views updated

Romantic(ism). Term used to describe literature, written mainly in the 2 decades 1830–50, and applied to mus. written in the period c.1830 to c.1900. It is a vague term, for there are ‘Romantic’ elements in all mus. of all ages. However, the composers generally classified as Romantic are of the period of Weber, Schubert, Schumann, Chopin, Liszt, Berlioz, Wagner, etc., in whose mus. emotional and picturesque expression appeared to be more important than formal or structural considerations. Thus Romanticism became the antithesis of classicism. In literature the works of Byron, Scott, Wordsworth, Goethe, Hugo, Gautier, and Balzac were the heart of the Romantic movt. and composers such as Berlioz and Liszt were particularly influenced by Byron and Scott. The supernatural element in Romantic literature is reflected musically in works such as Weber's Der Freischütz, and the Witches’ Sabbath movt. of Berlioz's Symphonie fantastique. However, Chopin, an essentially Romantic composer, was not influenced by literary models; and many movts. in works by ‘Classical’ composers such as Haydn, Mozart, Beethoven, and others, have Romantic leanings. As in so many branches of mus., distinctions between one category and another are blurred, thus nationalism, impressionism, and post-romanticism all impinge upon Romanticism.