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Classical music era

The classical music era in Western music occurred in the second half of the 18th century. Although the term classical music is used as a blanket term meaning all kinds of music in a certain tradition, it can also mean this particular era within that tradition.

The classical music era falls between the Baroque and the Romantic periods. Amongst its earliest composers were Joseph Haydn and Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach. The best known composer from this period is Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. The last classical composer is generally taken to be Ludwig van Beethoven, who after writing in a classical style in his early works, pushed its conventions and forms into new territory.

Classical music itself is distinguished by the use of dynamic contrast to accent suspension and return to the tonic. Earlier composers did not have as many tools of dynamic contrast; later composers found more more varied uses for those tools.

Classical-period music is distinguishable from Baroque music by its plainness of style, without the heavy and complex Baroque figurations, and from Romantic music by its general emotional coolness and its regularity of form. Classical music was written specifically for the sake of music; there is no grand design or emotion built into it. Forms pioneered in the classical period include the symphony; the concerto also saw considerable development.

Composers of the classical era

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