The romantic period, roughly 1800 AD to 1900 AD, brought with it a taste for the exotic. Artists of all kinds became increasingly interested in foreign lands, myths, and adventure. This was an extremely creative period in Europe. Personal expression had become far more important in the romantic period than it had been previously, and musicians and composers for the first time, thanks in part to Ludwig Van Beethoven, were seen as artists and not craftsmen.
Composers of the romantic period had a renewed interest in counterpoint and polyphony as well. Emotion and expressiveness took precedence over form and music began to take on more descriptive titles, Nocturne, Papillons (Butterflies), Les jeux d’eaux à la Villa d’Este (The Fountains of the Villa d’Este).
The romantic period in music was also the age of the virtuoso. The great violinist and composer Niccolò Paganini displayed such technical prowess in his concerts that rumors began to spread that he had sold his soul to the Devil. However impressive Paganini’s abilities were, he was to be outdone by pianist and composer Franz Liszt. Franz Liszt may in many ways be considered the first rock star. His concerts were accompanied by screaming fans and women would follow him on the streets collecting his cigar butts and coffee dregs. Liszt also initiated the first ever solo recital and was the first to give a concert entirely from memory.