Classical Period

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Classical Period
1750 - 1820



Napoleon in His Study

Napoleon In His Study, 1812, by David [Online Image].  Available, July 9, 2001.

Music of the Classical period was also very structured and emotions were controlled.  It was tuneful and simple.  Even the size of the orchestra was modest, usually with no more than 40 musicians.  

The Classical period also emphasized balance and contrast.   This was achieved using form.  

Sonata form--also called ABA form--was the most important musical form used during the Classical period.  The beginning and the ending sections of Sonata form are the same.  The middle section is different.   This form gives you balance (beginning and ending) and contrast (middle). 

The symphony became a popular musical form during this period.  A symphony is a huge musical work in four movements.  Listen to the first movement of Symphony #40 by Mozart.  

The orchestra grew in size during the Classical period.  Famous composers during this time included Mozart and Beethoven.   The Classical period ended when Beethoven died in 1827.   Beethoven was considered the bridge between the Classical and Romantic periods. 

To hear more music from this time, go to Classical MIDI Archives.

To learn more about the Classical period, click here or click here or click here.

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Things to Think About

1.  What is symphonic music?  Can you use vocabulary to describe what symphonic music is? 

2.  How are harpsichords, organs, and pianos the same?  How are they different?

3.  What keyboard instruments exist today that did not exist in the Classical period?  

4.  What person or event had the biggest impact on Beethoven's life?  Why do you think so?  

5.  How are Mozart and Beethoven different?  How are they the same?

6.  What is the main difference between Baroque and Classical music?

7.  Is Baroque or Classical music more like Renaissance music?   

8.  Who would have been helped more by modern medicine, Beethoven or Mozart?

9.  Who do you think was the better composer, Mozart or Beethoven?  Why are they considered great?  

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