The Classical Period The Classical Period in music dates from about 1730 to 1830, and reflects historical developments of that era. The eighteenth-century was a time of new ideas, revolution and dramatic change in social, economic and political structures. In England, the Industrial Revolution led to enormous social upheaval, as workers left farms and fields to enter factories and overpopulate already-crowded cities, while British primacy in international commerce, its unrivaled Navy which enforced and expanded trade, and its imperialist impulses led to the expansion of the British Empire around the globe . In Britain's American colonies, growing protests against Britain's attempts to rein in the colonies' progress in self-government eventually sparked a war that resulted in the founding of the United States as an independent nation. Soon after, deteriorating social conditions in France led to The French Revolution , causing an upheaval that led to the rise and fall of invading French armies under Napoleon and the redrawing of the map of Europe . And in the eastern regions of the Germanic states, Prussia expanded its growing power under the leadership of Frederick the Great , a shrewd military strategist as well as an arts connoisseur . In architecture, painting and sculpture, ancient Greek and Roman models were emulated in what came to be called the neoclassical style . Gone was the gaudy, ornate, colossal style of the High Baroque: balance, order and geometrical symmetry represented the new ideal. Greek and Roman architecture provided the models for everything from public edifices in Europe to the private estates of George Washington and Thomas Jefferson . Origins of the Classical Style in Music Changes were taking place in music as well. The long phrasing and elaborate, complex art of Western polyphony--refined for over 300 years since the early Renaissance and throughout the Baroque Period--were not abandoned entirely, but rather gave way to a new style that sought simplicity, elegance, and clear, tuneful melody. This style feature known as melody-dominated homophony , or treble-dominated style , in which one voice, typically the uppermost in range, is preeminent above the other voices which serve as a harmonic substructure, became part of the new musical style in fashion. Beginning in the 1730's, Italian opera seria (serious opera) began to give way to a new style called opera buffa (comic opera). These changes involved both the structure of the music and the character of the plots involved. At the same time, whereas the most significant music before 1730 had been primarily vocal music, the Classical Period was a time when the composition of instrumental music exceeded that of vocal music. This is evidenced by the rise during this period of the symphony orchestra --an all-
instrumental ensemble--and of new compositional genres, namely the symphony, the classical sonata, and the string quartet .
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- Spring '16
- Music, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, Mozart