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The Classical Period
period in music stems from around 1750 to 1830 and is often thought of as the
'Viennese' period - the four principal composers of the period - Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (1756-1791), Franz Joseph Haydn (1732-1809), Franz Schubert (1797-1828) and Ludwig
van Beethoven (1710-1827) - all had strong connections to the Austrian
The period was one
of enourmous change in which many of the major art forms we assoicate with
Classical music in general were first developed - the string quartet, the piano sonata, the symphony and the concerto. It
also saw the foundation of the modern symphony orchestra which has changed
little to this day.
Music form also
changed substantially in the Classical period. Where the Baroque era was characterised by shorter collections of
pieces such as a suite of dances, the Classical period saw the rise of a more
extended 'developmental' approach to form - Beethoven shocked his contempories
with his Eroica Symphony (1803) by writing a work which lasts a full hour.
period coincides with the 'Age of Enlightenment' in which the emphasis in
society began to move away from the Royal court or the Church and towards the
ever-burgeoning middle classes. Wealthy patrons allowed composers to find an
income outside of the old establishments, supported by the growing demand for
public concerts. The popularity of the piano sonata and the string quartet are
to a large extent thanks to the middle class taste for art music to be played at
home or in the 'salon'; and the 'art-song' as developed by Schubert shares a
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