Posted by: Poetry Palace | March 6, 2012

What is Romanticism? The movement that transformed the arts

What is Romanticism? No other intellectual and artistic movement has had comparable variety, reach, and staying power since the end of the Middle Ages than Romanticism. Romanticism was more widespread both in its origins and influence than any other. Beginning in Germany and England in the 1770s, by the 1820s it had swept through Europe, conquering at last even its most stubborn foe, the French. It traveled quickly to the Western Hemisphere, and in its musical form has triumphed around the globe, so that from London to Boston to Mexico City to Tokyo to Vladivostok to Oslo, the most popular orchestral music in the world is that of the romantic era. After almost a century of being attacked by the academic and professional world of Western formal concert music, the style has reasserted itself as neo-romanticism in the concert halls. When John Williams created the sound of the future in Star Wars, it was the sound of 19th-century Romanticism–still the most popular style for epic film soundtracks. Beginning in the last decades of the 18th century, it transformed poetry, the novel, drama, painting, sculpture, all forms of concert music (especially opera), and ballet. It was deeply connected with the politics of the time, echoing people’s fears, hopes, and aspirations. In Romanticism, the imagination became the supeme faculty of perception, not the rational mind of science. It was the voice of revolution at the beginning of the 19th century and the voice of the Establishment at the end of it. –WSU

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