Romantic-era music is among the most well-known of all classical music. Its most famous composers pulled from a variety of sources, including the natural world, changing political and economic climates, and a new interest in different ethnicities to color their music.
The Romantic music period began in 1825 and ran until 1900. Several historical themes were at work during this period, including the increasing role of science as a worldview, the rise of nationalism in Europe, and a growing appreciation for the arts.
Several factors contributed to the style of music composed during the Romantic period. The natural and supernatural worlds were more important to people than ever before, and many Romantic composers gravitated toward supernatural stories. Program music, or music used to tell a story, also grew in popularity. Romantic composers additionally used music to highlight national identity as well as different ethnic groups.
The style of the Romantic music period is generally characterized by a wider range of dynamics, a greater variety of instruments, more dramatic melodies, more extreme tempos, fuller harmonies, and expanded formal structures within the compositions.
Some of the most famous composers of all time lived and worked during the Romantic music era. Schubert, Chopin, Wagner, Brahms, and Mahler are among the most recognizable names.
Despite the changing economic, political, and social environments of the 19th century, Romantic music from the era does not adhere to one central theme or style. Instead, Romantic music pulled from the ever-growing styles, as well as the growing interest in societal change, to create a voluminous and variety-laden genre of music.
Lee Simmons has 10 years of reporting experience covering a variety of issues for publications in South Carolina, California, and Texas. He also covered music industry issues for Soundcheck magazine and Bizmology.com, among others. Simmons earned a journalism degree from the University of Texas. He lives in Austin.