Classical orchestra music is a broad term that can refer to a variety of musical styles, but it is most commonly associated with music written between 1750 and 1830. Orchestras of this era were smaller and had fewer types of instruments than modern symphonies. The Classical Period is similar to the Baroque Period that preceded it, as well as the Romantic Movement that followed. Classical composers refined and popularized new musical expressions while continuing to use earlier forms of music. Concertos, Masses with orchestras, operas, and symphonies are all examples of classical orchestra music.
A concerto is a concert piece that features a solo instrument accompanied an orchestra. The solo instrument is usually a violin, piano, or cello, but other instruments can be used in some works. Classical composers have continued to use this type of composition, which was first developed during the Baroque Period. Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, Franz Joseph Haydn, and Ludwig van Beethoven are just a few of the famous composers who wrote concertos for the classical orchestra.
Masses are another type of classical orchestra music that is very popular. While the Mass as a musical genre predates the 18th century, some of the most well-known examples were created during the Classical Period. These Masses feature choirs singing the liturgy in Latin while the orchestra provides accompaniment. Mozart’s Requiem in D Minor is a well-known Mass that is still performed all over the world, particularly during the Christmas season.
Classical opera, like Masses, features singers accompanied an orchestra. These works are essentially musical plays in which a story is told through the vocalists and musicians’ performances. While many of the greatest operas were written during the Romantic Period that followed, Mozart and other classical orchestra composers wrote a number of well-known works that are still enjoyed modern audiences. Mozart and Beethoven’s works also influenced the late-nineteenth-century German nationalist operas.
The symphony is the most important type of classical orchestra music composed and performed during this time period. While elements of the symphony had existed for some time, the structure of the symphony was not formalized and refined until the Classical Period. The symphony evolved into a four-movement work, with a mix of fast and slow movements. During this time, three of the most well-known and influential symphony composers worked, and their work helped to define and elevate this form to its current prominence in orchestral repertoire.