Arts & Culture | Individuality | Early Romantic | Classical

An important aspect of Romanticism was its focus on individual feeling and expression, in contrast to the universal strictures of classical form and style. This led inevitably to a concept of the artist as a misunderstood genius, battling against the world. The second generation of English Romantic poets, including Percy Bysshe Shelley and Lord Byron, contributed significantly to this idea. Their extravagant lifestyles, their travels abroad and their early deaths meant that their biographies and letters became as important for Romanticism as their poetry. Furthermore, the critical writings and lectures of William Hazlitt and others described poetry and drama with new psychological appreciation and emphasis on the creativity of the individual.

A similar focus on the personal can be seen in music. Donizetti favoured inner psychological conflict as a central feature in many of his serious operas, such as Maria Stuarda (‘Mary Stuart’, 1835). In instrumental music, Shakespearean soliloquies, notably that of Hamlet, proved inspirational; Berlioz’s Symphonie fantastique similarly paints a personal, albeit phantasmagorical, journey. In the concert hall, virtuoso soloists such as Liszt and Nicolò Paganini (1782–1840) came to be seen as creative geniuses, musical heroes of the age.

Introduction | Early Romantic | Classical
Arts & Culture | Paris Conservatoire | Early Romantic | Classical


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