Rhythm and Blues
One of the ways in which the dictionary defines classical music is this: “of, relating to, or being music in the educated European tradition that includes such forms as art song, chamber music, opera, and symphony as distinguished from folk or popular music or jazz.” While classical music is distinguished from other genres by its staff notation system, which has been used since the 1700s, the genre is still a very broad term, and can encompass centuries of music with pieces from as early as the 9th century to the present. Works that are often considered to exemplify this genre include those of Frank Joseph Haydn, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, Johann Sebastian Bach, Ludwig van Beethoven, and Gustav Mahler, among many other classical composers and performers.
What Makes Music Classical?It is difficult to identify a single characteristic that would distinguish classical music from other genres. There are several, though, which can be taken into consideration. For example, there are very few genres that simultaneously play so many instruments as does classical, what with complex symphony orchestras that contain sections and subsections for strings, woodwind, brass, percussion, keyboard, even voice. Classical pieces are also composed via the “intellectual” process of musical development, which is used to achieve technical mastery and affect emotional content. This also means that it requires great musical skills to perform classical works. Above all else, classical music is a written musical tradition. As opposed to being transmitted orally or by recording, classical music is passed on through the notations that serve as a composer’s technical instructions for performing the work. Thus, composers usually expect that performers play in a way that realizes the composition’s original intentions.
The Different Periods of Classical MusicClassical music can be divided into six periods, according to stylistic differences identified by historiographers. The 1) Medieval period (before 1400) is characterized by the dominance of plainsong, or Gregorian chant, as well as by the early beginnings of musical notation. With increased musical freedom, the 2) Renaissance period (1400-1600) saw the rise of secular music, madrigals, anthems, psalms, and the art song; also, composers moved towards the organization of their work into major and minor scales, with each piece having its own distinct key. Meanwhile, with the early use of the orchestra during the 3) Baroque period (1600-1750), classical music flowered and became more ornamental. Famous composers in this era include Claudio Monteverdi, Johann Sebastian Bach, Antonio Vivaldi, and George Fredric Handel.
The many norms of musical composition were established in the 4) Classical period (1750-1820), during which piano became the predominant keyboard instrument. This era also saw two of classical music’s most extraordinary composers in Frank Joseph Haydn and Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. The Romantic period (1820-1900) then built on the Classical period, sweeping across cultural scenes and institutions with a show of flamboyance: melodies became bigger, symphonies longer, compositions more complex, and emotions more intense. The most brilliant classical composers during this time include: Ludwig van Beethoven, Franz Schubert, Frederic Chopin, Giuseppe Verdi, Richard Wagner, Johannes Brahms, Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky, and of course Gustav Mahler.
The 6) 20th Century classical music began with the long phrases and free rhythms of many French classical composers, such as Claude Debussy and Louis Vierne. But the forms that classical music took since then have evolved and grown to become almost limitless. Other notable classical composers from the 1900s to the present day include Arnold Schoenberg, John Adams, Igor Stravinsky, and Philip Glass. Just as noteworthy are the classical performers, which can include Luciano Pavarotti, Placido Domingo, Yo-Yo Ma, Renee Fleming, Sarah Brightman, and the Amsterdam Baroque Orchestra.
Classical Music Record LabelsRecord labels that are commonly associated with the classical music genre include Naxos, whose top-seller includes works by composers such as Chopin, Mozart, and Schubert; Sony Classical, whose top artists are Yo-Yo Ma, Antonio Vivaldi, and the Amsterdam Baroque Orchestra; and EMI Classics, which carry works by Bach and Joseph Haydn, among many others.
Classical Records and Classical CDsTired of popular music and interested in classical? Here at MusicStack, Frank Joseph Haydn CDs, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart CDs, Johann Sebastian Bach CDs, Ludwig van Beethoven CDs, Gustav Mahler CDs, Luciano Pavarotti CDs, Placido Domingo CDs, Yo-Yo Ma CDs, Renee Fleming CDs, and Sarah Brightman CDs, among other Classical records and Classical CDs featuring composers and performers from every century since the 9th, are all available, as are classical vinyl LPs.
Popular Classical Artists