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To What Extent Did Nationalism Affect Music Of The Romantic Period?

3728 words - 15 pages

“Nationalism” is defined as “A social and political outlook insisting that the state should embody a national community united by some or all of the following: history, ethnicity, religion, common culture, and language” . Essentially, nationalism is an intense pride for ones’ country caused by a push for national unity. Nationalism was stirred due to the sense of loss in national origin.
During the 1800’s, a ruling power, often imperialist, imposed their culture, language, and history onto their empire. An example of this is Austria’s rule over Bohemia, with the official language in Prague being German, not Czech . In order to regain identity and preserve their culture, countries under imperial rule promoted speaking in the native language and teaching history of the country in schools . Nationalism had a profound affect on the music of the Romantic period due to the revolutions, wars, and historical events that sparked national pride which lead to unity amongst those under imperial rule.
The Romantic Period
The Romantic period is chronologically defined by the 19th century. It was an era of great turmoil. With the French Revolution, the American Civil War, the Franco-Prussian War, the Crimean War, the Spanish-American War and various revolutions across Europe, a great sense of upheaval was felt by the bourgeoisie and upper class struggling to maintain their affluent lifestyle during this time period. The revolutionaries who were fighting for their rights and independence felt a great sense of freedom, pride and other intense emotions. These intense emotions helped identify the Romantic period. Characteristics of the Romantic period help define it as a whole, and allow for the overall appreciation for the music of this time. As with history, music does not take ‘right turns’. Nothing is absolute when stating specific years to start and end the Romantic period. These characteristics are general, and not all music found in this period adheres to these characteristics. Romantic music as defined by individuality of style. Musicians emphasized self-expression and individuality to make their sound well known and unique. This could be in part to how conventional they felt in everyday life. Music of the romantic period also had expressive aims and subjects. Composers explored many feelings, such as longing, rapture, and melancholy . The subjects of their music were also unconventional. Composers often wrote about the fantastic, the diabolical, and Shakespearian and Middle Age subjects due to resurgence of interest of the Middle Ages. There were also many subsections of Romantic music, two being exoticism and programmatic music. Exoticism is writing music that has an identity with a foreign land. This attributes to the theme of fantasy that was prominent in the time period. For example, Bizet’s Carmen is set in Spain, and Puccini’s Madame Butterfly as set in Japan. This kept with the attraction to fantasy that was characteristic of the...

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