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History of the Classical Period

Page history last edited by PBworks 15 years, 10 months ago





    During the Classical Period, (approximately 1750-1820) Europe was dominated by the governments of the "Great Powers" - namely, France, Austria-Hungary, Russia, and Great Britain.  In the musical sense, Italy and the German states were also powers.  The rulers of these countries married each other in order to keep power in the royalty.  This, along with more widely traveled composers,  provided a more diverse cultural influence on the music in each country and so music tended toward a more international feel.


    During this time, Europe experienced its Enlightenment movement, which was largely headed by the philosophes, who were, for the most part, social reformers, rather than philosophers.  A large part of their efforts had to do with civil rights, or people's rights, or humanitarianism. Paralleling the spread of humanitarianism was a growing attraction to Freemasonry. Enlightened despots, such as Frederick the Great and Joseph II, were followers in freemasonry, which was based off of humanitarian ideals, and a longing for universal brotherhood.


     Education during this time became more accessible to a larger portion of the population, which included most of the middle class, but not the peasant class, and there was an increase in a variety of subjects. These subjects, such as philosophy, science, literature, and the fine arts then began to address the general public, instead of the small group of experts that were interested. A "back to nature" movement was present, which supported sentiment in literature and the arts.


    Similarly, performances began to become more public based, especially as private patronage declined. With an increase in the demands and interests on the part of amateur musicians, magazines devoted to music became popular, along with reviews and criticisms. While many new styles were being invented and becoming popular, the older styles of the Baroque period prevailed as well, and there was a mix of old and new styles.

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