These printable Romantic Music Cards include portraits of famous composers from the Romantic period along with a card featuring one of the composer’s most famous pieces and a little information about the composer. We included the composer’s name on the portrait cards, but not on the description cards so that kids can practice matching the composer to their music.
We also created a second set of Romantic Music Cards, Part 2 for the later Romantic composers.
Romantic Period Music
The Romantic period in music is part of the overall Romantic movement that also included art and literature. It was a reaction to the order and precision of previous music and was characterized by emotionality. Many Romantic composers were fascinated with the wonders and power of nature. Their pieces were composed to depict natural settings and seasons. Further this was the time of the Industrial Revolution and the rise of the middle class. Music was no longer composed to please the aristocracy, on whose patronage artists had depended. Now the people buying the sheet music and tickets to concerts were middle class tradesmen, bankers, and shop keepers. So the music is written to appeal to them.
Another component of the Romantic period in music includes forays into politics with composers, like artists, supporting popular revolutions and the overthrow of the old political status quo. They often composed nationalistic music meant to appeal to the common man’s pride in his country.
Beethoven was a transitional musician (he is featured in our Classical Music Cards) who first laid the foundations for high emotion in music. Others followed on in his tradition, expanding and experimenting with music. This set of cards includes the most famous of the first generation of Romantic composers.
How to Use the Romantic Music Cards
Print these Romantic Music Cards and famous pieces by the composers onto white card stock. Then cut the cards out on the solid lines.
Help your kids become familiar with these pieces and composers by playing matching games, sorting the cards, and quizzing over them.
- Lay the cards face up in front of the students. Play one of the famous compositions for the students to listen to. The music can easily be found online and below we have included videos of each of the pieces featured on the cards. Have the students match the composer and the composer’s famous piece to the music that is playing.
- After the student can identify the composer and piece, play another famous piece by the composer, listed at the bottom of the card, and see if the student can recognize the style of that composer and identify whose music is being played.
Featured Music by Romantic Composers
The overture from the Barber of Seville by Rossini should delight your kids, especially if you go to YouTube and find the Looney Tunes version.
“March to the Scaffold” from Symphonie Fantastique by Berlioz.
Here is an excerpt out of the opera Rigoletto by Giuseppe Verdi.
The “Ride of the Valkyries” from the opera Die Walküre by Richard Wagner (pronounced Vog-ner), excites the emotions.
Franz Liszt, best known as a virtuoso pianist, wrote this. His compositions are known for their difficulty.
This is by Robert Schumann. It is called Album für die Jugend (Album for the Young). Many of the pieces are simple enough for children and beginning piano students. Schumann wrote it for his children. The video plays the first 8 of the pieces in the collection of 43 short songs in this album.
Clara Schumann was most famous as a pianist and not a composer. She regularly played to sold out crowds throughout Europe and was lauded by the most prestigious artists of her day. She did compose some of her own works, but found life as a mother and breadwinner for her family too demanding to allow enough time for composing. Without her tireless promotion and playing of his pieces, her husband, Robert, would never have become well known. This piece, composed by Clara, is called Nocturne in F major Op.6 No.2 from ‘Soirées Musicales’
Fanny Mendelssohn was the sister of the more famous Felix Mendelssohn. Both siblings showed equal talent in both performance and composition, but Fanny’s gifts were discouraged and suppressed by her family who believed a woman’s role was only in housekeeping. She published some of her works during her lifetime under her brother’s name and later in defiance of her family’s wishes. Her brother, Felix, published more after her death. This piece is called September at the River and is part of a set of twelve songs featuring the turning of the year, a collection called Das Jahr.
Felix Mendelssohn wrote The Wedding March, inspired by Shakespeare’s Midsummer Night’s Dream. Composed in 1842, it is one of the most famous pieces of music throughout the world.
This is the Minute Waltz (pronounced Mine-oot, accent on the first syllable) by Frederic Chopin (pronounced show-pan). It is a fast, lively, and short piece, but still takes longer than one minute to perform. He composed it in 1847.
- Most modern classical style music is produced for movies. How does this make it different from Romantic era compositions and how does this make it similar?
- Nationalism was a big movement in Europe and around the world during the 1800’s, including in art and music. Countries adopted national flags and national anthems at this time as well. Before this time period people identified most closely with their town or region and not with their nation. In its most extreme forms nationalism can lead to ethnic cleansing (removing people who are not of the nation), military aggression (taking over lesser nations), and suppression of the individual in favor of the state. This extreme form of nationalism is what informed Hitler’s view of the world and led to the atrocities of WWII. Read more about nationalism and decide if it is inherently a bad thing, a good thing, or if it depends.
- Though there were many women composers and musicians throughout the Romantic period, very few of them are known at all and few of their pieces are regularly played by modern musicians. Most of this has to do with the social conditions of their times and not ours. Women experienced more difficulty in getting published than men of similar talent and often their families suppressed their music. But many women struggled with public success because of the demands of motherhood. Being a mother takes an enormous amount of time and energy if one is to do it well. It leaves little time for other pursuits. Think about the ways women develop and take advantage of their talents. Is it possible for women to find personal fulfillment and also excel at raising a family?
- Go on to learn more with Romantic Music Cards Part 2.