A History of Music: Romantic Music

In the last couple of years, Rupert has expressed quite an interest in classical music. When we sat down with him for a chat at the Wizarding World in November 2011, he specifically mentioned Franz Liszt as one of his favorite classical composers:


Classical music covers a wide range of periods and styles and, what we actually think of as "classical" is really considered the Common Practice Period, which spanned from 1550 to 1900.

The last era of this period of music is often referred to as The Romantic Period (1815-1910), which is perhaps the most expressive and certainly the most interesting to me personally.

Rupert's choice Franz Liszt, born in Hungary in 1811, is one of the most revered Romantic Period composers and was also considered one of the greatest pianists of his day. Aside from his musical advancements, Liszt was also an essayist, most of his writing having been centered around artistic practice, opera and other musical works.

One of Liszt's most well recognised pieces is his Hungarian Rhapsody No. 2, which also happens to be my favourite of his works. It is an inspiration as a pianist to hope to one day be able to achieve the memorisation of this piece of beautiful music. The piece is distinctly divided into segments that go from intensely drawn out minor melodies to a jaunty dance that reminds me of a carnival or parade:

Another strong composer of the Romantic Period was Sergei Rachmaninoff, a leading influence on Russian classical music.

Born in 1873, Rachmaninoff's childhood was coloured with tragedy, with substantial financial setbacks to his family, on top of losing two sisters to illness at young ages. His music, which he began composing officially after completing his studies at multiple conservatoires, reflects an element of sadness, often building to heavy, complicated chords in a minor key.

A favourite piece of mine is Rachmaninoff's Prelude in C Sharp Minor. It has a personal connection with me, being the piece that I most loved to hear my grandfather (who was also my piano teacher) play for me. You can hear the sadness in Rachmaninoff's composition, but you can also feel a sense of encouragement as the piece builds, gaining strength:

We can still see the influence of the Romantic Period on all kinds of modern music, building on the use of expressive, emotional melodies, affecting the listener in a variety of ways -  to make us happy or sad or to call up a particular memory.

As a music lover himself, Rupert seems to appreciate these roots, too, from which modern music grew. Western classical music's influence can surely be seen in a multitude of genres, throughout history, all the way through to the present.

Growing up on classical music, I have a particular respect for the Romantic Period of music. It is inspiring to think of all the boundaries that were pushed socially, politically and scientifically during this time and to consider how that led the way for modern music as well as so much new artisitic vision. Without this outside the box thinking, later innovations in music, such as another of Rupert's beloved eras, the punk movement, may not have existed or might not have had nearly the same impact on our culture.

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Submitted by Aubrey on Sun, 12/01/2013 - 12:53
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