The Term “Romanticism”

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The word romanticism was initially used to describe new ideas in literature and painting. Afterward, the term “Romanticism” stood for the most famous intellectual movement that originally generated in Europe toward the end of the eighteenth century (Cranston M. W., & Cranston, 1994). At the end of the eighteenth century and well into the nineteenth century, romanticism rapidly spread throughout Europe and the United states to challenge the rational concept held so tightly within the Enlightenment, the former intellectual and philosophical movement that contained a range of ideas centered on reason as the fundamental source of authority and legitimacy.

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Romanticism embraced subjectivity and individuality opposing to the excessive insistence on logical thoughts. That is, emphasis changed into the significance of the individual’s experience in the world and the interpretation of it, rather than interpretations declared by tradition or church. With its emphasis on the emotion and imagination, Romanticist participants began exploring various psychological and emotional states as well as moods. Moreover, they found their own voices across many genres, including music, art, and architecture (Rebecca S., 2018). Applied to these three different kinds of fields, what are the changes or features?

One of the first important applications of the term “romanticism” to music was in 1789, in the Mémoires by the Frenchman André Grétry. In fact, it was E.T.A. Hoffmann who actually set up the principles of musical romanticism, in an 1813 article on Beethoven’s instrumental music, and in a review of Ludwig van Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony published in 1810. It was Hoffmann’s combination of ideas already associated with the term “Romantic”, used in opposition to the formality and restraint of classical forms, elevating music, and especially instrumental music, to a dominant position in Romanticism. Romantic music was regarded as the art most suited to the expressions of emotions. During the romantic period, the form of music became more expressive, coping with the artistic, literary, and philosophical themes of the time. Motivated by this fact, some researchers examined the hypnosis that minor-mode music from the period of romanticism is more likely to perform louder dynamic levels than music composed within the classical period. In addition to conveying passive emotions, the minor mode was more likely to be used to express affects that are related to higher dynamic levels, for instance, seriousness, passion or aggression (Ladinig, O., &Huron, D.,2010). On the other hand, The composers who are extensively regarded as representation in romantic music, such as Schubert and Schumann, sometimes apply quite conventional formal structures to certain genres. For instance, a book written by Nicholas Saul indicates a point. “The movements of Schubert’s piano sonatas frequently follow the pattern of exposition (initial statement of the thematic material) development (variation of the initial thematic material), and recapitulation (return of the initial thematic material” (Bowie, A., 2009, P.244). Still, the pattern within the section of the form can be extremely innovative and expressive.

When the words “Romantic art” are mentioned, people might associate the meaning of words with “love matters”. While it is inappropriate for romantic arts to be defined in this way. In fact, defining romanticism is not an easy work, but there are some main characteristics of romantic painting that can be identified. The application of the word “Romance” within artistic fields simply infers “emotional” art. Emphasizing on emotions is one of the typical romantic art perspectives. Take portraits for example, those portraits which were created within the romantic period were brought to life by giving the person eyes such as mirrors of the soul, a grimace, a smile, or a certain tile of the head. Moreover, the artists portrayed their subject describing madness, innocence, loneliness, virtue, greed or altruism by making use of the magic of brushes. The power of nature is another romantic arts characteristic. The artists greatly revered the power and mystery of nature, trying to reproduce its fascinating majesty on the canvas. There are many topics of natural disasters in romantic paintings, for instance, blizzards, fires, and volcanos. Take an art display called “Calais Pier” painted by JMW Turner for example, this painting depicts the shipwrecks which are overshadowed by the swirling waves and the ominous sky (Victorian Era, 2018).

In architecture, romanticism evoked past styles, such as the Gothic style, originated in the mid- nineteen-century Gothic Revival. Other types of romantic architecture are illustrated in a variety of styles considered “exotic” due to their displacement into a “foreign” setting in a more fanciful, less accurate format. Examples of exotic architectural styles include Egyptian-influenced homes, Asian-styled homes, and even Swiss chalets. These kind of homes contain such “exotic” elements as Egyptian columns and small sphinx sculptures, or Japanese-inspired rooflines, or a Swiss chalet A-frame as a decorative overlay to the traditional European building type (Academic, 2008).
In conclusion, romanticism is the name given to a movement in many artistic fields. In fact, there are some features that these three different aspects have in common: emphasizing on the power of imagination, and the source of inspiration.

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The term "Romanticism". (2020, May 10). Retrieved from