Ballade Originally a song that tells a story. In Romantic music it is often used to mean instrumental works with a narrative quality.
Bel Canto An Italian term for "beautiful singing" used to describe an early 19th-century operatic style which emphasized vocal purity and agility.
Cadence From the Italian for "falling," it is the conclusion of a musical phrase analogous to the end of a sentence in written prose.
Chamber Music Music written for small groups of instruments (trios, quartets, et al) with or without voice whose intimate nature was considered appropriate for performance in small halls and/or salons.
Chromaticism Music that highlights the use of the complete chromatic scale--the 12 notes of the traditional Western octave--and emphasizes intervals and relationships outside the "normal" diatonic patterns.
Chromatic Harmony Harmony that moves in chromatic intervals, rather than along traditional tonal patterns. The chromaticism may be in the inner voices of the chords.
Concerto. From the Italian for "concert." By the 19th century, it was a word used to describe extensive works for solo instrument (usually piano or violin) or occasionally other instruments with an orchestral accompaniment.
Consonance A musical feeling or condition of harmonic resolution or rest--it has a contrasting meaning with the word dissonance.
Cyclic Construction Compositions that are tied together by means of reintroducing important themes from earlier sections into later sections.
Diatonic Music--especially individual chords or melodic lines--that readily fits into a key or tonality.
Dissonance Literally a musical relationship (usually a chord) which lies outside of tonal harmony; in effect, it is the state of tension or unrest in music which contrasts with consonance, the lack of such tension.
Enlightenment Name given to the body of 18th-century philosophy emphasizing the triumph of Reason; it also refers to the period of prominence of such philosophies.
Etudé French for "study," originaIly the name of short pieces written to teach the mastery of specific technical difficulties in learning an instrument. In the 19th century often used for short brilliant works for a solo instrument, especially piano.
Fantasy Name given to certain instrumental works whose form does not fit within pre-established patterns.
Grand Opera Term for opera of early to mid-19th century that emphasized pomp and elaborate stage devices. Paris was the heart of Grand Opera style.
Humanism World view in which Man, his needs, perceptions, and dignity, is considered to be the central focus of Philosophy and Life. The Italian Renaissance and the 18th century were eras dominated by humanism.
Impressionism An artistic movement of the late 19th century, especially prominent in France and among painters. It emphasized the evocation of the sensory experience of natural phenomena.
Leitmotive From German for "leading motive"; a term originally used to describe short melodic themes in Wagner's Music Dramas that represent specific elements (person, idea, et al) in the drama.
Libretto Italian for "little book," the name usually given to the text of an opera.
Lied German for "song"; usually used to mean art songs (as opposed to folk songs), usually for voice and piano. PIural is Lieder.
Mazurka A small-scaled composition, usually far piano, based on a synthesis of Polish dance forms. It was introduced by Chopin.
Modulation In tonal music it is the process of moving from one key to another.
Nocturne Name given for short pieces, usually for piano, meant to evoke the "feeling" of the night. Invented by Field, the form is most often associated with Chopin.
Paraphrase A composition which freely combines easily recognizable themes from another famous work (or works).
Polonaise French for "Polish," it is a typically Polish dance of military character, or a composition that suggests elements of such a dance.
Prima Donna Italian for "first lady," it is used specifically to denote the female lead singer in an opera production. Often used to describe performers of a highly temperamental, capricious, and egotistical manner.
Renaissance French for "rebirth," the era, especially in Italy, lasting roughly from 1400 to 1600, during which there was an enormous revival of interest in ancient Greece and Rome, in education, in humanism, and in the arts.
Scherzo From the Italian for "joke," a fast, often light-hearted piece, used by Beethoven to replace the traditional Minuet. Later composers (e.g., Chopin) retained the basic form of the original but greatly modified its character.
Sonata From Italian for "played" (i .e., not sung). In the 18th and 19th centuries, it referred to a large-scale work, usually in several parts or movements, for solo instruments or solo instruments with accompaniment.
Sonata Form General structural scheme, developed in mid-18th century and mastered by Haydn, by which large-scale movements (not only of sonatas, but of symphonies, quartets, etc.) are organized by a relationship of keys and themes having an exposition, development, recapitulation and often a coda.
Strophic Form Songs or Lieder that are arranged in verses whose music is repeated more or less exactly with each verse.
Symphonic Poem (aka Program music). Term used originally by Liszt for an orchestral form organized around a dramatic program or story. This genre was also developed by Berlioz and referred to as a Tone Poem.
Transcription A musical composition that takes a pre-existing work and more or less exactly resets it in a new format, e.g. for different instruments. Transcriptions may be of the composer's own works or the works of others.
Verismo From Italian for "realism." Late 19th-century operatic style, especially Italian, which emphasized highly emotional situations drawn from "real-life" settings.
Virtuoso From Italian for "virtuous"; the word was used to describe instrumentalists of particular brilliance and accomplishment.
Waltz A dance, introduced in the late 18th century, which became highly popular in the 19th century due largely to its intimacy, grace, and freedom of movement as opposed to the more formal, stiffer dances typical of the 18th century. It was also considered an artistic metaphor for the intellectual notion of "freedom".
Period of Romantic music: circa 1800 to circa 1900
Haydn, Franz Joseph (1732-1809) Austrian composer, early developer of the Symphony, Sonata, String Quartet, et al, and chief molder of Classical style.
Mozart, Wolfgang Amadeus (1756-1791) Austrian composer and archetypical musician of the Classical era.
Beethoven, Ludwig van (1770-1827) German composer who brought the Classical age to its climax.
Paganini, Niccolo (1782-1840) Italian composer and great violin virtuoso.
Weber, Carl Maria von (1786-1826) Early German Romantic composer of operas and other works.
Rossini, Gioacchino (1792-1868) Italian opera composer, important in the development of both Bel Canto and Grand Opera.
Donizetti, Gaetano (1797-1848) Italian opera composer of bel canto school.
Schubert, Franz (1797-1828) Viennese composer who bridged Classical and Romantic eras, especially important as developer of the Lied.
Bellini, Vincenzo (1801-1835) Italian opera composer prominent in bel canto movement.
Berlioz, Hector (1803-1869) French early Romantic composer especially known for dramatic subjects.
Mendelssohn, Felix (1809-1847) German early Romantic composer of somewhat Classical tendencies.
Chopin, Frederic (or Fryderyk) (1810-1849) Polish composer, great master of the piano and music for the piano.
Schumann, Robert (1810-1856) German early Romantic composer, especially of piano music and Lieder.
Liszt, Franz (or Ferenc) (1811-1886) Hungarian composer, piano virtuoso, and Romantic "man-of-the-world".
Verdi, Giuseppe (1813-1901) Greatest Italian 19thcentury composer of operas.
Wagner, Richard (1813-1883) German composer of operas (Music Dramas). One of the crucial figures of Romantic music.
Gounod, Charles (1818-1893) French composer of operas.
Bruckner, Anton (1824-1896) Austrian composer of monumental symphonies.
Strauss, Johann, Jr. (1825-1899) Most famous Viennese composer of Waltzes.
Brahms, Johannes (1833-1897) German composer and most prominent master of Classical instrumental forms in Romantic era.
Saint-Saëns, Camille (1835-1921) Late Romantic French composer of opera, symphonic works, and chamber music.
Bizet, Georges (1838-1875) French opera composer.
Mussorgsky, Modest (1839-1881) Russian nationalistic composer, especially of opera.
Dvorak, Antonin (1841-1904) Bohemian (Czech) nationalistic composer.
Tchaikovsky, Piotr Ilyitch (1840-1893) Major Russian Romantic composer.
Grieg, Edvard (1843-1907) Norwegian nationalistic composer.
Fauré, Gabriel (1845-1924) Late Romantic French composer.
Puccini, Giacomo (1858-1924) Late Romantic Italian composer of opera.
Mahler, Gustav (1860-1911) Austrian Romantic composer of Lieder and especially huge, personal symphonies.
Debussy, Claude (1862-1918) French composer, best known as exponent of musical Impressionism.
Strauss, Richard (1864-1949) Late and post-Romantic German composer, especially of Symphonic Poems and operas.
Goethe, Johann Wolfgang von (1749-1832) German poet and dramatist. Most influential figure in German literature.
Richter, Jean-Paul (1763-1825) Usually called Jean-Paul; German Romantic writer.
Scott, Sir Walter (1771-1832) Scottish novelist of Romantic tales of the Middle Ages, highly influential in early 19th century.
Austen, Jane (1775-1817) English novelist of manners.
Hoffmann, E.T.A. (1776-1822) German writer of fantastic tales.
Byron, Lord George (1788-1824) Highly influential Romantic English poet.
Cooper, James Fenimore (1789-1851) American novelist of Romantic tales of the pioneer era.
Heine, Heinrich (1797-1856) German Romantic poet.
Poe, Edgar Allan (1809-1849) American poet and storywriter, especially influential in France.
Bronte, Charlotte (1816-1855) English Romantic novelist, wrote Jane Eyre.
Bronte, Emily (1818-1848) English Romantic novelist, wrote Wuthering Heights.
Baudelaire, Charles (1821-1867) French poet and early Wagner enthusiast.
Friedrich, Kaspar David (1774-1840) German Romantic painter.
Gericault, Jean Louis (1791-1824) French Romantic painter.
Delacroix, Eugene (1798-1863) French Romantic painter known for exotic scenes.
Rousseau, Jean-Jacques (1712-1778) French philosopher, writer, and social critic.
Kant, Immanuel (1724-1804) German philosopher whose Critique of Pure Reason was the foundation of 19th-century philosophy.
Fichte, Johann Gottlieb (1762-1814) German philosopher.
Hegel, Georg Wilhelm Friedrich (1770-1831) German philosopher.
Schopenhauer, Arthur (1788-1860) German pessimist philosopher with great influence on Wagner and other later 19th-century composers and writers.
Thoreau, Henry David (1817-1862) American writer and social critic.
Marx, Karl (1818-1883) German political philosopher and founder of communism.
Nietzsche, Friedrich (1844-1900) German philosopher and critic.
Paine, Thomas (1739-1809) American political philosopher and one of the driving spirits behind the American revolution and Constitution.
Jefferson, Thomas (1743-1826) American statesman and president.
Napoleon Bonaparte (1769-1821) Leader and later Emperor of post-Revolutionary France.
Garibaldi, Giuseppe (1807-1802) Italian statesman, principal architect of the unification of Italy.
Bismarck, Prince Otto von (1815-1898) German politician and chancellor, principal architect of the unification of Germany.
Queen Victoria (1819-1901) Queen of England from 1837-1901.
Watt, James (1736-1819) Scottish inventor of the steam engine.
Fulton, Robert (1765-1815) American inventor of the steamboat.
Whitney, Eli (1765-1825) American inventor of the cotton gin.
Morse, Samuel F.B. (1791-1872) American inventor of the telegraph.
Darwin, Charles (1809-1882) English scientist and naturalist; formulator of the theory of Evolution.
McCormick, Cyrus (1809-1884) American inventor of the mechanical reaper.
Howe, Elias (1819-1867) American inventor of the sewing machine.
Bell, Alexander Graham (1847-1922) American (Scottish-born) inventor of the telephone.
Edison, Thomas Alva (1847-1931) American inventor of the light bulb and other uses of electricity.
Freud, Siegmund (1856-1939) Austrian scientist and founder of psychoanalysis.
Marconi, Guglielmo (1874-1937) Italian inventor of the radio.