Welcome to Classical Music Facts! Have you ever heard of Claude Debussy or Tomaso Albinoni? They are classical composers. These two and many others like them have written thousands of pieces of classical music.
Classical Music really has two meanings. The most frequently used is music that is performed by an orchestra or smaller ensemble.
The second meaning is music composed during the Classical Period which was from about the year 1750 to 1830.
Every summer for more than 25 years, Washburn University in Topeka, Kansas has hosted the Sunflower Music Festival. It's about a week of Classical music concerts played by and orchestra made up of professional musicians from around the world. It's something that I look forward to attending every year in June!
Ludwig van Beethoven
A composer is the one who writes the piece of music. Some pieces are written for a soloist to perform with an orchestra to back them. Some are written for without a soloist. Others are written for smaller amounts of musicians, like chamber music or music for a duet, trio, quartet, quintet and more.Most Classical Composers were employed by noblemen to write music for them. Ludwig van Beethoven was one of the first composers to earn a living by selling his work to publishers. Most composers of classical music started out as musicians and as time went were either were taught to compose or like Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart they had a natural talent for it and started composing at very young ages.
Most classical pieces are written with three or four parts. The first movement is generally written allegro which means it is played in a quick or fast tempo. The second movement is andante which means it is played slowly. The third is generally a scherzo and the fourth or last movement is normally allegro or vivace meaning it will be fast, generally faster than the first movement.
Chamber music was written for small settings like to be performed in a small auditorium or in the home of a noble. It generally consisted of a minimal amount of musicians.
Until the time of Wagner, most music was written for a chamber orchestra. Nowadays some of the music meant to be performed by a chamber orchestra is frequently performed by full Symphonic Orchestras.
The instruments of the orchestra are divided into 4 main families; the String Instruments, the Woodwind Instruments, the Brass Instruments and the Percussion Instruments. The orchestra is normally arranged in front of the conductor with the string section closest. Behind the strings are the woodwinds and behind them are the brass and then the percussion. Each conductor has his own preferences and will sometimes change up the seating.
The Concertmaster is the principal violinist. He is the violinist who sits closest to the conductor and is in charge of tuning the orchestra before the performance, but it is the principal oboist that gives everyone the "A" to tune to. Historically he was also the one who was the conductor, the one who kept the beat.
A Symphony Orchestra
The Percussion Instruments