Classical music is art music produced or rooted in the traditions of Western culture, including both liturgical (religious) and secular music.
Music has existed since the dawn of human civilization, but most music historians begin cataloging classical music in the Medieval era.
The term “classical music” describes orchestral music, chamber music, choral music, and solo performance pieces, yet within this broad genre, several distinct periods exist.
The term “classical music” did not appear until the early 19th century, in an attempt to distinctly canonize the period from Johann Sebastian Bach to Ludwig van Beethoven as a golden age. The earliest reference to “classical music” recorded by the Oxford English Dictionary is from about 1829.
Musicologists divide classical music into historical eras and stylistic subgenres. One way to examine classical music history is to divide it into seven periods:
• Medieval period (from after the fall of Rome to 1400)
• Renaissance period (1400 to 1600)
• Baroque period (1600 to 1750)
• Classical period (1750 to 1820)
• Romantic period (1820 to 1900)
• Modern period (1900 to 1930)
• Postmodern period (1930 to today)
Works of classical repertoire often exhibit complexity in their use of orchestration, counterpoint, harmony, musical development, rhythm, phrasing, texture, and form. Whereas most popular styles are usually
written in song form, classical music is noted for its development of highly sophisticated instrumental musical forms, like the concerto, symphony and sonata. Classical music is also noted for its use of sophisticated vocal/instrumental forms, such as opera.
The instruments currently used in most classical music were largely invented before the mid-19th century (often much earlier) and systematized in the 18th and 19th centuries.
The violin is probably the best known and most widely distributed musical instrument in the world. Similar string instruments to violin have been around for almost 1000 years.
The first time the piano was played in a public concert in London was in 1768 when it was played by Johann Christian Bach. Most historians agree that today’s violin emerged in the early 16th century in northern Italy, an area which would maintain the violin-making tradition over the coming centuries.
A viola’s body is between 2.5 cm (1 in) and 10 cm (4 in) longer than the body of a violin which is between 38 and 46 cm (15 and 18 in).
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart is the best and most famous composer of classical music. Born in Salzburg, in the Holy Roman Empire, Mozart showed prodigious ability from his earliest childhood. Already competent on keyboard and violin, he composed from the age of five and performed before European royalty, embarking on a grand tour. At 17, Mozart was engaged as a musician at the Salzburg court but grew restless and travelled in search of a better position.
Ludwig van Beethoven is probably the second most famous composer of classical music. His works span the transition from the classical period to the romantic era in classical music. His career has conventionally been divided into early, middle, and late periods.
Almost all of the composers who are described in music textbooks on classical music and whose works are widely performed as part of the standard concert repertoire are male composers, even though there has been a large number of women composers throughout the classical music period.
Possibly the roots of Western classical music ultimately lie in ancient Egyptian art music via cheironomy and the ancient Egyptian orchestra, which dates to 2695 BC.
The development of individual tones and scales was made by ancient Greeks such as Aristoxenus and Pythagoras.
Monks developed the first forms of modern European musical notation in order to standardize liturgy.
During the 1990s, several research papers and popular books wrote on what came to be called the “Mozart effect”: an observed temporary, small elevation of scores on certain tests as a result of listening to Mozart’s works. The approach has been popularized in a book by Don Campbell, and is based on an experiment published in Nature suggesting that listening to Mozart temporarily boosted students’ IQ by 8 to 9 points.
The London Symphony Orchestra was booked to travel on the Titanic’s maiden voyage, but they changed boats at the last minute.
During a performance of Boris Godunov at Sydney Opera House, a chicken fell off the stage and onto a cellist.
The Japanese word ‘karaoke’ comes from a phrase meaning ’empty orchestra’.