Romanticism In Music Essay, Research Paper
Romanticism was one of the strongest movements to ever have hit the music scene. Romanticism lasted a large portion of the nineteenth century and it=s music reflected that of the world that was rapidly changing during those years. One of these massive changes taking place was the Industrial Revolution. In Britain, science was being applied to already existing manufacturing processes. This meant that, with better systems in place rather than those of hard back breaking labour, more goods could be produced at a lower cost. A significant trend developed towards urbanization as opposed to farming. The average family could now afford those things which, in the past were considered a luxury. New processes also meant new ideas. During this period a number of advances in music were made. With new industrial processes, valves were added to the already existing trumpet, thus making it a more useful aid in musical composition. Also, the saxophone was invented and pianos could now be made better. A steel frame was added to them and their strings would become those of a better quality giving a better and more brilliant sound.
In the musical world, new opportunities were being brought about. Most importantly, music was being brought from the church into the concert hall. There were also more chances for instrumentalists to better themselves since new conservatories were being established in Europe. All of this meant that orchestras could now be larger and the quality of the musicians would be much improved. With larger orchestras and better musicians, composers tended to become more expressive in their works. Rather than being limited to the range of piano to forte the crescendo was becoming fashionable in compositional techniques. The crescendo allowed the composer to be more expressive in his piece by gradually increasing or decreasing the volume or starting from a pianissimo and ever so rapidly moving to a forte to give the effect of a real drama of sound. This sense of expression lent mood and atmosphere to the performance. New terms were used to explain what the composer was thinking when he wrote the piece. Terms such as ; dolce (sweetly), maestoso (majestic) and gioioso (joyful). Another form of expression used by composers was to create songs based on folklore and nationalism giving the piece a cultural flavour. Some of the exceptional composers who adapted this style of music are Tchaikovsky, Berlioz, Wagner and Franz Liszt.
Franz Liszt (1811 – 1886) was born in Hungary to a steward in the employment of a wealthy family. He was allowed the opportunity to pursue his musical interests C and abilities by a group of Hungarian noblemen. While studying, he formed friendships with some of the great leaders of romanticism such as Chopin. One of the most influential moments in Liszt=s life was the appearance of the violinist Paganini. This made him aware of the possibilities of being a virtuoso instrumentalist. Liszt , being one of the greatest pianists of all time exceeded this. He was energetic and outgoing, being that that is what great musicians are made of. Liszt was popular with the ladies, almost like a nineteenth century Elvis, and he encouraged all kinds of Aunnecessary@ behaviour from his audience C such as ladies tearing his handkerchief to shreds. But all the time that he wore this mask he was a true musician.
In the height of his fame as a pianist, Liszt gave it up and devoted his days to composing. In the late 1840s he became the court composer to the grand duke of Weimar. This period in his life is known as the Weimar period. In this time he also was director of the ducal opera house and was in a position to influence public musical taste and did so without regret to promote the type of music that he and Wagner felt was Athe music of the future.
In Liszt’s later life, he settled into the church for some peace and quiet and was known as Abb Liszt. It was during this period that he created his most recognized religious works. Before he died he was welcomed to Britain as an accomplished composer, and shortly after he died during the festival of Wagner’s works uttering with his last words the title of Wagner’s opera “Tristan and Isolde”.
A piece which exemplified Liszt’s romantic compositions is the Faust Symphony (1857). The beginning of this piece is rather slow and soft marked quiet half and whole notes. After a small break in sound number runs come from the lower register to the higher register using a rapid crescendo as their tempo marking while adding instruments along the way. This sets the mood to one of confrontation or battle. Following close behind is another series of quiet long notes played on a minimal instruments but picking up along the way. You get the feeling that you are being introduced to a series of characters in a drama. A confrontation follows in which the crescendo runs are doubled with loud blasts on the brass instruments. In the end it appears that the softer theme has won after a violent struggle in which the loud theme has been made weak. Soon after we are introduced to a new theme which is soft but quick, possibly a woman. As you can see, this piece tells a story which can be interpreted different ways as you like (this is but my interpretation of it). The faust symphony uses contrasting melodies and dynamics to create a certain mood which the author wants to make you feel, and it tells a story that the composer holds close to his heart. It is an expressionistic piece in that Liszt is telling the story of a man who wanted to know everything and wanted to live forever until he realized that it is better to die sometimes than to live with a heavy heart at the loss of a loved one. Maybe this is the way that Liszt felt at the time when he wrote this piece. Liszt wasn=t known to be the world=s greatest lover. But is it possible that Liszt just wanted to live forever. To experience the twentieth century, to watch the world turn into a mass of technology which he himself could not have seen. Well, in one way he got his wish. When listening to the beautiful melodies of the one hundred and forty year old Faust Symphony you get the feeling that Franz Liszt is, in fact, still with us.