Romanticism in science

Romanticism (or the Age of Reflection,[1] c. 1800–40) was an intellectual movement that originated in Western Europe as a counter-movement to the late-18th-century Enlightenment. Romanticism incorporated many fields of study, including politics, the arts, and the humanities, but it also greatly influenced 19th-century science.[2]:xxi

In contrast to Enlightenment mechanistic natural philosophy, European scientists of the Romantic period held that observing nature implied understanding the self and that knowledge of nature "should not be obtained by force". They felt that the Enlightenment had encouraged the abuse of the sciences, and they sought to advance a new way to increase scientific knowledge, one that they felt would be more beneficial not only to mankind but to nature as well.[3]:xii

Romanticism advanced a number of themes: it promoted anti-reductionism (that the whole is more valuable than the parts alone) and epistemological optimism (man was connected to nature), and encouraged creativity, experience, and genius.[4] It also emphasized the scientist's role in scientific discovery, holding that acquiring knowledge of nature meant understanding man as well; therefore, these scientists placed a high importance on respect for nature.[3]:xiv

Romanticism declined beginning around 1840 as a new movement, positivism, took hold of intellectuals, and lasted until about 1880. As with the intellectuals who earlier had become disenchanted with the Enlightenment and had sought a new approach to science, people now lost interest in Romanticism and sought to study science using a stricter process.

Romantic science vs. Enlightenment science

As the Enlightenment had a firm hold in France during the last decades of the 18th century, so the Romantic view on science was a movement that flourished in Great Britain and especially Germany in the first half of the 19th century.[3]:xii[2]:22 Both sought to increase individual and cultural self-understanding by recognizing the limits in human knowledge through the study of nature and the intellectual capacities of man. The Romantic movement, however, resulted as an increasing dislike by many intellectuals for the tenets promoted by the Enlightenment; it was felt by some that Enlightened thinkers' emphasis on rational thought through deductive reasoning and the mathematization of natural philosophy had created an approach to science that was too cold and that attempted to control nature, rather than to peacefully co-exist with nature.[2]:3–4

According to the philosophes of the Enlightenment, the path to complete knowledge required a dissection of information on any given subject and a division of knowledge into subcategories of subcategories, known as reductionism. This was considered necessary in order to build upon the knowledge of the ancients, such as Ptolemy, and Renaissance thinkers, such as Copernicus, Kepler, and Galileo. It was widely believed that man's sheer intellectual power alone was sufficient to understanding every aspect of nature. Examples of prominent Enlightenment scholars include: Sir Isaac Newton (physics and mathematics), Gottfried Leibniz (philosophy and mathematics), and Carl Linnaeus (botanist and physician).

Principles of Romanticism

Romanticism had four basic principles: "the original unity of man and nature in a Golden Age; the subsequent separation of man from nature and the fragmentation of human faculties; the interpretability of the history of the universe in human, spiritual terms; and the possibility of salvation through the contemplation of nature."[2]:4

The above-mentioned Golden Age is a reference from Greek mythology and legend to the Ages of Man. Romantic thinkers sought to reunite man with nature and therefore his natural state.[2]:2–4

To Romantics, "science must not bring about any split between nature and man." Romantics believed in the intrinsic ability of mankind to understand nature and its phenomena, much like the Enlightened philosophes, but they preferred not to dissect information as some insatiable thirst for knowledge and did not advocate what they viewed as the manipulation of nature. They saw the Enlightenment as the "cold-hearted attempt to extort knowledge from nature" that placed man above nature rather than as a harmonious part of it; conversely, they wanted to "improvise on nature as a great instrument."[2]:4 The philosophy of nature was devoted to the observation of facts and careful experimentation, which was much more of a "hands-off" approach to understanding science than the Enlightenment view, as it was considered too controlling.[3]:xii

Natural science, according to the Romantics, involved rejecting mechanical metaphors in favor of organic ones; in other words, they chose to view the world as composed of living beings with sentiments, rather than objects that merely function. Sir Humphry Davy, a prominent Romantic thinker, said that understanding nature required "an attitude of admiration, love and worship, ... a personal response."[2]:15 He believed that knowledge was only attainable by those who truly appreciated and respected nature. Self-understanding was an important aspect of Romanticism. It had less to do with proving that man was capable of understanding nature (through his budding intellect) and therefore controlling it, and more to do with the emotional appeal of connecting himself with nature and understanding it through a harmonious co-existence.[3]:xiv[2]:2

Important works in Romantic science

When categorizing the many disciplines of science that developed during this period, Romantics believed that explanations of various phenomena should be based upon vera causa, which meant that already known causes would produce similar effects elsewhere.[2]:15 It was also in this way that Romanticism was very anti-reductionist: they did not believe that inorganic sciences were at the top of the hierarchy but at the bottom, with life sciences next and psychology placed even higher.[2]:19 This hierarchy reflected Romantic ideals of science because the whole organism takes more precedence over inorganic matter, and the intricacies of the human mind take even more precedence since the human intellect was sacred and necessary to understanding nature around it and reuniting with it.

Various disciplines on the study of nature that were cultivated by Romanticism included: Schelling's Naturphilosophie; cosmology and cosmogony; developmental history of the earth and its creatures; the new science of biology; investigations of mental states, conscious and unconscious, normal and abnormal; experimental disciplines to uncover the hidden forces of nature – electricity, magnetism, galvanism and other life-forces; physiognomy, phrenology, meteorology, mineralogy, "philosophical" anatomy, among others.[2]:6


In Friedrich Schelling's Naturphilosophie, he explained his thesis regarding the necessity of reuniting man with nature; it was this German work that first defined the Romantic conception of science and vision of natural philosophy. He called nature "a history of the path to freedom" and encouraged a reunion of man's spirit with nature.[3]:31


The "new science of biology" was first termed biologie by Jean-Baptiste Lamarck in 1801, and was "an independent scientific discipline born at the end of a long process of erosion of 'mechanical philosophy,' consisting in a spreading awareness that the phenomena of living nature cannot be understood in the light of the laws of physics but require an ad hoc explanation."[3]:47 The mechanical philosophy of the 17th century sought to explain life as a system of parts that operate or interact like those of a machine. Lamarck stated that the life sciences must detach from the physical sciences and strove to create a field of research that was different from the concepts, laws, and principles of physics. In rejecting mechanism without entirely abandoning the research of material phenomena that does occur in nature, he was able to point out that "living beings have specific characteristics which cannot be reduced to those possessed by physical bodies" and that living nature was un ensemble d'objets métaphisiques ("an assemblage of metaphysical objects").[3]:63 He did not 'discover' biology; he drew previous works together and organized them into a new science.[3]:57


Johann Goethe's experiments with optics were the direct result of his application of Romantic ideals of observation and disregard for Newton's own work with optics. He believed that color was not an outward physical phenomenon but internal to the human; Newton concluded that white light was a mixture of the other colors, but Goethe believed he had disproved this claim by his observational experiments. He thus placed emphasis on the human ability to see the color, the human ability to gain knowledge through "flashes of insight", and not a mathematical equation that could analytically describe it.[2]:16–17


Alexander von Humboldt was a staunch advocate of empirical data collection and the necessity of the natural scientist in using experience and quantification to understand nature. He sought to find the unity of nature, and his books Aspects of Nature and Kosmos lauded the aesthetic qualities of the natural world by describing natural science in religious tones.[2]:15 He believed science and beauty could complement one another.

Natural history

Romanticism also played a large role in Natural history, particularly in biological evolutionary theory. Nichols (2005) examines the connections between science and poetry in the English-speaking world during the 18th and 19th centuries, focusing on the works of American natural historian William Bartram and British naturalist Charles Darwin. Bartram's Travels through North and South Carolina, Georgia, East and West Florida (1791) described the flora, fauna, and landscapes of the American South with a cadence and energy that lent itself to mimicry and became a source of inspiration to such Romantic poets of the era as William Wordsworth, Samuel Taylor Coleridge, and William Blake. Darwin's work, including On the Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection (1859), marked an end to the Romantic era, when using nature as a source of creative inspiration was commonplace, and led to the rise of realism and the use of analogy in the arts.[5]


Alexander (2006) argues that the nature of mathematics changed in the 19th century from an intuitive, hierarchical, and narrative practice used to solve real-world problems to a theoretical one in which logic, rigor, and internal consistency rather than application were important. Unexpected new fields emerged, such as non-Euclidean geometry and statistics, as well as group theory, set theory and symbolic logic. As the discipline changed, so did the nature of the men involved, and the image of the tragic Romantic genius often found in art, literature, and music may also be applied to such mathematicians as Évariste Galois (1811–32), Niels Henrik Abel (1802–29), and János Bolyai (1802–60). The greatest of the Romantic mathematicians was Carl Friedrich Gauss (1777–1855), who made major contributions in many branches of mathematics.[6]


Christensen (2005) shows that the work of Hans Christian Ørsted (1777–1851) was based in Romanticism. Ørsted's discovery of electromagnetism in 1820 was directed against the mathematically based Newtonian physics of the Enlightenment; Ørsted considered technology and practical applications of science to be unconnected with true scientific research. Strongly influenced by Kant's critique of corpuscular theory and by his friendship and collaboration with Johann Wilhelm Ritter (1776–1809), Ørsted subscribed to a Romantic natural philosophy that rejected the idea of the universal extension of mechanical principles understandable through mathematics. For him the aim of natural philosophy was to detach itself from utility and become an autonomous enterprise, and he shared the Romantic belief that man himself and his interaction with nature was at the focal point of natural philosophy.[7]


Astronomer William Herschel (1738–1822) and his sister Caroline Herschel (1750–1848), were dedicated to the study of the stars; they changed the public conception of the solar system, the Milky Way, and the meaning of the universe.[8]


Sir Humphry Davy was "the most important man of science in Britain who can be described as a Romantic."[2]:20 His new take on what he called "chemical philosophy" was an example of Romantic principles in use that influenced the field of chemistry; he stressed a discovery of "the primitive, simple and limited in number causes of the phenomena and changes observed" in the physical world and the chemical elements already known, those having been discovered by Antoine-Laurent Lavoisier, an Enlightenment philosophe.[3]:31–42 True to Romantic anti-reductionism, Davy claimed that it was not the individual components, but "the powers associated with them, which gave character to substances"; in other words, not what the elements were individually, but how they combined to create chemical reactions and therefore complete the science of chemistry.[3]:31–42[8]

Organic chemistry

The development of organic chemistry in the 19th century necessitated the acceptance by chemists of ideas deriving from Naturphilosophie, modifying the Enlightenment concepts of organic composition put forward by Lavoisier. Of central importance was the work on the constitution and synthesis of organic substances by contemporary chemists.[9]

Popular image of science

Another Romantic thinker, who was not a scientist but a writer, was Mary Shelley. Her famous book Frankenstein also conveyed important aspects of Romanticism in science as she included elements of anti-reductionism and manipulation of nature, both key themes that concerned Romantics, as well as the scientific fields of chemistry, anatomy, and natural philosophy.[10] She stressed the role and responsibility of society regarding science, and through the moral of her story supported the Romantic stance that science could easily go wrong unless man took more care to appreciate nature rather than control it.[2]:20

John Keats' portrayal of "cold philosophy" in the poem "Lamia"[2]:3 influenced Edgar Allan Poe's 1829 sonnet "To Science" and Richard Dawkins' 1998 book, Unweaving the Rainbow.

Decline of Romanticism

The rise of Auguste Comte's positivism in 1840 contributed to the decline of the Romantic approach to science.

See also


  1. ^ Ernst Behler, German Romantic Literary Theory, Cambridge University Press, 1993, p. 137.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p Cunningham, A., and Jardine, N. (eds.). Romanticism and the Sciences.CS1 maint: Uses editors parameter (link)
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k Bossi, M., and Poggi, S. (eds.). Romanticism in Science: Science in Europe, 1790–1840.CS1 maint: Uses editors parameter (link)
  4. ^ Molvig, Ole, History of the Modern Sciences in Society, lecture course, Sept. 26.
  5. ^ Ashton Nichols (2005). "Roaring Alligators and Burning Tygers: Poetry and Science from William Bartram to Charles Darwin". Proceedings of the American Philosophical Society. 149 (3): 304–315.
  6. ^ Bossi and Poggi, ed. Romanticism in Science.
  7. ^ Dan Ch. Christensen (1995). "The Ørsted-Ritter Partnership and the Birth of Romantic Natural Philosophy". Annals of Science. 52 (2): 153–185. doi:10.1080/00033799500200161.
  8. ^ a b Richard Holmes (2009). The Age of Wonder: The Romantic Generation and the Discovery of the Beauty and Terror of Science. ISBN 978-1-4000-3187-0.
  9. ^ Reinhard Löw (1980). "The Progress of Organic Chemistry During the Period of the German Romantic 'Naturphilosophie' (1795–1825)". Ambix. 27 (1): 1–10. doi:10.1179/amb.1980.27.1.1.
  10. ^ Shelley, M. Frankenstein, p. 26–27.


  • Alexander, Amir R (2006). "Tragic Mathematics: Romantic Narratives and the Refounding of Mathematics in the Early Nineteenth Century". Isis. 97 (4): 714–726. doi:10.1086/509952.
  • Bossi, M., and Poggi, S., ed. Romanticism in Science: Science in Europe, 1790–1840. Kluwer: Boston, 1994.
  • Cunningham, A., and Jardine, N., ed. Romanticism and the Sciences. (1990). excerpt and text search
  • Fulford, Tim, Debbie Lee, and Peter J. Kitson, eds. Literature, Science and Exploration in the Romantic Era: Bodies of Knowledge (2007) excerpt and text search
  • Holmes, Richard. The Age of Wonder: The Romantic Generation and the Discovery of the Beauty and Terror of Science (2009) ISBN 978-1-4000-3187-0, focus on William Herschel the astronomer and Humphry Davy the chemist
  • Holland, Jocelyn. German Romanticism and Science: The Procreative Poetics of Goethe, Novalis, and Ritter (2009) excerpt and text search
  • McLane, Maureen N. Romanticism and the Human Sciences: Poetry, Population, and the Discourse of the Species (2006) excerpt and text search
  • Murray, Christopher, ed. Encyclopedia of the romantic era, 1760–1850 (2 vol 2004); 850 articles by experts; 1600pp
  • Richardson, Alan. British Romanticism and the Science of the Mind (2005) excerpt and text search
  • Snelders, H. A. M. (1970). "Romanticism and Naturphilosophie and the Inorganic Natural Sciences, 1797–1840: An Introductory Survey". Studies in Romanticism. 9 (3): 193–215. doi:10.2307/25599763. JSTOR 25599763.
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.

Caucasian race

The Caucasian race (also Caucasoid or Europid) is a grouping of human beings historically regarded as a biological taxon, which, depending on which of the historical race classifications is used, has usually included some or all of the ancient and modern populations of Europe, Western Asia, Central Asia, South Asia, North Africa, and the Horn of Africa.First introduced in the 1780s by members of the Göttingen School of History, the term denoted one of three purported major races of humankind (Caucasoid, Mongoloid, Negroid). In biological anthropology, Caucasoid has been used as an umbrella term for phenotypically similar groups from these different regions, with a focus on skeletal anatomy, and especially cranial morphology, over skin tone. Ancient and modern "Caucasoid" populations were thus held to have ranged in complexion from white to dark brown. Since the second half of the 20th century, physical anthropologists have moved away from a typological understanding of human biological diversity towards a genomic and population-based perspective, and have tended to understand race as a social classification of humans based on phenotype and ancestry as well as cultural factors, as the concept is also understood in the social sciences. Although Caucasian / Caucasoid and their counterparts Negroid and Mongoloid have been used less frequently as a biological classification in forensic anthropology (where it is sometimes used as a way to identify the ancestry of human remains based on interpretations of osteological measurements), the terms remain in use by some anthropologists.In the United States, the root term Caucasian has also often been used in a different, societal context as a synonym for white or of European, Middle Eastern, or North African ancestry. Its usage in American English has been criticized.

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.

Darwin Industry

The Darwin Industry refers to historical scholarship about, and the large community of historians of science working on, Charles Darwin's life, work, and influence. The term "has a slightly derogatory connotation, as if the scale of the research has gotten out of control with people cranking out studies on perhaps less and less important aspects of Darwin's work"; but it was originally a self-designation of the scholars who began re-evaluating Darwin and studying his manuscripts and correspondence in the second half of the 20th century.

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.

History of science

The history of science is the study of the development of science and scientific knowledge, including both the natural and social sciences (the history of the arts and humanities is termed history of scholarship). Science is a body of empirical, theoretical, and practical knowledge about the natural world, produced by scientists who emphasize the observation, explanation, and prediction of real-world phenomena. Historiography of science, in contrast, studies the methods employed by historians of science.

The English word scientist is relatively recent—first coined by William Whewell in the 19th century. Previously, investigators of nature called themselves "natural philosophers". While empirical investigations of the natural world have been described since classical antiquity (for example, by Thales and Aristotle), and the scientific method has been employed since the Middle Ages (for example, by Ibn al-Haytham and Roger Bacon), modern science began to develop in the early modern period, and in particular in the scientific revolution of 16th- and 17th-century Europe. Traditionally, historians of science have defined science sufficiently broadly to include those earlier inquiries.From the 18th through the late 20th century, the history of science, especially of the physical and biological sciences, was often presented as a progressive accumulation of knowledge, in which true theories replaced false beliefs. More recent historical interpretations, such as those of Thomas Kuhn, tend to portray the history of science in terms of competing paradigms or conceptual systems within a wider matrix of intellectual, cultural, economic and political trends. These interpretations, however, have met with opposition for they also portray the history of science as an incoherent system of incommensurable paradigms, not leading to any actual scientific progress but only to the illusion that it has occurred.

Humboldtian science

Humboldtian science refers to a movement in science in the 19th century closely connected to the work and writings of German scientist, naturalist and explorer Alexander von Humboldt. It maintained a certain ethics of precision and observation, which combined scientific field work with the sensitivity and aesthetic ideals of the age of Romanticism. Like Romanticism in science, it was rather popular in the 19th century. The term was coined by Susan Faye Cannon in 1978.

The example of Humboldt's life and his writings allowed him to reach out beyond the academic community with his natural history and address a wider audience with popular science aspects. It has supplanted the older Baconian method, related as well to a single person, Francis Bacon.

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.

Considered among the greatest musicians of all time, 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; a mass; 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.

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 (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.

Scientific romance

Scientific romance is an archaic term for the genre of fiction now commonly known as science fiction. The term originated in the 1850s to describe both fiction and elements of scientific writing, but has since come to refer to the science fiction of the late nineteenth and early twentieth century, primarily that of Jules Verne, H. G. Wells and Arthur Conan Doyle. In recent years, the term has come to be applied to science fiction written in a deliberately anachronistic style, as a homage to or pastiche of the original scientific romances.

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