E85.2074: Music of the Romantic Era

Course Outline

Copyright 1999 John V. Gilbert All Rights Reserved
Course Description

This course examines the music literature of the Romantic Era (1800-1900) and the composers and the cultural and political forces that played a role in the creation of the musical works of that era. Students will examine musical genre in order to develop an understanding of the musical style of 19th Century music, and will explore these stylistic concepts through listening, score study, and investigating published sources.

In order to benefit the most from this course material, you must follow all of the hypertext links on the website. Many materials links will be developed during the semester, so it is vital that you provide ample time in your schedule to explore the website and conduct your own research in print and digital materials.

Course Objectives

  1. Students will develop an understanding of the historical context of the Romatic Era.

  2. Students will be able to discuss the musical genres and musical style of the Romantic Era.

  3. Students will be able to identify and recognize important masterworks of the Romantic Era, their composers, and their stylistic idioms.

  4. Students will be able to write an abstract of an individually selected resource (book, dissertation, series of articles) which addresses some aspect of Romanticism in Music in the time period of the Romantic era, which has been roughly delineated as 1800 to 1900.

  5. Students will learn to use the Internet and the World Wide Web as a resource for learning, discussion, and research.



  • International Style of Classical Idealism
  • Return to Unity of Mood
  • The Nurturing of Extremes
  • Abandonment of Restraint
  • Political Turmoil and the death of Aristocracy
  • The American Revolution
  • The French Revolution



  • The emergence of the dramatic in the sonata and symphony
  • Discovery of the "real Shakespeare"
  • Links to the Baroque and Empfindsamkeit

  • LUDWIG VAN BEETHOVEN (1770-1827)

  • Beethoven as The Man Who Freed Music
  • The First Symphony as a Point of Departure: "Good-bye to Classicism"
  • The Eruption of the Tonal System

  • Beethoven's Contemporaries
  • Johannes Brahms (1833-1897)
  • Felix Mendelssohn-Bartholdy (1809-1847)
  • Cesar Franck (1822-1890)


  • Richard Wagner (1813-1883)
  • Robert Schumann (1810-1856)
  • Franz Schubert (1797-1828)
  • Hugo Wolf (1860-1903)
  • Carl Maria von Weber (1786-1826)


  • Hector Berlioz (1803-1869)
  • Felicien David (1810-1876)
  • D.F.E. Auber (1782-1872)
  • Giacomo Meyerbeer (1791-1864)
  • Charles Gounod (1818-1893)
  • Ambroise Thomas (1811-1896)
  • Jules Massenet (1842-1912)
  • Georges Bizet (1838-1875)
  • Edouard Lalo (1823-1892)
  • Camille Saint-Saens (1835-1921)
  • Emmanuel Chabrier (1841-1894)


  • Gioacchino Rossini (1791-1868)
  • Vincenzo Bellini (1801-1835)
  • Gaietano Donizetti (1797-1848)
  • Guiseppe Verdi (1813-1901)
  • Giacomo Puccini (1858-1824)

  • Scandinavia
  • Franz Berwald (1796-1868)
  • Niels Wilhelm Gade (1817-1890)
  • Edvard Hagerup Grieg (1843-1907)

    Eastern Europe

  • Bedrich Smetana (1824-1884)
  • Antonin Dvorak (1841-1904)


  • Mikhail Ivanovich Glinka (1804-1857)
  • Cesar Cui (1835-1938)
  • Aleksander Porfirievich Borodin (1833-1887)
  • Mily Aleksandrovich Balakirev (1837-1910)
  • Modest Petrovich Musorgsky (1839-1881)
  • Nikolai Andreyevich Rimsky-Korsakov (1844-1908)
  • Pyotr Ilyich (Chaikovsky) Tchaikovsky(1840-1893)


  • Edward Elgar (1857-1934)

    United States

  • Louis Moreau Gottschalk (1829-1869)
  • Edward MacDowell (1861-1908)


  • Ferenc (Franz) Liszt (1811-1886)
  • Fryderyk(Frédéric) Chopin (1810-1849)

    Post Romantics

  • Anton Bruckner (1824-1896)
  • Gustav Mahler (1860-1911)
  • Richard Strauss (1864-1949)

  • Form and Romanticism
  • New Genre:

  • Vocal Music
  • Instrumental Music


  • Nationalism
  • Programmatic Music
  • Literature and Philosophy
  • Musical Language (Harmony, Melody, Rhythm, Sound)


    1 Develop a topic involved with some aspect of the music and/or composers of the Romantic Era and write a research paper on the topic. This could include a presentation in class or on the web of your topic and your findings.


    2. Conduct a performance analysis of a selected work by a composer from the Romantic ERa (1800-1900). This could include a presentation in class through a performance and hand-out of materials developed in your research into the music.

    You should report on your selection of term project after the first three weeks of class.


    Students will be evaluated on class participation, discussion (class, e-mail, and the WWW), presentation, requested written assignments, examinations, and term project.


    Select a book or dissertation dealing with a composer, works, or stylistic characteristics of the Romantic Era and present a report with an abstract to the class, to be posted on the class website.

    This abstract will be due the fifth week of class. By the second week of class, select three books and submit the titles by e-mail to john.gilbert@nyu.edu. Indicate your preference among the three of the one you would wish to use for the assignment. By return e-mail, you will receive an approval of the book selected or a suggested alternative should your title already been taken by someone else.


    Abrams, M. H. Natural Supernaturalism. 1971.

    Barzun, Jacques. Darwin, Marx, Wagner. Doubleday & Co., New York, 1958.

    Butler, Marilyn. Romantics, Rebels, and Reactionaries. 1982.

    Clark, K. M. The Romantic Rebellion. 1973.

    Einstein, Alfred. Music in the Romantic Era. W.W. Norton & Co., New York, 1947.

    Furst, L. R. Romanticism. (2d ed.) 1976.

    Gaull, Marilyn. English Romanticism. 1988.

    Jones, H. M. Revolution and Romanticism. 1974.

    Kramer, Lawrence. Music as Cultural Practice, 1800-1900. University of California Press, Berkeley. 1990.

    Lister, Raymond. British Romantic Painting. 1989.

    Longyear, Rey M. Romanticism in Music. Prentice-Hall, Inc. Englewood Cliffs, N.J.

    McGann, Jerome. The Romantic Ideology. 1983.

    Porter, Roy, and Teich, Mikulas, eds.. Romanticism in National Context. 1988)

    Quennell, Peter. Romantic England. 1970)

    Raeburn, M., and Kendall, A. Heritage of Music: The Romantic Era . 1989.

    Rosenblum, Robert. Transformations in Late 18th-Century Art. 1967.

    Ruoff, Gene W., ed. The Romantics and Us. 1990.

    Vaughn, William. Romantic Art. 1985.

    Whittall, Arnold, Romantic Music. 1987.