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Classical Era. The Age of Enlightenment. Baroque Era Louis XIV, XV Frederick the Great Catherine the Great POWER WEALTH. Classical Era French and American Revolutions Middle class becomes more influential “The first law is to enjoy oneself.”. Things are a-changin’. The Enlightenment.

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Classical era l.jpg

Classical Era

The Age of Enlightenment

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Baroque Era

Louis XIV, XV

Frederick the Great

Catherine the Great



Classical Era

French and American Revolutions

Middle class becomes more influential

“The first law is to enjoy oneself.”

Things are a-changin’

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The Enlightenment

  • What’s IN?

    • rational, logical, empirical, reasoned

  • What’s OUT?

    • Status quo, supernatural (What comes into question?)

  • The “brotherhood of man” becomes a popular theme, and Freemasonry grows. Both of these are, to some degree, at odds with the principals of enlightenment thinking.

  • Contradiction, inconsistency, paradox = quite acceptable, almost the norm.

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The Classical Era

  • European society is becoming more cosmopolitan.

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The Classical Era

  • “Classical,” “classic,” “classicism”= very broad terms; not particularly well suited to describe this time in history. Interest in clean, simple lines of classical Greek architecture may provide connection.

  • Approximately the 18th Century

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Classicism Defined

  • The period of the ancient Greeks and Romans

  • A standard (enduring)

  • Genre of music

  • Time period


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The Classical Era

  • Cultural, societal adolescence--much change (often violent) & growth

    • Industrial revolution:

      • move from agrarian to industrial economy

      • migration from country to cities

      • huge cities--e.g., 1800 Vienna = 250,000!!

    • American and French Revolutions:

      • Europe in turmoil caused by Napoleon’s expansionism after French Revolution

      • redefine relationship of government and people

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The Classical Era

  • How is the relationship of government/aristocracy and common people redefined?

    • IndIvIdual becomes central. Government exists to serve ME;Ido not exist to serve government (and, no, I will NOT eat cake...).

    • The American and French Revolutions illustrate the point.

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The Rise of the Middle Class

  • a VIMP sociological process

    • industrialization produces more money for lower classes

    • eventually more “wealth” produces more leisure time

    • more leisure time leads to search for entertainment that produces . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

  • fundamental changes in the arts:

    • music functions mostly as Entertainment (not worship as in Baroque era)

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Classical Thinking

  • Reason was supreme

  • Sought the perfect society

    • Enlightenment

  • Beauty

  • Rules were valuable

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Classical Period Art

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  • Emphasis on ultra beauty and nature

  • Less dramatic (more sweet) than Baroque

  • Themes: aimed at the wealthy class

    • Lighter, frivolous

    • Picnics, lovers, Greek gods

    • Portraits

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Jean-Honore Fragonard, The Swing, 1768-9

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Art in the 18th Century

  • Baroque had been the style from 1600 to 1750

    • Elaborate, impressive

    • Show glory of church and/or state

  • New direction was disputed


Classical (Simpler)

Rococo (Sweeter, nature)

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Jacques Louis David

  • Napoleon Crossing

    the Alps

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Jacques Louis David

Coronation of Napoleon

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Jacques Louis David


in his study

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Sculpture and Architecture

  • Horatio Greenough

    • Washington

University of Virginia (Designer – T. Jefferson)

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  • Recalled ancient classical

  • U.S. Capital

  • Monticello

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Petit Trianon, Versailles, France 1764 (Louis XVI)NEO-CLASSICAL

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Fragonard,The Swing,1769


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David, The Death of Socrates, 1787


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Date data

Caravaggio, The Calling of St Matthew; Baroque beginnings

1600 –

1742 –

Handel’s Messiah oratorio

1776 – Amer. Rev.

1787 –

J.L. DavidDeath of Socrates(Mozart, Don Giovanni)

1789 – French Rev.

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Age of Enlightenment

Literature and Philosophy

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The Enlightenment

  • Application of the scientific method to social problems

  • Parallel to the scientific awakening

  • Foundation of Classical art and music

    • The world behaves according to patterns and these ought to be obeyed

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Basic Premises

  • Scientific method can answer fundamental questions about society

  • Human race can be educated and all people are important

    • Emergence of the middle class

  • Belief in God based on reason

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Growth of Deism

  • Intellectuals believe in God but see him as a "watchmaker"

  • Deists skeptical of organized religion

    • Catholic church was attacked

  • Deists struggle with personal standards

  • Denial of providence (Voltaire) disputed by others (Pope, Rousseau)

  • Denial of evil

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Thomas Hobbes

  • Empiricism

    "All that is real is material, and what is not material is not real." – Hobbes

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Thomas Hobbes

  • Government

    "[Early man was] solitary, poor, nasty, brutish, and short... [and in a constant state of] warre, [living in] continual fear and danger of violent death.“ – Leviathan

    • Absolute monarchy sent by God to help mankind

    • Hobbes' concepts used to justify colonialization

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John Locke

  • The forefather of our forefathers

  • Attacked by Charles II

  • Friend of Newton

  • Influential in American


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John Locke

  • Government

    • Second treatise of Civil Government

    • Chaos without government

      • God gave mankind natural rights

        • Life, liberty, pursuit of property

      • Innate goodness of mankind led to formation of governments

      • Governments, which were formed by the people, must guarantee the rights of the people

        • People have a right to rebel against tyrannies

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John Locke

  • Theory of Knowledge

    • Essay Concerning Human Understanding

    • Reasoning puts man above animals

    • Rejected concept that ideas are innate

    • Outer ideas from experience

    • Inner ideas from contemplation

    • Mankind can attain all knowledge

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Alexander Pope

  • English Poet

  • Contributed to political thought and love of language

  • Believed that God was in control of the earth and that all things were ultimately for our good

  • Essay on Man

  • Essay on Criticism

    • Many famous sayings came from these books

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“Trust not yourself; but your defects to know,

Make use of every friend – and every foe.

A little learning is a dangerous thing;”

– Alexander Pope from Essay on Criticism

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Jonathan Swift

  • Hated injustice

  • Politically active

  • Satirist

    • Gulliver’s Travels

    • A Modest Proposal…

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“For of what use is freedom of thought if it does not produce freedom of action?”

  • Swift, “On Abolishing Christianity” (1708) [Quoted in Barzun, From Dawn to Decadence, 2000, p.273]

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  • French name for philosopher

  • Enlightenment reached height in France

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  • Pen name

  • Critical of Catholic church

  • Influenced others by letters

  • Denied writings to avoid problems

    • Exiled to England for a while

    • Returned to live on Swiss border

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“The individual who persecutes another because he is not of the same opinion is nothing less than a monster.”

  • Voltaire

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“I do not agree with a word you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it.”

  • Voltaire

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Jean-Jacques Rousseau

  • Contest: "Does progress in the arts and sciences correspond with progress in morality?"

    • No!

    • As civilizations progress, they move away from morality

      • Examples: Romans, Greeks, Egyptians

      • Civilization itself leads away from true fundamentals

      • Technology and art give false desires

  • Social Contract

    • “Noble Savage”

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Jean-Jacques Rousseau

  • Influence on French and American revolutions

    • "Liberty, Equality, Fraternity"

    • Invest all rights and liberties into a society

      • Compare to a corporation

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“Man is born free, yet everywhere he is in chains.”

  • Rousseau

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Summary of Rousseau's Teachings

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Denis Diderot

  • Encyclopedia

    • Teach people how to think critically

    • Solicited articles from many experts

    • Controversial articles brought criticism

    • Overall, moved forward the ideas of Enlightenment

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"The good of the people must be the great purpose of government. By the laws of nature and of reason, the governors are invested with power to that end. And the greatest good of the people is liberty. It is to the state what health is to the individual."

- Diderot in L'Encyclopedie: Article on Government, quoted in Barzun, Jacques, From Dawn to Decadence, Perennial, 2000, p370.

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Immanuel Kant

  • From Germany

  • Strict habits

  • The Critique of Pure Reason and …Practical Reason

    • Weakness of Empiricism

    • Transcendentalism

      • Empiricism and other knowledge

      • Ex: infinity

  • Categorical Imperative

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"You should behave with only those types of behavior that are dictated by the absolute nature of the basic principle on which the act is based."

"Act as if your actions would become a moral maxim (principle or model) for all others and at all times."

– From Immanuel Kant's Categorical Imperative

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David Hume

  • Scottish philosopher

  • Leader of empiricism movement

  • Grew to distrust all

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Adam Smith

  • Scottish professor

  • Wealth of Nation (1776)

    Free trade/capitalism

  • Devised capitalism

  • Laissez Faire la nature

    Literally, "let do": a philosophy that advocates minimal government interference in the economy.

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Edward Gibbon

  • Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire

  • Urged reform in England

  • Anti-religious bias

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Effects of the Enlightenment

  • England

    • Civil war and establishment of a limited monarchy

    • Anger in the colonies because they are treated differently than "mother England"

  • France

    • No immediate change but seething discontent that will lead to revolution

  • Other countries

    • Attempts to adopt Enlightenment principles

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Enlightened Despots

  • Frederick II of Prussia (r. 1740-1786)

    • Rebelled against father

    • Later developed finest army

    • Built Sans Souci (Potsdam)

    • Invited Voltaire to the court

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Enlightened Despots

  • Catherine the Great of Russia (r. 1762-1796)

    • German born wife of Czar Peter III

    • Controlled government after Peter III’s accidental(?) death

    • Increased European culture in Russia

    • Peasant Reforms

    • Territorial Expansion

    • Corresponded with Diderot

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Enlightened Despots

  • Gustav III of Sweden (r. 1771-1792)

    • Forced Parliament to accept new constitution

    • Stimulated literature

  • Charles III of Spain (r. 1759-1788)

    • Bourbon family

    • Improved life for Spanish

    • Suppressed Jesuits

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Maria Theresa and Joseph II of Austria (r. 1740-1780)

  • 16 children

  • Economic reforms

  • Limited power of the Pope

  • Reduced power of the lords

  • Joseph abolished serfdom

  • Poland divided

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Focused on

improving country



Sought advise

Reluctant to change

Economic disasters


Enlightened Despots vs. Absolute Rulers

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French Revolution

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Causes and Attitudes

  • The Enlightenment

  • Anglophile feeling in France

  • The American Revolution

  • French system’s lack of change

    • Louis XVI clung to Absolutism

    • King’s response to the poor

    • Class resentment

    • Economic problems

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First Stage (1789-1793)

  • King desired new tax to stabilize economy

  • Estates General (3 estates)

    • Not met for 150 years

    • Needed to meet

    • Certified by Parlement (high court)

    • Election in early 1789

  • Finally met in Spring 1789

    • 3rd Estate walked out

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First Stage

  • National Assembly (1789-1793)

    • 3rd estate met in indoor tennis court

    • Resolved to stay in session until constitution could be written

    • King couldn't get money

    • King instructed 1st and 2nd estates to meet with National Assembly

    • 3rd estate doubled their numbers

    • 1st and 2nd sat on right, 3rd sat on left

    • Formed municipal government

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First Stage

  • Events at Bastille

    • July 14, 1789

    • Municipal government trying to get arms

  • Revolts in the countryside

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Actions of the National Assembly

  • Destruction of privilege

  • Declaration of the Rights of Man

  • Secularization of the church

  • New constitution

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Second StageRadical revolution

  • Disillusionment of the lower class (inflation)

  • Girondists (moderates) had no strong leader

  • France drawn into war with Europe

  • Failure in wars (1st coalition, 1792-1797)

    • Moderates removed as leaders of National Assembly

    • Counter-revolutions

    • King and queen arrested

  • Jacobins take control

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Second StageReign of Terror (1793-1794)

  • Committee for Public Safety

  • France losing war with others in Europe

  • Reforms

    • Metric system

    • New calendar

    • Universal suffrage

    • Slavery eliminated

    • Paris commune

    • Land redistribution

    • Defaced churches

  • Guillotine

    • 20,000 die

    • King and queen die

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Third Stage—Return of the moderates (1794-1799)

  • Thermidorian reaction

  • Counter-revolution

    • "Whiff of grapeshot"(1795)

  • Death of Marat, Danton, Robespierre

    • Moderates gained control of National Convention

  • Return of expatriate noblemen allowed (money)

  • National Assembly re-elected

  • Adoption of new constitution

    • Rule by the Directory

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Third Stage—Return of the moderates

  • The Directory governed

  • Some military successes (Napoleon)

  • Directory criticized for poor leadership

  • Directory desperate for a popular leader

    • 2nd Coalition (1799-1801) formed

    • Napoleon invited to be consul

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Louis the Sixteenth was the King of France in 1789.He was worse than Louis the Fifteenth.He was worse than Louis the Fourteenth.He was worse than Louis the Thirteenth.He was the worst since Louis the First.King Louis was living like a king,

but the people were living rotten.So the people, they started an uprising which they called theFrench Revolution, and of course you remember their battle cry, which will never be forgotten:

You went the wrong way, Old King Louie.You made the population cry.'Cause all you did was sit and petWith Marie AntoinetteIn your place at Versailles.

And now the country's gone kablooie.So we are giving you the air.That oughta teach you not toSpend all your time fooling 'roundAt the Folies Bergere.

If you had been a nicer king,We wouldn't do a thing,But you were bad, you must admit.We're gonna take you and the QueenDown to the guillotine,And shorten you a little bit.

You came the wrong way, Old King Louie.And now you ain't got far to go.Too bad you won't be here to seeThat great big Eiffel Tower,Or Brigitte Bardot.

To you King Louie we say fooey.You disappointed all of France.But then what else could we expectFrom a king in silk stockingsAnd pink satin pants.

You filled your stomach with chop suey.And also crepe suzettes and steak.And when they told your wife MarieThat nobody had bread, she said"Let 'em eat cake."

We're gonna take you and the QueenDown to the guillotine,It's somewhere in the heart of town.And when that fella's throughWith what he's gonna do,You'll have no place to hang your crown.

You came the wrong way Old King Louie.Now we must put you on the shelf.That's why the people are revolting, 'cause Louie,You're pretty revolting yourself!

You Went The Wrong Way, Old King Louieby Allan Sherman

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Music of the Classical Era

  • Began: death of Bach

  • Ended: Beethoven (mid-life)

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Music changes to meet Middle Class needs

  • more music-making in the home creates needs:

    • simpler music for less skilled musicians

    • music industry (instrument manufacture, publishing, performing organizations)

    • music education (instrument & voice lessons, composition, appreciation)

  • opera: characters and plots revolve around commoners, not the aristocracy or mythology as in the Baroque era. Plots often ridicule the aristocracy.

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Music in the Classical Era

  • Austria (particularly Vienna) and Germany are the cultural centers.

  • Patronage, an important music/economic institution in the mid-1700s breaks down by 1790. Why?

  • Concert Halls and opera houses flourish providing entertainment for middle class audiences.

  • Publishers influence what composers write.[Why? What is the connection to middle class music-making?]

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Music in the Classical Era

  • Much more secular music is composed and performed. The religious fervor of earlier Baroque composers such as Bach is gone.

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Music in the Classical Era

  • Function of Music: Entertainment

    • in the concert hall, opera hall, theater, estate drawing room

    • In the home--filler of leisure time (Gebrauchmusik, i.e., “useful” music.)[Useful for what?]

    • dancing is VIMP pastime

  • “Music must meet listeners where they are.”What are the implications of this statement?

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Ruminate on...

  • patronage and

    • Haydn

    • Mozart

    • Beethoven

  • why the French Revolution and industrialization led to the demise of patronage.

  • why less complex music is favored in classical culture.

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Viennese Classical Style

Characteristics of the

Viennese Style

● Dedication to form

from Germany

● Strong melody

from Italy


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Classicism in Music

  • Viennesse School: Four Composers

    • Franz Joseph Haydn

    • Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart

    • Ludwig van Beethoven

    • Franz Schubert

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Patronage System

  • Exchange of artistic services for

    • A place to live

    • A Salary

    • Clothes

    • Rank in Society

      • Depends on the patron.

      • Servant to aristocratic patronage.

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Music of the Classical Era

  • Written for middle class

    • Non-sophisticated Listener

    • Simple and Melodic Themes

      • Bach: FugueMozart: Eine Kleine…

    • Large Room

      • Bach: AirBeethoven: 9th

    • Movements have beginning, middle, end

      • Bach: Brandenburg Beethoven: 5th

    • Easier to play

      • Bach: FugueBeethoven: Für Elise

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“I write my music in order that the weary and worn or the men burdened with affairs might enjoy a few minutes of solace and refreshment.”

— Haydn

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Structure of Music

  • Melody carried the interest

  • Form still needed to give meaning

    • Note power of the human voice

    • Instrumental music uses strong melody as power

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Style in Classical Music

  • Melody – singable symmetrical, lyrical.

  • Harmony- diatonic, tonic to dominant relationships

  • Rhythm – regular and symmetrical

  • Texture- Homophonic with some polyphony at times.

  • Folk elements: national themes, folk themes, dances etc. used in instrumental works.

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“There can be no art

without form.”

  • Igor Stravinsky

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Musical Objectives

  • Explore major-minor system

  • Develop homophonic system

  • Focus on simple melody

  • Chords and cadences

  • Large structures

  • Cultivate human voice

  • Explore new instruments

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Introduction of a new instrument, the fortepiano

  • Contrasted with strings and winds

  • Favored by amateurs and rising middle class

  • Development of the “Accompanied Sonata”

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Musical notes

Musical phrases

Musical themes

Musical movements





Chapters or short stories


Music and Literary Analogy

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Forms of Movements

  • Theme and Variation

  • Rondo

  • Minuet and Trio

  • Sonata-allegro form

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Forms of Entire Works

  • Concerto (expanded)

  • Symphony

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Classical Architecture and Music

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Music Journalism

CA 1790 Music Journalism exploded on the European scene.

“Intellect, intellect, intellect!” Herr Beethoven’s music is too complex. It isn’t musical entertainment; it’s intellectual “mind games.” Once again Beethoven wrote something that no one wants to hear.

He is known to have replied to one reporter,

“Of course you don’t understand it. I wrote the piece for future generations. They will understand and appreciate it.”

He was correct.

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Music of the Classical Era

  • Characteristics (Viennese style)

    • Dedication to form

      • From the Germans

    • Strong melody

      • From the Italians

    • Homophonic


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The SYMPHONY emerges


OPERA continues & evolves

Three major composers:HAYDNMOZARTBEETHOVEN

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BEETHOVEN 1770-1827

MOZART 1756-1789

HAYDN 1732-1809



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Musical Influences

  • Influence of Turkish music (Janissary band) felt in Vienna and Berlin due to the amount of Turkish immigrants to Austria.

  • Mozart, Haydn, Beethoven wrote Turkish Marches.

  • Added percussion to orchestra

  • Bass drum, triangle, cymbals

  • Whirling dervish ceremony imitated in Beethoven

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  • IDEAS – Enlightenment & rationalist Criticism

  • ART – 3 genres: Rococo, Neo-Classical, Bourgeois (Genre)

  • MUSIC – Genres such as the SYMPHONY and the STRING QUARTET emerge, all emphasizing CLARITY of musical ideas and the organization of CONTRAST, exemplified by SONATA FORM

  • key composers: HAYDN, MOZART & early Beethoven

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