- “The Age of Enlightenment” – philosophers and thinkers favored reason and progress as opposed to tradition and religion.
- Attack on aristocracy, religious institutions. People questioned everything, including the existence of god.
- Time of social and political upheaval, movements of independence.
Characteristics of Classical music:
- Classical music emerged as a reaction to the complexity of Baroque music.
- Classical music emphasized clarity and balance of structure.
- Variety of moods.
- Variety of rhythms
- Variety of melodies, short, simple, balanced, symmetrical. Easy to remember and sing back.
- Gradual changes in dynamics (as opposed to terraced dynamics of the Baroque which were sudden changes.)
- The piano is invented around 1700’s.
- The piano was able to create subtle/gradual changes in volume.
- End of basso continuo (harpsichord accompaniment)
- Classical orchestra is bigger than Baroque one. 25-40 players
- Orchestra now includes 4 families of instruments and all have their own role.
- Middle class grows, demands more instruments, printed music, public concerts, music lessons.
- Composers took middle class taste into account, by using popular/folk tunes. They also wrote comic opera targeted to middle class people.
- Homophonic texture: one main melody and accompaniment.
- Vienna, Austria becomes the artistic center in Europe. A lot outdoor entertainment.
- Symphony: multi-movement (3-4) work for orchestra. Usually 25-40 min long.
- Concerto: work for orchestra and soloist in several movements. Many piano concertos were written during this time.
- Chamber music: music intended for a small, intimate setting/room. Soft music, with several instruments (2-5). The most popular type of chamber music is the String quartet: 2 violins, 1 viola and 1 cello. Very popular, “invented” by Haydn. In several movements.
- Theme and variations: main theme and several variations on it.
Franz Joseph Haydn (1732-1809)
- Austrian composer
- Employed by the Esterhazy family, one the wealthiest families of the time. Worked there for most of his life.
- 104 symphonies, 68 string quartets (possibly invented it), 2 Masses, opera, keyboard pieces, chamber music, concertos.
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (1756-1791)
- Austrian musician/child prodigy/composer
- Toured Europe for most of his childhood
- Wrote in all the forms of the time: 41 symphonies, many string quartets, many concertos – piano concertos Ex. Piano Concerto No. 21, chamber music, piano solo music, several great operas – Italian and German, serious and comic.
Ludwig van Beethoven (1770-1827)
- German pianist and composer
- Very talented since boyhood
- Moved to Vienna, played for Mozart, studied with Haydn
- Became well known and liked by the Viennese, especially the aristocracy who gave him gifts, commissioned music, etc.
- He was an independent composer, never worked for an employer.
- Made a decent living by teaching piano and giving concerts.
- At age 29, started losing his hearing.
- Some of his greatest works were written when he was completely deaf.
- Considered the “bridge” between Classical and Romantic style.
- Wrote 9 symphonies, a lot of piano solo music, chamber music, 1 opera. Ex. Symphony No. 5
- In his music, he expanded the range of the orchestra, pitch, dynamics. He used larger orchestras and his works were longer than Mozart and Haydn’s.
- Loud, triumphant finales, more dramatic and expressive music.