The Progressive and the Universal in Musical Romanticism: Mendelssohn and Schumann
When Friedrich Schlegel dubbed romantic poetry the “progressive, universal poetry,” his words were equally applicable to romantic music. In the post-Napoleonic age, new thinkers in all creative fields threw off the shackles of the past and forged common ground. In this heady atmosphere, Mendelssohn and Schumann laid the foundation for modern music through formal innovation, poetic and literary association, and a fantastical sense of the irrational and the subconscious. Then, rethinking the implications of their youthful radicalism, they sought to reassert classicism in their maturity (such as Mendelssohn’s Bach revival). Contemporaries such as Liszt, Berlioz, Chopin, and Weber will also be discussed.