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Historical Background

The term “classical” was more on the classical music of the periods between Baroque and
the Romantic periods. The term “classicism” usually refers to the imitation of the art of classical
Antiquity, the emulation of “Greek art” and “Roman art”. Thus, literature, architecture, painting
or sculpture produced during the middle ages or later was inspired by the art style of ancient
Greece and Ancient Rome.

Classical music composed between 1750 and 1820 has little to do with the classical
civilizations of ancient Greece and Rome. The particular music style emphasizes balance, refined
expression, harmonies, clear melodies, etc. in other terms, music composed during this period
expresses elegance. In the middle of the eighteenth century, Europe began to move to a new style
of architecture, literature, and arts that is known as classicism. During this period, art is
associated with formality, restraint, simplicity, balance, etc. not attempting to express strong

Art Movement

It was in the Classical period that composers saw a new introduction to a new form of
music style. Instrumental composition such as sonata form dominated in this era, then developed
to concerto, symphony, etc. it was in this era that orchestra began to expand. Obsessed with
structural clarity, it began to affect music also encouraging some changes in social structure and
economic order. Classicism is always with the ideal, looked back to ideal of Antiquity. Art is
controlled by reason, favored clearer divisions between parts, brighter contrasts and colors, and
simplicity. It is also dependent on a measurement and proportion system.
Factors of Classicism

1. Sharp
2. Simple
3. Elegant
4. Orderly
 This art style also applies to the music of the era.
 Music was soft, clean, and elegant.
 Classical music focused on the clarity of the music while regarding melodic expression
and instrumental color.
 Classical era composers valued simplicity over complexity.

Influential People

René DesCartes (a French philosopher)

 "Father of Modern Philosophy"

 Formed the basis for the thinking of the Scientific Revolution in the Baroque period
 Consequent “enlightenment” of the Classical period.

Jean-Jacques Rousseau (a forebear of modern socialism and Communism)

 Revolution
 Stands with his contemporaries in the principles that politics and morality should not be
separated and that freedom is what the state is created to preserve.
 Questioned the assumption that the will of the majority is always correct.
 Rise of the Working Class

Benjamin Franklin (an inventor/a statesman)

 His political activities helped secure America’s independence and formed the basis for
the country.
 Among his inventions were the lightning rod, bifocals, the Franklin stove, an odometer
for carriages, and musical instruments
 He formed the first public lending library as well as the first fire department in
 Scientific Advancements
 Industrial Revolution
Jane Austen (English novelist).
 Known for her realism and use of irony, while making biting social commentary on the
human condition, making her an enduring and beloved writer to this day.

Mary Wollstonecraft (English writer, philosopher and feminist)

 Her best known work is “A Vindication of the Rights of Women” from 1792, in which
she argues that women are not naturally inferior to men, and only seem so due to lack of
 She also argued that women and men should be treated as rational beings, and envisioned
a social order founded on reason.

Lord George Gordon Byron (English poet)

 Remembered to this day as one of the greatest European poets.
 His work includes the narrative poem “Don Juan.”
 A contemporary, Lady Caroline Lamb, described him as “mad, bad, and dangerous to

Thomas Paine (Englishman)

 Best remembered for his work entitled “Common Sense” (1776) in which he advocated
the independence of the American colonies from Great Britain
 Followed by a series of pro-revolutionary works between 1776-1783 entitled “The
American Crisis.”
 Went on to greatly influence the French revolution, writing the “Rights of Man” in 1791,
providing a guide to Enlightenment ideas.
 Was elected to the French governing body, even though he did not speak French
Art Forms and Media
 Classicism seeks to be formal and restrained.
 There was a great acceleration of rhythmic movement that would destroy the qualities of
balance and completeness that retained their position of authority until the present
century in the restricted repertoire of visual images.
 It is often present in post-medieval European and European traditions.
 Some periods are more often connected to the age of enlightenment when neoclassicism
was an important movement on visual arts.
 Mass is a form of a sacred musical composition that involved orchestra, soloists, and
choir in a fully integrated work, utilizing organizational principles derived from
instrumental forms.
 Missa Brevis is Latin for “short mass” usually refers to short mass composition. It may
consist of strictly delimited development, simultaneous setting of several lines of text, or
the omission of certain sections of the mass.
 Missa Solemnis refers to a more elaborate and extended musical treatment of the mass
text than that employed in the Missa Brevis.
 Oratorio is musical piece based on a religious theme performed by the orchestra and
singers without acting.
 Requiem is a piece of music used to honor the dead.
 Vespers is a service of evening worship written for choir, quartet of soloists, and
 Choral Symphony is a musical composition written for choir and orchestra.