art plays an extremely important role in the life of human society. Moreover, art was always a part of the life of human beings regardless the level of their social development, but at the same time, it should be said that the high level of cultural development coincided with its high socio-economic progress. It means that art can play a crucial role in the life of society. This is why it is necessary to analyze the impact of art on people, their life, behavior, the perception of reality.
In this respect, it should be said that there existed different arts which were traditionally thought to be different branches since they affected differently human beings. Notably, they affected different senses. Among these arts were music and poetry but the 19th century became a turning point in traditional attitude to both music and poetry to the extent that both arts had been united in a way. In this unification, the romantic movement turned to be very important because it found the ways to unite this, supposedly different, arts. As a result, the new forms and combinations of both music and poetry were getting to be more and more popular under the influence of popular trends which were particularly strong in the 19th century.
Changes leading to the close relationship between music and poetry in the 19th century
Naturally, music and poetry were traditionally different arts, and consequently, their union could not appear by chance. This is why to better understand the reasons which made the union of music and poetry possible in the 19th century it is necessary to trace basic changes that had occurred during this period and the extent to which they could change traditional attitude to both music and poetry.
First of all, it should be said that the 19th century was characterized by great changes in all spheres of life but primarily these changes affected socio-economic sphere. Notably, rapid industrialization contributed to the great development of the society and stimulated the development and progress of culture and consequently art. What happened was the formation of a larger class of relatively rich people who, on achieving a relatively high social status and thus having a stable social position, were interested in art in its different forms. In other words, art, including music and poetry became accessible not only for aristocracy but also for larger classes of people thought it had not yet become an art for masses.
Naturally, an increased interest in art could not directly lead to the combination or union of poetry and music. Nonetheless, it inevitably led to experiments in different arts and this could lead to such a transformation of traditionally separated music and poetry into a unified, special form of art. In fact, such a transformation is not surprising because music and poetry are internally close to one another since both tend to be melodic, lyric, to the extent that music may be called poetic while poetry may be called musical.
Furthermore, the socio-economic changes led to the gradual evolution of a traditional lifestyle, which along with the increased interest in art and culture contributed to the spread of popularity of music and poetry. Moreover, people had got much more opportunities to practice art at their homes. For instance, it was in the 19th century when piano eventually became probably the most widely spread musical instrument that could be found in many homes. In fact, it is even possible to estimate that in the 19th century piano became a universal home instrument. In this respect, it should be pointed out that poetry needed even less than music because there was no special need for any instruments.
On the other hand, it is necessary to underline that a significant impact on the development of music and poetry, as well as the combination of both, produced the progress of education which had become more accessible and more universal. In fact, before it had been a real problem to get started to practice music or to write poetry and as a rule even if an individual had got a chance to learn some art he/she would learn some specific art. In stark contrast, in the 19th-century education had achieved a relatively high level permitting many people to receive universal knowledge, including knowledge concerning different arts among which music and poetry were traditionally popular.
As a result, the changes that took place in the 19th century stimulated the growth of interest to art at large and to music and poetry in particular and what is probably even more important is the fact that people, or at least a significant part of them, had really got an opportunity to realize themselves in both music and poetry.
Romantics’ contribution into the union of music and poetry
Obviously, the changes listed above could not produce such a significant shift in perception of music and art without any theoretical background. In other words, to make the union of music and poetry reliable and significant as a new form of art, it was necessary to develop a theoretical and practical background on a highly professional level. This could be done only by professional poets and composers.
In this respect it worth to note that Romanticism had played an extremely important role in the union of music and poetry. Traditionally, romanticism in the music of the 19th century is associated with names of Mozart, Beethoven, Haydn, and some others. The peculiarity of romanticism in music was the fact that among its main features were such elements as “the growing use of folk music” (Stangos 2001:137).
Furthermore, the 19th century became the epoch when numerous innovations were implemented in music. In this respect, it worth to note that “Beethoven use of tonal architecture in such a way as to allow significant expansion of musical forms and structures was immediately recognized as bringing a new dimension to music” (Stangos 2001, p.139). Moreover, the later piano and quartets revealed a new musical universe that had never been explored before.
In such a situation Hoffman is a gifted writer-critic and composer, turned to be able to suggest an new concept, according to which he underlined the supremacy of instrumental music over vocal music in its expressiveness that was treated by many critics of that epoch as nonsense. Nonetheless, Hoffman strongly believed in his new concept and such a situation the fact that he practiced both music and literature turned to be very helpful and he “encouraged the notion of thinking of music as ‘programmatic’ or telling a story – an idea which new audiences found attractive, however irritating it was to some composers” (Brion 1966, p.325).
Obviously, this was probably the first significant step ahead on the way to unification of music and poetry since it is an undeniable fact that among all literary genres poetry is probably the most convenient means of expression if the literature is applied to music and it is hardly possible to imagine any other more conventional means than a poem to express what music is supposed to tell.
Also, it should be said that new developments in the instrumental technology of music of the 19th century, such as iron frames for pianos, or wound metal strings for string instruments, enabled louder dynamics, more varied tone colors, and created a great potential for sensational virtuosity. As a result, such developments “swelled the length of pieces, introduced programmatic titles, and created new genres such as the free standing overture or tone-poem, the piano fantasy, nocturne and rhapsody, and the virtuoso concerto, which became central to musical Romanticism” (Brion 1966, p.395). Naturally, such development of Romanticism and music at large contributed significantly to its unification with poetry making them unprecedented closer to each other than ever before.
At the same time, in poetry also appeared new trends romantic by nature, which was developed by such outstanding poets as Johan Wolfgang von Goethe, Henrich Heine and many others representatives of Romanticism. They developed a new concept of the popular song, which became the main instrument that was used to practically unify music and poetry. In fact, it was practically a new direction in the development of poetry of the 19th century that gave an excellent opportunity to combine poems with music.
In such a way romantic produced a significant impact on the development of both music and poetry of the 19ht century and at the same time they stimulated the union of music and poetry as a new form of art.
The types of unification of music and poetry
In such a situation when the music and poetry had started to integrate into each other closely, it is necessary to dwell upon the major types or the main categories that contributed to their practical unification.
First of all, it should be said that lieder played probably the most important role in the unification of music and poetry. In fact, it has been already mentioned that popular song was one of the key elements contributing to the union of music and poetry. As for lieder, it is actually what German people call ‘song,’ and to be more specific, it should be said that as a rule, it was a popular song. It should be pointed out that the concept of the lieder or popular song had originated since early 19th century. Leaders served to unite music and poetry and traditionally they were of two types. On the one hand, there were through-composed leaders. Through-composed music, from a purely musical point of view, may be defined as “music which is relatively continuous, non-sectional, and non-repetitive” (Stangos 2001, p.321). However, this definition should be enlarged, to better understand its link to poetry. To put it more precisely, this type of lieder is a song that is said to be “through-composed if it has different music for each stanza of the lyrics” (Stangos 2001, p.322). In such a way this type of lieder makes the direct link between music and poetry.
Also, it should be pointed out that this term may be equally applied to opera and other dramatic works involving music “to indicate the extent of music” (Lehmann 2001, p.274). In this respect, it is possible to refer to an example. For instance, the musicals of Stephen Sondheim and Andrew Lloyd Webber have been involved in a modern trend with the help of through-composed works, rather than collections of songs. On the other hand, in musical theatre, works with no spoken dialogue are traditionally referred to by the term ‘sung-through’, even though it is not exactly true because there are some places where there is no singing, but just only orchestral music plays (Lehmann 2001, p.299).
Another type of lieder is strophic. Often it is also referred to as a strophic form. In fact, in music strophic form, unlike through-composed, is sectional and it is “an additive way of structuring a piece of music based on repetition of one formal section or block played repeatedly” (Lehmann 2001, p.327). In fact, it is possible to trace the direct analogy with poetry, which obviously contributed in such a way to music, because it resembles repeated stanzas in poetry and lyrics, where the text “repeats the same rhyme scheme from one stanza to the next, the accompanying music for each stanza is either the same or very similar from one stanza to the next” (Lehmann 2001, p.342).
In such a way both types of lieder indicate at the direct link between music and poetry that was practically established in the 19th century. Also, it should be pointed out that lieder were traditionally written for piano and vice and initially implied the combination of music and poetry. Moreover, lieder were traditionally based on lyric texts which should be accompanied by music. Finally, speaking about lieder, it should be said that traditionally it aimed to express intimacy and privacy.
However, it should be pointed out that there were also widely used strophic songs, which to a significant extent resembled a strophic form of lieder but it should be pointed out that these songs, being repetitive, were “perfect mating of Romantic poetry and Romantic music” (Lehmann 2001, p.367). The particular feature of the strophic song is its extremely intensive personalization. In this respect, it worth to refer to works of Robert Schumann in which he amply used a strophic song as a means to realize his intention to intimately express his love to his wife.
Also, a few words should be said about such an important element as a symphonic poem. There is also another name for such types of poems, a tone poem that is traditionally defined as “a piece of orchestral music, in one movement, in which some extra-musical programme provides a narrative or illustrative element” (Lehmann 2001, p.429). On applying this definition to the union of music and poetry, it is possible to say that poems could become such a kind of programme for a musical work.
For instance, a series of tone poems may be used in a combination in a suite, basically in the romantic sense, like it has been used in “The Swan of Tuonela” (1895), which is a tone poem from Sibelius’ Lemminkainen Suite.
Thus, taking into account all above mentioned, it is possible to conclude that the 19th century was characterized by a significant shift in practically all sphere of life which affected directly the sphere of art, notably music and poetry. The high level of development of new technologies, education, and culture made it possible to provoke particular interest to music and poetry among growing number of people who had got larger opportunities to practice and enjoy both of them.
Naturally, it resulted into the union of music and poetry which became possible due to a significant contribution of Romantic composers and poets, who worked hard on the development of a new form of art, or to put it more precisely a combination of two traditional arts, music, and poetry. The results turned to be quite impressive since they influenced the further development of music and poetry not only of the 19th century but also the contemporary art as well.