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C O U R S E 
Western Music History through Performance
Jonathan Coopersmith, Curtis Institute of Music
C O U R S E   L E C T U R E 
The Classical Era (1750-1815)
Notes taken on June 24, 2017 by Edward Tanguay
in every generation, we tend to think that music and other facets of society have declined to new lows
Johann Joseph Fux (1660–1741)
an Austrian composer, music theorist and pedagogue of the late Baroque era
most famous as the author of Gradus ad Parnassum (1725), a treatise on counterpoint
a common but not very accurate meaning of classical music is used to refer to any music that is serious
includes anything from an opera to anything written for an orchestra
meant to include all music from the 17th century through today which is distinct from pop music, rock, country, etc.
a more specific meaning of classical music
from 1750 when Bach died
to Beethoven's late period
1827, when Beethoven died, gave way to the next period in music history, the Romantic period
politically during this time the world was changing
middle class growing
aristocracy was declining
French Revolution
Napoleonic Wars
new ideas about freedom, equality, morality, human rights
desire to expand education and help the lower classes
all of these ideas affected music
the new classical style
simpler in many ways than the music of the Baroque
more enjoyable to listeners upon first hearing
more easily and readily accessible to wide audiences of diverse backgrounds
no longer just for the wealthy
public instrumental concerts
complex counterpoint of the baroque gave way to simpler, more singable melodies
shorter phrases
simple accompaniment
comparing a piece by Bach to a piece by Mozart
represented the height of the older Baroque style
busy with lots of counterpoint
musical imitation (repetition of a melody in a polyphonic texture shortly after its first appearance in a different voice)
long and winding melodies
no longer in style at the time of Bach's death in 1750
this was when the word Baroque came into use, a negative term which described this overwrought and complicated music of the recent past
Handel's music
was more focused on melody, fitting more into the new, classical style to come
began to blend styles from all countries throughout Europe
German composers were active in Italy, Paris, London, and even Spain and Russia
Johann Quantz (1697-1773)
"the ideal music blended ideas from all nations, one music for all of Europe"
contrast is what makes music interesting
affect, mode, or tempo changes movement to movement
e.g. each movement presents a different dance character
in Bach's fugues, the musical motive would be played at the beginning which presenting the affect for that movement
the motive was then developed throughout the piece
cadences were infrequent
drove their longer phrases forward using harmonies and progressions which built up to a cadence
more sudden changes, sometimes every few bars
moves from slow to fast, from soft to suddenly loud within a single movement
cadences were more frequent since there are more phrases
a phrase was like a sentence and a whole composition like a speech
simpler harmonies, accompanying singable melodies
tonic chord (I) moved to dominant chord (V), which led back to the tonic (I)
this I-V-I pattern became the basis of harmonic motion
a composer could build up expectation, then surprise the listener (Haydn)
or built toward a cadence, then avoided it
a new preference for the major mode instead of the minor
have of Bach's concertos are minor
Haydn and Mozart, less than 10% are in the minor mode
only 2 of Mozart's 41 numbered symphonies are in minor keys
classical instruments and ensembles
the piano replaced the harpsichord and clavichord as the main keyboard instrument
the clarinet joined the orchestra in the 1780s
Mozart's first symphony was the Paris Symphony #31 in 1778
Haydn's first use of the clarinet was his Symphony #99 in 1793
the symphony was the major orchestral genre in the Classical period
first appeared in 1730s in Italy
three contrasting movements: fast, slow, fast
Giovanni Sammartini (1700-1775)
1730s-1740s: one of the earliest symphony composers in Italy
Johann Stamitz (1717-1757)
1750 director of the Mannheim orchestra
added the minuet movement to the symphony
developed a second musical theme in a new key within sonata form
incorporated a number of audience-pleasing techniques, such as dynamic changes
had an impact on Haydn and Mozart
string quartet
popular ensemble in the early classical period
first violin: main themes
cello: bassline
second violin: harmony
viola: harmony
provided the chance for friends to play music together
Haydn popularized the string quartet, writing 68 of them
Mozart wrote 26 string quartets
Beethoven wrote 16 string quartets