Characteristics of the Romantic Music Period Essay

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It is arguable that some Romantic music made greater demands upon its listeners than did music of previous historical periods. What were those demands? Why did these changes come about? And what strategies can you formulate for listening to this music today?

In consideration of the musical changes present in the Romantic era, this essay will contend that these changes are very much related to the wider social and technological changes in society around that time. Thus, it is important to identify the broad time period encompassed by this era. The definition of Romanticism in The New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians is:

“A movement or, more commonly, period of cultural history. When understood as a period,
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One characteristic of Romantic concertos is their length. Indeed, this increased length is another key aspect of Romantic music as a whole. To take one concrete example of this, Vladimir Askenazy’s interpretations of Beethoven’s piano concertos[xvii] are significantly greater in length than his interpretations of Mozart’s concertos[xviii]. Further illustration of this is the opening movements of Beethoven’s piano concertos numbers 4 and 5, which both last longer than a number of Mozart’s concertos in their entirety and are longer, by far, than any of Mozart’s first movements.

Similarly, other forms of musical composition demonstrated increasing length during the Romantic era. Beethoven’s Piano Sonata number 29 ,‘Hammerklavier’, being a case in point, according to Marston[xix], the extremely long solo piece was “most likely the longest ever written at that time”. The Hammerklavier sonata is also a perfect example of the other previously stated Romantic characteristics. The use of pianississimo and fortissimo a bar apart in the final section of the first movement is but one example of the radical contrasts present in the piece as a whole[xx]. Another hallmark of Romantic music is present in this piece: extreme technical difficulty - András Schiff declared Hammerklavier “virtually unplayable” [xxi].

This increase in