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In the Trojans, don't you like Nuits d'ivresse? Or the intro to Act 4 -- storm and hunt?

What about Nuits d'ete?
You should at least try "Harold in Italy";
Try Romeo and Juliet (at least the common instrumental excerpts, esp. the "Mab" scherzo and Love Scene) and Faust (although here you need to listen to the whole thing because the "bonbons" from this, like the Rakoczy march and the will'o wisps menuet are hardly representative of the whole).
Thanks all for the recs! I tried Nuits d'ivresse and Storm and Hunt. The latter I preferred. But there might just be something about Berlioz that just doesn't jive with me. Happens, I guess. I'm trying to grasp at an explanation. But, for whatever reason listening to the excerpts from Les Troyens reminds me of Puccini, another composer whose operas I bafflingly I've walked away from a little underwhelmed. (Still trying to understand that one!)

Maybe I'll come back Berlioz one day and something new will click. Onwards! Looking forward to the next week!
 

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I think there are reasons (and not mainly the demise of Grand Opera) that Berlioz is largely perceived as a 1-5 work composer and overall not nearly as popular as one should think. Even in France he is not much favored, the "Renaissance" on records in the 1960s/70s was mostly due to Colin Davis with Covent garden and other London forces. Even the French don't seem to care much about Berlioz but then the French are probably the nation who treat their great composers worst. If they were half as enthusiastic as the Brits or Scandinavians Lully and Magnard would be household names like Purcell and Elgar...
 

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Discussion Starter · #623 · (Edited)
... Onwards! Looking forward to the next week!
Then look no further! 1810 brought us two giants of classical music in Chopin and Schumann.

Level 1
No works

Level 2
Chopin, Frédéric: Nocturnes esp. No. 2 in E-flat Major, No. 8 in D-flat major, No. 13 in C Minor
Chopin, Frederic: 24 Preludes, Op. 28 esp. Raindrop' Prelude Op. 28 No. 15



Chopin, Frédéric: Ballades esp. No. 1 Op 23, No. 4 Op. 52
Schumann, Robert: Dichterliebe



Level 3
Schumann, Robert: Piano Concerto in A minor Op. 54
Schumann, Robert: Kinderszenen Op. 15 esp. 12. Kind im Einschlummern
Schumann, Robert: Kreisleriana
Chopin, Frédéric: Waltzes esp. Minute Waltz



Schumann, Robert: Piano Quintet in E-Flat Major, Op. 44 esp. I. Allegro Brillante



Schumann, Robert: Symphony No. 3 "Rhenish"
Schumann, Robert: Symphony No. 4



Chopin, Frédéric: Mazurkas
Schumann, Robert: Carnaval



Chopin, Frédéric: Piano Concerto No.1 In E Minor, Op.11 esp. 2. Romance (Larghetto)
Schumann, Robert: Fantasie in C major Op. 17
Chopin, Frédéric: Piano Sonata No. 2 in B-flat minor, op. 35 "Marche funèbre"
Schumann, Robert: Symphony No. 2
Chopin, Frédéric: Piano Concerto No. 2 in F minor, Op. 21 esp. II. Larghetto
Chopin, Frédéric Polonaises esp. No. 3 in A major "Military" Op. 40, No. 6 in A flat major "Heroic" Op. 53, Fantasy in A-flat Major, Op. 61
Chopin, Frédéric: Études Op. 10 esp. No.1 in C Major "Waterfall", No. 3, “Revolutionary Etude”

Level 4
Schumann, Robert: Symphony No. 1 "Spring"
Chopin, Frédéric: Scherzo in B-flat Minor Op 31
Chopin, Frédéric: Piano Sonata No. 3 in B minor, Op.58
Chopin, Frédéric: Barcarolle
Schumann, Robert: Études Symphoniques
Schumann, Robert: Cello Concerto in A Minor
Schumann, Robert: Frauenliebe Und-Leben



Level 5
Schumann, Robert: Davidsbündlertãnze
Schumann, Robert: Piano Quartet in E-Flat Major, Op. 47 esp. III. Andante cantabile
Schumann, Robert: Eichendorff Liederkreis Op. 39 esp. "Monnacht", "Auf einer Burg"
Schumann, Robert: String Quartet in A Op. 41/3
Chopin, Frédéric: Cello Sonata in G Minor
Schumann, Robert: Papillons
Schumann, Robert: Myrthen Op. 25 esp. No. 1 Widmung, No. 3 Der Nussbaum, No. 7 Die Lotosblume, No. 24 Du bist wie eine Blume
Schumann, Robert: Fantasiestücke
Chopin, Frédéric: Impromptus
Schumann, Robert: Gedichte (12) Op. "Lieder von Justinus Kerner" Op. 35 esp. No. 5 Sehnsucht, No. 3 Wanderlied, No. 10 Stille Tränen

Level 6
Chopin, Frédéric: Fantaisie in F minor
Chopin, Frédéric: Études Op. 25
Chopin, Frédéric: Grande Polonaise Brilliante
Schumann, Robert: Piano Sonata No. 1 in F-sharp minor
Chopin, Frédéric: Berceuse Op.57
Schumann, Robert: Gesänge der Frühe (Songs of Dawn) Op. 133
Schumann, Robert: Faschingsschwank aus Wien
Schumann, Robert: Violin Concerto in D Minor
Schumann, Robert: String Quartet Op. 41/1
Schumann, Robert: Liederkreis (9) Op.24
Schumann, Robert: Piano Trio No. 1
Schumann, Robert: Das Paradies und Die Peri

Level 7
Schumann, Robert: Humoreske Op. 20
Schumann, Robert: Overture, Scherzo and Finale Op.52
Schumann, Robert: Piano Sonata No. 2
Schumann, Robert: Arabeske Op. 18
Chopin, Frédéric: Piano Trio
Schumann, Robert: Adagio & Allegro, Op. 70 (Version for Cello & Piano)
Schumann, Robert: Toccata Op. 7
Schumann, Robert: Novelletten Op. 21
Schumann, Robert: Romanzen und Balladen, Vol.II Op.49 esp. No. 1 Die beiden Grenadiere

Honourable mentions:
David, Ferdianand: Lall-Roukh
Erkel, Ferenc: Bánk Bán
Wesley, Samuel: Thou Wilt Keep Him in Perfect Peace


Chopin, and to some extent Schumann, haven't ticked a lot of boxes for me up to now. I'm very much hoping that situation changes this week. Lots of Martha Argerich to ease my journey, together with some Andsnes, Hamelin, Biss, Hough, Ott, Perahia, Grosvenor, Pollini, and others.

Your collective knowledge, experience and advice on a definite weak-spot for me, as always, gratefully received.
 

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This is relatively unknown but colorful, beautiful and uplifting in my opinion:


Thanks all for the recs! I tried Nuits d'ivresse and Storm and Hunt. The latter I preferred. But there might just be something about Berlioz that just doesn't jive with me. Happens, I guess. I'm trying to grasp at an explanation. But, for whatever reason listening to the excerpts from Les Troyens reminds me of Puccini, another composer whose operas I bafflingly I've walked away from a little underwhelmed. (Still trying to understand that one!)
Berlioz is very adventurous in his use of form, mixing different categories of classical music, exploring progressive internal formal designs and almost not using repeats in his works. In this sense, he is the opposite of Mendelssohn for example, who is more conservative and prefers to use the forms of the Classical period in his music. I believe that this makes the french less accessible than other composers of his era, but I'm still quite an enthusiast of his works: if at his worst Berlioz may sound excentric and maybe a bit affected, at his best moments (in works such as Les Troyens, the Te Deum and Les Nuits d'été, for example) I think that his fresh originality, genius for use of the tone color and sincere romantic expressiveness truly blossom.
 

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I'd suggest listening to the Chopin preludes as a whole. I'd also skip the Etudes op.10 in favor of op.25, ten times more music and poetry and less "studies". Also skip the A major polonaise, a fun but shallow piece, no way close to the A flat one. Note that "Polonaise-Fantaise" is not like the polonaises but more like a "tone poem", like the ballades and barcarole.
The best Schumann song cycle has only made level 5, op.39 Eichendorff settings, this would be my first rec for his lieder, even before Dichterliebe because the latter mainly works as a whole with most songs very short. In op.39 the separate pieces are fewer, the whole is shorter and not that dependent on cumulative effect.
 

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Berlioz is very adventurous in his use of form, mixing different categories of classical music, exploring progressive internal formal designs and almost not using repeats in his works. In this sense, he is the opposite of Mendelssohn for example, who is more conservative and prefers to use the forms of the Classical period in his music. I believe that this makes the french less accessible than other composers of his era, but I'm still quite an enthusiast of his works: if at his worst Berlioz may sound excentric and maybe a bit affected, at his best moments (in works such as Les Troyens, the Te Deum and Les Nuits d'été, for example) I think that his fresh originality, genius for use of the tone color and sincere romantic expressiveness truly blossom.
Amazing. I think my appreciation of Mendelssohn has a lot to do with my expectations for what this music can be. Indeed, if Berlioz is off to my ears, it is likely because I'm blind/deaf to the formal structures of the music. In my own life this is odd since I've long been drawn to unusual contemporary music (while I have never understood mainstream or "pop" music, I have long liked Jazz and experimental music and the artier edges of rock, etc). But delving into the early Romantic era, my ear is still quite undeveloped. As I expect will be the case with many artists we've covered and many yet to come, some I will love immediately, and others will take me a lot longer to get around to. Berlioz is probably in that latter camp.
 

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Amazing. I think my appreciation of Mendelssohn has a lot to do with my expectations for what this music can be. Indeed, if Berlioz is off to my ears, it is likely because I'm blind/deaf to the formal structures of the music.
But this seems an odd argument. If you think you are mostly ignorant to the structure (you probably are not as ignorant as you think...) the difference between the classicist Mendelssohn and the more "freewheeling" Berlioz should either hardly matter of be in favor of the latter...
It could be that you have internalized to some extent the typical classical (Mozart, Beethoven) forms and procedures and therefore Mendelssohn who keeps fairly close to them and also has maybe even more memorable melodies (because early romantic themes are often more melodic than the more "neutral" material, esp. of Beethoven and Haydn) so it feels "natural". OTOH Berlioz, e.g. in SF and Harold is not that far from the classical symphony. There is some freedom but mostly it's introduction+sonata movement, tripartite scherzo/dance/march, rondo, etc.
 

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But this seems an odd argument. If you think you are mostly ignorant to the structure (you probably are not as ignorant as you think...) the difference between the classicist Mendelssohn and the more "freewheeling" Berlioz should either hardly matter of be in favor of the latter...
It could be that you have internalized to some extent the typical classical (Mozart, Beethoven) forms and procedures and therefore Mendelssohn who keeps fairly close to them and also has maybe even more memorable melodies (because early romantic themes are often more melodic than the more "neutral" material, esp. of Beethoven and Haydn) so it feels "natural". OTOH Berlioz, e.g. in SF and Harold is not that far from the classical symphony. There is some freedom but mostly it's introduction+sonata movement, tripartite scherzo/dance/march, rondo, etc.
This is probably a better description of where I am in my understanding than what I wrote. Indeed. And I think especially true is the comment about Mendelssohn's "more memorable melodies". Certainly so.

It could also just be the case that, seemingly randomly, some art clicks while other art doesn't. It might just be that Berlioz and I don't "click" and it may be beyond rationalization.
 

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Discussion Starter · #630 ·
I'd suggest listening to the Chopin preludes as a whole. I'd also skip the Etudes op.10 in favor of op.25, ten times more music and poetry and less "studies". Also skip the A major polonaise, a fun but shallow piece, no way close to the A flat one. Note that "Polonaise-Fantaise" is not like the polonaises but more like a "tone poem", like the ballades and barcarole.
The best Schumann song cycle has only made level 5, op.39 Eichendorff settings, this would be my first rec for his lieder, even before Dichterliebe because the latter mainly works as a whole with most songs very short. In op.39 the separate pieces are fewer, the whole is shorter and not that dependent on cumulative effect.
Well, it's started out positively. I listened to the Preludes all the way through by both Abduraimov and Argerich. I moved on to the Ballades (No. 4 is beautiful), and am now half way through the Nocturnes, each by a different pianist. All much more enjoyable than I'd anticipated.

I'll take your guidance and go for Op. 39 in the morning.
 

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I hope that you will see the difference I wanted to get at when you have listened to both Dichterliebe and op.39. The former is "cyclic" in a much stronger way although it doesn't have such a concrete story like Schubert's "Schöne Müllerin". But this in a way "weakens" the individual songs. op.39 is only loosely unified by common romantic themes and the songs are all individual and complete but I think they are a bit more accessible.
As for Chopin, I think there is some benefit in the old style mixed recital discs. Although I can listen to all the scherzi or ballades in one setting, I rarely feel like listening to 50 min of waltzes or mazurkas...
 

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Then look no further! 1810 brought us two giants of classical music in Chopin and Schumann.

Level 1
No works

Level 2
Chopin, Frédéric: Nocturnes esp. No. 2 in E-flat Major, No. 8 in D-flat major, No. 13 in C Minor
Chopin, Frederic: 24 Preludes, Op. 28 esp. Raindrop' Prelude Op. 28 No. 15



Chopin, Frédéric: Ballades esp. No. 1 Op 23, No. 4 Op. 52
Schumann, Robert: Dichterliebe



Level 3
Schumann, Robert: Piano Concerto in A minor Op. 54
Schumann, Robert: Kinderszenen Op. 15 esp. 12. Kind im Einschlummern
Schumann, Robert: Kreisleriana
Chopin, Frédéric: Waltzes esp. Minute Waltz



Schumann, Robert: Piano Quintet in E-Flat Major, Op. 44 esp. I. Allegro Brillante



Schumann, Robert: Symphony No. 3 "Rhenish"
Schumann, Robert: Symphony No. 4



Chopin, Frédéric: Mazurkas
Schumann, Robert: Carnaval



Chopin, Frédéric: Piano Concerto No.1 In E Minor, Op.11 esp. 2. Romance (Larghetto)
Schumann, Robert: Fantasie in C major Op. 17
Chopin, Frédéric: Piano Sonata No. 2 in B-flat minor, op. 35 "Marche funèbre"
Schumann, Robert: Symphony No. 2
Chopin, Frédéric: Piano Concerto No. 2 in F minor, Op. 21 esp. II. Larghetto
Chopin, Frédéric Polonaises esp. No. 3 in A major "Military" Op. 40, No. 6 in A flat major "Heroic" Op. 53, Fantasy in A-flat Major, Op. 61
Chopin, Frédéric: Études Op. 10 esp. No.1 in C Major "Waterfall", No. 3, “Revolutionary Etude”

Level 4
Schumann, Robert: Symphony No. 1 "Spring"
Chopin, Frédéric: Scherzo in B-flat Minor Op 31
Chopin, Frédéric: Piano Sonata No. 3 in B minor, Op.58
Chopin, Frédéric: Barcarolle
Schumann, Robert: Études Symphoniques
Schumann, Robert: Cello Concerto in A Minor
Schumann, Robert: Frauenliebe Und-Leben



Level 5
Schumann, Robert: Davidsbündlertãnze
Schumann, Robert: Piano Quartet in E-Flat Major, Op. 47 esp. III. Andante cantabile
Schumann, Robert: Eichendorff Liederkreis Op. 39 esp. "Monnacht", "Auf einer Burg"
Schumann, Robert: String Quartet in A Op. 41/3
Chopin, Frédéric: Cello Sonata in G Minor
Schumann, Robert: Papillons
Schumann, Robert: Myrthen Op. 25 esp. No. 1 Widmung, No. 3 Der Nussbaum, No. 7 Die Lotosblume, No. 24 Du bist wie eine Blume
Schumann, Robert: Fantasiestücke
Chopin, Frédéric: Impromptus
Schumann, Robert: Gedichte (12) Op. "Lieder von Justinus Kerner" Op. 35 esp. No. 5 Sehnsucht, No. 3 Wanderlied, No. 10 Stille Tränen

Level 6
Chopin, Frédéric: Fantaisie in F minor
Chopin, Frédéric: Études Op. 25
Chopin, Frédéric: Grande Polonaise Brilliante
Schumann, Robert: Piano Sonata No. 1 in F-sharp minor
Chopin, Frédéric: Berceuse Op.57
Schumann, Robert: Gesänge der Frühe (Songs of Dawn) Op. 133
Schumann, Robert: Faschingsschwank aus Wien
Schumann, Robert: Violin Concerto in D Minor
Schumann, Robert: String Quartet Op. 41/1
Schumann, Robert: Liederkreis (9) Op.24
Schumann, Robert: Piano Trio No. 1
Schumann, Robert: Das Paradies und Die Peri

Level 7
Schumann, Robert: Humoreske Op. 20
Schumann, Robert: Overture, Scherzo and Finale Op.52
Schumann, Robert: Piano Sonata No. 2
Schumann, Robert: Arabeske Op. 18
Chopin, Frédéric: Piano Trio
Schumann, Robert: Adagio & Allegro, Op. 70 (Version for Cello & Piano)
Schumann, Robert: Toccata Op. 7
Schumann, Robert: Novelletten Op. 21
Schumann, Robert: Romanzen und Balladen, Vol.II Op.49 esp. No. 1 Die beiden Grenadiere

Honourable mentions:
David, Ferdianand: Lall-Roukh
Erkel, Ferenc: Bánk Bán
Wesley, Samuel: Thou Wilt Keep Him in Perfect Peace


Chopin, and to some extent Schumann, haven't ticked a lot of boxes for me up to now. I'm very much hoping that situation changes this week. Lots of Martha Argerich to ease my journey, together with some Andsnes, Hamelin, Biss, Hough, Ott, Perahia, Grosvenor, Pollini, and others.

Your collective knowledge, experience and advice on a definite weak-spot for me, as always, gratefully received.
The fourth movement of Chopin’s second sonata is an interesting piece of music.

It’s surprising that the list is limited to Chopin’s op 28 preludes, for me the most beautiful of them is the op 45 prelude, where he seems to write like Brahms almost. It’s also surprising that there’s so little of Schumann’s chamber music there, I think that Märchenerzählungen is one of his greatest instrumental achievements.

By the way, if you’re going to listen to the songs, let me recommend Christian Gerhaher - for me, he’s in his element in Schumann and Rihm.

I’m going to use the list to explore the Schumann cello concerto.
 

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Exactly what I have lined-up for Op. 39.

When exploring Dichterliebe, remember that some people think it’s made of two sets - a cycle of the first five songs and the rest, which may not be cyclical at all.

Now that I’ve put that thought in your head you won’t be able to unthink it.

Worth also looking at the texts. Schumann was interested in literature . He was a reader and his music is very much based on his reading.


Ich grolle nicht is the only lied I can sing, I leaned it when I was at school, and I quite often sing it at dinner parties when I’m drunk.
 

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I didn't know this idea about Dichterliebe.
There is, as sometimes by Schumann, an earlier version of op.48. Schumann cut 4 songs that were later published separately. There are a few recordings that restore them (not sure about other differences between the editions) but I think the only one I have heard was Hampson's I didn't like very much overall and eventually got rid of it.
IIRC the four excised songs are in opp.127 and 142: "Dein Angesicht", "Es leuchtet meine Liebe", "Lehn' deine Wang' an meine Wang'", "Mein Wagen rollet langsam".
 

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When exploring Dichterliebe, remember that some people think it’s made of two sets - a cycle of the first five songs and the rest, which may not be cyclical at all.

Now that I’ve put that thought in your head you won’t be able to unthink it.

Worth also looking at the texts. Schumann was interested in literature . He was a reader and his music is very much based on his reading.


Ich grolle nicht is the only lied I can sing, I leaned it when I was at school, and I quite often sing it at dinner parties when I’m drunk.
Funny, I was reading this just as song five was transitioning to #6. Indeed, the difference is very stark!

I have a harder time getting into Lieder than some other forms of Classical music. I didn't make it far into Winterreise for that reason. But the Bostridge/Drake Dichterliebe album that Chillam put up in his list I have found immensely enjoyable. Such a great voice! "Im wundersschönen..." and "Iche grolle nicht" are beautiful.

The Level 1-2 Chopin has been excellent, too. Really liked Ballade #1 and the recommended Nocturnes 9, 27, 48.

Lastly: in a bit of random but tangentially related listening, I called up an interview podcast with Steve Reich. He spoke a lot about the older music we covered: Leonin/Perotin, and Bach of course. But he also suggested John Coltrane's Africa/Brass album, which I'd never heard. Quite good! Not the height of Coltrane. But a nice new-to-me record.
 

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Funny, I was reading this just as song five was transitioning to #6. Indeed, the difference is very stark!

I have a harder time getting into Lieder than some other forms of Classical music. I didn't make it far into Winterreise for that reason. But the Bostridge/Drake Dichterliebe album that Chillam put up in his list I have found immensely enjoyable. Such a great voice! "Im wundersschönen..." and "Iche grolle nicht" are beautiful.

The Level 1-2 Chopin has been excellent, too. Really liked Ballade #1 and the recommended Nocturnes 9, 27, 48.

Lastly: in a bit of random but tangentially related listening, I called up an interview podcast with Steve Reich. He spoke a lot about the older music we covered: Leonin/Perotin, and Bach of course. But he also suggested John Coltrane's Africa/Brass album, which I'd never heard. Quite good! Not the height of Coltrane. But a nice new-to-me record.
I have a confession to make.

I have enough trouble liking/loving opera, which is ironic as I'm the de facto decades-long musical director of a Gilbert & Sullivan repertory group that generally presents two G&S operettas every year, as well as a summer concert series.

Opera is a long-form musical art form, with operas lasting 90 minutes or more.
Most of the really truly great operas are in languages in which I am not fluent.
I'm not a fan of traditional opera solo vocals, with exceptions. Honestly, I prefer "pop opera" voices.

I've accompanied several "legit" singers performing Schubert Lieder, and, man, they are unlikable. The Lieder, not the singers. The best thing about them is that they're short. The Leider, not the singers.
 

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I have a confession to make.

I have enough trouble liking/loving opera, which is ironic as I'm the de facto decades-long musical director of a Gilbert & Sullivan repertory group that generally presents two G&S operettas every year, as well as a summer concert series.

Opera is a long-form musical art form, with operas lasting 90 minutes or more.
Most of the really truly great operas are in languages in which I am not fluent.
I'm not a fan of traditional opera solo vocals, with exceptions. Honestly, I prefer "pop opera" voices.

I've accompanied several "legit" singers performing Schubert Lieder, and, man, they are unlikable. The Lieder, not the singers. The best thing about them is that they're short. The Leider, not the singers.
Yes that is a big problem for me. Italian operas and German operas would be less interesting because I can’t hear what they’re saying. Also it’s so long that it would take about 12 hours or more before you kind of know an opera at a basic level
 

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It's very understandable that people struggle with Lieder. They are both intimate and artificial (and therefore it is usually a fallacy that they should be accessible because of brevity and superficial similarity to popular songs).
But I'd almost go so far to say that Lieder are essential to get a real grasp on Austro-German romanticism from Schubert to early modernity (Mahler, Strauss, 2nd viennese school). In one way or another lieder seem to inform almost everything (besides there being a few composers like Loewe and Wolf who wrote almost nothing else). Sure, you can look at instrumental music in the abstract. But there are "songs without words", quotations, allusions, cycles of piano pieces in analogy to song cycles, later lieder included in symphonies or string quartets etc.
Rosen titles one of the first chapters in his book on the Romantics "Mountains and Songcycles". Schuberts two big cycles (and some other single songs) evoke the wanderer through a romantic landscape; so the song and the romantic nature is basically the foundation of the romantic worldview
 

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The way to know an opera “at the most basic level” is to listen to it once following the libretto. Operas tend to have pretty straight forward linear narratives, it’s very straightforward to get to know the plot by listening and following. With most operas - Verdi, Puccini, Wagner, Strauss - follow the libretto once and you’ve pretty well got the hang of what’s going on. There may be bits you miss, but you can easily discover them later if you feel so inclined.
 
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