Composers We’ll study – Romantic Period
Hector Berlioz (1803-1969)
Hector Berlioz was born on December 11, 1803 in the district of Dauphine,
France. Growing up, he learned to play the flute and guitar, but music was
encouraged to be a hobby by his parents: they wanted him go into the medical
field. Unfortunately, he was also disgusted with hospitals and corpses, so he
pursued another path. Eventually he was accepted as a student at Paris
Conservatoire, thus officially choosing music as a career choice. During his life
he took music lessons and English lessons, so that he could understand
Shakespeare, which he had grown to enjoy. He continued though life writing
music. He got married, but then later divorced, and remarried again. In 1862,
Berlioz completed his last work, the comic opera Beatrice et Benedict, based on
Shakespeare. Berlioz became ill in January 1869, and died in March that year.
Work We’ll Study: Symphonie Fantastique - March to the Scaffold
Frederic Chopin (1810-1849)
Frederic Chopin was born in Zelasowa Wola, Poland in 1810. As a child, his life
revolved around music. As a teenager, he started to publish his own compositions.
His music celebrated his Polish heritage, featuring waltzes, mazurkas,scherzos,
ballades, sonatas, and polonaises. His Waltz in D-flat was written for George Sand’s
(her real name was Aurore Dudevant) dog and is known as the “Minute Waltz”
because it takes only one minute to play. Chopin never married, but he lived next
door to Sand in Paris. He gave few public concerts, though his playing was much
praised. He died at age thirty-nine of tuberculosis in Paris, France, in 1849. He helped establish the piano as a solo
instrument and his has become the most frequently played piano music in history.
Work We Studied: Nocturne, Op. 9, No. 2
Composers We’ll study – Romantic Period
Felix Mendelssohn (1809-1847 )
Mendelssohn was born in Hamburg Germany in 1809. Fleeing from the Napoleon's
troops, the family came to Berlin, Germany. When he was seventeen, he composed
the overature of Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream. In 1837 he married
Cecile Jearmud, and later had five children. His music grew to be very popular and
he traveled to many different places to play. He became good friends with Queen
Victoria and her husband, Prince Albert. In 1847 he composed Elijah, his best
known work. Later in life he had a series of strokes and died in 1847.
Work We’ll Study: A Midsummer Night's Dream
Modest Mussorgsky (1839-1881)
Modest Mussorgsky was born in 1839 to a well-to-do landowner and began
taking piano lessons from his mother around the age of six. When he was nine, he
had learned to play to well that he began performing for friends and family. In
1852 he went to the Cadet School of the Guards in St. Petersburg to study history,
and German philosophy, and while there he sang in the choir and composed.
Later he entered Prebrazhensky Regiment of the Guards. Composer Balakirey
gave him composition lessons a year later, but in 1858, he suffered a nervous or
spiritual crisis and left the guards to go home. During this time, he composed
various songs and operas. He continued throughout his life composing, and he
left the government in January of 1880. In 1881 he suffered from an alcoholic
epilepsy and died a month later after being removed from the hospital. Many of his works were unfinished at his
death. His works were edited, revised, and later published for the public.
Work We’ll Study: Night on Bald Mountain
Composers We’ll study – Romantic Period
Gioacchino Rossini (1792-1868)
Born in 1792, both of Rossini's parents were musicians. He was a prolific
composer and wrote some of the most beloved operas of all time, notably
William Tell and The Barber of Seville. The revolution of 1830 prevented the
fulfilment of French royal commissions for the theatre, but in his later life he
continued to enjoy considerable esteem, both in Paris, where he spent much of
his last years, and in his native Italy. There he spent the years from 1837 until
1855, before returning finally to France, where he died in 1868.
Works We’ll Study: The Barber of Seville
Piotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky (1840-1893)
Born to a mine inspector and a half-french mother on May 7, 1840. He started piano
studies at five and soon showed remarkable gifts. Tchaikovsky’s parents did not think
that he could earn a living playing music, so they sent him to law school. He did work
for the government for a while then quit and began to play music. Around 1868 he
composed two ballets; Sleeping Beauty, and The Nutcracker. He died in 1893 from
cholera. Tchaikovsky's ballets and ather works showed his love of telling a story. The
1812 Overture has two anthems, one Russian and one French striving with each other
like the battle in 1812. Finally the Russian music triumphs to the ringing of church
bells and the firing of cannon.
Works We’ll Study: Rome & Juliet / 1812 Overture
Composers We’ll study – Romantic Period
Franz Schubert (1797-1828)
Franz Schubert, born in Vienna, Austria in 1810, composed over
950 works; of which about 600 are songs or "Lieder." For a long
time Schubert was considered mostly a songwriter. Most of his
large output was not even published, and some not even
performed, until the late 19th century. Rediscovery of his nine
symphonies and the 'Trout' Quintet, showed he had produced
instrumental masterworks as well. Numbers of Schubert's songs
were issued as private subscription editions for friends, who
would gather for evenings of music known as "Schubertiads." His songs often identify nature with human suffering.
The melody of his Unfinished Symphony is universally recognized. Schubert died in Vienna in 1828.
Works We’ll Study: Die Erlkonig / Symphony No. 8 “Unfinished”
Richard Wagner (1813-1883)
Born in 1813, this controversial and outspoken composer wrote some of the most
beloved operas and music of the Romantic Period. Wagner's "Ring of The
Nibelungs", based on old Germanic legends, seems to be the same theme material
for Tolkien's writings. Yet the same music, used in later years by the Nazis evokes
the hatred of the Jewish holocaust. To this day his music is banned for that reason
in many places, including Israel. Wagner's music has been used in many movies,
such as "Apocalypse Now," featuring his "Ride of The Valkyries". His opera
"Parsifal" is one of the most striking examples of his use of Leitmotifs. He not
only has theme songs for everything, but as Parsifal ages and experiences life, his
theme changes accordingly from innocent and energetic to tired and discouraged.
Wagner died in 1883. Wagner effectively changed music and art and our thinking about it. His music is banned by
some and loved by others; but it's greatness can not be denied.
Work We’ll Study: Das Rhinegold - The Valkyries