Part 4 – The Classical Style

Project One – Classical Forms of Composition

Classical is music composed roughly between the years 1740 and 1800. Embodies Balance, simplicity, perfection of form and clean, unornamented lines.

The classical period in context with arts and sciences

Writers and PhilosophersArtistsScientists
Voltaire (1694 – 1778)Thomas Gainsborough (1727 – 88)Henry Cavendish (1731-1810)
Johann Goethe (1749 -1832)Francisco Goya (1746 – 1828)Antoine Lavoisier (1743 – 94)
William Blake (1757 – 1827)Katsushika Hokusai (1760 – 1849)Edward Jenner (1749 – 1823)
Robert Burns (1759 – 96)Joseph Turner (1775 – 1851)Andre Ampere (1775 – 1836)
Friedrich Schiller (1759 – 1805)Jean Ingres (1780 – 1867)Humphrey Davy (1778 – 1829)

The main compositional forms developed from Baroque dance suits were the symphony, sonata, concerto and string quartet – the majority of these consist of three or four contrasting movements, usually in the form of fast-slow-dance (minuend trio) – fast or fast – slow – fast.

First movement was often in sonata form. The standard compositional layout comproses

  • Introduction – sometimes omitted
  • Exposition – statement of main theme in home key – bridge section – statement of second theme in he dominant key or relative major (if tonic is in a minor key) – codetta (short end passage)
  • Development – based on thematic ideas from the exposition but moving in new directions and including modulations to different keys, sometimes distant from the tonic.
  • Recapitulation – restatement of exposition themes in the original order, but with both themes in the home key – coda

Dance style movements often appeared within later scale works, most commonly in the form of the minuet and trio, which frequently formed the 3rd movement of a sonata or symphony.

  • In triple time, the minuet is formed of two repeated sections often with a proportional phrase structure, such as 16 bars in the first section and 32 in the second.
  • The trio is heard after the minuet, followed by a reprise of the minuet without repeats.

This rather formal dance style contrasts with the use of fold dance rhythms in there later Romantic era and is n keeping with the clean and balanced nature of the overall work compared with the emotionalism and possibly nationalism of Romantic Music.

The Symphony Concerto and String Quartet – Listening Log page 34

Exercise – Enjoying Classical MusicLearning Log Page 16

Project two – Composers of the Classical Era

Other names of the Classical Era include the following:-

Dominated by Haydn, Mozart and Beethoven

Research point – Learning Log Page 17

I chose to listen and research William Herschel – Learning Log Page 18

Project three- Musical performance in the Classical Era

Research point – Mozart – Learning Log Page 19


The Mannheim School

Exercise – The Mannheim School – Listening Log Page 35


Vienna Harmoniemusik

Vienna School Listening – Listening Log Page 36

Research. The History of Music Publishing up to 1900Learning log Page 20

Project Four – Opera in the Classical Era

Two forms of Opera existed – opera Buffa (comic opera) and opera serial (grand opera) eg Mozart wrote Cosi Fan Tutti which was an opera buffa and Idomneneo which was an opera seria.

Comic opera

Written in the language of their country of origin and usually had six or more characters representing a cross section of society.Arias were constructed from short melodic phrases accompanied by a simple harmony, while recitative accompanied only by the keyboard. In Italy an ensemble finale was developed to allow all of the characters to interact on stage in the final scene.

Additional information on comic opera

Grand opera

Used serious subject matter. Many had a mythological basis. Scenes would often include elements of war and ceremony. Organised into three acts, most musical material aleternating veiween recitative and aria.

Additional information on grand opera

Exercise – The Classic opera