Defining the indefinable: Romanticism and music

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter (peer-reviewed)peer-review


This chapter provides an accessible starting point for discussion of the relation between music and Romanticism, giving an overview of some of the issues frequently encountered in coming to an understanding of how the two intersect. It outlines some of the main debates about the nature of Romanticism, before turning attention specifically to the idea’s application to music. Three main positions are set out: Romanticism as a period in music history, Romanticism as a musical style, and Romanticism as an aesthetic or mode of understanding. Although these three definitions are not without their problems, each relates to an important aspect of how Romanticism may relate to music, and while the third is probably to be preferred, the first two also demand consideration in any account of this topic.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationThe Cambridge Companion to Music and Romanticism
EditorsBenedict Taylor
PublisherCambridge University Press
Number of pages14
ISBN (Electronic)9781108647342
ISBN (Print)9781108475433, 9781108466875
Publication statusPublished - 17 Aug 2021

Publication series

NameCambridge Companions to Music


  • Romanticism
  • Romantic music
  • Romantic movement
  • problems of definition
  • historical periodisation
  • style
  • centre/periphery
  • Romantic aesthetics


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