Unformatted text preview: 5 music of the Classical Period 5.1 objeCTives
1. Demonstrate knowledge of historical and cultural contexts of the
ensembles), styles, composers, and genres of the classical period
3. Aurally identify selected music of Haydn, Mozart, and Beethoven and
explain how it interacts with forms of the day 5.2 Key Terms and individuals
American War for
Independence Ludwig van Beethoven
minuet and trio form cadenza
coda pizzicato concerto rondo cotton gin scherzo da capo sonata form/double-exposition form development, recapitulation) French Revolution steam engine hemiola string quartet Industrial Revolution Symphony Jean-Jacques Rousseau ternary form Joseph Haydn The Enlightenment Page | 116 Understanding MUsic MUsic of the cl assical Period theme and variation form Voltaire Thomas Paine Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart 5.3 inTroduCTion and hisToriCal ConTeXT
Of all the musical periods, the Classical period is the shortest, spanning less
than a century. Its music is dominated by three composers whose works are still of time in Vienna, Austria, which might be considered the European musical capital of the time.
Music scholars have referred to this time as the Classical period in music for
several reasons. For one, the music of Haydn, Mozart, and Beethoven has served
as the model for most composers after their time and is still played today; in this
way, the music is “classic” in that it has provided an exemplar and has stood the
test of time. As we will also see, this music has often been perceived as emulating
the balance and portion of ancient Greek and Roman art, the time period to which Our use of the Classical period to refer to music of roughly 1750 to 1815, however, should not be confused with our broader use of the term “classical music” to
music or folk music).
Beginning towards the end of the 16th century, citizens in Europe became skeptical of traditional politics, governance, wealth distribution, and the aristocracy.
Philosophers and theorists across Europe began to questioning these norms and
of Reason, or the Enlightenment.
The seeds for the Enlightenment can be found in England in approximately the
1680s. In that decade, Newton published Principia Mathematica and John Locke
published his “Essay Concerning Human Understanding.” These two works protest the world around them and can also mathematically measure and prove natural occurrences.
Besides Locke and Newton, Enlightenment thinkers included Voltaire, Montesquieu, Jean-Jacque Rousseau, Benjamin Franklin, and Immanuel Kant. Their
Page | 117 Understanding MUsic MUsic of the cl assical Period son and common sense in order to provide liberty and justice for all. Many Enlightenment thinkers challenged blind and unconditional following of the authority of
religious traditions and institutions and emphasized what they saw as “universal
human goods and rights.” They believed that if humankind would simply act with
common sense—found in ideas such as “the golden rule”—then societies might advance with greater universal justice and liberty.
Being able to solve and understand many of the
ing math and reason, was empowering. Much of the
educated middle class applied these learned principles
to improve society. Enlightenment ideals lead to political revolutions throughout the Western world. Govtutional democratic form of government and later the
republic completely changed the outlook of the function figure 5.1 | Benjamin
of a nation/state. The overall well-being and prosperity Franklin, 1759
author | Benjamin Wilson
of all in society became the mission of governance.
source | Wikimedia Commons
Up until the mid-1700s art, including music, was license | Public Domain
under the direct control or patronage of the monarchy/aristocracy, the class whose
England landed a devastating blow to the doctrine of the divine ruling rights of
kings. Shortly afterward, the ensuing French Revolution had an unintentional imArtists and architects of the second half of the eighteenth century looked to
classical antiquity as its model; their work is referred to as neoclassical. You can
see this interest when one compares the Parthenon in Athens to the columns of
the White House. While in power, aristocrats and their wealthy peers exalted the
Hellenism that protected them from getting too involved in the current issues of
life. The aristocrats saw the ancient Roman gods, heroes, and kings as semblances
of themselves. They viewed themselves in the same light as super humans entitled
to rule, possess great wealth, and be powerful. This detachment shaped their relationship with the arts in architecture and the visual arts. The rising middle class,
on the contrary, viewed and interpreted neoclassical arts as representations of Roman and Greek city-states. This view assisted their resolve to rebel against the tyrants and abolish despotism. Here musical terminology diverges from that used by
we have few musical exemplars from classical antiquity and as the music of Haydn,
Mozart, and Beethoven would become the model for nineteenth century music,
music historians have referred to this period as a time of Musical Classicism. Page | 118 Understanding MUsic MUsic of the cl assical Period The mid and second half of the 18th century saw a revolutionary political and
economic shift in Europe. Here the dramatic paramount shift of power from the
aristocracy to the middle class began and strengthened. The wealth of the middle
class had been expanding due the growing capitalism from the Industrial Revolution. This revolution resulted from a series of momentous inventions of the mid- including: electricity by Benjamin Franklin, medical smallpox vaccination by Edward Jenner, the discovery of oxygen by Joseph Priestly, the advancement of the
mechanistic view of the universe by Pierre-Simon Laplace, and the invention of for the planets, their motion, and possibly how they began, humans no longer had
on society and music.
During the enlightenment, the burgeoning middle class became a major market for art superseding the aristocracy as the principal consumer of music and art.
This market shift facilitated a great demand for new innovations in the humanities.
While the increased literacy of the middle class led to the proliferation of newspapers, periodicals, and novels throughout Western Europe. These sources provide
us with reviews of concerts and published music and capture eighteenth century
impressions of and responses to music. 5.3.1 The visual arts and architecture
The visual arts developed two major styles in the Enlightenment. Both are representative of the dualism found in the arts during the classical era. As the aristocracy tried to adhere to the Greek and Roman mythological antiquity, artists Marat The Death of
received particular praise. Marat, to whom the painting refers, is the
1 Architecture in the late eighteenth century leaned toward the clean lines of ancient buildings such as the Athenian Parthenon and away from the highly ornate
decorative accents of Baroque and Rococo design. One might also argue that the
music of Haydn, Mozart, and early Beethoven aspires toward a certain simplicity
and calmness stemming from ancient Greek art.
1 “Jacques-Louis David.” Biography.com. A&E Television Networks, n.d. Web. 18 December 2015. Page | 119 Understanding MUsic MUsic of the cl assical Period 5.3.2 music in late eighteenth Century
The three most important composers of the Classical period were Joseph
Haydn, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, and Ludwig van Beethoven. Although they
in Vienna, Austria, a city which might be considered the musical capitol of the England: Mozart and
Haydn traveled here.
Betthoven born here
Vienna, Austria: Haydn,
Mozart, and Betthoven
spent their last years here France: Home of the
Mozart born here
Italy: Mozart learned how
to compose opera here figure 5.3 | Map of Europe
author | User: “Ssolbergj”
source | Wikimedia Commons
license | CC BY-SA 3.0 Their music careers illustrate the changing role of the composer during this
time. The aristocratic sponsors of the Classical artists—who were still functioning Haydn worked for the aristocracy composing to order and wearing the livery of the
Esterházy family, who were his patrons. Though successful working under their
patronage, Haydn had more freedom to forge his own career after Prince Nikolaus
and Vienna. Beethoven, the son of a court musician, was sent to Vienna to learn
from local noblemen for annual support). Beethoven did not have to compose music for them; he simply had to stay in Vienna and compose. In some ways, the role
of aristocratic patron and composer was turned on its head. When philosophically
Page | 120 Understanding MUsic MUsic of the cl assical Period to his abilities. Mozart was also born and raised by a father who was a court musician, though his father was a court musician for the Archbishop of Salzburg. It
was expected that Mozart would also enter the service of the Archbishop; instead,
he escaped to Vienna, where he attempted the life of a freelancer. After initial successes, he struggled to earn enough money to make ends meet and died a pauper
in 1791. The journey through the Classical period is one between two camps, the
old and the new: the old based upon an aristocracy with city states and the new in
the rising and more powerful educated middle class. The traditional despotism is
dying while the new class system increasingly thrives. 5.3.3 musical Timeline
Events in History Events in Music
1732: Haydn born
1750: J. S. Bach dies
1756: Mozart born 1762: French philosopher Rousseau publishes
Émile, or Treatise on Education, outlining
Englightenment educational ideas 1770: Beethoven born 1776: Declaration of Independence in the
1789: Storming of the Bastille and beginning of 1781: Mozart settles in Vienna
1790: Beethoven moves to Vienna
1791: Mozart dies
1791-95: Haydn travels to London
1792: Beethoven moves to Vienna 1793: In the U.S.A., invention of the Cotton
Gin, an innovation of the Industrial Revolution
1809: Haydn dies
1827: Beethoven dies Page | 121 Understanding MUsic MUsic of the cl assical Period 5.4 musiC in The ClassiCal Period
5.4.1 music Comparison overview
Baroque Music Classical Music Rise of homophony; polyphony
still used Mostly homophony, but with
variation Rise of instrumental music,
including the violin family New genres such as the symphony
and string quartet Meter more important than before Use of crescendos and
decrescendos New genres such as opera,
oratorio, concerto, cantata, and
Emergence of program music
Continued presence of music at
church and court
Continued increase of music
among merchant classes
Motor rhythm antecedent consequent) phrases
that are shorter than earlier
New emphasis on musical form: for
example, sonata form, theme and
variations, minuet and trio, rondo,
Greater use of contrasting
dynamics, articulations, and
tempos 5.4.2 General Trends of Classical music
pression, arguably related to the noble simplicity and calm grandeur that the eighteenth century art historian Johann Joachim Winckelmann saw in ancient Greek
rate at which the chords or harmonies change). Composers included more expressive marks in their music, such as the crescendo and decrescendo. The homophony of the Classical period featured predominant melody lines accompanied by
relatively interesting and independent lines. In the case of a symphony or operatic
ensemble, the texture might be described as homophony with multiple accompanying lines or polyphony with a predominant melodic line.
The Classical period saw new performing forces such as the piano and the
string quartet and an expansion of the orchestra. Initially called the fortepiano, Page | 122 Understanding MUsic MUsic of the cl assical Period then the pianoforte, and now the piano was capable of dynamics from soft to loud;
the player needed only to adjust the weight applied when depressing a key. This advancements that led the piano to overtaking all other keyboard instruments in
popularity occurred in the late eighteenth century.
Besides the keyboard instruments, the string quartet was the most popular
new chamber music ensembles of the Classical period and comprised two violins,
a viola, and a cello. In addition to string quartets, composers wrote duets, trios,
quintets, and even sextets, septets, and octets. Whether performed in a palace or a
more modest middle class home, chamber music, as the name implies, was generally performed in chamber or smaller room.
In the Classical period, the orchestra expanded into an ensemble that might
include as many as thirty to sixty musicians distributed into four sections. The
sections include the strings, woodwinds, brass, and percussion. Classical composers explored the individual unique tone colors of the instruments and they did not
treat the instrumental sections interchangeably. An orchestral classical piece utithrough a variety of orchestration techniques. Each section in the classical orchestra has a unique musical purpose as penned by the composer. The string section
still holds its prominence as the center-piece for the orchestra. Composers continthe lower strings. The woodwinds are orchestrated to provide diverse tone colors
and often assigned melodic solo passages. By the beginning of the nineteenth cention. To add volume and to emphasize louder dynamic, horns and trumpets were
not assigned the melody or solos. The kettle drum or timpani were used for volume
highlights and for rhythmic pulse. Overall, the Classical orchestra matured into a
multifaceted tone color ensemble that composers could utilize to produce their
most demanding musical thoughts acoustically through an extensive tonal palette.
summarized in the following chart. Page | 123 Understanding MUsic MUsic of the cl assical Period Baroque Orchestras Classical Orchestras Strings at the core Strings at the core Woodwind and brass instruments More woodwind instruments— trumpets and horns doubled the
themes played by the strings or
provided harmonies clarinets—which were sometimes
given their own melodic themes
and solo parts Any percussion was provided by
timpani More brass instruments, including,
after 1808, trombones. Harpsichord, sometimes
accompanied by cello or bassoon,
provided the basso continuo More percussion instruments,
including cymbals, the triangle,
and other drums Generally led by the harpsichord
player Phasing out of the basso continuo
Generally led by the concertmaster
and increasingly by a conductor Emergence of New Musical Venues
The Classical period saw performing ensembles such as the orchestra appearing at an increasing number of concerts. These concerts were typically held in theticket price, which was reasonable for a substantial portion of the growing middle
class. For this reason, the birth of the public concert is often traced to the late
eighteenth century. At the same time, more music was incorporated into a growing
number of middle class households.
forces and musical venues in two ways. First, although the aristocracy still employed musicians, professional composers were no longer exclusively employed by
the wealthy. This meant that not all musicians were bound to a particular person
or family as their patron/sponsor. Therefore, public concerts shifted from performances in the homes and halls of the rich to performances for the masses which
evolved the symphony into a genre for the public concert, as they were eventually
written for larger and larger ensembles. Second, middle class families incorporated more music into their households for personal entertainment. For example,
middle class households would have their children take music lesson and participate in chamber music or small musical ensembles. Musicians could now support
themselves through teaching lessons, composing and publishing music, and performing in public venues, such as in public concerts. Other opportunities included the public opera house, which was the center for vocal music experimentation
during the Classical era. Composers also continued to write music for the church. Page | 124 Understanding MUsic MUsic of the cl assical Period Musical Form
As musical compositions of the Classical period incorporated more performing
As an element of organization and coherence, form helps give meaning to a musical movement or piece, we have some evidence to suggest that late eighteenth
and early nineteenth century audiences heard form in music that was especially
composed to play on their expectations.
The most important innovation in form during the Classical period is what we
call Sonata Form
of most piano sonatas of the Classical period. Consisting of three sections—expo- quartets. The exposition of a sonata form presents the primary themes and keys
tion.” Once the new key is established, subsequent themes appear. The exposition
the “closing.” The exposition then often repeats.
As its name implies, the development “develops” the primary themes of the
movement. The motives that comprise the musical themes are often broken apart
es often lead to frequent modulations from one musical key to another that contribute to an overall sense of instability. Near the end of the development, there
is sometimes a sub-section called the “retransition” during which the harmonies,
form, the recapitulation.
Also true to its name, the recapitulation brings back the primary themes and
generally marks its beginning. In the recapitulation, the listener hears the same muthe exposition and the recapitulation is that the recapitulation stays in the home key.
After all, the movement is about to end and ending in the home key provides the
listener a sense of closure. Recapitulations often end with sub-sections called codas.
The coda, or “tail,” of the movement is a sub-section that re-emphasizes the home
key and that generally provides a dramatic conclusion.
Starting in the late eighteenth century, there are reports of listeners recognizing the basic sections of sonata form, and contemporary music theorists outlined
them in music composition treatises. Their descriptions are generalizations based
on the multitudinous sonata form movements composed by Haydn, Mozart, and
Beethoven. Although the sonata form movements of Haydn, Mozart, and Beetho- Page | 125 Understanding MUsic MUsic of the cl assical Period ven share many of the characteristics outlined above, each sonata form is slightly
forms through the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. By the end of the nineteenth
century, some of these sonata forms were massive, almost-hour-long movements.
You will have the opportunity to hear sonata form in several of our focus compositions from the Classical period.
Other Important Forms in Classical Music
Another form of the Classical period is the Theme and Variations. Theme
and Variations form consists of the presentation of a theme and then the variations
upon it. The theme may be illustrated as A with any number of variations followenough of the theme to be recognizable, but providing enough variety in style for
rhythms, and instrumentation. Theme and variations forms were often found in
slow movements of symphonies and string quartets. Some fast movements are also
in theme and variations form.
The Minuet and Trio form found in many Classical symphonies and string
then followed by the Minuet A section: A B A for short. To save paper, the return of
the A section was generally not written out. Instead, the composer wrote the words
da capo, meaning to the head, at the end of the B section indicating a return to the
A section. As a movement in three parts, Minuet and Trio form is sometimes called
by the beginning of the nineteenth century, the Minuet and Trio was perceived
as dated, and composers started writing fast ABA ternary form movements called
The rondo is another popular instrumental form of the late eighteenth...
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