A History of Classical Music Part 1 – Introduction

The easiest way to explain “Classical Music” is perhaps to say what it is not:

  • It’s not Pop Music
  • It’s not Rock Music
  • It’s not Jazz
  • It’s not Folk Music
  • It’s not Electronica, Grunge or Punk either

Some people like to call Classical Music “serious music”, but it isn’t all serious, not by any means! Wikipedia isn’t much more helpful in its definition, describing Classical Music as “art music”. One thing that is clear is that Classical Music comes from a western tradition of music- i.e. music that was written in the “western world” (Europe, North America), and is not related to music from India, Japan, China, Africa, South America etc., though classical music composers have been influenced by music from these countries.

Classical Music is divided into distinct historic periods, one of which is, unhelpfully, also called Classical. So “Classical” is a general and a specific term….The other periods are Baroque, Romantic, and Modern.

Confused? Keep reading…..!

My piano students study music from all the main periods of Classical Music: some have a liking for Baroque music, others prefer Romantic or Modern music. And some really like Jazz. Fortunately, the exam boards offer a great range of music to study, and the piano repertoire is huge, far bigger than for any other instrument, so there is plenty of music to choose from to suit all tastes and interests.

The best way to get to know and love Classical Music is to listen to it – and it’s very easy and often free to do that:

  • BBC Radio 3 and ClassicFM both broadcast 24/7 a wide variety of classical music (and some jazz, and film music). Just turn the radio on and listen
  • Check out free music streaming websites such as Spotify or LastFM
  • Go to concerts
  • Join a choir, wind band, orchestra, recorder group – this way you’ll experience both classical music and the enjoyment from playing music with others

I’ve compiled a Spotify playlist ‘A History of Clasical Music’ which gives a flavour of music from all the main periods of Classical Music. Becuase I am a pianist, most of the music featured is for piano or keyboard (harpsichord, organ). You can access the playlist here (Spotify is free to download and use).

A modern symphony orchestra

Coming next – the Baroque

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