When we ask a question about what classical music is, the answer often comes that it is incomprehensible music with which it is difficult to interact. But in reality, classical music is elementary to understand, like the many musical styles that it includes, and which span over seven hundred years. The term classic has its origins in the Latin word (“Classisus”), which means taxpayers, and made its way through French, German and English to mean then (official) or arranged in an appropriate order, and the term classic expanded to be used in all arts.
Classical music through ages
Classical music includes various forms such as opera, symphony, chamber music, sonata, concerto, and Fugues (fughettas/fugatos). They are musical forms that differ from folk or local music, and historians have divided classical music into six periods, each with its characteristics and features.
Medieval period (pre-1400)
Religious ideas dominated medieval music, and they used a way to pray in churches or accompany the religious text to give it some dynamism. The most famous music of that period is known as the Gregorian chant relative to Pope Gregory, the Elder Pope of Rome at that time.
Renaissance Music (1400: 1600)
The Church began to lose its control over music, and culture in general, a process that helped the birth of a new cultural movement, the Renaissance. Music in this period was liberated in some way from the religious restrictions of medieval music. As the taboo surrounding secular music disappeared, in addition to the emergence of simplified forms of musical instrument. Composers expressed themselves more freely, and their music spread through Europe, especially after the invention of printing and therefore distributing music. The most influential composers of this period are the two Italians Gregorio Allegri and Giovanni Pierluigi da Palestrina.
Baroque era music (1600: 1750)
Baroque music was known for its multiple articulations and complications. It witnessed a radical change in music, as the accompaniment of the human voice was eliminated. At that time, new forms of music were introduced such as fugues, concerto, sonata and opera by Vivaldi and Bach. The best work of this era was La Stravaganza (the extravagance), the set of concertos written by Vivaldi in the early 1700s. The concertos were first published in 1716 in Amsterdam and were dedicated to the Venetian nobleman Victor Delfin, Vivaldi’s student.
Classical Era Music (Age of Enlightenment ) (1750: 1820)
The symphony began to appear at the end of the Baroque era and the beginning of the classical era, and the written sonnets of a single musical instrument, especially the piano, evolved. Moreover, the movement of the rhythm became more dynamic and flexible. Also, multiple moods expression within the same composition occurred, ranging between revolutionary and calm, or flow and tenderness. The most important composers of this era are Joseph Haydn, Amadeus Mozart and Ludwig van Beethoven. Likewise, one of its best compositions is Beethoven’s ninth symphony, Ode to joy. It was the first symphony to come with lyrics. And even if some Choirs described it as weak, the composer perfectly embodied Friedrich Schiller poem ((Ode a die Freude)), (a poem that glorifies a universal idea about joy and optimism) in 30 minutes of great music and turned his mistake to worldwide success.
Romantic era and Romanticism Music (1820: 1900)
Romanticism is a cultural movement which appeared at the end of the 18th century in Germany and England and spread throughout Europe during the 19th century, up to the 1850s. In part, the Romantic movement was a revolt against aristocratic social and political norms of the Age of Enlightenment (the 1700s) and a reaction against the “scientific rationalization” of nature. Romanticism was embodied most strongly in the visual arts, music and literature. Moreover, this period depended on the developments produced by the classical era. It increased the desire of musicians to compose emotional music based on personal feelings, or evoke imaginative landscapes, in addition to the evolution of the music dynamics itself to suit the musicians’ desires and their most extreme and difficult requirements. The most important musicians of this era are Verdi, Strauss, Wagner and Tchaïkovski.
The Blue Danube Waltz from Strauss, Wagner’s Ride of the Valkyries and Giuseppe Verdi, Marcia Trionfale (Triumphal March) were the best compositions of this era.
Modern music (after 1900 to date)
The stability of social and economic conditions in Europe in the nineteenth century had a prominent impact in its music, especially “romanticism”, which led to the transformation of musical expressions towards new music streams suitable for the era of the “twentieth century” as they were influenced by political, military, economic and social events that were reflected in the arts and sciences, especially the music that resulted in complicated methods and strange currents which are considered cacophony from its predecessors, including atonality, dodecaphony, electronic music and dancing music. New different styles emerged from the classics. A mixture of different types of local and popular music began, the music was characterized by the desire to get rid of classical restrictions. Likewise, the forms and uses of music varied exceptionally.
Some extremist critics pretend that classical music is dead at this era. In contrast, others see that we are approaching more beautiful days with it, which is confirmed by the conductor and musical director Benjamin Zander in a spontaneous speech at TED talks.
Still, Russian Sergueï Rachmaninov and English Gustav Holst are considered the best composers of this century. Rachmaninov-Piano Concerto 2 is undoubtedly the best piece to mark from this century. It is sturdy, ideal for showing the artist’s ingenuity. It begins by the piano only, then the sounds of other instruments flow into the orchestra. It represents the power of romantic era music full of contrasting feelings.
Planets-Gustav Holst: It is an orchestra in seven sections, each movement inspired by one of the planets and their characteristics as defined by astronomy, initially Mars the Bringer of War, Venus The Bringer of Peace, Mercury Winged Messenger, Jupiter the bringer of jollity, Saturn the bringer of old age, Uranus the Magician, Neptune the Mystic.
How do we interact with classical music?
We can first think that we have no relationship with classical music. Still, after noticing, we will find that we may have heard this music in a restaurant, while shopping in supermarkets, in a theme for a movie, or even in a TV ad.
Listening to music program broadcasts helps to identify tracks and their composers closely. From here, each person can have their preferences and can create their playlists, after perusal of the most famous composers s such as Beethoven, Mozart, Vivaldi, Bach and Haydn. But before that, it remains better to read about each type of music, its history, its different contexts. And to know the opinions of others in each piece through the music review sites, which creates knowledge of the piece and its author.
After getting to know a small set of compositions, it’s best to repeat them more than once or play them as a backdrop for daily events, which simplifies classical music and makes it simpler and more frequent and breaks the dread barrier. Several studies have claimed that classical music increases the power of memory and attention in children, so if you have a baby, let him listen to soft symphonies while playing or doing manual activities such as drawing.
Linking the mood with different types of classical music helps us to integrate into music. There is great revolutionary, stimulating, puffing, or emotional, relaxing music. After a period of listening in different moods, the relationship between the listener and classical music will be strengthened.
After the familiarization with classical music, and creating personal playlists and favourites, the listener can try to attend a concert for a symphony orchestra or opera or any music he prefers, so that ordinary listening turns into an unforgettable experience, especially with the perfect atmosphere that surrounds the entire audience.