Classical Music Period

Classical Music Period

Classical Period
For example, the Classical period of literature occurred from approximately 1200 BC to 455 AD. The Classical period of music began in 1750 and ended in 1825.
classical
For some, the Classical period refers to a return to the ideals of ancient Greece and Rome such as in the fields of architecture and literature. For others, classical may refer to a specific time period.
Revolution in Music
There were three defining events in world history that influenced the music of the Classical period from 1750 to 1825. The revolutions in America and France along with the ideals of the Enlightenment brought new political and economic power to the common people.

Music that in the past had been composed and performed for royalty and the rich nobility was now available to the common people. The Baroque and pre-Classical styles of music evolved into the Classical style.

Chamber Music
designed to be played by a small group of musicians and is presented by ensembles made up of musicians who play either wind or string instruments
designed to be played by a small group of musicians and is presented by ensembles made up of musicians who play either wind or string instruments
Chamber music must be written for at least two musicians, and each musician plays a different part. Ensembles are often named for the instruments that are used to play the music.
The Classical period marked the first time in music history that instrumental music was more important than vocal music. Chamber groups became formally organized into string trios, quartets, quintets and piano trios. The piano replaced the harpsichord asthe most dominant instrument of the Classical period.
Music of the Classical period moved away from the polyphonic, or counterpoint, style of the late Baroque period. (Counterpoint music is two or more melodies played at the same time while moving with rhythmic independence.) Music of the Classical period focused on homophony, in which two or more voices or instruments move together in harmony, as in chords. A chord is three or more notes played together.
chord
three or more notes played together.
homophony
two or more voices or instruments move together in harmony, as in chords
Sonata
The most important musical style of the Classical period was the sonata. Original sonatas varied between three and four movements or sections. The number of movements was standardized to four during the Classical period.
sonata
a composition for one or more solo instruments, one of which is usually a keyboard instrument. There are three or four movements in a sonata.
A sonata is a composition for one or more solo instruments, one of which is usually a keyboard instrument. There are three or four movements in a sonata. The first movement called the exposition is usually quick, while the second movement, the development, is much slower. The third movement is the recapitulation, which is somewhat fast, and the final movement, the coda, is much faster.
Depending on the audience, a sonata was also known as a symphony, sextet, trio, or a concerto. A symphony is part of orchestral music and was the most influential style use of a sonata.
Orchestral Music
Orchestral music of the Classical period was written to be performed before large audiences by orchestras of over sixty players or a small chamber orchestra. Orchestras became larger and were eventually divided into four sections of percussion, brass, string, and woodwind instruments. Some of the different forms of orchestral music are symphonies, concertos, and overtures.
allegro
There are usually four movements in a symphony. A movement has a specific beginning and ending. An allegro movement, which is quick and lively, usually opens a symphony.
The second movement is typically slow, and the third is somewhat faster. The fourth movement is the same as the first.
A concerto is played by an orchestra and has one or more solo instruments. Usually, the solo instrument is a violin or a piano that is accompanied by a full orchestra. Concertos are similar to symphonies and had four movements during the Classical period.
Two types of concertos developed in the 1800s. The symphonic concerto was written so the soloist and orchestra had equal parts. In the virtuoso concerto, the orchestra accompanied the soloist.
Unlike instrumental music, there were few differences between the form of operas of the Baroque period and those of the Classical period. The opera was still a drama set to music that featured both vocal and instrumental music and used a stage, costumes, and scenery.
Opera was a very popular musical style of the day. Many composers began writing operas to be presented to the general public in the common language of the people. Most early operas were written in the Italian language.
An opera or an oratorio begins with an introductory orchestral piece called an overture. The Frenchman Jean-Baptiste Lully composed the first known overture.
Classical Composers
The most famous composers of the Classical period included the Austrian composer Joseph Haydn and German composers Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart and Ludwig van Beethoven.
Johann Sebastian Bach (1685 – 1750)
Bach was another German composer who is considered by some to be the leading composer of the Baroque period. He wrote numerous musical compositions including cantatas, fugues, and music for the organ. Much of his music was written for religious worship in the Lutheran church.

Bach’s musical career began in 1703. He was appointed the court organist at Weimar, where he stayed from 1708 to 1717. It was during this time that he composed music for the organ and many cantatas.
From 1717 to 1723, he served as the musical director for Prince Leopold of Anhalt-Cothen. During this period, he wrote preludes, fugues, six concertos, four orchestral suites, and six sonatas.

Bach was successful writing in the polyphonic Baroque style at a time when the homophonic style of the pre-Classical period was the most popular. Bach also worked through the pre-Classical period to the beginning of the Classical period, which occurred in 1750.

Jean-Philippe Rameau (1683 – 1764)
Rameau was a composer in the late Baroque period who was famous for his harpsichord music. He was also a leading composer of operas and was recognized as a leading musical theorist of his time.

Rameau replaced Jean-Baptiste Lully as the leading composer of French opera. In fact, he is usually recognized as one of the greatest French music dramatists.

George Frideric Handel (1685 – 1759)
Handel was a composer from Germany whose greatest contributions to music were oratorios. His most famous oratorio was Messiah, which is still performed regularly today. He also wrote operas and composed music for the harpsichord as well as chamber music.

Handel eventually moved to England where he remained a popular musical figure in Europe. He was another example who was successful using the Baroque style during the pre-Classical period.

John Gay (1685 – 1732)
John Gay was a poet and writer of plays and operas. His most famous opera was The Beggar’s Opera written in 1728. Gay used his operas to make fun of the politicians of his day.
Louis Daquin (1694 – 1772)
This French composer was famous as a harpsichordist and organist. Daquin was also a composer of music for keyboard instruments. In 1727, he bested Jean-Philippe Rameau by being named as the organist at the St. Paul Church.
Christoph Willibald Gluck (1714 – 1787)
Gluck contributed to the development of the opera during the Classical period. He wrote operas, comic operas, dramatic ballets, and instrumental music. He changed the style of the Italian opera in which the music was more important than the drama or story.

He lived and worked in many countries including Austria, Italy, France, and England. Gluck’s first opera, Artaserse, was produced in 1741. Carl Philip Emanuel Bach and Gluck were considered by some scholars to be the founders of the Classical style.

Carl Philip Emanuel Bach (1714 – 1788)
Bach is considered to be one of the leading composers of the pre-Classical period. He was the son of Johann Sebastian Bach, a leading composer of the Baroque period. C.P.E. Bach actually began his career in law, receiving a degree in Frankfort in 1735. He was trained in music by his father and was named by the Prussian Emperor Frederick II to be the court harpsichordist in 1740.

C.P.E. Bach was able to change the old Baroque music into the lighter galant style of the Rococo, or pre-Classical period. His compositions influenced the music of Franz Joseph Haydn, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, and Ludwig van Beethoven.
He wrote religious compositions, chamber music, concertos for oboe, piano, organ, harpsichord, and organ sonatas.

Franz Joseph Haydn (1732 – 1809)
Haydn was one of the outstanding European composers from the mid to late eighteenth century. He was a leader in vocal and instrumental music writing during the Classical period. Haydn established the basic organization of the string quartet and wrote over eighty compositions for this music ensemble.

Haydn was a prolific composer and wrote over a hundred symphonies. His most famous symphony is Symphony No. 102 in B flat Major written in 1795. He also wrote concertos, overtures, music for the theater, sonatas, cantatas, oratorios, and operas.
Haydn began his career working as a composer for the wealthy Esterhazy family in 1761. He was responsible for composing and performing music for the court of these Hungarian nobles. Haydn’s work was well received both locally and throughout Europe. He met Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart in 1781. The two famous composers respected and admired each other’s work.

Haydn moved to Vienna, Austria, in 1791. On his return from a trip to England, he met Ludwig van Beethoven, who became his pupil. Haydn’s later works include the oratorios of The Creation (1798), The Seasons (1801), and six masses written between 1796 and 1802.

Antonio Salieri (1750 – 1825)
Salieri was born in Vienna, Italy. He was one of the leading composers of the late eighteenth century. Austrian Emperor Joseph II made him the court composer in 1788. He served as the music director for the royal court for thirty-six years. Salieri composed operas that were performed in Austria, France, and Italy. His most famous work was the French opera Tarare, produced in 1787. He spent his later working years writing religious music.

Salieri was on friendly terms with Joseph Haydn and had even given music lessons to Beethoven.
His relationship with Mozart was strained, because Mozart believed Salieri had tried to poison him. The relationship between the two was the subject of Rimsky-Korsakov’s opera Mozart et Salieri written in 1898, and also the subject of the film Amadeus that won eight Academy Awards, including best picture in 1984.

Muzio Clementi (1752 – 1832)
Clementi was an English pianist and composer of sonatas for the piano. An Italian named Bartolomeo Cristofori had developed the piano in the 1700s and a keyboard instrument called the pianoforte, the first instrument to use hammers to strike the strings.

The piano had become more popular in England than in any other European country. Clementi wrote many piano sonatas making use of the capabilities and range of this new instrument. He is generally considered to be the “father of the piano.”

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (1756 – 1791)
This Austrian is considered by many to be one of the leading composers of all time. Along with Joseph Haydn, he was a driving force in the creation of the music of the Classical period. His production of over 600 musical works is amazing considering that he died at the age of 36.

Mozart’s introduction to the world of music began at an early age. His father was the leader of the orchestra in Salzburg, Austria. Mozart learned to play the harpsichord at the age of three, and he began composing music at the age of five. Mozart played for Austrian Empress Maria Theresa at the age of six. Mozart and his father toured Europe, where the young musician performed at many concerts. Mozart worked briefly for the archbishop of Salzburg until he was dismissed in 1781. He married in 1782 and struggled to earn a living from his music. He eventually died a poor man in 1791.

Mozart composed over forty symphonies for operas and orchestras. Some of these symphonies have four movements. Mozart’s most famous symphony is Number 41 written in 1788. He also wrote religious music, including masses and motets. Probably the best-known religious composition was the Requiem, which was a mass for the dead, although he died before he was able to finish it.

Mozart also wrote concertos, chamber music, and sonatas for the violin, harpsichord, and piano. Although Clementi was the first to use the piano, it was the work of Mozart that increased the popularity of the piano.

Mozart wrote many types of musical compositions. Many of his twenty-two operas were popular in his day and are still performed today. Some of his famous operas include The Marriage of Figaro (1786) and Don Giovanni (1787), which were written in Italian. Mozart wrote arias, recitatives, and ensembles for his operas. An ensemble features many people singing at the same time.
Ludwig van Beethoven (1770 – 1827)
Beethoven was another of the leading composers in history. His work changed the focus of music from the past when it had mostly been written for religious ceremonies or public performances. People enjoyed listening to Beethoven’s music, which moved the composition of music away from the restrictions of social, commercial, religious, and teaching interests. Beethoven’s work had a profound influence on the romantic composers.
Beethoven was born in Germany and demonstrated a talent for music at an early age. His father, Johann, taught him to play the piano and violin. Johann hoped that his young son would be another child musician like Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. Beethoven’s mother died in 1787, and his father became an alcoholic. Beethoven was able to escape from his troubled family life when he became a teacher for the children of the van Breuning family, who helped him in his musical career.

Beethoven traveled to Vienna, Austria, in 1787 where he met and played for Mozart. Beethoven met Franz Joseph Haydn in 1792 and later became his pupil. He eventually made Vienna his home for the rest of his life.

Beethoven was probably the first music composer to make a living without the help of rich patrons or religious organizations. He began to lose his hearing in the late eighteenth century and eventually became totally deaf toward the end of his life. This physical disability did not stop him from composing music.
Beethoven’s music includes nine symphonies for orchestra, overtures, and piano concertos. He also composed chamber music for string quartets, trios, and violin and cello sonatas. In addition, he composed 35 piano sonatas, cantatas, and masses. One of his most famous works for the piano was Moonlight Sonata.

The musical works of Beethoven spanned the
Classical and Romantic periods. He provided the example of using music to deliver a theme or message. For example, Beethoven’s third symphony, Eroica, highlighted what Napoleon symbolized to the French people. The opera Fidelio was inspired by the ideals of the French Revolution.

Mozart composed over forty symphonies for operas and orchestras. Some of these symphonies have four movements. Mozart’s most famous symphony is Number 41 written in 1788. He also wrote religious music, including masses and motets. Probably the best-known religious composition was the Requiem, which was a mass for the dead, although he died before he was able to finish it.

Mozart also wrote concertos, chamber music, and sonatas for the violin, harpsichord, and piano. Although Clementi was the first to use the piano, it was the work of Mozart that increased the popularity of the piano.

Mozart wrote many types of musical compositions. Many of his twenty-two operas were popular in his day and are still performed today. Some of his famous operas include The Marriage of Figaro (1786) and Don Giovanni (1787), which were written in Italian. Mozart wrote arias, recitatives, and ensembles for his operas. An ensemble features many people singing at the same time.