Lecture 22

The Miniature and Character Piece


When he sits at the piano and having repeatedly pushed his hair back over his brow, begins to improvise,then he often rages all too madly upon the ivory keys and lets loose a deluge of heaven-storming ideas, with here and there a few sweet flowers to shed fragrance upon the whole. One feels both blessedness and anxiety, but rather more anxiety...

—Heinrich Heine on Franz Liszt

the character piece; old and new genres

In these next two lectures, we continue our discussion of the character piece (Chopin and Liszt), we look at a later 19th century symphony (Brahms) and see how the idea of "program" music translates into a single-movement orchestral work (Tchaikovsky: Romeo and Juliet).


Topics covered:

  • Chopin, the poet of the piano
  • Liszt, the greatest virtuoso of the 19th century
  • Brahms Symphony No. 3, romanticism with classical control
  • Tchaikovsky Romeo and Juliet Overture



  • distinguish romantic from classical style
  • distinguish one composer from another (e.g, Chopin from Liszt)
  • hear the influence of Beethoven on Mendelssohn and Brahms
  • know what a concert overture is
  • know what a symphonic poem is



  • watch lecture 22 (in multiple parts for quicker download)
  • review previous chapters, as necessary
  • read textbook, Chapter 23 and Chapter 22 (for character pieces or miniature and for orchestral music — in that order)
  • As you are reading your textbook, go through the Listening Exercises in textbook sequence, listening to the examples provided.
  • regarding developing listening skills: you should be in the habit of developing your listening skills early in the game - the assignments will get more complex through the semester and you may find yourself unable to keep up. As simple as these early assignments may seem to some of you, they will help to keep you on the right track, and help you develop the skills required for a greater appreciation in listening to music, including the music that you listen to for your own enjoyment. Of course, those objectives are in total sync with the success you hope to have in this class. Remember that your ability to recognize the music on your CDs will be tested and will, of course, impact your grade. 


Audio / Video lecture

  • click lecture segments below in sequence
  • presented in several segments to reduce download time
  • total lecture time: approx. one hour 15 minutes (all segments included)
  • can be downloaded for portable media players by right clicking each segment link and choosing save option. (note: older Macs and Mac notebooks with single-button mice: control-click)


Lecture 22.1

A Chopin Nocturne and Franz Liszt

Lecture 22.2 
Brahms Symphony No. 3
Lecture 22.3 
Old and new symphonic genres
Lecture 22.4 
Romeo and Juliet Overture