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The Classical Time Period
Transcript of The Classical Time Period
Characteristics: elegant, formal, restrained
This period is known as the "Golden Age of Music" because of the development of so many new forms (symphony, concerto, sonata, string quartet).
Instrumental music, for the first time, is more important than vocal music.
The most important new musical form of the classical era was the Symphony, an extended work in several movements (often four) written for orchestra.
The symphony grew out of the Sonata, a popular form of the Baroque era, written for solo instrument, either alone or accompanied.
In a Symphony, there is no solo instrument, so the orchestra becomes the "instrument" for the composer. So a symphony could be described as a sonata for orchestra.
Another Classical form which evolved from the sonata is the Concerto. This is a sonata for a solo instrument, accompanied by an orchestra.
The Classical orchestra was very similar to today’s orchestra, but smaller.
The stringed instruments were identical to today’s. They were the most important part of the Classical orchestra.
Woodwind and Brass instruments had evolved and were similar to today’s flutes, oboes, clarinets, horns, trumpets, and trombones. Percussion instruments included drums, cymbals, and timpani.
The organ was still an important instrument, but the piano replaced the harpsichord as the most popular keyboard instrument. The piano could play louder. It’s wide dynamic range made it appealing to those composers.
In the Baroque era, musical works had contrasting sections (fast-slow-fast, etc.). There were no changes in tempo (speed), or dynamics (volume) within a section—it was fast, or loud, the whole way through. Now composers begin to change the tempo or the dynamic level within a section.
The vocal forms of the Baroque period (operas, oratorios, and cantatas) remained popular with Classical composers.
Many composers of this era were employed or supported by aristocrats, a type of employment called patronage. The aristocrat was a patron of the composer. He commissioned compositions from the composer and paid them for their creations. This gave the composer a continuing source of income, a way to get his music heard, and the freedom to develop his craft. These composers were best described as fine musical craftsmen.
Because composers traveled throughout Europe to perform their music and to hear the music of other composers, it resulted in a single style for music of this entire era…elegant and formal, and it sounded the same in Rome and Italy as it did in Vienna, Austria.
Franz Joseph Haydn
Franz Joseph Haydn was the second of twelve children. His family was poor.
When he was six, his parents sent him to live with a family relative who gave him lessons on the harpsichord, violin, and in music harmony and theory. He sang in a church boychoir and eventually became the chief soloist for the group.
When he turned 17, he made a living playing the harpsichord and violin, and began composing. He completed his first mass at age 19, his first string quartet at age 23, and his first symphony at age 27.
He married Anna in 1760, and although they separated a few years later, he continued to support her for the rest of her life.
At age 29, Haydn became a full-time court musician and lived and worked at the Esterhazy palace for 29 years, until the death of the prince in 1790. He provided music for family concerts, private performances, and worship services. The prince's orchestra regularly performed Haydn's compositions.
Since he was cut off from the musical centers of Europe, Haydn was not exposed to the music of other composers. Therefore, he developed his own style. The only other copmoser who influenced him was Mozart, even though he was several years older than Mozart.
When Prince Esterhazy died in 1791, Haydn traveled to London where he met George Frideric Handel, then returned to Austria in 1795 where he wrote the Emporer's Hymn, which is now the national anthem of Austria.
In his mid-60's, his health began to fail. He wrote very little during the last 10 years of his life.
Haydn composed over 175 pieces for the baryton, a stringed instrument played with a bow which had as many as 40 strings.
Ludwig van Beethoven was a student of Haydn's.
He never had children, was was called "Papa" Haydn because of his jolly personality.
George Washington was born the same year as Haydn.
Symphony in G Major, "Surprise" Symphony
Haydn wrote more music in his life than he could remember. This is his 94th Symphony! He write a total of 104.
He wrote this while in London, England and had a large orchestra of 41 players available.
Identify what the "surprise" is in this piece.
As you watch, turn you paper over and list the instruments you see and hear.
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
Lived from 1732 to 1809
lived from 1756 to 1791
Mozart began playing the clavier by the age of 4. By the age of 5 he began composing, and by the age of 10 he had written his first symphony. He wrote his first opera at the age of 14.
Mozart is considered a child musical prodigy (a musical genius). His father, a violinist, guided his career as a touring concert artist throughout Europe.
When they weren't touring, Mozart and his father were employed by the Archbishop of Salzburg - his father as an orchestra conductor, and Mozart as a violinist.
At the age of 25, Mozart moved to Vienna, Austria to become a full-time composer and music teacher. He learned that he earned less money as a composer than as a performer
He married in 1782, but his new wife, Constanze, found it hard to deal with his inability to make money as a composer. She encouraged him to seek as position as a court musician.
He worked as a court musician (required to compose for many occasions) and as a private musician to the emperor of Austria.
He wrote several pieces for the glass harmonica, an instrument invented by Benjamin Franklin, consisting of rotating glass bowls which the performer plays by touching the rims of the bowls as they rotate.
He died at the age of 35 from failing health (from the strain of continuous composing and trying to make money) after writing hundreds of musical works.
Mozart never had any difficulty getting his music performed or published, and it was very much admired and appreciated by audiences in Vienna and throughout Europe. He is considered one of the greatest composers of the 18th century.
"Overture" to The Marriage of Figaro"
This opera is a comedy, but it's also a love story, because Mozart had a sense of humor.
An overture prepares the audience for what is to come by setting the tone for the upcoming drama and singing.
The libretto (the text) was written by Lorenzo da Ponte, who met Mozart in Austria.