Classical Period Timeline Seven years’ war -1756-1763 Louis XVI in France, 1774-1792 American Declaration of Independence, 1776 French Revolution, 1789 Napoleon: first French consul, 1799 Napoleonic Wars, 1803-1815 Goethe, Faust, 1808 (like gouda but with a t) Austen, Pride and Prejudice, 1813 The Classical Era (1750-1820) Scientific advances changed worldview o Faith in the power of reason o Undermining of traditional authority social organization religious establishment o Age of Enlightenment o Rise of Middle-Class workers / social mobility Visual Art o Moved away from ornate baroque style o Rococo Style o Favored light colors, curved lines, and graceful ornaments. o Later 18 th century: another change in taste: from rococo to Neoclassical style o Master Composers: Haydn, Mozart, Beethoven Characteristics of Classical Music Preclassical period Transition from baroque style to classical period: 1730-1770 Term ‘classical’ Contrast of Mood Contrasts both between and within movements Flexibility of Rhythm Multiple rhythmic patterns for variety Texture Mostly homophonic, but with frequent shifts Melody Tuneful, easy to remember Composers borrowed popular tunes
(Mozart: borrowed ‘twinkle twinkle…’: 12 variations in C Major) Dynamics Emotions expressed in shades of dynamics Use of gradual dynamic changes Related to development of the piano (soft/loud) The used of gradual dynamic changes (crescendo, decrescendo) is one of the characteristics of classical music. Composers were not restricted to terraced dynamics. Lead to the creation of the piano. End of Basso Continuo Gradually abandoned. No longer used in the classical period The Classical Orchestra Orchestra size increased; standard group of 4 sections o Strings: first and second violins, violas, cellos, double bass o Woodwinds: Flutes, oboes, clarinets, bassoons (2 of each) o Brass: French horns, trumpets (2 of each) o Percussion: 2 timpani Composers exploited individual tone colors Each section had a special role o Strings most important with violins taking the melody o Woodwinds added contrasting tone o Horns and trumpets brought power to loud passages o Timpani used for rhythmic bite and emphasis Classical Form Instrumental works consist of several movements that contrast in tempo and character o Classical symphonies o String quartets o Classical sonatas The movements might use different forms: o ABA o Theme and Variations Movements often contrast themes vividly By movement’s end, musical tensions are resolved Composer, Patron, Public
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