How did classical music develop over time?

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Main topic: Humanities
Other topics: Music
Short answer:
  • Classical music is one of the oldest and has been around for the longest amount of time.
  • The development of classical music went through 4 major eras: Baroque, Classical, Romantic, and the 20th century and beyond.

Origin of classical music[edit]

Since classical music is one of the oldest and has been around for the longest amount of time, it will likely never fall out of favor. Classical music can refer to any piece that was created during the period known as classicism, which extends from 1750 to 1820. Classical music developed by incorporating liturgical and secular elements from other Western musical traditions, such as the music of Ancient Greece or Ancient Rome, and undergoing a synthesis with the musical traditions of the new territories. These two processes led to the development of classical music.[1]

The evolution of classical music over the 4 eras: Baroque, Classical, Romantic, and 20th century and beyond[edit]

Baroque (1600-1750)[edit]

The time period known as the Baroque spans roughly from the years 1600 to 1750. Bach, Handel, and Vivaldi were three well-known composers that were active during this time period. The word "Baroque" comes from the Portuguese word "Barroco". which means misshaped pearl. Baroque was a style that originated in Italy in the early 1600s. It renounced the tranquility of the renaissance in favor of striking contrasts in tone, volume, and tempo. The oratorio was a new type of religious music that emerged during this time period. It was composed for solo vocals, chorus, and orchestra. In addition, new instrumental genres evolved, such as the sonata, which was written for solo instruments, and the concerto (for a solo instrument backed by an orchestra). There were two common approaches to creating musical pieces: 1) playing one melody while improvising the accompaniment (the background music), and 2) playing multiple melodies at the same time. Both of these approaches were very common. During the baroque period, musicians and composers began to make these kinds of changes. During this historical period, the opera was developed as a result of a desire to give greater prominence to a soloist as well as a single tune.[2][3]

Classical (1750-1820)[edit]

The classical time period spanned from 1750 to 1820 and Haydn, Mozart, and Beethoven are widely regarded as the most significant figures in the history of classical music. We refer to the time period known as the "classical" period in the history of music as "classical" because of the significant impact that Ancient Greece and Rome had on the aesthetics of music, art, and literature in general during this time period. During the classical period, improv was played far less frequently than in earlier eras. Each and every phrase, each and every part, and the voice of each and every instrument were carefully spelled out.[4] Now music was more or less left in the hands of the composer as opposed to the musician. Composers were in charge. The complexity and depth of the music increased significantly. Composers also began consciously laying down how loud or soft, as well as how fast or slow, they desired each piece of music to be played. Because chord progressions did not undergo as many shifts throughout this time period, the music from this era has a much "lighter" feel.[5]

Romantic (1800-1915)[edit]

The "Romantic" period, in which emotional expression was prioritized, succeeded the "Classical" period, which was known for the formal beauty of its compositions from the 18th century. It was at this time that some of the greatest operas and symphonies ever composed were created. Romantic composers, who worked from the early to the middle of the 1800s, searched for dramatic ways to communicate their emotions via their music. The unconventional and discordant chords were key expressive devices at the same time rhythmic vigor and experimentation became important expressive strategies.[6] Notable composers from the Romantic period include Tchaikovsky, Verdi, Puccini, Schubert, Schumann, Liszt, and Chopin, although there is no definitive list of all of them. Schubert and Schumann are two of the most well-known names on this list. Feeling and emotion are at the heart of what we mean when we talk about something being "romantic," rather than love or romance. The music that was composed during this era possessed a great deal of feeling and emotion. Composers endeavored to articulate every emotion that may be experienced by people, including anguish, sorrow, love, desire, and peace, as well as everything else that seems to define what it means to be human.[7]

20th century and present[edit]

Beginning in the 1930s and going on into the era that followed World War II, there was a movement in the art music of the twentieth century, which ushered in a style of music that is sometimes referred to as postmodern or contemporary. Olivier Messiaen was one of the early proponents of postmodern music. He was the first composer to merge traditional elements with new instruments. Postmodern and contemporary composers such as Pierre Boulez, Witold Lutoslawski, Krzysztof Penderecki, Henryk Górecki, Gyorgy Ligeti, Philip Glass, Steve Reich, John Adams, and Christopher Rouse have blurred the lines between classical music and other forms of music such as rock and jazz. In addition, they have blended the lines between tonal and atonal music. A great number of composers working in the 20th century took exception to the way in which music from the 19th century was structured to convey stories. In many different ways, the emphasis shifted so that music might be considered "music for the sake of music." The evolution of music has also started to be influenced by technological developments. Music was previously something that could only be enjoyed by those who could afford expensive instruments and sheet music, or a trip to the theatre. Nowadays, however, music can be found in the homes of ordinary people.[8]


  1. "classical-music-eras". Retrieved 17 October 2022.
  2. "A brief history of classical music". Gramophone. Retrieved 17 October 2022.
  3. "classical music | Britannica". Retrieved 17 October 2022.
  4. Michelle, Leisa (1 May 2016). "The Evolution of Classical Music: A Brief Overview". Mozart For Muggles. Retrieved 17 October 2022.
  5. "Classical Music Periods - and its development through the ages". Retrieved 17 October 2022.
  6. "The evolution of music: The earliest score to classical compositions - Reader's Digest". Retrieved 17 October 2022.
  7. Team, StringOvation. "The Classical Period of Music". Retrieved 17 October 2022.
  8. Michelle, Leisa (1 May 2016). "The Evolution of Classical Music: A Brief Overview". Mozart For Muggles. Retrieved 17 October 2022.