CLassical Music

by John Torento and Bryan Ong

General background of Classical Muisc  

     The classical style in musical history, comes as a transition of the baroque style of music. The baroque style in music was a very flamboyant, grandeurs, ornamented period in time, where musicians and high classed people tried to glorify themselves above others. Near the mid-18th century, composers and musicians focused on creating music with simplicity and clarity. This is nearly the exact opposite of the Baroque style of music. Overlapping musical textures and majestic sounds were discarded in favor of simple and light melodies. Also, during this time, contrasting moods and themes of music was a common type of composition. The term “classical” is one with several meanings. It brings into mind ancient Greek or Roman ideas, or anything that describes a remarkable achievement that has an everlasting appeal on the people (like a classical act, or an ‘all time classic’). But in terms of music, most people take the classical style as whatever is not rock, jazz, folk, country, disco, reggae, or popular music. The term classical itself is borrowed from art history by music historians. In the classical, or neoclassical style (meaning new classical), paintings, sculptures, and architecture of mid 1800s century were influenced by ancient Greek and roman ideas. This balance between neoclassical art and classical music is important on the stress of clarity in structure. These ideas all help to the eventual development of fully-developed classical music.

Transition of Classical Music from Baroque  

         During the Baroque period, only wealthy people or specific groups of people could afford to support musicians during that period. For example  Johann Sebastian Bach, one of the most famous composers of the Baroque period was financed by the Duke of Weimer who was the government of Weimer. However when the Age of Enlightenment began, wealthy business men could support musicians, who could purse their talents in comfort.

        In the Classical Period, the music reflected the change in society that was happening in the Age of Enlightenment, where people began to question the way the government and the Church were handling things. In the transitional period of baroque to classical music, several musicians began to wander off from the baroque style and and began to form the Classical music foundation. Johann Sebastian Bach, a famous composer during the baroque period, composed baroque pieces throughout his entire life, but his influence stayed with his son,Carl Philipp Emanuel who stepped out of the baroque road and into a new one which was the Classical period.          

Famous composers of Classical Music

       Three of the world's considered most famous composers, Haydn, Mozart, and Beethoven, lived and worked during this period. These people grew up in a period of violent political and social troubles/upheavals. Because from the late 18th to early 19th century, the world was troubled by the Seven Years War, American and French Revoution, Napoleon's Wars. And much like everyone else, musicians too were affected by these changes in society brought by war. We can trace these changes in these three great composers lives and work. Joseph Haydn, who lived from 1732 to 1809, lived content to serving a wealthy family of aristocrats. Haydn was a skilled servan, as shown in his contract of employment, having to wear a uniform, and compose music only in His Highness' orders. But Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (1759 to 1791) could no longer bear his treatment as a servant, breaking free from his court position, in hipes of living a new life in Avicenna as a free lance musician. For most of his remaining years, he lived a successful life until he declined in popularity, dying in much debt. Ludwig Van Beethoven in 1770 to 1827, was more accomplished in living as a freelance musician in Vienna. Than Mozart was. He gained success through a market of the middle class for music, and a very unique and commanding personality that called for nobility to respect him as an equal, giving him tifts as well. In the 18th century, people made more improvements and advancements in society, which allowed the common people to gain more money. Everyone, from merchants, to government official, could afford larger homes, better clothes, more grandeurs food, and a wealthier lifestyle. Soon the middle class wanted more than material pleasures - they wanted other leisure and luxuries such as theater, literature., and most of all, music. This inspired town’s people to organize concerts with fees for enter, which played the latest symphonies and concertos. These public concertos rapidly spread throughout Europe, being run by people such as Johann Christian Bach (son of Bach) and a black violinist named Chevalier de Saint-George. Soon, the desire of the middle class to hear music all around them grew. People wanted their children to learn music, much like the aristocrats did,in hopes of joining music with the aristocracy. This increased the demand of printed music, instruments, and lessons for kusic. This caused Classical composers to make music easy to be played by the amateur musicians. Compositions became less courtly, elegant, operatic, and heroic, turning more vigorous, energetic, and rustic. Composers were pleased with writing dance music for balls in Vienna. Vienna, Europe, was probably the most active music center in the country, as all the major composer of classical music lived there. It was also the most cultural and commercially bustling cosmopolitan center. Born from different countries, Haydn, Mozart, and Beethoven were drawn to Vienna, to study music, and gain recognition in their works. Influencing each other’s styles, Beethoven played for Mozart and then study wit Mozart's friend, Haydn.

Characteristics  of Music

       Classical music received intense variety and sharp contrasting of mood in the way music was composed. Unlike in the late baroque style where music mainly expressed a single solid emotion, classical compositions had fluctuating moods. From a jubilant and joyful tune, the music might shift into a dark and intense meaningful harmony, or vice versa  all within one movement, or even one theme. Music virtuoso during these times, such as Franz Joseph Haydn, Ludwig Van Beethoven, and Mozart were skillful enough to express unity and logic to a wide range of emotions. In basic form, classical music is usually homophobic  meaning that its texture consisted of mainly one melody. However, the flexibility of themes now was much more inconsistent. Much like its emotions, the homophobic melody may transition into a highly complex polyphonic (multi-melodic) texture across various instruments. And in terms of melodies, classical tunes were the most meaningful and easiest to remember, may they be complex and sophisticated or feathered and airy or light. This is because of the balance and symmetry that are usually consisted of two phrases of the same length, which may have similar sounds, but different conclusive melodies.

Age of Enlightenment Influence on Classical Music

             The Age of Enlightenment was when people began to question the government and the Church  the way they handle things. The people then turned to themselves to answer their own question instead of relaying upon the Church to determine their decisions for them. Composers in the Classical period also began to peel away from the heavy Baroque to the simpler, lighter style Classical music. There were many influences of the Age of Enlightenment on Classical Music. One is how in the Age of Enlightenment, emphasis was always made on logical balance and order. This then made composers make sure that the music was perfectly balanced and there was no excessive emotions, unlike in Baroque where composers were allowed to have opulence and highly emotional content. Another influence of the Age of Enlightenment on Classical music is that the philosophizers believed that all humans live under one universal natural law. In Classical music, composers from other country have their music follow the same form as the others. Another influence is that as people began to become more independent from the Church, composers also began to make less music for the Church and more for the public which in turn helped made Classical music more popular.