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The Classic Era 1750-1800. Why is this period known as the Classic Period? “Classic” is usually used to describe something that has a broad appeal and.

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Presentation on theme: "The Classic Era 1750-1800. Why is this period known as the Classic Period? “Classic” is usually used to describe something that has a broad appeal and."— Presentation transcript:

1 The Classic Era

2 Why is this period known as the Classic Period? “Classic” is usually used to describe something that has a broad appeal and is long-lasting. Prior to this time, a piece of music was usually performed once or twice and set aside. In this period, music more readily stayed in the concert repertoire.

3 From Absolutism to Enlightenment to Revolution Social and political change, beginning with the death of Louis XIV of France, the most powerful absolute ruler in Europe, in Period ended with the American War of Independence ( ) and the French Revolution ( ) Philosophical period of this time was known as the Enlightenment, which attempted to apply the principles of scientific objectivity to issues of social justice. It also favored the human over the divine, reason over religion, and clarity over complexity. It tried to improve education, eliminate superstition and prejudice, and break down the rigid class structure that separated people from one another. “All men are created equal” With this new way of thinking, rulers often supported the arts.

4 Brotherhood Freemasonry was founded in England in Famous Freemasons included: Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, Mozart and George Washington Idea of brotherhood did not include women and few women became monarchs, well-known writers or famous composers. Women were; however, accomplished music teachers, singers, instrumentalists, authors of instruction manuals, patrons, and organizers of music life. In the later part of the century, society’s attitudes toward women began to broaden and women took more a public role in music.

5 The Musical Public The flourishing economy created a large and prosperous middle class. The middle class begins to feel entitled to the same luxuries as the aristocrats. With this, there is a rise of public concerts. Public concerts were a new idea because up until the 18 th century, concerts were given in private courts or salons Music publishing also became a profitable business, as there was an increase in music consumers. There was more music at home; people would buy instruments, books and scores, and take music lessons Music was now designed to appeal to a broader public. It had to be lighter, clearer, and more accessible.

6 General Characteristics of Classic Music Balance and proportion, clarity and accessibility; easy on the ear Classic music is often composed of just a melody and an accompaniment, which is light and simple. Imitative counterpoint is rarely used and then for special effect. Melodies are pleasing and tuneful and are usually made of 2 or 4 bar phrases. They are usually arranged into patterns of opening and closing phrases (A 2 or 4 bar opening phrase is immediately followed by a 2 or 4 bar closing phrase. Harmony is generally simple, logical and clear. Composers generally use straightforward keys and do not use strange or dissonant chords. Basso continuo not used as much; instead, a “walking bass” – notes move by step in even notes and with a regular rhythm “Alberti bass” – continuously moving pattern of short notes. The accompanying chords are broken up into separate notes played one after the other.

7 Genres of Classic Music: Opera Opera, symphony, string quartet and sonata were the most popular genres of this time. Notice that all of these genres are secular. This reflects a shift in society’s makeup and interests At the end of the Baroque period, people were complaining that opera was too artificial, as the plots were always about mythological or historical figures rather than real people, the music was too heavy and complex, and stage sets were too involved. They also did not like the arias. They said the repeat of the opening section interrupted the continuity of the story and the singers abused the convention of embellishing the music on its repeat by showing off and drawing attention to themselves rather than to the plot Comic opera – resulted from these complaints: Featured simpler music, down-to-earth character and amusing plots. Italy- opera buffa, France- opera comique, Germany- Singspiel

8 Symphony Originated around 1730 Began as an introductory piece to Italian opera The instrumental introduction in three short movements: Fast-slow-fast was known as the Overture. The Italian name was Sinfonia. The music of these overtures was unrelated to the music of the opera they introduced. They gradually achieved independence from opera and were played in a concert setting. The symphony was gradually extended to a four- movement scheme. 1 st =fast and serious, 2 nd =slow and lyrical, 3 rd =graceful and moderate in tempo, 4 th =very fast and lively. The orchestra included strings, woodwinds, and (sometimes) trumpets and drums. In the later Classic period, woodwinds were augmented; composers used both flutes and oboes. Size (especially in the strings) often depended on funding

9 Chamber Music With the rise of the middle class, more chamber music was played at home. Because it was designed to be played at home, in smaller rooms, it became known as chamber music. It includes various instrumental combinations of duets, trios, and quintets The sonata and String quartet became the most important types of this period String quartet – involves four stringed instruments: two violins, a viola and a cello. They cover a wide pitch band from high to low. Followed the pattern of symphonic works (4 movement) Sonata – Could be composed for keyboard instrument alone or for a keyboard instrument with another instrument. Early in the Classic Era, the harpsichord was the favored keyboard instrument, but in the late Classic period, the piano fell into favor, as it could play more dynamic contrast.


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