German Romanticism

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Caspar David Friedrich, (1774–1840)
Moonrise Over The Sea, 1822, 55x71 cm

In the philosophy, art, and culture of German-speaking countries, German Romanticism was the dominant movement of the late 18th and early 19th centuries. German Romanticism developed relatively late compared to its English counterpart, coinciding in its early years with the movement known as German Classicism or Weimar Classicism. In contrast to the seriousness of English Romanticism, the German variety is notable for valuing humor and wit as well as beauty.

The early German romantics tried to create a new synthesis of art, philosophy, and science, looking to the Middle Ages as a simpler, more integrated period. As time went on, however, they became increasingly aware of the tenuousness of the unity they were seeking.[1] Later German Romanticism emphasized the tension between the everyday world and the seemingly irrational and supernatural projections of creative genius. Heinrich Heine in particular criticized the tendency of the early romantics to look to the medieval past for a model of unity in art and society.[1]

Literary and philosophical figures[edit]

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Joseph von Eichendorff

Key figures of German romanticism include:

Composers[edit]

  • Ludwig van Beethoven. In his earlier works, Beethoven was a Classicist in the traditions of Mozart and Haydn (his tutor), but his Middle Period, beginning with his third symphony (the 'Eroica'), bridges the worlds of Classical and Romantic music. Because Beethoven wrote some of his greatest music after he became totally deaf, he embodies the Romantic ideal of the tragic artist who defies all odds to conquer his own fate.[citation needed] His later works portray the triumph of the human spirit, most notably his 'Choral' Symphony No. 9; the stirring 'Ode to Joy' from this symphony has been adopted as the anthem of the European Union.[citation needed]
  • Johannes Brahms. His works are cast in the formal moulds of Classicism; he had a profound reverence for Beethoven. Brahms was also attracted to the exoticism of Hungarian folk music, and used it in such pieces as his famous 'Hungarian Dances', the final movement of his Violin Concerto, and the 'Rondo alla zingarese' from his Piano Quartet No. 1, op. 25, in G minor.
  • Franz Liszt. Liszt was by nationality a Hungarian, but nevertheless he spent many years in Germany, and his first language was German. Credited as the inventor of the tone poem.[citation needed] In his old age, Liszt adopted a more dissonant, ominous flavour, characteristic works being 'la Lugubre Gondola' and 'Die Zelle in Nonnenwerth'—predating Impressionism and 20th-century atonality.
  • Felix Mendelssohn Bartholdy. A composer of the Early Romantic period, together with such figures as Schumann, Chopin and Liszt. One of the persons responsible for reviving interest in the almost-forgotten music of Johann Sebastian Bach.[citation needed]
  • Franz Schubert. His body of work consists mainly of song cycles and German Lieder set to poems by his contemporaries, many of which are among the most common repertoire in those categories performed today.
  • Robert Schumann. His works recall the nostalgia of lost childhood innocence, first love, and the magnificence of the German countryside.[citation needed] As an influential critic, he played a major role in discovering new talents, among them Chopin and Brahms.[citation needed]
  • Richard Wagner. The greatest composer of German opera; was an exponent of Leitmotif. One of the main figures in the so-called War of the Romantics.
  • Carl Maria von Weber. Perhaps the very first of Romantic musicians, if we exclude Beethoven, in the sense that Weber was the first major composer to emerge wholly as a product of the Romantic school, as contrasted with Beethoven, who had started off as a Classicist.[citation needed] The emotional intensity and supernatural, folklore-based themes in his operas presented a radical break from the Neoclassical traditions of that time.[citation needed]

Visual artists[edit]

Philipp Otto Runge, Self Portrait, 1802-1803, Kunsthalle, Hamburg

Architecture[edit]

Karl Friedrich Schinkel. Project for church in Oranienburger Vorstadt, Berlin

Suggested reading[edit]

  • Benz, Ernst. The Mystical Sources of German Romantic Philosophy, translated by Blair R. Reynolds and Eunice M. Paul. London: Pickwick Publications, 2009. ISBN 978-0-915138-50-0. (Original French edition: Les Sources mystiques de la philosophie romantique allemande. Paris : Vrin, 1968.)
  • Börsch-Supan, Helmut. Caspar David Friedrich, translated by Sarah Twohig. New York: George Braziller, 1974. ISBN 0-8076-0747-9.
  • Breckman, Warren. "Introduction: A Revolution in Culture," in European Romanticism: A Brief History with Documents. Ed. W. Breckman. New York: Bedford/St Martin's, 2007.[1]
  • Gossman, Lionel. “Making of a Romantic Icon: The Religious Context of Friedrich Overbeck’s ‘Italia und Germania.’” American Philosophical Society, 2007. ISBN 0-87169-975-3. [2]
  • Gossman, Lionel. “Orpheus Philologus: Bachofen versus Mommsen on the Study of Antiquity.” American Philosophical Society Transactions, 1983. ISBN 1-4223-7467-X.
  • Grewe, Cordula. Painting the Sacred in the Age of German Romanticism. Aldershot: Ashgate Books, 2009.[3]
  • Johnston, Catherine, et al. Baltic Light: Early Open-Air Painting in Denmark and North Germany. New Haven and London: Yale University Press, 1999. ISBN 0-300-08166-9.
  • Safrankski, Rüdiger. Romantik. Eine deutsche Affäre. Munich: Carl Hanser Verlag, 2007. ISBN 978-3-446-20944-2.
  • Siegel, Linda. Caspar David Friedrich and the Age of German Romanticism. Branden Publishing Co, 1978. ISBN 0-8283-1659-7.
  • Vaughan, William. German Romantic Painting. New Haven and London: Yale University Press, 1980. ISBN 0-300-02387-1.
  • Vaughan, William. Friedrich. London: Phaidon Press, 2004. ISBN 0-7148-4060-2
  • Wolf, Norbert. Friedrich. Cologne: Taschen, 2003. ISBN 3-8228-2293-0

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b "German literature - Encyclopedia Britannica". Britannica.com. 2012-12-07. Retrieved 2014-01-13. 
  2. ^ Vaughan (2004), 7.

External links[edit]