Composers - Middle Ages to Classical Period

Middle Ages

c 800 - 1450

Hildegard of Bingen - Gregorian Chant

1098 - 1179

German abbess
First great woman composer
Sacred music
Composed plainchant melodies set to her poems

"Columba aspexit" 12th c - sequence plainchant (more elaborate than antiphon), short tunes sung twice

Pérotin - Organum

1160 - 1230


Earliest type of polyphony
Developed in Notre Dame in Paris
3/4 part melismatic polyphony
Slowly shifting drone below was simple bass line

"Aleluia. Diffusa est gratia" Mass c13th century


c 1450-1600

Josquin - Mass

1450 - 1521

1521 - Composed PANGE LINQUA MASS

Josquin is the 1st master of High Renaissance style
Born in France and traveled to Italy
Composed masses for Pope Alexander VI & the Sforza family
Composed in early 1500s

PANGE LINQUA MASS (Kyrie) is one of 18 pieces Josquin composed

Imitative Polyphony predominates throughout piece
This style led to word painting seen in Madrigals later in the period
Counter Reformation & Council of Trent (1545-1563) decree re. words being difficult to understand and too much ornamentation in pieces

Palestrina - Mass

1525 - 1594

Choirmaster of Sistine Chapel (among others)
Convinced Pope that complicated, polyphonic music could still clearly annunciate the word of God

Serenity and careful control of his musical style
More homophonic but with some carefully composed polyphony
Richer sound (due to 6 vocal parts instead of the 4 Josquin used)
Creates rich, shifting tone colors

1557 - Composed Pope Marcellus Mass (Gloria) - 50 years after Josquin

Monteverdi - Madrigals & Opera

1567 - 1643

Bridged end of Renaissance (Madrigals) and beginning of Baroque periods (Opera)
Sacred music expands out of the churches & is used for entertainment

1601 - Composed "Crudo Amarilli"
Was considered too radical by Artusi, who didn't like dissonances (said they were unpleasing) and the polyphonic imitation was "unnatural"
1607 - composed Orpheo for the court of Mantua (first opera)
1642 - composed The Coronation of Poppea (one of 2 of his operas that remain; none others were printed)
Appointed Choirmaster for the Basilica di San Marco in Venice (most prestigious music appt in Europe)
Inaugurated public opera in Venice (just before composing "Poppea"


c 1600 - 1750

Purcell - Opera

1659 - 1695

Greatest English Composer
Organist at Westminster Abbey
Wrote first English examples of Italian sonata

1689 - composed Dido & Aeneas, his only opera (for a girl's school)

Vivaldi - Solo Concerto

1678 - 1741

Son of a violinist
Music teacher (and priest) at a Venetian orphanage
Composed over 250 violin concertos
1712 - Composed Violin Concerto in G Major; classic Ritornello form

Bach - Concert. Grosso, Prel & Fugue

1685 - 1750

Most important Baroque composer
(born same year as Handel)
From big musical family in Germany; spent whole life in Germany
Seldom traveled
Church organist; composed many choral pieces
Well Tempered Clavier - comprised of 48 preludes & fugues in each major/minor key (for harpsichord/clavichord)


1721- composed Brandenburg Concerto #5 (Concerto Grosso; richer counterpoint and harmony than Vivaldi's Solo Concerto)
1722 - composed Prelude & Fugue (part of WTC)

Baroque period ended with his death in 1750

Handel - Opera & Oratorio

1685 - 1759

Born in Germany
Did not come from a musical family
Joined orchestra in Hamburg
Traveled to Venice, Florence & Rome and settled in London
Wrote operas which allowed singers to show off
1724 - Composed Julius Caesar "Empio diro tu sei" (illustrates Ritornello form); many flourishes and melismas allowing soloist to show off
1742 - Composed most famous Oratorio (sacred, unstaged Opera performed in church)


c 1750 - 1800

Haydn - Symphony

1732 - 1809

Didn't come from a musical family (although his wheelmaker father was an amateur musician).
Beautiful voice as a child; sang in St. Stephen's in Vienna until his voice broke
Difficult time until he was hired as Kappelmeister for Prince Esterházy
Worked for him for 30 years at palace outside Vienna
Managed all aspects of Prince's musical life (private chapel, chamber music, orchestral performances, etc.)
Developed distinct style in secluded conditions
Composed 104 Symphonies and 84 String Quartets (did Choral music at end of his life)
Part of his most famous piece is now part of German national anthem

VERY CHEEKY with his compositions (they don't go where you think they will in the middle)
Simple melodies and manipulated musical form/technique

1791 - Composed Symphony #95 in C Minor
(Rondo thème)
Includes polyphony, homophony & monophony (and a Fugue!)

Mozart - Symph, Concert., Opera

1756 - 1791

Born in Salzburg
Child prodigy who traveled around Europe performing (for royalty like Marie Antoinette)
Played his first symphony in London at age 8
Taught music to aristocratic ladies and performed his own works
Work was noted for displaying disquiet passion and emotion (unlike Haydn's)

1788 - composed Symphony #40 in G minor

1) Sonata (allegro) - 3 components:
1.1)Exposition(A); 1.2)Development(B); 1.3)Recapitulation/Coda(A)
2) Themes & Variations - reptition of a theme with repeated mini-themes (variations); focuses on upper-register melody
3) Minuet - triple-metered dance form; provides contrast
4) Rondo - fastest; lively & spirited; returns piece to A

??3 CONCERTO COMPONENTS: (Fast/Slow/Fast(er)
Concerto Grosso goes away
Showcases Soloist
1) Sonata Allegro form w/DOUBLE EXPOSITION - 1st Expo: Orch w/o modulation; 2nd Expo: Solo w/modulation
2) Themes & Variations
3) Rondo??

Themes of Roman emperors and princes give way to peasants and common people
More acting and no more castrati
More word-focused
Arias become more dynamic and move the action along (no longer Da Capo, returning us to where we began)

1787 - composed Don Giovanni (and 2 more in Italian)