It was also at this point, when compositional procedures reached a degree of stability and universality unmatched since Renaissance polyphony, that composition began to be taken seriously as a separate musicianly discipline.Johann Joseph Fux’s famous ), published first in Latin in 1725 and subsequently in every important modern language, was still basically a didactic treatise on counterpoint abstracted from 16th-century practice.
The Renaissance was the first epoch in European intellectual history to recognize that the greatness of a composer rests upon his inherent talent and unique personal style, and that genius supersedes both experience and the observance of theoretical precepts. Hoffmann, the early 19th-century poet, critic, and composer, “effective composition is nothing but the art of capturing with a higher strength, and fixing in the hieroglyphs of tones, what was received in the mind’s unconscious .” And Romantic composers from Schumann and Chopin to Hugo Wolf and Gustav Mahler did in fact produce much of their very best creative work in precisely such a state of exaltation, in a few tragic instances ( Schumann and Wolf) to the ultimate detriment of their sanity.
Likewise, it was the first era in which the process of composition was viewed as linked to powerful internal impulses. The aesthetic effects of this drastic change in conception of the composer’s task and potential were immediate and far reaching.
Thus his admiration for certain composers of his time stemmed both from the happiness and from the enlightenment that he found in examining their music.
But the Swiss theorist Henricus Glareanus, writing 70 years later, explicitly preferred natural talent to the most exquisite craftsmanship.
As in the late Renaissance, harmony once again furnished the primary expressive means.
In defining musical structure, too, harmonic and modulatory procedures predominated at the expense of the contrapuntal interplay of motives.Numerous Romantic composers excelled in concise forms of strong melodic-harmonic import, variously entitled Impromptu, Nocturne, Song Without Words, Ballade, Capriccio, Prelude, Étude, etc.The form of these works was nearly always tripartite, with a literal or modified repeat of the first part following a melodically and harmonically contrasting middle section.With respect to social function, Beethoven was actually the first musician of stature to achieve emancipation in the sense that his work reflected, with relatively few exceptions, purely personal artistic concerns.He simply took it for granted that patrons would supply funds sufficient for him to pursue his creative career unfettered by financial worries.Franz Liszt, in the free-wheeling forms of his symphonic poems, simply pursued the individualistic line to its ultimate consequences, severing whatever tenuous ties to traditional structures the works of his immediate predecessors had still maintained.