The Classical period in music is best characterized by the masters of the Viennese School - Haydn, Mozart, and Beethoven. The composers worked in an age of great musical experimentation and discovery, when musicians took on many challenges. The first such challenge was to explore the possibilities offered by the major-minor system and the second to perfect a large-scale form of instrumental music—sonata form—that exploited those possibilities to the fullest degree. Having found this “ideal structure”, composers then developed it into the solo and duo sonata, the trio and quartet, the concerto, and the symphony.
“Classicism” did not imply a strict adherence to traditional forms however. The composers of the Viennese School experimented boldly and endlessly with the materials at their disposal. Furthermore, we often find that Romantic elements appear in the music of Haydn, Mozart, and Beethoven, especially in their late works. These composers dealt with musical challenges so brilliantly that their works ...
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... eighteenth-century audiences for new music stimulated composers to write many and greater pieces of music. While great performers continued to be highly prized, the clarity and simplicity of the Classical style made it increasingly accessible to the informed amateur. More and more instrumental music was described in terms of dialogue and communication, whether it was between performers or between the composer and the public. As the idea of communication through instrumental storytelling became ingrained, the notion of using that communication to build a deep and intimate connection between the uniquely inspired composer and the receptive listener grew more appealing to musicians and their audiences. This too was an essential element in the emerging Romantic sensibility, as we will see in the work of Beethoven and in the public response to Mozart’s late compositions.
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