When you say classical music, you will immediately think of the works of composers who wore a tuxedo, died hundreds of years ago and were fossilized. You may think of the gloomy and sullen musicians playing these pieces.
Classical music is not about cockiness, history books, or dressing. It’s about what you feel deeply with the soaring melodies and to satiate your senses. Classical music is powerful enough to bring a wild animal to its knees. It is the most important communication tool ever invented. You don’t need to wear a three-piece suit or a row of pearl necklaces to listen to classical music.
The history of classical music is a mysterious, spooky and surreal world that 100 people dressed as waiters fill the stage, do strange strange things to metal and wooden vehicles, fill the air with strange and exotic sounds.
Classical music composers were living and breathing people with their own unique personalities. Knowing the life stories of these composers makes listening to their music more meaningful and more interesting.
Music has existed since human beings existed. Primitive people used to communicate and communicate with a number of voices. The sounds these people made were musical sounds. Then, with the changing person, the music changed and became complex. Man invented different tools to make different sounds and to create sounds that he could not make himself. They invented pipes and whistles to produce bird and wind sounds, and drums for heartbeat. Drums were created for a harder and stronger heartbeat. Later scales became standard and the music took shape. And this is born of classical music.
The first classical music works were religious works. People who are a part of nature but are afraid of nature made music with prayers and entrusted their victims to nature. When the wind blew, people howled too, sang in the rain, boasted of their victory while singing, thanked their prey.
Regular noises began to emerge when people walked, ran or hit each other. Thus, the concept of rhythm emerged. Dances were invented to appeal to the gods, music to accompany the dances.
In the early days, music was made with lyrics, and people didn’t write and record the music.
The medieval period was a boisterous and fun period, although it was a troubled period of famine and people dealing with diseases, especially plague. Monks were developing their music in monasteries in Europe. They made their music written and it was the beginning of the history of music.
After the music had been composed for a millennium, somebody had finally thought to put it on paper. In AD 600, Pope Gregorius the first, known as the Great Pope, created a musical system and gave the notes their original form. He gave the letters A, B, C and D to the notes used today. Later, several men in brown robes came together to compose a simple but agile melody with Latin lyrics. This melody was called the Gregorian Hymns. This name was given by the Great Pope. The monks who composed this melody were ordinary people unknown to anyone, and they composed this hymn in a monastery in Spain. By 1990, they could not imagine that this composition would become a worldwide hit.
People have forgotten all their troubles and worries when they listened to this hymn with a true spiritual depth. It was really effective. When you listen to this hymn, you breathe deeply. You feel your metabolism slow down.
The monk named Guido was a genius monk who, besides many musical inventions, gave the notes their present form. Guido made the notes do, re, mi, fa. This system, in which standard syllables are sung along with the notes of the scale, applied by opera artists and music students from all over the world is called solfege. Guido also invented a new musical notation, developing the simplest version of the five-line portrait used today. Guido has an important place in the history of classical music. His portrait is still in use and he is an important monk who laid the foundations of music, including notes.
The Renaissance Period is the period called rebirth, 400 years after the death of Guido and his fellow monks. During this period, art branches developed with the financial support of wealthy people who love art and tax-free nobles.
One of the most famous composers of the Renaissance period is Giovanni da Palestrina. Palestrina was Pope’s favorite composer and was also a favorite. Palestrina’s most important feature was that she wrote works only for vocals, without instrumental accompaniment. While the Gregorian chant was a melody that was sung together, Palestrina, in contrast, invented harmonies that came together with the singing of different melodies independently. Palestrina was a wonderful composer who wrote liturgical music and different religious music. During this period, all composers started looking for words that they could put into music without religious words. Long passages of Roman poets, non-religious writings, even Dante’s Hell, were turned into songs.
The most popular style among these songs is called madrigal. Madrigal is a piece of music written for the three most hungry voices sung without an instrument. Families or groups of friends would get together and sing the madrigals. Each person sang a different part, and when they sang a wrong note, they would poke each other with their elbows. Singing madrigals was very enjoyable, as it came to using a clever technique called word painting. When a very spoken word was used in madrigals, composers would compose new compositions for that word.
Monteverdi, one of the important composers of the Renaissance period, added more melodies and instruments to the popular madrigals. Monteverdi is one of the creators of musical dramas called opera. His effort to recreate the splendor of ancient Greece created opera like many other elements of the renaissance. The model used in the opera was the Greek play played in open-air theaters accompanied by wooden wind and string instruments. Monteverdi and his friends completely changed the music and recreated the opera.
The Baroque Period is a new music era that Monteverdi and his followers pioneered. During this period, music became more fancy and emotional. Don’t be surprised that baroque music, which sounds smart and behaved today, is thought to be overly emotional. All those fancy melodies were listened to as crazy music. All different musical compositions were tested by composers. Composers were breaking all the rules about how music should move from one chapter to the next.
The word painting technique we mentioned earlier also spread from the Renaissance period to baroque music and developed further. Over time this technique has become one of the most basic emotional elements of Baroque Music.
300 years ago, the most important places for a young musician were the circle of the nobility, a rich man’s house, or a church. The works of all the composers you know today were in and around these places. Many famous composers were doing the housework of the rich.
The most important composers of the Baroque Period were Antonio Vivaldi, George Frideric Handel and Johann Sebastian Bach.
The culmination of the baroque style in music was reached with Bach and this period ended with Bach. The music period that followed is known as the Classical Style or Classical Period. Classical Music and the classical period are different terms and should not be confused. The Classical Period is just one of the musical periods that constitute classical music.
The style that emerged from the reactions to the excesses of the Baroque period gave rise to the classical period. The more ornate, exaggerated and emotional Baroque Music is, the more empty, plain, conservative and controlled the Classical Period is. In the classical period, sonatas, symphonies and string quartets were more popular.
With the death of Mendelssohn, a new era in music was beginning. The rational and intellectual music of the period was about to gradually give way to the Romantic Period developed by the child in feelings, emotions and people. Romantic period composers were inspired by natural phenomena such as sunset, thunder and harvest time.
Carl Maria von Weber was one of the important composers of this period. Weber has composed a lot of music that sounds very romantic and is especially remembered for his contributions to classical music these days as a lifestyle.
Hector Berlioz, who is more innovative than Beethoven in many respects, is among the important names of the romantic period. Many names in music history are known for changing the rules. Yet Berlioz is known for disregarding the rules.
While Berlioz lived and worked in Paris, another great composer was making headlines. Frederic Chopen (Şopen), who alone changed the world of piano music, was a weak, delicate and Polish virtuoso. It has changed everyone’s mind about what can or cannot be on the piano.
Handel, Beethoven and Berlioz were reported freaks as well as composers. One of these madcaps was Robert Schumann. Schumann was one of the foremost romantics of German composers.
Other important composers of the Romantic era were Johannes Brahms, Paganini and Liszt, Richard Wagner, Strauss and Mahler.
The 1850s passed under the monopoly of important composers in Germany and Austria. Composers from all over the world came to these countries and took lessons from master geniuses. However, the end of the 19th century became interesting and during this period, the composers of each country left the traditions aside and added the flavors of their own country to their music.
Every country around that time had its own folk music. This music was distinguished from the music of classical music composers. This folk music, unique to the countries in this period, began to form the basis of classical music compositions. Suddenly a cultured elite began to listen to the music of the uneducated people and the villagers. In this way, music became national pride and these new local influences spread across the world, beyond their own borders. The composers of this period are known as nationalist composers.
In this article, we tried to briefly explain the history of classical music. We have summarized the prominent values of the Classical Music Era. We tried to share brief information about the important composers of the period. Of course, this is not the history of classical music. There is more than you think.
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