What makes a piece of music Romantic?
By Lara J Carim, on 13 May 2013
Would you describe the piece of music below as Romantic, romantic, or both?
> Extracts from Tchaikovsky’s Symphony No.6 ‘Pathétique’
The answer, as with most model humanities essays, is of course ‘that depends’ – on whether we are talking strictly about the Romantic period within the history of Western classical music, or whether we simply experience the music as inspired and embodied by strong feelings.
Romantic music with a capital ‘R’ – European music composed roughly between 1810 and 1870 – can be fairly easily classified according to a set of musical characteristics, such as heavy use of stringed orchestral instruments, changes of key and unresolved chords – but capturing what makes a piece of music stir us is much harder to identify – and a challenge that Professor Christopher Peacocke set himself in the first musical event of the Festival of the Arts on 8 May.