Programme Music in the Last Four Centuries: A Contribution to the History of Musical Expression

By Frederick Niecks | Go to book overview

BOOK IV.

OTHER FULFILMENTS.

CHAPTER I.

SIXTH PERIOD (FROM ABOUT THE FOURTH DECADE OF THE 19TH CENTURY): DEPARTURE FROM THE CLASSICAL FORMS AND WIDER SCOPE OF SUBJECTS. BERLIOZ.

The inspiring geniuses of the last period, which opens about the fourth decade of the 19th century, were BERLIOZ ( 1803-1869), LISZT ( 1811-1886), and RICHARD WAGNER ( 1813-1883). Radically unlike each other in their natures, diverse in their aims and in their action on the development of the art, they were nevertheless at one in their influence on programme music, which through them became the predominant genre of instrumental composition, indeed so predominant that even most of what was subsequently presented as absolute music was in reality but concealed programme music. This they accomplished by the extension of the expressive power of the art--by the increase of the harmonic, rhythmical, and colouristic means, by the freer treatment of form, and by the widening of the scope of subjects. Nothing discloses so strikingly the dissimilarity of nature and diversity of aim of these musical protagonists of the 19th century as their opinions of each other. Wagner thought meanly of Berlioz, Berlioz of Wagner, and both of Liszt, who alone

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