Robert Estrin - piano expert

The Periods of Classical Music, Part 2: The Classical Period

Discover the most important and interesting aspects of the Classical Era in music

In this second video in a 4-part series, Robert talks about the Classical Period and its most interesting and notable characteristics.

Released on December 4, 2013

Post a Comment   |   Video problems? Contact Us!
DISCLAIMER: The views and the opinions expressed in this video are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Virtual Sheet Music and its employees.

Video Transcription

Welcome to and I'm Robert Estrin, your host, with the second of a four-part series: the period styles of music. Last time we discussed a baroque era with the beautiful counter-point and ornamentation. Today we're going to be talking about classical period music, not to be confused with the general term of classical music, which encompasses centuries and many different period styles. The classical period is well defined. Mozart, Haydn, later Beethoven, Schubert and others, living after the baroque period and the music had a drastic change.

What happened in the baroque period is, music became more and more complex. I talked about the counter-point, the interweaving of lines. Towards the end of Johann Sebastian Bach's lifetime, his music was so complicated that for the most part people had moved on with their tastes. And his sons were actually more popular composers than he was. That's right because they were writing in these new sonata forms.

I've had a video, what is a sonata, which might be an interesting reference for you. A sonata is a structured form that really is kind of like a big ABA, but it's a little bit more complex than that. I'm going to take today the K-332, F major sonata of Mozart. And show you how it has contrasting themes. The structure is very regular, you have one theme in the key of the piece, in this case, is F major. And then you have a contrasting theme, often in the dominant, but in this case in the relative minor of D minor. Now it's very important to delineate the sound and whole mood of your two themes of your exposition, your first section of your piece. Also, while clarity was important in the baroque, it's also equally important in the classical period. But what's different is instead of clarity of counterpoint, of lines weaving in and out of one another, it's more clarity of structure. The different sections are very well defined. Listen to the exposition of the F major K-332 to get a feel of what I'm talking about. And you'll know when it comes to the second subject.

When you hear it go into D minor like that.

Now it does go on from there. But you notice the delineation from one section to the next. This is really what the classical period is all about. Instead of just kind of beautiful tapestry of sounds, you've got definite sections. And how these sections are linked to one another is what gives the piece it's structure and that's what gives it the delightful sound. So you don't want to get too carried away because you could lose the whole sense of the structure if, for example, you would have played with more fluid tempo and a more free expression. You lose that beautiful architecture of the music. So in a nutshell, in the classical period, yes. You'd want to play with great clarity and bring out the structure of the music by delineating sections well. That way, when the end comes and the beginning repeats in the recapitulation, it is so refreshing if you've really nailed it down with clarity. Thanks so much for joining me, look forward to the rest of the series here at and
Post a comment, question or special request:
You may: Login  or  
Otherwise, fill the form below to post your comment:
Add your name below:

Add your email below: (to receive replies, will not be displayed or shared)

For verification purposes, please enter the word MUSIC in the field below

Comments, Questions, Requests:

Tony Lockwood * VSM MEMBER * on January 27, 2016 @12:22 pm PST
As ever a nice discussion, Robert, but it leaves me wanting more. I, personally, could do with another 5 minutes each time. Very good.
Questions? Problems? Contact Us.