What is Neo Classical Music?
Neo-classical music is a 20th-century art music style which draws inspiration from the traditional music of the classical era.
The Neo-Classical Period
The Neo-Classical period was a time when music was transitioning from the Classical period back to the Romantic period. It was a time when composers were starting to experiment with new forms and harmonies. Neo-Classical music is characterized by its use of traditional forms, such as the sonata and the concerto, but with a more emotional and expressive style.
The Baroque Period
The Neo-Classical period is a music era which began around 1750. The period is sometimes referred to as the Age of Reason and spans the time between the end of the Baroque Period and the beginning of the Romantic Period.
There are various reasons historians believe that the Neo-Classical period began around 1750. One theory is that it was around this time that a new generation of musicians and composers who were not part of the Baroque tradition began to come to prominence. Another theory is that it was during this time that a renewed interest in Ancient Greece and Rome led to composers beginning to experiment with classical forms and styles.
Despite there being no definitive start date, there are several clear characteristics which define Neo-Classical music. These include a return to simpler forms, such as the sonata and the concerto, an emphasis on balance and order, and a focus on absolute rather than programmatic music.
Some of the most famous Neo-Classical composers include Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, Joseph Haydn, Luigi Boccherini, Johann Stamitz, Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach, Francois Couperin, Jean-Philippe Rameau, and George Frideric Handel.
The Classical Period
he Classical period was an era of classical music between approximately 1730 to 1820. The Classical period is shorter than the preceding Baroque period and shorter than the following Romantic period. The major composers of the Classical era were Haydn, Mozart and Beethoven.
Some define the beginning of the Classical period as 1725, when Giovanni Battista Sammartini’s work Giacomo aggiunti due nuovi concerti (1725) was published. This work includes several new sonata form movements which were subsequently taken up by other composers such as Johann Christian Bach and Luigi Boccherini. Other historians divide the Classical period into two parts: an earlier “Early Classical” phase (roughly 1730–50), and a “Late Classical” phase (1750–1820).
During the Early Classical phase, composers such as Haydn and Bach wrote works in what was then called sonata da chiesa form (church sonata form). This kind of sonata generally included four movements: fast-slow-fast-slow. As musical tastes changed, public concerts became increasingly common during this period, and works written in more familiar forms such as sonata form and concerto grosso became increasingly popular. During the Late Classical phase, composers such as Beethoven wrote works in more ambitious forms such as symphony and string quartet. Beethoven also began to experiment with larger musical forms such as the piano sonata and the symphony.
The Neo-Classical Composers
Among the most famous names in Neo-Classical music are those of the composers who worked in the period known as the Classical Era. These include such greats as Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, Ludwig van Beethoven, and Franz Schubert. But the Neo-Classical movement also saw the development of other, less well-known composers, such as Johann Nepomuk Hummel and Luigi Boccherini.
Johann Sebastian Bach
Johann Sebastian Bach was a composer of the Baroque period. He is known for instrumental works such as the Brandenburg Concertos and the Goldberg Variations, and vocal works such as the St Matthew Passion and the Mass in B minor. Since the 19th-century Bach Revival, he has been generally regarded as one of the greatest composers of all time.
Bach was born in Eisenach, in the duchy of Saxe-Eisenach, into a Lutheran family. He was appointed Court Organist in Weimar in 1714, where he composed for organ and orchestra. In 1717 he became Konzertmeister (concertmaster) at Cothen, where he composed religious works for both choir and orchestra, some of which were eventually collected in his oratorio The Passion According to Saint John. He moved to Leipzig in 1723 to become Thomaskantor (cantor at St Thomas’s Church), where he composed church cantatas, among other works.
Ludwig van Beethoven
Ludwig van Beethoven was born in the city of Bonn in the Electorate of Cologne, a principality of the Holy Roman Empire, in 1770. He showed an early interest in music and was taught by his father Johann van Beethoven and Christian Gottlob Neefe. At the age of 21, he moved to Vienna and began studying composition with Joseph Haydn. He gained a wider public following after moving to Vienna and composing some of his most famous works including his Symphony No. 9, “Für Elise” and Moonlight Sonata. His personal life was marked by tragedy, including the deaths of his brother and sister, his mother’s prolonged ill health and his own deafness. Beethoven died in Vienna in 1827 at the age of 56.
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (1756-1791) was born in Salzburg, Austria. His father, Leopold, was a successful composer and violinist and, recognizing his young son’s precocious talent, took charge of his education. Mozart proved to be an enthusiastic and able learner, rapidly assimilating the skills his father tried to impart. At the age of six he began to compose little pieces, which were published two years later as his Opus 1. By the age of eight he had already composed several concerti for various instruments, as well as two operas.
In 1769 Mozart was taken on a concert tour of Europe by his father, during which they met many of the most eminent musicians of the day. They spent nearly three years in Italy before returning to Salzburg in 1771. The following year Mozart was appointed court organist and concertmaster to the Archbishop of Salzburg, with a salary of 800 florins a year.
Mozart’s quick temper and failure to conform to court etiquette soon brought him into conflict with his employer, however, and in 1781 he finally left Salzburg for good. He spent several years traveling around Europe in search of a suitable position, but despite his great talents he failed to find lasting success or financial security. In 1791 he completed his greatest work, The Magic Flute, shortly before succumbing to illness at the age of 35.
The Neo-Classical Style
Neo-classical music is a 20th-century art music style and intellectual movement that draws inspiration from the past, typically from the Classical period. This style emerged in the early 1900s as a reaction to the excesses of the late Romantic period. Proponents of the Neo-classical style sought to revive the traditions of earlier periods, and to restore a sense of order and balance to music.
The Neo-Classical Genre
Genres are difficult to define, especially in music. This is because music, unlike other forms of art, is often created for the specific purpose of commercial sale and mass consumption. As a result, it can be difficult to determine what qualifies as a “neo-classical” composition.
In general, neo-classical music refers to a 20th-century compositional style that pays homage to the harmonic and melodic conventions of classical music. This genre is also sometimes referred to as “new music” or “modern classical music.”
Noted neo-classical composers include Igor Stravinsky, Samuel Barber, and Erik Satie. While each of these artists had unique musical styles, they all shared a common goal: to create works that were firmly rooted in the classical tradition while also incorporating elements of modernity.
Interestingly, neo-classical music was not always well-received by the public. In fact, many early composers in this genre were outright rejected by the critical establishment. It wasn’t until later in the 20th century that neo-classical works began to gain widespread popularity.
The Neo-Classical Form
The Neo-Classical form can be described as a return to the Classical forms of the 18th century. While it shares some characteristics with the Romantic style that preceded it, Neo-Classicism is marked by a greater focus on order, symmetry, and balance. This is not to say that Neo-Classical music is entirely focused on these elements; rather, they are simply more prevalent than in other styles of music.
One of the most important aspects of the Neo-Classical style is its return to simplicity. While Romantic composers often wrote lengthy and complex pieces, Neo-Classical composers sought to write shorter, more concise pieces. This was partly due to the influence of Modest Mussorgsky and Alexander Borodin, two Russian composers who advocated for a return to simpler forms of music.
Another key characteristic of Neo-Classicism is its use of traditional forms and structures. Whereas Romantic composers often created new forms or significantly altered existing ones, Neo-Classical composers were more likely to stick to tried-and-true forms such as the sonata or symphony. This adherence to tradition can be seen as a reaction against the excesses of Romanticism, which many felt had led to a loss of musical structure.
Finally, Neo-Classicism is characterized by its focus on objective rather than subjective expression. In other words, while Romantic composers sought to express their own emotions in their music, Neo-Classical composers strived for a more objective expression of emotion. This was partly due to the influence of German philosopher Immanuel Kant, who argued that art should seek not to express the artist’s emotions but rather to serve as a “window onto the world.”
The Neo-Classical form continued to be popular throughout the 20th century and remains an important part of Western classical music today.
The Neo-Classical Movement
The Romantic Movement
The Romantic Movement was an intellectual and artistic movement that ran from the late 18th century through the middle of the 19th century. It was characterized by its emphasis on emotion and individualism as well as glorification of all the past and nature, preferring the medieval rather than the classical.
One of the best examples of Romantic music is Beethoven’s Symphony No. 5, which is renowned for its highly emotional character,personal expression, and its use of fate motifs. Other important composers from the Romantic era include Schubert, Chopin, Mendelssohn, Liszt, Brahms, and Wagner.
The Modern Movement
The Neo-Classical Movement was a twentieth-century reaction against the excesses of the late nineteenth century Romantic period. Neo-classicism was marked by its return to order, clarity, balance and objective restraint after the perceived excesses of the Romantic period. Characteristics includes economy of gesture, simplicity of materials, tension between restraint and self-expression and an interest in objectivity rather than fantasy or escapism.