The Romantic era in western music was a time of huge musical innovation, comparable to the explosion of jazz music in the early twentieth century. Romantic music is characterised by lyrical melodies, rich harmonies, and music that is highly emotive and expressive.
To get familiar with the best music this period you can’t do better than to start with the following composers.
Fryderyck Chopin (1810-1849)
Polish composer Fryderyck Chopin is notable for being one of the best-loved composers of all time, as well as perhaps the only composer to achieve such success without composing a single symphony, opera, ballet, or choral work.
Chopin’s works were smaller in scale, but his influence has been huge, almost single-handedly developing modern piano technique and style. Chopin’s works were decidedly poetic, characterised by rich, expressive rubato.
Robert Schumann (1810-1856)
German composer Robert Schumann embodied the Romantic obsessions with feeling and passion quite thoroughly. A prolific composer, Schumann wrote more than 100 songs in 1840 alone, and completed the majority of his Symphony No. 1 ‘Spring’ symphony over just four days in 1841.
Sadly, Schumann’s creative genius came with its demons – plagued by aural hallucinations, along with vivid visions of demons and angels, Schumann attempted suicide by drowning in the Rhine in 1854. He died two years later in an asylum.
Franz Liszt (1811-1886)
Hungarian composer Franz Lizst was a towering figure, both as a composer and as a living embodiment of Romantic values. Lizst was a composer, teacher, Abbé, Casanova, writer, sage, pioneer and champion of new music, philanthropist, philosopher, and one of the greatest pianists in history.
Arrogant and egocentric, Lizst was paradoxically as committed to religion as to fleshly pleasure and threw himself into art as passionately as he did pleasure, spirituality, and teaching. In every field of music except ballet and opera, Lizst was active, and his contributions to every field were historically significant.
Giuseppe Verdi (1813-1901)
Though Italian composer Giuseppe Verdi was a highly trained musician, he was quintessentially romantic in that he always favoured glorious melodies and drama over technical writing. Verdi was one of the most popular opera composers of his time – and remains so today – due to his immense melodic imagination, instinctive understanding of the human voice, and understanding of how to score for maximum effect in the theatre.
Verdi’s prolific output includes world famous operas still regularly performed today, including Rigoletto, La Traviata, and Aida.
Pyotr Il’yich Tchaikovsky (1840-1893)
Pyotr Il’yich Tchaikovsky was the greatest of the Russian Romantic composers, spilling forth endlessly inventive and memorable melodies that capture imaginations to this day. Tchaikovsky was less of a flamboyant romantic than many of his peers, tending more towards neurosis and plagued with guilt over his homosexuality. His music, however, is some of the finest of the era, from Swan Lake to Eugene Onegin to the Saints Saens works for cello; there is no denying the prolific musical genius of this tormented man.
If reading about these composers is making you want to play piano, visit our showroom today. By tickling the ivories on your brand new Pianoforte piano, you can start creating your own piece of musical history.