Online College Courses for Credit

Musical Characteristics from the Romantic Era

Musical Characteristics from the Romantic Era

Author: Yohan Partan

The students will be able to learn to identify the three characteristics of the music from the Romantic Era through the Sophia tutorial provided.


3.5 Classify, by genre or style and historical period or culture, unfamiliar but representative aural examples of music and explain the reasoning for the classification.

IEP Goal:
Use visual elements and aural examples to enhance the learning experience, and provide hyperlinks to make the process easier.

See More

Try Sophia’s Art History Course. For Free.

Our self-paced online courses are a great way to save time and money as you earn credits eligible for transfer to many different colleges and universities.*

Begin Free Trial
No credit card required

29 Sophia partners guarantee credit transfer.

311 Institutions have accepted or given pre-approval for credit transfer.

* The American Council on Education's College Credit Recommendation Service (ACE Credit®) has evaluated and recommended college credit for 27 of Sophia’s online courses. Many different colleges and universities consider ACE CREDIT recommendations in determining the applicability to their course and degree programs.


Three Important Characteristics

In 1820's, the development of individual styles started to increase exponentially. The composers did not depend on the patrons as their main source of income, and freely wrote music based on their beliefs and social movements, such as Impressionism and Nationalism.

The three main characteristics of the Romantic Era is:

1. Free use of tempo rubato

Composers played with the tempo and their music wasn't in strict time anymore. The example below shows the tempo marking as Andantino molto (Tempo Rubato), which means that the tempo should be 'very much at walking pace' in flexible rhythm.


2. Distinctively Individualized Styles

Each composer wrote music based on their beliefs and thoughts without their patrons' interruptions. Listen to these two examples and pay attention to the recognizable melodies that you may already have heard in movies, commercials, etc.

"O Fortuna" from Carmina Burana written by Carl Orff was used in theDomino's Pizza commercial.

"Piano Concerto No. 1" by Pyotr I. Tchaikovsky

3. Program Music

The composers started writing music to nature scenes, architecture, and monuments.

"Great Gate of Kiev" from Pictures at an Exhibition by Mussorgsky

"Moldau" by Smetana

The Big Question of the Day

Beethoven was the first composer to write choral parts in the genre of symphony. The text used was written by Schiller, "Ode to Joy." Read the translation and watch the video below to answer the following question.

"Describe in your own words. How does Beethoven's idea of 'unifying' or 'uniting' through music still affect today's musical development worldwide?"


Beethoven 9th Symphony, 4th movement

O friends, no more these sounds!Let us sing more cheerful songs,
More full of joy!

Joy, bright spark of divinity,Daughter of Elysium, Fire-inspired we tread Thy sanctuary.Thy magic power re-unites All that custom has divided, All men become brothers, Under the sway of thy gentle wings.

Whoever has created An abiding friendship, Or has won A true and loving wife, All who can call at least one soul theirs, Join our song of praise; But those who cannot must creep tearfully Away from our circle.

All creatures drink of joy At natures breast. Just and unjust Alike taste of her gift; She gave us kisses and the fruit of the vine, A tried friend to the end. Even the worm can feel contentment, And the cherub stands before God!

Gladly, like the heavenly bodies Which He sent on their courses Through the splendor of the firmament; Thus, brothers, you should run your race, like a hero going to victory!

You millions, I embrace you. This kiss is for all the world! Brothers, above the starry canopy There must dwell a loving father.

Do you fall in worship, you millions? World, do you know your creator? Seek Him in the heavens; Above the stars must he dwell.