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Romance: Description

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This article is about the musical term, for other uses see Romance (disambiguation)

The term romance (Spanish: romance/romanza, Italian: romanza, German: Romanze, French: romance, Russian: романс, Portuguese: romance) has a centuries-long history. Applied to narrative ballads in Spain, it came to be used by the 18th century for simple lyrical pieces not only for voice, but also for instruments alone. During the 18th and 19th centuries Russian composers developed the French variety of the romance as a sentimental category of Russian art song. "Ochi Chyornie" (Black Eyes) is a well-known example.

The Oxford Dictionary of Music[1] states that "generally it implies a specially personal or tender quality".

Georges Bizet's "Je crois entendre encore" from The Pearl Fishers (1863) is labelled a romance in the score.

As for instrumental romances, Mozart subtitled the second movement of his piano concerto no. 20 in D minor (K.466) "Romanze" and his Horn Concerto has a romanze and Rondo. Robert Schumann was particularly fond of the title for lyrical piano pieces.

So many composers in the French tradition wrote Romances sans paroles, "Romances without words", from the 1840s onwards[2] that the radical poet Paul Verlaine in turn published a collection of his impressionistic poems as Romances sans paroles (1874).

Some instrumental music bearing the title "Romance":

Among Russian romances notable examples are

British singer Marc Almond is the only western artist to receive acclaim in western Europe and well as Russia, for singing English versions of Russian Romances and Russian Chanson on his albums Heart On Snow and Orpheus in Exile (the songs of Vadim Kozin).



  • (French) Henri Gougelot, La Romance française sous la Révolution et l'Empire : choix de textes musicaux (Melun:Legrand & Fils, 1937) [2nd ed., 1943].
  • (French) Henri Gougelot, Catalogue des romances françaises parues sous la Révolution et l'Empire, les recueils de romances (Melun:Legrand & Fils, 1937)
  • Russian romances on YouTube

This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article "Romance". Allthough most Wikipedia articles provide accurate information accuracy can not be guaranteed.

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