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Classical 101

Classical 101 March Madness: Romantic Bracket

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It's time for the next bracket in the Classical 101 March Madness tournament. This round? The Romantic composers.

If you haven't yet voted in the previous 2 brackets, you can do so here for the Baroque bracket and here for the Classical bracket.

Check back tomorrow for the last of the first round brackets, the 20th/21st century bracket.

For analysis of this bracket, we turn now to Kylie Harwell-Sturgill. To vote, scroll to the bottom of the page.

Ludwig van Beethoven (1) vs. Fanny Mendelssohn (8)

Before you automatically choose Beethoven, (He is certainly one of the masters of Western music, I know.) take a minute to get acquainted with Fanny Mendelssohn Bartholdy.

Ms. Mendelssohn composed over 460 works, many of them piano works which also included poetry. Due to her gender, like most other female composers throughout history, Fanny had to publish some of her works under her brother’s name, and she is known to have also run her home like other fashionable women of her time. Basically, she composed these 460+ works on top of her usual wifely duties; that’s no small feat in the early 19th Century.

Only Ludwig van Beethoven could give her a true run for her money.

Sergei Rachmaninoff (4) vs. Gabriel Fauré (5)

How do we even compare these two composers? This match-up will have to come down to personal taste and general preferences in music. Here are their basic stats just to help, though:

Rachmaninoff’s works include: four piano concerti, three symphonies, two piano sonatas, three operas, a choral symphony, a setting of the Vespers, Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini, 41 Preludes and Etudes, Symphonic Dances and many songs.

Gabriel Fauré produced: 43 solo piano works, 2 solo harp works, 14 chamber works and sonatas, 6 quartets and trios, over 100 solo voice and piano compositions, 13 sacred choral works including his Requiem and Messe des pêcheurs de Villerville composed with André Messager, 11 symphonies, and two completed operas.

Clara Schumann (6) vs. Frederic Chopin (3)

These two pianists defined the musical style and expressions of their time like few other musicians of any era. Chopin’s unique compositional style was matched only by his own virtuosity on the instrument, and he helped define the sound of Romantic keyboard music in general. But he’s got a stiff competitor.

Clara Schumann, née Wiek, was also a leading performer during the Late Romantic period. Her performance career spanned 61 years, and she is credited with changing the expectations and even public taste for piano repertoire. Most people identify Clara as the wife of Robert Schumann and give her compositions less recognition, but her talent matched his and even influenced their younger friend, Johannes Brahms.

Carl Maria von Weber (7) vs. Richard Wagner (2)

Well, this match-up is sort of like the musical clash of the German grandfather of leit motifs and Romanticism versus their most outspoken champion.

Richard Wagner, Chopin, Liszt, Mendelssohn; they each had very different philosophies and politics, but their music was all inspired and influenced by Carl Maria von Weber. Wagner, particularly, took von Weber’s concepts of German nationalist opera and leit motifs to their utmost. Wagner then took these concepts even farther with his Gesamptkunstwerk operas in which he wrote and directed everything from the music to the libretto and even the costumes and scenery. This is definitely another chicken vs. the egg match.