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  • Writer's picturePeter VanderPoel

Not That Kind of 'Romantic'

The terms 'Classical' and 'Romantic' tend to conjure images of orchestral music and Valentine's Day. Historically these terms are applied to a wide variety of topics, ranging from fashion to movies to logic. For this discussion, these terms will be used to define the appeal of works of art.

One of the early discussions of 'romantic' vs. 'classical' was Madame de Staël, a well-to-do exile from Napoleon's France. She travelled to the area that would become Germany and noted a new strain of poetry: Romantic.

The main differences between the two movements was that classical- rooted in antiquity, sprung from rational,objective thought and romantic was emotional and subjective; one appeals to the head, the other the heart. The romantic was chivalrous and strongly associated with Christianity and closely related to the Sturm und Drang period of German Literature.

Listen to the two 'classical' compositions below- The first by J.S. Bach (classical) the second by Samuel Barber (romantic)



This dichotomy of how different art forms approach their audience goes well beyond orchestral music. The next few posts will investigate the juxtaposition of 'Classical' vs. 'Romantic' in different art forms and different cultures.

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