Here are some of the key points to my recent UCSD lecture on music of the Baroque, Classical and Romantic periods.
Baroque 1600-1750 The end of the Baroque period corresponds with arguably the greatest composer of the era, J.S. Bach’s death in 1750.
Classical 1750-1820 There is much debate regarding the transition date between Classical and Romantic periods largely focused on Beethoven and which period he belonged.
Romantic 1820-1910 The Romantic period ended early in the 20th Century as an artistic movement. However, in music it is still largely utilized in popular media most noticeably in the film scores of John Williams.(Star Wars, Indiana Jones, Harry Potter)
Baroque -Originally a derogative term to describe a mis-shapen pearl due to the music’s ornateness stemming out of the more ‘refined’ renaissance period.
Classical -Highly formulaic and stylistic. The term ‘Classical’ is often employed when discussing all ART music from Middle Ages through Modern styles.
Romantic -In reaction to classic ideals. Romantics strove to push the envelope and express nature and the human spirit.
Baroque –Polyphonic, Multiple simultaneous melodies creating harmonies(chords)
Classical –Homophonic, One main melody over chords(most pop music is homophonic)
Romantic –Chromatic, All twelve notes of the octave became important during this period vs. the propensity to concentrate on the seven belonging to each key.
Baroque -Handel, Vivaldi, J.S. Bach
Classical -Haydn, Mozart, Beethoven
Romantic -Schubert, Chopin, Brahms, Liszt, Wagner, Mahler
How musicians were chiefly employed
Baroque –Church, sacred music
Classical –Court, employed by the monarchy
Romantic –Rise of the virtuoso/self promotion, Much in the way bands today distribute fliers for their shows musicians had to pave their way and make a name for themselves.
Baroque –Nationalistic, There were several ‘schools’ of composition in Europe. Italian, French, German, English…
Classical –International, Throughout Europe, Western classical music could be heard with similar styles and tastes.
Romantic –Nationalistic, Once again styles were locally influenced. In the Romantic period composers actually incorporated local folk music into their works. This created more of an ethnic diversity than the individual stylistic schools of the Baroque.
Baroque, This is a great illustration of the multiple voices that are integral to Baroque style
Classical, The following clip displays the grace and highly stylistic nature of the era.
Romantic, Compare the grandiose individualistic nature of the following Mahler excerpt to the stylistic Mozart piece above.