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Classical and Romantic
Classical Music
The classical period lasted from 1750 – 1790 approximately. This period
saw many new developments including the Sonata and the symphony.
The classical style is light in texture and moved away from the
polyphony of the baroque period. Also important in this was the
development of Sonata form, the use of modulation and developing
the musical themes present. Below are some well-known composers of
this period.
Instrumental music
The concerto was a development of the concerto grosso. The
concertino group of soloists became one soloist and was
accompanied by orchestra. A piano concerto would consist of a
piano accompanied by orchestra. Also introduced in the concerto
was the cadenza. This is where the soloist gets the chance to show off.
The symphony was a new introduction in this period. It is a piece of
music written for an orchestra and generally it has 3 or 4 movements.
String Quartet
The string quartet consists of a group of 4 string players. These usually
consist of 2 violins, 1 viola and 1 cello.
The sonata developed from the baroque trio sonata. In a sonata, there
is a solo instrument which is accompanied by piano. E.g A violin
sonata would be for a Violin and piano. A piano sonata is for solo
Sonata Form
This form was developed in the classical and was commonly used for
sonatas and symphonies. The structure is shown below.
Vocal Music
Both the Opera and Mass were developed in the classical period with
the addition of new parts. Mozart and Beethoven were known
composers of this style.
A new vocal style common in the classical vocal music was coloratura.
The coloratura part is sung by a high soprano and is a decorated part
with use of scales and ornaments.
Romantic and late Romantic Period
The romantic and late romantic periods lasted from 1790 to 1910.
Further developments were made from the classical period. The
classical period used much symmetry and structure however, the
romantic period gave way to more emotion and expressiveness.
The concerto and the symphony were developed in this period.
Late Romantic music used a loose musical structure. It was very
dramatic sounding and had a feeling of music for a film. Brass
instruments were important and different kinds of percussion were used.
Programme Music/Symphonic poem/Tone Poem
This is a large scale work for orchestra and is based on a story or poem
or event. It is usually very expressive and emotional. An example is
‘Danse Macabre’ by Saint Saens. This illustrates a poem by a French
poet about Halloween.
Nationalist music is a piece of music that reflects the nationality of a
country. This might use traditional folk melodies or instruments from that
This is german for song. It is usually performed by a solo voice and is
accompanied by a solo singer. Concepts which are important in Lieder
are strophic, melismatic/syllabic and Ternary form.
The Opera again was developed in the Romantic period. Wagner was
the composer to use a leitmotiv. This was when a particular theme
represented a particular character in the Opera.
Song Cycle
This is a group of songs which are all of a related topic. For example
they may all relate to the Sea.