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Classical period


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A brief PowerPoint presentation on this Classical Period of Western music, including numerous links to YouTube videos of musical examples.

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Classical period

  1. 1. The Classical Period Of Western Musical History Circa 1750 to 1820 47 minutes of Musical Examples
  2. 2. The Classical Period of Music The Classical Period of Western music followed the Baroque period. Lasting a relatively short period of time, (70 years) the dates of the Classical period are approximately 1750 to 1820. In contrast to the music of the Baroque period, much of the music of the Classical period is characterized by generally simpler melodies and musical textures (i.e. the number of distinct musical lines occurring simultaneously).
  3. 3. Baroque vs. Classical Period Music Despite the fact that the music of these two periods of musical history are characterized by distinct differences in musical style, there are still many similarities between music of the Baroque period and music of the Classical period. There is also considerable overlap between the two periods. That said, some of the general differences between Baroque and Classical period music are detailed on the following slides.
  4. 4. Baroque vs. Classical Period Music In the mid-1700s, a new, more expressive instrument, the piano, gradually replaced the harpsichord. A great deal of music was written for the solo piano during the Classical period, which paved the way for the phenomenon of the "piano virtuoso" to develop. Painting of young Mozart by Saverio dalla Rosa (1745-1821)
  5. 5. During the Classical period, composers began using the piano as their primary tool to aid them in composing music. Painting of Ludwig van Beethoven composing at the piano
  6. 6. The Orchestra Is Standardized in the Classical Period The idea of an orchestra as a musical ensemble was first established during the Baroque Period, but not yet standardized. During the Classical Period, the size of the orchestra increased and by the end of the Classical period, the instruments of the orchestra became standardized as: 2 flutes, 2 oboes, 2 clarinets, 2 bassoons, 2 French horns, 2 trumpets, timpani & strings.
  7. 7. Seating plan for a standard Classical period symphony orchestra
  8. 8. Music in the Classical period was written to appeal to the emerging middle class audience, whereas Baroque music was typically intended for the aristocracy or the church.
  9. 9. Opera was still popular in the Classical period, but the subjects of the operas began to change. In the Classical period, fewer operas were written about mythological characters, as they were in the Baroque period, and more operas were written about the lives of ordinary people (such as in Mozart's The Marriage of Figaro.) However, some Classical period operas were still written about kings.
  10. 10. The style of music changed in the Classical period to become generally simpler in a number of ways. The complex style of polyphonic music (music with many melodies simultaneously) that was prevalent in the late Baroque period was replaced in the Classical period by music that emphasizes single melodies with an underlying accompaniment. The concepts of proportion and balance as applied to the phrasing and musical structure became very important during the Classical period.
  11. 11. The length or duration of some musical works gradually increased in the Classical period. This became evident with the development of the "Sonata-Allegro form." This form became one of the most important developments in Classical period music, because it was adopted as the standard structure (musical architecture) for the first movements of Sonatas, Symphonies and String Quartets.
  12. 12. Classical Period Trends In Other Arts Other arts forms, such as painting, sculpture, architecture and literature experienced a period in the late 18th and early 19th centuries similar to the Classical Period in music. But with these other arts forms, these trends are usually called “Neoclassical*” to distinguish them from the Classical periods of art, architecture and literature that took place during the cultures of ancient Greece and Rome. (“Neo” means “new.”) Since the music of ancient Greece and Rome has largely been lost, the word “Neoclassical” is not used to refer to the “Classical” trend that took place from 1750 to 1820.
  13. 13. Portrait of Madame Recamier (1800) by the French Neo-classical painter Jacques-Louis David (1748-1825) Neoclassical Painting
  14. 14. Portrait of Napoleon in His Study (1812) by the French Neo-classical painter Jacques-Louis David (1748-1825) (now hanging in the National Art Gallery in Washington, DC) Neoclassical Painting
  15. 15. St. Georges Hall in Liverpool (built 1841-1854) is considered to be one of the finest examples of Neoclassical architecture in Europe. Neoclassical Architecture
  16. 16. Examples of Classical Period Music Piano Sonata Mozart: Sonata in C Major for Piano, K. 545 1st Movement (4’57”) Symphony Mozart: Symphony No. 41 in C Major (The “Jupiter” Symphony) (9’31”) Concerto (11’29”) Mozart: Concerto in G Major for Piano, K. 453 (TEOM CD 2, #29) String Quartet Haydn: String Quartet, Opus 77, No. 1 – First Movement (5’58”)
  17. 17. Examples of Classical Period Music Opera Mozart: The Marriage of Figaro Bass Aria: “Non piu andrai” (4’48”) Theme and Variations Haydn: Symphony No. 94 in G Major (“The Surprise Symphony”) TEOM CD1 #79 (6’11”)
  18. 18. Examples of Classical Period Music Minuet and Trio The Minuet and Trio is a common musical form in the Classical period, especially in Symphonies. Some Symphonies have 3 movements and some have 4 movements. If a Symphony has 4 movements, then the Minuet & Trio form is used for the 3rd movement.
  19. 19. Examples of Classical Period Music Minuet and Trio Structure A-A B-B Trio: C-C D-D Da capo*: A-B Example: Haydn: Symphony No. 6 in D Major – 3rd Movement (4’08”) *Da capo is an Italian musical term that means “from the beginning.” “Capo” in Italian means “head.”
  20. 20. Examples of Classical Period Music Rondo The Rondo form consists of the repeated use of a theme, alternating with musical episodes, each consisting of a new theme, intervening among the repetitions, like this: A – B – A – C - A - D – A – Coda) (A “coda” in music is an ending. “Coda means “tail” in Italian. Example: Haydn: Piano Trio in G Major - Rondo all'Ongarese (Presto) 3’26”