While it is difficult to identify the many epochs
of classical music that have existed in the tradition, four main epochs
are imporant to discuss: the Renaissance Period, the Baroque Era, the
Classical Period, and the Romantic Age. Each period did not develop on
its own, but reflected the society and culture to which it belonged.
Much like the ideals that gripped Europe in the
late 16th century, the Renaissance Period in music sought to celebrate
individual human potential and develop an audible depth that had not been
present. Before the Renaissance, composers gave each instrument a particular
role, either melody, bass line, or accompaniment, without being overly
concerned that the sounds worked fluedly with each other. Renaissance
composers harmonized and united the different sections of the orchestra
by writing more supple music for individual instruments. Different pitches
and timbers were also accomplished by making different sized instruments
with wider ranges.
The Baroque Era ('barroco is Portuges for 'misshapen
pearl') from about 1600-1750 was characterized by a search for irregular
and a break from the balance and unity of the Renaissance. During the
age, artists across Europe emphasized ornate and more sophisticated forms
of expressions that highlighted the senses and emotions. To achieve this
end, composers focused on constrasting different musical plains, volume,
tempo, individual voices and instruments for instance. In order to move
the senses, composers presented grandiose works that aimed to sustain
the audience in highly aroused states. The opera, which was created during
this period, tried to emulate the high theatrics of the Greek plays of
The Classical Period, from about 1750- 1830, gets
its name from the the Enlightenment's focus of philosophy and science,
which got its inspiration from classical Greece and Rome. The musical
prevalent during this era was most concerned with style and form and the
plots were often about mythological figures and history. This all meant
a break from the grandeur of the Baroque Era and a focus on a straight-forward,
flowing melodic style that provided the listener with simple sensous pleasures.
The pursuit of excellence that was attributed to the Greeks and Romans
was a priority during these times. This was also the period when the symphonic
orchestra began to take shape.
Romanticism was a reaction against Classicism.
Romantics proclaimed that emotion was to be more esteemed than reason.
Nature and emotions became central themes in music, often with the purpose
of escaping the harsh realities of life (this was the age of Industrilization).
Intense emotional engagement was accomplished by colorful harmonies or
dramatic moments in each movement enveloped by sweet melodies. Most of
the composers in this site belong to this period in the 19th century.