Toccata And Fugue In D Minor Bwv 565 By Js Bach
This piece by Bach might not have the catchiest title, but we guarantee youll know the famous opening. It has become associated with intense or even scary moments in film and popular culture, perhaps because it famously made an appearance in the opening credits of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde . Bachs extraordinary talent and powerful compositional voice are on full display in his Toccata and Fugue in D minor, the first on our list of some of the most iconic classical music compositions ever written.
Video Performance by Xaver Varnus.
The Classical Period Of Music
The Classical Period of music may have given its name as the popular descriptor for all of Western sophisticated instrumental composition, but its actual timeline is relatively short. All of the other delineated musical eras get at least a full century. However, the Classical Era is often cited as the latter half of the eighteenth century. At its longest, the Classical Era ran just seventy to eighty years, ending no later than 1820. Despite the Classical Era’s short run, its impact on instrumental music has been enormous.
The period takes the appellation “Classical” due to the philosophical and cultural return to the classical values of antiquity, which greatly influenced musical composition. The Baroque Era ended Europe’s first return to the philosophical and artistic values of classical Rome and Greece. The Classical Era, in turn, was a clear break from the Baroque style. In this article, you’ll discover Classical Era music’s main characteristics, how it differs from what came before, and how its name has come to be used as the broader term for Western instrumental music.
Popular Types Of Composition
The Classical era saw a development of other new types of musical form as well as extensive writing and development of existing types.
The popular ones included:
- Symphony an extended, large scale orchestral piece. Like the string quartet, this was a significant new type of composition that all of the major composers of the next few centuries would tackle.
- Sonata a piece for solo instrument with piano accompaniment, or for solo piano.
- Concerto concerti grossi, where a group of soloists were accompanied by an orchestra, were popular in the Baroque period. Now concertos for a single soloist became the norm.
String quartets, symphonies, sonatas and concertos all tend to have similar structures made up of three or four movements: the first movement would be in sonata form .
The second movement would be slow, while the first and last movements would be faster.
Don’t Miss: How To Share Apple Music Without Family Sharing
Music Of The Classical Era
Although Baroque music was evenly divided between vocal and instrumental music genres and secular and sacred music, composers began to move toward specific trends in the Classical period that followed. Instrumental music grew in popularity during the Classical period because during the Baroque, instruments, tonal systems, and orchestral writing had become more standardized.
In the Age or Reason, it was accepted that all activities were to be governed by the intellect. Logic replaced emotion, even in music and the other arts. Classical music was focused on clarity, precision, and formal structure. Both Haydn and Mozart were able to work within these confines however, although Beethoven used the same forms, he could not suppress emotion, as we found in the first chapter. Beethoven would, singlehandedly, change the course of music, perhaps more than any composer who ever lived.
Musical Features Of The Classical Period
There are a number of fingerprints you should look out for when identifying music of the classical period:
Balanced phrasing with clear cadences. Have a listen to this extract of a flute sonata by Haydn. Can you hear how the phrases are balanced? They are typically in groups of 4 bars and have clear cadences.
Homophonic Texture Classical music is typically constructed of a melody line with a chord based accompaniment.
Alberti bass This is a style of accompaniment that you will come across a lot in classical music pieces. It uses a broken chord pattern playing the root note, then the 5th then the 3rd. Have a look at the following example taken froma piece by Mozart:
You May Like: How To Add Music To Your Facebook Story
Iconic Pieces Of Classical Music
Classical music has stood the test of time for many reasons, its beauty, complexity, and the vastness of repertoire have inspired audiences for hundreds of years. Within classical music, there are several pieces that have become iconic through use in special events such as graduations, weddings, classic films, and even cartoons! In this list, well take a closer look at just a handful of the many iconic pieces of classical music.
What Makes Something Classical
The Classical Period of Western art music lasted from roughly 1750-1820.
Its important to note that not all works of classical music were composed during this period. The Classical era makes up just one of the three main periods of what we refer to as classical music.
In case youre curious, the other two periods are the Baroque and Romantic eras.
So, what’s the defining characteristic of Classic period music?
It’s fairly simple: The compositions of the Classical period are defined above all by their simplicity, singable melodies, and balance.
They also express much more emotion than the music of the Baroque era which came before.
Mozart, Beethoven, and Haydn are three of the Classical eras biggest composers. Some people think Beethoven belongs to the Romantic era, because his life and work straddled the fence between the Classical and Romantic periods.
For the sake of simplicity, though, we’ll just call him Classical
Now, let’s get into the music!
Recommended Reading: How To Use Music In Videos
The Birth Of The String Quartet
The string quartet, one of the most prominent forms of chamber music, and a format that most major composers would write for over the following centuries, was born in the Classical Period.
Writing for a quartet of two violins, viola and cello is still considered a classic test of a composers artistry and technical skill.
Austrian composer Joseph Haydn is known as the Father of the String Quartet.
Here is one of the 68 quartets he wrote:
Want To Become More Musical
We can help!
Whether you want to sing in tune, play by ear, improvise, write your own songs, perform more confidently or just make faster progress, first you need to know where you’re starting from.
The Musicality Checklist will quickly reveal your personal musicality profile and how you can improve your natural musicianship.
Available FREE today!
Also Check: How To Listen To Offline Music
Music In The Classical World: Genre Culture And History
What are VitalSource eBooks?
Routledge & CRC Press eBooks are available through VitalSource. The free VitalSource Bookshelf® application allows you to access to your eBooks whenever and wherever you choose.
- Mobile/eReaders Download the Bookshelf mobile app at VitalSource.com or from the iTunes or Android store to access your eBooks from your mobile device or eReader.
- Offline Computer Download Bookshelf software to your desktop so you can view your eBooks with or without Internet access.
- System requirements for Bookshelf for PC, Mac, IOS and Android etc.»
Most VitalSource eBooks are available in a reflowable EPUB format which allows you to resize text to suit you and enables other accessibility features. Where the content of the eBook requires a specific layout, or contains maths or other special characters, the eBook will be available in PDF format, which cannot be reflowed. For both formats the functionality available will depend on how you access the ebook .
Introduction To The Classical Period Of Music
Though the whole genre of older, Western, orchestral music is termed Classical music, there is, in fact, a specific period called the Classical period. Youre probably already familiar with notable composers of this era, including Mozart and Beethoven. Lets take a more in-depth look into this critical time in music history! For a brief introduction, check out this short video.
Before we get into the music, lets talk about what was happening in the world. This was a time known as the Age of Enlightenment. There was an increased focus on radical ideas, including human rights and freedom of religion. Ideas that flourished during this time included challenging authority, and both the American and French Revolutions happened during this time. A lot of change was happening, and the music was changing with it. Instead of being structured and ordered like Baroque music, Classical music became less complex, more expressive, and more focused on the melody.
Mozart and Haydn are two notable composers of the Classical period, and two of their compositions are linked below. Listen to Mozart here and Haydn here for a few minutes. Music from this period focuses on the melodycan you hear the melody in the videos? Classical music is also more expressive. Write down the feelings and emotions youre experiencing as you listen!
Youve probably heard the iconic beginning of this piece, Symphony No. 5! What emotions do you think hes trying to convey?
Don’t Miss: Does Amazon Music Cost Money
The Classical Period: Music History Composers And Pieces
As pianists, our Classical music learning adventures will typically start with sonatinas and evolve toward the more difficult and lengthy sonatas.
Exploring Classical Era Composers And Their Works
You’ve gotten a taste already of the three major figures of the Classical Era: Haydn, Mozart, and Beethoven. As essential as they are to appreciating Classical Era music, there were other talented composers and works worth noting from the time. Check out our list of the 10 Classical Composers You Need to Know for a deeper like into a broader array of Classical composers.
If the musical samples here aren’t enough , we’ve also put together 20 of the Best Classical Period Composition of All Time.
How’s that for some Classical symmetry and simplicity!
You May Like: Where Can I Play Music Online Free
The 4 Eras Of Classical Music: A Quick Guide
6 January 2022, 17:08 | Updated: 10 January 2022, 18:27
With centuries of history to consider, it can be easy to get in a bit of a twist when it comes to the various eras of Western classical music. Heres a quick guide to the four key periods we usually learn about in music theory: Baroque, Classical, Romantic, 20th Century and beyond.
Listen to this article
The Minuet And Trio Form
The minuet and trio form was used by almost all composers in the third movement of their symphonies, string quartets and other works, but it was also used as a form in and of itself. Mozart wrote a great many minuets and trios. The form is an A-B-A form where the A is the minuet, and the B is the trio. The name âtrioâ came from the fact that., in many works, the B section of this form might use fewer performers than the A section, and sometimes that meant 3 performers. Even when used in a symphonic setting, the term trio is used regardless of the number of performers. In this form the A section , usually had 2 themes , which were repeated in some way, and the B section would usually have 2 themes that differed from the themes of the A section. The use of repetition throughout both sections is clear, and the contrast is created between the A and B sections. The two themes in the A section might sound very similar and might even share phrases, and the same holds true for the two in the B section. After the A and B sections are complete, the A section returns exactly as before however, it might or might not be repeated in the last A section.
EXAMPLE: Minuet No. 1 from 12 Minuets, K.568 W. A. Mozart
12 MINUETS K. 568 â âMINUET 1 IN C MAJORâ
FOCUS: Themes, repetition and contrast
Form: Minuet and Trio
|Theme b||No repeat|
Don’t Miss: How Do I Sign Up For Amazon Music Unlimited
A Complete Guide To Classical Music Eras
The European classical music tradition stretches all the way back from the Middle Ages and as early as 500AD up to the 20th and 21st Centuries. A number of things link all this music together, but one of the defining features of Western art music, as it is sometimes called, is the use of formal musical notation. This distinguishes it from other genres such as folk music, which tend not to be written down.
As youd expect with such a massive time frame, classical music changed and developed massively over the years, decades and centuries. As a result, we split classical music into periods, or eras. Each one has its own distinctive sounds, features and key composers. A Gregorian chant from the Medieval period sounds very different to a Romantic-era opera and, ideally, you should be able to listen to a piece and know roughly when it was written and who the composer might be.
This post will act as a guide to the different periods of classical music, with an overview of the six main eras: Medieval music, Renaissance, Baroque, Classical, Romantic and 20th Century classical. Thats a time span of more than one and a half millennia!
Music In The Life The People
Amateur musicians became common, with women in particular pursuing music studies. Music involvement was a social activity. Printed music was sold publicly for pianoforte , voice, and small ensembles. Just as learning to play music became widespread, literacy across Europe increased, and the availability of printed materials also increased. Coffee houses grew to become microcosms of academic life and hubs of public information. Debate clubs emerged, meeting in salons and other gathering spots to discuss political matters, philosophy, and other intellectual issues. If a person was to be considered educated during this age, that person was expected to be able to read music, whether to sing from written music, or play an instrument.
You May Like: How To Queue Songs On Apple Music
Brief History Of Classical Music And Classical Music Periods
Far from the often dull and dark impression that films present of this period of Western History, the abundance of music, poetry and art was richly impressive. Much of the music of the period centred around the Holy Christian Church with early sacred music being used to serve Biblical texts. Settings of the Latin texts would have been largely monophonic, meaning a single line of melody, that was intended to be sung by men. This, as the music developed through the period, gave rise to the beginnings polyphonic music through what is known as plainchant. Plainchant, often referred to as Gregorian Chant after Pope Gregory the first, allowed the voices to sing the settings of the Latin text in parallel octaves and fifths that corresponded to the natural range of male voices.
Secular music flourished in the form of music from travelling musicians called Troubadours. These interesting performers journeyed widely in Europe singing songs mostly about heroic deeds and courtly love.
Key composers include Hildegard von Bingen Leonin Perotin Guillaume de Machaut Dufay.
Key composers: Ockeghem Josquin des Prez Thomas Tallis Palestrina Byrd Gibbons John Dowland.
Key composers: JS Bach Vivaldi Handel Albinoni Purcell Monteverdi Scarlatti Corelli.
Key composers: Mozart Haydn Gluck Beethoven Boccherini
20th Century Period
Joseph Bologne Chevalier De Saint
Most music appreciation texts miss an important composer of the Classical Era, the man who was known as âThe Black Mozart.â It has been written that Mozart himself was jealous of this man because this man had the financial means to hire the best musicians to perform his works, unlike Mozart. This text will present this unique man, his accomplishments, and his music. Joseph Bologne, Chevalier de Saint-Georges was quite an excellent composer, and, had he been able to devote his life solely to composing, who knows what musical masterpieces he might have given the world. He was also a virtuoso violinist and a great conductor, and, at one time, the best fencer in all of Europe. The word âChevalierâ means âKnightâ in French, and was reserved for members of nobility. Because he was of African descent, he could not inherit his fatherâs title however, years later it would be bestowed on him based on his own merits.
During his lifetime, due to his violin virtuosity, he was often hired to premier many of Haydnâs symphonies. In spite of his fatherâs generous backing, and all of ways Joseph excelled in France, and even in the face of the revolution that claimed âLiberty, Equality, Fraternity,â Joseph was discriminated against from all levels of society because of his African background, even more so after the revolution. He was very close to Marie Antoinette, but even she could not always help him.
SYMPHONY IN G MAJOR, OP. 11, NO. 1 MOVEMENT 1: âALLEGROâ
You May Like: What Is The Best Macbook For Recording Music
Musical Periods: The History Of Classical Music
Music has come a long way in the last thousand years or so, and were going to tell you how! From Gregorian Chants to Mozarts sonatas, were going to give you a brief history of the 6 Musical Periods and how theyve each contributed to music today.
The 6 musical periods are classified as Medieval, Renaissance, Baroque, Classical, Romantic, and 20th/21st Century, with each fitting into an approximate time frame.
Beethoven Sonata No 14 Moonlight In C
This solo piano piece by the great German composer still weaves a magic of its own. Young musicians of today find it difficult to escape the infectious energy Ludwig van Beethoven breathed into it.
Written in 1801, Sonata No. 14 was dedicated by Beethoven to Countess Giulietta Guicciardi. She had been his student for a short time.
It was the German Romantic poet Ludwig Rellstab who gave this piece he nickname “Moonlight Sonata.” He likened the sonatas famous opening movement to moonlight reflecting on the shiny waters of Lake Lucerne.
Most listeners assume this to be a rather romantic piece by Beethoven due to the word “Moonlight” in its name. However, it’s interesting to know that the composer was likely inspired from a darker place.
This is evident from the notes in one of Beethoven’s original manuscripts. In them, he mentions a scene from the opera Don Giovanni, where Don Juan kills the commander. Thus, the Moonlight Sonata was more likely written with a funeral in mind, not romance.
People consider this one of Beethoven’s most popular compositions for the piano, and love its range of extreme emotions. It certainly stands out as an all-time favorite for music lovers across the globe.
Also Check: How Do I Play Music