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Questions: What about this historical period is most interesting to you? What do you already know about the period? How does the textbook describe the music from that period?

Pick one of the “Major Figures in Music” listed under your period on pages 19-40 of Reading Packet 1. Look up and listen to some of their music. Does the music sound like what you expected from the textbook or your own knowledge? Why or why not?

Classical (Enlightenment Period) (ca. 1750–ca. 1820)

Something about this historical period that I found interesting was how this period of time was also reflected as the Enlightenment period. The ideas of reasons and science from the past, for example, sparked a knowledgeable evolution that impacted Europe and the New World. The American and French Revolutions were built and progressed through the Enlightenment Principles. Thats how the concept of  “life liberty and the pursuit of happiness” came about in the United States. 

Something that I already know about this period is that in the New World, the colonies that were under British Rule were rebelling against the throne. The colonists did not see eye to eye with the British rules, tax principles, and laws. This sparked conflict between the colonist and the British, like the Boston Tea Party or the Boston Massacre, which eventually led to the American Revolution. 

The way the textbook described the music from that period is that composers during the early period kept away from “complex textures, learned compositional techniques such as fugal imitation, and grandeur in favor of transparent textures”, (European Art Music Classical, Page 26, Paragraph 4). Other styles like Haydn, Mozart, and early Beethoven, on the other hand, had complexity written all over them, from ideals to expressions, everything had a purpose. Improvements to instruments like the piano were also occurring at that time. 

I have listened to a series of symphonies by Franz Josef Haydn. I had no previous knowledge of who this composer was. As described in the textbook, it seemed that his work of music composition was very intricate. From listening to his symphonies, you can identify the instruments that people generally know. What was complex to me, was when all the instruments would come together, and in that way, the music complimented each other. That was “complex” to me because it is difficult at times to get many instruments in sync to make music that sounds good to the ears. So the textbook did justice to that thought. 

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February 2024

This course includes Open Educational Resources (OER), which are entirely cost-free and accessible online. Developed in the Open Knowledge Fellowship at The Graduate Center's Mina Rees Library, this work is made possible by state grant funding through the Office of Library Services.

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