Romantic Virtuosity Essay

1693 words - 7 pages

Romantic Virtuosity

As the many socio-political revolutions of the late eighteenth-century established new social orders and new ways of life and thought; composers of the time period broke new musical ground by adding a new emotional depth to the prevailing classical forms.
This period is known as the Romantic period. It accured approximately from 1820 to 1920. Artists became intent in expressing their subjective, personal emotions. "Romanticism" derives its name from the romances of medieval times -- long poems telling stories of heroes and chivalry, of distant lands and far away places, and often of unattainable love. The romantic artists are the first in history to give to themselves the name by which they are identified.
The Romantic Movement in music co-insides with a general Romantic movement in all arts. At this period, the arts of literature and painting began to influence music. In the Romantic era, music acquired poetic or philosophical meaning. Antiquity, folklore, history and exotic cultures were examined as possible sources of inspiration. Romanticism in literature appears to precede the first signs of Romantic music (for example Goethe [1749-1832] and Wordsworth [1770-1850]). The Romantic Movement was fostered especially by a number of German writers and poets. Their influence on musicians was pervasive and enduring. Weber and Wagner were attracted by the legends of Northern Europe; Schumann by the pseudo-philosophic romantic literature of his day; Chopin by his national poet Mickiewicz; Berlioz by the earlier romantic poet Shakespeare; Liszt by the contemporary French romantic poet Lamartine and by various French romantic painters, and so on. Thus, an explosion of music by poetry, fiction, philosophy and painting took place, and with it was associated a further explosion by the spirit of nationalism. Weber, Schumann, Wagner expressing the German spirit; Chopin, Poland; Listz, Hungary; Dvorak, Bohemia; Grieg, Norway, and so on.
Virtuoso: A person of notable accomplishment; a musician of extraordinary technical skill. In its original Italian usage (particularly in the 16th and 17th centuries) 'virtuoso' was a term of honor reserved for a person distinguished in any intellectual or artistic field: a poet, architect, scholar etc. A virtuoso in music might be a skilful performer, but more importantly, he was a composer, a theorist or at least a famous maestro di cappella. In the late 17th and 18th centuries a great number of Italian musicians carried the term 'virtuoso' to the courts and theaters of northern Europe, regularly applying it to themselves whether not they merited such distinction in the traditional Italian sense.


Franz Liszt
Born: Raiding, near Odenburg, October 22, 1811
Died: Bayreuth, July 31, 1886

Hungarian composer Franz Liszt began his career as the outstanding concert pianist of the century, who, along with the prodigious...

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