*In one to two paragraphs please respond to the below essay and give your thoughts on it’s content*
The romantic period took place during the time period of 1820 – 1900. This was a time of rebellion against the classical style of the previous century. The romantic period focused more on individuality and expression rather than the classical traditions from the Classical period. Every aspect of art had an emotional expression whether it be painting, sculpture, poetry or music. Painters used brighter and bolder colors in conjunction with bolder strokes instead of the balanced nature of previous styles. (Kamien) In music, the classical style of the previous century focused on emotion and harmonies and this continued and was expanded upon in the romantic period. Romantic music is very diverse and incorporated longer ranges and was less about balance and more about emotional expression. There was more freedom in romantic music to try new things and just let the music take you wherever it wanted. Romantic composers began incorporating rhythms and instruments from other lands to create a unique sound and add an exotic flare to the music. This became known as exoticism. For the first time they also created music that held a specific national identity. Nationalism in music during the romantic period became a very important political movement. (Kamien) Robert Schumann and Clara Wieck Schumann (Robert’s wife) were among the more significant romantic musicians. Clara Wieck was the daughter of Robert’s piano teacher. They were engaged to be married but Clara’s father forbid the union and they had to fight him in court in order to get married. Robert Schumann was German born and composed his music for the piano despite having a disability with his hand. Clara played Roberts music and therefore, the two made a great musical team. (Kamien) Roberts music, like many modern day musician’s, went through phases that expressed what he was feeling and/or going through in his life. His early work was an exploration of musical moods and themes rhythms. At the time that he married Clara his music was more artistic in nature. His later music, after being married, was more romantic and emotional. This translates to modern day music as well especially with female singer/songwriters. Martina McBride is a good example of this. When her first album was released there were many fun upbeat songs on it that depicted a young and carefree lifestyle. Then when she married and began having children her music took on a more romantic and sentimental tone, similar to the way Robert’s music evolved. (Kamien) Clara Schumann was a child prodigy taught to play piano by her father Friedrich Wieck. She composed and played her own music and that of her husband and friend Johannes Brahms. She was considered a leading pianist during that time and felt she was best suited to play and introduce the world to the music of her husband. She stopped composing music all together when she was in her thirties partly because female composers were frowned upon during that time. (Kamien) Going back to the very beginning of musical history, music has been dominated by men. In the middle ages women were not allowed to make or sing music at all. Eventually they were allowed as long as it was in their own convents and it was done by nuns but never for the public to hear. Little by little women have been allowed to express themselves through music but still with stipulations. They were restricted to “feminine” instruments if they wanted to play. By feminine the meaning was that by playing, their facial expressions and their demeanor would not change. Because of this women were only able to play the harpsichord or piano and later the guitar. All other instruments were considered male instruments and therefore the majority of orchestras were male. (New York Public Library) The same can be said for composition. In the middle ages only boys were educated in music and it was done through the church. Composing music for the church as a form of employment was strictly a male profession. As the music, the instruments and the styles of music evolved, so did female involvement. By the romantic period there were more women musicians than ever before however, the art of composing was still considered to be a male task. Women composers were not taken as serious. (New York Public Library) Robert and Clara Schumann decided to compose together early in their marriage. They created on long song cycle composed partly by him and partially by her. The intent was that once completed and played, no one would be able to tell who composed it unless they were told. Since both composed in very similar romantic styles it was easy to accomplish. (Kamien) Women have made great strides in music since these early times. In the 1920’s women flourished in music in Europe and the United States. Music as a profession was more accepted and their capability and talents were more widely recognized. More bands had female lead singers and they performed in more clubs, and in the US, the speak easy. Fast forward to today’s music and women truly have no boundaries. There are women musicians in every genre and they are recognized for their talent and artistry like never before. But all of them owe thanks to women like Clara that did it first.
The essay highlights the work of the significant romantic musicians Robert Schumann and Clara Wieck Schumann who learned musuic together and married against the wishes of Clara’s father who was a great piano artist and also Robert’s teacher. The way Robert’s music composition has changed from artistic before his marriage to romantic and emotional after his marriage is explained. The same translates to modern music where before marriage, the music was more of youthful whereas post marriage and children, the music was more of sentimental and emotional.
The essay then specifies that the music during 19th century and before was more of male dominated and female musicians had less scope. Only few musical instruments were considered to be played by females. This slowly changed with the introduction of more instruments and styles. Women had made great strides in music since early 1900s and music as a profession was more accepted in Europe and US. The initial seed however was laid by Clara who stands inspiration for female musicians for generations.