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Virtuosity In The Romantic Period. Essay

1538 words - 6 pages

The Romantic Period altered the way in which music was perceived. Music became an art form in its own right and it no longer needed to be written for purely practical uses. Music was brought to the people and the people prized what was now available to them; thus the public concert was borne, and with it, virtuosity.The romantic period broke away from the constraints and rules of the classical period - the ideals of balance, proportion and disciplined expression, in favour of more radical kinds of expression, seeking out all that was new, curious and adventurous; cherishing freedom of expression, movement, passion and fantasy.The tiny piano piece and the brief lyrical song were forms that had little significance during the Classical period, but took on the highest of importance to the romantics. On the other hand, the moderate length of the classical symphony and opera was hugely extended, as seen by Mahler's symphonies and Wagner's operas. The creations of the romantic artist were emotional in character rather than guided by structural rules.Emotion became more urgent and intense as form became freer and tone color richer. Remaining mainly tonal, Romantic music became more chromatic, the melodic structure remained periodic but phrase structure became less regular. Music became more poetic than abstract and more melodic than harmonic.The romantics did not see that music needed to be written for a specific practical purpose; it formed a legitimate art form in its own right. Music had always played an important part in people's lives, but it had been mainly used in religious ceremonies and by aristocracy. However, in the romantic period, music became attainable and it became popular; so people wanted more and more. Ordinary people now began to play music at home as well as going to concerts or the opera. The new middle class bought pianos and most girls learnt how to play. People would hold musical evenings and tea parties where families and friends would gather to sing songs. Most towns and cities had music halls where people would go in the evening to listen to popular songs and watch acts.When things become popular among the masses, people want to be impressed by how grand it can be. As such, the virtuoso was born; to please the newfound public passion for music. Piano playing in particular grew to new heights and composers such as Liszt, and Chopin became like superstars to the 19th Century audience. They travelled around Europe giving concerts like pop stars would today. Their technique was so advanced that people thought that they had extra fingers or were getting help from spirits. During concerts given by Liszt it was not uncommon for ladies to faint from the excitement.The instruments chosen by these new virtuoso's were mainly the piano and the violin.The violin became the solo, melodic instrument of choice because of its resonant capabilities and the ability of the performer to manipulate the sound. It contrasted with the piano in its...

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