Classical Period 1750-1820
Characteristics of the Classical Period MELODY - Short and clearly defined diatonic musical phrases with 2 or more contrasting themes. Melodies are often developed from a short motive. RHYTHM - A classical composition has a wealth of rhythmic patterns. The classical style also includes unexpected pauses, syncopations, and frequent changes from long notes to shorter ones. However, the tempo is steady, uses one of the four basic meters – 2/4, 3/4, 4/4, 6/8, and if a piece begins in a certain meter, it is apt to stay there. HARMONY - Shorter phrases and well defined cadences became more prevalent. A favorite accompaniment pattern was the Alberti bass (name for DominicoAlberti), which featured a broken chord or arpeggiated accompaniment. Tonic, dominant, and subdominant chords were often used. Diatonic harmony was more common than chromatic TEXTURE - Mostly homophonic - one melody line with accompaniment made up using notes of the chord, or a texture where all parts keep in step with each other (chordal style or homorhythmic). MEDIUM - Symphony orchestra - arranged in 4 sections Harpsichord seldom used. Piano in use but not normally in orchestral music, except when it is a piano concerto.
Characteristics of the Classical Period – Cont’d • WORKS – • Choral music - sacred mass and oratorio • Secular – opera, symphonies • Chamber music - trios, quartets, quintets etc. • DYNAMICS - Greater range of dynamics, use of crescendos and diminuendos, • FORM - Sonata form, rondo form, fugue, minuet and trio form. • END OF BASSO CONTINUO: The basso continuo was gradually abandoned during the classical period. One reason why the basso continuo became obsolete was that more and more music was written for amateurs, who could not master the difficult art of improvising from a figured bass. Also, classical composers wanted more control; they preferred to specify an accompaniment rather than trust the judgment of improvisers. • COMPOSERS - Mozart, Haydn, Beethoven, Gluck, Paganini
The classical orchestra • Standard 4 sections: brass, woodwind, strings, percussion • 1st violins, 2nd violins, violas, cellos, double basses • 2 flutes, 2 oboes, 2 clarinets, 2 bassoons • 2 French horns, 2 trumpets • 2 timpani • Trombones in opera and church music • More musicians than a baroque group • Tone color more important • Strings most important • Woodwinds given melodic solos • Brass brought power, harmony, but didn’t play melody • Timpani for rhythmic emphasis
The classical melody • Motive – melodic ideas, fragments, or themes used as building blocks in a composition. • Thematic development and variations are used to expand the melodic idea. • Extension • Contraction • Repetition • Sequence – a motive repeated at a higher of lower level • Beethoven: Symphony No. 5 in C minor
Classical forms • Several movements that contrast in tempo and character • Fast movement • Slow movement • Dance-related movement • Fast movement • Each movement could have different forms • ABA or theme and variations • Could have 2, 3, 4 contrasting themes • Sections balance each other
Summary of Sonata-Allegro Form Exposition (Statement) Development Recapitulation (Restatement)
Eine Kleine Nachtmusik • This is one of Mozart’s most popular works. It was written in 1787 for a fourpart string orchestra with two violin parts, one viola and the cello and double basses playing the same music. It is one of a number of ‘serenades’ written to entertain out-of-doors on a warm summer’s evening. • EXPOSITION • First subject, tonic key (G major) Bars 1 – 55 • Strong and important character, based on broken chords • Bridge - G major - D major Bars 18 – 27 • Second subject, dominant key (D major) Bars 28 – 35 • Soft, dainty, more smooth and flowing • Codetta Bars 35 – 55 • End of Exposition. Repeat from the beginning of the piece • DEVELOPMENT • Begins by developing the first subject, but from bar 60 Bars 56 – 75 • concentrates on part of the second subject. • RECAPITULATION • First subject, tonic key (G major) Bars 76 – 93 • Codetta - G major Bars 93 – 100 • Second subject, tonic key (G major) Bars 101 -106 • Coda Bars 116 -137 • End of movement. Repeat Development and Recapitulation
Other Forms Theme and variations – the fundamental theme is altered during repetition – Haydn Symphony No. 94, second movement Minuet and trio Minuet is a social dance of French origin for two persons, usually in 3/4 time. The name is also given to a musical composition written in the same time and rhythm, but when not accompanying an actual dance the pace was quicker. The minuet and trio eventually became the standard third movement in the four-movement classical symphony. - Mozart EineKleineNachtmusik, third movement Rondo In rondo form, a principal theme (sometimes called the "refrain") alternates with one or more contrasting themes, generally called "episodes,”. The overall form can be represented as ABACADA ... The number of themes can vary from piece to piece, and the recurring element is sometimes embellished or shortened in order to provide for variation. - MouretRondeau from Suite de symphonies (Baroque?)
Chamber Music - The String Quartet • The most influential chamber music genre of the Classical period. • Follows the four-movement scheme of the multi-movement cycle • Allegro in sonata-allegro form • Slow, lyrical often in ABA or theme and variations • Minuet and trio • Sonata-allegro or rondo • Hayden’s String Quartet, Op. 76, No. 2 (Quinten) Fourth Movement • Folklike character • Strongly syncopated dance rhythms • Opening them introduced by 1st violin, stated in 2 parts, each repeated (AABB). • 1st violin dominates the melody • Shift from d minor to D major
The Classical Symphony • Mozart: Symphony No. 40 in G minor, First Movement • Exposition • Theme 1 in g minor built from 3 note motive in violins • Bridge – modulates • Theme 2 in B flat played by woodwinds and strings • Development • Short, built on 3 note motive in various guises • Returns to tonic • Recapitulation • Theme 1 in g minor • Theme 2 in g minor • Coda in g minor
The Classical Concerto • 3 movements • Fast - adapts the principles of the Baroque concerto’s ritornello procedure to the sonata-allegro form • Orchestra plays exposition - theme in tonic • Soloist plays a second exposition in new key • Development section offers soloist virtuosic display • In the recapitulation the soloist and orchestra bring back the themes in the tonic • Solo cadenza • Coda brings the movement to a close with the tonic key • Slow – often composed in a key closely related to the home key (for example, from C major to F major) • Fast – often in rondo form, with features of sonata-allegro form. Often has a candenza • Cadenza – a solo passage in the manner of an improvisation • Mozart’s piano concerto in G major, K. 453 • Haydn’s Trumpet Concerto in E flat major, Third Movement
The Classical Sonata • Set for either one solo instrument (the piano) or for duos (violin and piano, for example) • 3 or 4 contrasting movements. • Mozart’s Piano Sonata in A Major, K. 331 – Third Movement • Beethoven’s Piano Sonata in C-sharp minor, Op. 27, No. 2 (Moonlight)
Sacred Choral Music • Mass • Requiem – a musical setting for the Mass of the Dead • Oratorio • Mozart, Dies irae, from Requiem
Classical Opera • Opera seria – serious or tragic Italian opera • Comic opera (opera buffa) – sung in the vernacular • Down-to-earth plots • Farcical situations • Humorous dialogue • Popular tunes • Impertinent remarks of the buffo – spoke to the audience in a bass voice with a “wink and a nod” • Mozart, The Marriage of Figaro (Le nozzedi Figaro) Overture and Act I, Scenes 6 and &.
Joseph Haydn One of the most prominent composers of the Classical period, and is called by some the "Father of the Symphony" and "Father of the String Quartet". A central characteristic of Haydn's music is the development of larger structures out of very short, simple musical motifs, usually devised from standard accompanying figures. The music is often quite formally concentrated, and the important musical events of a movement can unfold rather quickly. Haydn's musical practice formed the basis of much that was to follow in the development of tonality and musical form. He took genres such as the symphony, which were at the time shorter and subsidiary to more important vocal music, and slowly expanded their length, weight and complexity. Haydn's work became central to what was later described as sonata form. One of Haydn's important innovations (adopted by Mozart and Beethoven) was to make the moment of transition the focus of tremendous creativity. Instead of using stock devices to make the transition, Haydn would often find inventive ways to make the move between two expected keys.
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart Aprolific and influential composer of the Classical era. His output of over 600 compositions includes works widely acknowledged as pinnacles of symphonic, concertante, chamber, piano, operatic, and choral music. Mozart's music, like Haydn's, stands as an archetypal example of the Classical style. Mozart's own stylistic development closely paralleled the development of the classical style as a whole. In addition, he was a versatile composer and wrote in almost every major genre, including symphony, opera, the solo concerto, chamber music including string quartet and string quintet, and the piano sonata. While none of these genres were new, the piano concerto was almost single-handedly developed and popularized by Mozart. He also wrote a great deal of religious music, including masses; and he composed many dances, divertimenti, serenades, and other forms of light entertainment. The central traits of the classical style can all be identified in Mozart's music. Clarity, balance, and transparency are hallmarks, though a simplistic notion of the delicacy of his music obscures for us the exceptional and even demonic power of some of his finest masterpieces.
Ludwig van Beethoven He is generally regarded as one of the great composers in the history of music, and was a crucial figure in the transitional period between the Classical and Romantic eras in Western classical music. Beethoven was also one of the first composers to work freelance — arranging subscription concerts, selling his compositions to publishers, and gaining financial support from a number of wealthy patrons — rather than seek out permanent employment by the church or by an aristocratic court.