Opium and Romanticism

Opium and Romanticism are well-connected subjects, as readers of Romantic poetry often come into contact with literary criticisms about the influence of opium on its works. The idea that opium has had a direct effect on works of romantic poetry is still under debate; however, the literary criticism that has emerged throughout the years suggests very compelling ideas about opium and its impact on Romantic texts. Usually these criticisms tend to focus on poets such as Samuel Taylor Coleridge, Thomas De Quincey and George Crabbe.

Overview

The Romantic era in Britain was not only a time of growth for literature and poetry, but additionally a time of increased opium use. Interspersed among importation of opium from the Middle and Far East countries, Britain itself produced a meager amount of opium and utilized it, at least initially, as medicine and also as an ingredient in patent medicines to treat a variety of ailments and diseases. Given the euphoric and psychologically reinforcing properties of opium, users eventually began consuming it for recreation instead of therapeutic purposes. Its hypothesized effects on visions have been discussed in many theories, one of which was M. H. Abrams', who claims that opium opened up a creative channel, while another was Elisabeth Schneider's argument stating that opium did not inspire visions, but only a daydream-like trance, and Alethea Hayter's position that opium's influences were a combination of the previous two claims.[1]

Opium during the Romantic Era

Opium and the Orient

The fascination and experimentation with opium occurred partially because of its connections to the oriental tales such as Purchas his Pilgrimage, Travels through Persia, and Memoires du Baron de Tott, sur les Turcs et les Tartares ("Baron de Tott's memoires - on the Turks and the Tartars"), in which opium use was emphatically featured.[2] In the eighteenth century, opium was primarily imported to Britain from countries like Persia, Egypt, Smyrna, and the Levant areas.[3] Opium imports from Turkey dominated in Britain which accounted for 80-90% of the share brought in during the majority of the nineteenth century.[2] Although most of the opium came from the Orient, attempts were made to grow opium in England as an "agricultural improvement." [4] For a while, opium was used as a currency for trading activities with China, because while other nations had to pay great amounts of silver for tea, England used its opium trade through India, combined with cotton, as a bargaining chip for imports.[5] As importation increased, many patent opium products appeared and were sold in general stores as well as apothecaries.[6] These patent medicines included Godfrey's Cordial, Dalby's Carminative, McMunn's Elixir, Batley's Sedative Solution, and Mother Bailey's Quieting Syrup.[7] The First Opium War occurred between 1839 and 1842 when Britain realized that opium grown in India could be sold in China for a profit, and their army forced the Emperor to sign a treaty allowing free trade, which had been initially prohibited for opium.[8]

Medical uses and effects

Samuel Taylor Coleridge at age 42
Samuel Taylor Coleridge at age 42, engraving by Samuel Cousins from a portrait by Washington Allston. Digitally restored.

The Swiss alchemist and physician Paracelsus (1493-1541) is often credited as the first to create a tincture of opium. In the 17th century, the English physician Thomas Browne conducted experiments upon the dosage of opium on various animals.[9] Browne's contemporary, the physician Thomas Sydenham (1624–89) the so-called 'Father of British medicine' declared -

Among the remedies which has pleased the Almighty God to give to man to relieve his sufferings, none is so universal and so efficacious as opium .[10]

In the 1730s Dr. Charles Alston in one of his papers describes the biology or botany of the poppy plant, and the experiments he conducted with it on animals. One section of his paper describes how opium was believed to treat pain, cause sleep, increase perspiration, raise the spirits, and relax the muscles. With these things in mind, it was recommended for pain and any sort of irritation to the nerves or motions of spirits.[11] Opium became a popular "aspirin-like" product of the early nineteenth century. George Crabbe was prescribed opium in 1790 to relieve pain, and he continued to use it for the rest of his life. At the time of George Crabbe's first prescription, the East India Company began hiring Indian Villages to cultivate large quantities of opium.[12] Medicinally, it had been used as a reliable cure since the beginning of the medical field.[13] William Cullen and John Brown, two well-known physicians at the time, claimed it cured things such as typhus, cancer, cholera, rheumatism, smallpox, malaria, venereal disease, hysteria, and gout in the eighteenth century.[14] However, some individuals recognized the dangers that opium held. Some wrote into newspapers, such as The Times, and emphasized the dangers of giving a child medication such as the “Syrup of Poppies” or other potent medications, which contained an unspecified amount of opium known to be dangerous to give to infants.[15] A deeper medical analysis revealed that opium created and uplifted spirit and happy disposition, which was then followed by symptoms of a very opposite effect which includes the mind “becoming gradually dull and languid, the body averse to motion, little affected by customary impressions, and inclined to sleep.” Following a larger dose, “all these symptoms continue to increase; and tremors, convulsions, vertigo, stupor, insensibility, and deprivation of muscular action appear.” [3] Regardless of the mixed reviews in the public sphere, during the time of increasing imports and the unconcern of doctors (especially demonstrated by certain journals documenting how to cultivate the poppy plant and create opium),[16] there were more hard drugs in England than any time before or any time that followed.[17] Eventually, the drug moved beyond medicinal use as its imaginative powers attracted attention—the descriptions accompanying the effects of opium moved from drowsy effects to those of its power over the imagination and thought process.[18] This was especially true within the circle of Romantic poets, specifically Samuel Taylor Coleridge and Thomas De Quincey, who suffered from addiction to opium.

Influence on literary creation

Direct inspiration

M. H. Abrams argued that opium users during the Romantic era became “inspired to ecstasies” [19] when experiencing opium’s effects. It was not assumed that poetry was created during the opium-induced stupor, but that the images that were experienced provided the raw material of the poem, and the poet had to create a surrounding framework to support it. Abrams writes how opium-using poets, "utilized the imagery from these dreams in his literary creations, and sometimes, under the direct inspiration of opium, achieved his best writing." [20] The vividness of the sensory items, the feeling of persecution for eternity, or even the misguided sense of time found within the works of some poets indicates the influences of opium on their dreams and subsequent poems that they built around their dreams. A poet who did not use opium could not gain access to the planet opened solely by the symptoms of using. This unfamiliar realm, known only to users, according to M. H. Abrams, supplied the material for some of the Romantic poet's best and most influential writing.[21]

Opium debunked

Another direction, more recently postulated by Elisabeth Schneider and in opposition to Abrams, utilizes evidence based on medical and textual evidence.[1] Her idea supposes that the Romantic poet’s mind was not affected by opium as it was initially believed to be by critics. While earlier views embodied the idea that opium-induced dreams inspired the production of poetry that was otherwise inaccessible, Schneider's view suggests that literary critics and some physicians who have not specifically studied opiates have an inadequate account of the effects of opium. This occurs partly from a lag in time, but also because of the fallibility of early medical writing on opium. Most of the medical writing on opium, up until the 1920s, was based upon accounts from De Quincey in Confessions of an English Opium-Eater, Coleridge, or from other users. Schneider writes "The relaxation of tension and conflict, accompanied by a sense of pleasant ease, occasionally helps to release for a time the neurotic person’s natural powers of though or imagination or (rarely) of action, though it does not give him powers that he did not have or change the character of his normal powers." [22] Research has suggested that heavy doses of opium in addicts does result in a lengthy day-dream like trance (often reaching what opiate users describe as a "nod", when the user's mind enters a space between waking thought and sleep), and that the euphoria it produces, according to Schneider, merely frees the creativity naturally found within the poet.[23]

Opium, real images, and dreaming as a channel

A recent argument put forward by Alethea Hayter suggests that opium opens up the individual’s mind toward recollecting the raw materials found within one’s own life and the dreams, reveries, or hypnagogic visions, and the results are then translated into art. In essence, she states, "the action of opium may reveal some of the semi-conscious processes by which literature begins to be written"[24]—i.e., the act of dreaming (stimulated by opium) crystallizes the past into patterns reflecting truths, and these truths are what inspire the Romantic poetry created by opium users. Everyone is exposed to these everyday images, but opium add a further dimension to those images. Hayter specifies that while opium may enhance these images into a creative piece of text, ironically it also robs the individual of the power to make use of them, because the images are not easily recalled and recorded when sober. The necessary tools to create work like that of the opium-fuelled Romantic poets therefore must include not only the ability to daydream under the influence of the drug, but also the necessity of being able to communicate those visions on paper later.[25] Hayter's view falls between the two previous literary critiques of opium use during the Romantic era.[26]

Literary users and their creations

Thomas de Quincey - Project Gutenberg eText 16026
Thomas de Quincey from the frontispiece of De Quincey's Revolt of the Tartars by Charles Sears Baldwin.

Typical use and dependence within the middle-class were not confined to the literary circle, although the records of famous users are more readily available.[27] It has been proven or suggested through letters and notebooks that George Crabbe, Samuel Taylor Coleridge, Thomas de Quincey, Lord Byron, John Keats, and Percy Shelley imbibed on opium, whether for medicinal or recreational uses. In fact, all of the Romantic poets, with the exception of William Wordsworth, appear to have used it at some point. For example, Byron’s wife discovered that he had a phial of the Black Drop. Individuals such as Crabbe, Coleridge, De Quincey, Byron, or Keats were most likely even given it as a child to treat some sort of physical ailment.[28]

Coleridge

Coleridge began using opium in 1791 to relieve rheumatism,[29] but later he believed that opium made his body harmonize with his soul. He was said to have written in a letter to his brother George Coleridge, “Laudanum gave me repose, not sleep; but, you, I believe, know how divine that repose is, what a spot of enchantment, a green spot of fountain and flowers and trees in the very heart of a waste of sands!” [30] There has been much controversy debating if his poems Kubla Khan and Rime of the Ancient Mariner were the results of opium vision.

Percy Shelley

Percy Shelley was said by scholars to have used opium to alter his state of thinking and free his mind. To "dampen his nerves",[31] Shelley took laudanum, according to letters he wrote, as well as biographies. When Shelley secretively began to become romantically involved with Mary Wollstonecraft Godwin, he started to carry a flask with laudanum in it around to calm his nerves. After Shelley was banned from seeing Mary, he reportedly ran into her house and gave her laudanum, waving a pistol in the air and shouting, "By this you can escape Tyranny. They wish to separate us, my beloved, but death shall unite us."[31] Shelley believed that opium allowed the individual to question societal norms and beliefs while allowing for ideas of radical social change to form. Shelley reportedly used laudanum in a suicide attempt, taking it to free as well as harm himself. Shelley believed opium created confusion for him between cause and effect, as well as between memory and forgetfulness. Shelley began experiencing body spasms and upon visiting his new doctor, Andrea Vacca Berlinghieri, he was warned to stop taking laudanum. Shelley did not heed the doctor's warning and continued to have spasms, haunting dreams, and confusions about reality. Opium use catalyzed Shelley's creativity, but conversely it also detrimentally affected his mental health and well-being.

De Quincey's Confessions of an English Opium-Eater

De Quincey started using opium as a reliever for a toothache in 1804,[29] and his book, Confessions of an English Opium-Eater, was the first documentation of an opium addict to be published. He focused on the pleasures and the pains along with its influence on his works. His book was often accused of encouraging individuals to try opium and was blamed when they subsequently suffered from its side effects or addiction.[32] With the ability to purchase laudanum easily from many street vendors, de Quincey was quoted, saying, "happiness might now be bought for a penny."[29] With respect to literary triumphs, De Quincey notes in Confessions of an English Opium-Eater how the increased activity in the brain because of opium increased his ability to create new things out of raw material.[33] De Quincey notes the oscillation of symptoms between dreams (which he claims to be a source of his intense suffering)[34] and nightmares, and the reader recognizes the grip opium addiction has on de Quincey and possibly other users at the time. Through Thomas de Quincey's trips to a surreal world made possible by the consumption of opium he was able to discover methods of psychoanalysis that Sigmund Freud formally introduced more than half a century later.[12]

Notes

  1. ^ a b Milligan, 4
  2. ^ a b Milligan, 20
  3. ^ a b Crumpe, 44
  4. ^ Berridge, 11
  5. ^ The Times, 1789, 2
  6. ^ Jay, 66
  7. ^ Hayter, 31
  8. ^ Jay, 70
  9. ^ The Works of Thomas Browne ed. Simon Wilkins. pub. 1852
  10. ^ Opium by Thomas M. Santella pub. 2007 Infobase Publishing ISBN 0-7910-8547-3
  11. ^ Alston, 119-120
  12. ^ a b Murray, Christopher John. "Drugs and Addiction." Encyclopedia of the romantic era, 1760-1850, Volume 1. Ed. Fitzroy Dearborn. New York, Moew York. Taylor and Francis Group, 2004. P. 297.
  13. ^ Jay, 52
  14. ^ Hayter, 29
  15. ^ The Times 1828, 7
  16. ^ Anderson, 1792
  17. ^ Jay, 68
  18. ^ Jay, 56
  19. ^ Abrams, x
  20. ^ Abrams, ix
  21. ^ Abrams, ix-60
  22. ^ Schneider, 40
  23. ^ Schneider, 1-377
  24. ^ Hayter, 334
  25. ^ Hayter, 19-341
  26. ^ Hayter, 14
  27. ^ Berridge, 58
  28. ^ Hayter, 30-31
  29. ^ a b c Murray, Christopher John. "Drugs and Addiction." Encyclopedia of the romantic era, 1760-1850, Volume 1. Ed. Fitzroy Dearborn. New York, Moew York. Taylor and Francis Group, 2004. P. 267-269.
  30. ^ Letters of Samuel Taylor Coleridge, 240
  31. ^ a b Singer, Katherine. "Stoned Shelley: Revolutionary Tactics and Women under the Influence." Studies in Romanticism. Trustees of Boston University, Winter 2009. Vol. 48. Issue 4. pp. 687–707.
  32. ^ Hayter, 106
  33. ^ De Quincey, 76
  34. ^ De Quincey, 109

References

  • Abrams, M. H. [1934]. The Milk of Paradise: The Effect of Opium Visions on the Works of DeQuincey, Crabbe, Francis Thompson, and Coleridge. Cambridge: Harvard University Press.
  • Alston, Charles. 1747. "A Dissertation on Opium." Medical Essays and Observations [Edinburgh] Vol. 5(1). Eighteenth Century Collections Online.
  • Anderson, James. 25 April 1792. "The Uses and Culture of the Poppy, and Mode of Obtaining Opium From it in Europe". The Bee, Or Literary Weekly Intelligencer, Consisting of Original Pieces, and Selections from Performances of Merit, Foreign and Domestic. A Work Calculated to Disseminate Useful Knowledge Among All Ranks of People at a Small Expense [Edinburgh] Vol. 8(71). Eighteenth Century Journals.
  • Berridge, Virginia [1999]. Opium and the People: Opiate Use and Drug Control Policy in Nineteenth and Early Twentieth Century England. New York: Free Association.
  • Coleridge, Ernest H., ed. Letters of Samuel Taylor Coleridge [1895]. Vol. 1. Cambridge: Riverside. Google Books.
  • Crumpe, Samuel (1793). An Inquiry into the Nature and Properties of Opium. London, 1793. Eighteenth Century Collections Online.
  • De Quincey, Thomas [1869]. Confessions of an English-Opium Eater and Suspiria de Profundis. Boston: Fields, Osgood, & Co.
  • Hayter, Alethea [1988]. Opium and the romantic imagination addiction and creativity in De Quincey, Coleridge, Baudelaire, and others. Wellingborough, Northamptonshire, England: Crucible, Distributed by Sterling Pub.
  • Murray, Christopher John. "Drugs and Addiction." Encyclopedia of the romantic era, 1760–1850, Volume 1. Ed. Fitzroy Dearborn. New York, Moew York. Taylor and Francis Group, 2004. P. 267-269.
  • Jay, Mike [2000]. Emperors of Dreams: Drugs in the Nineteenth Century. Sawtry, Cambs: Dedalus,Distributed in the U.S. by SCB Distributors.
  • Milligan, Barry [1995]. Pleasures and Pains: Opium and the Orient in Nineteenth-Century British Culture. Charlottesville: University of Virginia Press.
  • Schneider, Elizabeth [1970]. Coleridge, Opium, and Kubla Khan. New York: Octagon Books.
  • Singer, Katherine. "Stoned Shelley: Revolutionary Tactics and Women under the Influence." Studies in Romanticism. Trustees of Boston University, WInter 2009. Vol. 48. Issue 4. pp. 687–707.
  • The Times 1 April 1789, "Editorials/Leaders" [London] Issue 1335: 2B The Times Digital Archive.
  • The Times 2 June 1828, "Letters to the Editor" [London] Issue 13608: 7C The Times Digital Archive.
Bedřich Smetana

Bedřich Smetana (Czech pronunciation: [ˈbɛdr̝ɪx ˈsmɛtana] (listen); 2 March 1824 – 12 May 1884) was a Czech composer who pioneered the development of a musical style that became closely identified with his country's aspirations to independent statehood. He has been regarded in his homeland as the father of Czech music. Internationally he is best known for his opera The Bartered Bride and for the symphonic cycle Má vlast ("My Homeland"), which portrays the history, legends and landscape of the composer's native Bohemia. It contains the famous symphonic poem "Vltava", also known by its English name "The Moldau".

Smetana was naturally gifted as a composer, and gave his first public performance at the age of 6. After conventional schooling, he studied music under Josef Proksch in Prague. His first nationalistic music was written during the 1848 Prague uprising, in which he briefly participated. After failing to establish his career in Prague, he left for Sweden, where he set up as a teacher and choirmaster in Gothenburg, and began to write large-scale orchestral works. During this period of his life Smetana was twice married; of six daughters, three died in infancy.

In the early 1860s, a more liberal political climate in Bohemia encouraged Smetana to return permanently to Prague. He threw himself into the musical life of the city, primarily as a champion of the new genre of Czech opera. In 1866 his first two operas, The Brandenburgers in Bohemia and The Bartered Bride, were premiered at Prague's new Provisional Theatre, the latter achieving great popularity. In that same year, Smetana became the theatre's principal conductor, but the years of his conductorship were marked by controversy. Factions within the city's musical establishment considered his identification with the progressive ideas of Franz Liszt and Richard Wagner inimical to the development of a distinctively Czech opera style. This opposition interfered with his creative work, and might have hastened a decline in health that precipitated his resignation from the theatre in 1874.

By the end of 1874, Smetana had become completely deaf but, freed from his theatre duties and the related controversies, he began a period of sustained composition that continued for almost the rest of his life. His contributions to Czech music were increasingly recognised and honoured, but a mental collapse early in 1884 led to his incarceration in an asylum and subsequent death. Smetana's reputation as the founding father of Czech music has endured in his native country, where advocates have raised his status above that of his contemporaries and successors. However, relatively few of Smetana's works are in the international repertory, and most foreign commentators tend to regard Antonín Dvořák as a more significant Czech composer.

Carl Loewe

Johann Carl Gottfried Loewe (German: [ˈløːvə]; 30 November 1796 – 20 April 1869), usually called Carl Loewe (sometimes seen as Karl Loewe), was a German composer, tenor singer and conductor. In his lifetime, his songs (Lieder) were well enough known for some to call him the "Schubert of North Germany", and Hugo Wolf came to admire his work. He is less known today, but his ballads and songs, which number over 400, are occasionally performed.

Cyprian Norwid

Cyprian Kamil Norwid, a.k.a. Cyprian Konstanty Norwid (Polish pronunciation: [ˈt͡sɨprjan ˈnɔrvid]; 24 September 1821 – 23 May 1883), was a nationally esteemed Polish poet, dramatist, painter, and sculptor. He was born in the Masovian village of Laskowo-Głuchy near Warsaw. One of his maternal ancestors was the Polish King John III Sobieski.Norwid is regarded as one of the second generation of romantics. He wrote many well-known poems including Fortepian Szopena ("Chopin's Piano"), Moja piosnka [II] ("My Song [II]") and Bema pamięci żałobny-rapsod (A Funeral Rhapsody in Memory of General Bem). Norwid led a tragic and often poverty-stricken life (once he had to live in a cemetery crypt). He experienced increasing health problems, unrequited love, harsh critical reviews, and increasing social isolation. He lived abroad most of his life, especially in London and, in Paris where he died.

Norwid's original and non-conformist style was not appreciated in his lifetime and partially due to this fact, he was excluded from high society. His work was only rediscovered and appreciated by the Young Poland art movement of the late nineteenth and early twentieth century. He is now considered one of the four most important Polish Romantic poets. Other literary historians, however, consider this an oversimplification, and regard his style to be more characteristic of classicism and parnassianism.

Daniel Auber

Daniel François Esprit Auber (French: [danjɛl fʁɑ̃swa ɛspʁi obɛːʁ]; 29 January 1782 – 12/13 May 1871) was a French composer.

Franz Schubert

Franz Peter Schubert (German: [ˈfʁant͡s ˈpeːtɐ ˈʃuːbɐt]; 31 January 1797 – 19 November 1828) was an Austrian composer of the late Classical and early Romantic eras. Despite his short lifetime, Schubert left behind a vast oeuvre, including more than 600 secular vocal works (mainly Lieder), seven complete symphonies, sacred music, operas, incidental music and a large body of piano and chamber music. His major works include the Piano Quintet in A major, D. 667 (Trout Quintet), the Symphony No. 8 in B minor, D. 759 (Unfinished Symphony), the three last piano sonatas (D. 958–960), the opera Fierrabras (D. 796), the incidental music to the play Rosamunde (D. 797), and the song cycles Die schöne Müllerin (D. 795) and Winterreise (D. 911).

Born in the Himmelpfortgrund suburb of Vienna, Schubert's uncommon gifts for music were evident from an early age. His father gave him his first violin lessons and his older brother gave him piano lessons, but Schubert soon exceeded their abilities. In 1808, at the age of eleven, he became a pupil at the Stadtkonvikt school, where he became acquainted with the orchestral music of Haydn, Mozart, and Beethoven. He left the Stadtkonvikt at the end of 1813, and returned home to live with his father, where he began studying to become a schoolteacher; despite this, he continued his studies in composition with Antonio Salieri and still composed prolifically. In 1821, Schubert was granted admission to the Gesellschaft der Musikfreunde as a performing member, which helped establish his name among the Viennese citizenry. He gave a concert of his own works to critical acclaim in March 1828, the only time he did so in his career. He died eight months later at the age of 31, the cause officially attributed to typhoid fever, but believed by some historians to be syphilis.

Appreciation of Schubert's music while he was alive was limited to a relatively small circle of admirers in Vienna, but interest in his work increased significantly in the decades following his death. Felix Mendelssohn, Robert Schumann, Franz Liszt, Johannes Brahms and other 19th-century composers discovered and championed his works. Today, Schubert is ranked among the greatest composers of the 19th century, and his music continues to be popular.

Frédéric Chopin

Frédéric François Chopin (; French: [ʃɔpɛ̃]; Polish: [ˈʂɔpɛn]; 1 March 1810 – 17 October 1849) was a Polish composer and virtuoso pianist of the Romantic era who wrote primarily for solo piano. He has maintained worldwide renown as a leading musician of his era, one whose "poetic genius was based on a professional technique that was without equal in his generation."Chopin was born Fryderyk Franciszek Chopin in the Duchy of Warsaw and grew up in Warsaw, which in 1815 became part of Congress Poland. A child prodigy, he completed his musical education and composed his earlier works in Warsaw before leaving Poland at the age of 20, less than a month before the outbreak of the November 1830 Uprising. At 21, he settled in Paris. Thereafter—in the last 18 years of his life—he gave only 30 public performances, preferring the more intimate atmosphere of the salon. He supported himself by selling his compositions and by giving piano lessons, for which he was in high demand. Chopin formed a friendship with Franz Liszt and was admired by many of his other musical contemporaries (including Robert Schumann). In 1835, Chopin obtained French citizenship. After a failed engagement to Maria Wodzińska from 1836 to 1837, he maintained an often troubled relationship with the French writer Amantine Dupin (known by her pen name, George Sand). A brief and unhappy visit to Majorca with Sand in 1838–39 would prove one of his most productive periods of composition. In his final years, he was supported financially by his admirer Jane Stirling, who also arranged for him to visit Scotland in 1848. For most of his life, Chopin was in poor health. He died in Paris in 1849 at the age of 39, probably of pericarditis aggravated by tuberculosis.

All of Chopin's compositions include the piano. Most are for solo piano, though he also wrote two piano concertos, a few chamber pieces, and some 19 songs set to Polish lyrics. His piano writing was technically demanding and expanded the limits of the instrument: his own performances were noted for their nuance and sensitivity. Chopin invented the concept of the instrumental ballade. His major piano works also include mazurkas, waltzes, nocturnes, polonaises, études, impromptus, scherzos, preludes and sonatas, some published only posthumously. Among the influences on his style of composition were Polish folk music, the classical tradition of J.S. Bach, Mozart, and Schubert, and the atmosphere of the Paris salons of which he was a frequent guest. His innovations in style, harmony, and musical form, and his association of music with nationalism, were influential throughout and after the late Romantic period.

Chopin's music, his status as one of music's earliest superstars, his (indirect) association with political insurrection, his high-profile love-life, and his early death have made him a leading symbol of the Romantic era. His works remain popular, and he has been the subject of numerous films and biographies of varying historical fidelity.

Félicien David

Félicien-César David (13 April 1810 – 29 August 1876) was a French composer.

George Onslow (composer)

André George(s) Louis Onslow (27 July 1784 – 3 October 1853) was a French composer of English descent. His wealth, position and personal tastes allowed him to pursue a path unfamiliar to most of his French contemporaries, more similar to that of his contemporary German romantic composers; his music also had a strong following in Germany and in England. His principal output was chamber music, but he also wrote four symphonies and four operas. Esteemed by many of the critics of his time, his reputation declined swiftly after his death and has only been revived in recent years.

John Constable

John Constable, (; 11 June 1776 – 31 March 1837) was an English landscape painter in the naturalistic tradition. Born in Suffolk, he is known principally for his landscape paintings of Dedham Vale, the area surrounding his home – now known as "Constable Country" – which he invested with an intensity of affection. "I should paint my own places best", he wrote to his friend John Fisher in 1821, "painting is but another word for feeling".Constable's most famous paintings include Wivenhoe Park of 1816, Dedham Vale of 1802 and The Hay Wain of 1821. Although his paintings are now among the most popular and valuable in British art, he was never financially successful. He became a member of the establishment after he was elected to the Royal Academy at the age of 52. His work was embraced in France, where he sold more than in his native England and inspired the Barbizon school.

José Melchor Gomis

José Melchor Gomis y Colomer (6 January 1791 – 4 August 1836) was a Spanish Romantic composer. He was born in 1791 in Ontinyent, Vall d'Albaida, Valencia Province.He was director of music for an artillery regiment during the Napoleonic Wars. An early melodrame by Gomis for voice and orchestra was performed at Valencia in 1817.He wrote the music of the Himno de Riego, named after the rebellious General Riego (1784-1823) and since used as the national anthem by various republican governments of Spain.

Gomis's political views caused him to live in exile after the accession of Ferdinand VII in 1823, in Paris and in London. In both cities he was a friend of his fellow exile the composer Santiago Masarnau, whom he may have introduced to London musical life. In Paris, Gomis wrote a successful singing method, published in 1826 with dedications to Gioacchino Rossini and François-Adrien Boieldieu, and in London his choral work L'inverno was performed in 1827. In 1830 his opera Aben-Humeya was performed in Paris. Gomis's Paris operas Diable à Seville (1831) (staged with the support of Rossini) and Le revenant (1836) gained respectful reviews from Hector Berlioz. Le portefaix, the most successful of his operas, had a libretto by Eugène Scribe (originally offered to the composer Giacomo Meyerbeer).Gomis was made a Chevalier of the Légion d'honneur by King Louis-Philippe. Gomis died in Paris in 1836 of tuberculosis, leaving a number of works unfinished, including the opera Le comte Julien, also to a libretto by Scribe (and eventually set in 1851 by Sigismond Thalberg as Florinda).

Louise Bertin

Louise-Angélique Bertin (Les Roches, Essonne, 15 January 1805 – Paris, 26 April 1877) was a French composer and poet.Louise Bertin lived her entire life in France. Her father, Louis-François Bertin, and also her brother later on, were the editors of Journal des débats, an influential newspaper. As encouraged by her family, Bertin pursued music. She received lessons from François-Joseph Fétis, who directed a private family performance of Guy Mannering, Bertin's first opera, in 1825. This opera, never formally produced, took its story line from the book of the same name, written by Sir Walter Scott. Two years later, Bertin's second opera, Le Loup-garou, was produced at the Opéra-Comique.

At the age of 21, Bertin began working on an opera semiseria, Fausto to her own libretto in Italian, based on Goethe's Faust, a subject "almost certainly suggested" by her father. A performance of the completed opera was scheduled for 1830. However, due to many unforeseen complications, Fausto did not actually reach the stage until a full year later. It was not well received and only saw three performances.

Shortly before this, Bertin became friends with Victor Hugo. Hugo himself had sketched out an operatic version of his book Notre-Dame de Paris (The Hunchback of Notre Dame) and between the two of them, the opera La Esmeralda was born, Hugo providing the libretto. Bertin was the only composer to have collaborated directly with Hugo on an opera. However, as the opera’s run began in 1836, there were accusations against Bertin and her family, claiming she had special privileges due to her brother Armand's connection to the government's opera administration. During the seventh performance, a riot ensued and the run of La Esmeralda was forced to end, though a version of the opera continued to be performed over the next three years. The composer Hector Berlioz, who helped Bertin with the staging and production of La Esmeralda, was also accused of providing the better music of this work, a charge he vehemently denied. In frustration, Bertin refused to write any more operas. In 1837, Franz Liszt transcribed the orchestral score for solo piano (S.476), and made a piano transcription of the "Air chanté par Massol" (S.477).

Bertin did however continue to compose in many different genres. Her later compositions include twelve cantatas, six piano ballades, five chamber symphonies, a few string quartets, a piano trio (which includes themes from both her early Fausto and La Esmeralda), and many vocal selections. Of these, only the ballades and the trio were published.

Bertin also wrote and published two volumes of poetry, Les Glanes in 1842 and Nouvelles Glanes in 1876. The former of these received a prize from the Académie française. Bertin died the year after the publication of Nouvelles Glanes.

Ludwig van Beethoven

Ludwig van Beethoven ( (listen); German: [ˈluːtvɪç fan ˈbeːthoːfn̩] (listen); baptised 17 December 1770 – 26 March 1827) was a German composer and pianist. A crucial figure in the transition between the classical and romantic eras in classical music, he remains one of the most recognized and influential musicians of this period, and is considered to be one of the greatest composers of all time.

Beethoven was born in Bonn, the capital of the Electorate of Cologne, and part of the Holy Roman Empire. He displayed his musical talents at an early age and was vigorously taught by his father Johann van Beethoven, and was later taught by composer and conductor Christian Gottlob Neefe. At age 21, he moved to Vienna and studied composition with Joseph Haydn. Beethoven then gained a reputation as a virtuoso pianist, and was soon courted by Prince Lichnowsky for compositions, which resulted in Opus 1 in 1795.

The piece was a great critical and commercial success, and was followed by Symphony No. 1 in 1800. This composition was distinguished for its frequent use of sforzandi, as well as sudden shifts in tonal centers that were uncommon for traditional symphonic form, and the prominent, more independent use of wind instruments. In 1801, he also gained notoriety for his six String Quartets and for the ballet The Creatures of Prometheus. During this period, his hearing began to deteriorate, but he continued to conduct, premiering his third and fifth symphonies in 1804 and 1808, respectively. His condition worsened to almost complete deafness by 1811, and he then gave up performing and appearing in public.

During this period of self exile, Beethoven composed many of his most admired works; his seventh symphony premiered in 1813, with its second movement, Allegretto, achieving widespread critical acclaim. He composed the piece Missa Solemnis for a number of years until it premiered 1824, which preceded his ninth symphony, with the latter gaining fame for being among the first examples of a choral symphony. In 1826, his fourteenth String Quartet was noted for having seven linked movements played without a break, and is considered the final major piece performed before his death a year later.

His career is conventionally divided into early, middle, and late periods; the "early" period is typically seen to last until 1802, the "middle" period from 1802 to 1812, and the "late" period from 1812 to his death in 1827. During his life, he composed nine symphonies; five piano concertos; one violin concerto; thirty-two piano sonatas; sixteen string quartets; two masses; and the opera, Fidelio. Other works, like Für Elise, were discovered after his death, and are also considered historical musical achievements. Beethoven's legacy is characterized for his innovative compositions, namely through the combinations of vocals and instruments, and also for widening the scope of sonata, symphony, concerto, and quartet, while he is also noted for his troublesome relationship with his contemporaries.

Niccolò Paganini

Niccolò (or Nicolò) Paganini (Italian: [ni(k)koˈlɔ ppaɡaˈniːni] (listen); 27 October 1782 – 27 May 1840) was an Italian violinist, violist, guitarist, and composer. He was the most celebrated violin virtuoso of his time, and left his mark as one of the pillars of modern violin technique. His 24 Caprices for Solo Violin Op. 1 are among the best known of his compositions, and have served as an inspiration for many prominent composers.

Novalis

Novalis (; German: [noˈvaːlɪs]) was the pseudonym and pen name of Georg Philipp Friedrich Freiherr von Hardenberg (2 May 1772 – 25 March 1801), a poet, author, mystic, and philosopher of Early German Romanticism. Hardenberg's professional work and university background, namely his study of mineralogy and management of salt mines in Saxony, was often ignored by his contemporary readers. The first studies showing important relations between his literary and professional works started in the 1960s.

Orest Kiprensky

Orest Adamovich Kiprensky (Russian: Орест Адамович Кипренский 24 March [O.S. 13 March] 1782-17 October [O.S. 5 October] 1836) was a leading Russian portraitist in the Age of Romanticism. His most familiar work is probably his portrait of Alexander Pushkin (1827), which prompted the poet to remark that "the mirror flatters me".

Romanticism

Romanticism (also known as the Romantic era) was an artistic, literary, musical and intellectual movement that originated in Europe toward the end of the 18th century, and in most areas was at its peak in the approximate period from 1800 to 1850. Romanticism was characterized by its emphasis on emotion and individualism as well as glorification of all the past and nature, preferring the medieval rather than the classical. It was partly a reaction to the Industrial Revolution, the aristocratic social and political norms of the Age of Enlightenment, and the scientific rationalization of nature—all components of modernity. It was embodied most strongly in the visual arts, music, and literature, but had a major impact on historiography, education, the social sciences, and the natural sciences. It had a significant and complex effect on politics, with romantic thinkers influencing liberalism, radicalism, conservatism and nationalism.The movement emphasized intense emotion as an authentic source of aesthetic experience, placing new emphasis on such emotions as apprehension, horror and terror, and awe—especially that experienced in confronting the new aesthetic categories of the sublimity and beauty of nature. It elevated folk art and ancient custom to something noble, but also spontaneity as a desirable characteristic (as in the musical impromptu). In contrast to the Rationalism and Classicism of the Enlightenment, Romanticism revived medievalism and elements of art and narrative perceived as authentically medieval in an attempt to escape population growth, early urban sprawl, and industrialism.

Although the movement was rooted in the German Sturm und Drang movement, which preferred intuition and emotion to the rationalism of the Enlightenment, the events and ideologies of the French Revolution were also proximate factors. Romanticism assigned a high value to the achievements of "heroic" individualists and artists, whose examples, it maintained, would raise the quality of society. It also promoted the individual imagination as a critical authority allowed of freedom from classical notions of form in art. There was a strong recourse to historical and natural inevitability, a Zeitgeist, in the representation of its ideas. In the second half of the 19th century, Realism was offered as a polar opposite to Romanticism. The decline of Romanticism during this time was associated with multiple processes, including social and political changes and the spread of nationalism.

William Blake

William Blake (28 November 1757 – 12 August 1827) was an English poet, painter, and printmaker. Largely unrecognised during his lifetime, Blake is now considered a seminal figure in the history of the poetry and visual arts of the Romantic Age. What he called his prophetic works were said by 20th-century critic Northrop Frye to form "what is in proportion to its merits the least read body of poetry in the English language". His visual artistry led 21st-century critic Jonathan Jones to proclaim him "far and away the greatest artist Britain has ever produced". In 2002, Blake was placed at number 38 in the BBC's poll of the 100 Greatest Britons. While he lived in London his entire life, except for three years spent in Felpham, he produced a diverse and symbolically rich œuvre, which embraced the imagination as "the body of God" or "human existence itself".Although Blake was considered mad by contemporaries for his idiosyncratic views, he is held in high regard by later critics for his expressiveness and creativity, and for the philosophical and mystical undercurrents within his work. His paintings and poetry have been characterised as part of the Romantic movement and as "Pre-Romantic". A committed Christian who was hostile to the Church of England (indeed, to almost all forms of organised religion), Blake was influenced by the ideals and ambitions of the French and American Revolutions. Though later he rejected many of these political beliefs, he maintained an amiable relationship with the political activist Thomas Paine; he was also influenced by thinkers such as Emanuel Swedenborg. Despite these known influences, the singularity of Blake's work makes him difficult to classify. The 19th-century scholar William Michael Rossetti characterised him as a "glorious luminary", and "a man not forestalled by predecessors, nor to be classed with contemporaries, nor to be replaced by known or readily surmisable successors".

William Sterndale Bennett

Sir William Sterndale Bennett (13 April 1816 – 1 February 1875) was an English composer, pianist, conductor and music educator. At the age of ten Bennett was admitted to the London Royal Academy of Music (RAM), where he remained for ten years. By the age of twenty, he had begun to make a reputation as a concert pianist, and his compositions received high praise. Among those impressed by Bennett was the German composer Felix Mendelssohn, who invited him to Leipzig. There Bennett became friendly with Robert Schumann, who shared Mendelssohn's admiration for his compositions. Bennett spent three winters composing and performing in Leipzig.

In 1837 Bennett began to teach at the RAM, with which he was associated for most of the rest of his life. For twenty years he taught there, later also teaching at Queen's College, London. Amongst his pupils during this period were Arthur Sullivan, Hubert Parry, and Tobias Matthay. Throughout the 1840s and 1850s he composed little, although he performed as a pianist and directed the Philharmonic Society for ten years. He also actively promoted concerts of chamber music. From 1848 onwards his career was punctuated by antagonism between himself and the conductor Michael Costa.

In 1858 Bennett returned to composition, but his later works, though popular, were considered old-fashioned and did not arouse as much critical enthusiasm as his youthful compositions had done. He was Professor of Music at the University of Cambridge from 1856 until 1875. In 1866 he became Principal of the RAM, rescuing it from closure, and remained in this position until his death. He was knighted in 1871. He died in London in 1875 and was buried in Westminster Abbey.

Bennett had a significant influence on English music, not solely as a composer but also as a teacher, as a promoter of standards of musical education and as an important figure in London concert life. In recent years, appreciation of Bennett's compositions has been rekindled and a number of his works, including a symphony, his piano concerti, some vocal music and many of his piano compositions, have been recorded. In his bicentenary year of 2016, several concerts of his music and other related events took place.

This page is based on a Wikipedia article written by authors (here).
Text is available under the CC BY-SA 3.0 license; additional terms may apply.
Images, videos and audio are available under their respective licenses.