- Nationalism became an important movement in the latter part of the 19thC, as European countries sought to establish their political and stylistic identities.
- Nationalistic writers, painters, and musicians turned to the colorful folk tales, legends, and sounds of their own countries.
- The term romantic comes from romance, actually the word for a medieval story or poem of a heroic nature in one of the Latin-derived, or romance, languages.
- Term implies appreciation of the distant, the mythical, the ideal, the heroic, and the supernatural.
- The future as well as the past, intrigued the romantic imagination, and science fiction became an important genre during this period.
- Distant places were also considered fascinating and exoticism was one characteristic of Romantic art.
• more passionate melodies
• greater use of chromaticism. (Chroma is Greek for colour).
• There was an enormous increase in the size of the orchestra. The tuba was added to the brass section, valves were invented, giving the brass more flexibility. Composers wrote for woodwind instruments in threes of even fours. The piccolo, cor anglais, bass clarinet and double bassoon were added.
A larger string section was formed, to accommodate the extra sound. More varied percussion (e.g. bongos) were added.
• A larger range of pitch and volume was now possible.
• New combinations of instruments were brought about, meaning different timbres.
• A rich variety of compositions resulted, ranging from piano pieces and songs to large spectacular works, (The majority of large works were by: Wagner, Berlioz, Mahler and Richard Strauss).
Several improvements were made to the piano in the 19th Century. E.g. more notes, metal frame as opposed to wood. The piano gained a richer sound, and gradually, a wider range of notes.
• The sustaining pedal began to be used to a much wider extent. The most famous piano composers of the time were: Schubert, Mendelssohn, Chopin, Schumann, Liszt and Brahms.
• They wrote sonatas (for one instrument, or a soloist with one accompanying instrument.), and short pieces such as the:
• mood and character pieces:
- the impromptu
- the romance
- the song without words - the prelude
- the nocturne
- the ballade
- the intermezzo
- the rhapsody
• Many pieces shared contrasting moods, and were in Ternary form. Another piece of the time was the etude (study). It was meant to improve the playing technique of the player. This period saw the rise of the virtuoso, a person with extraordinary musical skill, such as Paganini (violinist people thought he had made a pact with the devil, because he was so good), and Liszt (pianist he was very concerned with showmanship.)