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Classical Music Theatre 4:00 pm 6:00 pm

Masters and Maestros of the Ages

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Classical music is art music produced or rooted in the traditions of Western music, including both liturgical(religious) and secular music. While a more accurate term is also used to refer to the period from 1750 to 1820 (the Classical period), this article is about the broad span of time from roughly the 11th century to the present day, which includes the Classical period and various other periods. The central norms of this tradition became codified between 1550 and 1900, which is known as the common-practice period. The major time divisions of Western art music are as follows:

  • the early music period, which includes
    • the Medieval (500–1400)
    • the Renaissance (1400–1600) eras.
    • Baroque (1600–1750)
  • the common-practice period, which includes
    • Baroque (1600–1750)
    • Classical (1750–1820)
    • Romantic eras (1804–1910)
  • the 20th century (1901–2000) which includes
    • the modern (1890–1930) that overlaps from the late-19th century,
    • the impressionism (1875–1925) that also overlaps from the late-19th century
    • the neoclassicism (1920–1950), predominantly in the inter-war period
    • the experimental (1950–present)
    • the high modern (1950–1969)
    • contemporary (1945 or 1975–present) or postmodern (1930–present) eras.

European art music is largely distinguished from many other non-European classical and some popular musical forms by its system of staff notation, in use since about the 16th century. Western staff notation is used by composers to indicate to the performer the pitches (e.g., melodies, basslines, chords), tempo, metre and rhythms for a piece of music. This can leave less room for practices such as improvisation and ornamentation, which are frequently heard in non-European art music and in popular-music styles such as jazz and blues. Another difference is that whereas most popular styles adopt the song (strophic) form or a derivation of this form, classical music has been noted for its development of highly sophisticated forms of instrumental music such as the concerto, symphony, sonata, and mixed vocal and instrumental styles such as opera which, since they are written down, can sustain larger forms and attain a high level of complexity.

The term “classical music” did not appear until the early 19th century, in an attempt to distinctly canonize the period from Johann Sebastian Bach to Beethoven as a golden age. The earliest reference to “classical music” recorded by the Oxford English Dictionary is from about 1836.

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