Classical Era Music: The Characteristics You Need to Know

The Classical Era in music is marked by a return to harmony and formalism after the expressive excesses of the Baroque period. Find out more about this fascinating period and the music that came out of it!


In the late 1700s, a new style of music called classical era music emerged. This type of music is characterized by its focus on melody and balance. Classical era composers sought to create a more perfect harmony by using smaller groups of instruments and focusing on simple, elegant melodies.

Some of the most well-known classical era composers include Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart and Ludwig van Beethoven. Mozart’s music is known for its beauty and grace, while Beethoven’s music is known for its power and emotion.

If you’re a fan of classical music, or if you’re simply curious about this fascinating period in musical history, here are some of the characteristics you need to know.

The Characteristics of Classical Era Music

The Classical Era was a time of great change for music. One of the most important changes was the development of more formalized musical genres. This led to the creation of works that were intended to be performed in specific ways for specific purposes. This article will give you a brief overview of the characteristics of Classical Era music.

The Use of Melody, Harmony, and Rhythm

The classical era in music is absorption with the beauty of melody, harmony, and rhythm. Melodies are often simple and singable with clearly defined tonic and dominant notes. Harmonies are diatonic, with closely related notes creating a pleasant, stable sound. Rhythm is generally simple with steady beats and little deviation from the basic pulse. Instrumentation during the classical era consisted primarily of strings, woodwinds, brass, and keyboard instruments.

The Use of Instrumentation

The use of instrumentation is one of the most defining characteristics of classical era music. This is a direct result of the increased emphasis on instrumental music during this time. In fact, some of the greatest classical composers, such as Bach and Vivaldi, were known primarily for their work with instruments.

Instrumentation during the classical era was also marked by a move away from simple solo performances and toward more complex pieces featuring multiple instruments. This change was likely due to the increased popularity of public concerts during this period. As concerts became more popular, composers began writing music that would be more exciting and visually appealing to audiences.

One of the most significant changes to instrumentation during the classical era was the development of the orchestra. The orchestra became a staple of public concerts and helped to give rise to some of the most famous symphonies and concertos in history.

The Use of Form

During the Classical era, composers began to look for ways to create music that was not only pleasing to the ear, but also had some sort of organizational structure. This led to the development of various types of “form” in music. The term “form” can be a bit misleading, as it is often used to refer to the structure of a particular composition. In reality, form is more like a template that can be used over and over again in different pieces.

The Composers of Classical Era Music

The Classical era was a period of music history that lasted from 1750 to 1820. This era is broken up into three distinct parts: the early Classical period, the late Classical period, and the post-Classical period. The early Classical period is when the style of Haydn and Mozart began to take shape. The late Classical period is when the works of Beethoven were composed. The post-Classical period is a transitional period that lasted until the early Romantic era.

Johann Sebastian Bach

Johann Sebastian Bach was a German composer and musician of the Baroque period. He is known for instrumental compositions such as the Brandenburg Concertos and the Goldberg Variations, and vocal music such as the St Matthew Passion and the Mass in B minor. Bach’s abilities as an organist were highly respected during his lifetime, although he was not widely recognized as a great composer until a revival of interest and performances of his music in the first half of the 19th century.

Bach was born in Eisenach, in the duchy of Saxe-Eisenach, into a great musical family. His father, Ambrosius Bach, was director of town musicians; all of his uncles were professional musicians, several of whom had studied with Johann Sebastian’s grandfather Heinrich Schütz (1585–1672), one of Germany’s greatest composers from that time. His father taught him to play violin and harpsichord; his brother Johann Christoph Bach taught him flute and organ. Apparently amused by this, Bach later copied out a treatise on good manners for him. The 14-year-old Organist wrote down many old French Dances for keyboard exactly as they appear in their respective sources.[5]

In Bach’s youth, Eisenach was part of the extensive domain ruled by his cousin Wilhelm Ernst (1601–58), Duke of Saxe-Weimar;[6] Eisenach itself belonged to Saxe-Eisenach. As a result, it is likely that little Johanna Sophia visited her cousin often,[7] which exposed young Sebastian to court life at Weimar and to much excellent music making—he became one of Wilhelm Ernst’s best pupils.[8] At some point around 1700 while living in Weimar, Sebastian started making brandy-infused chocolate drinks which he shared with friends; this eventually led to Bach’s dismissal from his post as court organist.[9][10]

George Frideric Handel

George Frideric (or Frederick) Handel was a German-British Baroque composer, famous for his operas, oratorios, anthems and organ concertos. Handel was born in 1685 in Halle, Duchy of Magdeburg, to Georg Händel and Dorothea Taust. His father, 63 when George Frideric was born, was an eminent barber-surgeon who served the court of Saxe-Weissenfels and the Margrave of Brandenburg. George Frideric’s mother died when he was eleven. He received critical musical training in Halle from the eminent teacher Friedrich Wilhelm Zachow.

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (1756 – 91) is one of the most renowned composers of all time. His work spanned the late Baroque and early Classical music eras, making him an important figure in the transition between the two styles.

Mozart was born in Salzburg, Austria, and began composing music at a young age. He was a child prodigy, touring Europe with his family and performing for various dignitaries. Mozart eventually settled in Vienna, where he wrote some of his most famous works, including his operas The Marriage of Figaro and Don Giovanni.

Mozart’s music is characterized by its elegance, catchy melodies, and use of counterpoint. He also frequently incorporated themes from other works into his own compositions, a technique known as quotation. Many of his works were published posthumously; however, Mozart composed so much music that only a fraction of it has been recorded or performed in modern times.

The Influence of Classical Era Music

The Classical era is one of the most influential periods in musical history. It’s a time when some of the most well-known composers such as Mozart and Beethoven were creating their masterpieces. The music from this era is characterized by its simplicity and emotion. Let’s take a look at some of the other characteristics of Classical era music.

The Influence on Later Composers

During the Classical era, there were many famous composers who wrote well-known pieces that are still popular today. The music from this time period has influenced many later composers, and the techniques and forms that were developed during the Classical era are still used by composers today.

Some of the most influential Classical era composers include Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, Ludwig van Beethoven, and Franz Joseph Haydn. Mozart was a prolific composer who wrote over 600 pieces of music, including symphonies, concertos, operas, and chamber music. His music is characterized by its beauty, elegance, and emotionality. Beethoven is best known for his symphonies and piano music, which showcase his skill as a composer and his innovative approach to form and structure. Haydn was a leading composer of his time, and his work helped to shape the Classical style of music. He was particularly known for his string quartets and symphonies, which are characterized by their balance, order, and clarity.

The influence of these three composers can be heard in the work of many later composers, including Johannes Brahms, Antonín Dvořák, Gustav Mahler, Igor Stravinsky, and Richard Strauss. Brahms was a Romantic era composer who was deeply influenced by the work of Beethoven. He wrote symphonies, concertos, piano music, chamber music, and songs. Dvořák was a Czech composer who drew inspiration from folk music traditions. His work includes symphonies, concertos, chamber music,, operas,,and songs. Mahler was an Austrian composer who worked in both the Romantic and Modernist styles of music. His most famous works include symphonies,,lieder (songs for voice and piano),and operas.,Stravinsky was a Russian composer who is considered one of the most important figures in 20th-century music.,His work includes ballets,,operas,,and orchestral works., Strauss was an Austrian composer best known for his operas,,lieder,,and orchestral works.,

The influence of Classical era composers can be heard in the work of many different types of composers from different eras. The techniques and forms developed during this time period continue to be used by composers today,.

The Influence on Modern Music

Classical music is defined as a period of Western music that ran from 1750 to 1825. It includes works by some of the most famous composers in history, such as Bach, Beethoven and Mozart. While it may not be as popular as it once was, classical music still has a significant influence on many genres of modern music, including rock, pop and jazz.

One of the biggest ways that classical music has influenced modern music is in the use of harmony. Many of the harmonic progressions and chord progressions used in classical music are still used in contemporary songs. For example, the chord progression I-vi-IV-V, which is often found in classical pieces like Beethoven’s “Für Elise” and Pachelbel’s “Canon in D,” can also be found in hits like The Beatles’ “Here Comes the Sun” and Kelly Clarkson’s “Since U Been Gone.”

Another element of classical music that has had a big impact on contemporary genres is the way melodies are constructed. Classical melodies often have a singsong quality to them, with clear phrases that are easy to remember. This approach to melody writing has been adopted by many pop and rock musicians over the years. For example, The Beatles were known for writing catchy melodies with singable hooks, such as in “Hey Jude” and “Let it Be.”

Instrumentation is another area where classical music has had an influence on modern genres. Many instruments that are commonly used in classical pieces, such as the piano and violin, have found their way into popular songs as well. In addition, some of the orchestral arrangements used in classical works have been adapted for use in contemporary bands and ensembles.

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