The Western Music is divided to part according to time, i.e. they are divided into periods:
Baroque Classical Romantic Modern
While classical composers maintain the balance in their music between expressiveness and formal structure, romantic composer shifted this balance. They looked for a greater freedom of form and design in their music, and a more powerful and intense expression of emotion, often revealing their innermost thoughts and feelings, even sufferings. Imagination, fantasy and a quest for adventure are important ingredients in Romantic style.
There was an enormous increase in both the size and range of the orchestra. The brass section was, soon completed by the addition of the tuba. Composers wrote for three or four woodwind instruments such as piccolo, flute, oboe, cor anglais, bass clarinet or double bassoon. The percussion family also started to take shape and composers used many different percussion instruments apart form timpani.
Romantic composers explored themselves with richer harmonies, wider range of pitch, volumes.
19th Romanticism mainly included Music for the piano, programme music and nationalism.
Almost all romantic composers wrote music for piano. They wrote many sonatas as well as dances such as waltzes, mazurkas and polonaises, and "character" pieces such as the impromptu (meaning "on the spur of the moment"), romance, song without words, prelude, nocturne (night-piece), ballade.
The main idea and the most important in the romantic period, however, was programme music - music which "tells a story" or paints a picture. Beethoven had explained that his programmatic symphony "Pastorale", which he called it, was "more expression of feeling than tone-painting". In programme symphony, usually recurring themes are used - themes appear in two or more movements in the symphony to bring unity to it. Programme symphony mainly told a story with oneself feelings, so the moods are intense such that we can feel the composers' emotions. There is also another type of Programme music - namely symphonic poem. It is a one-movement programme piece for orchestra, but is usually lengthier and much freer in construction. However, the symphonic poems had poetic moods.
By the middle of the 19th century, music had become almost completely dominated by German influence. At about this time, some composers from other countries began to feel that they should develop their own countries' characteristics. They composed music with their countries folks, life, history, and legends.
Now Listen to Berlioz's Symphony Fantastique, a programme symphony.