Classical Music

It is absolutely true that classical music is known as an ideal music for a great number of people. It does not matter what age one is, what class or what their geographical location is, it appeals to them greatly, because its diversity is unparalleled. Classical music includes a variety of genres which are rich enough to provide a life time of wonder and surprises. Frankly speaking, nowadays we consider classical music to be a specific kind of music that was written between eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, but it is much more than music made–up at this period. Let us have a look at the development and formation of classical music as  a one-off phenomenon in the global art.

In the first place, let us find out what the term «classical music» means. According to Oxford Dictionary, classical music is a serious music that follows long-established principles rather than a folk, jazz, or popular tradition. Another dictionary The Concise Oxford Dictionary of Music gives a little bit different definition of this music phenomenon. Music of an orderly nature, with qualities of clarify and balance, and emphasizing formal beauty rather than emotion expression (which is not to say that emotion is lacking). 

This kind of music paid attention to the clarity with regard to the melodic expression and instrumental color. It is written to explain something significant or great. Moreover, classical music expresses the idea and makes the listeners think. That is why modern music is different in comparison with classical one, because it is less sophisticated. Modern music is designed to entertain listener, meanwhile the classical music is composed to let listeners loose their emotions. Nevertheless we can’t say that classical music is better than modern, simply these two kinds of music have different purposes, but classical music is still on a higher level.

In the second place, the classical music has unique system of formation. It consists of such periods as Medieval Period, Renaissance Period, Baroque Period, Classical Period, Romantic period. Each of these periods has its own musical style. Let us dwell on the Classical Period as the main period of the development of the classical music. The music of this period is supposed to be different from that of the previous periods, but the transition to classical was stepwise. There were three main trends of this transition. The first trend was connected with the reformation of Opera. A great number of composes wanted to change Italian Opera which was the ideal Opera at that time. They emphasized on making opera more natural and expressive, with focusing a little bit more on the narrative rather than on solo singers. One of the most successful composers who managed to modify opera was Christoph Willibald Gluck. He performed Ordered Euridice where all attention was paid to the dramatic narrative. The second trend was an alteration in the solo keyboard music. The representative of this transition trend was Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach. He wanted to use those musical instruments, that could play softer or harder depending on the force they are pressed. Finally, the last trend was the introduction of symphony. Giovanni Battista Samartin wrote early symphonies. These symphonies were based on the Baroque Italian opera. Step by step the symphonies deeply ingrained in popularity and were composed for large orchestras. As we can see, classical music came through progressive transition to perfection.

In fact, this period was also called the Age of Enlightenment. Such philosophers as Rousseau, Voltaire, and Montesquieu wrote about men’s abilities to overcome problems themselves. As a result, this new thought led to the confrontation between the old and new ideas. That is why the music of this period reflected all the changes that occurred in the society. This era was the first one in the music history which took into the consideration public concerts as an important part of the music scene. It is a well known fact, that in the past only reaches people used to enjoy classical music, but under the influence of circumstances it began to appeal to the common people as well.

In the third place, the immense diversity of classical music is caused the appearance of the different styles. Music of this period varies in style from what preceded and followed it. The composers combined the attainment of the previous periods and tried to emphasize the tempo, dynamics, and expressive qualities of the Music. Moreover, great attention was paid to the formal structure of the music, which centered around the thematic development and harmonic structure. One more specific feature of the classic style is emotional control. Although emotion is the essential aspect of music, in the Classical era it is carefully controlled. This verification declared itself in the use of dynamics and expressive differences in the movements of a composition. In the Baroque dynamics was linked with the expression of a single emotion in the composition, then it was superseded by the variation of the emotional content of a given movement or section. Telling the truth, it was accomplished by the use of crescendo and decrescendo. In general, all the classic style became more free and varied,  the major musical styles of this period are symphony, concerto, suite, opera, chamber music, sonata, duos, trios, quartets, sextets, octets. Let’s look briefly through these major styles.

  • Symphony is supposed to be a large scale-work for orchestra. It shapes of four sections which alternate fast-slow. The first composer who broke with tradition was Ludwig van Beethoven. He included vocal soloists and a full choir in the final section of his ninth symphony. Other composers, such as Haydn, Schubert, Mozart, Brahms, Tchaikovsky, Mahler, Prokofiev and Shostakovich, wrote well-know symphonies as well.
  • Concerto is various forms of work for orchestra but with the addition of musical instruments. It was principally composed to show the virtuosity of the soloist. The distinguish feature of the concert is an interplay between the soloist and orchestra. A great example of the concerto is Vivaldi's Four Seasons. It is a collection of four violin concertos. Other examples of the concertos comprise violin concertos of Brahms, Tchaikovsky and Sibelius, Beethoven and piano concertos of Tchaikovsky, Beethoven, Mozart.
  • Suite is a selection of short movements, taken from the incidental music, dances to shape a large work. It can be both for solo and solo instrument. The best samples of the suite are Respighi's Ancient Airs and Dances and Tchaikovsky's Nutcracker.
  • Essentially operas are huge sections that are the mix of theater and music. Operas consist of orchestra, soloists and choir. The main obligation of the soloists is to sing and act as well. The most famous operas are Wagner's Ring Cycle, Puccini's Madame Butterfly, Mozart's Magic Flute, Bizet's Carmen.
  • Chamber music is any type of music designed for small ensemble, which approximately may consist of one to eight performers. The most significant feature is a work of solo instrument with the accompaniment of keyboard. Moreover, the focus acquirement is on the interplay of the between the instruments.
  • Sonata is one of the most important forms in the Classical period. Under its influence all areas of the orchestra and chamber music developed. It is made of three sections: the exposition, the development, and the recapitulation. Mainly, sonatas were used at the beginning of the composition and it is also found in movements and finals. Sonata is also known to be an equivalent of a symphony but only for one or two instruments. The well-known sonatas belong to Beethoven, he wrote thirty one of them.
  • Duos, trios, quartets, quintets, sextets, octets are music for small gropes of instruments. It can combine any types of instruments. The most common style is a combination of the two violins, viola and cello called the string quartet.

We can see that Classical music varies in styles and each style is worth being payed attention to, because with its assistance the evolution of the music continues.

Nowadays the attitude towards the classical music is quite different. A great amount of people thinks that this kind of music is very difficult for understanding, because its complexities of form and musical process are not heard without an appropriate education in the classical music. However according to the survey conducted in by 60 Minutes and Vanity Fair suggests otherwise. More than 900 people consider metal, overall the most difficult ones. It means that pretty much percent of people does not listen to classical music at all, because it is too complex. However, they find it agreeable. Whatever people think about all kinds of music, we think that jazz trumpeter Louis Armstrong had the right attitude to this fact, he said, ”There’s only two ways to sum up music: either it’s good or it’s bad. If it is good you don’t mass about it – you just enjoy it” (27).

To summarise, the classical music still remains the ideal one. It has enjoyed massive and enduring popularity. Its historical development and stylistic diversity are worth discovering. Although the classical music is not a piece of cake to get into, but after covering all the tapestry of sounds, emotions and stories that go together to draw up this music,  one will truly find out that it is the best music ever written.

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