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Western Music History to 1900

By lindai
  • Period: 540 to Dec 31, 1400

    Era of the Middle Ages

    Spans almost 1000 years beginning with Pope Gregory I (Gregory the Great) who catalogued the chants which today are known as the Gregorian Chants and ending in the mid 1400s with the introduction of polyphonic music ushered in by the composers of the Renaissance period.
  • Jan 1, 1098

    Hildegard of Bingen

    Hildegard of Bingen
    O lerusalem 1098 - 1179

    Born in Rheinhesse, she was exceptionally gifted in music and spiritual matters. She became the prioress (leader of the nuns). She wrote significant pieces of Christian doctrine and hymns including 77 chants, some of which are still widely performed today.
  • Period: Jan 1, 1450 to

    Renaissance Era

    This period is part of the renaissance movement that swept through Europe bringing with it a new focus on education, art, literature, music, and the sciences. The music of this period moves away from the chants and into a richer, many-voiced and ornamented style. It is characterized by smoother and more charming melodies. Typical music forms of this era include the motet, the madrigal, and the elements of the Catholic Mass.
  • Jan 1, 1525

    Giovanni Pierluigi da Palestrina

    Giovanni Pierluigi da Palestrina
    'Gloria' from the Pope Marcellus Mass 1525 - 1594 Born in Palestrina, Italy This Italian Renaissance composer wrote music almost exclusively for the Catholic Church. He composed in many forms, but is most famous for his more than 100 masses. The most well known, and still performed today is the Gloria from the Mass for Pope Marcellus.
  • Period: to

    Baroque Era

    This era is defined by very ornate, decorative and grandiose music. It is about gods and heros, not about ordinary men. It is a period of great operas being performed for royalty and aristocracy. Topics usually involved bible themes or themes from mythology.
  • George Frideric Handel

    George Frideric Handel
    'Hallelujah Chorus' from The Messiah 1685 - 1759 Born in Halle, Germany. Most of his musical career occurred in London, England. He was born in the same year as Bach, yet outlived his contemporary by 9 years. He is most famous for his Oratorio "Messiah" which has become part of our modern Christmas tradition.
  • Johan Sebastian Bach

    Johan Sebastian Bach
    Prelude and Fugue in C minor 1685 - 1750
    Born in Eisenach, Germany into a family of musicians
    He was the greatest and most productive of the baroque musicians. Known as the father of counterpoint, his work was so important that his death in 1750 marked the end of the baroque era and ushered in the new classical era.
  • Franz Joseph Haydn

    Franz Joseph Haydn
    'Surprise' Symphony, 2nd Movement
    Prepare for a 'surprise' about 30 seconds into the movement. 1732 - 1809 Born in Rohrau, Austria
    He is known as the 'Father of the Symphony', Haydn is best known for the sheer volume of work he left behind. Arguably his most famous work is 'Surprise Symphony'.
    This contemporary of Mozart so admired him that Mozart's requiem was played at his funeral.
  • Period: to

    Classical Era

    The term 'Classical' comes from the ideals of excellence. This period drew upon the culture of ancient Greece and Rome. Best known genres of this period include the symphony and the sonata cycle. Musical characteristics include elements of surprise such as abrupt harmonic changes and dynamic shifts.
  • Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart

    Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
    'Dies Irae' from Requiem Mozart's last and greatest masterpieces remained unfinished on his untimely death but was completed by his student
    1756 - 1791 Born in Salzburg, Austria
    Best known for his musical genius, this child prodigy performed for royalty at age 6, and by age 13 was writing full sonatas and concertos. His first tour of Europe occurred at age 7. Mozart died penniless and was buried in a pauper's grave in Vienna, Austria.
  • Ludwig van Beethoven

    Ludwig van Beethoven
    Symphony 9 in D minor op. 125 1st movement 1770 - 1827 Born in Bonn, Germany. This giant of the classical music era is best known for his Symphonies, among which his 5th and 9th Symphony receive wide public recognition to this day. This master of the music world began to loose his hearing early in his career, and by the time he wrote the 9th Symphony he was completely deaf!
  • Franz Schubert

    Franz Schubert
    Impromptu No 3 in G Flat Major 1797 - 1828 Born and died in Vienna, Austria. Although a contemporary of the classical master, Beethoven, Schubert's compositions ushered in the new 'Romantic Era'. He is best known as the greatest melody writer for his collection of 'lieds' (songs). In his early years he was a member of the Vienna Choir Boys. He so admired Beethoven that at his request he was buried next to him in Vienna when he died.
  • Period: to

    Romantic Era

    This era is best characterized by the powerful influence of 'nationalism'. Popular genres include 'program music' which is instrumental music enhanced by literary or pictorial associations. There was a strong focus on virtuosity - a composer or performer's instrumental talent. This era is strongly influenced by the industrial revolution which brought with it a shift in the power structure of society, and the ability to create new and more powerful instruments.
  • Frederic Chopin

    Frederic Chopin
    Etude Op 10 No. 12 1810 - 1849 Born in Warsaw, Poland, his musical career took place in Paris, France. He is best known as a virtuoso pianist. He began composing at age 7, and in his lifetime created a large volume of elaborate and virtuosic compositions. He is considered the greatest artist of the Romantic Era. He is buried in Paris, France, but at his request his heart was sent back to Warsaw, Poland.
  • Claude Debussy

    Claude Debussy
    Claire de la Lune 1862 - 1918 Born in St. Germain-en-Laye, France (near Paris), he ushered in the era of 20th Century music. Debussy formally studied piano and composition at the Paris Conservatoire beginning at age 7. Best known for his ability to evoke mood or atmosphere through orchestral and harmonic colour. His most famous composition today is Claire de la Lune.
  • Credits

    • Image of Hildegard von Bingen from -
    • All other images of composers from
    • Clipart from www.theclipartdirectory,com
    • All music clips compliments of
    • All reference materials from: Machlis, J. and Forney K. The Enjoyment of Music 8th Ed. 1999. W.W, Norton & Co. Ltd., New York