The History of Music

The History of Music

The History of Music essay

Most of the top classical-instrumental songs were composed within the last 400 years. Considering how long music has being around, that is not a long time. One must bear in mind that creative energy speeds up tremendously toward the end of each millennium.

Music, as we all know it, grew out of the church towards the end of the first millennium. It was called chant, or Gregorian chant, since it took hold during the reign of Pope Gregory. These devotional chants were sung in unison- all the voices singing the same tune. Gradually, the idea of many-voiced music took hold, with different melodies given to the soprano, alto, tenor and bass section of the choir. The climax was reached between 14th to 15th centuries in the music of composers like DesPrez, Dufay, and Palestrina. This set the stage for the baroque century (1650-1750).

Bach perfected counterpoint in which a number of beautiful, independent melodies were woven together in perfect harmony. From there it was only a short step to the “Viennese classics” of Haydn, Mozart and Beethoven in the late 18th and early 19th Century. Haydn invented the symphony and the string quartet. Mozart gave us the first modern operas in which not only the arias but the dialog was sung. He became classical music’s first superstar, showcasing his brilliant keyboard virtuosity in the piano concerto. Beethoven greatly expanded the development and recapitulation sections of his symphonies. He replaced the courtly minuets of Haydn and Mozart with boisterously humorous scherzos in his symphonies, and -in his last string quartets- created a deeply personal language that plumbed the depths of his grief and rose to ecstatic heights.
Beethoven, like Schubert, was the first of the Early Romantics. In the early part of the 19th century, Schubert, Schumann and Brahms, who masters of the art song, made music more songful by investing it with soaring lyrical intensity. The later part of the 19th century saw...

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