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The Classical
The biggest change occurred in the
development of orchestral music. Although
opera and vocal music (both sacred and
secular) were still being written, orchestral
literature was written and performed on a much
broader basis and became established as a
genre of its own.
•defined phrases
•Alberti bass
The Blue Boy (Thomas Gainsborough)
Brandenburg Gate, Berlin
The Classical Period can be described best
as music that is structured, in contrast with
the highly ornamented music of the Baroque.
The defining concept of the Baroque was
ornamented; in contrast to that, the Classical
period was defined by simplicity and order.
Compositional techniques were also
changing. Homophony was the most
common compositional technique: a
single melody is accompanied by chordal
accompaniment. Music focused on variety;
dynamics (using crescendo, diminuendo
and sforzando), along with frequent
changes of key, mood and timbre were more
commonplace in the Classical period than
they had been in the Baroque. Melodies
tended to be shorter than those of Baroque
music, with defined phrases and clearly
marked cadences
This trend can be directly correlated with
changes taking place in the instrumental
world. Clarinets, flutes, oboes, and bassoons
became permanent members of the orchestra
in their own woodwind section. Simultaneously,
composers stopped using the harpsichord in
the orchestral setting.
The development of the piano (or fortepiano)
forever impacted keyboard music. Early piano
music was light in texture, often with Alberti
bass accompaniment (named for composer
Domenico Alberti), which featured a broken
chord progression. The flexibility of the
instrument led to further developments as the
period progressed.
The main instrumental forms were the sonata,
trio, string quartet, symphony, concerto,
serenade and divertimento. In addition, the
sonata form developed and became the most
important design; it was used as the basis for
large-scale works.
Goddess of Mercy Temple, Malaysia
Notable Historical Events
Notable Composers
The Enlightenment
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
One of the foremost
composers of the classical
period. A child prodigy
violinist, Mozart was prolific
and wrote thousands of works.
Despite his success, he died a
pauper at the age of only 37 and was buried in
an unmarked grave. Works: Symphony No. 40
in G minor, Requiem, The Magic Flute.
Benjamin Franklin discovers
powers of lightning
•1756-63 Seven Years’ War
Declaration of Independence
Invention of the cotton gin by Eli
Louvre Palace opens as an art
Edward Jenner invents the vaccine
for smallpox
Franz Joseph Haydn
Austrian composer
Haydn is best known for
his string quartets and
symphonies. Works:
Nelson Mass, Surprise
Symphony, The Creation.
Period Artists & Writers
•Voltaire: Candide
•Austen: Sense & Sensibility; Emma
•Lavoisier: Elements of Chemistry
•Burns: Poems including O my love’s like a
red, red rose and Auld Lang Syne
Winter Palace, St. Petersburg
Ludwig van Beethoven
(ca. 1659-1695)
Beethoven is considered by
many to be the composer
who provided the bridge
from the Classical Period
to the Romantic Period.
A composer who was
completely deaf by the
time he wrote his greatest work, the Choral
Symphony (Symphony No. 9). Works: Missa
Solemnis, Symphony No. 5, Symphony No. 9,
Moonlight Sonata, Für Elise.
The Death of Marat (Jacques-Louis David)
•string quartet