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What is the Romantic era in Music?

Romantic music suggests grandeur, elegance and sophistication. Think of the sensitivity of piano music by Chopin; the grand operas of Rossini, or the large symphonic orchestras of Berlioz all co-existing together.

The Romantic period in music is used to represent music from 1827 to 1900.

In the ABRSM aural exam, you can justify why a piece belongs to the Romantic era by mentioning its characteristics if you hear them.

Romantic music is marked by sudden contrasts of expression. While the expression markings from the Classical era were continued, there were more contrasts - music could go more suddenly from loud to soft, and composers used more dynamic range. Berlioz's Requiem, for example, goes from ppppp (really soft) to fffff (really loud).

There are thicker, chordal textures in music. What this means is, on the piano, the right hand melody would often be played with chords underneath it in the right hand, and there would be an accompanying pattern in the left hand, often made up of chords and inversions. This was different from the Baroque style of imitation, and the Classical homophonic style.

There were also more harmonic clashes. While Baroque and early-Classical music had a pleasant aesthetic quality about it, that perhaps seem to suggest that the music is restrained, fairly organised and reliant on a similar range of chords, Romantic music goes through various keys and includes a wider group of chords, including clashes in harmony to represent impassioned feeling.

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