Classical Music Forms

Musical Instruments

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    Cello

    The cello

    is a bowed string instrument with four strings tuned in perfect fifths. It is a member of the violin family of musical instruments. Old forms of the instrument in the Baroque... more

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    Violin

    The violin

    is a string instrument, usually with four strings tuned in perfect fifths. It is the smallest, highest-pitched member of the violin family of string instruments, which includes the viola and cello... more

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    Trumpet

    The trumpet

    is the musical instrument with the highest register in the brass family. Trumpets are among the oldest musical instruments, dating back to at least 1500 BCE...more

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    Guitar

    The guitar

    is a plucked string instrument, usually played with fingers or a pick. The guitar consists of a body with a rigid neck to which the strings, generally six in number, are attached...more

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    Timpani

    Timpani

    or kettledrums, are musical instruments in the percussion family. A type of drum, they consist of a skin called a head stretched over a large bowl traditionally made of copper...

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    Timpani

    The harp

    is a multi-stringed instrument which has the plane of its strings positioned perpendicularly to the soundboard. Organologically, it falls in the general category of chordophones...more

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    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...more

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    Piano

    The piano

    is a musical instrument played by means of a keyboard. It is one of the most popular instruments in the world... more

History of Classical Music

Around the mid-1700s,the Baroque style of music began to seem old-fashioned. There was a growing interest in music due to the growth of the European middle class. Many people began to prefer a style of music that was more balanced, and this led to the classical style of music. The style was given its name because the characteristics that people preferred in music were very similar to those qualities exhibited in the art of ancient Greece and Rome. This style of music was dominant from about 1750 to 1820.

A few musical forms also became popular during this time period including the solo concerto. The solo concerto was a piece of music that was written for an orchestra but featured one specific instrument. It usually had four contrasting movements. The solo concerto was developed and perfected by Franz Haydn. The symphony, as well as the solo concerto, attraced very large audiences to public concerts. Mozart, one of the most famous classical composers, wrote twenty-one piano concertos. Another musical form that was developed in this age was the opera buffa, a comic form of opera.

Famous People: In addition to Haydn and Mozart who were both Austrian, Ludwig van Beethoven of Germany was one of the greatest composers of the classical period. Beethoven was born in 1770 into a world that was changing rapidly. During his lifetime, there was a new interest in the heroic figure and it is, therefore, not surprising that the only opera that Beehoven wrote was about heroism and the fight for freedom. His other works also dealt with nonmusical ideas such as a glorification of the ideal of human brotherhood (his ninth symphony). Beethoven concentrated on piano sonatas, string quartets, and symphonies.