We all have that time in our lives when we start gracefully transitioning from following the rules to making our own rules. Classical music had that "stage" as well - and it began here, in the Romantic Era.
The Romantic Era (1800-1850) is very much the teenage-years of classical music - it retains many of the values of the Classical Era before it, but the boundaries were tested. New ideas emerged, and sometimes the old ways were left behind. In an age of rapid change everywhere (not just in music), we see the rise of opera and grand solo piano with depth, virtuoso, and nationalism, mostly in Germany.
With the emergence of opera, Richard Wagner (pronounced Reekard Vagner) also emerged as a prominent composer. Two of his most famous works, Tristan und Isolde and Die Walküre are recognizable to almost ANY movie-watcher - with such a dramatic effect, they have been used in countless films. Here is an aural example of Die Walküre, Ride of the Valkyries, performed at Proms!
Not only was opera in its prime stage of development, but works for solo piano were evolving to include works of extreme talent and discipline. Along with other greats, Frederic Chopin (pronounced Showpan) composed dazzling works for solo piano of varying difficulty, but his most renowned were the most brilliant and challenging. That being said, one of my personal favorites is quite relaxing... Nocturne, Opus 9 No. 1. Check out this recording by famous pianist Arthur Rubinstein!
I hope you enjoyed this edition of "Classical" music - stay tuned for the next installment, Impressionist! This is where we go COMPLETELY off the wall!