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The Classical Music of the Twenty-First Century
by Don Robertson
© 2000 by Don Robertson

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Classical Music in Retrospect
When we talk about the classical music that was composed in Europe, Great Britain and Russia during the 16th through the 19th Centuries, we must understand that this was a style of music that was supported by the ruling classes. For example, in the 16th Century, it was the music of the church. During the same century, India’s classical music was created in the courts of the great emperors.

During the early part of the 17th Century, after the influence of the reformation had begun to spread throughout Europe, a new kind of classical music arose in Italy: a secular entertainment music that was not associated with the church. It was during this period that the first operas were composed in Venice.

Classical music, whether sacred or secular, has singular characteristics that differentiate it from the music of the folk, or the common people.* These are some of these characteristics:

    1. Classical music is usually highly structured.
    2. The structure and creation of classical music is analyzed, then taught to preserve its tradition. It becomes a part of our institutions of higher learning.
    3. Classical music is performed by musicians who have been trained for many years in the genre.
    4. Classical compositions are often longer than the tunes of folk and popular music, but not always.
    5. Classical music is considered to be a form of art akin to classical painting, sculpture and literature.** Classical art is usually differentiated from ‘folk art,’ but it is not necessarily better than folk art.

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* It must be remembered that in past times, there was a distinction made between common people and nobility and royalty.  It is interesting to note that what we refer to as popular, or pop, music is really a form of folk music. While classical musicians are trained carefully, learning the essentials of the music as these essentials have evolved through tradition, pop musicians--just like folk musicians in any part of the world--spring up spontaneously. As far as conception goes, there is really very little difference between the birth of jazz bands in the brothels of New Orleans or the birth of Rock and Roll bands in garages and the birth of Celtic or Application folk ensembles. These are all movements that have begun spontaneously, indigenously, as an expression of the people, or folk.

**Most classical art has a refinement that removes it from the level of the streets, and places it in the salons where it is appreciated by people who are usually educated and refined. Classical art is found in painting, sculpture, literature and music. Just as there are many people who have not discovered the joys of great poetry, or great painting, many of these same people have not really listened to or found joy in the great compositions of the classical music literature. One of the benefits of Art is its ability to raise the understanding, feelings and consciousness of man.


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