The Late Romantic Era: From the mid-19th century to World by Jim Samson

By Jim Samson

Treats the track written among the 1848 revolutions and the outbreak of worldwide warfare I. The tune is gifted in a wide context of socio-political, highbrow and non secular lifestyles.

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Literary Awards
Samuel Johnson Prize for Non-Fiction Nominee for Longlist (2010)

Additional info for The Late Romantic Era: From the mid-19th century to World War I

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27 No such rivalry would have been conceivable in England, where the dialogue with Europe already had a lengthy history and where musical composition had settled into a comfortable acceptance of established European (specifically German) styles. Handel, Mendelssohn, Spohr and Brahms all called the tune at different times. Two things conspired to maintain this position: the aspiring composer in England had little choice but to travel abroad for an adequate training; and, even more important, music had been held in such low esteem for so long by the dominant classes that foreignness had come to be regarded as fashionable.

Szymanowski too, in an astonishing volte face, built his later music on the remarkable folk music of the Tatra mountains, responding in his own way to the celebratory nationalism of a newly independent Poland. Nationalism was indeed the motivating force behind this awakening throughout east central Europe. Yet it is in the nature of things that national schools have a limited lifespan. They escape provincialism only by admitting the influence of the wider contemporary world. Aspiring towards the universal, they in turn lose touch with those indigenous qualities which had defined the ideological commitment in the first place.

Like Puccini, Mahler was in some senses the end of a long and seminally important line; but unlike Puccini he also stood at the beginning of another line. It is perhaps ironic that the great symphonic tradition should have reached its apogee in the music of an Austrian Jew born in Bohemia, though that very fact has some explanatory power. Ultimately the anguish of Mahler's music is not just personal. Much more than in the works of Strauss, the crisis within liberal bourgeois culture was given its supreme musical expression in his output.

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