Romantic Music

The word Romanticism was first used to describe the stirrings of new ideas in painting and literature towards the end of the 18th century. This word was later taken up by musicians to describe the changes in musical style, which took place soon after the turn of the century.


Classical composers had aimed to strike a balance in their music between expressiveness and formal structure. Romantic composers shifted this balance. They looked for a greater freedom of form and design in their music, and a more powerful and intense expression of emotion, often revealing their innermost thoughts and feelings, even sufferings. We find emotion to some degree, of course, in almost all music, whatever the style or period may be, but we find it expressed most strongly of all in the music of the Romantic period.


Many romantic composers read widely and took a keen interest in art, forming close friendships with writers and painters. Often, the inspiration behind a composition by a Romantic composer was sparked off by a painting that he had seen, or by a book or a poem he had read. Imagination, fantasy and a quest for adventure are important ingredients in Romantic style. Among the many ideas which hold a strong fascination for Romantic composers are: far-off lands and the distant past: dreams, night and moonlight: rivers, lakes and forests; nature and the seasons; the joy and pain of love (especially young love); legends and fairy-tales; mystery, magic and the supernatural.


The Romantic Musical Style

1. TONALITY Basic diatonic keys are used but the feel of the home key became less clear due to the use of:

  1. chromatic modulation
  2. modulation to distantly related keys

2. HARMONY a. Chromatic harmony were freely used for expressive purposes

                                b.   Seventh chord and nine chord were more often used.

         c .Made use of dissonance and chromatic note more freely.

         d. Wide leaps were used in the accompaniment pattern.

3. MELODY       The melodic lines were more lyrical and expressive.

4. TEXTURE a. Homophonic in nature

      b. Compared to the Classical music, the texture of the Romantic music is            more sonorous

5. DYNAMIC a. The range in dynamic was much wider.

                                b. Expression marks were freely used to convey a specific feel or mood.



The more outstanding Romantic composers in chronological order are:

Schubert (Austrian)
Berlioz (French)
Mendelssohn (German)
Chopin (Polish)
Schumann (German)
Liszt (Hungarian)
Wagner (German)
Verdi (Italian)
Brahms (German)
Mussorgsky (Russian)
Tchailovsky (Russian)
Dvorak (Bohemian)
Grieg (Norwegian)
Rimsky-Korsakov (Russian)
Opera Wagner, Verdi and Rimsky-Korsakov
Song Schubert, Schumann, Brahms and Wolf
Song Cycle Schubert, Schumann and Brahms
Piano Works Schubert, Schumann, Mendelssohn, Chopin, Liszt and Brahms
Symphony Schubert, Brahms, Mendelssohn and Tchaikovsky
Symphonic-Poem Liszt and Berlioz
Concerto Chopin, Brahms and Tchaikovsky
Chamber Music Schubert, Schumann, Dvorak and Brahms






Schubert Symphony



Piano Works

Tragic Symphony

Unfinished Symphony

The Erl King


The Winter Journey

The Swan Songs

Wanderer Fantay

Berlioz Symphonic-poem Romeo and Juliet

Fantastic Symphony

Mendelssohn Piano Works



Song Without Words

St. Paul Elijah

Scotch Symphony

Italian Symphony

Chopin Piano Works Fantasy Impromptu

Raindrop Prelude

Minute Waltz

Schumann Song-cycle

Piano Works

Chamber Music

The Poet’s Love

Abegg Variations


Fantasiestucke, Op.88

Liszt Piano Works


Mephisto Waltz



Wagner Opera The Ring

The Flying Dutchman

Brahms Song


The Song of Destiny

The Song of Triumph

No. 1 in C minor

No. 2 in D

Mussorgsky Piano Work Pictures at an Exhibition
Tchaikovsky Symphony



Polish Symphony

Pathetic Symphony

Swan Lake

The Sleeping Beauty

Romeo and Juliet


Dvorak Symphony

Chamber Music

No. 1 in C minor

No. 2 in B flat

Dumky Trio

Grieg Orchestral Work Peer Gynt Suite
Rimsky-Korsakov Opera The Snow Maiden


Verdi Opera Aida