Music In The Romantic Era

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The study of music complements the study of human history as it mirrors society. Progress in civilization affects the evolution and change in style of music. “The growth of an art does not take place in a vacuum; it is inevitably affected by many external factors…” (Lovelock n.p.) Music is influenced by numerous factors such as the composer, religion, and societal conditions. Just as a dance reflects the ideas of a choreographer and a painting provides an image of an artist’s imagination, music is influenced by the life of a composer. The support Mozart received as a child prodigy pushed him to pursue a musical career while the poor reception of Rachmaninoff’s “First Symphony” discouraged him from producing more works (Myers n.p.).…show more content…
These elements include subjectivity, emotionalism, programmatic compositions, nationalism, and chromaticism (Kauble n.p.). One notable composer was Frédéric Chopin who was fondly called the “poet of the piano”. His works showed subjectivity and emotionalism. Subjectivity refers to the emphasis on self-expression. During the Romantic Era, music was not detached from the emotions of a composer as it was in the Classical Era. A distinctive trait of subjective Romantic music was the use of musical instruments to simulate sounds from the environment (Kauble n.p.). Subjectivity provided listeners with tangible images of the intangible subjects that music touched, such as emotions. Even though emotions were a key factor to music since the beginning of the said art, it was only in the Romantic period that emotions were vividly and explicitly highlighted in pieces. This expression of emotions was possible through different techniques such as chromaticism and modulation (change of key) (Kauble n.p.). Another technique that highlighted emotion is “tempo rubato”, which is a technique almost distinct to Romantic music (Holoman 209). “In part, Romanticism was a rebellion against the neoclassicm of the eighteenth-century Age of Reason. Romantic writers broke away from time-honored conventions and emphasized freedom of expression.” (Kamien…show more content…
Chromaticism disregards the strict rules of tonality (the “key” in which a piece is played) that was defined during the Classical Era. This resulted in the use of dissonance (clashing sounds) and half-step movements which ornament and add dynamics to the piece (Kauble n.p.). In Rachmaninoff’s “Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini” and “Etudes-Tableaux Op. 33 N. 8 in G minor” both contain elements of chromaticism with their elaborate use of arpeggios (play of broken chords) and repetitive musical themes (Myers n.p.). Music of the 1950’s was also influenced by specific events during that time period. One particular event that shaped music of the 1950s was the end of WWII. The years following WWII were relatively prosperous ones for Americans. Surprisingly, a repeat of WWI’s poverty and economic depression did not happen in the wake of the war. Americans were able to spend the money they had saved during the war and prosperity was achieved for the people of the USA (Perry

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