Romantic composers viewed storytelling through music as a means of emotional expression. They believed that the greatest art was the one that could tell the greatest stories and considered music the art form most capable of expressing the full range of human emotion.
The virtuoso composers that revolutionized the Romantic Period Music
The overly stringent structure of classical music gave way to freer and more flexible forms and a more direct tie to art, literature, and theatre. Beethoven ushered in the period known as Romanticism and expanded previously strict formulas for symphonies and sonatas like never before, introducing a new music approach that incorporated vivid references to people’s daily lives.
The tone poem, descriptive overture, and symphony have all become popular genres of stand-alone orchestral music, the latter two evoking anything from a painting or poem to a feeling of nationalistic fervor. It was a period of attitudes toward self-expression that grew out of the political ideas of individualism born during the Age of Enlightenment—rebelling against Industrial Revolution traits such as mechanization and urbanization that did not fit into their vision of the idealized, natural state of the human condition.
Franz Liszt was one of the greatest pianists of his time; he wrote music with extraordinary technical and musical demands to show off his own brilliance. Frédéric Chopin is also among the outstanding composer-performers from this time. In the world of opera, Giuseppe Verdi turned Italian opera on its head by introducing new subject material, often with social, political or nationalistic themes, and combined these with a direct approach to composing.