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Classical and romantic music evolved in different eras which are highly distinguished by different features like their content and method of composition. The classical period took place from mid 18th century to early 19th century (1950-1820) (Dorak). This period was notably marked by structure which was particularly of the sonata form and consequently the period brought immense changes to the music industry. On the other hand, romantic music or rather period is used to describe an era which evolved from the musical ideas, genres, and formats which had been established in earlier periods, notably the classical period and developed further through syncretism and expression of different forms of art with music. Therefore in this argumentative essay comparison and contrast will be extensively discussed between the classic and romantic periods preferably dwelling on their musical nature (Law).

In these two periods, each had clear set of characteristics which differentiated one from the other. For instance in the classical period, lots of composers paid attention on expressing views, ideas, and thoughts of the enlightenment period. Classical music emerged during this era and it was highly noticeable by a clearer quality than baroque music and was progressively more homophonic. Homophonic indicates that a chordal accompaniment helps in supporting a melody on top of it. The orchestra or rather the band group of the classical period enlarged and the harpsichord was surpassed and replaced by the piano-forte. The early piano music was generally very light and simple in texture but as the classical period progressed, it became more sonorous and richer (Swann).

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The major types of compositions were divertimentos, serenades, symphonies, string quartets, trios, and sonatas. Seemingly the sonata type developed and became the mainly important type. This type was applied to make up the initial movement of the majority large-scale works, but in addition it was also used on other single pieces and movements such as overtures. In this period the most renowned composers included Beethoven, Mozart, Schubert, and Haydn. Beethoven was a critical factor in the progression towards the romantic period and hence can be termed as both romantic and classical (Law, n.d.).

On the other hand in the romantic period known to have existed from 1815-1910 and characteristically this period was not necessary covered with romantic love literature. In other words the romantic composers focused greatly on romantic and self-expression themes like nationalism. Within a broader perspective the pieces or rather the music written during this era had much of expression and passion in them. Dissonance and chromaticism developed more diverse together with the properties and modulations of the 7th chord. Composers like Wagner and Beethoven and applied numerous new chords that improved the harmonic words of the time. Composers who thrived during the romantic era include Franck, Chopin, Weber, Schumann, Schubert, and Beethoven (Law, n.d.).

Romanticism followed a course that brought about the growth of formal structures for a masterpiece created or set down or in their common outlines in former periods, and the final result was that the pieces of work were understood to be additional expressive and passionate, together by 19th century and nowadays audiences. Due to the growth of structure that is those basics pertaining to instrumentation, key, and form within a typical masterpiece, and the increasing expressiveness and idiosyncrasies of the latest composers from the fresh century, it therefore became easier to recognize an artist based on her/his style or work (Swann, n.d.).

Romantic music generally attempted to boost power and emotional expression to express human feelings or deeper truths, while keeping but in various cases making use of the formal structures found in the classical era, in others, making new forms that were seen as better appropriate to the new matter. This issue in the fresh music was at the present not only entirely abstract, but also regularly drawn from additional art-form sources such as nature itself, history, or literature (Law).

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Similarities between Classical and Romantic Music Styles

The two periods happened one after the other thus the classical period was followed by the romantic era. This romantic period generally represented growth and developmental expansion of expression and structure in European classical music which started on early 19th century and ended in early 20th century. Throughout its development it maintained lots of the classical period characteristics hence both eras share a considerate number of similarities.

It’s widely argued that for instance in the "The Harvard Dictionary of Music," that classical and Romantic period music occurred as just stages in a continuum of development. Thus as the eras commenced from 19th to 20th centuries, they assisted in bringing out the two forms of music hence worthy noting that there was extra continuity of the music than change (Gilmore, n.d.).

Appreciation of the classical music form by romantic era composers is highly evident in their works. These romantic artists kept on writing concertos, symphonies, and operas, all of which were established classical forms. Chamber music was extensively common during the classical period. Composers in the Romantic time such as Mendelssohn, Brahms, and Schubert got involved in producing Classical style chamber music, which was projected for small ensembles, in the late Romantic period (Gilmore, n.d.).

Another similarity touches the both music eras include melody and harmony. In reference to the "Billboard Illustrated Encyclopedia of Classical Music," aspects like melody and harmony were not ruined during the Romantic period; rather they were simply expanded upon. Ludwig van Beethoven was a composer whose main notable contribution was by assisting in bridging the gap involving the two periods. His first compositions were during the classical era and were predominantly in the Classical approach, whereas his afterward compositions, for instance like the "Moonlight Sonata" were termed to be of romantic in nature hence depicting the romantic period (Gilmore, n.d.).

Differences between the Classical & Romantic Eras

From the above discussions on the similarities between the two eras, it’s clearly evident that the famous composer Beethoven acted as a bridge linking the classical and the romantic music together. Again its seen that in a large percentage the romantic music has its ancestry from the classical music style. The development of harmonic ideas and forms those were eminent during the classical era some of them were carried forward and applied in the romantic period. Romantic composers worked extensively towards the defining of individual as opposed to group music perspective which was highly used in the classical period. Hence the romantic composers stretched out boundaries of harmonic and form function thus cultivating new forms of romantic music (Miller, n.d.).

Beethoven carried a great significance and role as a composer who operated on both eras in creating different forms of music. Majority of music critics argue out that his music contradicts or rather confuses itself in terms of form. His early on symphonies sound similar to Classical period pieces, specially his initial two symphonies. After there, the composition changes into a Romantic method. The firm forms of Classical music began to fragment as he wrote the extremely programmatic "Fifth Symphony." This symphony was composed by use of a 4-note victory purpose in which the song shows a tale of conquest in war. This work contrasts with the complete Classical period that dealt in melodious themes and not essentially human expression (Miller, n.d.).

The development between the two forms of music was notably different. The classical period composers were into much effort to disengage themselves from the comparably disorganized, chaotic, and confused music which was in the previous era called the Baroque period. On the other hand, Romantic music composers did not strive to free themselves and progress away from the music of the Classical era. Thus this difference in philosophies is significant in comparing the disparity amid the two styles. Whilst the Classical period wanted to make something completely new, the Romantic period was satisfied to grow and develop the thoughts of the Classical period. This overlapping of thoughts is why a lot of early Romantic composers might be tough to differentiate from late Classical composers (Miller)

Lots of Romantic composers operated or rather worked on music in the formerly established structures but pushed the limits in innovative and new ways to meet their requirements for expressiveness. For example, music from the Baroque and Classical eras characteristically consisted of phrases that had plain beginnings and endings. On the other hand the romantic composers often extended phrases, thus overlapping beginnings and endings, as in this example from Wagner’s Overture to the opera Tristan and Isolde (Augusta State University).

The sonata-allegro form constantly continued to give a very helpful basic structure for major works such as sonatas, concertos, and symphonies. Composers in the Romantic period, nevertheless, saw the development part, as well as the transitions connecting sections, as opportunities for inventive expression. They on and on advanced to develop those sections. Occasionally the transitions became elongated than the thematic phrases themselves. Also romantic composers regularly added codas and introductions and to traditional forms or rather the classical forms. In a few instances, codas created a second growth section. This resulted in longer and longer works. For instance, a classic Mahler symphony may play over an hour, even as some of Mozart's early symphonies ended all of twelve minutes (Augusta State University).

During the classical era, composers had very much objective on safeguarding order and delivering melodies in the straightforward and clearest approach possible. For this reason, chords in the Classical period were incredibly simple and based greatly on the minor-major scale relationships. Unluckily this approach in the direction of musical regulations changed in the Romantic period. Music composers in the period of Romantic era started increasing the sonata structure, obscuring the tune with extra chromatic and advanced chords, and developing a new mode of music that expressed the theatrical and not essentially the bodily aspects of music. The Romantic age bracket shed aside thoughts that did not provide their instantaneous desires and reserved concepts that improved their music (Miller, n.d.).

On an expansion on the above point, much stress is put on the melody feature in music since it’s an important parameter. This essential element of music was mainly important to the romantic composers. The romantic melodies tended to be flowing and long; they were incredibly singable melodies and were known to be emotionally expressive. Romantic composers frequently made use of long melodies as the themes in a piece of music and then reused fragments of those melodies as stuff for other parts of the similar piece. Additionally important, composers of this era did not consider constrained to the seven tones of a specific scale, and thus they freely made chromatic changes in their melodies. For instance, a fine case in point of a distinguishing Romantic melody can be found in the first movement of Franz Schubert’s 8th Symphony (known as the Unfinished Symphony). Pay attention to the extraordinary richness with which Schubert treats the melody in the short two minutes that the following excerpt lasts:

Play Symphony No.8 in B minor, Unfinished Franz Schubert

Symphony No.8 in B minor, Unfinished: First Movement (Augusta State University).

The classical music composers were satisfied to stay and work within a definite boundary of what made up the acceptable music. In this era the chord resolutions were at all times the identical, and furthermore the connection between keys, sections, and movements, maintained proportion. On the other hand the Romantic composers extended these boundaries or rather limitations, and in place they brought in new chords, atypical key changes and in numerous ways went in opposition to the policies and procedures that were built up in the Classical period. Whilst the forms such as fugue, symphony, and even sonata, remained the similar, the explanation of these forms altered considerably by significantly increasing the character and length of these forms (Miller, n.d.).

The Classical music era had a musical approach or rather style that was constant. Thus if you happened to be a composer in this time period, you definitely had knowledge of what was anticipated of you. Haydn was a massive influence on the growth of Classical music with Mozart helping to perfect and refine the style. Beethoven began his music career writing in a Classical style merely to desert and show the way in the direction of a more Romantic style. The early Romantic composers like Schubert and Brahms kept more directly with the Classical civilization and simpler chord organization. In the meantime, all through the latter element of the Romantic period, composers such as Strauss and Wagner were stretching the incredibly core of tonality. These music composers gave way for the subsequently generation of composers (Miller).


It’s of great important and honor to know the origin of music and the composers who were responsible for inventing different forms of music and how they natured the. In this discussion its clearly evident that classical music had a greater influence on the emergence and development of romantic music. Thus much respect should be granted to the composers of the two eras as they significantly helped in the growth of music up to now.

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