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date: 27 September 2020

Romance (Fr. and Sp.; It. romanza; Ger. Romanze)locked

  • Jack Sage,
  • Susana Friedmann
  •  and Roger Hickman


(Fr. and Sp.; It. romanza; Ger. Romanze)

From the 15th century, romance in Spain and romanza in Italy have nearly always signified a ballad; the narrative romance was, next to the villancico, the most popular song type in Spanish-speaking countries. In France and Germany the term came to indicate an extravagant, sentimental or ‘romantic’ tale in either prose or strophic verse. Since the 18th century vocal and instrumental settings entitled ‘romance’ have continued to express these ‘romantic’ and lyrical qualities (in this sense, the appropriate Spanish word is ‘romanza’).

Jack Sage, revised by Susana Friedmann

As in other countries, Spanish romances (ballads), though probably story-songs at root, often dwell on a single situation taken from a story, the effect being rather more often a heightening of the dramatic tension than of lyricism. There is controversy about their origins. Menéndez Pidal has argued persuasively that romances are unique in European balladry in that they began as fragments of longer epic poems, and, though developing variants by transmission through oral tradition, have been preserved longer and more authentically than have ballads in other countries. Some objections to this theory (see Entwistle, Sage) are these: there is no evidence that Spanish epics preceded the ...

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