1848 was year of failed revolutions in france, italy, and german states. Political freedom hand in hand with personal expression in life and art drifted: Not all early romantics lived in free societies, freedom was ideal to take seriously as hope for future. Recall beethoven"s enthusiasm for napoleon reflected in eroica symphony of 1803. In 1820s, artists and intellectuals thrilled personal role of one - lord byron - in struggle for greek independence. Aspirations had little to nourish them since napoleon. 1848 also convenient one to demarcate music history. Some great romantic composers died between years 1847 and 1856. Exiled from germany for revolutionary activity, no opera house to compose for. Turned inward and after period of philosophical and musical reflection, worked revolutionary musical ideas. Wagner"s music dramas dominate imagination of musicians in second half of century, much as beethoven in the first half. Literature and art from 1850s marked by realism.