Series 9 - Composers, Courts and Classicism

There was an enormous amount of change in the Classical period (about 1730- 1820), including the Enlightenment, the French Revolution, Industrial Revolution,  American Independence and for us in Australia both Cook and Phillip coming to our shores.

Musically, composers moved away from the complexity of the Baroque to a clearer, cleaner style based on simplicity. It is the period of the orchestra and string quartet and three great composers, Haydn, Mozart and Beethoven who totally rewrote the musical language.

1. The Rococo Period

Between the end of the Baroque and the beginning of the Classical periods there is an artistic bridge called the Rococo. Its music was a reaction against counterpoint and the comparative austere styles of composers like Bach and Handel. Instead this music was lighter, more intimate with extreme elaboration and ornamentation.

2. The Classical Period

Although music in the Classical Period was formal and structured, it was also lighter with more contrasts in tone colour, dynamics, modulations; and melody was all important. It was a period where the orchestra was fully established and the continuo, so important in the Baroque, died out.

3. Joseph Haydn

The remarkable Haydn (1732-1809) is the first of the three great composers of the Classical period and known as both the “Father of the Symphony’ and the ‘Father of the String Quartet”. He was extremely prolific spending almost 30 years as a court musician for the Esterhazy family in their remote estate.

4. Forms and Styles

Formal styles developed in the Classical Period establishing the basis for most compositions. These included the Sonata form (not to be confused with the Sonata- also formalised in the period) and the Rondo form. These shaped the movements of larger compositions like the Symphony, Sonata and Concerto.

5. Sacred music

A lot of sacred music was written in this period but although it was more conservative than secular music it has often been criticized for being too beautiful, operatic and not serious enough- for the theatre rather than the church.

6. Opera

In this period the dominant form of opera, Opera Seria became less popular with other more light and comic operas styles like Opera Buffa and Singspiel taking over. This was music for the people as well as music for the aristocrat.

  • Classes must be taken as a series of 6.
  • Each class runs for 1 and a half hours starting with coffee and cake. Please see website or call Andy for course times and dates.
  • All classes are held once a month and last for 1 and a half hours.
  • Minimum of 5 per class.
  • Locations are the Eastern suburbs or North Shore. They are easily accessable by public transport.
  • Address will be supplied upon enrollment.
  • Classes may be conducted elsewhere and can be customised to fit your specific group.