Music of the Classical Era

Classical Era of Classical Music

After the Baroque Era came the Classical Era of Music (1750 – 1820). Even though this was not a very long period of music, it was an important time in the music world. Many things changed in the way music was written and performed. And the audiences for the music changed also.

Characteristics of the Classical Era

Melody Reigns Supreme

Shorter, simpler, singable melodies feature in the music of this era. Melody became the most important thing for composers to get right!

Music for Everyone

Who wants to go to a concert? Musicians start to give public concerts – open to anyone. The idea of public concerts brings music to the common people. Music becomes a form of entertainment for all.

Instrumental Music Takes Center Stage

Music with an instrumental solo and accompaniment becomes very popular. The main form of small group performance (or chamber music) is the string quartet. Orchestras got larger, and the symphonies they played got longer.

Composers Take Control

Composers began to control more about how their music was played. They wrote more specific notations in the music to tell the performers how to play it. They specified how fast they wanted the music played. Composers wrote markings in the music about when to play loud and soft.

Music is Simpler and with more Variety

By simpler, we don’t mean easier to play, but with a single melody happening, and chord structures underneath to support the melody. The music wasn’t as complex as the music from the Baroque Era. And the music had more variety. The dynamics changed during a piece. Composers tried to write music that was lighter, more elegant, and clearer than the music of the Baroque.

Composers of the Classical Era

The Big Three

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart  Music of Mozart

Franz Joseph Haydn   Music of Haydn

Ludwig van Beethoven  Music of Beethoven

Significant Others

Franz Schubert

Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach

Christoph Willibald Gluck

Muzio Clementi

Luigi Boccherini

Listen to some music written by these composers and some by the Baroque composers we talked about last week. Which one do you like better? It’s OK to like the music from both eras. One kind of music is not necessarily better than the other – just different.  Let me know your favorites in the comments!

If you missed our earlier episodes of music history, check them out here:  Baroque Music  Renaissance Music  Music of the Middle Ages  Music of the Ancients


Classical Era The Big Three Melody

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