CLASSICAL 1750-1820


The Classical era was a time period that helped develop society and music into what we have today. Some of the most famous composers came from this era, which includes: Ludwig van Beethoven, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, and Franz Josef Hayden. Additionally, Benjamin Franklin discovered electricity, the first vaccination occurred, and Lewis and Clark had the expedition of a lifetime during the year 1804. Some great American accomplishments happened consisting of the American Revolution in 1775 through 1783 and George Washington was the first president to be elected in 1789. Much music related achievements also transpired containing the production of Mozart’s first symphony in 1764, Handel’s “Messiah” was first performed and the great German composer Ludwig van Beethoven was born in 1770. Some Art successes also took place consisting of the Encyclopedia Britannica, first edition was published during 1768, the classic novel Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austin was written and published in 1813 and lastly the “Witch’s Sabbath” painting was painted by Francisco Goya in 1789. Together these accomplishments formulate the importance of the Classical era and from that time forward have greatly influenced society and the arts of music.

Popular Music



Musical Evolution

The essential elements of art and music in the classical era were the stresses on balance and clarity of structure. Classical music was planned to attract to a wide-ranging audience including noblemen, aristocrats and the common man. The piano was the most common instrument producing flowing and agile melodies. Classical music had many characteristics that other music styles did not. One of these characteristics is that the music needed to be universal, it was not limited by the borders of country or city. Another is that classical music was free of complicated or hard to follow rhythms or musical intervals that were not pleasing to the ear. It also was expected to be expressive but fit within the confines of the manners and expectations of society. During this time secular music was becoming more prevalent than sacred. With all of this in mind, composers in the Classical era produced music that was accessible to all ears: from the highest royalty to the meager servant. Classical music could be enjoyed and appreciated by all who heard it.


Classical Instruments
cello.jpgVioloncello - Commonly known as the cello, these instruments play an octave lower than the viola. It has a warm baritone sound and is sat on the ground and held in place by the knees of the player as they bow or pluck the strings.

Flute - This instrument is played by blowing across the mouth piece, similar to blowing over the top of a bottle. Originally flutes were made from wood but in modern times they are made of metal.

Violin - The "soprano" of the string family, it can be played by bowing or plucking its strings. The violin is known for being made by great craftsman, the most famous being the Amati family, Stradivarius and Joseph Guarnerius.

Bassoon - The bassoon is a double reed instrument with a low booming sound. The reed is placed at the end of a metal pipe.


Trumpet - The smallest of the brass instruments, the trumpet is played by buzzing the lips through the mouthpiece. Valves are pushed down to change the pitches by changing the route of air through the metal tubing.

Clarinet - A single reed instrument with a warm ton quality. Clarinets have a range of over three ocatves.


Important Composers

Ludwig van Beethoven
Born on December 17, 1770 in the city of Bonn. Beethoven started his career with an amazing aptitude for the arts of music, particularly piano. His father, Johann gave him violin and piano lessons. Starting at 1800, Beethoven began to instigate his own symphonies and perform them while the public was impressed with his new art. Still in his early 20’s, Beethoven became deaf. This dramatic change caused his entire life to alter. Desperate to overcome his disability he wrote symphonies 2, 3, and 4, before 1806. Then on March 26, 1827 in Vienna, Beethoven met his maker because of the disease dropsy, better known as edema.

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
Born January 27, 1756 in Salzburg, Austria, Mozart is not as one of the most significant composers of all time. Beginning his career at the age of nine by writing his first symphony, Mozart was destined for greatness. Some of his most famous works of art included operas such as Idomenée, The much of Leopold’s surprise, Mitridate, re di Ponto, and Le nozze di Figaro. Mozart spent the rest of his life in Vienna. He composed over hundreds of beautiful and unique music works which include over 20 operas, about 14-15 Masses, 30-40 concerts, 50-60 symphonies and 20 sonatas. Then on December 5, 1791 in Vienna, Mozart paid his eternal dues to the grave after being sick with miliary fever.

Franz Joseph Haydn
Born March 31, 1732 in Rohrau, Austria, Haydn composed 104 symphonies. He was caring, loving, extremely intelligent, and very well controlled. Haydn was good friends with Mozart they both respected each and occasionally they would attend each other performances. Some of his most well known pieces include Symphony #34 d minor, Symphony #94 Surprise Symphony, and Symphony #100 Military. Haydn spent the last years of his life in Vienna composing only vocal pieces such as masses and oratorios. On May 31, 1809 in Vienna Haydn departed from this world from the natural cause of old age.


Cultural Referencesfantasia.jpg

Fantsia is a 1940 American animated film that is completley classical music with the exception of animated Disney characters. In the movie Fatasia there are different little stories that are shown with animation and brought to life with music. This movie includes musical productions such as the song Toccata and Fugue in D minor. Further in The Pastrol Symphony it has Ludwig van Beethoven's Symphony No. 6. Lastley the song Clair de Lune, based on Claude Debussy's piano piece.

Fantasia 2000 came out in 1999 as a sequel to Fantasia. This movie was said to instigate a tv series but unfortunately it only was only a movie and nothing more. Fantasia 2000 has the same outline as Fantasia but with different musical pieces and stories. In this film production it uses Beethoven's Symphony No. 5 with animated butterflies to create a magical piece. Another music piece that is used is Sir Edward Elgar's Pomp and Circumstance, Marches 1,2,3 and 4. During this song Donald Duck plays the role as Noah and gathers two of every animal in the ark before it rains.Donald_Duck.jpg

Besides Fantasia movies there is also a Fantasia soundtrack and a Fantasia 2000 soundtrack which includes all the songs from the film poduction.

In 1986, Austrian pop artist Falco released the song Rock Me, Amadeus, based on the life of the composer, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. The song immediately skyrocketed to the top of both the American and UK charts. The song was sung in German, some of the translated lines are as follows:

"He was the first punk ever to set foot on this earth. He was a genius from the day of his birth. He could play the piano like a ring and a bell. And everybody screamed: Come on, rock me Amadeus." "With a bottle of wine in one hand and a woman in the other, his mind was on rock and roll and having fun. Because he lived so fast he had to die so young. But he made his mark in history. Still everybody says: Rock me Amadeus."