The Romantic Legacy

late nineteenth to early twentieth century

(Classical Music Map)

Introduction Classical Music

The Middle Ages and the Renaissance

The Baroque Era

The Classical Era

The Romantic Era

The Romantic Legacy

The Modern Age

A Brief History of Jazz


I. History of Classical Music  (by John Stanley)
The great composers and their masterworks in MP3 format
Albeniz Borodin Donizetti Hindemith Prokofiev Schutz
Albinoni Brahms Dowland Janacek Puccini Scriabin
Allegri Britten Dvorak Kodaly Purcell Sibelius
Arne Bruckner Falla Leoncavallo Rachmaninov Smetana
Auber Busoni Field Liszt Rameau Strauss J.S.
Bach Byrd Gabrieli Lully Ravel Strauss R.
Barber Carissimi Gershwin Mahler Respighi Stravinsky
Bartok Charpentier Gesualdo Mendelssohn Rimsky-Korsakov Tallis
Beethoven Cherubini Glinka Meyerbeer Rossini Tchaikovsky
Bellini Chopin Gluck Monteverdi Saint-Saens Telemann
Bernstein Clementi Gounod Mozart Scarlatti Verdi
Berwald Corelli Grieg Mussorgsky Schoenberg Victoria
Berlioz Couperin Handel Pachelbel Shostakovich Villa-Lobos
Bizet Debussy Haydn Paganini Schubert Vivaldi
Boccherini Delibes Hildegard Palestrina Schumann Wagner

Orff  "Carmina Burana"
II. A Brief History of Jazz

The Romantic Legacy

















Strauss Richard




Camille Pissarro


The 1880s saw a great expansion of European power overseas and much of tropical Africa was divided between the great European nations. Asian colonies were also established - at the expense of the Chinese empire - drawing the United States into the expansionist tide. Britain fought a bitter war with the Boer republics, and a newly industrialized Japan inflicted a harsh defeat on Russia, provoking the futile revolution of 1905. Ancient rivalries between Russia and Austria-Hungary combined with German ambitions and nationalist strife in the Balkans to fuel European tensions, The assassination of Archduke Ferdinand by a Serbian patriot sparked off a brutal conflict that swiftly engulfed the continent.

In France, art became involved in a fruitful period of controversy, with Impressionist painters making major advances in the use of colour and technique to capture light and atmosphere. Traditional forms were profoundly challenged, and by the early 1900s abstract art had appeared.

The later nineteenth century witnessed some remarkable scientific achievements -the beginnings of atomic physics, the discovery of X-rays and Pasteur's work on micro-organisms, as well as Einstein's theories of relativity. Technological innovation was vigorous - the phonograph and electric light bulb made their first appearances - to be followed by the motor car aeroplane, and wireless.

In music, nationalism remained a potent source of inspiration; British, Czech, and Russian composers drew on native songs and folk music, as did Grieg in Norway and Bartok in Hungary. From the United States came ragtime - highly popular and also rooted in indigenous traditions.


Edouard Manet


By the late 1870s the revolutionary and nationalistic fervour so closely associated with the Romantic movement had transformed the map of Europe. The new German Empire maintained a fragile balance of power, upholding the resolutions that had been agreed upon at the Congress of Berlin. Nationalism was by no means a spent force but, in the later years of the century, it assumed a different character. While the unification of Germany and Italy had been essentially constructive processes, as disparate states were built up to form new nations, similar forces in central and eastern Europe tended more to destruction, leading to the break-up of long-established empires.

Romanticism played a lesser part in this second strain of nationalism. In literature and the visual arts the movement was gradually supplanted in the mid-nineteenth century, giving way to the Realist school. In the musical world Romanticism had a longer life. One of its foremost exponents, Richard Wagner, was still a dominant figure at the end of the century. Increasingly, however, it became a mark of tradition, rather than an instrument for change. In a musical context realism's nearest equivalent was VERISMO (true to life) opera, inspired by Bizet's Carmen (1875), which shocked Parisian audiences with its uninhibited portrayal of lust and savagery. Even so, it helped to create a demand for operas that concentrated on the seamier aspects of lite — a demand which was cheerfully supplied by composers like Puccini and Mascagni.




The influence of Impressionism and the East

In the meantime, a veritable revolution was taking place in the art world. In 1874 a group of French painters banded together to stage the first Impressionist show in Paris. In all, they would mount eight exhibitions, all in open defiance of the academic establishment. These artists sought to capture on canvas the ephemeral effects of light and of changing patterns of weather,

as well as the immediacy of contemporary Parisian life. Rejecting the carefully composed artifices of their predecessors, they tried to paint pictures that were like "snapshots." The Impressionists' emphasis on the fleeting moment had slight Romantic overtones, but their overall approach was more scientific — Monet painted more than 20 versions of Rouen cathedral to illustrate how its appearance altered under different light conditions — and they fiercely opposed the emotionalism of Romantic art.

The Impressionists' evocative style translated well into musical terms. Manuel de Falla described his Nights in the gardens of Spain (1916) as a series of "symphonic impressions" for piano and orchestra; some of Ravel's pieces, such as Jeux d'eau (1901) and Miroirs (1905). could be called impressionistic; and Claude Debussy was greatly attracted to the work of the Impressionists. Indeed, striking parallels exist between the effects created by Impressionist paintings and Debussy's vise of subtle textures of harmony and tone to conjure up images of misty, atmospheric scenes, as in his Nuages (the first part of Nocturnes). The understatement and restraint characterizing works of this kind distanced them from the passion and the storytelling that were typical of Romanticism.

From the Universal Exhibition in Paris in 1889 Debussy carried away deep impressions of the unique sound of the Javanese gamelan orchestra. He soon incorporated its exotic flavour into works such as Pagodas and his String quartet in G minor. Other composers followed suit, similarly seduced by the mystique of the East. Puccini's Madama Butterfly centred on the plight of a Japanese geisha girl; Mahler based his Song of the Earth on a cycle of six Chinese, poems; and Gilbert and Sullivan scored one of their biggest popular successes with The mikado. based on an Eastern theme. This vogue for things oriental swept through most branches of the arts. Blue and white porcelain and Japanese prints became significant collector's items, and the latter profoundly influenced painters like Van Gogh and Gauguin. The higher profile of the East, in part due to the beauty of its culture, was all the more exaggerated as the rush for imperial possessions gathered pace in the final years of the nineteenth century.

VERISMO Italian, "realism." A type of Italian opera current in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Aiming at social and psychological realism, verismo operas depicted the lives of ordinary people and addressed contemporary themes.




Colonial expansion and conflict

Russia, thwarted in its advance towards Constantinople, next turned its attention to the moribund Chinese empire and annexed Manchuria. The other European powers soon followed the Russian example. Germany established bases in northern China, Britain consolidated its position in Hong Kong, the French extended their influence over Indochina, and even a comparatively weak state like Portugal managed to take possession of Macao. This involvement in Asian affairs reached a peak in 1900 when a combined force of European, Japanese, and American troops looted and occupied Peking, on the pretext of suppressing the Boxer Rebellion.

The spread ot imperialism was not confined to Asia. In every corner of the globe European governments hastened to stake their claims. Britain led the way. making great gains in central and southern Africa, as well as in the Pacific, where Fiji, New Guinea, and North Borneo were added to the list of new acquisitions. At the same time France tightened its grip on the Ivory Coast and Madagascar, while German forces occupied southwest Africa and the Solomon Islands. In the Congo King Leopold II of Belgium carved out a personal empire for himself, which he eventually bequeathed to his country.

Even the United States joined this expansionist tide. Hawaii was annexed in 1897, and Puerto Rico, the Philippines, and Guam were taken from Spain the following year. In 1903 the United States encouraged a "revolution" in Panama in order to bring into American jurisdiction the transcontinental canal that was then under construction.

The race to establish overseas colonies made the great powers less inclined to wage war at home and, as a result, Europe enjoyed a period of comparative peace around the turn of the century. Instead, the major conflicts tended to occur outside the continent, when and where imperial interests were threatened. Britain, for example, became embroiled in a bitter

struggle against the Boer Republics in South Africa. It had been thought that the Afrikaners would put up little resistance against the might of the British army, but their forces inflicted heavy losses at the sieges of Mafeking and Kimberley, and the war lasted for three years (1899-1902).


Henri de


Russia in turmoil

Russia encountered similar problems in its new eastern territories. Early in 1904 the Japanese launched an attack, destroying part of the Vladivostok fleet near the Korean Straits and laying siege to Fort Arthur. This vital Manchunan stronghold finally fell in January 1905, and Japanese victory was assured after Admiral Togo's triumph at Tsushima in May of that year.

These reverses had serious consequences inside Russia itself, triggering a wave of social unrest. A government minister was assassinated, and strikes multiplied throughout the country. On 22 January 1905 — known as "Red Sunday" — nearly 1,000 demonstrators were butchered by Tsarist troops as they were attempting to deliver a petition at the Winter Palace in St Petersburg. Then, in June of the same year, sailors on the battleship Potemkin mutinied and put their officers to death. Order was ultimately restored, but the signs of future unrest were ominously clear.



Nationalism and imperialism

The ferment within Russia seemed to vindicate the views of Cecil Rhodes (the founder of Rhodesia), who declared that nations should become imperialist if they wished to avoid civil war. Many European governments shared this opinion, recognizing that colonial success would not only bring economic benefits, but could also deflect social discontent at home.

This brought about a significant shift in the nature of nationalist feeling. Whereas in the earlier part of the nineteenth century nationalism had usually been associated with liberalism or with the radical tradition of the French Revolution, it was now also used as a political tool by conservative elements. They sought to awaken a pride in national values and a patriotic sense of duty in order to draw attention away from domestic economic uncertainties.

This proved to be a double-edged sword. While greater national pride had its uses, it also led to an increase in xenophobia which, in turn, added to the risk of war. For example, the long-running Dreyfus affair, a case of treason that scandalized France for over a decade, was inflamed by the fact that the army officer in question was Jewish. Captain Dreyfus was wrongly convicted in 1 894; his sentence would not be quashed until 1906. Similarly, in England, the hostility to foreigners reached such a pitch that the royal family followed the prudent course of masking their German origins by adopting the name of Windsor.

Vincent Van Gogh


Nationalism and music

In the latter half of the nineteenth century nationalism proved a potent source of inspiration for many composers. In Czech music the groundwork had been laid by Frantisek Skroup, who in 1826 had produced the first homegrown opera, Dratenik (The Tinker); he also wrote the song that would many years later be chosen as the national anthem. He was followed by Smetana. whose nationalist sympathies had been stirred by the 1 848 uprising. In 1866 his most famous opera, The bartered bride, a lively evocation of rural life in a Bohemian village, was first produced. Smetana continued to celebrate his homeland with operas such as Libuse and with his cycle of symphonic poems, Ma Vlast.

This patriotic flavour was maintained in the work of Smetana's compatriot. Antonin Dvorak, who had played under his direction as a violinist in the national orchestra. Dvorak made particular use of native dance forms such as the dumka and the furiant, and his two collections of Slavonic dances won him international acclaim.

The Czech experience was replicated in other parts of the continent as composers looked to their musical roots for inspiration. However, the political dimensions of this trend varied considerably. Some composers used folk elements as a colourful and exotic feature of an otherwise cosmopolitan style. Liszt's Hungarian rhapsodies, for instance, mostly published in the

1 850s, were not based on true traditional forms, but rather derived from the gypsy music that could be heard in the restaurants and cafes of Budapest. The genuine folk music of Hungary was not appreciated until many years later.

Nationalism also prompted some nations to re-examine their own heritage. In France the National Society for French Music, founded in 1871, attempted to revive the country's musical fortunes by commissioning new editions and performances of works by earlier French masters. This, together with the Schola Cantorum (another educational body, founded in 1904), helped to restore the nation to its prominent position m the musical world.

The British emphasized the creation of a new native school. One mischievous German critic had described England as "the land without music" but, after the turn of the century, this jibe had lost its sting. Edward Elgar captured the patriotic mood of the country with his Pomp and circumstance marches, while Henry Wood's Promenade Concerts (beginning in 1895) provided the nation with an enduring musical tradition. Their efforts were consolidated by that most English of composers, Ralph

Vaughan Williams. His work benefited from his experience as editor of the Sew English hymnal— he later wrote that his "close association with some of the best (as well as some of the worst) tunes in the world was a better musical education than any amount of sonatas and fugues" — and from his links with the English Folk Song Society, founded in 1898. Together with Gustav Hoist, another folk enthusiast, he made field trips into the English countryside, noting down the songs and dances that he heard. Excursions of this kind into East Anglia provided the raw material for his three Sorfolk rhapsodies and In the Fen Country.

Paul Gauguin


The importance of folk music

The collecting of folk songs had begun in earnest in England in 1843 with the publication of the Reverend John Broadwood's Old English songs. This led to a series of similar anthologies, culminating in the work of Cecil Sharp (1859-1924), who collected some three thousand songs during Ins travels. Francis Child, a professor at Harvard University, performed an equally mountainous task in the United States. The motives of most of these collectors were either curatorial -preserving an aspect of culture that was in danger of dying out — or educational.

In Germany, Brahms used arrangements of folk songs as the basis of many of his Lieder. Elsewhere, the use of folk material represented a reaction against the dominance of German culture, whose influence had been so far-reaching that many talented young musicians believed it was necessary for them to study in a German conservatoire, if their music was to gain wide acceptance.

One such composer was Edvard Grieg, who trained in Leipzig but returned to his native Norway determined to break away from his foreign musical education. He helped found the Norwegian Academy of Music (1867) and produced scintillating piano arrangements of peasant dances. Debussy might have described some of his pieces as "bonbons stuffed with snow", but Grieg's fellow-countrymen considered them a perfect evocation of their misty Nordic homeland. In Finland Sibelius struck a similarly patriotic note, using the Kalevala, the Finnish national epic, as source material for many of his compositions. Equally, composers such as Albeniz and Falla in Spain used traditional sources as a basis for much of their music.

In England the next crucial stage in the collecting of folk songs was undertaken by an Australian musician, Percy Grainger, who had been inspired by Grieg to take an interest in folk music. In 1908 he journeyed round Lincolnshire, using a phonograph to record any tunes he came across. His research was echoed independently in the studies of Kodaly and Bartok. They, too, employed a phonograph, amassing some 16,000 recordings of peasant songs and dances during their travels in Hungary, Slovakia, and Romania.

The conditions under which this kind of research was conducted were arduous and painstaking. The machines themselves were barely portable, while the wax cylinders they used ran for only two and a half minutes, which meant interrupting the flow of the performance. Even so, the recordings allowed

musicians to study the material more closely and accurately and this, in turn, altered the way in which folk sources were applied. Whereas the earlier Romantics had tended to smooth out the irregularities they found in traditional songs or had simply composed in a folk idiom, later musicians used their discoveries as a departure point for creating newer and more original forms. This was particularly true of Bartok, who developed a very personal musical language that stretched tonality - the conventional method of composing a piece around one particular key — to its limits.

Gustave Moreau


Scientific developments

The phonograph, invented by Edison in 1877, was just one of the products of the technological revolution that transformed society in the years leading up to World War I. In 1895 the Lumiere brothers had presented the first cinematograph performance in Paris. Four years later Marconi set up wireless communications between England and France and just two years after that managed to establish similar links between Cornwall and Newfoundland. The same period also saw the appearance of such diverse advances as the electric light bulb, the safety razor, and the vacuum cleaner. Just as these symbols of progress were being invented, other scientists were casting doubt on the very foundations of contemporary belief. In 1900 Max Planck postulated his Quantum Theory and, five years later, Albert Einstein published his first Theory of Relativity. In 1904 Sir Ernest Rutherford's book on radioactivity challenged the concept of the indestructibility of matter, taking the study of physics along a new and dangerous path. Equally

influential, though in an entirely different way. was Sigmund Freud's work on psychoanalysis. Gustav Mahler was one of his patients, seeking relief from the agonized soul-searching which permeates so much of his music.

The last years of the nineteenth century also witnessed enormous advances in the fields of transportation and communications. The motor car, which had been pioneered by Daimler and Benz m the 1880s, became an increasingly common sight. London introduced its first taxicabs in 1903 and, four years later, the Model T Ford went into production in Detroit. Even as these developments were taking place, the Wright brothers were hard at work on the next mechanical marvel. In 1903 they achieved the first series of successful aeroplane flights in North Carolina, the longest of these lasting for just 59 seconds.

Henri Matisse


New trends in music and art

The vast improvements in communications helped to speed up the transmission of artistic currents. A series of "crazes" swept across Europe, as musical innovations from the New World made their mark. John Philip Sousa took his band on several well-attended tours of Europe, winning great acclaim for marches like 'The Washington Post and The Stars and Stripes forever. He gave his name to the sousaphone, a type of tuba, and became an international bestselling author with his biography, Marching Along.

Another — far less respectable — import was the tango, which had evolved in the brothel quarter of Buenos Aires. Eyebrows were raised at the popularity of this "immodest" dance. At the same time, and with far greater impact, ragtime burst upon the London scene m 1912. In that year a revue called Hullo rag-time opened at the Hippodrome Theatre in London and ran for 451 performances, giving British audiences their first taste of modern American music.

The undisputed centre of artistic developments at this time was Paris. The Russian impresario Sergei Diaghilev chose the city as the home for his Ballets Russes company, and painters from all over Europe gravitated towards it. Indeed, it was a measure of the city's cosmopolitan appeal that the "School of Paris" — the group of artists who pioneered modern art at the start of the twentieth century — included two Spaniards (Picasso and Gris), three Russians (Chagall, Soutme and Lipchitz), an Italian (Modighani), a Romanian (Brancusi), and a Dutchman (Van Dongen).

If the geographical barriers between the arts were shrinking, so too were the aesthetic ones. Many painters of the period consciously sought to endow their pictures with musical qualities. James Whistler went one stage further, giving his canvases musical titles such as "Nocturnes" and "Symphonies." Accordingly, he dubbed his celebrated portrait of his mother An Arrangement in Grey and Black. Conversely, the composer Alexander Scriabin aimed at a marriage of sight and sound through his music. He wanted performances of his symphonic poem Prometheus to be accompanied by a display of coloured lights flashed onto a screen. Each note was to be represented by a different colour: "E", for example, he visualized as "pearly white and shimmer of moonlight."

It nothing else, these experiments demonstrated the feverish spirit of creativity that prevailed in prewar Europe. Post-Impressiomsm, Art Nouveau, Fauvism, Symbolism, Cubism, and Expressionism were all spawned within a matter of years. The specifics of these new styles differed greatly, but in general they marked the diminishing influence of the official academies that had controlled the arts for so long.

Odilon Redon


The Suffragette movement

A similar questioning of established order appeared in other sectors of society. The Trade Union and Socialist movements that had taken root in the nineteenth century continued to grow, and these were now joined by the new cause of female emancipation. The United States took the lead in this field, with some states granting women the vote before the turn of the century. In Europe the struggle started later and lasted longer. Women in Finland were granted electoral equality in 1906, with Norway following suit in 1908. In Britain the suffragette campaign began in earnest in 1906. It was cut short when war broke out, and it was not until 1928 that emancipation became universal, giving all British women the vote.

Fernand Hodler



The road to war

The shadow of war had loomed over Europe since an uneasy peace emerged from the 1878 Congress of Berlin. By 1893 the continent had divided into two camps: the Dual Alliance of France and Russia, and the Triple Alliance of Germany, Italy, and Austria-Hungary. The situation became more complicated in 1904 as France and Britain entered into their Entente Cordiale. On the surface this was little more than an imperialist pact by which France recognized British claims to Egypt, in return for support of its own activities in Morocco. However, the agreement also placed an extra strain on the delicate balance of power. German leaders voiced their tears about encirclement by their enemies, while the opposing powers were equally concerned at the mounting threat of Pan-Germanism. France's lingering bitterness over the loss of Alsace and Lorraine after the Franco-Prussian War rubbed further salt into this wound.

Once again it was the strength of nationalist feeling in the Balkans which tilted the balance towards chaos. In 1908 Austria-Hungary annexed Bosnia and Herzegovina. These provinces, under the nominal control of Turkey, had in reality been administered by the Austrians ever since the Berlin conference. Their annexation now was meant to stem the ambitions of Serbia, which hoped to unite all the Slav nations under its banner. Inevitably, the Serbs protested vociferously at the annexations, supported in this move by Russia. However, the Austro-German commitment to the seizures proved too powerful to contest and Russia was forced to climb down.

The Serbs gained their revenge in June 1914 when the heir to the Austrian throne, the Archduke Ferdinand, was murdered in Sarajevo. The Serbian press boasted that the assassination had been plotted in Belgrade, and pressure on the Austrian government to retaliate was overwhelming. However, in the years that had elapsed since the Bosnian crisis, attitudes had hardened. This time there was to be no backing down. Once Serbia and Austria had begun hostilities, the complex system of alliances came into play, and within a week the continent was at war.

Henri Rousseau


Additional composers

Composers in the latter halt of the nineteenth centnry were affected in varying degrees by nationalism. In Russia the most fiery spokesman for the cause was Mily Balakirev (1837 — 1910), whose work is best represented by the oriental fantasy for piano. Islamey. In Poland, the violin virtuoso Henryk Wieniawski (1835— 1880) favoured the national dance forms of mazurka and polonaise, although his fine Second violin concerto has a more international flavour. The Spaniard Enrique Granados (1867-1916) showed an affinity with Spanish art of earlier periods: his masterpiece is the suite of piano pieces Goyescas. The cosmopolitan Max Bruch (1838—1920) was quite at home using Russian, Swedish, Scottish, and Hebrew melodies (the last in the Scottish fantasy and the beautiful Коl Nidrei). He never recaptured the richly memorable invention of the popular First violin concerto in G minor.

In Fiance, Emmanuel Chabrier (1841-1894) and Ernest Chausson (1855 — 1899) were consummate artists who wrote music of great character and polish. Chabrier's wit and colourful orchestration are at their finest in the rhapsody Espana. but the Dix pieces pittoresques for piano have more delicate sensitivity. The opera Gwendoline shows his interest m Wagner, who also influenced Chausson, sometimes stiflmgly. However, Chausson's Symphony is an outstandingly graceful vision, superior in every way to Cesar Franck's bombastic though more popular example. In Роете (Opus 25) Chausson achieved a masterpiece whose ecstatic lyricism is enhanced by its succinctness. Although psychosomatic illness led Henri Duparc (1848-1933) to abandon composition, his acknowledged output of 13 songs, composed between 1868 and 1884, is one of the most moving utterances in all French music.

In Italy the predominance of opera produced bolder, even crude music: the verismo movement of violent naturalism was anticipated by Amilcare Ponchielli (1834- 1886) in La Gioconda (1876), and later exemplified by Pietro Mascagni (1863—1945) in Cavalleria rusticana, whose emotional effectiveness produced a sensational overnight success.

In the United States, the virtuoso piano music of Louis Gottschalk (1829-1869). though often brash, had a delightfully exotic feel m works such as Le Bananier and Le banjo; the piano pieces of Edward MacDowell (1860-19(18), the Woodland sketches, were closer in spirit to Grieg. His fine Second piano concerto well deserves its occasional airing.


Gustav Klimt



















Strauss Richard




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