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Introduction to Western Classical Music
Western Classical music originates from the Latin word Classicus which means first class
or to the Romans, artistry of the highest. There are two different parts within Western
Classical music, Church (religious) music and secular music. Church music consists of
chants, carols and requiems whereas secular music is made up of operas, Sonatas,
concerts and symphonies. Western Classical music includes a wide range of different
music styles over a period of 800 years, these are

Medieval ( Before 1400 )

Renaissance ( 1400-1600 )

Baroque ( 1600-1750 )

Classical ( 1750-1830)

Romantic ( 1830-1920 )

20th century/ Modern ( 1920-2017)

Mozarts famous quote- All I insist on, and nothing else, is that you should show the whole
world that you are not afraid. Be silent, if you choose; but when it is necessary, speak
and speak in such a way that people will remember it.
Audience Overview of western classical music
When we talk about Secular music ( concerts, operas etc.) we think of the more
wealthy people dressing up with high end suits and dresses. Especially during the
years before the modern period. Only the wealthy could afford to attend concerts
and operas.

The age of technology in the Modern period allowed people from all wealth and
culture to listen to Western classical music through radios and broadcasts. It enabled
them to listen to it for free without having to order tickets and spend hours listening
in a theatre. Technology also allowed people to listen to any composer of their choice
without having to go through a set of composers in a theatre.
The clothing worn to operas and concerts etc is normally high-end much more luxury
Western Classical music dates right back to the medieval period before the 1400s mainly
being performed mainly in churches. During this period it was very popular as the
majority of the population went to church.
Western classical music has evolved through time with help from very influential
incredible composers. The popularity of this genre of music was kept alive because it
kept evolving into new interesting ideas. The use of Atonality instead of Tonality in the
works of Arnold Schoenberg confused people but also made them think about the
message being sent across. Still hundreds of years later the style is still hugely loved
and composers are still putting there own twists into their music.
Famous Composers
Mozart was born 1756, January the 27th in Salzburg, Austria to Johann Georg Leopold
Mozart and Anna Maria Walburga Mozart.
At a very young age, he was already able to play the piano and violin, he composed
from the age of five and performed in front of European royalty. He was one of the
most crucial composers during the Classical period, evolving the style of music from
the Barque period to then leading onto the Romantic period. He is one of the most
famous composers to have ever lived, creating compositions which are still loved

Here are Some of his very influential pieces are Eine Kleine Nachtmusik (https:// and Le Nozze di Figaro (https://
Ludwig Van Beethoven

Beethoven was born December 1770 in Germany to Maria Magdalena Keverich and Johann
van Beethoven. At a very young age Beethoven took an interest in music and like Mozart,
was taught by his father. Beethovens very first live performance was at Cologne and he was
only seven years old. At 27 years old, Beethoven went deaf only being able to hear a few

He was one of the main composers along side Hayden and Mozart who brought Western
Classical music through the Classical and Romantic periods. To this day, he still remains one
of the most famous and influential composers.

Here are some of his most well known compositions which are still highly loved today:

5th symphony in Cminor-

9th symphony-
Johann Sebastian Bach
Johann Sebastian bach was born on the 31st of march 1685 in Eisenach, Germany and
died on the 28th of July 1750 in Leipzig, Germany. His parents were Johann Ambrosius
Bach and Maria Elisabeth Lammerhirt. His whole family were musicians and his father
taught him how to play the violin. He is thought to be one of the most influential
composers of all time.

Bach evolved Western Classical music during the baroque period and produced some
incredible pieces.
Some of these are:

toccata and fugue in d minor-

This peiece is said to be one of the greatest organ peieces ever written.

Air on the G string-

Frederic Chopin
Frdric Chopin was born on March 1, 1810 in Zelazowa Wola, Poland. He died in October
17, 1849, Paris, France. Chopin was a Polish composer and virtuoso pianist of the Romantic
era who wrote his compositions mainly for the piano. Chopin was influenced by worldwide
composers of earlier eres, some of these were Mozart, Bach and Schburt. Over 230 of
Frederic Chopins pieces are still played today in a modern era.

One of his very well known compositions is Nocturne in E flat major also known as op 9 no.
2. Nocturne in E flat major. It starts of with a legato melody played by the piano, the melody
is heard again three times during the piece. Each time , it is altered and has a slightly
different tones and has an added trill.

Another sensational composition by Chopin is Etude op.25- https://
Arnold Schoenberg
Arnold Schoenberg was a Austrian composer, painter and leader of the Second
Viennese School. He was born 13th of September 1874, Leopoldstadt, Austria to
Samuel Schoenberg and Pauline Schoenberg and died died July the 13th 1951, Los
Angeles. Audiences and critics found Schoenbergs music difficult to understand
which so much unrest and in one of his concerts the police were called. Still, he was
one of the most influential composers during

He was part of the Romantic period and then lead into the 20th century Western
classical music. He created a different way of writing compositions and used
Atonality instead of tonality. Tonality meant that the piece was in a specific key.
Because of this, Tonality was used much less after his era.

His first composition was Verklrte Nacht ( Transfigured night) which was a very
romantic piece.
Ludovico Einaudi
Ludovico Einaudi was born in Turin on the 23rd of November
1955. He is a modern day Italian classical pianist. His
compositions are played worldwide and have featured in many
different films. His father was Giulio Einaudi who was a publisher
and his mother, Renata Aldrovandi, played the piano and taught
him the basics of music. Enaudi trained at the Conservatorio
Verdi in Milan and was taught by Luciano Berio in the early

Einaudi became world famous when he performed his piece,

Timed Out which took of all over the media. https://
Time Periods

Before 1400s-21 st

The medieval period
The medieval period was earliest type of western music written we are able to
understand. Its time scale of between 1150-1400.The beginning of the Medieval
period was very much based for churches, with religious meanings. There were
three different sections to the medieval period, middle ages, higher middle ages
and the late ages. It wasnt till the middle ages where secular music was formed.
In the 10th and 11th century, composers began too write their compositions
polyphonically which meant that there was more than one melody.
Here are some of the main instruments used in the time period:
The recorder
Early stages of the organ
trombone (called the sackbut)
Medieval Period
Renaissance period
The Renaissance period allowed composers to have a lot more freedom in their
music. Composers moved away from basic harmonies which had taken over the
music for over 300 years and taken it into the direction of using major and minor
scales. This created more types of emotion allowing the composers to express
their feelings through their music. The renaissance period brought vocals into the
style of music.

One of the most famous composers during the renaissance period was Thomas
Tallis who was born in 1510 and died in 1585. His most famous composition is
Spem in Alium.

Here is a list of the instruments used in the period of Western Classical music.
Renaissance Period
The Baroque Period
The Baroque period was where the orchestra and opera side of music formed .
Western classical music was starting to be played in front of society, restaurants,
special events etc and was spreading and evolving into a worldwide style of music.
One of the most popular composers of this period was Johann Sebastian Bach. His
most famous piece is the toccata and fugue in d minor.

Instruments which evolved through this time period includes the soft string family of
the Renaissance period and also the harpsichord which was where the piano
originated from.
Baroque Period
The classical period
The classical period brought us the start of modern concerto, symphonies and
sonatas. It produced some of the most amazing influential composers of all time such
as Joseph Hadyn, Johann Christian , Wolfgang Mozart and in the late stages of this
period Beethoven. The classical period was dominated by instrument compositions.
Compositions were mainly homophonic, using a clear melody line over a
Here are the typical instruments played in the this period:

Wood: Oboe, Bassoon, Clarinet, Flute, Piccolo

Brass: French Horn, Trumpet, Trombone
Strings: Violin, Viola, Cello, Double Bass, Harp
Percussion: Timpani.
Classical Period
What are the features of this style?
Style Galant was the early start to Classical music and was composed to please the listener/audience and to also
make the listener think about what the music was about. In the later Classical period the style became more
complexed and had a balance between the melody and accompaniments. The main feature was that classical music
was homophonic. Homophonic means the melody and the backing instruments playing together, the melody stands
out more and the instruments are the harmonic accompaniments. One of the main features of this period was the
invention of the piano by Bartolomeo Cristofori, a craftsman in 1700 Florence.

Differences to other periods:

The Classical period was different to the baroque period because where classical was mainly Homophonic, the
baroque period was mostly polyphonic. Also known as contrapuntal music, polyphonic means different
sounds/voices. In the classical period, the harpsichord was less used and wind instruments became more common,
though strings were still the main instruments. The classical period had more variety and contrast within pieces than
the baroque period, the use of dynamics, different instruments, tempo, key etc.
Famous Composers:
Some of the many composers which helped develop western classical music were Mozart and Beethoven. Especially
Beethoven, he wrote 9 symphonies. One of which his 5th symphony is the most loved and played today. As all his
other compositions it was written in 4 movements.

1st Movement, Sonata. This was the powerful first movement which opens with the Fate motif.
2nd movement, Andante ). The second movement is a lot more relaxed than the first, but still has some grand
3rd Movement (Scherzo. The third movement enters a very dramatic style of music. Beethoven slowed the piece
The Romantic period
The romantic period heavily involved the new, bright and powerful piano. The orchestra
also upgraded and strings, percussion brass and woodwinds expanded further.
Instruments such as the clarinet, snare drums and xylophones were invented in this
period of time.
This period brought us many famous composers, some of these were Frederic Chopin
and Tchaikovsky. This period allowed composers to have more freedom with writing
sonatas and symphonies.
Romantic Period
Modern/high Modern
Modern/high modern music transformed Western Classical music with new technology
which was growing around it. Radio broadcasts and gramophone records were being
invented so the less wealthy didnt have to spend vast amounts of money on concerts
etc and could listen and enjoy at a low costs
Technology was evolving fast it enabled people to listen to it for free without having
to order tickets and spend hours listening in a theatre due to music apps and
websites. Technology also allowed people to listen to any composer of their choice
without having to go through a set of composers in a theatre.
Modern/High Modern