The Classical Era
Jean-Jacques Rousseau
• Rousseau was very critical of Baroque
Opera. He claimed the storyline was too
• He wanted real stories about real people.
• Praised Pergolesi for his opera La Serva
padrona (The Maid as Mistress) 1733
-about a servant girl who tricks a rich old
man to marry her.
Inventions of Note
• Music boxes become popular
• The Novel as we know it today becomes
• The symphony becomes an often written
for style of music
• Composers start writing “Divertimentos”
(which are pieces designed to divert,
amuse, and entertain).
Comic Opera
• It is because of Rousseau, Pergolesi, and
Mozart that comic opera becomes popular.
• Mozart writes Don Giovanni
-Don Juan Giovanni is a ladies man with a
catalog of conquests numbering about 2,065
and he is looking for more. He invites death
(in the form of a statue) to join him for a feast
where he becomes consumed by the fires of
Famous Novels
• Jane Austin writes “Pride and Prejudice”
• Henry Fielding writes “Tom Jones”
• Neoclassicism is the return to what is
simple. People of the sub-group of the
classical period reject the complex art and
entertainment from the Baroque and
Rococo periods for what they considered
to be natural and simple art forms.
Public Concerts
• Public concerts began to grow in number.
• 1748 Europe’s first concert hall is built in
Oxford holding 150 people.
• Because of the rise in concert halls,
Orchestral music starts to move to the
forefront. In the past there was not a
venue for it so it has not been as
• Mozart wrote most of his piano concertos
to be performed in these new halls.
Features of Classical Music
• The goal of classical music was to be natural
and have enough variety to keep from being
bored. It becomes less predictable.
• Tempo and meter remain constant throughout
pieces but the rhythms change between themes.
• Composers began to call for many different
levels of dynamics rather than either being just
loud, or just soft. They would also change during
a piece or movement over a couple of
measures. They were not instant changes like
The Orchestra
• With the classical period the Orchestra became
The Classical Orchestra
Violins 1
Violins 2
Bass viols
2 Flutes
2 French Horns
2 Oboes
2 Trumpets*
2 Clarinets*
2 Bassoons
• The melody in the Baroque period was too
complex. The people called for simple
tunes that were clear and easily identified.
• Compositions were written using
homophony. (Melody with supporting