You are on page 1of 6



The Classical Era: 1750-1800

“Music is an invisible dance”

-Jean Paul, novelist”

From Absolutism to Enlightenment to Revolution

5 -Louis XIV
6 Enlightenment

7 Vienna- the center of culture

8 French Revolution (1789-94

9 The rise of the role of women in society

10 ….in the meantime, what do you suppose was going on in the

U.S.A. during this time????

The Musical Public

11 Public concerts and

12 Music publishing

13 Professional musicians starting to become “free agents.”

14 Music itself becoming less “complicated” sounding- the move

from polyphony to homophony, for example.

Some General Characteristics of Music

15 Music that is “easy on the ears”:

16 Balance, symmetry and brevity-

17 Simple harmonies-Alberti bass

Genres of Classical Music


Opera Seria

Comic Opera(a.k.a. opera comique (France), opera buffa (Italy), and

Singspiel (Germany)

Singspiel -spoken recitative.


 Originally from the overture or “sinfonia” of an opera

 The instruments of the early Classical Orchestra

Chamber Music (specifically the String Quartet)

– Consists of 2 violins, viola and cello

– Sonata

– Specifically for solo piano or solo instrument AND piano

Re: the Piano

From harpsichord

to fortepiano

to piano (as we know it today)

Convention in Classic Music

Just as dress code and manners were strictly standardized, so was

music, especially with regard to form

18 Sonata-allegro form

19 Aria

20 Minuet/trio

21 Rondo
The Sonata Form (a.k.a Sonata-Allegro form or 1st movement

Form was used not only in sonatas but in symphonies, string quartets,
and other types of chamber music

22 Exposition

23 Development

24 Recapitulation

25 The “A” theme- begins in the tonic key

26 Bridge-modulates to dominant

27 The “B” theme -a contrasting melody in the dominant key

28 Closing section-establishes dominant harmony with a final



a section of harmonic (and even melodic) instability


Same music as the exposition EXCEPT the “B” theme stays in the tonic

Refer to your text, p. 173, for the overall graphic design of the sonata

Second Movement- the Aria Form

Yudkin’s description for second movement of a sonata, symphony or

chamber work, usually in an A B A form, similar to opera arias.

Second movements are predominantly SLOW in tempo in the Classical

The Minuet-Trio Form

(remember me from Chapter 3?!)

Present only in a FOUR movement form (like symphony, quartet, etc.)

as the THIRD movement.

The Minuet-Trio is:

29 Always in ¾ time

30 Moderate in tempo
31 Ternary in form

32 Uses contrasting music in the trio section

(refer to textbook p. 174 for a graphic illustration of the form)

The Rondo

-oftentimes in 3 or 4 movement sonatas, symphonies, etc. this is the

form of the last movement and is fast in tempo
Form- characterized by the repeat of the main theme (the “A” theme)
For instance, ABACABA (Sometimes ABACADACABA)
Other forms of the last movement can be a sonata form or perhaps a
binary form of sorts. Last movements ARE ALWAYS FAST in

Summary of Movement Structure

In a FOUR movement structure of a Classical Sonata, Symphony or

Chamber work, the movements usually happen in this format:

33 1st movement -Sonata Form (FAST)

34 2nd movement - Aria, theme and variation or binary form


35 3rd movement –Minuet –Trio form

36 4th movement - Rondo, sonata or other binary form (FAST)

The Classic Masters

Franz Joseph Haydn (1732-1809)

37 Austrian born composer

38 Early studies as a choirboy at St. Stephen in Vienna

39 Employed at the court of Nikolaus Esterházy for most of his

40 Huge output of music (100+ symphonies, almost 70 string
quartets, 50 keyboard sonatas)

41 Renowned throughout Europe

Haydn’s Music

Although mostly known for his string quartets and symphonies, he

wrote incredible vocal works, namely his oratorio, The Creation.

Later in his career, he starts experimenting with more subtle and

somber affects, for instance, the use of minor keys and sudden
changes of dynamics.

Sometimes, he would play musical jokes in his compositions. One of

the most famous ones is the second movement of the Surprise
Symphony. (What is the joke? It is a SURPRISE!)

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (1756-1792)

42 Austrian born composer

43 Child prodigy

44 Did not keep a regular employer like Haydn

45 Did not manage money well

46 Died at the age of 35

47 Composed in all genres but is arguably most famous for his piano
concertos and operas

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (1756-1792)

Some of his best known works

48 Operas (Marriage of Figaro, Don Giovanni, the Magic Flute)

49 Concertos (namely his Piano Concertos 20+ of them)

50 Sonatas (mostly solo piano)

51 Symphonies (40+ of them the last 10 most frequently

52 Chamber works (String quartets mostly)