The Classical musical period

The Classical musical era occurred between 1730 and 1820; it was preceded by the Baroque and followed by the Romantic periods. The serious and grand nature of the Baroque was replaced with a lighter tone, however, the compositional form was more elaborate and complex. Likewise the earlier polyphony made way for clear melodic lines accompanied by chords which is known as homophony.

Hitherto, the dominant keyboard instrument was the quill-plucked harpsichord, which lacked any contrast in loud and soft volume. Conversely, the piano strings are struck with hammers, which allow the performer to alter the volume of the music, thereby creating more dynamic interest. The instrument was originally named the fortepiano, literally meaning "loud soft".

Classical music performance with Hadyn

Joseph Hadyn in concert
Instrumental genres in this period included:
  • Sonata
  • Trio
  • String quartet
  • Symphony
  • Concerto
Symphonies were large works played by an orchestra, while a concerto featured a virtuoso instrumentalist, often a violinist, pianist or flautist, accompanied by an orchestra.

Vocal music was also emphasized in settings such as:
  • Songs for voice and piano
  • Choir
  • Opera
Well-known classical composers include Ludwig van Beethoven, Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach, Franz Schubert, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, and Joseph Haydn. This era is also sometimes referred to as Viennese Classicism due to the many prominent composers like Haydn and Gluck who worked in the Austrian capital.

Composers of the Classical musical period

Austria

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
Joseph Hadyn

Italy

Matteo Carcassi
Mauro Giuliani

Spain

Fernando Sor
Dionisio Aguado