Get our exclusive Word of the Day images!
instrumental music that carries some extramusical meaning, some "program" of literary idea, legend, scenic description, or personal drama. It is contrasted with so-called absolute, or abstract, music, in which artistic interest is supposedly confined to abstract constructions in sound. It has been stated that the concept of program music does not represent a genre in itself but rather is present in varying degrees in different works of music. Only in the so-called Romantic era, from Beethoven to Richard Strauss, is the program an essential concept, and even there it leaves its mark on much music commonly considered "pure" or "absolute."