The Romantic Period: Music Analysis

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The Romantic period is in the 1820s to the 1900s, the music written in that period are artistic and literary. Some famous composers are Tchaikovsky, Chopin and Schumann. ‘Vltava’is a piece composed by Bedrich Smetana in the Romantic Period for symphony orchestra. This piece has 6 movements and it describes the flow of water that runs through Czechoslovakia and Prague from day to night. It contains a lot of emotions and it is one of the most famous nationalism work. Fig. 1: It shows all the instruments involved in the music.

During Romantic Period, music was mostly written for symphony orchestra, where there is an equal division of orchestral instruments and is no longer mainly string dominated. The invention and improvement of valves and keys made the brass and woodwind instruments more flexible. Conductors really relied on the brass and woodwind instruments to make the music more emotional and to create the effects needed for the music. Composers started to write more parts for percussion instruments to make the music more exciting. As you can see in fig.1, more woodwind, brass and percussion instruments, like piccolo, tuba, trumpet, horn, trombone etc. are used in ‘Vltava’, and a
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2: It is from bar 213 for the French horn. Fig.3: It is from bar 395 for the tuba.

One the features in the Romantic period is that music uses a wide range of dynamics, from ppp (pianississimo, which means very very soft) to fff (fortississimo, which means very very loud). These dynamics weren’t used in the past periods because the instruments weren’t capable of playing too soft, or too loud. In ‘Vltava’, there are a wide range of dynamics seen, for example in fig.2, the composer requires the French horn players to play ppp possibile, which means to play as soft as possible. Also in fig. 3, the tuba players are required to play fff, which means to play very very loud.

Fig. 4: It is from bar 202 for the harp part.

Fig.5: It is from bar 18 for the flute

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