music history

Impressionist Period: Quick Reference

The Impressionist period in music was a movement, primarily in France, that began in approximately 1890 and and ended its mainstream popularity in 1940.  The movement was founded as a reaction to the excesses of the Romantic period.

The most notable composers of the Romantic period include Claude Debussy and Maurice Ravel.

As is the visual art work of this same period, musical impressionism focused on creating an atmosphere rather than an emotional outpouring. The sounds of the impressionist works tends to be dissonance and include the whole tone scale and other uncommon scales. Impressionist composers also favored shorter musical forms such as the arabesque, nocturne, and prelude.

Further Reading

Impressionism, In Music – The Columbia Encyclopedia, Sixth Edition.

ImpressionismEncarta Concise Encyclopedia. Microsoft Corporation.



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