)
Revision – Opera 1
In the early Romantic era, opera fell into two categories –
Italian and German. Italian opera tended to focus on
memorable melodies, whereas German opera was more
concerned with dramatic plotlines than exciting tunes.
Italian early Romantic – The Barber of Seville Rossini
German early Romantic – Fidelio Beethoven
Watch Figaro’s aria from The Barber of Seville by Rossini – hear
the frequent use of repetition and imitation by the orchestra and
the changes in tempo for dramatic effect.
At the end of the clip, listen as the music goes between chords I,
IV and V before ending – what is the final cadence?
Clip at
Revision – Opera 2
In the later half of the Romantic era, Bizet was the most
prolific composer of opera from France. Two of his operas
remain popular today – The Pearl Fishers and Carmen,
which includes the famous Toreadors’ Song and Habanera.
Wagner was the principal opera composer of the
Romantic period. His compositions are notable for their
rich chromaticism, harmonies and orchestration. He
preferred his works to be known as ‘music dramas’, the
merging of all the theatre arts of music, drama, staging,
scenery, costumes and lighting into one form…
Clip at
Revision - Symphony
Composers in the Romantic era began to explore the new
harmonies and textures available to them. Frequently
composers would write pieces with a stimulus in mind – like the
final movement of the Symphonie Fantastique by Berlioz…
• Sonata form
• 2 subjects in exposition
• Descending scales
• Counter melody
• Polyphony
Analysis video at
Revision - Concerto
Copy and complete: “A concerto is a work for a ____
instrument accompanied by _________. In the
Romantic Period the 3 movement form became less strict
and composers such as Mendelssohn and Bruch
experimented with joining movements together. The
_______ was still included however, a flashy passage for
the solo instrument, which features a _____ at its
conclusion to mark the end and the return to the
Schumann Piano Concerto Op.54
Listen to the beginning of Schumann’s Piano Concerto
in A minor and listen out for the rubato.
Rubato – a rhythmic ‘give and take’ in a
phrase allowing more expression.
Rubato is a common feature in Romantic piano music
and is frequently used in performances of Chopin’s
piano music.
Schumann Piano Concerto Op.54
Listen to the end of the movement where the
cadenza is featured – there is a dramatic
dominant 7th chord from the orchestra before the
piano takes over… Also listen for the return of the
main theme, veiled by trills in the right hand.
Use video at
Higher Revision - Mass
Listen to a movement from Rossini’s Petite Messe
Solennelle -
1. Use one word to describe the orchestral texture
in the introduction.
2. Name the final cadence before the singers
3. Which movement from the mass is this?
4. What is the group of singers called that sing in
this movement?
Higher – New Learning for the
Romantic Era
Lied - This term (the German word for song)
refers specifically in the Romantic era to works
for solo voice and piano. The text is German.
Famous composers of Lied:
• Schubert
• Schumann
• Brahms
Lied can be written for any of the four
voice types – soprano, alto, tenor or
bass – but examples are frequently
male (tenor).
The structure of the verses is either
strophic or through-composed.
Styles of Lieder
Through composed refers to
music that is written all the way
through without repetition or
return of musical material. A
(non Romantic) example is
Bohemian Rhapsody by Queen.
In strophic music, the same
melody is used with new lyrics.
Most pop songs are strophic –
the verse music repeats with
different lyrics each time and
the chorus section repeats.
Listen to this song from Schubert’s song cycle Die Schone Mullerin
(1823) – it is an example of a strophic song.
Audio -
Score -
Listen to Der Erlkonig by Schubert’s (1823) – each stanza has new
music as the story hears from a new character – it is an example of
a through-composed song.