Classical music
Overview
 
Classical music is the art music
Art music
Art music is an umbrella term used to refer to musical traditions implying advanced structural and theoretical considerations and a written musical tradition...

 produced in, or rooted in, the traditions of Western
Western culture
Western culture, sometimes equated with Western civilization or European civilization, refers to cultures of European origin and is used very broadly to refer to a heritage of social norms, ethical values, traditional customs, religious beliefs, political systems, and specific artifacts and...

 liturgical
Religious music
Religious music is music performed or composed for religious use or through religious influence.A lot of music has been composed to complement religion, and many composers have derived inspiration from their own religion. Many forms of traditional music have been adapted to fit religions'...

 and secular music
Secular music
Secular music is non-religious music. "Secular" means being separate from religion.In the West, secular music developed in the Medieval period and was used in the Renaissance. Swaying authority from the Church that focused more on Common Law influenced all aspects of Medieval life, including music...

, encompassing a broad period from roughly the 11th century to present times. The central norms of this tradition became codified between 1550 and 1900, which is known as the common practice period
Common practice period
The common practice period, in the history of Western art music , spanning the Baroque, Classical, and Romantic periods, lasted from c. 1600 to c. 1900.-General characteristics:...

.

European music is largely distinguished from many other non-European and popular music
Popular music
Popular music belongs to any of a number of musical genres "having wide appeal" and is typically distributed to large audiences through the music industry. It stands in contrast to both art music and traditional music, which are typically disseminated academically or orally to smaller, local...

al forms by its system of staff notation
Musical notation
Music notation or musical notation is any system that represents aurally perceived music, through the use of written symbols.-History:...

, in use since about the 16th century.
Discussions
Quotations

"When I composed that, I was conscious of being inspired by God Almighty. Do you think I can consider your puny little fiddle when He speaks to me?"

Ludwig van Beethoven to a violinist who complained that a passage was unplayable

"All the good music has already been written by people with wigs and stuff."

Frank Zappa Category:Music

Encyclopedia
Classical music is the art music
Art music
Art music is an umbrella term used to refer to musical traditions implying advanced structural and theoretical considerations and a written musical tradition...

 produced in, or rooted in, the traditions of Western
Western culture
Western culture, sometimes equated with Western civilization or European civilization, refers to cultures of European origin and is used very broadly to refer to a heritage of social norms, ethical values, traditional customs, religious beliefs, political systems, and specific artifacts and...

 liturgical
Religious music
Religious music is music performed or composed for religious use or through religious influence.A lot of music has been composed to complement religion, and many composers have derived inspiration from their own religion. Many forms of traditional music have been adapted to fit religions'...

 and secular music
Secular music
Secular music is non-religious music. "Secular" means being separate from religion.In the West, secular music developed in the Medieval period and was used in the Renaissance. Swaying authority from the Church that focused more on Common Law influenced all aspects of Medieval life, including music...

, encompassing a broad period from roughly the 11th century to present times. The central norms of this tradition became codified between 1550 and 1900, which is known as the common practice period
Common practice period
The common practice period, in the history of Western art music , spanning the Baroque, Classical, and Romantic periods, lasted from c. 1600 to c. 1900.-General characteristics:...

.

European music is largely distinguished from many other non-European and popular music
Popular music
Popular music belongs to any of a number of musical genres "having wide appeal" and is typically distributed to large audiences through the music industry. It stands in contrast to both art music and traditional music, which are typically disseminated academically or orally to smaller, local...

al forms by its system of staff notation
Musical notation
Music notation or musical notation is any system that represents aurally perceived music, through the use of written symbols.-History:...

, in use since about the 16th century. Western staff notation is used by composers to prescribe to the performer the pitch
Pitch (music)
Pitch is an auditory perceptual property that allows the ordering of sounds on a frequency-related scale.Pitches are compared as "higher" and "lower" in the sense associated with musical melodies,...

, speed
Tempo
In musical terminology, tempo is the speed or pace of a given piece. Tempo is a crucial element of any musical composition, as it can affect the mood and difficulty of a piece.-Measuring tempo:...

, meter
Meter (music)
Meter or metre is a term that music has inherited from the rhythmic element of poetry where it means the number of lines in a verse, the number of syllables in each line and the arrangement of those syllables as long or short, accented or unaccented...

, individual rhythms and exact execution of a piece of music. This leaves less room for practices such as improvisation and ad libitum ornamentation, that are frequently heard in non-European art music and popular music.

The term "classical music" did not appear until the early 19th century, in an attempt to "canonize" the period from Johann Sebastian Bach
Johann Sebastian Bach
Johann Sebastian Bach was a German composer, organist, harpsichordist, violist, and violinist whose sacred and secular works for choir, orchestra, and solo instruments drew together the strands of the Baroque period and brought it to its ultimate maturity...

 to Beethoven
Ludwig van Beethoven
Ludwig van Beethoven was a German composer and pianist. A crucial figure in the transition between the Classical and Romantic eras in Western art music, he remains one of the most famous and influential composers of all time.Born in Bonn, then the capital of the Electorate of Cologne and part of...

 as a golden age. The earliest reference to "classical music" recorded by the Oxford English Dictionary
Oxford English Dictionary
The Oxford English Dictionary , published by the Oxford University Press, is the self-styled premier dictionary of the English language. Two fully bound print editions of the OED have been published under its current name, in 1928 and 1989. The first edition was published in twelve volumes , and...

is from about 1836.

Characteristics

Given the extremely broad variety of forms, styles, genres, and historical periods generally perceived as being described by the term "classical music," it is difficult to list characteristics that can be attributed to all works of that type. Vague descriptions are plentiful, such as describing classical music as anything that "lasts a long time," a statement made rather moot when one considers contemporary composers who are described as classical; or music that has certain instruments like violins, which are also found in other genres. However, there are characteristics that classical music contains that few or no other genres of music contain.

Literature

The most outstanding and particular characteristic of classical music is that the repertoire tends to be written down. Composers and performers alike are typically highly literate in understanding notation and the written quality of the music has, in addition to preserving the works, led to a high level of complexity within them.

Instrumentation

The instruments used in most classical music were largely invented before the mid-19th century (often much earlier), and codified in the 18th and 19th centuries. They consist of the instruments found in an orchestra, together with a few other solo instruments (such as the piano
Piano
The piano is a musical instrument played by means of a keyboard. It is one of the most popular instruments in the world. Widely used in classical and jazz music for solo performances, ensemble use, chamber music and accompaniment, the piano is also very popular as an aid to composing and rehearsal...

, harpsichord
Harpsichord
A harpsichord is a musical instrument played by means of a keyboard. It produces sound by plucking a string when a key is pressed.In the narrow sense, "harpsichord" designates only the large wing-shaped instruments in which the strings are perpendicular to the keyboard...

, and organ
Organ (music)
The organ , is a keyboard instrument of one or more divisions, each played with its own keyboard operated either with the hands or with the feet. The organ is a relatively old musical instrument in the Western musical tradition, dating from the time of Ctesibius of Alexandria who is credited with...

). The symphony orchestra is the most widely known medium for classical music. The orchestra includes members of the string
String instrument
A string instrument is a musical instrument that produces sound by means of vibrating strings. In the Hornbostel-Sachs scheme of musical instrument classification, used in organology, they are called chordophones...

, woodwind, brass
Brass instrument
A brass instrument is a musical instrument whose sound is produced by sympathetic vibration of air in a tubular resonator in sympathy with the vibration of the player's lips...

, and percussion families.

Electric instruments such as the electric guitar
Electric guitar
An electric guitar is a guitar that uses the principle of direct electromagnetic induction to convert vibrations of its metal strings into electric audio signals. The signal generated by an electric guitar is too weak to drive a loudspeaker, so it is amplified before sending it to a loudspeaker...

 appear occasionally in the classical music of the 20th and 21st centuries. Both classical and popular musicians have experimented in recent decades with electronic instruments such as the synthesizer
Synthesizer
A synthesizer is an electronic instrument capable of producing sounds by generating electrical signals of different frequencies. These electrical signals are played through a loudspeaker or set of headphones...

, electric and digital techniques such as the use of sampled
Sampling (music)
In music, sampling is the act of taking a portion, or sample, of one sound recording and reusing it as an instrument or a different sound recording of a song or piece. Sampling was originally developed by experimental musicians working with musique concrète and electroacoustic music, who physically...

 or computer-generated sounds
Computer music
Computer music is a term that was originally used within academia to describe a field of study relating to the applications of computing technology in music composition; particularly that stemming from the Western art music tradition...

, and the sounds of instruments from other cultures such as the gamelan
Gamelan
A gamelan is a musical ensemble from Indonesia, typically from the islands of Bali or Java, featuring a variety of instruments such as metallophones, xylophones, drums and gongs; bamboo flutes, bowed and plucked strings. Vocalists may also be included....

.

None of the bass instruments existed until the Renaissance. In Medieval music, instruments are divided in two categories: loud instruments for use outdoors or in church, and quieter instruments for indoor use. The Baroque orchestra consisted of flutes, oboes, horns and violins, occasionally with trumpets and timpani. Many instruments which are associated today with popular music used to have important roles in early classical music, such as bagpipes
Bagpipes
Bagpipes are a class of musical instrument, aerophones, using enclosed reeds fed from a constant reservoir of air in the form of a bag. Though the Scottish Great Highland Bagpipe and Irish uilleann pipes have the greatest international visibility, bagpipes of many different types come from...

, vihuela
Vihuela
Vihuela is a name given to two different guitar-like string instruments: one from 15th and 16th century Spain, usually with 12 paired strings, and the other, the Mexican vihuela, from 19th century Mexico with five strings and typically played in Mariachi bands.-History:The vihuela, as it was known...

s, hurdy-gurdies
Hurdy gurdy
The hurdy gurdy or hurdy-gurdy is a stringed musical instrument that produces sound by a crank-turned rosined wheel rubbing against the strings. The wheel functions much like a violin bow, and single notes played on the instrument sound similar to a violin...

 and some woodwind instruments. On the other hand, instruments such as the acoustic guitar
Acoustic guitar
An acoustic guitar is a guitar that uses only an acoustic sound board. The air in this cavity resonates with the vibrational modes of the string and at low frequencies, which depend on the size of the box, the chamber acts like a Helmholtz resonator, increasing or decreasing the volume of the sound...

, which used to be associated mainly with popular music, have gained prominence in classical music through the 19th and 20th centuries.

While equal temperament
Equal temperament
An equal temperament is a musical temperament, or a system of tuning, in which every pair of adjacent notes has an identical frequency ratio. As pitch is perceived roughly as the logarithm of frequency, this means that the perceived "distance" from every note to its nearest neighbor is the same for...

 became gradually accepted as the dominant musical temperament
Musical temperament
In musical tuning, a temperament is a system of tuning which slightly compromises the pure intervals of just intonation in order to meet other requirements of the system. Most instruments in modern Western music are tuned in the equal temperament system...

 during the 19th century, different historical temperaments are often used for music from earlier periods. For instance, music of the English Renaissance
English Renaissance
The English Renaissance was a cultural and artistic movement in England dating from the late 15th and early 16th centuries to the early 17th century. It is associated with the pan-European Renaissance that is usually regarded as beginning in Italy in the late 14th century; like most of northern...

 is often performed in mean tone temperament. Keyboards almost all share a common layout (often called the piano keyboard).

Form

Whereas the majority of popular styles lend themselves to the song form, classical music can also take on the form of the concerto, symphony
Symphony
A symphony is an extended musical composition in Western classical music, scored almost always for orchestra. A symphony usually contains at least one movement or episode composed according to the sonata principle...

, sonata
Sonata
Sonata , in music, literally means a piece played as opposed to a cantata , a piece sung. The term, being vague, naturally evolved through the history of music, designating a variety of forms prior to the Classical era...

, opera, dance music
Dance music
Dance music is music composed specifically to facilitate or accompany dancing. It can be either a whole musical piece or part of a larger musical arrangement...

, suite
Suite
In music, a suite is an ordered set of instrumental or orchestral pieces normally performed in a concert setting rather than as accompaniment; they may be extracts from an opera, ballet , or incidental music to a play or film , or they may be entirely original movements .In the...

, étude
Étude
An étude , is an instrumental musical composition, most commonly of considerable difficulty, usually designed to provide practice material for perfecting a particular technical skill. The tradition of writing études emerged in the early 19th century with the rapidly growing popularity of the piano...

, symphonic poem
Symphonic poem
A symphonic poem or tone poem is a piece of orchestral music in a single continuous section in which the content of a poem, a story or novel, a painting, a landscape or another source is illustrated or evoked. The term was first applied by Hungarian composer Franz Liszt to his 13 works in this vein...

, and others.

Classical composers often aspire to imbue their music with a very complex relationship between its affective (emotional) content and the intellectual means by which it is achieved. Many of the most esteemed works of classical music make use of musical development
Musical development
In European classical music, musical development is a process by which a musical idea is communicated in the course of a composition. It refers to the transformation and restatement of initial material, and is often contrasted with musical variation, which is a slightly different means to the same...

, the process by which a musical idea or motif
Motif (music)
In music, a motif or motive is a short musical idea, a salient recurring figure, musical fragment or succession of notes that has some special importance in or is characteristic of a composition....

 is repeated in different contexts or in altered form. The sonata form
History of sonata form
This article treats the history of sonata form in the Baroque, Classical, Romantic, and Modern eras. For a definition of sonata form, see sonata form. For an account of critical thought as it relates to sonata form, see Criticism and sonata form...

 and fugue
Fugue
In music, a fugue is a compositional technique in two or more voices, built on a subject that is introduced at the beginning in imitation and recurs frequently in the course of the composition....

 employ rigorous forms of musical development.

Technical execution

Along with a desire for composers to attain high technical achievement in writing their music, performers of classical music are faced with similar goals of technical mastery, as demonstrated by the proportionately high amount of schooling and private study most successful classical musicians have had when compared to "popular" genre musicians, and the large number of secondary schools, including conservatories, dedicated to the study of classical music. The only other genre in the Western world with comparable secondary education opportunities is jazz
Jazz
Jazz is a musical style that originated at the beginning of the 20th century in African American communities in the Southern United States. It was born out of a mix of African and European music traditions. From its early development until the present, jazz has incorporated music from 19th and 20th...

.

Complexity

Performance of classical music repertoire demands a significant level of technical mastery on the part of the musician; proficiency in sight-reading
Sight reading
Sight-reading is the reading and performing of a piece of written music, specifically when the performer has not seen it before. Sight-singing is often used to describe a singer who is sight-reading.-Sight-reading:...

 and ensemble
Musical ensemble
A musical ensemble is a group of people who perform instrumental or vocal music. In classical music, trios or quartets either blend the sounds of musical instrument families or group together instruments from the same instrument family, such as string ensembles or wind ensembles...

 playing, thorough understanding of tonal
Tonality
Tonality is a system of music in which specific hierarchical pitch relationships are based on a key "center", or tonic. The term tonalité originated with Alexandre-Étienne Choron and was borrowed by François-Joseph Fétis in 1840...

 and harmonic
Harmony
In music, harmony is the use of simultaneous pitches , or chords. The study of harmony involves chords and their construction and chord progressions and the principles of connection that govern them. Harmony is often said to refer to the "vertical" aspect of music, as distinguished from melodic...

 principles, knowledge of performance practice, and a familiarity with the style/musical idiom inherent to a given period, composer or musical work are among the most essential of skills for the classically trained musician.

Works of classical repertoire often exhibit artistic complexity through the use of thematic
Theme (music)
In music, a theme is the material, usually a recognizable melody, upon which part or all of a composition is based.-Characteristics:A theme may be perceivable as a complete musical expression in itself, separate from the work in which it is found . In contrast to an idea or motif, a theme is...

 development, phrasing, harmonization
Harmony
In music, harmony is the use of simultaneous pitches , or chords. The study of harmony involves chords and their construction and chord progressions and the principles of connection that govern them. Harmony is often said to refer to the "vertical" aspect of music, as distinguished from melodic...

, modulation
Modulation (music)
In music, modulation is most commonly the act or process of changing from one key to another. This may or may not be accompanied by a change in key signature. Modulations articulate or create the structure or form of many pieces, as well as add interest...

 (change of key), texture
Texture (music)
In music, texture is the way the melodic, rhythmic, and harmonic materials are combined in a composition , thus determining the overall quality of sound of a piece...

, and, of course, musical form
Musical form
The term musical form refers to the overall structure or plan of a piece of music, and it describes the layout of a composition as divided into sections...

 itself. Larger-scale compositional forms (such as that of the symphony
Symphony
A symphony is an extended musical composition in Western classical music, scored almost always for orchestra. A symphony usually contains at least one movement or episode composed according to the sonata principle...

, concerto, opera or oratorio
Oratorio
An oratorio is a large musical composition including an orchestra, a choir, and soloists. Like an opera, an oratorio includes the use of a choir, soloists, an ensemble, various distinguishable characters, and arias...

, for example) usually represent a hierarchy of smaller units consisting of phrases
Phrase (music)
In music and music theory, phrase and phrasing are concepts and practices related to grouping consecutive melodic notes, both in their composition and performance...

, periods
Period (music)
In music, a period is a group of phrases consisting usually of at least one antecedent phrase and one consequent phrase totaling about 8 measures in length . Generally, the antecedent ends in a weaker and the consequent in a stronger cadence; often, the antecedent ends in a half cadence while the...

, sections
Section (music)
In music, a section is "a complete, but not independent musical idea". Types of sections include the introduction or intro, exposition, recapitulation, verse, chorus or refrain, conclusion, coda or outro, fadeout, bridge or interlude...

, and movements
Movement (music)
A movement is a self-contained part of a musical composition or musical form. While individual or selected movements from a composition are sometimes performed separately, a performance of the complete work requires all the movements to be performed in succession...

. Musical analysis
Musical analysis
Musical analysis is the attempt to answer the question how does this music work?. The method employed to answer this question, and indeed exactly what is meant by the question, differs from analyst to analyst, and according to the purpose of the analysis. According to Ian Bent , analysis is "an...

 of a composition aims at achieving greater understanding of it, leading to more meaningful hearing and a greater appreciation of the composer's style.

Society

Classical music is often perceived as opulent or signifying some aspect of upper-level society. However, the traditional perception that only upper-class society has access to and appreciation for classical music, or even that classical music represents the upper-class society, may not be true, given that many working classical musicians fall somewhere in the middle-class income range in the United States, and that classical concertgoers and CD buyers are not necessarily upper class. Even in the Classical era, Mozart's opere buffe
Opera buffa
Opera buffa is a genre of opera. It was first used as an informal description of Italian comic operas variously classified by their authors as ‘commedia in musica’, ‘commedia per musica’, ‘dramma bernesco’, ‘dramma comico’, ‘divertimento giocoso' etc...

 such as Così fan tutte
Così fan tutte
Così fan tutte, ossia La scuola degli amanti K. 588, is an opera buffa by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart first performed in 1790. The libretto was written by Lorenzo Da Ponte....

were popular with the general public.

Classical music regularly features in pop culture, forming background music for movies, television programs and advertisements. As a result most people in the Western World regularly and often unknowingly listen to classical music; thus, it can be argued that the relatively low levels of recorded music sales may not be a good indicator of its actual popularity. In more recent times the association of certain classical pieces with major events has led to brief upsurges in interest in particular classical genres. A good example of this was the choice of Nessun dorma
Nessun dorma
Nessun dorma is an aria from the final act of Giacomo Puccini's opera Turandot, and is one of the best-known tenor arias in all opera. It is sung by Calaf, il principe ignoto , who falls in love at first sight with the beautiful but cold Princess Turandot...

from Giacomo Puccini
Giacomo Puccini
Giacomo Antonio Domenico Michele Secondo Maria Puccini was an Italian composer whose operas, including La bohème, Tosca, Madama Butterfly, and Turandot, are among the most frequently performed in the standard repertoire...

's opera Turandot
Turandot
Turandot is an opera in three acts by Giacomo Puccini, set to a libretto in Italian by Giuseppe Adami and Renato Simoni.Though Puccini's first interest in the subject was based on his reading of Friedrich Schiller's adaptation of the play, his work is most nearly based on the earlier text Turandot...

as the theme tune for the 1990 FIFA World Cup
1990 FIFA World Cup
The 1990 FIFA World Cup was the 14th FIFA World Cup, the quadrennial international football world championship tournament. It was held from 8 June to 8 July 1990 in Italy, the second country to host the event twice. Teams representing 116 national football associations from all six populated...

, which led to a noticeable increase in popular interest in opera and in particular in tenor arias, which led to the huge sellout concerts by The Three Tenors
The Three Tenors
The Three Tenors is a name given to the Spanish singers Plácido Domingo and José Carreras and the Italian singer Luciano Pavarotti who sang in concert under this banner during the 1990s and early 2000s. The trio began their collaboration with a performance at the ancient Baths of Caracalla, in...

. Such events are often cited as helping to drive increases in the audiences at many classical concerts that have been observed in recent times.

History

The major time divisions of classical music are the early music
Early music
Early music is generally understood as comprising all music from the earliest times up to the Renaissance. However, today this term has come to include "any music for which a historically appropriate style of performance must be reconstructed on the basis of surviving scores, treatises,...

 period, which includes Medieval
Medieval music
Medieval music is Western music written during the Middle Ages. This era begins with the fall of the Roman Empire and ends sometime in the early fifteenth century...

 (500–1400) and Renaissance
Renaissance music
Renaissance music is European music written during the Renaissance. Defining the beginning of the musical era is difficult, given that its defining characteristics were adopted only gradually; musicologists have placed its beginnings from as early as 1300 to as late as the 1470s.Literally meaning...

 (1400–1600), the Common practice period
Common practice period
The common practice period, in the history of Western art music , spanning the Baroque, Classical, and Romantic periods, lasted from c. 1600 to c. 1900.-General characteristics:...

, which includes the Baroque
Baroque music
Baroque music describes a style of Western Classical music approximately extending from 1600 to 1760. This era follows the Renaissance and was followed in turn by the Classical era...

 (1600–1750), Classical
Classical period (music)
The dates of the Classical Period in Western music are generally accepted as being between about 1750 and 1830. However, the term classical music is used colloquially to describe a variety of Western musical styles from the ninth century to the present, and especially from the sixteenth or...

 (1750–1830) and Romantic
Romantic music
Romantic music or music in the Romantic Period is a musicological and artistic term referring to a particular period, theory, compositional practice, and canon in Western music history, from 1810 to 1900....

 (1815–1910) periods, and the modern and contemporary period, which includes 20th century
20th century classical music
20th century classical music was without a dominant style and highly diverse.-Introduction:At the turn of the century, music was characteristically late Romantic in style. Composers such as Gustav Mahler and Jean Sibelius were pushing the bounds of Post-Romantic Symphonic writing...

 (1900–2000) and contemporary
Contemporary classical music
Contemporary classical music can be understood as belonging to the period that started in the mid-1970s with the retreat of modernism. However, the term may also be employed in a broader sense to refer to all post-1945 modern musical forms.-Categorization:...

 (1975–current).

The dates are generalizations
Dates of classical music eras
Music historians divide the European classical music repertory into various eras based on what style was most popular as taste changed. These eras and styles include Medieval, Renaissance, Baroque, Classical, Romantic, and 20th century. Some of the terms, such as "Renaissance" and "Baroque",...

, since the periods overlapped and the categories are somewhat arbitrary. For example, the use of counterpoint
Counterpoint
In music, counterpoint is the relationship between two or more voices that are independent in contour and rhythm and are harmonically interdependent . It has been most commonly identified in classical music, developing strongly during the Renaissance and in much of the common practice period,...

 and fugue
Fugue
In music, a fugue is a compositional technique in two or more voices, built on a subject that is introduced at the beginning in imitation and recurs frequently in the course of the composition....

, which is considered characteristic of the Baroque era, was continued by Haydn, who is classified as typical of the Classical period. Beethoven
Ludwig van Beethoven
Ludwig van Beethoven was a German composer and pianist. A crucial figure in the transition between the Classical and Romantic eras in Western art music, he remains one of the most famous and influential composers of all time.Born in Bonn, then the capital of the Electorate of Cologne and part of...

, who is often described as a founder of the Romantic period, and Brahms
Johannes Brahms
Johannes Brahms was a German composer and pianist, and one of the leading musicians of the Romantic period. Born in Hamburg, Brahms spent much of his professional life in Vienna, Austria, where he was a leader of the musical scene...

, who is classified as Romantic, also used counterpoint and fugue, but other characteristics of their music define their period.

The prefix neo is used to describe a 20th century or contemporary composition written in the style of an earlier period, such as Classical or Romantic. Stravinsky's
Igor Stravinsky
Igor Fyodorovich Stravinsky ; 6 April 1971) was a Russian, later naturalized French, and then naturalized American composer, pianist, and conductor....

 Pulcinella
Pulcinella (ballet)
Pulcinella is a ballet by Igor Stravinsky based on an 18th-century play — Pulcinella is a character originating from Commedia dell'arte. The ballet premiered at the Paris Opera on 15 May 1920 under the baton of Ernest Ansermet. The dancer Léonide Massine created both the libretto and choreography,...

, for example, is a neoclassical
Neoclassicism (music)
Neoclassicism in music was a twentieth-century trend, particularly current in the period between the two World Wars, in which composers sought to return to aesthetic precepts associated with the broadly defined concept of "classicism", namely order, balance, clarity, economy, and emotional restraint...

 composition because it is stylistically similar to works of the Classical period.

Roots

The roots of Western classical music lie in early Christian liturgical music, and its influences date back to the Ancient Greeks
Ancient Greece
Ancient Greece is a civilization belonging to a period of Greek history that lasted from the Archaic period of the 8th to 6th centuries BC to the end of antiquity. Immediately following this period was the beginning of the Early Middle Ages and the Byzantine era. Included in Ancient Greece is the...

. Development of individual tones and scales was done by ancient Greeks such as Aristoxenus
Aristoxenus
Aristoxenus of Tarentum was a Greek Peripatetic philosopher, and a pupil of Aristotle. Most of his writings, which dealt with philosophy, ethics and music, have been lost, but one musical treatise, Elements of Harmony, survives incomplete, as well as some fragments concerning rhythm and...

 and Pythagoras
Pythagoras
Pythagoras of Samos was an Ionian Greek philosopher, mathematician, and founder of the religious movement called Pythagoreanism. Most of the information about Pythagoras was written down centuries after he lived, so very little reliable information is known about him...

. Pythagoras created a tuning system and helped to codify musical notation
Musical notation
Music notation or musical notation is any system that represents aurally perceived music, through the use of written symbols.-History:...

. Ancient Greek instruments such as the aulos
Aulos
An aulos or tibia was an ancient Greek wind instrument, depicted often in art and also attested by archaeology.An aulete was the musician who performed on an aulos...

 (a reed instrument) and the lyre
Lyre
The lyre is a stringed musical instrument known for its use in Greek classical antiquity and later. The word comes from the Greek "λύρα" and the earliest reference to the word is the Mycenaean Greek ru-ra-ta-e, meaning "lyrists", written in Linear B syllabic script...

 (a stringed instrument similar to a small harp) eventually led to the modern-day instruments of a classical orchestra. The antecedent to the early period was the era of ancient music
Ancient music
Ancient music is music that developed in literate cultures, replacing prehistoric music.Ancient music refers to the various musical systems that were developed across various geographical regions such as Mesopotamia, Egypt, Persia, India, China, Greece and Rome. Ancient music is designated by the...

 from before the fall of the Roman Empire
Roman Empire
The Roman Empire was the post-Republican period of the ancient Roman civilization, characterised by an autocratic form of government and large territorial holdings in Europe and around the Mediterranean....

 (476 AD). Very little music survives from this time, most of it from Ancient Greece.

Early Period

The Medieval period includes music from after the fall of Rome to about 1400. Monophonic
Monophony
In music, monophony is the simplest of textures, consisting of melody without accompanying harmony. This may be realized as just one note at a time, or with the same note duplicated at the octave . If the entire melody is sung by two voices or a choir with an interval between the notes or in...

 chant, also called plainsong or Gregorian Chant
Gregorian chant
Gregorian chant is the central tradition of Western plainchant, a form of monophonic liturgical music within Western Christianity that accompanied the celebration of Mass and other ritual services...

, was the dominant form until about 1100. Polyphonic
Polyphony
In music, polyphony is a texture consisting of two or more independent melodic voices, as opposed to music with just one voice or music with one dominant melodic voice accompanied by chords ....

 (multi-voiced) music developed from monophonic chant throughout the late Middle Ages
Middle Ages
The Middle Ages is a periodization of European history from the 5th century to the 15th century. The Middle Ages follows the fall of the Western Roman Empire in 476 and precedes the Early Modern Era. It is the middle period of a three-period division of Western history: Classic, Medieval and Modern...

 and into the Renaissance
Renaissance
The Renaissance was a cultural movement that spanned roughly the 14th to the 17th century, beginning in Italy in the Late Middle Ages and later spreading to the rest of Europe. The term is also used more loosely to refer to the historical era, but since the changes of the Renaissance were not...

, including the more complex voicings of motet
Motet
In classical music, motet is a word that is applied to a number of highly varied choral musical compositions.-Etymology:The name comes either from the Latin movere, or a Latinized version of Old French mot, "word" or "verbal utterance." The Medieval Latin for "motet" is motectum, and the Italian...

s. The Renaissance period was from 1400 to 1600. It was characterized by greater use of instrumentation
Instrumentation (music)
In music, instrumentation refers to the particular combination of musical instruments employed in a composition, and to the properties of those instruments individually...

, multiple interweaving melodic lines, and the use of the first bass instruments. Social dancing became more widespread, so musical forms appropriate to accompanying dance began to standardize.

It is in this time that the notation of music on a staff
Staff (music)
In standard Western musical notation, the staff, or stave, is a set of five horizontal lines and four spaces that each represent a different musical pitch—or, in the case of a percussion staff, different percussion instruments. Appropriate music symbols, depending upon the intended effect,...

 and other elements of musical notation
Musical notation
Music notation or musical notation is any system that represents aurally perceived music, through the use of written symbols.-History:...

 began to take shape. This invention made possible the separation of the composition
Musical composition
Musical composition can refer to an original piece of music, the structure of a musical piece, or the process of creating a new piece of music. People who practice composition are called composers.- Musical compositions :...

 of a piece of music from its transmission; without written music, transmission was oral, and subject to change every time it was transmitted. With a musical score, a work of music could be performed without the composer's presence. The invention of the movable-type printing press
Printing press
A printing press is a device for applying pressure to an inked surface resting upon a print medium , thereby transferring the ink...

 in the 15th century had far-reaching consequences on the preservation and transmission of music.

Typical stringed instruments of the Early Period include the harp, lute
Lute
Lute can refer generally to any plucked string instrument with a neck and a deep round back, or more specifically to an instrument from the family of European lutes....

, vielle
Vielle
The vielle is a European bowed stringed instrument used in the Medieval period, similar to a modern violin but with a somewhat longer and deeper body, five gut strings, and a leaf-shaped pegbox with frontal tuning pegs. The instrument was also known as a fidel or a viuola, although the French...

, and psaltery
Psaltery
A psaltery is a stringed musical instrument of the harp or the zither family. The psaltery of Ancient Greece dates from at least 2800 BC, when it was a harp-like instrument...

, while wind instruments included the flute
Flute
The flute is a musical instrument of the woodwind family. Unlike woodwind instruments with reeds, a flute is an aerophone or reedless wind instrument that produces its sound from the flow of air across an opening...

 family (including recorder
Recorder
The recorder is a woodwind musical instrument of the family known as fipple flutes or internal duct flutes—whistle-like instruments which include the tin whistle. The recorder is end-blown and the mouth of the instrument is constricted by a wooden plug, known as a block or fipple...

), shawm
Shawm
The shawm was a medieval and Renaissance musical instrument of the woodwind family made in Europe from the 12th century until the 17th century. It was developed from the oriental zurna and is the predecessor of the modern oboe. The body of the shawm was usually turned from a single piece of wood,...

 (an early member of the oboe
Oboe
The oboe is a double reed musical instrument of the woodwind family. In English, prior to 1770, the instrument was called "hautbois" , "hoboy", or "French hoboy". The spelling "oboe" was adopted into English ca...

 family), trumpet, and the bagpipe. Simple pipe organ
Pipe organ
The pipe organ is a musical instrument that produces sound by driving pressurized air through pipes selected via a keyboard. Because each organ pipe produces a single pitch, the pipes are provided in sets called ranks, each of which has a common timbre and volume throughout the keyboard compass...

s existed, but were largely confined to churches, although there were portable varieties. Later in the period, early versions of keyboard instruments like the clavichord
Clavichord
The clavichord is a European stringed keyboard instrument known from the late Medieval, through the Renaissance, Baroque and Classical eras. Historically, it was widely used as a practice instrument and as an aid to composition, not being loud enough for larger performances. The clavichord produces...

 and harpsichord
Harpsichord
A harpsichord is a musical instrument played by means of a keyboard. It produces sound by plucking a string when a key is pressed.In the narrow sense, "harpsichord" designates only the large wing-shaped instruments in which the strings are perpendicular to the keyboard...

 began to appear. Stringed instruments such as the viol
Viol
The viol is any one of a family of bowed, fretted and stringed musical instruments developed in the mid-late 15th century and used primarily in the Renaissance and Baroque periods. The family is related to and descends primarily from the Renaissance vihuela, a plucked instrument that preceded the...

 had emerged by the 16th century, as had a wider variety of brass and reed instruments. Printing enabled the standardization of descriptions and specifications of instruments, as well as instruction in their use.

Common Practice Period

The Common Practice Period
Common practice period
The common practice period, in the history of Western art music , spanning the Baroque, Classical, and Romantic periods, lasted from c. 1600 to c. 1900.-General characteristics:...

 is when many of the ideas that make up western classical music took shape, standardized, or were codified. It began with the Baroque era, running from roughly 1600 to the middle of the 18th century. The Classical era followed, ending roughly around 1820. The Romantic era ran through the 19th century, ending about 1910.

Baroque music

Baroque music is characterized by the use of complex tonal counterpoint
Counterpoint
In music, counterpoint is the relationship between two or more voices that are independent in contour and rhythm and are harmonically interdependent . It has been most commonly identified in classical music, developing strongly during the Renaissance and in much of the common practice period,...

 and the use of a basso continuo, a continuous bass line. Music became more complex in comparison with the songs of earlier periods. The beginnings of the sonata form
Sonata form
Sonata form is a large-scale musical structure used widely since the middle of the 18th century . While it is typically used in the first movement of multi-movement pieces, it is sometimes used in subsequent movements as well—particularly the final movement...

 took shape in the canzona
Canzona
In the 16th century an instrumental chanson; later, a piece for ensemble in several sections or tempos...

, as did a more formalized notion of theme and variations. The tonalities of major and minor
Major and minor
In Western music, the adjectives major and minor can describe a musical composition, movement, section, scale, key, chord, or interval.Major and minor are frequently referred to in the titles of classical compositions, especially in reference to the key of a piece.-Intervals and chords:With regard...

 as means for managing dissonance and chromaticism
Chromaticism
Chromaticism is a compositional technique interspersing the primary diatonic pitches and chords with other pitches of the chromatic scale. Chromaticism is in contrast or addition to tonality or diatonicism...

 in music took full shape.

During the Baroque era, keyboard music played on the harpsichord
Harpsichord
A harpsichord is a musical instrument played by means of a keyboard. It produces sound by plucking a string when a key is pressed.In the narrow sense, "harpsichord" designates only the large wing-shaped instruments in which the strings are perpendicular to the keyboard...

 and pipe organ
Pipe organ
The pipe organ is a musical instrument that produces sound by driving pressurized air through pipes selected via a keyboard. Because each organ pipe produces a single pitch, the pipes are provided in sets called ranks, each of which has a common timbre and volume throughout the keyboard compass...

 became increasingly popular, and the violin family of stringed instruments took the form generally seen today. Opera as a staged musical drama began to differentiate itself from earlier musical and dramatic forms, and vocal forms like the cantata
Cantata
A cantata is a vocal composition with an instrumental accompaniment, typically in several movements, often involving a choir....

 and oratorio
Oratorio
An oratorio is a large musical composition including an orchestra, a choir, and soloists. Like an opera, an oratorio includes the use of a choir, soloists, an ensemble, various distinguishable characters, and arias...

 became more common. Vocalists began adding embellishments to melodies. Instrumental ensembles began to distinguish and standardize by size, giving rise to the early orchestra for larger ensembles, with chamber music
Chamber music
Chamber music is a form of classical music, written for a small group of instruments which traditionally could be accommodated in a palace chamber. Most broadly, it includes any art music that is performed by a small number of performers with one performer to a part...

 being written for smaller groups of instruments where parts are played by individual (instead of massed) instruments. The concerto as a vehicle for solo performance accompanied by an orchestra became widespread, although the relationship between soloist and orchestra was relatively simple. The theories surrounding equal temperament
Equal temperament
An equal temperament is a musical temperament, or a system of tuning, in which every pair of adjacent notes has an identical frequency ratio. As pitch is perceived roughly as the logarithm of frequency, this means that the perceived "distance" from every note to its nearest neighbor is the same for...

 began to be put in wider practice, especially as it enabled a wider range of chromatic possibilities in hard-to-tune keyboard instruments. Although Bach did not use equal temperament, as a modern piano is generally tuned, changes in the temperaments from the meantone system, common at the time, to various temperaments that made modulation between all keys musically acceptable, made possible Bach
Bạch
Bạch is a Vietnamese surname. The name is transliterated as Bai in Chinese and Baek, in Korean.Bach is the anglicized variation of the surname Bạch.-Notable people with the surname Bạch:* Bạch Liêu...

's Well-Tempered Clavier.

Classical period music

The Classical period, from about 1750 to 1820, established many of the norms of composition, presentation, and style, and was also when the piano became the predominant keyboard instrument. The basic forces required for an orchestra became somewhat standardized (although they would grow as the potential of a wider array of instruments was developed in the following centuries). Chamber music grew to include ensembles with as many as 8–10 performers for serenade
Serenade
In music, a serenade is a musical composition, and/or performance, in someone's honor. Serenades are typically calm, light music.The word Serenade is derived from the Italian word sereno, which means calm....

s. Opera continued to develop, with regional styles in Italy
Italy
Italy , officially the Italian Republic languages]] under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages. In each of these, Italy's official name is as follows:;;;;;;;;), is a unitary parliamentary republic in South-Central Europe. To the north it borders France, Switzerland, Austria and...

, France, and German-speaking lands. The opera buffa
Opera buffa
Opera buffa is a genre of opera. It was first used as an informal description of Italian comic operas variously classified by their authors as ‘commedia in musica’, ‘commedia per musica’, ‘dramma bernesco’, ‘dramma comico’, ‘divertimento giocoso' etc...

, a form of comic opera, rose in popularity. The symphony
Symphony
A symphony is an extended musical composition in Western classical music, scored almost always for orchestra. A symphony usually contains at least one movement or episode composed according to the sonata principle...

 came into its own as a musical form, and the concerto was developed as a vehicle for displays of virtuoso playing skill. Orchestras no longer required a harpsichord
Harpsichord
A harpsichord is a musical instrument played by means of a keyboard. It produces sound by plucking a string when a key is pressed.In the narrow sense, "harpsichord" designates only the large wing-shaped instruments in which the strings are perpendicular to the keyboard...

 (which had been part of the traditional continuo in the Baroque style), and were often led by the lead violinist (now called the concertmaster
Concertmaster
The concertmaster/mistress is the spalla or leader, of the first violin section of an orchestra. In the UK, the term commonly used is leader...

).

Wind instruments became more refined in the Classical period. While double reed
Double reed
A double reed is a type of reed used to produce sound in various wind instruments. The term double reed comes from the fact that there are two pieces of cane vibrating against each other. A single reed consists of one piece of cane which vibrates against a mouthpiece made of metal, hardened...

ed instruments like the oboe
Oboe
The oboe is a double reed musical instrument of the woodwind family. In English, prior to 1770, the instrument was called "hautbois" , "hoboy", or "French hoboy". The spelling "oboe" was adopted into English ca...

 and bassoon
Bassoon
The bassoon is a woodwind instrument in the double reed family that typically plays music written in the bass and tenor registers, and occasionally higher. Appearing in its modern form in the 19th century, the bassoon figures prominently in orchestral, concert band and chamber music literature...

 became somewhat standardized in the Baroque, the clarinet
Clarinet
The clarinet is a musical instrument of woodwind type. The name derives from adding the suffix -et to the Italian word clarino , as the first clarinets had a strident tone similar to that of a trumpet. The instrument has an approximately cylindrical bore, and uses a single reed...

 family of single reeds was not widely used until Mozart
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart , baptismal name Johannes Chrysostomus Wolfgangus Theophilus Mozart , was a prolific and influential composer of the Classical era. He composed over 600 works, many acknowledged as pinnacles of symphonic, concertante, chamber, piano, operatic, and choral music...

 expanded its role in orchestral, chamber, and concerto settings.

Romantic era music

The music of the Romantic era, from roughly the second decade of the 19th century to the early 20th century, was characterized by increased attention to an extended melodic line, as well as expressive and emotional elements, paralleling romanticism
Romanticism
Romanticism was an artistic, literary and intellectual movement that originated in the second half of the 18th century in Europe, and gained strength in reaction to the Industrial Revolution...

 in other art forms. Musical forms began to break from the Classical era forms (even as those were being codified), with free-form pieces like nocturne
Nocturne
A nocturne is usually a musical composition that is inspired by, or evocative of, the night...

s, fantasias
Fantasia (music)
The fantasia is a musical composition with its roots in the art of improvisation. Because of this, it seldom approximates the textbook rules of any strict musical form ....

, and preludes
Prelude (music)
A prelude is a short piece of music, the form of which may vary from piece to piece. The prelude can be thought of as a preface. It may stand on its own or introduce another work...

 being written where accepted ideas about the exposition and development of themes were ignored or minimized. The music became more chromatic, dissonant, and tonally colorful, with tensions (with respect to accepted norms of the older forms) about key signatures increasing. The art song
Art song
An art song is a vocal music composition, usually written for one voice with piano or orchestral accompaniment. By extension, the term "art song" is used to refer to the genre of such songs....

 (or Lied) came to maturity in this era, as did the epic scales of grand opera
Grand Opera
Grand opera is a genre of 19th-century opera generally in four or five acts, characterised by large-scale casts and orchestras, and lavish and spectacular design and stage effects, normally with plots based on or around dramatic historic events...

, ultimately transcended by Richard Wagner
Richard Wagner
Wilhelm Richard Wagner was a German composer, conductor, theatre director, philosopher, music theorist, poet, essayist and writer primarily known for his operas...

's Ring cycle
Der Ring des Nibelungen
Der Ring des Nibelungen is a cycle of four epic operas by the German composer Richard Wagner . The works are based loosely on characters from the Norse sagas and the Nibelungenlied...

.

In the 19th century, musical institutions emerged from the control of wealthy patrons, as composers and musicians could construct lives independent of the nobility. Increasing interest in music by the growing middle classes throughout western Europe spurred the creation of organizations for the teaching, performance, and preservation of music. The piano, which achieved its modern construction in this era (in part due to industrial advances in metallurgy
Metallurgy
Metallurgy is a domain of materials science that studies the physical and chemical behavior of metallic elements, their intermetallic compounds, and their mixtures, which are called alloys. It is also the technology of metals: the way in which science is applied to their practical use...

) became widely popular with the middle class, whose demands for the instrument spurred a large number of piano builders. Many symphony orchestras date their founding to this era. Some musicians and composers were the stars of the day; some, like Franz Liszt
Franz Liszt
Franz Liszt ; ), was a 19th-century Hungarian composer, pianist, conductor, and teacher.Liszt became renowned in Europe during the nineteenth century for his virtuosic skill as a pianist. He was said by his contemporaries to have been the most technically advanced pianist of his age...

 and Niccolò Paganini
Niccolò Paganini
Niccolò Paganini was an Italian violinist, violist, guitarist, and composer. He was one of the most celebrated violin virtuosi of his time, and left his mark as one of the pillars of modern violin technique...

, fulfilled both roles.

The family of instruments used, especially in orchestras, grew. A wider array of percussion instruments began to appear. Brass instruments took on larger roles, as the introduction of rotary valve
Rotary valve
A rotary valve is a type of valve in which the rotation of a passage or passages in a transverse plug regulates the flow of liquid or gas through the attached pipes. The common stopcock is the simplest form of rotary valve...

s made it possible for them to play a wider range of notes. The size of the orchestra (typically around 40 in the Classical era) grew to be over 100. Gustav Mahler
Gustav Mahler
Gustav Mahler was a late-Romantic Austrian composer and one of the leading conductors of his generation. He was born in the village of Kalischt, Bohemia, in what was then Austria-Hungary, now Kaliště in the Czech Republic...

's 1906 Symphony No. 8
Symphony No. 8 (Mahler)
The Symphony No. 8 in E-flat major by Gustav Mahler is one of the largest-scale choral works in the classical concert repertoire. Because it requires huge instrumental and vocal forces it is frequently called the "Symphony of a Thousand", although the work is often performed with fewer than a...

, for example, has been performed with over 150 instrumentalists and choirs of over 400.

European cultural ideas and institutions began to follow colonial expansion into other parts of the world. There was also a rise, especially toward the end of the era, of nationalism in music (echoing, in some cases, political sentiments of the time), as composers such as Edvard Grieg
Edvard Grieg
Edvard Hagerup Grieg was a Norwegian composer and pianist. He is best known for his Piano Concerto in A minor, for his incidental music to Henrik Ibsen's play Peer Gynt , and for his collection of piano miniatures Lyric Pieces.-Biography:Edvard Hagerup Grieg was born in...

, Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov
Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov
Nikolai Andreyevich Rimsky-Korsakov was a Russian composer, and a member of the group of composers known as The Five.The Five, also known as The Mighty Handful or The Mighty Coterie, refers to a circle of composers who met in Saint Petersburg, Russia, in the years 1856–1870: Mily Balakirev , César...

, and Antonín Dvořák
Antonín Dvorák
Antonín Leopold Dvořák was a Czech composer of late Romantic music, who employed the idioms of the folk music of Moravia and his native Bohemia. Dvořák’s own style is sometimes called "romantic-classicist synthesis". His works include symphonic, choral and chamber music, concerti, operas and many...

 echoed traditional music of their homelands in their compositions.

20th century, modern, and contemporary music


Modernism
Modernism (music)
Modernism in music is characterized by a desire for or belief in progress and science, surrealism, anti-romanticism, political advocacy, general intellectualism, and/or a breaking with the past or common practice.- Defining musical modernism :...

 (1905–1985) marked a period when many composers rejected certain values of the common practice period, such as traditional tonality, melody, instrumentation, and structure. Composers, academics, and musicians developed extensions of music theory
Music theory
Music theory is the study of how music works. It examines the language and notation of music. It seeks to identify patterns and structures in composers' techniques across or within genres, styles, or historical periods...

 and technique. 20th century classical music, encompassing a wide variety of post-Romantic styles composed through the year 1999, includes late Romantic, Modern and Postmodern styles of composition. The term "contemporary music" is sometimes used to describe music composed in the late 20th century through to the present day.

Modernist view of the significance of the score

The modernist views hold that Classical music is considered primarily a written musical tradition, preserved in music notation, as opposed to being transmitted orally, by rote, or by recordings of particular performances. While there are differences between particular performances of a classical work, a piece of classical music is generally held to transcend any interpretation of it. The use of musical notation is an effective method for transmitting classical music, since the written music contains the technical instructions for performing the work. The written score
Sheet music
Sheet music is a hand-written or printed form of music notation that uses modern musical symbols; like its analogs—books, pamphlets, etc.—the medium of sheet music typically is paper , although the access to musical notation in recent years includes also presentation on computer screens...

, however, does not usually contain explicit instructions as to how to interpret the piece in terms of production or performance, apart from directions for dynamics
Dynamics (music)
In music, dynamics normally refers to the volume of a sound or note, but can also refer to every aspect of the execution of a given piece, either stylistic or functional . The term is also applied to the written or printed musical notation used to indicate dynamics...

, tempo
Tempo
In musical terminology, tempo is the speed or pace of a given piece. Tempo is a crucial element of any musical composition, as it can affect the mood and difficulty of a piece.-Measuring tempo:...

 and expression (to a certain extent). This is left to the discretion of the performers, who are guided by their personal experience and musical education, their knowledge of the work's idiom, their personal artistic tastes, and the accumulated body of historic performance practices.

Criticism of the modernist view

Some critics express the opinion that it is only from the mid 19th century, and especially in the 20th century, that the score began to hold such a high significance. Previously, improvisation
Improvisation
Improvisation is the practice of acting, singing, talking and reacting, of making and creating, in the moment and in response to the stimulus of one's immediate environment and inner feelings. This can result in the invention of new thought patterns, new practices, new structures or symbols, and/or...

, rhythmic flexibility, improvisatory deviation from the score and oral tradition of playing was integral to style of music. Yet in the 20th century, this oral tradition and passing on of stylistic features within classical music disappeared. Instead, musicians use the score to play music, yet even given the score, there is considerable controversy about how to perform the works. Some of this controversy relates to the fact that this score-centric approach has led to performing styles that emphasize metrically strict block-rhythms (just as the music is notated in the score).

Some quotes that highlight this criticism of modernist overvaluing of the score:
  • [...]one of the most stubborn modern misconceptions concerning baroque music is that a metronomic regularity was intended (Baroque Interpretation in Grove 5th edition
    Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians
    The New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians is an encyclopedic dictionary of music and musicians. Along with the German-language Musik in Geschichte und Gegenwart, it is the largest single reference work on Western music. The dictionary has gone through several editions since the 19th century...

     by Robert Donington
    Robert Donington
    Robert Donington was a British musicologist and instrumentalist influential in the early music movement and in Wagner studies.He was educated at St Paul's School, London, and studied at the University of Oxford...

    )
  • Too many teachers, conditioned to 20th Century ideas, teach Bach and other Baroque music exactly the wrong way. This leads to what musicologist Sol Babitz
    Sol Babitz
    Sol Babitz was an American violinist, teacher, writer and pioneer of historically informed performance....

     calls "sewing machine Bach."
  • [...] tendency to look alike, sound alike and think alike. The conservatories are at fault and they have been at fault for many years now. Any sensitive musician going around the World has noted the same thing. The conservatories, from Moscow and Leningrad to Juilliard, Curtis and Indiana, are producing a standardized product.
    [...] clarity, undeviating rhythm, easy technique, "musicianship". I put the word musicianship in quotes, because as often as not, it is a false kind of musicianship – a musicianship that sees the tree and not the forest, that takes care of the detail but ignores the big picture; a musicianship that is tied to the printed note rather than to emotional meaning of a piece.
    The fact remains that there is a dreadful uniformity today and also an appalling lack of knowledge about the culture and performance traditions of the past. (Music Schools Turning out Robots? by Harold C. Schonberg
    Harold C. Schonberg
    Harold Charles Schonberg was an American music critic and journalist, most notably for The New York Times. He was the first music critic to win the Pulitzer Prize for Criticism...

    )

Improvisation

Improvisation
Musical improvisation
Musical improvisation is the creative activity of immediate musical composition, which combines performance with communication of emotions and instrumental technique as well as spontaneous response to other musicians...

 once played an important role in classical music. A remnant of this improvisatory tradition in classical music can be heard in the cadenza
Cadenza
In music, a cadenza is, generically, an improvised or written-out ornamental passage played or sung by a soloist or soloists, usually in a "free" rhythmic style, and often allowing for virtuosic display....

, a passage found mostly in concertos and solo works, designed to allow skilled performers to exhibit their virtuoso skills on the instrument. Traditionally this was improvised by the performer; however, it is often written for (or occasionally by) the performer beforehand. Improvisation is also an important aspect in authentic performances of operas of Baroque era and of bel canto (especially operas of Vincenzo Bellini
Vincenzo Bellini
Vincenzo Salvatore Carmelo Francesco Bellini was an Italian opera composer. His greatest works are I Capuleti ed i Montecchi , La sonnambula , Norma , Beatrice di Tenda , and I puritani...

), and is best exemplified by the da capo aria
Da capo aria
The da capo aria is a musical form, which was prevalent in the Baroque era. It is sung by a soloist with the accompaniment of instruments, often a small orchestra. The da capo aria is very common in the musical genres of opera and oratorio...

, a form by which famous singers typically perform variations of the thematic matter of the aria in the recapitulation section ('B section' / the 'da capo' part). An example is Beverly Sills
Beverly Sills
Beverly Sills was an American operatic soprano whose peak career was between the 1950s and 1970s. In her prime she was the only real rival to Joan Sutherland as the leading bel canto stylist...

' complex, albeit pre-written, variation of Da tempeste il legno infranto from Händel's Giulio Cesare
Giulio Cesare
Giulio Cesare in Egitto , commonly known simply as Giulio Cesare, is an Italian opera in three acts written for the Royal Academy of Music by George Frideric Handel in 1724...

.

Its written transmission, along with the veneration bestowed on certain classical works, has led to the expectation that performers will play a work in a way that realizes in detail the original intentions of the composer. During the 19th century the details that composers put in their scores generally increased. Yet the opposite trend – admiration of performers for new "interpretations" of the composer's work – can be seen, and it is not unknown for a composer to praise a performer for achieving a better realization of the original intent than the composer was able to imagine. Thus, classical performers often achieve very high reputations for their musicianship, even if they do not compose themselves. Generally however, it is the composers who are remembered more than the performers.

Another consequence of the primacy of the composer's written score is that this has led to the state, where today improvisation plays a relatively minor role in classical music, in sharp contrast to musicians who lived during the baroque, classical and romantic era. Improvisation in classical music performance was common during both the Baroque era and in the nineteenth, yet lessened strongly during the 2nd half of the 19th and in the 20th centuries. Recently the performance of such music by modern classical musicians has been enriched by a revival of the old improvisational practices. During the classical period, Mozart and Beethoven often improvised the cadenzas to their piano concerto
Piano concerto
A piano concerto is a concerto written for piano and orchestra.See also harpsichord concerto; some of these works are occasionally played on piano...

s (and thereby encouraged others to do so), but they also provided written cadenzas for use by other soloists. In opera, the practice of singing strictly by the score i.e. come scritto, is famously propagated by Maria Callas
Maria Callas
Maria Callas was an American-born Greek soprano and one of the most renowned opera singers of the 20th century. She combined an impressive bel canto technique, a wide-ranging voice and great dramatic gifts...

, who called this practice 'straitjacketing' and implied that it allows the intention of the composer to be understood better, especially during studying the music for the first time.

Popular music

Classical music has often incorporated elements or material from popular music of the composer's time. Examples include occasional music such as Brahms' use of student drinking songs in his Academic Festival Overture
Academic Festival Overture
Academic Festival Overture , Op. 80, by Johannes Brahms, was one of a pair of contrasting concert overtures — the other being the Tragic Overture, Op. 81, written to balance it as its pair...

, genres exemplified by Kurt Weill
Kurt Weill
Kurt Julian Weill was a German-Jewish composer, active from the 1920s, and in his later years in the United States. He was a leading composer for the stage who was best known for his fruitful collaborations with Bertolt Brecht...

's The Threepenny Opera
The Threepenny Opera
The Threepenny Opera is a musical by German dramatist Bertolt Brecht and composer Kurt Weill, in collaboration with translator Elisabeth Hauptmann and set designer Caspar Neher. It was adapted from an 18th-century English ballad opera, John Gay's The Beggar's Opera, and offers a Marxist critique...

, and the influence of jazz on early- and mid-20th century composers including Maurice Ravel
Maurice Ravel
Joseph-Maurice Ravel was a French composer known especially for his melodies, orchestral and instrumental textures and effects...

, exemplified by the movement entitled "Blues" in his sonata for violin and piano. Certain postmodern
Postmodern music
Postmodern music is either simply music of the postmodern era, or music that follows aesthetical and philosophical trends of postmodernism. As the name suggests, the postmodernist movement formed partly in reaction to modernism...

, minimalist
Minimalist music
Minimal music is a style of music associated with the work of American composers La Monte Young, Terry Riley, Steve Reich, and Philip Glass. It originated in the New York Downtown scene of the 1960s and was initially viewed as a form of experimental music called the New York Hypnotic School....

 and postminimalist
Postminimalism
Postminimalism is an art term coined by Robert Pincus-Witten in 1971 used in various artistic fields for work which is influenced by, or attempts to develop and go beyond, the aesthetic of minimalism...

 classical composers acknowledge a debt to popular music.

There are numerous examples of influence in the opposite direction, including popular songs based on classical music, the use to which Pachelbel's Canon has been put since the 1970s, and the musical crossover
Crossover (music)
Crossover is a term applied to musical works or performers appearing on two or more of the record charts which track differing musical tastes, or genres...

 phenomenon, where classical musicians have achieved success in the popular music arena.

Folk music

Composers of classical music have often made use of folk music
Folk music
Folk music is an English term encompassing both traditional folk music and contemporary folk music. The term originated in the 19th century. Traditional folk music has been defined in several ways: as music transmitted by mouth, as music of the lower classes, and as music with unknown composers....

 (music created by musicians who are commonly not classically trained, often from a purely oral tradition). Some composers, like Dvořák
Antonín Dvorák
Antonín Leopold Dvořák was a Czech composer of late Romantic music, who employed the idioms of the folk music of Moravia and his native Bohemia. Dvořák’s own style is sometimes called "romantic-classicist synthesis". His works include symphonic, choral and chamber music, concerti, operas and many...

 and Smetana
Bedrich Smetana
Bedřich Smetana was a Czech composer who pioneered the development of a musical style which became closely identified with his country's aspirations to independent statehood. He is thus widely regarded in his homeland as the father of Czech music...

, have used folk themes to impart a nationalist flavor to their work, while others (like Bartók
Béla Bartók
Béla Viktor János Bartók was a Hungarian composer and pianist. He is considered one of the most important composers of the 20th century and is regarded, along with Liszt, as Hungary's greatest composer...

) have used specific themes lifted whole from their folk-music origins.

Commercialism

Certain staples of classical music are often used commercially (either in advertising or in movie soundtracks). In television commercials, several passages have become clichéd, particularly the opening of Richard Strauss
Richard Strauss
Richard Georg Strauss was a leading German composer of the late Romantic and early modern eras. He is known for his operas, which include Der Rosenkavalier and Salome; his Lieder, especially his Four Last Songs; and his tone poems and orchestral works, such as Death and Transfiguration, Till...

' Also sprach Zarathustra
Also sprach Zarathustra (Richard Strauss)
Also sprach Zarathustra, Op. 30 is a tone poem by Richard Strauss, composed in 1896 and inspired by Friedrich Nietzsche's philosophical treatise of the same name. The composer conducted its first performance on 27 November 1896 in Frankfurt...

(made famous in the film 2001: A Space Odyssey
2001: A Space Odyssey (film)
2001: A Space Odyssey is a 1968 epic science fiction film produced and directed by Stanley Kubrick, and co-written by Kubrick and Arthur C. Clarke, partially inspired by Clarke's short story The Sentinel...

) and the opening section "O Fortuna" of Carl Orff
Carl Orff
Carl Orff was a 20th-century German composer, best known for his cantata Carmina Burana . In addition to his career as a composer, Orff developed an influential method of music education for children.-Early life:...

's Carmina Burana
Carmina Burana (Orff)
Carmina Burana is a scenic cantata composed by Carl Orff in 1935 and 1936. It is based on 24 of the poems found in the medieval collection Carmina Burana...

; other examples include the Dies Irae
Dies Irae
Dies Irae is a thirteenth century Latin hymn thought to be written by Thomas of Celano . It is a medieval Latin poem characterized by its accentual stress and its rhymed lines. The metre is trochaic...

from the Verdi
Giuseppe Verdi
Giuseppe Fortunino Francesco Verdi was an Italian Romantic composer, mainly of opera. He was one of the most influential composers of the 19th century...

 Requiem, Edvard Grieg
Edvard Grieg
Edvard Hagerup Grieg was a Norwegian composer and pianist. He is best known for his Piano Concerto in A minor, for his incidental music to Henrik Ibsen's play Peer Gynt , and for his collection of piano miniatures Lyric Pieces.-Biography:Edvard Hagerup Grieg was born in...

's In the Hall of the Mountain King
In the Hall of the Mountain King
In the Hall of the Mountain King is a piece of orchestral music composed by Edvard Grieg for the sixth scene of Act II in Henrik Ibsen's play Peer Gynt, which premiered in Christiania on February 24, 1876....

from Peer Gynt
Peer Gynt
Peer Gynt is a five-act play in verse by the Norwegian dramatist Henrik Ibsen, loosely based on the fairy tale Per Gynt. It is the most widely performed Norwegian play. According to Klaus Van Den Berg, the "cinematic script blends poetry with social satire and realistic scenes with surreal ones"...

, the opening bars of Beethoven's Symphony No. 5
Symphony No. 5 (Beethoven)
The Symphony No. 5 in C minor, Op. 67, was written by Ludwig van Beethoven in 1804–08. This symphony is one of the most popular and best-known compositions in all of classical music, and one of the most often played symphonies. It comprises four movements: an opening sonata, an andante, and a fast...

, Wagner's Ride of the Valkyries
Ride of the Valkyries
The Ride of the Valkyries is the popular term for the beginning of Act III of Die Walküre, the second of the four operas by Richard Wagner that comprise Der Ring des Nibelungen. The main theme of the Ride, the leitmotif labelled Walkürenritt, was first written down by the composer on 23 July 1851...

from Die Walküre
Die Walküre
Die Walküre , WWV 86B, is the second of the four operas that form the cycle Der Ring des Nibelungen , by Richard Wagner...

, Rimsky-Korsakov's "Flight of the Bumblebee
Flight of the Bumblebee
"Flight of the Bumblebee" is an orchestral interlude written by Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov for his opera The Tale of Tsar Saltan, composed in 1899–1900. The piece closes Act III, Tableau 1, during which the magic Swan-Bird changes Prince Gvidon Saltanovich into an insect so that he can fly away to...

", and excerpts of Aaron Copland
Aaron Copland
Aaron Copland was an American composer, composition teacher, writer, and later in his career a conductor of his own and other American music. He was instrumental in forging a distinctly American style of composition, and is often referred to as "the Dean of American Composers"...

's Rodeo.

Similarly, movies and television often revert to standard, cliché
Cliché
A cliché or cliche is an expression, idea, or element of an artistic work which has been overused to the point of losing its original meaning or effect, especially when at some earlier time it was considered meaningful or novel. In phraseology, the term has taken on a more technical meaning,...

d snatches of classical music to convey refinement or opulence: some of the most-often heard pieces in this category include Mozart
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart , baptismal name Johannes Chrysostomus Wolfgangus Theophilus Mozart , was a prolific and influential composer of the Classical era. He composed over 600 works, many acknowledged as pinnacles of symphonic, concertante, chamber, piano, operatic, and choral music...

's Eine kleine Nachtmusik, Vivaldi
Antonio Vivaldi
Antonio Lucio Vivaldi , nicknamed because of his red hair, was an Italian Baroque composer, priest, and virtuoso violinist, born in Venice. Vivaldi is recognized as one of the greatest Baroque composers, and his influence during his lifetime was widespread over Europe...

's Four Seasons
The Four Seasons (Vivaldi)
The Four Seasons is a set of four violin concertos by Antonio Vivaldi. Composed in 1723, The Four Seasons is Vivaldi's best-known work, and is among the most popular pieces of Baroque music. The texture of each concerto is varied, each resembling its respective season...

, Mussorgsky
Modest Mussorgsky
Modest Petrovich Mussorgsky was a Russian composer, one of the group known as 'The Five'. He was an innovator of Russian music in the romantic period...

's Night on Bald Mountain
Night on Bald Mountain
Night on Bald Mountain is a composition by Modest Mussorgsky that exists in, at least, two versions—a seldom performed 1867 version or a later and very popular "fantasy for orchestra" arranged by Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov, A Night on the Bare Mountain , based on the vocal score of the "Dream Vision...

(as orchestrated by Rimsky-Korsakov), and Rossini's William Tell Overture
William Tell Overture
The William Tell Overture is the instrumental introduction to the opera Guillaume Tell by Gioachino Rossini. William Tell premiered in 1829 and was the last of Rossini's 39 operas, after which he went into semi-retirement, although he continued to compose cantatas, sacred music and secular vocal...

.

Education

Throughout history, parents have often made sure that their children receive classical music training from a young age. Some parents pursue music lessons for their children for social reasons or in an effort to instill a sense of self-discipline. Some believe that knowledge of important works of classical music is part of a good general education.

During the 1990s, several research papers and popular books wrote on what came to be called the "Mozart effect
Mozart effect
The Mozart effect can refer to: * A set of research results that indicate that listening to Mozart's music may induce a short-term improvement on the performance of certain kinds of mental tasks known as "spatial-temporal...

": an observed temporary, small elevation of scores on certain tests as a result of listening to Mozart's works. The approach has been popularized in a book by Don Campbell, and is based on an experiment published in Nature
Nature (journal)
Nature, first published on 4 November 1869, is ranked the world's most cited interdisciplinary scientific journal by the Science Edition of the 2010 Journal Citation Reports...

suggesting that listening to Mozart temporarily boosted students' IQ by 8 to 9 points. This popularized version of the theory was expressed succinctly by a New York Times music columnist: "researchers... have determined that listening to Mozart actually makes you smarter." Promoters marketed CDs claimed to induce the effect. Florida passed a law requiring toddlers in state-run schools to listen to classical music every day, and in 1998 the governor of Georgia budgeted $105,000 per year to provide every child born in Georgia with a tape or CD of classical music. One of the co-authors of the original studies of the Mozart effect commented "I don't think it can hurt. I'm all for exposing children to wonderful cultural experiences. But I do think the money could be better spent on music education
Music education
Music education is a field of study associated with the teaching and learning of music. It touches on all domains of learning, including the psychomotor domain , the cognitive domain , and, in particular and significant ways,the affective domain, including music appreciation and sensitivity...

 programs."

Further reading

  • Copland, Aaron (1957) What to Listen for in Music; rev. ed. McGraw-Hill. (paperback).
  • --"-- (1988) --"--; with an introduction by William Schuman. McGraw-Hill ISBN 0070130914
  • --"-- (2002) --"--; with a foreword and epilogue by Alan Rich; with an introduction by William Schuman. New American Library ISBN 0451528670 (reissued 2009 with new appreciation by Leonard Slatkin)
  • Grout, Donald Jay; Palisca, Claude V. (1996) A History of Western Music, Fifth edition. W. W. Norton & Company. ISBN 0-393-96904-5 (hardcover).
  • Hanning, Barbara Russano
    Barbara Russano Hanning
    Barbara Russano Hanning is an American musicologist who specializes in 16th and 17th century Italian music. She has also written works on the music of 18th-century France and on musical iconography. She earned a PhD in musicology from Yale University...

    ; Grout, Donald Jay (1998 rev. 2009) Concise History of Western Music. W. W. Norton & Company. ISBN 0-393-92803-9 (hardcover).
  • Johnson, Julian (2002) Who Needs Classical Music?: cultural choice and musical value. Oxford University Press. ISBN 0-19-514681-6.
  • Kamien, Roger (2008) Music: an appreciation; 6th brief ed. McGraw-Hill ISBN 978-0-07-340134-8
  • Lihoreau, Tim; Fry, Stephen
    Stephen Fry
    Stephen John Fry is an English actor, screenwriter, author, playwright, journalist, poet, comedian, television presenter and film director, and a director of Norwich City Football Club. He first came to attention in the 1981 Cambridge Footlights Revue presentation "The Cellar Tapes", which also...

     (2004) Stephen Fry's Incomplete and Utter History of Classical Music
    Stephen Fry's Incomplete and Utter History of Classical Music
    Stephen Fry's Incomplete and Utter History of Classical Music is a book ghostwritten by Tim Lihoreau for author, actor, comedian and director Stephen Fry....

    . Boxtree. ISBN 978-0-7522-2534-0
  • Scholes, Percy Alfred; Arnold, Denis (photographer) (1988) The New Oxford Companion to Music. Oxford University Press. ISBN 0-19-311316-3 (paperback).
  • Taruskin, Richard (2005, rev. Paperback version 2009) Oxford History of Western Music. Oxford University Press (USA). ISBN 978-0-19-516979-9 (Hardback), ISBN 978-0-19-538630-1 (Paperback)

External links

  • Historical classical recordings from the British Library Sound Archive (available only to users in the member countries of the European Union
    European Union
    The European Union is an economic and political union of 27 independent member states which are located primarily in Europe. The EU traces its origins from the European Coal and Steel Community and the European Economic Community , formed by six countries in 1958...

    )
The source of this article is wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.  The text of this article is licensed under the GFDL.
 
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