Romanticism Style

Romanticism is an artistic movement in music that favors the imagination and emotion over reason and logic, and promotes the individual and the subjective approach as opposed to the Classicism which emphasized the universal and the objective. The Romantic era in music stretch from 1820 to the early part of the 20th century. Where the piano is concerned, there was an abundance of works, especially in the realm of miniature, which were as much studies in feeling as they were musical artifacts.

The following is a survey of popular Romantic genres:

Ballade. An instrumental piece of music, usually for piano, which may or may not intend to suggest the telling of a story as in a ballad. Ballade has an element of rhythmic ritual. The term was first applied to piano music by Chopin, whose four works by that name are among his greatest and most famous works. Other best known ballades are Brahms’ Four Ballades, Op. 10. those by J. B. Cramer, Muzio Clemente and Ignaz Moscheles. It was Chopin and Liszt, however, Barcarolle A piece of instrumental music that imitates the traditional songs (barcarolle) of the Venetian gondoliers. Barcarolles are characterized by their gently lilting rhythm, representing the steady, lulling movements of the boat through the water. The most famous barcarolle is by Chopin’s, in F sharp (1845), considered to be his greatest achievement. Another famous barcarolle is from Offenbach’s opera, The tales of Hoffman. Other notable examples include those of Mendelssohn, Rubenstein, Fau?e, Novak, Glazunov, Balakirev and MacDowell.

Berceuse literally means a cradle song or lullaby. Berceuse is an instrumental piece of music in moderately relaxed compound duple meter. It was Chopin who provided the model for the pianistic berceuse in one of his most bewitching and ingenious miniatures, his Berceuse in D flat. Other piano berceuses are by Balakeriv, Godard and Debussy.

Etude is a keyboard study and is distinguished from the mere exercise by its musical intent. In the 19th century, the popularity of piano lead to the production of numerous studies for every level of amateur and aspiring professional, some of which are still in use today. Among the best studies were who raised the concept and reality of étude to previously unimagined heights.

Chopin’s 27 études are mostly studies in legato of one kind or another, aimed at making the piano ‘sing.’ Each is predominantly focused on a single technical problem and on a single idea. Liszt’s études also explore the extremes of emotions and mood, and contain some of the most technically challenging music ever written. His Paganini Etudes, the Etudes de Concert, and the Transcendental Etudes have secured a permanent place in the piano repertoire. Other similar works to have done likewise are Schumann’s Symphonic Etudes, Rachmaninov’s Etudes-tableaux, Brahmm’s ‘Variations on a Theme of Paganini’ (etudes in all but name) and Debussy’s set of twelve.

Impromtu. While the term suggests improvisation and spur of the moment, all the most notable works of the name are “highly organized and meticulously calculated.” Most have a ternary structure (A-B-A), with brilliant and graceful configurations and relatively fervent, even stormy middle part. Some of the most famous examples are Chopin’s four and Schubert’s eight. Other noteworthy examples are by Shumann, Bennet, Dvo?ák, Scriabin, Balakirev, Rimsky-Korsakov and Fauré.
Nocturne A short musical composition evoking the mood of night time; it has a quiet, contemplative feeling and suggests a dreamy mood. Nocturne evolved during the early 19th century. The Irish composer-pianist John Field is credited with inventing the nocturne, though pieces with the same description had been around before Field coined the name. Frederic Chopin was the most famous composer of nocturnes.

Novellete. A term used by Schumann as the title of his Op. 21, ostensibly of a narrative character (as in a literary novel) and consisting of several contrasting sections, envisaged as musical chapters.
Paraphrase This is generally a free and virtuosic arrangement, medley-style, of tunes, arias and ensembles from well-known operas or other sources. The best known examples are those by Liszt: most notably those based on Mozart’s Don Giovanni, Verdi’s Aida and Rigoletto, Bellini’s Norma and the Totentanz for piano and orchestra.
Rhapsody is an instrumental fantasia, that is, a freeform that is often irregular in form, emotional in effect, and improvisational in nature. Rhapsody is often based on folk melody. Franz Liszt’s Hungarian Rhapsodies are notable examples.

Scherzo is a rapid, vigorous instrumental composition in triple time, usually the second or third movement in an extended work such as a sonata, symphony or string quartet. It is typically a lighthearted musical movement in a lively and often playful or humorous style. During the 17th century, the term scherzo was used as a title for light pieces with irregular form. In the second half of the 18th century, Haydn used the term to denote a much accelerated in the context of a sonata design. The modern scherzo was given its character by Beethoven who developed the form as a substitute for the minuet. Its tempo was quickened to the point where the chief unit of measurement is the duple-metre grouping of bars within phrase. Subsequent composers such as Chopin and Stravinsky, occasionally used the scherzo as an independent form. Other self-contained scherzos for the piano include two lilting examples by Schubert, one each by Mendelssohn and Brahms, and a couple of miniatures by Schumann and Alkan.


Blues is a type of music that developed during the late 19th century by African American performers. The piano blues is generally based on a 12-bar, unvarying harmonic sequence in duple time, with a melody favoring certain ‘flattened’ scale steps which have come to be known as ‘blue’ notes. The harmonic sequence of blues, while giving rise to elaborate elaborations, is based on the three most common chords of European music, the tonic (home key), dominant (a fifth above) and subdominant (a forth above).
Blues was originally characterized by deep sorrow, tempered by resilience and often humor too. Now, blues embraces a variety of styles, and a wide range of emotional conditions. The old blues form such as folk blues, country blues, classic blues and jump blues, continue to flourish today, along with the new variants like Chicago/urban blues, soul blues and rhythm and blues (R & B). Blues influenced the vast majority of popular music during the 20th century including jazz, rock, and gospel

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