Music: An Art and a Language

By Walter Raymond Spalding | Go to book overview

as though he touched upon emotions one had lived through in some former existence. . . . The warmth and depth of his ethical sentiment is now felt all the world over, and it will ere long be universally recognised that he has leavened and widened the sphere of men's emotions in a manner akin to that in which the conceptions of great philosophers and poets have widened the sphere of men's intellectual activity."


CHAPTER XII
THE ROMANTIC COMPOSERS. SCHUBERT AND WEBER

DURING the latter part of Beethoven's life -- he died in 1827 -- new currents were setting in, which were to influence profoundly the trend of modern music. Two important, though in some respects unconscious, representatives of these tendencies were actually working contemporaneously with Beethoven, von Weber ( 1786-1826) and Schubert ( 1797-1828). Beethoven himself is felt to be a dual personality in that he summed up and ratified all that was best in his predecessors, and pointed the way for most of the tendencies operative since his time. For the designation of these two contrasting, though not exclusive, ideals, the currently accepted terms are Classic and Romantic. So many shades of meaning have unfortunately been associated with the word Romantic that confusion of thought has arisen. It is also true that the so-called Romanticists, including poets and painters as well as musicians, in their endeavors to break loose from the formality of the Classic period, have indulged in many irritating idiosyncracies. We are beginning to see clearly that a too violent expression of individuality destroys a most vital factor in music -- universality of appeal. Yet the Romantic School cannot be ignored. To its representatives we owe many of our finest works, and they were the prime movers in those strivings toward freedom and ideality which have made the modern world what it is. The term Romantic is perfectly clear in its application to literature, from which music borrowed it. It refers to the movement begun about the year 1796 among such German poets as Tieck, the two Schlegels and Novalis, to restore the poetic legends of the middle ages, written in the Romance dialects, and to embody in their own

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