The Biedermeier Period
With the end of the Napoleonic wars, a period of relative peace and economic tranquility was established in the Central European countries. As the middle class strengthened, an artistic and cultural movement started to manifest itself domestically, exerting great influence on the music, literature, graphic arts, interior design, fashion and architecture of its time. Criticized by many as being “homemade” and conservative, more than a cultural style it was a spiritual state within the first Romanticism whose characteristics such as simplicity, discrete elegance, functionality and gentleness were summarized by a single word, Biedermeier.
Biedermeier was a name created based on two fictitious characters which were parodies at the time, Mr. Biedermann and Mr. Bummelmaier. The fusion of these names gave birth to Mr. Biedermaier (spelled “maier” instead of “meier” until 1869). This fictitious character, based on a real professor from a village in Swabia (south region of Germany), had poetic aspirations, and his simplicity, aversion to politics, conservatism, and stinginess were caricaturized. In fact, only after 1900 did the term Biedermeier shift from having a pejorative connotation to that of a neutral character defining the artistic and cultural manifestations of the petite bourgeoisie.
Early Romanticism, or First Romanticism, are common ways to refer to musical compositions that were created in this context, and great composers such as the young Beethoven, Weber, Mendelssohn, Schubert and Schumann created works that embody well this spiritual state.