Notes for Monday of Week 11 class session:


(Read these BEFORE the class session and be prepared to write about /discuss the SUMMARY material highlighted in red)


Summary from previous session:

The Romantic Era saw a massive expansion of:
- Orchestral color and size
- Thematic and expressive extravagance
- Chromatic harmony
- Dynamic intensity and contrast
- Nationalism
- Hyper-phrase (making the phrase structure substantially longer by chromatic and mega-structure gave rise to new unifying approaches such as idee fixe [Berlioz], thematic transformation [Liszt], Leitmotif [Wagner's stage works]

The Romantic era also saw a substantial increase in programmatic music.

- Programmatic Music: instrumental music that intends to portray a specific story, image, concept.

- Absolute Music: music with no specific story, image or programmatic reference point.


Programmatic instrumental genres:

- Program Symphony (multi-movement programmatic work for orchestra)

- Symphonic Poem (one-movement programmatic work for orchestra)

- Ballet (multi-movement programmatic theatrical work for dancers and orchestra)

- Character Piece (one-movement programmatic work for piano)


Absolute Music:

In the Romantic era, there are still many important examples of "Absolute Music" (instrumental music that is not intended to portray a specific story or image):

- Most notable are the four symphonies by Johannes Brahms (see "Absolute Music in the Romantic Era," below)



PROGRAM SYMPHONY (a multi-movement PROGRAMMATIC work for orchestra)
- Example: [1830] Berlioz, Symphonie fantastique (see Music Guide 35/MUS1700 Resource Guide, p. 11--also read Berlioz' original program notes for this work on p. 102 of the Resource Guide)
- This is a 5-movement work loosely modeled after the movement order of Beethoven's 9th symphony, with a 5th movement added based on Goya's famous painting "Dream of a Witches' Sabbath."
- Enormous orchestra, wild programmatic story, use of "
idee fixe" (a melody that is the focal point of each movement to unify the large-scale structure of the work).

Movement 4 "March to the Gallows:
- The "Idee fixe" melody is notated at the bottom of Music Guide 35 on p. 11 of the Resource Guide
(in the example above from movement 4, the idee fixe begins at 4:18 and ends abruptly halfway through symbolizing that the man's head has been cut off by the guillotine blade)

SYMPHONIC POEM (a single-movement PROGRAMMATIC work for orchestra)
- Example: [1874] Smetana, The Moldau (see Music Guide 40/MUS1700 Resource Guide, p. 11)
- This is a piece of socio-political commentary about Czech freedom (represented by the Moldau--a majestic Czech river that runs from the mountains to the sea, and gets more powerful every time it encounters an obstacle. As it winds its way down the Czech countryside, the river "sees" images of Czech tradition, such as a hunt, a peasant wedding, mythical water nymphs, castle ruins, etc.
The main theme of this work is first heard at the 1 minute mark of the following YouTube excerpt:
Note: If you are interested in looking at the full score of this work, it is available online at:

BALLET (a multi-movement, staged PROGRAMMATIC work for orchestra and dancers)
- Example: [1892] Tchaikovsky, The Nutcracker (see Music Guide 48/MUS1700 Resource Guide, p. 11)--Note: The Nutcracker Suite is a set of dance movements extracted from this ballet that are performed in concert by orchestra alone.
The YouTube example includes:
Overture [start to 3:10]
March of the Toy Soldiers [3:10 to 5:45]


CHARACTER PIECE (a single-movement PROGRAMMATIC work for piano)
- Example: [
1830-1] Chopin, Nocturne in E-flat, Op. 9 No. 2 (see Music Guide 38/MUS1700 Resource Guide, p. 11)
- This is a single-movement work depicting sentimental images of nighttime. The piece is in a rondo form, with each successive return of the "rondo theme" [A] being more ornamented and flamboyantly expressive. Chopin, Liszt, Robert/Clara Schumann wrote well-known examples of character pieces.
To show how much difference there can be in interpreting a Romantic piano piece with "rubato," here are two YouTube examples:
- Played by Arthur Rubenstein (with score):
The score is on pp. 110-111 of the MUS1700 Resource Guide


New material for this class session:


"Non-Programmatic" SYMPHONY and CONCERTO in the Romantic era
- During Beethoven's lifetime, a new generation of "Romantic" composers such as Schubert and Mendelssohn wrote lyrical orchestral works that were in stark contrast to the powerful, epic Beethoven tradition. Robert Schumann, Brahms, Bruckner also wrote famous symphonies and/or concertos in a Romantic style but kept much of the German/Austrian traditional model.
Dvorak, Tchaikovsky and other "nationalist" composers dealt with these traditional genres in even more flamboyant ways.
- While many Romantic composers turned specifically to PROGRAMMATIC models (see "Programmatic Instrumental Genres...," above),
BRAHMS stood as a steadfast proponent of ABSOLUTE MUSIC.  His symphonies are expressive, but they are NOT programmatic, and they generally follow a Classic model of structure and orchestral scoring.

Example: [
1883] Brahms, Symphony No. 3 (see Music Guide 41/MUS1700 Resource Guide, p. 12)
- Movement 3 [Scherzo and Trio form]:

The opening scherzo is low, brooding in nature, with very conservative use of orchestral tone color. The "trio" section in the middle a little relief, but is still dark. Only at the return of the scherzo does Brahms start to use some color, by introducing the main theme on the horn and then the oboe. The string color and range gradually gets higher until the burst of expression on the final scherzo statement:

Instead of ending in a fury of emotion (as almost any other "Romantic" composer would do by the 1880s), Brahms chooses to pull back, and then he ends the movement with just two solemn chords.


I. Schubert and early Romanticism:


Schubert's "Erlkonig" (an example of German Lieder): We will see how far Schubert modulated on the circle-of-5ths with this intense 4-minute song


What the "circle of 5ths"diagrams can show:

The "circle-of-5ths" diagrams on in the inside front cover of the MUS1700 Resource Guide show all possible key relationships in functional tonality:

- The Diatonic Quadrant includes all the keys directly related to the "home key" [located at the 12 o'clock position of the circle]

- The Parallel Quadrant includes all keys related to the opposite mode of the "home key" [for C major, this would be C minor and its related keys]

- The next most distant area is the Parallel of the Relative Quadrant, which includes keys that are in distant thirds-relations to the home key [in C major, the "relative" key is A minor, and the "parallel" of that is A major (which is the "parallel of the relative"--a quite distant key)

- The area that is the most distant from the home key is the Tritone-related Quadrant.


The traditional approaches to harmonic modulation from 1700- 1825:

- In Baroque music, most modulations occur within the Diatonic Quadrant of a work (goes to keys that are just 1 sharp or 1 flat away).

- In traditional Classic music, most modulations occur within the Diatonic and Parallel quadrants of a work (using some major and minor aspects of the same tonal center).

- Around 1810, Beethoven starts to explore thirds-related keys (in the Parallel of the Relative Quadrant such as moving from Cmajor to Amajor by pivoting on the "E" pitch that is a "common tone" in both chords)


Schubert heralds in the Romantic era of harmonic modulation:

- Even though Schubert lived at the same exact time as Beethoven, he is a Romantic in his harmonic language.

His "Erlkonig" (1815) is amazingly daring in its harmonic scheme [see diagrams on p. 99 of the Music 1700 Resource Guide]:

- It starts in the Diatonic Quadrant: Gminor - B-flat major

- Then moves to the Parallel Quadrant: Bminor - C major -

- Then moves to the Tritone-related Quadrant: C#minor

- Then back to the Diatonic Quadrant: Dminor - E-flat major - Dminor - Gminor

- With one last surprise move to A-flat major (Parallel of the Relative Quadrant) before ending abruptly in Gminor.

In summary, this 4-minute song (written when Schubert was 17 years old) explores EVERY quadrant of the circle-of-5ths!




II. Chromatic Embellishment and Variation


- Chopin's Nocturne in E-Flat (example of a character piece) has a rondo-like A B A B A design, but with each presentation of the "A" theme chromatically elaborated more than the previous one (see the score on pp. 110-111 of the MUS1700 Resource Guide).


The "A" theme has a simple structure underneath all the embellishments:


Chord: -----Eb-------Fminor------Cminor-------Bb7------Eb

measure:-----1-----end of m.2----end of m.3----m.4----end of m.4



In each subsequent entry of the "A" them, notice how much more harmonic/melodic embellishment is added to prolong the idea.

- mm. 4-8

- mm. 13-16

- mm. 21-24




III. Hyperphrase (prolonging the functional-harmonic points of a phrase through chromatic ornaments and colorful secondary side-excursions)


Making the phrase structure substantially longer by chromatic and mega-structure gave rise to new unifying approaches such as idee fixe [Berlioz], thematic transformation [Liszt], Leitmotif [Wagner's stage works]


- In the Baroque era, the important points of a phrase's harmonic structure were no more than 1 measure apart.

In the Classic era, the important points of a phrase's harmonic structure were 2 to 4 measures apart.

In the Romantic era, the important points of a phrase's harmonic structure were 8 or more measures apart.

This hyperphrase "prolongation" of the phrase structure gave Romantic composers the opportunity to elaborate their melodies and harmonies with considerable chromaticism, which by the end of the 1800s began to challenge the structural integrity of functional tonality [on page 33 of the MUS1700 Resource Guide, we have now reached the point of the dotted line where the "Means of Tonal Development and Expansion" has reached its peak].


An example of hyperphrase that we looked at in class is:

Brahms, Symphony No. 3 (see Music Guide 41/MUS1700 Resource Guide, p. 12)
- Movement 3 [Scherzo and Trio form]:

A score excerpt of this movement is included in your next online quiz assignment ("Reading Orchestral Scores").

Although the score is notated in 3/8, the actual hyperphrase feel of the movement is a large "4" meter (in which each of those "hyper-beats" is 1-measure long). See a score excerpt of this movement at