Romantic - Musical Definition

Romantic - The Romantic movement of the 19th Century was all about the emphasis on the individual and individual expression. Where a Classical Symphony was, for the most part, abstract, many pieces in the Romantic era were musical evocations of particular scenes or moods. Berlioz's 'Symphonie Fantastique' is one of the first examples of this. In it, the composer imagines himself and his idealised woman in various dramatic situations. The music depicts many of these situations quite literally - most famously the sharp 'chop' of the guillotine at the end of the 'March to the Scaffold'. Composers such as Franz Liszt (1911-1886) and later, Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov (1844-1908) developed this technique into what became known as an orchestral 'tone-poem'.

The other great trend in the Romantic era was for bigger and better. By the end of the period in 1900, the orchestra of around 40 players in Mozart's time had ballooned to 100 or more - Gustav Mahler's(1860-1911) 8th Symphony of 1906 became known as the Symphony of a Thousand because of the enourmous number of people on stage, and Richard Wagner wrote operas which lasted four hours or more - and in the case of his 'Ring Cycle' - spread over four entire evenings!

The instruments of the orchestra themselves also developed considerably and new instruments like the trombone and the tuba became much more commonplace.
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Musical examples from the Romantic Period:

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