In general, the term "Romanticism" when applied to music has come to mean the period roughly from the 1820s until around 1900. The contemporary application of 'romantic' to music did not coincide with modern categories, however: in 1810 E.T.A. Hoffmann called Mozart, Haydn and Beethoven the three "Romantic Composers", and Ludwig Spohr used the term "good Romantic style" to apply to parts of Beethoven's Fifth Symphony. Technically, Mozart is considered classical and by most standards Beethoven is the start of the musical Romantic period. By the early twentieth century, the sense that there had been a decisive break with the musical past led to the establishment of the nineteenth century as "The Romantic Era," and it is referred to as such in the standard encyclopedias of music.
E.T.A. Hoffmann, 1822 Etching byJohann Passini after Wilhelm Hensel http://www.geocities.com/Vienna/Strasse/3732/hoffm-musik3.html
During the Romantic Era of music, most every composer played the piano and composed pieces for it. . . Some moved on to specialize in orchestral forms of music, and composers such as Chopin, composed for both idioms. More than any other musical period, composition in the Romantic Era flourished. Some composers adopted the passionate, romantic harmonies of Beethoven, others expanded and became associated with Nationalism (incorporating folk tunes) and with Impressionism.
Johannes Brahms -- German, (1833-1897) Nationalism
Alexander Borodin -- Russian, (1833-1887) Nationalism
Maurice Ravel -- French, (1875-1937) Impressionism
http://www.emmedici.com/hobbies/musica/rossini/portrait2.jpg Gioacchino Rossini was born in Pesaro, on 29 February of 1792 to a musician father (Giuseppe Antonio Rossini) and a modest but with good singing mother (Anna Guidarini). The young Rossini began as a child to dedicate himself to music receiving singing lessons, spinet and horn (from his father), preferring Mozart and Haydn compositions which gave him the nickname "Tedeschino" (Young German). He even began to compose some sacred music; and when he was 13, he obtained the first prize at the grammar school with the cantata " Pianto d'Armonia per la morte di Orfeo". In 1806 the company of Bologna Mombelli commissioned this 14 year old talented boy to compose the Opera "Demetrio e Polibio" that was not performed until 1812. Between 1810 and 1829, he wrote almost 40 operas in addition to other works. Gioacchino Rossini
The traditional modern discussion of the music of Romanticism includes elements, such as the growing use of folk music, which are also directly related to the broader current of Romantic nationalism in the arts as well as aspects already present in eighteenth-century music, such as the cantabile accompanied melody to which Romantic composers beginning with Franz Schubert applied restless key modulations.
Romanticism included the heightened contrasts and emotions of Sturm und Drang (German for "Storm and Stress") and seemed a precursor of the Gothic novel in literature, or the sanguinary elements of some of the operas of the period of the French Revolution. The libretti of Lorenzo da Ponte for Mozart's eloquent music, conveyed a new sense of individuality and freedom.
The romantic generation viewed Beethoven as their ideal of a heroic artist—a man who first dedicated a symphony to Consul Bonaparte as a champion of freedom and then challenged Emperor Napoleon by striking him out from the dedication of the Eroica Symphony. In Fidelio, Beethoven creates the apotheosis of the 'rescue operas' which were another feature of French musical culture during the revolutionary period, in order to express the freedom which underlay the thinking of all radical artists in the years of hope after the Congress of Vienna.
Perhaps, too, Beethoven could be considered the beginning of the “nationalistic” movement in music.
In the contemporary music culture, the romantic musician followed a public career, depending on sensitive middle-class audiences rather than on a courtly patron, as had been the case with earlier musicians and composers. Public persona characterized a new generation of virtuosi who made their way as soloists, epitomized in the concert tours of Paganini and Liszt.
Franz Liszt (1811-1886) http://malekzad.com/liszt.jpg Liszt was a renowned performer throughout Europe during the 19th century, noted especially for his showmanship and great skill with the piano. Today, he is considered to be one of the greatest pianists in history. Liszt is frequently credited with re-defining piano playing itself, and his influence is still visible today, both through his compositions and his legacy as a teacher.
Beethoven's tonal architecture allowed significant expansion of musical forms and structures and was immediately recognized as bringing a new dimension to music. His later piano music and string quartets, especially, showed the way to a completely unexplored musical universe. E.T.A. Hoffmann was able to write of the supremacy of instrumental music over vocal music in expressiveness, a concept which would previously have been regarded as absurd. Hoffmann himself, as a practitioner both of music and literature, encouraged the notion of music as 'programmatic' or narrative, an idea which new audiences found attractive. Early nineteenth century developments in instrumental technology—iron frames for pianos, wound metal strings for string instruments—enabled louder dynamics, more varied tone colors, and the potential for sensational virtuosity. Such developments swelled the length of pieces, introduced programmatic titles, and created new genres such as the free-standing concert overture or tone poem, the piano fantasia, nocturne and rhapsody, and the virtuosic concerto, which became central to musical romanticism.
Romantic included the Supernatural and the Melodramatic
In opera, a new Romantic atmosphere combining supernatural terror and melodramatic plot in a folkloric context was most successfully achieved by Weber's Der Freischütz (1817, revised 1821). Enriched timbre and color marked the early orchestration of Hector Berlioz in France, and the grand operas of Meyerbeer. Amongst the radical fringe of what became mockingly characterized (adopting Wagner's own words) as 'artists of the future', Liszt and Wagner each embodied the Romantic cult of the free, inspired, charismatic, perhaps ruthlessly unconventional individual artistic personality.
It is the period of 1815 to 1848 which must be regarded as the true age of Romanticism in music - the age of the last compositions of Beethoven (d. 1827) and Schubert (d. 1828), of the works of Schumann (d. 1856) and Chopin (d.1849), of the early struggles of Berlioz and Richard Wagner, of the great virtuosi such as Paganini (d. 1840), and the young Liszt and Thalberg. With Chopin and Paganini dead, Liszt retired from the concert platform at a minor German court, Wagner was effectively in exile until he obtained royal patronage in Bavaria, and Berlioz was still struggling with the bourgeois liberalism which all but smothered radical artistic endeavor in Europe, After 1848, Romanticism in music was surely past its prime—giving way, rather, to the period of musical romantics.
Frederic Chopin (1809-1849) Polish-French Composer The only known photograph of Frédéric Chopin, often incorrectly described as a daguerreotype http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Frederic_Chopin_photo.jpeg