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Ludwig Van Beethoven and Joseph Haydn

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    Texture in the music is predominantly polyphonic with frequent imitation between the various lines, soprano and bass lines tend to be the most important. Chords became increasingly important during this time; previously, chords were by-products of the motion of multiple melodic lines, but in the baroque, chords become essential unto themselves. This is the era the idea of modern orchestra was born, along with opera, the concerto, sonata, and cantata. Choral music was no longer in, as composers turned to compose instrumentals for various groups. Classical music gradually began its way into society, being played outside, at dinner parties and special events, or as an exhibition in the form of opera. Handel‘s “Messiah’ is an excellent example of typical Baroque period music.

    As instruments became more prominent, individual instruments advanced drastically. Many new devices emerged, such as the oboe, bassoon, cello, contrabass, and fortepiano. The string family was replaced with more powerful sounds from the violin, viola, and cello. The invention of the harpsichord grew, and all existing woodwind and brass instruments were advanced. This period also introduced more robust percussion with devices like the timpani, snare drum, tambourine, and castanets. Early Baroque composers included Monteverdi, Scarlatti, and Purcell, while later composers included Bach, Handel, Telemann, and Vivaldi. These composers contributed significantly to the transition to Classical music.

    Classical (1750 – 1820)

    The Classical period expanded upon what the Baroque period had begun, adding a majorly influential new song form called sonata. Composers began using Sonata form during this time. They were often used for opening fast movements, slow middle movements, and fast concluding movements. Theme and Variations were widely used both as solo pieces or as movements in more significant works. Minuet and trio paired to sets of dances are often used for the third movement of classical symphonies.
    Minuets were typically in a triple meter and moderated in tempo, whereas the trio was usually quieter with fewer instruments. The Rondo Form was a principal musical theme, which returns several times in alternation with other material. This period also saw the advancement of the concerto, symphony, trio, and quartet. The Classical period didn’t add any majorly new instrumentation, and the harpsichord was officially replaced with the piano. Orchestras multiplied in size, range, and power, and instruments overall had a lighter, more evident texture than Baroque music, making it less complicated.

    The polyphonic texture was discarded for simple harmonies and a tuneful melody. Classical compositions will also utilize a wealth of rhythmic patterns, including unexpected pauses, syncopations, and frequent changes from long notes to shorter ones.
    The texture of music during this time was basically homophonic; however, the texture is as flexible as rhythm. A piece may have begun with a simple melody and chords, then change to a more complex polyphonic texture featuring two simultaneous melodies with fragments imitated among the instruments.

    Melodies were tuneful and easy to remember, and dynamics had composers’ interest in expressing shades of emotion that would lead to the widespread use of gradual dynamic change. The enormous contribution of the classical era was orchestral music in the symphony. Additionally, chamber music became popular as well and is designed for the intimate setting of a small room in a home or palace, rather than a concert hall. Other popular forms of the time were the piano trio and the string quintet. Notable composers from this period include musical greats like Haydn, Beethoven, Schubert, and of course, Mozart.

    Romantic (1820 – 1900)

    Beethoven and Schubert connected the Classical and Romantic periods of music. This period took Classical music and added tremendous amounts of intensity and expression. As the period advanced, composers gradually let go of heavily structured pieces and gravitated towards drama and emotion. Emotion, imagination, and individuality are celebrated as a rebellion against neo-classicism and the age of reason. Nature is of primary importance in all forms of art. Romantics were especially drawn to fantasy, the unconscious, the irrational, and the world of dreams, and each composer intended to create music that sounds unique and reflects their personalities.

    This was also the great age of program music, instrumental music associated with a story, idea, or scene. Romantic composers took special care with timbre, using vibrant and exciting sounds to create a variety of mood and atmosphere. They used a much more complex harmony called chromatic harmony, which uses chords containing tones not found in the primary major or minor scale. Symphonies became longer; short works would sometimes be only a few minutes. Art songs became the norm and came in different forms. The strophic form is when a poem has several stanzas, repeating the same music for each verse, and this made songs easy to remember. Through-composed forms were used by composers when new music was written for each stanza allowing the music to reflect a poem’s changing moods. A modified strophic form is a three-stanza poem. Because this ABA form has two of its three stanzas the same, it is considered somewhat strophic. Lastly comes the Song Cycle, sometimes these songs are grouped in sets, which are unified by a storyline that runs throughout the songs. Instruments have become even more pronounced, with orchestras growing to higher numbers. Composers tested new ways, trying out unique instrument combinations and reaching new horizons in harmony.

    Public concerts and operas moved from royalty and into the hands of the urban middle-class for all to enjoy. The Romantic period was also the first to introduce national music schools. This period produced some of music’s most adored composers, including Berlioz, Chopin, Mendelssohn, Schumann, Liszt, Brahms, Tchaikovsky, and Wagner.

    In conclusion, I have learned a tremendous amount of information about the history, theory, and genres of music from medieval times to the romantic period. Completing the assigned weekly reading, quizzes and tests provided at the end of each of the sections in the electronic textbook. I didn’t really have any expectations about this class when I signed up for it, however, now that I have completed the semester, I am glad that I did. Music will be forever a significant part of my life and knowing the history of where it has come from to where we are now is priceless.

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