Liszt at the piano

Romantic Era

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    Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

    Goethe was a German writer and statesman. His writings were incredibly influential for Romantic composers and was famous by 25. He wrote poetry, dramas, books about literature, and scientific books about anatomy, botany, and color. Many composers used his poetry, including Schubert's famous Lieder, Erlkönig.
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    Luigi Cherubini

    Italian composer of French opera, Founding faculty member of Paris Conservatoire.
    Famous for opera: Lodoïska (1791). This rescue opera highlighted oppression and rescue from imprisonment and enslavement.
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    Napoleon Bonaparte

    Napoleon was a military leader in the French Revolution. In 1799, he was made the First Consul of the Consulate and worked to expand his control over France. He was declared Emperor of the French in 1804 and ruled over 70 million people across Europe by 1811. He attempted to take Russia, which ended ultimately badly and in October of 1813 an Allied army defeated Napoleon at the Battle of Leipzig. He was then exiled to the island of Elba.
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    Ludwig van Beethoven

    Beethoven is an extremely famous composer and is considered a transitional figure from the Classical to the Romantic style. He composed in all genres including symphonies, piano music, lieder, chamber music, and one opera. He was a piano virtuoso and expert in improvisation. He began losing his hearing as a young man. His deafness, eccentricities, and paranoia made him isolated from society.
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    Chancellor of Austria, Klemenz Wenzel con Metternich

    Hosted the Congress of Vienna and was instrumental in shaping social activities
, which fueled two new musical genres: the character piece and the Lied (song)
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    E.T.A. Hoffmann

    Hoffman was the first person to call music of composers "genius". He praised Beethoven in this way, because his instrumental music was absolute. He published an article about Beethoven's instrumental music in a music journal that reviewed new music and composers, called Allgemeine musikalische Zeitung.
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    The French Revolution

    The French Revolution was a war that began by mistreatment and oppression of the commoners in France, which they decided to revolt against. It was an event that triggered global and historical change. The use of theocracies and absolute monarchies in government were widely replaced by republics and democracies. Musically, composers like Haydn and Mozart were unaffected, but Beethoven was emotionally affected by the unrest in Europe.
  • Rescue Operas

    Rescue Operas
    Rescue Operas became popular in Europe. The public enjoyed them because they depicted good over evil, oppression, and heroism. Beethoven's only opera, Fidelio (1805) was in this genre.
  • Paris Conservatoire

    Paris Conservatoire
    In 1795, France founded a Paris Conservatory, a state music education institution. This replaced the training in churches and courts. This led to the opening of other schools, such as the Royal Academy of Music in 1822, London.
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    Franz Schubert

    Schubert composed in all genres, including over 600 Lieder and 200 choral pieces. His compositions were catalogued by Otto Erich Deutsch, so his works have a D. number. Not alive for it, but good example of Bildung. Freelance composer and earned income from teaching and publishing. He surrounded himself with people who were bonded over self improvement and passion for poetry and music. He was the main purveyor of salon culture and was primarily paid by in home performance.
  • 19th Century Music Styles

    19th Century Music Styles
    In the 19th century, music was intended for either bildung and Entertainment. The bildung was meant to be poetic, intellectual, artistic, and spiritual, with beauty and passion. The entertainment was meant to also be beautiful and passionate, but with more skill, virtuosity, and showmanship.
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    Hector Berlioz

    French composer, conductor, critic, and author
    Invented orchestration techniques that created the modern orchestral sound, for example: program symphony. He was inspired by literature and composed new, creative works. He was one of the first conductors to stand in front of the orchestra. He made most of his living on writing and music criticism; he wrote extensively about Beethoven's life and works.
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    Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky

    Tchaikovsky was a lead composer of ballet, symphonies, and symphonic poems at the time. He composed several ballets that are still famous today, including Swan Lake (1877), The Sleeping Beauty (1890), and The Nutcracker (1892).
  • Symphony No. 5 in C Minor, Opus 67 (1808)

    Symphony No. 5 in C Minor, Opus 67 (1808)
    Composed by Beethoven in 1808. This symphony displayed compositional differences of the Romantic period, such as expanding older forms and long development of themes. The strings are thematically dominant with other common orchestration of trombones and piccolo. The finale was in C Major, which depicted the victorious and heroic sound of Beethoven in the time.
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    Felix Mendelssohn

    Mendelssohn was a famous conductor, pianist, and composer; founder of the Leipzig Conservatory. His sister, Fanny, was actually suspected to have written many of what are believed to be his works. Felix is important because he revived the music of J.S. Bach, reviving a popularity in "old music" like Bach and Handel.
  • Piano in the 19th Century

    Piano in the 19th Century
    Piano became a household instrument in the 19th century and the main solo concerto instrument. Technical improvements were made and led to the development of the modern piano. There was more 4 hand piano music written for two performers and domestic music making became the norm.
  • Program Music

    Program Music
    There were different kinds of Program music in the 19th century. Concert Overture was a single movement piece for orchestra, which was based on an extra-musical idea. Incidental music was an overture and series of pieces to be performed between the acts of a play and during important scenes. Program symphony was a multi-movement work for orchestra, which was also associated with an extra-musical idea. Tone poems were one movement orchestral works, initially created by Franz Liszt in 1848.
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    Musicians in the 19th Century

    Democratic society librated composers and performers, which meant they were no longer servants, but part of the middle class. Concert halls became more popular as courts declined, while the middle class supported their trades (performing and teaching). Private/Semi Private music making and large public music making began to flourish. The middle class were much more involved. Women were expected to learn piano and sing.
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    Frédéric Chopin

    Polish born composer and pianist, Called the poet of piano. He had a delicate playing style and was appreciated by other musicians and the upper class, primarily. He was the main purveyor of the salon, which was a paid gig for a musician in someone's home where friends would play and sing. He is also credited with originating the modern piano style.
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    Romantic Era

    Romanticism was focused on trying to create moments during which "inexpressible longing could be felt". Overall, all art forms became darker and overly dramatic. Musically, there were more minor keys, longer pieces, less symmetrical phrasing, and more chromaticism. There was a focus on what the composer was trying to portray, emotionally and thematically. There was an interest in the macabre and supernatural. This was considered a time of "breaking the rules" based on the Enlightenment.
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    New Genres of the Romantic Era

    Character pieces: 1 movement poetic works for solo piano, cheap to perform and usually performed by the composer
    Tone Poems (or symphonic poems): 1 movement orchestral works that often had programmatic associations; German composers began writing programs for their music
    Program Music: non-vocal music associated with something outside of the music like a story or poem.
    Leider: poetry settings and emotional expression created by composers; cheap to prepare and perform; were revised in the 19c
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    Robert Schumann

    Schumann was a German composer, pianist, and music critic who was married to pianist, Clara Schumann. He was part of a group who was very popular In salons at the time and primarily composed piano concertos, symphonies, and lieder. He was also very devoted to his studies of literature of founded Die Neue Zeitschrift für Musick. Clara was a purveyor of the arts and was a child piano prodigy. She had composed the majority of her piano concerto by 13 and was respected in the salon scene of the time
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    Giuseppe Verdi

    Important, primarily opera, composer. He composed 28 operas including Macbeth (1847), Aida (1871), Otello (1887), and Falstaff (1893). He was extremely popular in Italy and the entire country mourned his death. He influenced the opera scene, globally.
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    Richard Wagner

    Born in Leipzig, Germany; A very influential musician in the 19th century. Began composing operas in 1830 and was appointed the second Kapellmeister for the King of Saxony in Dresden in 1843. After 1850, he began writing music dramas. His music dramas were his idea of opera where all of the elements of the composition and performance were equal: music, poetry, acting, etc. He invented Leitmotiv, which was a short motif that applies to an element of a drama.
  • The Congress of Vienna

    The Congress of Vienna
    Europe was reorganized in 1815. The political leaders who assembled in Vienna between September 1814 and June 1815 needed to help reconstruct Europe after the Napoleonic Wars. The Congress of Vienna restored the monarchies of France, Spain, and the Netherlands. They also dispersed parts of Italy and Poland; then reshaped the Holy Roman Empire into a German condfederation.
  • Erlkönig (1815)

    Erlkönig (1815)
    One of Schubert's most famous pieces, set to the poem from Johann Wolfgang von Goethe. There is one singer who sings four different characters. It is based upon a legend that whoever is touched by the king of the elves, Erlkönig, will die. His target was specifically young children and boys, but adults usually did not see Erlkönig. This was composed when Schubert was 18 and was a milestone for romanticism because it brought a topic to life and the text and music expressed the tragedy.
  • Ophicleide Invented

    Ophicleide Invented
    The Ophicleide was a keyed brass instrument with range similar to trombone. It was invented in 1817 and patented by French instrument maker, Jean Hilaire Asté. There is a family of different sizes of the instrument.
  • The Carlsbad Decrees of 1819

    The Carlsbad Decrees of 1819
    These decrees severely limited the freedom of expression by individuals and institution, such as universities and presses. Vienna did not allow any artistic expression, which affected the emerging style of romanticism. Many composers lived and worked there, such as Beethoven and Schubert.
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    Bedrich Smetana

    Known as the father of Czech music, known for his programmatic cycle of 6 symphonic poems called Mávlast (my country). He took part In the 1848 nationalist uprising. He was a pianist and child prodigy who wanted to create Czech music, but he lost artistic support in Prague, so he stepped down as the Provisional Theatre's director in 1874. He went completely deaf in 1874 and was struggling with prolonged mental illness. He was put in an asylum, until his death in 1884.
  • Microphone Invented

    Microphone Invented
    Invented by physicist, Charles Wheatstone in 1827. The early microphone was invented by him in his studies of how sound waves are to be transmitted.
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    Louis Moreau Gottschalk

    American nationalist, born in New Orleans, Louisiana. He was considered a child prodigy and was able to substitute for his teacher at the organ for Mass by 7 years old. He was very renowned amongst other composers, but unfortunately died of yellow fever in Brazil at 40 years old. He famously composed the character piece Le banjo (the banjo): fantasy grotesque from 1854-1855.
  • Symphonie Fantasize (1830)

    Symphonie Fantasize (1830)
    5 movement program symphony composed by Berlioz.
    The program was about a morbid, imaginative musician who was lovesick, which led him to try to kill himself with Opium. This didn't kill him, but gave him strange visions and dreams. During this time, his love obsession becomes a recurring melody that haunts him, but her melody is also present in the symphony itself. This melody is considered a fixed idea or Idée fixe.
  • Marzuka in B flat minor, Opus 24, No. 4 (1833)

    Marzuka in B flat minor, Opus 24, No. 4 (1833)
    Composed by Chopin in 1833, Marzuka is actually the name of a subgenera of character pieces. A Marzuka is a Polish folk dance in triple meter, often with a heavy accent on the second or third beat of each measure. Famously recorded on piano roll by Ignacy Jan Paderewski.
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    Johannes Brahms

    Brahms was a German, romantic composer. He carried along classical traditions and forms. He was very good friends of the Schumanns and played with them in salons, as well. He was one of the first editors of J.S. Bach's music and considered a scholar. He supported absolute music and was not a fan of Wagner or Liszt. He didn't want to be compared to Beethoven, but he was anyways, especially his symphony.
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    After Germany put power artistically over Europe, many other countries wanted to respond with music of their own cultures. National schools formed in all non-Germanic European countries. Nationalism was a reaction against Germany to show patriotism for other European countries. They used folklore and music written for events, places, or national heroes of the area.
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    Antonin Dvorák

    Czechoslovakian nationalist composer, friend of Brahms. He was invited to America and headed the National Conservatory in New York. He took an interest in American folk music, specifically Black and Native American. He actually angered Bostonians, because of his belief that American music in the future would include African American Music. He used pentatonicism in his new symphony, "From the New World".
  • Rigoletto (1851)

    Rigoletto (1851)
    Produced in Venice, Italy by Verdi. Set in a Renaissance court in Mantua, Italy, where the Duke of Mantua and his jester, Rigoletto, are cursed. The daughter of Rigoletto, Gilda, falls in love after being seduced by the Duke. The curse comes about because Gilda sacrifices her life to save the Duke from assassins hired by Rigoletto.
  • Airship Invented

    Airship Invented
    Henri Giffard invented the airship, what we would consider a zeppelin or a blimp, in 1852. It was 125 meters long, 25 meters in diameter, and traveled 5 meters per hour.
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    Giacomo Puccini

    Puccini composed some of the last great operas of the 19th century. He was trained in music, but had a passion for theater. Though he composed few works, they are still valuable today. He began composing at 17 years old. After hearing Verdi's "Aida" in 1876, Puccini decided to pursue a career in operatic composition. He studied at Milan conservatory and became internationally famous from his opera, Monon Lescaut from 1893. After being diagnosed with throat cancer in 1923, he died in 1924.
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    Gustav Mahler

    Conductor and Composer, Mahler bridged the Austro-German romantic traditions of composing with the new modern styles in the 20th century. His music fell off after WWII and he was also unsuccessful in New York's Metropolitan Opera. He composed 10 symphonies, orchestral lieder, and traditional lieder. After contracting streptococcus, he died a few weeks before he turned 51.
  • Má Vlast (My Country, 1874)

    Má Vlast (My Country, 1874)
    This is a cycle of 6 tone poems by Semtana. In the composition, he uses tone painting to evoke the sounds of the Moldau River, with the addition of a written program.
  • Der Ring Des Nibelungen

    Der Ring Des Nibelungen
    A four-music drama cycle was to be performed on four consecutive nights. Das Rheingold, Die Walküre, Siegfried, and Götterdämmerung were composed from 1853 to 1874. The entire cycle was performed in opera house proposed by Wagner, Bayreuth.
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    Béla Bartók

    He published 2000 songs that he collected during his travels through Eastern European countries like Hungary, Romania, Croatia, Slovakia, Serbia, and Bulgaria. He wrote books, articles, and arranged music based on traditional tunes. He was a piano virtuoso and created didactic pieces. He fused folk elements with highly developed modern techniques of compositions.
  • Madame Butterfly (1904)

    Madame Butterfly (1904)
    A verismo opera by Puccini, inspired by play by David Belasco. Though the premier was a disaster due to the audience, the opera is popular, today. The story is about a geisha, Madame Butterfly, who renounces her profession and religion to marry an American naval officer. He leaves for war and remarries an American woman, but Butterfly had his child while he was gone. He takes her child to America and Butterfly commits suicide.
  • Das Lied von der Erde (1911)

    Das Lied von der Erde (1911)
    Das Lied con der Erde (The Song of the Earth), was composed by Mahler in 1911. It's an orchestral song cycle of six poems, which can be characterized by their Pentatonic melodies and folk-like quality.