Classical Music of the Twenty-First Century
© 2000 by Don Robertson
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Classical Music in
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:
- Classical music is usually highly structured.
- 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.
- Classical music is performed by musicians who have
been trained for many years in the genre.
- Classical compositions are often longer than the tunes
of folk and popular music, but not always.
- 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.