A Brief (and Wholly Inadequate) Introduction to Romantic Music

When did the Romantic Period in music begin?  The generally accepted date is 1830, including by scholars who proclaim Schubert, who died in 1828, to be a Romantic composer.  The fact is that while we like to assign firm demarcation points, music, like life, evolves naturally, at fits and starts.  There is ultimately no correct … Continue reading A Brief (and Wholly Inadequate) Introduction to Romantic Music


Before diving into the Romantic Period, it is important to take stock of how the music world had changed over the last two centuries. Through much of music history to this point, the Church had been the primary benefactor of the great composers. As the Church's influence began to wane, particularly in the German States, … Continue reading Virtuosity

Classical Music VI: Niccolo Paganini (1782-1840)

The legendary violinist Niccolo Paganini was not a great composer.  He was, unquestionably, the greatest violinist and performer of his age (and, perhaps, any age). Paganini pushed the boundaries of what was possible and composed works that pushed what is technically possible on a violin to its absolute limit.  It is also worth noting that … Continue reading Classical Music VI: Niccolo Paganini (1782-1840)

Schubert, Unfinished

It is the stuff of legend. A dusty manuscript lies hidden in a desk draw of Anselm Huttenbrenner, a minor composer, for 43 years. In a letter to conductor Johann von Herbeck, Huttenbrenner describes it as his most prized treasure. One look at the score and von Herbeck is convinced and gives the music its … Continue reading Schubert, Unfinished