The Romantic Movement

By — McGraw-Hill Professional
Updated on Feb 3, 2012

The Romantic Movement

The nineteenth century saw the birth of a major movement in literature and the arts. This movement is called Romanticism. Writers, musicians, and artists of the Romantic era celebrated their own individuality in their novels, poetry, symphonies, songs, and paintings.

Romanticism was something of a revolt against the Classical or Neoclassical era that had begun in the late 1700s and lasted through about 1815. This had been an era of rigidly controlled artistic forms, such as the sonata in music.

Where the Classical era concentrated on form, the Romantic era concentrated on content. As an outgrowth of the Enlightenment, Classical music and art celebrated reason; as an outgrowth of nationalism, Romantic music and art celebrated emotion. It was a glorification of the artist as a creative individual, an era in which each artist cast aside fixed rules and consciously placed his or her individual stamp on his or her work.

In literature, Romanticism lasted from about 1830 to 1850. Johann Wolfgang von Goethe of Frankfurt and Jean-Jacques Rousseau of Geneva were early influences on the Romantic writers, who included E. T. A. Hoffmann (Prussia); Alexander Pushkin (Russia); Samuel Taylor Coleridge, Charlotte and Emily Brönte, and Mary Shelley (Britain); and Victor Hugo (France).

In music, the Romantic movement lasted from about 1830 to about 1900. The great Romantic composers are often included under the misleading label “classical music”; in fact, the Classical era in music lasted only from about 1750 to 1820. Classical composers begin and end with Franz Josef Haydn, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, and Ludwig van Beethoven; the last is considered a bridge to the Romantic era in music. Major Romantic composers include Franz Schubert of Austria; Robert Schumann, Johannes Brahms, Felix Mendelssohn, and Richard Wagner of Germany; Frédéric Chopin of Poland; Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky of Russia; Hector Berlioz of France; and Giuseppe Verdi of Italy.

Practice questions for these concepts can be found at:

European Revolutions Practice Test

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