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The Early Classic Symphony

(plus symphonie concertante

and concerto)

Goals of Class:
To understand (changing) meanings of symphony
throughout the 18th century, and introduce basic ideas of
symphonie concertante and concerto.
To get a basic idea of varied musical functions of the
symphony in the 18th century.
To discuss the instruments commonly used in the Classic
Orchestra, as well as typical number of players.
To briefly review the Sammartini example and discuss the
Stamitz example.

Definitions (some drawn from HWM glossary)

Symphony: large work for orchestra, usually in three
movements in the Italian tradition and predominant in
the Early Classic symphony; expanded to four movements
by Mannheim composers and others, including Haydn and

Symphonie concertante: a concerto-like genre of the late

18th century & early 19th century for two or more solo
instruments and orchestra, characterized by its lightheartedness
and melodic variety

Concerto: genre or composition in which one or more solo instruments

(or instrumental group) contrasts with an orchestral ensemble; usually in
3 movements; solo concerto (not concerto grosso) dominant in Classic


*Served as opening, or overture to opera or
other works
*For a time (especially in Italy), sinfonia was
synonymous with overture
*Italian sinfonias usually in 3 parts or
*Mid- to Late-Classic symphonies in 3 or 4
movements (4 became standard in Austrian-German

The Symphonic Orchestra of the 18th Century:

Common Instrumentation from Early to Late Classic

Violins I
Violins II
or Bass Viols

1-2 Flutes
2 Oboes
2 Bassoons
2 Clarinets

Basso continuo =
Harpsichord + cello, CB, bassoon(s)

2 French horns
2 Trumpets
2 Timpani

Special addition for Turkish Style (alla turca)

Janissary instruments:

Double reed
Bass drum

Sammartini, Symphony in F Major, No. 32 (c.

1740-44), Mvt. 1 NAWM 108, p. 68
Sammartini, Italian composer active in Milan; taught Gluck
and influenced others writing in Italian style

Composed nearly 70 symphonies

Opening gesture to capture attention -- reflects function of
early symphony as introductory work


strings only (with keyboard continuo)

Form: Binary (rounded binary) or first movement form

*2 main sections repeated; second section divided into 2 main periods -*construction centered on harmonic movement (see p. 71, anthology)

Mannheim Court
(ruled by Elector Carl Philipp, 1716-1742;
Elector Carl Theodor, 1748-1778)

Composers of the Mannheim School

Johann Stamitz (1717-1757); violin virtuoso who joined
Mannheim orchestra c. 1741 and rose to concertmaster

Franz Xaver Richter (1709-1789)

Ignaz Holzbauer (1711-1783)
Christian Cannabich (1731-1798)
Carl Joseph Toeschi ((1731-1788)
Carl Stamitz (1745-1801) - son of Johann Stamitz

Mannheim Orchestra known throughout Europe,

numbering approx. 50 players


Johann Stamitz (Mannheim):

Sinfonia a 8/Symphony in Eb Major,
Op. 11, No. 3, Mvt. 1
Mid-1750s (NAWM 109, p. 73)