Classical Timeline

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    Jean-Philipe Rameau

    Rameau was a French theorist, historian, and composer; he attempted to establish a rational foundation for harmonic practice. He authored the "Treatise on Harmony" in 1722, which introduced the ideas of modern music theory.
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    Pietro Metastasio

    Court poet in Vienna; Primary and incredibly famous librettist for opera seria in the late Baroque and Classical Eras. He set the standard opera style in 1750.
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    C.P.E. Bach

    Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach was the eldest son of J.S. Bach and was the primary composer of Empfindsamkeit. He wrote a keyboard treatise, (translated to English) Essay on the True Art of Playing Keyboard, which stated that music's aims were to touch the heart and move the emotions. He worked in Berlin for Frederick the Great (Frederick II) of Prussia, as the chamber harpsichordist.
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    Charles Burney

    Burney was a historian, organist, amateur composer, writer, and music scholar. He wrote many books about history of different places, including Germany, the Netherlands, France, Italy, and the United States. He wrote "A General History of Music" (1776-1789).
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    Opera in the Classical Era

    Drama giocoso became important in the early 1700's. Many Italian operas were produced in England, while they preferred ballad operas, like John Gay's "The Beggar's Opera". In Germany, people preferred comedic operas called Singspiel. It had spoken German dialogue, instead of recitative dialogue. The French enjoyed both comic and serious operas, like grand opéra, opérette, and opéra comique.
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    Rococo Style

    Rococo is a dramatic style of French decoration, art, and music. It was heavily detailed, over the top, and ornamented, in contrast to the classical style of the time.
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    Theme and Variations Form

    Popular in the 18th century, composers would use themes and then present a series of variations based upon a theme. The instruments take turns with the theme. For example the playing order could be violin, second violin, cello, viola, and first violin.
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    Franz Joseph Haydn was credited with being important to the instrumentation of the new classical style. A few years after being kicked out of St. Stephen's Cathedral, until he was hired by the wealthy, art loving Esterhazy family. He composed many pieces, but his music was property of the court, until the 1780s when he became popular abroad. He ended up with a large orchestra and his music was extremely popular in London. He retired to Vienna and had his final public moment in 1808 in Vienna.
  • Symphonic Form Invented

    One of the new genres to emerge in the Classic Era; Invented by Giovanni Battista Sammartini In Milan, Italy. Originally, symphonies contained 3 movements, but a fourth movement was added in Germany in the 1740's. The first movement was a sonata.
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    Giovanni Paisiello

    Italian composer, Paisiello spent time in Naples, St. Petersburg, and Paris. He wrote 94 operas. An anecdote about Paisiello; In 1816, he was offended when Rossini set the story, "The Barber of Seville" because Paisiello has set it back in 1776. He sent his supporters to go boo and cause a scene at Rossini's premiere. He died three months later.
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    The eldest son of J.S. Bach, Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach, was the primary composer of this style. Empfindsamkeit was a new, transitional style that was intended to be simple and natural. This was a reaction against the strict style of counterpoint. They wanted it to be more natural and free/forward thinking.
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    William Billings

    One of the first American composers. His first publication was "The New-England Psalm-Singer" (1770). He trained as a tanner to support his family, but taught himself to compose music, which was apparent.
  • String Quartet

    Introduced by Franz Xaver Richter, the string quartet was one of the most important chamber music genres, during a time when chamber music was very important and popular. The style was made popular by Haydn. They were similar to symphonies with four movements, but there was no conductor. The group consisted of two violins, a viola, and a cello with all voices considered equal.
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    Antonio Salieri

    Salieri was one of the most successful court composers in Vienna. He was very talented and popular, composing many operas in different languages, including German, French, and Italian.
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    Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart was a child prodigy and piano virtuoso, who also danced and played violin. He was taken on tour with his sister by his father to many different countries. He performed for many aristocratic families and courts. He worked for many years in Salzburg on Colloredo's court, then at the Second Viennese School as a teacher and musician. He is known for his lyrical, melodic lines, dramatic nature, and colorful orchestration.
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    Maria Theresa von Paradis

    Blind pianist, composer, and organist. Renowned for her stunning musical memory, as she could remember about 60 concertos at the same time. She composed lots of cantatas, chamber music, operas, concertos, etc though most of her music was lost. Organ Concerto in C (1773) by Salieri and Piano Concerto in B flat, K. 256 (1784) were both written for her.
  • Opera Buffa

    Opera Buffa was introduced in Italy in the 1760's. These operas had more realistic characters and serious topics. It was very popular to have the libretti written by Lorenzo da Ponte and Mozart wrote many famous Opera Buffa, such as Cosi Fan Tutte (1790).
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    Ludwig van Beethoven

    Beethoven was a German pianist and composer of symphonies, sonatas, concertos, and many other pieces. He is well known for being deaf. It is speculated that his deafness was caused by lead poisoning. He wrote a number of famous works such as Für Elise, Moonlight Sonata, and many important, influential symphonies.
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    Sonata Form

    Sonata form was very widely used for chamber and symphonic pieces, and used frequently by Mozart. Also called "first movement form" because of it's use in the first movement of symphonies. This form contains a two themes with transitional material between. These themes can be anything, new or old. It also could have any key modulation, but needs to lead back to the tonic key.
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    The American Revolution

    A war fought in order for America to gain independence from Great Britain, due to their unfair laws and taxation. It affected political systems and social order, all over the world.
  • First Patented Piano

    While the pianoforte predates this model of the piano, the first patented version of the piano was introduced in London in 1777. It was more work to create with the need for a hammer mechanism that would return rapidly to allow for quick, repetitive notes. In these early pianos, the key coloring is swapped and they usually have less octaves than the pianos we have today.
  • Piano Concerto No. 17 in G Major, K. 453

    Composed by Mozart in 1784;
    This three movement piano concerto is a clear indication of sonata principles within the ritornello structure. The three movements are Allegro, Adante-Allegretto, and Presto. Listeners at the time complained that the music was too busy with too many themes, but listeners today would say that it is melodically complex.
  • Le nozze di Figaro

    Translated into English to The Marriage of Figaro; Composed by Mozart and libretti written by Da Ponte; This drama giocoso was considered Mozart's first mature opera. It had four acts and was based on a banned French play. The French banned it because it portrayed the aristocracy as immoral and idiotic. It was successful in Vienna, but only received nine performances in the Viennese Burgtheater.
  • "Don Giovanni"

    Don Giovanni was composed by Mozart. It was considered the best opera ever by Wagner, Rossini and Gounod. Mozart gives the characters depth, storyline, and a musical theme. The opera was more serious with a display of social and emotional tension and moral issues.
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    The French Revolution

    The French Revolution was a time of civil and political unrest in all of France. It was caused by King Louis XVI, because he was greedy and wanted more money, but had failed to raise taxes. This turned into protests about the conditions in France, especially from the commonfolk. The goal was to change the relationship between the rulers and those they governed by changing the nature of political power and aristocracy in France.
  • Guillotine Invented

    Brought about by Dr. Joseph-Ignance Guillotin, when he proposed that there should be a more humane method of execution. It was designed by French doctor Antoine Louis and built by German harpsichord maker, Tobias Schmidt. It killed it's first victim in April of 1792.
  • Requiem

    Mozart wrote his requiem after getting paid 100 ducats from Count Franz Walsegg-Stuppach. He wanted a Requiem Mass written for his late wife, who died on February 14th, 1791, before her 21st birthday. On the day Mozart died, he had been working on the Requiem. He sang it along with a few other singers. When he got to the "Lacrimosa, which was incomplete, he set the music aside and cried. He died later that night. It was complete posthumously by Franz saver Süssmayr (1766-1803).
  • Symphony No. 100 in G Major (Military)

    Composed by Haydn, during his time in Vienna in 1794. It was one of the London (Salomon) Symphonies. It had trumpet fanfare and different Turkish military percussion instruments, including triangle, bass drum, bell tree, cymbals, and rip. Turkish/Janissary style became very popular in the 1780's and 90's in Europe, which influenced fashion, food, art, music, and pop culture.
  • Anton Weidinger and the Keyed Trumpet

    Weidinger developed a trumpet with keys, before the introduction of valves, and introduced it in 1796. It had similar keys to woodwinds with a full range of notes, diatonic and chromatic pitches. It was soon replaced with the easier to play valved trumpet in 1801. Haydn's Trumpet Concerto in E-flat Major (1796) was performed by Weidinger on the keyed trumpet.
  • Stethoscope Invented

    Invented by Rene Laennec
    The first iteration of the stethoscope was created in order to check the heart of an overweight patient. He rolled a sheet of paper into a tube and used that. Over time it changed from paper to wood, then to the more modern version we know today.