The two composers who almost everybody can bring to mind when they are talking about classical music are Beethoven and Mozart. There is a good reason for this; they wrote some of the most memorable pieces of music in the history of mankind. However, some other pieces of classical music which you will recognise come from the romantic era. In this fascinating article, we will take you through some of the composers you need to know about from this period; explain how their music differs from the classical output that came before and let you know about some of their most significant pieces. In short, once you’ve read this article, you’ll be able to bluff your way through a discussion on the romantic era.
The usual go-to composer for anyone talking about the romantic era is Tchaikovsky. His pieces are well known for being slightly over the top and even a little camp in places. He makes full use of the orchestra in his work and often builds his pieces to stunning and fluttery crescendos. This is the case in his ballets, symphonies and almost all of his output. It has also made his work almost indispensable in the modern era, particularly to marketers who use his music to create a sense of drama and familiarity in their commercials.
At the opposite end of the spectrum, but coming from a similar time, is Rachmaninov. He makes use of dramatic piano pieces. Like many other pieces of classical music, they will be familiar to you from commercials, films and other uses in the modern world. They bring a sense of drama to any place in which they are used. It can sometimes feel like the pianist is attacking the piano, rather than merely playing it.
A slightly calmer form of piano music comes to the era courtesy of Chopin, the Polish composer. His music will again be familiar to you but tends to have a calmer and more reflective quality. Best of all, his pieces are relatively short (many of his piano pieces are only a few minutes in length). The life story of Chopin is also fascinating and is well worth familiarising yourself with before you listen to his music. It will give you a much stronger idea of the emotion which lies behind many of his pieces and allow you to enjoy them more.