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War of the Romantics

The war of the Romantics is a phrase used in the divisions of the various writing styles that coexist among the Romantic music composers. The progressives and the conservatives are the two groups of Romantic composers who inhibit some differences in classical music (Holthus). Classical traditions are the basis for the divisions, with the conservatives being of the perception that classical traditions are the basis for their music and hence tend to preserve the classical traditions in their music. The conservatives believed that its only by strictly following the traditions that romantic music could reach perfection. Examples of the conservative composers of classical music include Johannes Brahms and Clara Schumann (Parker).

The progressives, on the other hand, are of a different opinion as they were constantly trying to improve moving forward in music. They were of a contrasting opinion that the classical traditions were not to be preserved but to be improved and therefore, they explored new realms in tonality. Some of the notable progressive artists include Wagner and Liszt (Bernhard). Music of the conservatives was absolute and did not have any story or program behind, for example, that of Brahms’ ‘Piano Quintet in F minor, Mvt. 3’; while that of the progressives was programmatic, conveying stories, incidents, poems and ideas with the example of Liszt music, ‘Von der wiege bis sum grabe.’ It is therefore undeniable that the two groups disliked each other and that is the reason it is known as the war of the Romantics.

In today’s classical music, the same trends are evident in that some of the artists cling to the old ways, that is, the traditions while others tend to make improvements to the traditional music hence advancing to suit the generations present. Therefore, the war of the Romantics still holds up to present.

Works Cited

Bernhard, Alisa Yuko. “Poetic Music for the Theatre and the Concert Hall: Where the Creative Paths of Wagner and Liszt Diverge.” Sydney Undergraduate Journal of Musicology 4 (2015).

Holthus, Manfred. Music in a new found land: Themes and developments in the history of American music. Routledge, 2017.

Parker, Patrick. Aspects of Time in Robert Schumann’s Sechs Fugen Uber Den Namen Bach, Op. 60. Diss. 2017.

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