Art Appreciation

Art Appreciation

Romantic era is an ideological turn in the European and American culture of the XIXth century. Its main musical principle is a sharp contrast between everyday existence and highest spiritual world. It reflected people’s despair of the Great French revolution, ideology of Enlightenment and bourgeois progress. The works of outstanding composers of this period (Shubert, Chopin, Liszt, and Brahms) are penetrated with freedom, deep concern in human inner world and strong feelings of a creative personality.
Creative works of Frederic Chopin, Franz Liszt and Johannes Brahms had many common features, as all of these composers lived during one historical period. Some romantic composers bring feelings of loneliness and depression, others – calmness and tenderness. Music of this period developed sensitivity in people and softened their souls. People were charmed with simple and clear melodies.
In many sides Franz Liszt was influenced by Chopin. Although his idol was Paganini with his bright virtuosity and temper, many critics connect his creative work with Chopin. Their colorful works are associated with a symphonic orchestra. Liszt is famous for the introduction of a new symphonic genre, which became popular with composers of different countries. The genre of synchronical symphonic poem was a considerable achievement in music of the 19th century. Works of Liszt are characterized with the great inspiration and even effusiveness, unusual and picturesque melodies. As for his musical methods, Liszt used powerful accords in all the registers, virtuous passages and cantinella. In such a way he tried to make musical image clearer. Liszt had a specific peculiarity, which distinguished him among other romantic composers. It was an orchestration of the sound. It’s common knowledge that Liszt’s play impresses with brightness of timbre, combining poetic and musical images. As for the major influences on his music, I should admit that he was inspired by the talented play of Paganini.
As a representative of late Romanticism, Johannes Brahms tried to bring back the epoch of Classicism, and combined old musical forms with the depiction of contemporary ideas. Like Chopin and Liszt, Brahms also followed the style and tempo of Niccolo Paganini. But his main creative period was connected with Haydn. The theme of Haydn reflected a range of principles characterizing classical epoch, but Johannes Brahms developed his ideas wider, using the styles of different epochs. In his works Brahms goes through the epoch of Barocco with polyphonic methods, Classicism and Romanticism with their peculiarities and tendencies. Brahms chose the form of variations, which create clear emotional images. Unlike Liszt and Chopin, Brahms was the composer of the second half of Romanticism. It distinguishes him among other composers, and his works show the domination of humanistic ideas, main ideas of Renaissance. The end of the XIXth century is a hard period for the European art. The epoch of World wars, social revolutions, sharp contradictions in the bourgeois society were reflected in the works of famous composers, including Brahms. Together with Chopin, Brahms contributed into the development of a famous genre - vocal barcarole, which represents a graceful and calm melody. Chopin is known for his piano barcaroles, while Brahms created choir ones.
Political instability in Poland influenced artistic works of Chopin. In such an atmosphere Chopin was depressed by obscure presentiments. Probably due to these factors the theme of Native land was especially visible in his works. The defeat of the Polish revolution aroused despair, anxiety and anger in Chopin, and left a deep trace in his works. Past illusions vanished and were replaced by tragedy of new images and spiritual maturity. Destruction of social morality also made an impact on the composer. In the society of that time everything became the object of trade: dignity, talent, beauty and innocence. Communication with outstanding people of the epoch also made a great influence on Chopin’s variety of musical ideas, in the centre of which still lies the theme of Motherhood. Following Chopin, Franz Liszt also used this theme as the main element of his later works. His greatest contribution was the genre of rhapsody – a romantic form of musical masterpieces.
Expressing thoughts and feelings of their contemporaries and high ideals of his time, Chopin and Liszt turned to the significant experience of national art and realistic traditions of classics. Unlike other composers, Chopin limited his creative work exceptionally with piano music. But even here he achieved great virtuosity and many-sidedness, while other composers achieved it, working with different kinds of instrumental music. Creative work of Frederic Chopin is connected with the traditions of Polish people. He used the rhythm of native dances to create various musical images. Franz Liszt called Chopin “the poet of the piano”. As well as Liszt, he created new genres of piano music: nocturne, prelude, fantasy, improvisation, romantic musical miniatures, etc.
On the whole I’d like to say that creativity of these composers was also influenced by certain political, cultural and ethnic changes during the epoch. Romanticism was a reaction on the esthetics of Enlightenment, caused by changes in the feudal society. As a result it became one of the most complex and contradictive phenomena in the history of culture. Pessimistic view on the perspectives of social development and despair was combined with a strong desire to achieve spiritual harmony. This sharp contrast between ideals and reality greatly influenced the development of new styles and tendencies in music. As a result composers and other men of art got interested in human personality, which was symbolically reflected in their works.
Romantic composers mainly turned to synthetic genres: opera, songs, instrumental miniature, etc. Chopin, Liszt and Brahms became greatest representatives of the Romantic era. There works are penetrated with a deep concern in the inner world of a personality; they are full of emotional strain and strong feelings.

References
Ewen, D. (1992) The World of Great Composers. New Jersey,
Englewood Cliffs, Prentice-Hall.
Schmidt-Jones, C. (2007) Nineteenth century Western classical
music. The music of the Romantic Era. Retrieved June 22, 2007 from http://cnx.org/content/m11606/latest/
Szulc, T.(2000) Chopin in Paris: The Life and Times of the
Romantic Composer. Philadelphia: Lippincott.