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19th Century Romanticism

Romanticism was a cultural movement in the 18 th-19th centuries. At the height of the neo-classical ideals of reason and rationalization, the romantics reacted by contradicting such with emotions, imagination, and nature. For fear of the Industrial Revolution’s growing technology demeaning the significance and identity of man as a single entity, romantics also revolutionized individualism. Romantic composers saw music as a way to express emotions.

It was made more personal, complex, and was applied to set the mood or to express a story. To accommodate the more passionate melodies and sounds, musical material and the size of the orchestra expanded widely (Wagner, an iconic figure of this period, utilized the large orchestra for his operas that lasted up to five hours). Such produced dramatic contrasts in technicalities and pitch. It should also be noted that nationalism was another key element of this time.

Composers outside Germany reflected it in their music like Mussorgsky’s A Night on the Bare Mountain and Borodin’s Prince Igor using images of local color and folk tunes. For literature and art, romantics advocated the beauty in rustic life, the possibility of the supernatural through imagination (e. g. Faust by Goethe), and human subjectivity. Novels focused intently on the characters as individuals rather than the general traits of men.

A character’s innermost thoughts and sentiments were given much importance as well as his relationship with others (e. g. Frankenstein by Shelley, Jane Eyre by Bronte). The Classical view differs from the Romantic view in that the former generally offers an objective approach to life. Classical thinkers sought order, rationality, and traits that were enduring or applicable to humanity as a whole. They didn’t care much for fleeting emotions and irrational sentiments that were too attributable to a man on a personal level.

Reflectively, their music was less complicated in form and was devoid of the intensity of the romantic expressions (e. g. Mozart). Classical composers valued balance, clarity, and lightness. In art, classical idealism is reflected in paintings and sculptures of men with perfect forms and figures. In literature, themes used were universal and timeless, again reflecting how the classical thinkers valued enduring or lasting qualities.

As with any other, the prevalent beliefs in the Romantic period have been criticized and mocked by scholars, critics, and ordinary people. But regardless of that, such beliefs are also credited for influencing a culture that produced some of the best pieces of art we enjoy today. -This is answer to Option 1: What are the principal ideals underlying Romanticism? How are they reflected in music, art, and literature? How do theses characteristics differ from the Classical Era?

Works cited: 1. http://historyguide.org

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