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IES Las Encinas 2º de ESO Proyecto Bilingüe





4. Musical nationalism in the middle of the 19th Century

IES Las Encinas 2º de ESO Proyecto Bilingüe

To abolish: abolir.

Damper pedal: pedal sostenuto.

To evolve: evolucionar.

Filter: filtro.

Frame: marco (arpa del piano).

Hammer: martillo o macillo.

Huge: inmenso

To evoke: evocar.

To lead: llevar a

Marriage: matrimonio.

Mature: maduro.

Poetry: poesía.

Program music: música programática.

Soft pedal: pedal izquierdo del piano.

Sources: fuentes.

Stanza: estrofa.

Towards: hacia.

To turn: volverse.

Wide: ancho.

IES Las Encinas 2º de ESO Proyecto Bilingüe


Romantic music is a term referring to a particular

period in European music history from about 1815 to 1910.

Romanticism describes the expansion of formal

structures within a composition, making the pieces more

passionate and expressive. During this period composers

turned their attention to the expression of intense feelings

in their music and were also influenced by technological

advances, including the development of the piano and the

greater projection of the instruments of the symphony


Some of the main characteristic of the Romantic era are:

• Freedom in form and design; a more intense personal expression of emotion in which

fantasy and imagination play an important part.

• Emphasis on lyrical, songlike melodies that are longer, dramatic and emotional. Tempos

are more extreme and tempo rubato is common.

• Denser textures exploring a wider range of pitch, dynamics and timbres.

• Expansion of the orchestra, sometimes to huge proportions; the invention of the valve

system leads to development of the brass section, whose weight and power often

dominate the texture.

• Rich variety of types of piece, from songs and short piano pieces to huge musical

compositions for orchestra.

• Music has closer links with other arts. Frecuently composers are inspired by external

sources like poems or landscapes.

• Greater technical virtuosity – especially from pianists and violinists.

• Nationalism: reaction against German influences in music by composers of other

countries (especially Russia, Bohemia and Poland).

IES Las Encinas 2º de ESO Proyecto Bilingüe



The term lieder is the plural form of the German

word lied which means "song." The poetry forming the basis

for lieder often centers upon pastoral themes, or themes of

romantic love. Typically, lieder are arranged for a single

singer and piano. The piano helped to add more emotion

into the Romantic lieder. The accompaniment enhanced the

meaning of the text by harmonic, rhythmic, and melodic

material independent of the voice part. It also provided

harmonic and melodic support to the voice and served to

punctuate the poetic form by interludes between stanzas and

lines of the poem. Poetic structure is responsible for the musical form of a song (two basic forms

are ternary form -A B A- and strophic form -A A´ A´´…-). The composers Franz Schubert and

Robert Schumann are most closely associated with this genre of romantic music.

IES Las Encinas 2º de ESO Proyecto Bilingüe


Romantic opera gave more dimension to the imagination and extreme emotions. Opera

was a marriage of the arts, a musical drama, glorious songs, costume and orchestral music.


Gioacchino Rossini initiated the Romantic

period in the Italian opera. His reputation still survives

today through his Barber of Seville. He was one of the

earlier composers of bel canto. The bel canto opera

movement flourished in the early 19th century.

Literally "beautiful singing", bel canto opera derives

from the Italian stylistic singing school of the same

name. Bel canto lines are typically florid and intricate,

requiring supreme agility and pitch control.

Rossini's successors in the Italian bel canto were Vincenzo Bellini, Gaetano Donizetti and

Giuseppe Verdi, the most important Italian opera composer in the 19th century. Verdi's operas

resonated with the growing spirit of Italian nationalism in the post-Napoleonic era, and he

quickly became an icon of the patriotic movement. In the early 1850s, Verdi produced his three

most popular operas: Rigoletto, Il trovatore and La traviata.

IES Las Encinas 2º de ESO Proyecto Bilingüe


In Germany, Wagner was one of the most

revolutionary and controversial composers in musical

history. He created a new concept of opera as a complete

work of art, a fusion of music, poetry and painting. In his

mature music dramas, Tristan und Isolde, Die

Meistersinger von Nürnberg, Der Ring des Nibelungen

and Parsifal, he abolished the distinction between aria and

recitative in favour of the "endless melody". He increased

the role and power of the orchestra and developed the

leitmotivs, recurring themes often associated with the

characters and concepts of the drama. Wagner also

brought a new philosophical dimension to opera in his works, which were usually based on

stories from Germanic or Arthurian legend.


3.1. Piano music

The piano evolved during 19th century and became in

an extremely versatile instrument. It provided a wide dynamic

range (the ability to distinguish between loud and soft) and a

large capacity for sonority which its predecessors did not have.

The double escapement action, the use of a strong iron frame

and felt hammers coverings and the improvement of the

damper and soft pedals were some of the innovations that

allowed musicians to try new and exciting harmonic effects and

express whatever they wanted. Chopin, Listz, Schumann or Brahms were fundamental piano

composers in the Romantic era.

IES Las Encinas 2º de ESO Proyecto Bilingüe

3.2. Program music

Program music is a type of composition that is

inspired in an external source (for instance a poem or

image) and try to invoke in the listener a specific

experience other than listening just only music.

Normally, the composers presented their music with an

extensive program text where they explained the

object of their composition. Hector Berlioz

(Symphonie Fantastique) and Franz Liszt, the inventor

of the term symphonic poem, were important

composers of program music.

IES Las Encinas 2º de ESO Proyecto Bilingüe

4. Musical nationalism in the middle of the 19th Century

The increasing importance of nationalism as a political force in the 19th century was

mirrored in music and the other arts. Many composers expressed their nationalism by

incorporating elements unique to their native cultures, such as folk song, dances, and legendary

histories. In addition to these exterior elements, there was an increasing diversification of musical

language, as composers used elements of rhythm or melody characteristic of their respective


Many composers wrote nationalist music, especially towards the middle and end of the

19th century. Bedřich Smetana and Antonín Dvořák both used rhythms and themes from Czech

folk dances and songs, and Jean Sibelius wrote music based on the Finnish epic. Chopin wrote in

forms like the polonaise and mazurka, that were derived from Polish folk music. finally, some

Russian composers, for example Borodin, Rimsky-Korsakov or Mussorsgsky, shared the common

dream to write music that was inspired by Russian folk music.

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