Style & Interpretation – The Romantic Period

Saturday 25 November 2023

For 19th century composers, the piano was a musical symbol of the Romantic spirit of individualism and freedom. Much of the music is heroic in character, making significant technical demands on the player.

Romantic works are some of the most beloved in the piano literature and to play them well, the pianist needs a wide dynamic and colour palette, an understanding of advanced pedalling and a fertile imagination.

In this set of workshops, Graham Fitch will demonstrate how to bring music from this period to life and to deliver stylistically appropriate, personal interpretations with confidence.

Piano music form the romantic period

Sessions & format

Sessions 1 & 2: Introduction, Rubato, Dynamics and Touch (10:30 – 11:15 & 11:30 – 12:15) – There are several considerations we need to look at before we can play music from the Romantic period effectively. In our first session, we start off by learning how tempo rubato works and look at how to handle rhythm. While rubato, or bending of time, applies to all music, it comes into its own in this period.

We’ll then move on to exploring the touches appropriate to the music of the period. Music of earlier periods can usually be managed with a finger-based technique. However, in Romantic music we need much more involvement of the arm and the upper body. In the latter part of these sessions, we will look at how to use arm weight and how to execute the various touches called for.

Session 3: Pedalling (12:30 – 13:15) – One of the biggest topics is pedalling and finding sophisticated ways of manipulating textures and controlling sound using the pedals is an essential requirement. In this session we will explore the various types of pedalling commonly used in playing romantic, including flutter pedalling, half damping and fractional pedals.

Session 4: Developing a Personal Interpretation (14:00 – 15:00) – The most important single factor in the performance of music is getting the musical message across to the listener. In this last presentation we will look at how to bring the music of this evocative period to life by developing a personal narrative using imagery and a little bit of fantasy. 

Performance Workshop (15:30 – 17:00) – Three pianists will present works (or part thereof) from the romantic period and work with Graham on aspects such as tempo, interpretation, practice methods and technical challenges.

Ticket options

If you missed this event you can still purchase access to watch the high-quality recordings for the full day of presentations and the performance workshop here (tickets cost £80 or £48 for Online Academy subscribers).