and Classical Music
1. The Classical period was approximately 1750-1820. The musical center was Vienna, Austria. Four intellectual leaders during this time were Voltaire, Jean Jacques Rousseau, Benjamin Franklin, and Thomas Jefferson. The American Revolution, the French Revolution, and the Napoleonic Wars are of this time period.
of the earlier Greek and Roman civilizations can be seen in the
painting, and music of the period. Intellectual
were that reason and logic are the way to truth, the universe
governed by the same laws regardless of time or place, and the
guide people’s activities. This
period is sometimes referred to as the “Age of Reason.”
The Rococo began the Classical period.
It was basically centered in France and reflected the
aristocracy. The style was decorative,
light, and ornate, and was also known as the galant style.
The patronage system was common.
5. Music tended to follow expected practices.
Melodies were pleasant and often made up of short
phrases (two or four
measures long) in a statement-answer pattern.
Rhythm was steady and metrical, except
recitatives and cadenzas.
Crescendo and decrescendo were used instead of
were not very large.
11. The piano replaced the harpsichord.
Because opera is a type of theater, it has
listeners need to understand and accept in order to appreciate
the words are sung, not spoken
singing style must be powerful enough to project the words and
the opera house or auditorium. This
singing style is unfamiliar to most people.
words are often in a language other than English, which makes
for most Americans to understand unless they follow a
plots must be shortened to keep them from being too long.
Much more time is required to express a thought in music
those same words. As a result, the
dramatic quality may sometimes suffer.
requires the suspension of the same realities that affect any
For example, large blocks of time are often supposed to
between a change of scene, and the viewers/listeners observe
if a wall
in front of them had been removed so they can see and hear what
on stage, and so forth.
Opera can be enjoyed much more if you realize that its
is not to
imitate reality, but rather to heighten it.
It is not bound by logic. Instead
appeals to the imagination through the power of music to project
The text of an opera is called the libretto.
It is written before the music, but is seldom written by
The music of an opera consists of recitatives, arias, and
The chorus usually participates on stage from behind the
Several traditions exist about the type of voices and the
portrayed. The heroine and hero are
usually a soprano and tenor, and the villain or authority figure
Two types of operas were important
period: opera seria and opera buffa. Opera
seria was the traditional tragic opera that often featured
Greek and Roman heros and gods. Opera
buffa (comic opera) was filled with fun and frivolity.
It was written in vernacular languages, and used humorous
sometimes included popular tunes.
Homophonic texture was mostly used, with only
New forms developed for individual movements:
sonata-allegro, theme and variations, rondo, and minuet
New instrumental genres include the symphony,
quartet, solo sonata
for piano and other instruments, and solo concerto.
Most genres are large works that contain several
Chamber music is music for small ensembles with one
part. Although more than one
instrument of the same type may be used (two violins, for
each instrument plays is different. During
Classical period, chamber music was always instrumental music.
from Master and Commander - video
on blog - by Patrick O'Brien, Amazon - The
Books - DVD
Music by Luigi Boccherini. - La música nocturna de Madrid
Boccherini (1743-1805) was born in Lucca, Italy, in a musical family. At a young age his father, a cellist and double bass player, sent Luigi to study in Rome (1757), and after various concert tours, in 1769 his talents brought him to the Spanish court in Madrid, where he was employed by Don Luis, the younger brother of King Charles III. There he flourished under royal patronage, until one day when the King expressed his disapproval at a passage in a new trio, and ordered Boccherini to change it. The composer, no doubt irritated with this intrusion into his art, doubled the passage instead, leading to his immediate dismissal. (wikipedia)
Chamber music was very important in the eighteenth
Much music was required for performances in the palaces
so the demand was great for music for small audiences.
The Classical period is sometimes called the “Golden
Age of Chamber Music.”
At first, most chamber music was thought of as
entertainment. But as the century
progressed, composers wrote serious and profound chamber works,
A string ensemble that includes a non-string instrument
referred to by
the name of that instrument. An
ensemble for a violin, cello and piano is called a piano trio.
A sonata is a piece with three or four movements
or for piano and another instrument. It
an important genre of chamber music.
6. Theme and variations is an important type of music consisting of the theme and a number of different settings of the same melody. Go to Haydn page for a wonderful string quartet composition.
THE INDUSTRIAL REVOLUTION - The impulse of the Industrial Revolution, its force, its impetus, acted on the minds of all thinking men of the late 18th and early 19th century. Discoveries fed more discoveries. Ancient class structures broke down. Human labour began to be replaced with human thought. Men, who knew nothing but back breaking labour, mostly in agriculture, increasingly turned their minds to invent devices and contrivances which would give them more for less labour. Source
James Watt's Steam Engine -
from 1763 to 1775
The two main composers of this era are Haydn and Mozart.