Music of the Classical Era


Course description

Eighteenth-century Classicism emerged as a brief moment in history when two worlds collided: at the twilight of the old aristocratic regime, which sought to preserve traditions, order, reason, and symmetry; and at the dawn of a new political-economic alignment in Europe, led by revolts for a transfer of power to the middle class, capitalism, and individual rights. Music born of this era constitutes one of the pinnacles of Western culture. Join us in our exploration of the powerful, glorious and sublime music of the Classical era.

We will discover how music developed in the hands of some of the major composers of this era—notably the Viennese school of Haydn, Mozart, Beethoven, and Schubert; the British composers Sir Thomas Linley and Samuel Wesley; and the aristocratic Black Mozart and citizen Étienne Méhul of Revolutionary-era France. Each composer expresses at once his own individual “narrative style,” and yet they share in their use of musical form—unifying the fundamental elements of music: melody, harmony, texture and orchestration in the newly created string quartet, symphony, sonata, and concerto.

No musical knowledge is necessary to enjoy and benefit from this course.

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