Documentary series charting the evolution of classical music.
Runtime: 60 minutes
Eras of Music History - Classical period (music) - Netflix
The Classical period was an era of classical music between roughly 1730 to 1820, associated with the style of Haydn, Mozart and Beethoven. The Classical period falls between the Baroque and the Romantic periods. Classical music has a lighter, clearer texture than Baroque music and is less complex. It is mainly homophonic, using a clear melody line over a subordinate chordal accompaniment, but counterpoint was by no means forgotten, especially later in the period. It also makes use of style galant which emphasized light elegance in place of the Baroque's dignified seriousness and impressive grandeur. Variety and contrast within a piece became more pronounced than before and the orchestra increased in size, range, and power. The harpsichord was replaced as the main keyboard instrument by the piano (or fortepiano). Unlike the harpsichord, which plucked strings with quills, pianos strike the strings with leather-covered hammers when the keys are pressed, which enables the performer to play louder or softer and play with more expression; in contrast, the force with which a performer plays the harpsichord keys does not change the sound. Instrumental music was considered important by Classical period composers. The main kinds of instrumental music were the sonata, trio, string quartet, symphony (performed by an orchestra) and the solo concerto, which featured a virtuoso solo performer playing a solo work for violin, piano, flute, or another instrument, accompanied by an orchestra. Vocal music, such as songs for a singer and piano (notably the work of Schubert), choral works, and opera (a staged dramatic work for singers and orchestra) were also important during this period. The best-known composers from this period are Joseph Haydn, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, Ludwig van Beethoven, and Franz Schubert; other notable names include Luigi Boccherini, Muzio Clementi, Antonio Salieri, Leopold Mozart, Johann Christian Bach, Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach, and Christoph Willibald Gluck. Ludwig van Beethoven is regarded either as a Romantic composer or a Classical period composer who was part of the transition to the Romantic era. Franz Schubert is also a transitional figure, as were Johann Nepomuk Hummel, Luigi Cherubini, Gaspare Spontini, Gioachino Rossini, and Carl Maria von Weber. The period is sometimes referred to as the era of Viennese Classic or Classicism (German: Wiener Klassik), since Gluck, Mozart, Haydn, Salieri, Schubert, and Beethoven all worked in Vienna.
Eras of Music History - 1750–1775 - Netflix
By the late 1750s there were flourishing centers of the new style in Italy, Vienna, Mannheim, and Paris; dozens of symphonies were composed and there were bands of players associated with musical theatres. Opera or other vocal music accompanied by orchestra was the feature of most musical events, with concertos and symphonies (arising from the overture) serving as instrumental interludes and introductions for operas and church services. Over the course of the Classical period, symphonies and concertos developed and were presented independently of vocal music.
The “normal” orchestra ensemble—a body of strings supplemented by winds—and movements of particular rhythmic character were established by the late 1750s in Vienna. However, the length and weight of pieces was still set with some Baroque characteristics: individual movements still focused on one “affect” (musical mood) or had only one sharply contrasting middle section, and their length was not significantly greater than Baroque movements. There was not yet a clearly enunciated theory of how to compose in the new style. It was a moment ripe for a breakthrough. Many consider this breakthrough to have been made by C. P. E. Bach, Gluck, and several others. Indeed, C. P. E. Bach and Gluck are often considered founders of the Classical style. The first great master of the style was the composer Joseph Haydn. In the late 1750s he began composing symphonies, and by 1761 he had composed a triptych (Morning, Noon, and Evening) solidly in the contemporary mode. As a vice-Kapellmeister and later Kapellmeister, his output expanded: he composed over forty symphonies in the 1760s alone. And while his fame grew, as his orchestra was expanded and his compositions were copied and disseminated, his voice was only one among many. While some scholars suggest that Haydn was overshadowed by Mozart and Beethoven, it would be difficult to overstate Haydn's centrality to the new style, and therefore to the future of Western art music as a whole. At the time, before the pre-eminence of Mozart or Beethoven, and with Johann Sebastian Bach known primarily to connoisseurs of keyboard music, Haydn reached a place in music that set him above all other composers except perhaps the Baroque era's George Frideric Handel. Haydn took existing ideas, and radically altered how they functioned—earning him the titles “father of the symphony” and “father of the string quartet”. One of the forces that worked as an impetus for his pressing forward was the first stirring of what would later be called Romanticism—the Sturm und Drang, or “storm and stress” phase in the arts, a short period where obvious and dramatic emotionalism was a stylistic preference. Haydn accordingly wanted more dramatic contrast and more emotionally appealing melodies, with sharpened character and individuality in his pieces. This period faded away in music and literature: however, it influenced what came afterward and would eventually be a component of aesthetic taste in later decades. The Farewell Symphony, No. 45 in F♯ Minor, exemplifies Haydn's integration of the differing demands of the new style, with surprising sharp turns and a long slow adagio to end the work. In 1772, Haydn completed his Opus 20 set of six string quartets, in which he deployed the polyphonic techniques he had gathered from the previous Baroque era to provide structural coherence capable of holding together his melodic ideas. For some, this marks the beginning of the “mature” Classical style, in which the period of reaction against late Baroque complexity yielded to a period of integration Baroque and Classical elements.