Strauss Tone Poems Orchestral Favourites Volume 8
Although music as a medium for the illustration of natural phenomena has always been a source of fascination for composers, its exploration as a vehicle for the expression of non-musical concepts stems largely from the nineteenth century. The movement began with Beethoven, for whom music could be illustrative, as in the Pastoral Symphony, or associated with a specific extra-musical feeling, as in the piano sonata op. 81a, Les Adieux, or even plainly narrative, as in the once-notorious Battle Symphony op. 91, celebrating the Duke of Wellington's famous victory at Vittoria in 1813.
The form remains resolutely classical in all these works; they can be heard as abstract creations in their own terms. But for the more genuinely romantic sensibility of later composers, music's mysterious powers of communication represented a refined emotional ideal of which the logical conclusion was a breaking-down of barriers between all the arts and a striving for the universal within the individual. For this new synthesis of feeling, the old formal archetypes were felt to be outworn. In opera, Wagner showed how the new music could carry drama to previously unimagined realms of expression. Liszt, inventing the Symphonic Poem with Ce qu'on entend sur la montagne, after a poem by Victor Hugo, created the possibility of a new type of instrumental music which became a focus of nineteenth-century activity, and attained its zenith in the tone poems of Richard Strauss ...