Why is the term “Classic” used to describe the musical style of the last half of the eighteenth century? Compare the lives of Mozart and Haydn in relation to their patrons and the public.  In...

  1. Why is the term “Classic” used to describe the musical style of the last half of the eighteenth century?
  2. Compare the lives of Mozart and Haydn in relation to their patrons and the public.  In what ways are the traditional eighteenth-century conditions and the revolutionary aspect of the late eighteenth century reflected in their lives and music?
  3. Make a list contrasting the Classic and Romantic historic periods.
  4. What is the importance of biographical details in understanding the creative efforts of Romantic artists?

I need this answered tonight by midnight EST and please be well developed in answering the question as it is for a discussion post!  Thank you so much for your help! :)

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mwestwood | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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1. The term "Classic" is used to delineate that the music is as an object, a design in sound. That is, the listener's attention should not be focused upon the composer's expression, but rather upon the music as a design in sound. For instance, if one listens to an earlier symphony of Haydn, he is drawn to the balanced form, the elegance of its construction, and its beautiful clarity, all of which stand apart from the composer that created it.

2. (A) Mozart, whose popularity endures to this day, was a child prodigy who began composing at the age of five. From 1773-1777 he was employed by the Salzburg court, but his salary was extremely low. He had much success with piano concertos, but he desired to compose operas for which there was little demand in Salzburg. He went to Paris, but moved on to Vienna where his opera Idomeneo met with considerable success. His employer, Archbishop Colloredo, did not treat Mozart well, either. When Mozart wanted to resign, he was refused; shortly thereafter, he was literally kicked out. He took lodgings with the Webers, and later married Constanze. In Vienna Mozart met with much success as a pianist and his opera Die Entführung aus dem Serail established him as a prestigious composer. Mozart's music was entertaining, but dignified; expressive, but restrained; graceful, harmonious, symmetrical, and always pleasing to audiences.

   (B) Haydn was a very prominent composer of the Classical period, renowned for his composition of what is called chamber music; he is known as the "Father of the Symphony" and "Father of the String Quartet." Haydn remained in Austria his entire life, much of which was under the employment of the Esterhazy family, for whom he was a court musician. Haydn wrote 68 string quartets, 106 symphonies, 60 piano sonatas, 25 operas.

The seeds of change were planted in both Hadyn's and Mozart's later works, works that presaged the inner conflicts, interest in nature, and the search for mysterious cosmic truths that Beethoven and others pursued.

3. Classical Period

  • Dignified music of exact form and symmetry; harmonious, graceful, charming; restrained, but entertaining.
  • Instrumental groups were important:  string quartets, sonatas, orchestra, ensembles, the symphony of four movements: a strong, slow movement, followed by a lyrical, slow movement; a minuet, and a vigorous finale.

   Romantic Period

  • Interest in inner conflicts, the world of nature, fantasy, and a search for universal truths.
  • Individual expression -- pieces inspired by a non-musical idea, Program music dominated the Romantic scene; these were loose, rambling structures. 
  • Musical dramas such as those of Richard Wagner that were intensely lyrical, richly complex, colorful, and exotic.
  • Influences from folk music, nationalistic dances, etc.

 4. Whereas the Classic period was intent upon form and structural patterns as Hadyn's sonatas and quartets demonstrate, the Romantic period focused upon expression. For instance, Beethoven's famous Fifth Symphony is one in which he declared "I will wrestle with Fate." Then, in his PastoralSymphony, he creates delicate scenes, while in the Ninth Symphony, Beethoven glorifies universal brotherhood. 

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