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Romanticism can be seen as a rejection of the precepts of order, calmness, harmony, balance, idealization, and rationality that typified Classicism in general, and late 18th-century Neoclassicism in particular.
It is also, to some extent, a reaction against the Enlightenment, and against 18th-century rationalism and physical materialism in general.
And, most significantly, it was a reaction to the Industrial Revolution.
Romanticism emphasized the individual, the subjective, the irrational, the imaginative, the personal, the spontaneous, the emotional, the visionary, and the transcendental.
Its effect on politics, particularly in Germany and Central Europe, was considerable and complex; and although for much of the period Romanticism was associated with liberalism and radicalism, its long-term effect on the growth of nationalism was probably more significant.
Although the movement was rooted in the German 'Sturm und Drang' movement, which prized intuition and emotion over the rationalism of the Enlightenment, the events of and ideologies that led to the French Revolution planted the seeds from which both Romanticism and the Counter-Enlightenment sprouted.
The confines of the Industrial Revolution also had their influence on Romanticism, which was in part an escape from modern realities.
Romanticism assigned a high value to the achievements of 'heroic' individualists and artists, whose pioneering examples, it maintained, would raise the quality of society.
It also vouched for the individual imagination as a critical authority, and encouraged freedom from classical notions of form in art.
Defining the nature of Romanticism may be approached from the starting point of the primary importance of the free expression of the feelings of the artist.
The importance the Romantics placed on untrammelled feeling is summed up in the remark of the German painter Caspar David Friedrich that "the artist's feeling is his law".
The concept of the genius, or artist who was able to produce his own original work through this process of "creation from nothingness", is key to Romanticism, and to be derivative was the worst sin.
This idea is often called "romantic originality."
In the philosophy, art, and culture of German-speaking countries, German Romanticism was the dominant movement of the late 18th and early 19th centuries.
'Weimarer Klassik' is a cultural and literary movement of Europe. Followers attempted to establish a new humanism by synthesizing Romantic, classical and Enlightenment ideas. The movement, from 1772 until 1805, involved Johann Wolfgang Goethe, Johann Gottfried Herder, Friedrich Schiller and Christoph Martin Wieland, and often concentrated on Goethe and Schiller during the period 1788–1805. However, Weimar Classicism's status as a "movement" and "classical" has been questioned by many scholars and historians.
In contrast to the seriousness of English Romanticism, the German variety is notable for valuing humour and wit as well as beauty.
As time went on, however, they became increasingly aware of the tenuousness of the unity they were seeking.
Later German Romanticism emphasized the tension between the everyday world and the seemingly irrational and supernatural projections of creative genius.
Heinrich Heine in particular criticized the tendency of the early romantics to look to the medieval past for a model of unity in art and society.
The preconditions of the 'Romantic Movement' include the strengthening of the educated middle class, a wave of new scientific discoveries, the first traces of industrialisation as well as the political upheaval resulting from both the French Revolution of 1789, and the subsequent military campaigns and occupation policies of Napoleon.
Around the turn of the century the atmosphere coalesced into an unsettled time dictated by outside forces, which would later spawn a longing to find an intact awareness of the world, at least within the parallel universe of art.
Romantik in der deutschen Kunst
Outside Germany only Caspar David Friedrich is well-known, but there were a number of artists with very individual styles, notably Philipp Otto Runge, who like Friedrich had trained at the Copenhagen Academy, and was forgotten after his death until a revival in the 20th century.
Caspar David Friedrich (September 5, 1774 – May 7, 1840) was a 19th-century German Romantic landscape painter, generally considered the most important German artist of his generation. He is best known for his mid-period allegorical landscapes which typically feature contemplative figures silhouetted against night skies, morning mists, barren trees or Gothic ruins. His primary interest as an artist was the contemplation of nature, and his often symbolic and anti-classical work seeks to convey a subjective, emotional response to the natural world. Friedrich's paintings characteristically set a human presence in diminished perspective amid expansive landscapes, reducing the figures to a scale that directs the viewer's gaze towards their metaphysical dimension.
Friedrich painted almost entirely landscapes, with a distinctive Nordic feel, and always a feeling of quasi-religious stillness.
Often his figures are seen from behind – they like the viewer are lost in contemplation of the landscape.
Philipp Otto Runge (23 July 1777 – 2 December 1810) was a Romantic German painter and draughtsman. He made a late start to his career and died young, nonetheless he is considered among the best German Romantic painters. Runge was of a mystical, deeply Christian turn of mind, and in his artistic work he tried to express notions of the harmony of the universe through symbolism of colour, form, and numbers. He considered blue, yellow, and red to be symbolic of the Christian trinity and equated blue with God and the night, red with morning, evening, and Jesus, and yellow with the Holy Spirit
Pantheism is the belief that the universe (or nature as the totality of everything) is identical with divinity, or that everything composes an all-encompassing, immanent God. Pantheists thus do not believe in a distinct personal or anthropomorphic god. Pantheism is derived from the Greek roots pan (meaning "all") and theos (meaning "God"). There are a variety of definitions of pantheism. Some consider it a theological and philosophical position concerning God. As a religious position, some describe pantheism as the polar opposite of atheism. From this standpoint, pantheism is the view that everything is part of an all-encompassing, immanent God. All forms of reality may then be considered either modes of that Being, or identical with it.
Adrian Ludwig Richter (September 28, 1803 – June 19, 1884), a German painter and etcher, was born at Dresden.
He was the most popular, and in many ways the most typical German illustrator of the middle of the 19th century. His work is as typically German and homely (gemütlich), as are the fairy-tales of Grimm. Richter visited Italy from 1823–1826, and his 'Thunderstorm in the Sabine Mountains' is one of the rare Italian subjects from his brush. In 1828 he worked as designer for the Meissen factory, and in 1841 he became professor and head of the landscape atelier at the Dresdner Akademie.
The principal motivation of the Nazarenes was a reaction against Neoclassicism, and the routine art education of the academy system.
They hoped to return to art which embodied spiritual values, and sought inspiration in artists of the late Middle Ages and early Renaissance, rejecting what they saw as the superficial virtuosity of later art.
Their programme was not dissimilar to that of the English Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood in the 1850s, although the core group took it as far as wearing special pseudo-medieval clothing.
In 1810 Johann Friedrich Overbeck, Franz Pforr, Ludwig Vogel and the Swiss Johann Konrad Hottinger moved to Rome, where they occupied the abandoned monastery of San Isidoro.
Johann Friedrich Overbeck was born in Lübeck, his ancestors for three generations had been Protestant pastors. The young artist left Lübeck in March 1806, and became a student in the Vienna Academy, then under the direction of Heinrich Füger. In Overbeck's view, the nature of earlier European art had been corrupted throughout contemporary Europe, starting centuries before the French Revolution, and the process of discarding its Christian orientation was proceeding further now. Overbeck eschewed the antique as pagan, the Renaissance as false, and built up a severe revival on simple nature and on the serious art of Perugino, Pinturicchio, Francesco Francia and the young Raphael. The characteristics of the style thus educed were nobility of idea, precision and even hardness of outline, scholastic composition, with the addition of light, shade and colour, not for allurement, but chiefly for perspicuity and completion of motive.
They were joined by Philipp Veit, Peter von Cornelius, Julius Schnorr von Carolsfeld, Friedrich Wilhelm Schadow and a loose grouping of other German artists.
Joseph Anton Koch (27 July 1768 – 12 January 1839) was an Austrian painter of Neoclassicism and later the German Romantic movement; he is perhaps the most significant neoclassical landscape painter. Koch became a conspicuous figure in the German artists' colony in Rome. He painted, among other works, the four frescoes in the Dante Room of the Villa Massimi (1824–29). His presence and personality had considerable influence among the younger generation in the art life of Rome, and his new approach had a wide influence on German landscape painters who visited Rome.
Joseph von Führich [or Josef Ritter von Führich] (February 9, 1800 – March 13, 1876) was an Austrian painter. Führich was an adherent of the Nazarene movement, a romantic religious artist who sought to restore the spirit of Dürer, and give new shape to biblical subjects. Without the power of Peter von Cornelius or the grace of Johann Friedrich Overbeck, he composed with great skill, especially in outline. His mastery of distribution, form, movement and expression was considerable. In 1834 he was made custos and in 1841 professor of composition in the Academy of Vienna.
Unlike the strong support given to the Pre-Raphaelites by the dominant art critic of the day, John Ruskin, Goethe was - probably rightly - dismissive of the Nazarenes.
Led by the Nazarene Schadow, son of the sculptor, the Düsseldorf school was a group of artists who painted mostly landscapes, and who studied at, or were influenced by the Düsseldorf Academy, founded in 1767.
The academy's influence grew in the 1830s and 1840s.
Spätromantik in der deutschen Kunst
Biedermeier refers to a style in literature, music, the visual arts and interior design in the period between the end of the Napoleonic Wars in 1815 and the revolutions of 1848.
Biedermeier art appealed to the prosperous middle classes by detailed but polished realism, often celebrating domestic virtues, and came to dominate over French-leaning aristocratic tastes, as well as the yearnings of Romanticism.
Carl Spitzweg was a leading German artist in the style.
Adolf Hitler approved of Biedermeier art, and was particularly attracted to the fine finish.
In the second half of the 19th century a number of styles developed, paralleling trends in other European counties, though the lack of a dominant capital city probably contributed to even more diversity of styles than in other countries.
He dramaticised past and contemporary Prussian military successes both in paintings and brilliant wood engravings illustrating books, yet his domestic subjects are intimate and touching.
He created a style that he used for depicting grand public occasions, among other subjects like his Studio Wall.
Von Piloty was born in Munich. In 1840, Karl was admitted as a student of the Munich Academy, under the artists Karl Schorn and Julius Schnorr von Karolsfeld. A year later the acclaimed history paintings were shown in Munich, and their realistic depiction of a historic subject matter made a lasting impression on him. After a journey to Belgium, France and England, he commenced work as a painter of genre pictures, and in 1853 produced a work, 'Die Amme' (The Wet Nurse), which, on account of its originality of style, caused a considerable sensation in Germany at the time, but he soon forsook this branch of painting in favour of historical subjects.
The term "Munich School" is used both of German and of Greek painting, after Greeks like Georgios Jakobides studied under him.
The Berlin Secession was a group founded in 1898 by painters including Max Liebermann, who broadly shared the artistic approach of Manet and the French Impressionists, and Lovis Corinth then still painting in a naturalistic style.
Near the end of the century, the Benedictine Beuron Art School developed a style, mostly for religious murals, in rather muted colours, with a medievalist interest in pattern that drew from Les Nabis and in some ways looked forward to Art Nouveau or the Jugendstil ("Youth Style") as it is known in German.
Franz von Stuck and Max Klinger are the leading German Symbolist painters.
Deutsch Romantische Literatur
'Jenaer Romantik', (Jena Romanticism) a first phase of Romanticism in German literature, centred in Jena from about 1798 to 1804.
The group was led by the versatile writer Ludwig Tieck.
Johann Ludwig Tieck (31 May 1773 – 28 April 1853) was a German poet, translator, editor, novelist, writer of Novellen, and critic, who was one of the founding fathers of the Romantic movement of the late 18th and early 19th centuries. Tieck's importance lay in the readiness with which he adapted himself to the emerging new ideas which arose at the close of the 18th century, as well as being a trailblazer in his own right with Romantic works such as 'Der blonde Eckbert'.
The Athenaeum was a literary magazine established in 1798 by August Wilhelm and Karl Wilhelm Friedrich Schlegel. It is considered to be the founding publication of German Romanticism. Contributors included - Karl Wilhelm Friedrich Schlegel, August Wilhelm Schlegel, Dorothea von Schlegel, Karoline Schelling (then Schlegel), Novalis, August Ferdinand Bernhardi, Sophie Bernhardi, Friedrich Daniel Ernst Schleiermacher, A. L. Hulsen, K.G. Brinckmann.
The greatest imaginative achievement of this circle is to be found in the lyrics and fragmentary novels of Friedrich Leopold von Hardenberg.
The works of Johann Gottlieb Fichte and Friedrich von Schelling expounded the Romantic doctrine in philosophy, whereas the theologian Friedrich Schleiermacher demonstrated the necessity of individualism in religious thought.
Johann Gottlieb Fichte (May 19, 1762 – January 27, 1814) was a German philosopher. He was one of the founding figures of the philosophical movement known as German idealism (see below), which developed from the theoretical and ethical writings of Immanuel Kant. Fichte is often perceived as a figure whose philosophy forms a bridge between the ideas of Kant and those of the German Idealist Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel. Like Descartes and Kant before him, he was motivated by the problem of subjectivity and consciousness. Fichte also wrote works of political philosophy and is considered one of the fathers of German nationalism.
Friedrich Wilhelm Joseph von Schelling (27 January 1775 – 20 August 1854), was a German philosopher. Standard histories of philosophy make him the midpoint in the development of German idealism, situating him between Johann Gottlieb Fichte, his mentor in his early years, and Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel, his former university room-mate, early friend, and later rival. Interpreting Schelling's philosophy is regarded as difficult because of its apparently ever-changing nature. Schelling's thought in the large has been neglected, especially in the English-speaking world, as has been his later work on mythology and revelation, much of which remains untranslated. An important factor was the ascendancy of Hegel, whose mature works portray Schelling as a mere footnote in the development of idealism. Schelling's 'Naturphilosophie' also has been attacked by scientists for its analogizing tendency, and lack of empirical orientation, however Martin Heidegger and Slavoj Žižek have shown interest in re-examining Schelling's body of work.
By 1804 the circle at Jena had dispersed.
A second phase of Romanticism was initiated two years later in Heidelberg.
Heidelberg Romantiker (Heidelberg Romantics) were poets of the second phase of Romanticism in Germany, who were centred in Heidelberg about 1806.
Their leaders were Clemens Brentano, Achim von Arnim, and Joseph von Görres; their brief-lived organ was the Zeitung für Einsiedler (1808).
Stein used the Merkur at the time of the meeting of the congress of Vienna to give expression to his hopes. There was also in the Merkur an antipathy to Prussia, expression of the desire that an Austrian prince should assume the imperial title, and also a tendency to liberalism. The Merkur was suppressed early in 1816, at the instance of the Prussian government; and soon after Görres was dismissed from his teaching post.
Ludwig Achim (or Joachim) von Arnim (26 January 1781 – 21 January 1831) was a German poet and novelist born in Berlin. Arnim was influenced by the earlier writings of Goethe and Herder, from which he learned to appreciate the beauties of German traditional legends and folk songs. Forming a collection of these, published the result (1806–1808), in collaboration with Clemens Brentano under the title 'Des Knaben Wunderhorn'. He married Brentano's sister Bettina in 1811, who won wide recognition as a writer in her own right, and their daughter Gisela (one of seven children) became a writer as well.
'Des Knaben Wunderhorn: Alte deutsche Lieder' (The Boy's Magic Horn: Old German Songs), referring to a magical device like the cornucopia) is a collection of German folk poems and songs edited by Achim von Arnim and Clemens Brentano (see above), and published in Heidelberg, in the Grand Duchy of Baden. The book was published in three editions: the first in 1805 followed by two more volumes in 1808. The collection was an important source of idealized folklore in the Romantic Nationalism of the 19th century. 'Des Knaben Wunderhorn' became widely popular across the German-speaking world;
Compared with the Jena Romantics, who represented the first school of Romanticism in Germany, the Heidelberg writers were more practical, and their immediate influence on German intellectual life was greater.
They stimulated their compatriots’ interest in German history and founded the study of German philology and medieval literature.
The group also strengthened the national and patriotic spirit and helped prepare the way for the rising against Napoleon.
Gotthilf Heinrich von Schubert (26 April 1780, Hohenstein-Ernstthal – 30 June 1860, Laufzorn, a village in Oberhaching) was a German physician and naturalist. He began his studies with theology, but turned to medicine and established himself as a doctor in Altenburg, Saxe-Gotha-Altenburg. He gave renowned lectures on 'fringe science' (animal magnetism, clairvoyance and dreams), and in 1819 he occupied the chair in natural history in Erlangen where he studied botany, forestry, mineralogy and geognosy. In 1827 he moved to Munich, where he was appointed professor. Schubert aimed to create a religiously-grounded interpretation of the cosmos. His masterpiece, Symbolism of Dreams (1814) was one of the most famous books of its time, exercising influence over E. T. A. Hoffmann and even Sigmund Freud and C. G. Jung.
In contrast to the Enlightenment, the Romantic Movement re-evaluated the power of rational thinking, preferring instead more intuitive modes of thought such as dreams (in Schubert’s terms, the “night side” as opposed to the “day side” of reality).
Characteristic Romantic motifs such as night, moonlight, dreams, hallucinations, inchoate longings, and a melancholic sense of lack or loss are direct reflections of this interest in the unconscious.
According to the Romantics, some minds are particularly adapted to discern the hidden workings of nature.
Poets, they believed, possess the faculty of hearing the “voice of nature” and transposing it into human language.
Joseph Freiherr von Eichendorff (10 March 1788 – 26 November 1857) was a German poet and novelist of the later German romantic school. Eichendorff's guiding poetic theme was that Man should find happiness in full absorption of the beauties and changing moods of Nature. In later life he also wrote several works of history and criticism of German literature. The lyricism of Eichendorff's poetry is much praised, and his poems have been set to music by many composers, including Schubert, Schumann, Mendelssohn, Brahms, Hugo Wolf, Richard Strauss, Friedrich Nietzsche, and Hans Pfitzner.
Eichendorff is regarded as one of the most important German Romantics and his works have sustained high popularity in Germany from production to the present day.
Folk traditions such as the fairy tale, ballad, and folk song were also seen as ways of gaining access to preconscious modes of thought.
Alexander Zick (1845 Koblenz – 10 November 1907 Berlin) was a German painter and illustrator. Alexander was the greatgrandson of the painter and architect Januarius Zick (1730-1797), the son of Fresco artist Johannes Zick (1702-1762). He was a student of August Wittig and Eduard Bendemann.
At the same time, these genres were also much imitated, as in Ludwig Tieck’s sophisticated “art fairy tale” 'Der blonde Eckbert' (1797; “Blond Eckbert”).
The Romantics were also intensely interested in the Middle Ages, which they saw as a simpler and more integrated time that could become a model for the new political, social, and religious unity they were seeking.
Novalis was the pseudonym of Georg Philipp Friedrich Freiherr von Hardenberg (May 2, 1772 – March 25, 1801), a poet, author, and philosopher of early German Romanticism. Novalis, who had great knowledge in science, law, philosophy, politics and political economy, started writing quite early. He left an astonishing abundance of notes on these fields of knowledge and his early work shows that he was very educated and well read. Novalis' whole works are based upon an idea of education. It has to be made clear that everything is in a continual process. It is the same with humanity, which forever strives towards and tries to recreate a new Golden Age – a paradisical Age of harmony between man and nature that was assumed to have existed in earlier times. This Age was recounted by Plato, Plotinus, and Franz Hemsterhuis – the latter being an extremely important figure for the German Romantics.
Ernst Theodor Wilhelm Hoffmann (24 January 1776 – 25 June 1822), better known as E.T.A. Hoffmann, was a German Romantic author of fantasy and horror, a jurist, composer, music critic, draftsman and caricaturist. His stories form the basis of Jacques Offenbach's famous opera 'The Tales of Hoffmann', in which Hoffman appears (heavily fictionalized) as the hero. He is also the author of the novella 'The Nutcracker and the Mouse King', on which the famous ballet 'The Nutcracker' is based. The ballet Coppélia is based on two other stories that Hoffmann wrote. Hoffmann's stories were very influential during the 19th century, and he is one of the major authors of the Romantic movement.
The poetry of Heinrich Heine, with its simultaneous expression and critique of Romantic sentiment, is also characteristic of this later phase of the movement; indeed, Heine is best seen as a transitional figure who emerged from late Romanticism but had his most decisive influence during the 1830s.
His essay “Die Romantische Schule” (1833–35; “The Romantic School”) presented a critique of Romanticism’s tendency to look to the medieval past.
Christian Johann Heinrich Heine (13 December 1797 – 17 February 1856) was a German poet, journalist, essayist, and literary critic. He is best known outside Germany for his early lyric poetry, which was set to music in the form of Lieder (art songs - see below) by composers such as Robert Schumann and Franz Schubert. His radical political views led to many of his works being banned by German authorities. Heine spent the last 25 years of his life as an expatriate in Paris.
Deutsch Romantische Philosophie
German Idealist philosophy played an important role in the genesis of Romanticism, which saw itself as grappling with a crisis in human subjectivity and laying the foundation for a new synthesis of mental and physical reality.
Friedrich Wilhelm Joseph von Schelling’s 'Ideen zu einer Philosophie der Natur' (1797; Ideas for a Philosophy of Nature) posited a reciprocal relationship between nature and mind: his famous formulation “Nature is unconscious mind, mind is unconscious nature” forms the groundwork for a great deal of German Romantic literature.
Friedrich von Schlegel’s philosophical writings continued this line of thinking by re-evaluating the role of creative imagination in human life.
Poetry - the Romantics’ term for all forms of creative writing - was an anticipation of a future harmony in which all forms of conflict would be resolved in a vast productive unity.
Adapting Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel’s dialectic (a posited interaction of opposite ideas leading to a synthesis), Schlegel developed his key concept of “irony,” by which he meant a form of thinking, or writing, that included its own self-reflection and self-critique.
Ironic poetry, in Schlegel’s view, was a two-track form of literature in which a naive or immediate perception of reality is accompanied by a more sophisticated critical reflection upon it.
Deutsch Idealismus (German idealism) was a speculative philosophical movement that emerged in Germany in the late 18th and early 19th centuries.
It was a reaction against Immanuel Kant's 'Critique of Pure Reason', and was closely linked with Romanticism.
The German Idealists believed there were problems with Kant’s system and sought to place it on firmer grounds.
They were also greatly concerned with the problem of freewill as understood through Kantianism: practical reason presupposes a freewill, and yet according to theoretical reason, everything is predetermined in a complete system of causality.
Therefore either everything in possible experience is not predetermined, which contradicts the universality of pure reason, or the freewill is outside the system of causality and can have no effect on it, rendering the will useless.
The three most prominent German Idealists were Johann Gottlieb Fichte (1762–1814), Friedrich Wilhelm Joseph Schelling (1775–1854) and Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel (1770–1831).
On some interpretations, Hegel did away with Kantianism altogether to achieve absolute knowledge, while others read him as working within the confines of Kantianism.
His method of dialectics has become a commonplace means of reasoning in continental philosophy.
Arthur Schopenhauer (1788 – 1860) was known for his pessimism and philosophical clarity.
Schopenhauer's most influential work, 'Die Welt als Wille und Vorstellung' (The World as Will and Representation), claimed that the world is fundamentally what we recognize in ourselves as our will.
Arthur Schopenhauer (22 February 1788 – 21 September 1860) was a German philosopher best known for his book, 'Die Welt als Wille und Vorstellung', in which he claimed that our world is driven by a continually dissatisfied will, continually seeking satisfaction. At age 25, he published his doctoral dissertation, 'Über die vierfache Wurzel des Satzes vom zureichenden Grunde' (On the Fourfold Root of the Principle of Sufficient Reason), which examined the four distinct aspects of experience in the phenomenal world; consequently, he has been influential in the history of phenomenology. He has influenced many thinkers, including Friedrich Nietzsche, Richard Wagner, Ludwig Wittgenstein, Erwin Schrödinger, Otto Rank, Carl Jung, and Thomas Mann.
His analysis of will led him to the conclusion that emotional, physical, and sexual desires can never be fulfilled.
Consequently, he eloquently described a lifestyle of negating desires.
Friedrich Nietzsche (1844–1900) - the last of the Late Romantic Philosophers - was initially a proponent of Arthur Schopenhauer, however, he soon came to disavow Schopenhauer's pessimistic outlook on life, and sought to provide a positive philosophy.
Friedrich Wilhelm Nietzsche (15 October 1844 – 25 August 1900) was a German philologist, philosopher, cultural critic, poet and composer. He wrote several critical texts on religion, morality, contemporary culture, philosophy and science, displaying a fondness for metaphor, irony and aphorism. Nietzsche's key ideas include the Apollonian/Dionysian dichotomy, perspectivism, the Will to Power, the "death of God", the Übermensch and eternal recurrence. One of the key tenets of his philosophy is the concept of "life-affirmation," which embraces the realities of the world in which we live over the idea of a world beyond. It further champions the creative powers of the individual to strive beyond social, cultural, and moral contexts. His radical questioning of the value and objectivity of truth has been the focus of extensive commentary, and his influence remains substantial. His ideas of individual overcoming and transcendence beyond structure and context have had a profound impact on late-twentieth and early-twenty-first century thinkers, who have used these concepts as points of departure in the development of their philosophies.
He believed this task to be urgent, as he believed a form of nihilism caused by modernity was spreading across Europe, which he summed up in the phrase "God is dead".
His problem, then, was how to live a positive life considering the fact that if you believe in God, you give into nihilism, and if you don't believe in God, you also give in to nihilism.
He believed he found his solution in the concepts of the 'Übermensch' and 'Ewige Wiederkehr'. His work continues to have a major influence on both philosophers and artists.
Deutsch romantische Musik
Schumann, Brahms, Mendelssohn, Wagner, and Mahler count as some of the most important representatives of the musical epoch of romanticism.
The works of these composers has shaped the repertoire up to the present.
Romantische Musik in Germany dates back to just after 1800.
The term 'Romantik' (Romantic) was first used in reference to literature, encompassing the elements of the rediscovered medieval novel (the German word for novel is Roman): fantasy, adventure, imagination.
Poets and critics then began to speak of 'Romantic' music, for example in E.T.A. Hoffmann’s 1810 review of Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony where he referred to music as “the most Romantic of all the arts”, and Beethoven himself as a “purely Romantic (and thus truly musical) composer”.
In this sense the term was first applied less to precise pieces than to the general meaning of the music in terms of “Romantic” thought.
This classification testifies to an understanding of art that forcibly embodies the aesthetic of a “progressive Universalpoesie” while also establishing a hierarchy within the arts.
The non-representational and, despite its freedom from conceptual language, eloquent music sits atop this hierarchy.
Communication through music, made possible by new journals in the first decades of the century, lively domestic music salons and participation in amateur choirs were already pragmatic vehicles for the much-discussed Romantic escapism that had originally begun as a largely esoteric phenomenon.
Dissolution and the Blurring of Boundaries in Music
Only gradually did Romantic ideas infiltrate the aesthetics of music and the practice of composition around 1800.
The Classical era, however, would not officially end until the deaths of Beethoven in 1827 and Schubert in 1828.
Both men, however, would also be appropriated by the Romantics:
Beethoven for his prototypical importance as the heroic artist, and Schubert for his prolific work within a genuinely Romantic genre, the 'Lied'.
Lied is a German word literally meaning "song". It usually describes the setting of romantic German poems to music, especially during the nineteenth century, beginning with Carl Loewe, Heinrich Marschner, and Franz Schubert. Among English speakers, "Lied" is often used interchangeably with "art song" to encompass works that the tradition has inspired in other languages. The poetry forming the basis for Lieder often centres upon pastoral themes, or themes of romantic love.
The following decades thus belong to the Late Romantics, with the incomparable Richard Wagner, Anton Bruckner, Gustav Mahler and the master of the symphonic poem and the Lied - Richard Strauss, as its chief representatives.
Brahms's point of view looked both backward and forward; his output was often bold in its exploration of harmony and rhythm. Features of the 'Brahms style' were absorbed in a more complex synthesis with other contemporary (chiefly Wagnerian) trends by Hans Rott, Wilhelm Berger, Max Reger and Franz Schmidt, whereas the British composers Hubert Parry and Edward Elgar and the Swede Wilhelm Stenhammar all testified to learning much from Brahms's example.
While literary Romanticism was already beginning to be considered, by some, to be outdated by 1830, the musical Romantics continued to have impact into the 20th century (Richard Strauss and Pfitzner) .
From the beginning, a strong emphasis on the aesthetics of emotion would play a role, and provide the impetus for the formal paradigm change that spelled the end of the Classical period.
The music of the Romantics subsists on harmonic freedoms, the broadening of timbres, ironic fractures or the sudden change of formal principles, and the overall dissolution of established forms, which can be detected in the music’s diffuse beginnings and open endings.
Erlkönig is a name from German folklore for the figure of a spirit or "king of the fairies". Goethe departed significantly from both Herder's rendering of the Erlking and the Scandinavian original. The antagonist in Goethe's Der Erlkönig is, as the title suggests, the Erlking himself rather than his daughter. Goethe's Erlking differs in other ways as well: his version preys on children, rather than adults of the opposite sex, and the Erlking's motives are never made clear. Goethe's Erlking is much more akin to the Germanic portrayal of elves and valkyries – a force of death rather than simply a magical spirit.
Franz Liszt, (October 22, 1811 – July 31, 1886), from 1859 to 1867 officially Franz Ritter von Liszt, was a 19th-century Hungarian composer, virtuoso pianist, conductor, teacher and Franciscan tertiary. Liszt was also a well-known and influential composer, piano teacher and conductor. He was a benefactor to other composers, including Richard Wagner, Hector Berlioz, Camille Saint-Saëns, Edvard Grieg and Alexander Borodin.
Admittedly, the phenomenon of programme music seemed to be at odds with the Early Romantic beliefs that music lay beyond the bounds of representational phraseology, and was even superior to the expressive qualities of verbal language.
Through discussions about the primacy of so-called “absolute music”, two factions emerged in the last half of the century.
On one side stood Brahms and the critic Hanslick, and on the other, as representatives of a 'Neue Deutsche Schule' (New German School), stood Liszt and Wagner, whose idea of the 'Gesamtkunstwerk' (total work of art) depicted musical art as almost deficient if it lacks extra-musical content.
In the final analysis the faction of Liszt, Wagner, and later Richard Strauss and Hans Pfitzner, became the dominant group, exemplifying the great flowering of Romanticism in German Music.
Richard Georg Strauss (11 June 1864 – 8 September 1949) was a leading German composer of the late Romantic and early modern eras. He is known for his operas, which include 'Der Rosenkavalier' and 'Salome'; his lieder, especially his 'Vier letzte Lieder'; and his tone poems 'Tod und Verklärung', 'Till Eulenspiegel lustige Streiche', 'Also sprach Zarathustra', 'Eine Alpensinfonie', and other orchestral works, such as 'Metamorphosen for 24 Solo Strings'. Strauss was also a prominent conductor throughout Germany and Austria.
Hans Erich Pfitzner (5 May 1869 – 22 May 1949) was a German composer and self-described anti-modernist. Although Pfitzner's music betrays Wagnerian influences, the composer was not attracted to Bayreuth. Pfitzner's works combine Romantic and Late Romantic elements with extended thematic development, atmospheric music drama, and the intimacy of chamber music. His is a highly personal offshoot of the Classical/Romantic tradition as well as the conservative musical aesthetic. Particularly notable are Pfitzner's numerous and delicate lieder, influenced by Hugo Wolf, yet with their own melancholy charm. Probably his greatest work was 'Von deutscher Seele', a cantata for soloists, chorus, organ & orchestra, Op 28.
Strauss, along with Gustav Mahler, represents the late flowering of German Romanticism after Richard Wagner and Franz Liszt, in which pioneering subtleties of orchestration are combined with an advanced harmonic style.POSTSCRIPT
Die große romantische - Ludwig II König von Bayern
He is sometimes called the 'Schwan König' and 'der Märchenkönig'.
He succeeded to the throne aged only 18.
Two years later Bavaria was effectively subjugated by Prussia, and subsequently absorbed into the zweite Reich.
Ludwig remained King of Bavaria, but largely ignored such state affairs as remained to Bavaria in favour of extravagant musical, artistic and architectural projects.
Ludwig also sponsored the premières of 'Tristan und Isolde', 'Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg', and, through his financial support of the Bayreuth Festival, those of 'Der Ring des Nibelungen' and 'Parsifal'.
Ludwig, however, is best remembered by the majority of people not for his inestimable services to music, but rather for his various building projects - and in particular his castles.
While not 'romantic in form, it is undoubtedly 'romantic' in intention.
Equally, Schloss Linderhof, a small hunting lodge, is built in the style of the second rococo-period, and was the only one of the fabled 'castles' of Ludwig that he saw completed.
However, Linderhof, apart from its 'romantic' intentions, contains within its ground true examples of German Romanticism.
The grotto is wholly artificial, and was built for the king as an illustration of the First Act of Wagner's 'Tannhäuser'.
Ludwig liked to be rowed over the lake in his golden swan-boat, but at the same time, paradoxically, he wanted his own blue grotto of Capri.
In addition, Ludwig had a replica built of Hunding's Hut.
Ludwig used the Hut to celebrate Germanic feasts.
In a homage to 'Parsifal', Ludwig built 'Gurnemanz's Hermitage'.
Ludwig came here for contemplation every year on Good Friday.
For this day he wanted a flowering meadow.
If there was no such meadow because there was still snow lying, the garden director had to plant one for the king.
These three structures, the "Venus Grotto", "Hunding's Hut" and "Gurnemanz Hermitage" remind us another time of the operas of Richard Wagner.
Ludwig, therefore built a 'Maurischer Kiosk' in the grounds of Linderhof.
This building, in a romantic Moorish Arabesque style, was designed by the Berliner architect Karl von Diebitsch for the International Exhibition in Paris 1867.
Ludwig II wanted to buy it, but was forestalled by the rail-road king Bethel Henry Strousberg. Ludwig, however, subsequently bought the pavilion after the bankruptcy of Strousberg.
The most notable piece of furniture of this building is the peacock throne.
This is a Schlösschen on the Wetterstein mountain massif, about 10 km south of Garmisch-Partenkirchen
The Schlösschen was constructed between 1869 and 1872 to designs by Georg von Dollmann.
It can only be reached by a three to four hour hike, either from Elmau or Garmisch-Partenkirchen, and provides a view of Zugspitze.
The main room, known as 'Die türkische Zimmer', occupies the entire upper-floor of the Schlösschen, and is elaborately decorated in an Oriental fashion.
Ludwig's true romanticism, however, was expressed in his best know schloss - Neuschwanstein.
Neuschwanstein embodies both the contemporaneous architectural fashion known as Burgenromantik , and Ludwig II's enthusiasm for the operas of Richard Wagner.
Whereas some critics at the time derided Neuschwanstein as 'kitsch', Neuschwanstein and Ludwig II's other buildings are now, interestingly, counted among the major works of European historicism.
The schloss is actually a mixture of styles combining the shapes of Romanesque (simple geometric figures such as cuboids and semicircular arches), Gothic (upward-pointing lines, slim towers, delicate embellishments) and Byzantine architecture and art (the Byzantinischen Thronsaal décor) in an eclectic fashion and supplemented with 19th-century technical achievements.
It is the contention of many left-wing intellectuals and academics that romanticism faded away towards the end of the nineteenth century with the rise of 'Modernism' - and in stating this they obviously forget that Richard Strauss composed his 'Vier letzte Lieder' - (a work which brought romanticism to a new, and undreamed of climax,) - in 1948.
Modernism, and its 'sickly child', post-modernism, were initially conceived of as refreshing antidotes to the supposedly 'cloying' decadence of romanticism.
Post-modernism is a late-20th-century movement in the arts, architecture, and criticism that was a departure from modernism. Post-modernism includes sceptical interpretations of culture, literature, art, philosophy, history, economics, architecture, fiction, and literary criticism.
In actual fact both aberrations attempted to take the essential principals of romanticism to an untenable extreme.
An example of this may be found in the work of Arnold Schönberg, who took the chromaticism of Wagner, Mahler and Strauss, and without truly understanding its purpose, exaggerated it to the extent of producing atonal music which, of necessity, became devoid of form or meaning.
Arnold Schoenberg (13 September 1874 – 13 July 1951) was an Austrian composer and painter, associated with the expressionist movement in German poetry and art, and leader of the Second Viennese School. In the 1920s, Schoenberg developed the so-called 'twelve-tone technique', a compositional method of manipulating an ordered series of all twelve notes in the chromatic scale. He also coined the term developing variation, and was the first modern composer to embrace ways of developing motifs without resorting to the dominance of a centralized melodic idea.
Similar approaches may be found in painting and sculpture, and to a lesser extent in literature and architecture.
In painting the most obvious example of the exaggeration of the essential principals of romanticism to a nonsensical extreme may be found in 'Tachisme', where the exaltation of spontaneity, and the expression of emotion and individuality, produced a supposed 'art' which was, however, devoid of form or meaning.
Tachisme and 'abstract expressionism' are stylse of painting which abandoned formal elements in favour of a more intuitive form of expression, (some forms are also known as 'action painting'). This was a reaction to Cubism, and certain other 'isms', and is characterized by spontaneous brushwork, drips and blobs of paint straight from the tube, and sometimes scribbling reminiscent of calligraphy.
Far from fading away at the end of the nineteenth century, romanticism had a significant revival after the end of the großen Krieg (First World war).
In November 1933, he first celebrated a “steely romanticism” (stählerne Romantik) that had “made German life worth living again.”
This new romanticism did not hide from the “hardness of being”, or dream of escape into the past.
Instead it “heroically” faced up to the problems of modern times, and over and over again, Dr Goebbels claimed that the cultural crisis German conservatism had feared had been “overcome” by National Socialism.
During the period of the Drittes Reich, however, there was a tension between three conflicting elements in National Socialist aesthetics and ideology - these three elements being Classicism, Romanticism and Modernism.
Towards the end of the period Classicism and Modernism rose to prominence, both fulfilling their appropriate functions, while a Gothic Romanticism, more appropriate to the nineteenth century, gradually faded in significance.
National Socialism was essentially dynamic and utopian, and yet often it hearkened back to an idyllic and romanticized German past, rejecting materialism, cosmopolitanism, and “bourgeois intellectualism,” and instead promoting the 'romantic' German virtues of loyalty, struggle, self-sacrifice, and discipline.
In the sphere of music, during the Third Reich, there was a wholesale reversion to romanticism,
with great emphasis put on composers such as Wagner, Pfitzner and Richard Strauss.
Because she had been one of his earliest supporters, Hitler had great affection for Winifred.
Hitler repaid the Wagner family gratitude by pledging his undying friendship and his deepest devotion to Richard Wagner and Bayreuth.
The culture of the Third Reich, however, was born of a tension that originated in the outlooks of Adolf Hitler, Heinrich Himmler, and the technocrats epitomised by Fritz Todt.
Hitler, therefore, favoured Classicism, in the arts (with the exception of music and literature), and had a high regard for the classical period, and classical antiquity in the Western tradition, and saw it as setting standards for art, sculpture and painting.
One indication of Hitler's move to classicism may be seen in his decision regarding Fraktur and Sütterlin. On January 3, 1941 Martin Bormann issued a circular to all public offices which declared Fraktur, and its corollary, the Sütterlin-based handwriting, to be "Judenlettern", and prohibited their further use. The reason for this decision was Adolf Hitler's dislike for the Fraktur typeface, seen by him as 'Gothic' and non-Classical
Not an artist by training or inclination, he was captivated by Germanic Medievalism, and therefore his aesthetic leaned toward the Romantic and the Gothic.
The Wewelsburg is a castle located in the northeast of North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany, in district of Paderborn in the Alme Valley.
Because of Himmler's influence over the 'Blut und Boden' programme, most art depicting peasants, farming and landscape tended to be executed in a Romantic style, while more formal studies and mythological subjects tended to be executed in a tight, technically refined Classical style, as favoured by Hitler.
In other words, the National Socialist use of both Classicism and Romanticism is not the archaism of a society nostalgic for the past, but the 'Modernism' of a regime which was, `nostalgic for the future'.