The Classical Era and the Rise of the Middle Class
The Classical era, during the 1700s, was a time in which the middle class gained power, resulting in a change in the arts and especially in the music. The rise in power created a different audience; composers were no longer playing to satisfy the ears of the church and the court, but instead to appeal to the people. Music shifted to become more instrumental based, also known as galant. It was meant to be a simple harmony with easily grasped melodies, while also being well balanced and pleasing. The great idea of this time period was to be clear and distinct and such was demonstrated in the music created. Great composers of this time include: Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, Joseph Haydn and Ludwig van Beethoven (Mozart’s Litany of Loreto).
Mozart was a vital musician in the Classical period. It was said that “The central traits of the classical style can all be identified in Mozart’s music. Clarity, balance, and transparency are hallmarks [ . . . ]” (The Music of Mozart). A piece that shows how the rise of the middle class changed music is Piano Sonata No. 18 in D major, K 576, composed in 1776 as one piece out of six for the Princess of Austria. The piece was organized into three parts, a common idea of that time. It includes both tension and release, which was also a characteristic of music in the Classical era. It is easy to follow and understand and that was pleasing to the middle class.
Joseph Haydn’s Symphony 101 in D major is also an excellent example of music during the Classical era. Like Mozart’s piece, it is organized into movements, but instead of three, Haydn used four. It starts with adagio (slow), then andante (medium pace), allegretto (faster pace) and ends with the finale (lively and fast). The symphony is balanced throughout, repeating the main theme after every littler theme ends, which makes it easy to follow along with.
Ludwig van Beethoven was also a great composer of this time. His Symphony No. 9 in D Minor is “one of the best-known works of the repertoire of classical music” (Wikipedia). The piece follows the idea of being broken up into different sections, this one having four movements and building up to end with a lively and fast finale. It followed all of the common characteristics of music during the Classical era.
Pieces of the Classical period are organized and easy to, both, understand and follow. Music was was affordable and targeted to appeal to the middle class with its clear and simple melodies.
“Mozart Home Page.” Mozart Home Page. N.p., n.d. Web. 16 Oct. 2014.
“Symphony No. 9 (Beethoven).” Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation, 16 Oct. 2014. Web. 16 Oct. 2014.
Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation, n.d. Web. 17 Oct. 2014.
“Wolfgang Amadeus MOZART – the Music of Mozart.” Wolfgang Amadeus MOZART – the Music of Mozart. N.p., n.d. Web. 16 Oct. 2014.