Neo Romanticism


Sunday, 14 April 2024







Neo romanticism in music was a trend in European classical music started in second half of 19th century in Germany. It is sometimes referred to as post-romanticism. The composers of that period underlined the strong links between music and literature. Among the most prominent composers of the neoromanticism are Franz Liszt, Richard Wagner, Anton Bruckner, Richard Strauss, Gustav Mahler and Hugo Wolf.

In early 20th century the neo-romanticism gradually evolved into expressionism. However, its ideas were continued by several latter composers, among them Virgil Thomson, who describes: "Neo-Romanticism involves rounded melodic material (the neo-Classicists affected angular themes) and the frank expression of personal sentiments. The neo-Romantics position is an esthetic one purely, because technically we are eclectic. Our contribution to contemporary esthetics has been to pose the problems of sincerity in a new way. We are not out to impress, and we dislike inflated emotions. The feelings we really have are the only ones we think worthy of expression....Sentiment is our subject and sometimes landscape, but preferably a landscape with figures." (Hoover and Cage, 1959)

According to Daniel Albright (2004), "In the late twentieth century, the term Neo romanticism came to suggest a music that imitated the high emotional saturation of the music of (for example) Schumann [ Romanticism ], but in the 1920s it meant a subdued and modest sort of emotionalism, in which the excessive gestures of the Expressionists were boiled down into some solid residue of stable feeling." Thus, originally, neo romanticism in music was not a return to romanticism, but literally a new romanticism.

In pop music, neoromanticism strongly influenced gothic music and the goth subculture. (New Romantic)



Sibelius wrote this symphony as a protest against the neo-Romanticism of composers such as Richard Strauss and Alexander Scriabin, some of whose works he believed to be insincerely passionate. About the Fourth, Sibelius wrote "there is nothing, absolutely nothing, of the circus about it."





The term Neo-romanticism can be applied two ways: to represent the 19th century Romantic tradition as it transformed itself in the first half of the century, or to represent the "re-invention" of the Romantic tradition in the second half.

As stated in the Introduction of this text, some of the great Romantic composers continued to work through a portion of the 20th century, but fundamentally maintained the use of elements from the Common Practice Period. Other composers, however, generally the younger generation, found ways to build on the Romantic tradition with some of the new "experiments" of the 20th century. The decision as to which composers belong on the Introduction's list and those who belong on the list below could be open to great debate.

After the experiment-filled 1960's (as seen with Indeterminism, Texturalism, and Minimalism), there was a shift by many composers towards a musical language similar to that of the late 19th century. There is a strong sense of tonality and lyricism in this music, but it can be chromatic and dissonant. Like Neo-classicism, this music is not just simple imitation of an earlier style, but it is Romanticism filtered and processed through the microcosms of the 20th century. We can hear polytonality, exotic scale patterns, planing, as well as other devices which clearly label it "modern".


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