Beethoven and Romanticism
- Ludwig van Beethoven - Contributed to the composer's shift in status from merely a servant of the wealthy to an artist. Wrote choral, chamber music and opera. Briefly studied under Haydn, was also influenced by the works of Mozart. He used dissonance in his music which intrigued his listeners. Beethoven began to lose his hearing at age 28, losing it completely by age 50. One of his most popular works is the Ninth Symphony. He influenced a new crop of young composers guided by the ideals of Romanticism.
What is Romanticism?
Romanticism or the Romantic movement was a concept that encompassed different art mediums; from music to painting to literature. The Romantics believed in allowing their imagination and passion to soar spontaneously and interpret it through their works. This was different from the Classical belief of logical order and clarity. During the 19th century, Vienna and Paris were the centers of musical activity.
- Program music - An instrumental music which relays ideas or narrates a story. Berlioz' Fantastic Symphony is an example of this.
- Character pieces - A short piece for the piano that depicts a single emotion, often in ABA form.
The piano was still the main instrument during the Early Romantic period. The piano underwent many changes and composers brought the piano to new heights of creative expression.
- Franz Schubert - Wrote about 600 lieders (German songs). One of his most famous pieces is titled Unfinished named so because it only has 2 movements.
- Hector Berlioz - His Fantastic Symphony was written for a stage actress he fell in love with. Included the harp and English horn in his symphonies.
- Franz Liszt - His Fantastic Symphony was inspired by one of Berlioz' works. Developed the symphonic poem; making use of chromatic devices.
- Frederic Chopin - Wrote character pieces for solo piano.
- Giuseppe Verdi - Wrote many operas with patriotic themes. Two of his most famous works are Otello and Falstaff.