The Romantic Period
1820 - 1900
It's all about the feelings...
What was it like?
During the Romantic Period the world changed in many ways. By 1900 electricity, automobiles, radios, cameras and phonographs had all been invented. People became used to the idea of freedom and the Church was not such an important part of life. Artists, writers and composers rejected the Classical Period idea that reason and order were most important and instead focused on feelings and emotions.
During the Romantic Period composers stopped being "servants" for a nobleman and started to be respected and admired by both the nobility and the common people. You can see this from the fact that Mozart was buried in an unmarked grave, Haydn had a small funeral in a little town but 20,000 people attended Beethoven's funeral.
The important composers of the Romantic Period are Beethoven (in his later years), Tchaikovsky, Brahms, Chopin, Liszt, Schumann, Mendelssohn and Verdi.
Emotions are Most Important
In Romantic Period music the composer would aim to express emotions and help the audience feel emotion through the music. This meant that even though a composer might stick to the basic Classical Period forms (like Sonata Form), he would make sure to expand the form so that he could bring out emotions in the music. You can see this by looking at the length of Beethoven's symphonies. His first symphony is written during the Classical Period - it's about 30 minutes long. His third symphony is the first one that he wrote in the Romantic Period style - it lasts about 55 minutes. His last symphony (the ninth) is an hour and twenty five minutes long!
Romantic Period Art
Romanticism (the ideas of the Romantic Period) was an important movement in art and literature as well as music. Some of the more famous romantic poets and authors are William Wordsworth, John Keats and Lord Byron. In art, people started painting more scenes from nature and battle scenes that were influenced by the glory of Napoleon and end of the French Revolution.
Here is a timeline of world events during the Romantic Period (including the Civil War in the United States). Learn more about the Romantic Period from these videos.