The classic Period

The days of the Classical period in west music space generally accepted as gift between about 1750 and 1820. However, the term classical music is used in a colloquial feeling as a synonym for Western arts music, which defines a range of west musical layouts from the 9th century come the present, and also especially from the 16 or seventeenth to the nineteenth. This write-up is about the specific duration from 1730 to 1820.

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The Classical period falls in between the Baroque and the Romantic periods. The best-known composers native this duration are Joseph Haydn, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart,Ludwig van Beethoven, and also Franz Schubert; other remarkable names include Luigi Boccherini, Muzio Clementi, Antonio Soler, Antonio Salieri, François Joseph Gossec,Johann Stamitz, Carl Friedrich Abel, Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach, and Christoph Willibald Gluck. Ludwig valve Beethoven is also regarded either as a Romantic composer or a composer who was part of the transition to the Romantic.

Franz Schubert is also something that a transitional figure, as space Johann Nepomuk Hummel, Mauro Giuliani, Friedrich Kuhlau, Fernando Sor, Luigi Cherubini, january Ladislav Dussek, and also Carl Maria von Weber. The duration is occasionally referred to together the era ofViennese standard or Classicism (German: Wiener Klassik), since Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, Joseph Haydn, Antonio Salieri, and also Ludwig valve Beethoven all functioned at some time in Vienna, and Franz Schubert was born there.


Main characteristics

Classical music has actually a lighter, clearer texture than Baroque music and is much less complex. It is mainly homophonic—melody above chordal accompaniment (but counterpoint is by no way forgotten, specifically later in the period). It also make use of Style gallant in the classical period which was drawn in opposition to the strictures of the Baroque style, emphasizing light elegance in location of the Baroque’s dignified seriousness and impressive grandeur.

Variety and also contrast within a piece became much more pronounced 보다 before. Selection of keys, melodies, rhythms and also dynamics (using crescendo, diminuendo and sforzando), together with frequent alters of mood and also timbre were an ext commonplace in the Classical period than lock had remained in the Baroque. Melodies had tendency to be much shorter than those of Baroque music, v clear-cut paragraph and clearly marked cadences. The orchestra increased in size and also range; the harpsichord continuo fell out that use, and also the woodwind became a self-contained section. As a solo instrument, the harpsichord was replaced by the piano (or fortepiano). At an early stage piano music to be light in texture, often with Alberti bass accompaniment, but it later became richer, much more sonorous and more powerful.

Importance was offered to important music—the key kinds were sonata, trio, wire quartet, symphony, concerto, serenade and divertimento. Sonata kind developed and also became the most vital form. That was offered to construct up the very first movement that most massive works, but also other movements and solitary pieces (such together overtures).


The Baroque/Classical change c. 1730–1760


Haydn, having worked for over a decade as the music director because that a prince, had far more resources and also scope for composing than most and additionally the ability to shape the forces that would play his music. This possibility was not wasted, as Haydn, start quite beforehand his career, seek to press forward the method of structure ideas in music. His next essential breakthrough remained in the Opus 33 cable quartets (1781), in i beg your pardon the melodic and the harmonic functions segue among the instruments: that is frequently momentarily uncertain what is melody and also what is harmony. This alters the method the ensemble functions its means between dramatic moment of transition and climactic sections: the music operation smoothly and without evident interruption. He climate took this integrated style and also began using it to orchestral and also vocal music.

Haydn’s gift come music to be a method of composing, a means of structuring works, which to be at the same time in accord through the governing aesthetic of the brand-new style. However, a younger contemporary, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, lugged his genius come Haydn’s ideas and applied them to 2 of the major genres that the day: opera, and also the virtuoso concerto. Whereas Haydn spent lot of his functioning life together a court composer, Mozart wanted public success in the concert life of cities. This expected opera, and it supposed performing together a virtuoso. Haydn was no a virtuoso in ~ the international touring level; nor was he search to produce operatic works that might play for countless nights in front of a big audience. Mozart wanted both. Moreover, Mozart likewise had a taste for more chromatic chords (and greater contrasts in harmonic language generally), a better love for creating a welter of melodies in a solitary work, and also a an ext Italianate sensibility in music as a whole. He found, in Haydn’s music and also later in his examine of the polyphony the Bach, the way to discipline and enrich his gifts.

Mozart rapidly came to the fist of Haydn, that hailed the brand-new composer, studied his works, and also considered the younger male his just true peer in music. In Mozart, Haydn discovered a greater range of instrumentation, dramatic effect and also melodic resource; the discovering relationship relocated in two directions.

Mozart’s come in Vienna in 1780 carried an acceleration in the breakthrough of the timeless style. Over there Mozart took in the fusion of Italianate brilliance and Germanic cohesiveness that had actually been imminent for the vault 20 years. His very own taste because that brilliances, rhythmically complex melodies and also figures, lengthy cantilena melodies, and virtuoso flourishes was an unified with an appreciation for formal coherence and internal connectedness. The is at this suggest that war and also inflation halted a tendency to larger orchestras and also forced the disbanding or palliation of plenty of theater orchestras. This pressed the classic style inwards: toward seeking better ensemble and technical challenge—for example, scattering the melody across woodwinds, or making use of thirds to highlight the melody bring away by them. This procedure placed a premium on room music for an ext public performance, giving a further rise to the string quartet and other tiny ensemble groupings.

It was throughout this te that windy taste began, increasingly, to acknowledge that Haydn and Mozart had actually reached a higher standard of composition. By the moment Mozart arrived at age 25, in 1781, the leading styles of Vienna to be recognizably linked to the development in the 1750s that the early classic style. By the end of the 1780s, changes in performance practice, the relative standing that instrumental and vocal music, technical requirements on musicians, and also stylistic unit had end up being established in the composers who imitated Mozart and Haydn. During this decade Mozart written his most renowned operas, his six late symphonies that assisted to redefine the genre, and a cable of piano concerti the still was standing at the pinnacle of these forms.

One composer that was influential in spreading the much more serious style that Mozart and Haydn had formed is Muzio Clementi, a gifted virtuoso pianist that tied v Mozart in a music “duel” before the emperor in i beg your pardon they every improvised and performed their compositions. Clementi’s sonatas because that the piano circulated widely, and he came to be the most successful composer in London during the 1780s. Likewise in London right now was Jan Ladislav Dussek, who, like Clementi, urged piano devices to prolong the range and other attributes of their instruments, and also then totally exploited the recently opened possibilities. The prominence of London in the Classical period is regularly overlooked, however it served as the home to the Broadwood’s factory because that piano manufacturing and also as the base because that composers who, while much less notable than the “Vienna School”, had actually a decisive affect on what came later. They were composers of many fine works, significant in their very own right. London’s taste for virtuosity may well have motivated the complex passage work and extended explanation on tonic and also dominant.

Circa 1790–1820

When Haydn and also Mozart started composing, symphonies to be played as solitary movements—before, between, or as interludes within other works—and numerous of castle lasted only ten or twelve minutes; instrumental groups had varying requirements of playing, and the continuo was a central part the music-making.

In the intervening years, the social human being of music had seen dramatic changes. International publication and also touring had grown explosively, and concert cultures formed. Notation became more specific, more descriptive—and schematics because that works had been streamlined (yet became an ext varied in their specific working out). In 1790, just prior to Mozart’s death, v his reputation spreading rapidly, Haydn to be poised because that a collection of successes, especially his so late oratorios and “London” symphonies. Composers inParis, Rome, and also all over Germany turned to Haydn and Mozart for their principles on form.

The time was again ripe for a dramatic shift. In the 1790s, a new generation of composers, born approximately 1770, emerged. While they had actually grown up with the previously styles, they heard in the recent works of Haydn and Mozart a vehicle for better expression. In 1788 Luigi Cherubini settled in Paris and also in 1791 composed Lodoiska, one opera that elevated him come fame. Its format is clearly reflective that the mature Haydn and Mozart, and also its instrumentation provided it a weight that had not however been feeling in the grand opera. His contemporary Étienne Méhul extended instrumental effects with his 1790 opera Euphrosine et Coradin, from which followed a series of successes.

The most fateful that the new generation was Ludwig van Beethoven, who released his numbered functions in 1794 v a collection of three piano trios, which stay in the repertoire. Rather younger than the others, despite equally accomplished because of his youthful research under Mozart and also his aboriginal virtuosity, wasJohann Nepomuk Hummel. Hummel learned under Haydn as well; he was a girlfriend to Beethoven andFranz Schubert. That concentrated much more on the piano than any other instrument, and also his time in London in 1791 and 1792 generated the composition and publication in 1793 of three piano sonatas, opus 2, i beg your pardon idiomatically provided Mozart’s techniques of staying clear of the expected cadence, and Clementi’s sometimes modally unsure virtuoso figuration. Taken together, this composers deserve to be seen as the vanguard of a large change in style and also the center of music. They studied one another’s works, duplicated one another’s gestures in music, and on chance behaved favor quarrelsome rivals.

The vital differences with the ahead wave have the right to be viewed in the downward shift in melodies, increasing durations the movements, the acceptance of Mozart and also Haydn as paradigmatic, the better use of key-board resources, the change from “vocal” composing to “pianistic” writing, the growing pull that the minor and of modal ambiguity, and the enhancing importance of differing accompanying numbers to carry “texture” forward together an facet in music. In short, the late classical was seeking a music that was internally more complex. The development of concert societies and also amateur orchestras, noting the prestige of music as component of middle-class life, added to a booming industry for pianos, piano music, and also virtuosi to offer as examplars. Hummel, Beethoven, and Clementi were all renowned for their improvising.

Direct affect of the Baroque ongoing to fade: the figured bass grew less significant as a way of holding performance together, the performance methods of the mid-18th century ongoing to die out. However, in ~ the same time, finish editions that Baroque masters began to end up being available, and the influence of Baroque style ongoing to grow, an especially in the ever more expansive use of brass. Another feature that the period is the growing variety of performances whereby the composer was no present. This led to increased detail and also specificity in notation; for example, there to be fewer “optional” parts that stood individually from the key score.

The pressure of this shifts became obvious with Beethoven’s third Symphony, given the name Eroica, which is Italian because that “heroic”, by the composer. As with Stravinsky’s The Rite of Spring, it might not have been the very first in all of its innovations, but its aggressive use of every part of the classical style set it except its modern-day works: in length, ambition, and also harmonic resources as well.

First Viennese School

The an initial Viennese college is a name greatly used to describe three composers that the Classical duration in late-18th-centuryVienna: W. A. Mozart, Haydn, and also Beethoven. Franz Schubert is occasionally added to the list.

In German speaking countries, the term Wiener Klassik (lit. Viennese classic era/art) is used. The term is often an ext broadly used to the timeless era in music as a whole, as a way to identify it from other periods that room colloquially described as classical, namely Baroque and Romantic music.

The ax “Viennese School” was an initial used through Austrian musicologist Raphael Georg Kiesewetter in 1834, although he only counted Haydn and also Mozart as members the the school. Other writers followed suit, and eventually Beethoven was included to the list. The designation “first” is added today to prevent confusion v the Second Viennese School.

Whilst, Schubert apart, this composers definitely knew each other (with Haydn and also Mozart even being sometimes chamber-music partners), there is no sense in which lock were involved in a collaborative effort in the sense that one would associate v 20th-century institutions such as the 2nd Viennese School, or Les Six. Nor is there any significant sense in i m sorry one composer to be “schooled” by an additional (in the means that Berg and Webern to be taught through Schoenberg), despite it is true that Beethoven for a time received lessons from Haydn.

Attempts to prolong the first Viennese institution to incorporate such later numbers as Anton Bruckner, Johannes Brahms, and Gustav Mahler are merely journalistic, and never encountered in academic musicology.

Classical influence on later composers

1875 oil paint of Franz Schubert by Wilhelm respectable Rieder, after ~ his very own 1825 watercolor portrait 

Musical ages seldom disappear at once; instead, features are changed over time, until the old is merely felt as “old-fashioned”. The timeless style did not “die” so lot as change under the weight of changes.

One vital change to be the transition towards harmonies centering roughly “flatward” keys: move in thesubdominant direction. In the classic style, major an essential was far more common 보다 minor, chromaticism gift moderated through the use of “sharpward” modulation, and also sections in the minor setting were often merely because that contrast. Beginning with Mozart and Clementi, there began a creeping emigration of the subdominant region. V Schubert, subdominant moves flourished after being introduced in contexts in which earlier composers would have confined us to leading shifts. This introduced darker colors to music, strengthened the young mode, and also made framework harder to maintain. Beethoven contributed to this by his raising use of the fourth as a consonance, and modal ambiguity—for example, the opened of the D young Symphony.

Franz Schubert, Carl Maria von Weber, and John Field are amongst the most significant in this generation that “Classical Romantics”, along with the young Felix Mendelssohn. Their sense of form was strongly influenced by the timeless style, and also they were not yet “learned” (imitating rule which were codified through others), yet they directly responded to functions by Beethoven, Mozart, Clementi, and also others, together they encountered them. The instrumental forces at their disposal were also quite “Classical” in number and also variety, permitting similarity with timeless works.

However, the pressures destined to end the organize of the classical style gathered stamin in the works of every of the over composers. The most commonly cited one is harmonic innovation. Additionally important is the increasing focus on having a constant and rhythmically uniform accompanying figuration:Beethoven’s Moonlight Sonata was the model for thousands of later pieces—where the shifting movement of a rhythmic number provides much of the drama and also interest that the work, if a melody drifts above it. Greater knowledge the works, better instrumental expertise, increasing variety of instruments, the development of concert societies, and the unstoppable dominance of the piano—which created a vast audience for innovative music—all added to the transition to the “Romantic” style.

Drawing the line in between these two layouts is impossible: part sections that Mozart’s works, bring away alone, are tantamount in harmony and also orchestration from music written 80 year later—and composers continue to write in normative classical styles right into the 20th century. Even before Beethoven’s death, composers such as Louis Spohr were self-described Romantics, incorporating, for example, an ext extravagant chromaticism in their works.

However, Vienna’s autumn as the most important musical facility for orchestral composition is generally felt to note the classic style’s final eclipse—and the finish of its continuous organic advancement of one composer discovering in nearby proximity come others. Franz Liszt and Frédéric Chopin visited Vienna when young, yet they then relocated on to other vistas. Composers together as Carl Czerny, while deeply influenced by Beethoven, likewise searched for new ideas and brand-new forms come contain the larger human being of musical expression and also performance in which castle lived.

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Renewed interest in the formal balance and restraint of 18th century timeless music led in the early on 20th century to the advancement of so-called Neoclassical style, i m sorry numbered Stravinsky and Prokofiev among that is proponents, at least at certain times in your careers.

Classical duration instruments




Basset clarinetBasset hornClarinette d’amourClassical clarinetChalumeau




BuccinOphicleide – serpent replacement, precursor of tubaFrench horn

Timeline of classic composers


Further reading

External links