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Music History. An Abbreviated History of Western Classical Music. The Romantic Period 1820 - 1900. Nationalism Liberalism Emotionalism. The Romantic Period was a time of “isms:”. The Romantic Period 1820 - 1900. Significant Events: American Civil War

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music history

Music History

An Abbreviated History of

Western Classical Music

the romantic period 1820 1900
The Romantic Period1820 - 1900
  • Nationalism
  • Liberalism
  • Emotionalism

The Romantic Period was a time of “isms:”

the romantic period 1820 19001
The Romantic Period1820 - 1900

Significant Events:

  • American Civil War
  • Invention of the telephone, telegraph, photograph, railway, steamboat
  • Rise of capitalism and socialism
the romantic period 1820 19002
The Romantic Period1820 - 1900

Achievements in science:

  • Louis Pasteur
    • Pasteurization process
  • Samuel F. B. Morse
    • Morse Code
  • Charles Darwin
    • Theory of evolution
  • Thomas A. Edison
    • Invented light bulb, telegraph, phonograph, microphone, etc.)
the romantic period 1820 19003
The Romantic Period1820 - 1900

Achievements in literature:

  • Leo Tolstoy (War and Peace)
  • Herman Melville (Moby Dick)
  • Mark Twain (Huckleberry Finn, Tom Sawyer)
  • Charles Dickens (Oliver Twist, A Tale of Two Cities, A Christmas Carol)
musical characteristics
Musical Characteristics
  • Very expressive, emotional, tense, moody
  • Melody, harmony, and rhythm explored to their fullest yet
  • Greater interest (by composers) in wind instruments
  • Emphasis on the virtuoso performer
  • Nationalism
    • Composers incorporated native folk songs and styles into their music
    • Program music
    • Russia was the leader of this movement
important instruments
Important Instruments
  • Trombone and tuba first used in the symphony orchestra
  • Valves added to trumpets and French horns
  • Metal keys added to all woodwinds
  • Saxophone invented in 1840 by Adolfe Sax
  • Improvements made to the piano
    • Steel frame
    • Thicker strings
    • Pedal mechanism improved
instrumental musical forms
Instrumental Musical Forms
  • Romantic Symphony
    • Longer, additional movements
    • Program symphony
      • Depicts scenes in nature or tells a story
  • Tone Poem
    • One long movement
    • Programmatic (tells a story through music)
  • Concert Overture
    • Grew out the popularity of opera overtures

Musical Example

Symphony No. 6, op. 68 “Pastoral”


Ludwig van Beethoven (1770-1827)

beethoven s pastoral symphony

Beethoven’s Pastoral Symphony

Sonata Form - expanded to five movements

I. Awakening of joyous feelings upon arrival in the country. Allegro ma non troppo

II. By the brook. Andante molto mosso

III. Happy gathering of country folk. Allegro

IV. Thunderstorm; Storm. Allegro

V. Shepherd's song; cheerful and thankful feelings after the storm. Allegretto


Musical Example

Symphony No. 9, op. 125 “Choral”


Ludwig van Beethoven (1770-1827)

beethoven s ninth symphony

Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony

The symphony is in four movements, marked as follows:

Allegro ma non troppo, un poco maestoso

Molto vivace

3. Adagio molto e cantabile

4. Presto/recitative - Allegro ma non troppo/recitative - Vivace/recitative - Adagio cantabile/recitative - Allegro assai/recitative - Presto/recitative: "O Freunde" - Allegro assai: "Freude, schöner Götterfunken" - Alla marcia - Allegro assai vivace: "Froh, wie seine Sonnen" - Andante maestoso: "Seid umschlungen, Millionen!" - Adagio ma non troppo, ma divoto: "Ihr, stürzt nieder" - Allegro energico, sempre ben marcato: "Freude, schöner Götterfunken" / "Seid umschlungen, Millionen!" - Allegro ma non tanto: "Freude, Tochter aus Elysium!" - Prestissimo: "Seid umschlungen, Millionen!"


Musical Example

Symphonie Fantastique


Hector Berlioz (1803-1869)

symphony fantastique

Symphony Fantastique

The symphony is a piece of program music which tells the story of "an artist gifted with a lively imagination" who has "poisoned himself with opium" in the "depths of despair" because of "hopeless love." There are five movements, which was unconventional for a symphony at the time:

1. Rêveries - Passions (Dreams - Passions)

2. Un bal (A Ball)

3. Scène aux champs (Scene at the Country)

4. Marche au supplice (March to the Scaffold)

5. Songe d'une nuit de sabbat (Dream of a Witches' Sabbath)


Musical Examples

Barber of Seville Overture

William tell Overture

By Gioacchino Antonio Rossini (1782-1868)


Musical Example

The Nutcracker


Peter Tchaikovsky (1840-1893)


Musical Examples

Morning and In the Hall of the Mountain King

From Peer Gynt


Edvard Grieg (1843-1907)

Norway’s greatest composer

german opera

German Opera

  • The Ring of the Nibelungen
  • Das Rheingold
  • Die Walküre
  • Siegfried
  • Götterdämmerung

Richard Wagner (ree-card vahgner)


wagner s ring
Wagner’s Ring
  • Composed from 1848 to 1874 and produced theatrically for the first time in 1876, The Ring represents major turning points in the history of opera, as well as in orchestral music, the art of singing and the production of operas.
  • Use of the leit motif
  • Comparisons to modern films