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The Romantic Generation


The Romantic Generation Cover


Synopses & Reviews

Publisher Comments:

What Charles Rosen's celebrated book The Classical Style did for music of the Classical period, this new, much-awaited volume brilliantly does for the Romantic era. An exhilarating exploration of the musical language, forms, and styles of the Romantic period, it captures the spirit that enlivened a generation of composers and musicians, and in doing so it conveys the very sense of Romantic music. In readings uniquely informed by his performing experience, Rosen offers consistently acute and thoroughly engaging analyses of works by Schubert, Schumann, Mendelssohn, Bellini, Liszt, and Berlioz, and he presents a new view of Chopin as a master of polyphony and large-scale form. He adeptly integrates his observations on the music with reflections on the art, literature, drama, and philosophy of the time, and thus shows us the major figures of Romantic music within their intellectual and cultural context.

Rosen covers a remarkably broad range of music history and considers the importance to nineteenth-century music of other cultural developments: the art of landscape, a changed approach to the sacred, the literary fragment as a Romantic art form. He sheds new light on the musical sensibilities of each composer, studies the important genres from nocturnes and songs to symphonies and operas, explains musical principles such as the relation between a musical idea and its realization in sound and the interplay between music and text, and traces the origins of musical ideas prevalent in the Romantic period. Rich with striking descriptions and telling analogies, Rosen's overview of Romantic music is an accomplishment without parallel in the literature, a consummate performance by a master pianist and music historian.


Charles Rosen is a 2011 National Humanities Medal Winner


1995 Association of American Publishers Professional and Scholarly Publishing Award, Arts Category

About the Author

Charles Rosen is a pianist and Professor Emeritus of Music and Social Thought at the University of Chicago. In addition to The Classical Style, which won the National Book Award, his previous books include Sonata Forms and Romanticism and Realism (with Henri Zerner).

Table of Contents


Music and Sound

Imagining the sound

Romantic paradoxes: the absent melody

Classical and Romantic pedal

Conception and realization

Tone color and structure



The Fragment as Romantic form

Open and closed

Words and music

The emancipation of musical language

Experimental endings and cyclical forms



Quotations and memories

Absence: the melody suppressed

Mountains and Song Cycles

Horn calls

Landscape and music

Landscape and the double time scale

Mountains as ruins

Landscape and memory

Music and memory

Landscape and death: Schubert

The unfinished workings of the past

Song cycles without words

Formal Interlude


Four-bar phrases

Chopin: Counterpoint and the Narrative Forms

Poetic inspiration and craft

Counterpoint and the single line

Narrative form: the ballade

Changes of mode

Italian opera and J. S. Bach

Chopin: Virtuosity Transformed

Keyboard exercises

Virtuosity and decoration (salon music?)

Morbid intensity

Chopin: From the Miniature Genre to the Sublime Style

Folk music?


Modal harmony?

Mazurka as Romantic form

The late mazurkas

Freedom and tradition

Liszt: On Creation as Performance

Disreputable greatness

Die Lorelei: the distraction of influence

The Sonata: the distraction of respectability

The invention of Romantic piano sound: the Etudes

Conception and realization

The masks of Liszt

Recomposing: Sonnet no. 104

Self-Portrait as Don Juan

Berlioz: Liberation from the Central European Tradition

Blind idolaters and perfidious critics

Tradition and eccentricity: the idée fixe

Chord color and counterpoint

Long-range harmony and contrapuntal rhythm: the "Scène d'amour"

Mendelssohn and the Invention of Religious Kitsch

Mastering Beethoven

Transforming Classicism

Classical form and modern sensibility

Religion in the concert hall

Romantic Opera: Politics, Trash, and High Art

Politics and melodrama

Popular art



Schumann: Triumph and Failure of the Romantic Ideal

The irrational

The inspiration of Beethoven and Clara Wieck

The inspiration of E.T.A. Hoffmann

Out of phase

Lyric intensity

Failure and triumph

Index of Names and Works

Product Details

Rosen, Charles
Harvard University Press
History & Criticism *
Love & Romance
History & Criticism - General
General Music
Genres & Styles - Pop Vocal
Music-Popular Performers
Edition Description:
Trade paper
The Charles Eliot Norton Lectures
Series Volume:
Publication Date:
September 1998
Grade Level:
728 musical examples
9 x 6 in 33 oz

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Related Subjects

Arts and Entertainment » Music » General
Arts and Entertainment » Music » General History
Arts and Entertainment » Music » Genres and Styles » Classical
Arts and Entertainment » Music » Genres and Styles » Pop Vocal
Arts and Entertainment » Music » History and Criticism
Health and Self-Help » Self-Help » Relationships
History and Social Science » Economics » General
Science and Mathematics » Biology » General

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Product details 744 pages Harvard University Press - English 9780674779341 Reviews:
"Synopsis" by , Charles Rosen is a 2011 National Humanities Medal Winner
"Synopsis" by , 1995 Association of American Publishers Professional and Scholarly Publishing Award, Arts Category
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