The Romantic period began around 1830 and ended around 1900. The rigid forms of classical music gave way to greater expression, and music grew closer to art, literature and theater. Ideas and compositions became more and more outlandish and inventive until the musical rules had to be rewritten, and the scene was set for the biggest change in music for centuries - the beginning of Modernism.
Some Romantic composers analogized music to poetry and its rhapsodic and narrative structures, while creating a more systematic basis for the composing and performing of concert music. There was an increasing focus on melodies and themes, as well as an explosion in the composition of songs.
During the Romantic period, the piano became the most popular single instrument. It became a musical symbol of Romanticism, and reached such heights of popularity that it became the best household instrument. The orchestra grew to be the favorite large instrument of the century. Added were the English horn, the clarinet, more brass and percussion. Opera was also a major medium of expression.
Prominent Composers: Beethoven, Paganini, von Weber, Rossini, Schubert, Donizetti, Bellini, Berlioz, Mendelssohn, Chopin, Schumann, Liszt, Verdi, Wagner, Gounod, Franck, Smetana, Bruckner, Borodin, Brahms, Bizet, Mussorgsky, Tchaikowsky, Dvorak, Grieg, Rimsky-Korsakov, Faure, Puccini, Wolf, Mahler, Strauss, Sibelius, Czerny, Field, Elgar, Offenbach, Saint-Saens, Massenet, Rubinstein, Rachmaninov, Scrabin, Albeniz, Gottschalk, MacDowell.