In keeping with what has become tradition with these revision blogs, here’s DRSMITH for the Romantic Period.
The dynamics in the Romantic Period were vast with lots of sudden changes. I like to say that dynamics during the Romantic Period would be “HELLO I’M A DYNAMIC”, whereas in the Classical Period they’d be more “Greetings, I’m a dynamic. How are you today?”. The sforzando (forced) was used a lot.
There was a lot of virtuoso playing so rhythms could be quite complex at times to give players the chance to show off.
Composers of the later Romantic Period wanted to move away from the structure of the symphony. They wrote symphonic poems, also known as tone poems. These large works were written without the expected constraints of the symphony or concerto.
Melody and Mood
To help make the music even more expressive composers would often use more descriptive words within their tempo markings. For example dolce meaning sweetly, or agitato meaning agitated. Composers would also employ rubato which is the slowing down and speeding up within a musical phrase. General tempi would also change many times during a section of music.
Valves began to be added to brass instruments meaning that they could play more notes and thus become more versatile. The piano also developed a lot during this period to be closer to the instrument we know now. The flute and oboe were also developed. We also got the tuba and saxophone during this period too.
Texture and Tonality
Composers had a larger orchestra with which to play, so they were able to write many different textures. They also weren't afraid of dissonance or bitonal (two keys played at the same time) music.
Composers would add extra notes to their chords which would make the music sound more emotive. For example dissonance could show misery or pain.