Famous People and Happenings during the Classical Era
The Classical Period of Music History (1750-1820)
Important Composers: Franz Joseph Haydn Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart Muzio Clementi Ludwig van Beethoven Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach Antonio Salieri Luigi Boccherini Christoph Willibald Gluck Johann Stamitz Antonio Soler
The Classical period falls between the Baroque and the Romantic periods.
Ludwig van Beethoven and Franz Schubert are "bridge composers" as their musical style transitioned from the classical to the romantic. Other "transitional" composers include Johann Nepomuk Hummel, Mauro Giuliani, Friedrich Kuhlau, Fernando Sor, Luigi Cherubini, Jan Ladislav Dussek, and Carl Maria von Weber.
The period is sometimes referred to as the era of Viennese Classic or Classicism (German: Wiener Klassik), since Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, Joseph Haydn, Antonio Salieri, and Ludwig van Beethoven all worked at some time in Vienna, and Franz Schubert was born there.
Famous historical events during Mozart's Lifetime . . .
Music of this time focused on structural clarity, balance, and form.
Homophonic Texture: There was a growing emphasis on a single melody placed in the upper part of a composition and accompanied by chords in the lower part. There was a clear and very predictable tonic-dominant functional harmony. The melodies typically consist of short themes, in 4 or 8 measure phrases. Cadences occur with more frequency and typically close with IV-V-I progressions.
What influenced composers of the Classical era to compose this style of music?
This was a period where the Age of Enlightenment (1687-1793) really began to take hold. The Enlightenment emphasized that reason (logic, math, scientific method) was the key to human knowledge and progress. While it tolerated religion, it criticized superstition, the Church, and monarchies.
This was the time of the American Revolution (1775-1783) and these political philosophies were embraced by the supporters of the American Revolution and incorporated by America's Founders into the United States Constitution (1787). The result was the 1st national government in history to be founded upon representative rule by the People instead of rule by a monarch, deity, or religious institution.
These philosophies provided a structure through which individuals could practice freedom of though and imagination while still working together in a society. This is the purpose of the 1st Amendment to the Constitution. It is also one of the best ways to describe the music of the Classical Period which provided structural clarity and form as a framework with which composers could let their imaginations run free. In other words, it is a balance between reason and emotion.
Sonata Form was the most popular type of composition during the Classical era. It is everywhere … in piano works, orchestral compositions, trios, quartets etc.
This produced a This was the time of the Industrial Revolution.
As you scroll through the pictures of famous people from this era below, notice how many mathematicians, philosophers, poets, and writers there are. It is also a time of revolution and you will find many trail blazers. Even pirates! Betsy Ross, George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Ben Franklin, and on and on.
Perhaps, to put things into a timeline for better perspective.
Beethoven was born in 1770 and died in 1827. This means he was ….
30 years old when Jefferson was elected
49 years old when the stethoscope was invented
29 years old when Napoleon Bonaparte seized power in France in 1799
27 years old when Mary Shelley (author of the novel "Frankenstein") was born in 1797
Mozart was born in 1756 and died in 1791. This means he was . . …
20 years old when the Declaration of Independence was written in 1776
The cotton gin was invented 2 years after Mozart died.
Do you recognize any of the following famous people who lived, or were born just before or during this time?