Styles of Music
- Baroque Style
- For its time, Baroque was crazy and uninhibited. The music of this period is emotional and filled with little frills and decorations that shocked and amazed its listeners. Baroque was often fast paced with great and quick use of scales and violent changes in volume and melody. Today you might not think of it as an exciting type of music, but if you compare it to the Classical style you can tell immediately that baroque did have more action in its pieces. Some say the greatest composer of all time wrote in this period: Johann Bach.
- Classical Style
- We wish we could have found this on our own, but a book we researched with (Classical Music for Everybody) had the perfect quote to explain what music of the Classical style was like, and we'd like to reprint that here:
“... there is music wherever there is harmony, order or proportion.”
—Sir Thomas Bown
Ancient Greek art and culture had always been loved and emulated by European artists. This is especially evident in the Classical style (hence the name). The mathematical approach to music of Pythagorus and Aristotle took precedence in this period. It was the aim of Classical composers to achieve "perfect" music. That is, music that was completely perfect from a technical standpoint. This restriction led to very conservative music, strong but not really emotional. This is how most of Classical style music went and how the composers composed it (with the notable exception of Beethoven). Don't get the wrong idea about this; the music Mozart gave us is beautiful and moving, and he was a born and bred Classical composer. Conservative does not mean boring. There are many notable examples of the Classical style, including the musical stereotype that is Beethoven's 5th symphony.
- Romantic Style
- This was a stark reversal of the Classical style of music; Romantic music was chock full of emotions and had no concern for Classical rules. It is said that Beethoven was almost singly responsible for the transition from Classical style to Romantic. Beethoven bridged the gap by infusing his later works with much emotion, and yet keeping within the Classical bounds. Soon the emotion overran the Classical bounds and Romanticism was born. There are many great composers of this era, including Carl Maria von Weber, Fredric Chopin, Hector Berlioz, and Johannes Brahms. Romantic music created two smaller movements in music: music about legends, and nationalistic music.
- Music About Legends
- Storytelling was and is the prime directive of many musicians. Music has always been a medium for portraying legends and myths. In Romantic music this is no different. There have been many compositions telling the story of heroes (like King Arthur) and demons (especially Mephistopheles). This is just the logical outgrowth of the folk singers and wandering minstrels who had performed since the time of Beowulf. Wagner wrote many pieces on the basis of a story or myth. His famous "Ride of the Valkyries" is a great example.
- Nationalistic Music
- Nationalism had been a growing craze after Napoleon's fall and Germany's unification, and this nationalism which led to World War I also led to some of the most inspiring music out there. Composers like Bedrich Smetana and Jan Sibelius wrote beautiful music to praise their homelands. In fact, Jan Sibelius is considered a national hero for the Finnish people. But if there was to be an epitome of nationalistic music it would be Peter Tchaikovsky, whose music about Russia defined a country's composing style for almost a century.