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As a pre-classical (including early classical ) is in the music of the first transition compositional style between the eras of baroque and the Viennese classical referred. It can be based on the musical work of composers around 1730 to 1760/70. The term is scientifically controversial, as it is based on a teleological understanding of history in stages and takes away the peculiarity and intrinsic value of the epoch.

Style change using the example of some composers

Handel's music hardly goes beyond the late Baroque style (around 1710–1750), while Bach, on the other hand, is already moving towards the early classical period in some of his late works. Pietro Castrucci , who was almost the same age as Handel - a concertmaster of Handel in London - already "dared" to incorporate unusual ideas and surprise effects into his compositions.

The majority of Bach's sons are also assigned to the pre-classical period. The young Mozart is said to have received impulses from his friend Johann Christian Bach , and not the other way around.

Antonio Salieri is often cited as a link leading further into the future from the pre-classical to the classical - and even to the romantic . The contemporary of Mozart and founder of the Wiener Musikfreunde-Gesellschaft was the celebrated successor to the pre-classical opera reformer CW Gluck .

Viennese pre-classic and assignment to baroque or classic

The most important representatives of the “Viennese pre-classic” are two composers whose age and significance are similar: Georg Christoph Wagenseil and Georg Matthias Monn . They want to dissolve the severity of the late baroque and its “pomp” and help the freer, graceful “ style gallant ” to break through.

Even better known than Matthias Georg Monn (also called Mann), who was also a famous organist and music teacher, is his student Johann Georg Albrechtsberger . Although he is an exact contemporary of Joseph Haydn , the first representative of the Viennese classicism , he is still behind in terms of inventiveness.

Some festivals or concert series already assign the pre-classical music to classical music, but more often their works are performed together with those of baroque music. This is usually done under the name " early music ". Known for this combination are u. a. the Handel Festival Orchestra in Halle and the Berlin Baroque Compagney. Combined with the classic are e.g. B. often the Concentus Musicus Vienna or the Ensemble Camerata Cologne or Freiburg.

Some signs of style change

The style characteristics of the pre-classic are described differently and the set epoch boundaries differ over 10 years. Often reference is made to the Rococo , which was around the same time , because the new " gallant style " also wants to stand out gracefully and easily from the "baroque gusto ".

Partly the pre-classic is seen as a transition, partly as a separate style. For example, the Camerata Köln thinks of Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach's (1714–1788) piano music : “[...] commonly referred to as pre- or early classical, actually not a preparatory stage for the classical style, but an independent character [...] with idiosyncratic musical thoughts. “For Gotthold Ephraim Lessing these were“ musical monsters ”, for Schubart“ bizarre ”.

The pre-classics of the Mannheim school can be attributed to the style of sensitivity . They prefer the homophonic sentence, a contrasting design of the musical ideas and themes that are more symmetrical, as well as idiomatic melodies.

The Frankfurt concert “Ways to Classics” (December 7, 2003, Vivaldi, Stamitz etc.) is particularly interested “in the gray area around Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart that is still little developed , especially in the“ no man's land ”between the late baroque and early classical periods [... ] how much Bach's sons had developed from the aesthetics and style of their father ”, whose musical sacrifices and fugues ultimately“ no longer served the prevailing musical taste ”. The young Mozart is said to have received impulses from his friend Johann Christian Bach , and not the other way around.

Another innovation is the “ Mannheimer rocket ”, the dynamic of which consists of a rapidly increasing crescendo outbreak. Later, the terrace dynamics , which were still rigid in the baroque era, were given further intermediate stages such as sforzando or diminuendo .

Outside Germany and Austria , the period of the possible pre-classic is slightly offset, e.g. B. in Bohemia by one to two decades. The Paris operas by Gluck (1774–1779) are also assigned more to the pre-classical period.

In general, in the early classical period, instead of the polyphonic network of independent voices, the melody on top became the main carrier of expression. The linear sentence technique is replaced by a vertical one, the formation of harmony replaces the counterpoint .

The most famous composers are Giovanni Battista Pergolesi , the sons of JS Bach, Christoph Willibald Gluck , Johann Stamitz , and Leopold Mozart . The same applies to literature . Here the Weimar Classic is preceded by the Sturm und Drang and the Early Classic (1773–1789).

The Bach Sons, Vivaldi and the "Gallanteries"

The change of epoch from the baroque to the pre-classical period is concentrated in the generation of the Bach sons . The densely polyphonic “learned style” ( stile grave ) was replaced by a transparent homophonic “galant style” ( stile galante ). Even his father Bach called his partitas for piano, published in 1731, “ galanteries ”, which indicates his further development towards this style.

This change in style to "Style gallant", which began in 1730 , also made Antonio Vivaldi aware that his compositions were becoming less attractive. Therefore, at the age of 63, he moved to Vienna to seek support from Charles VI, who died in late 1740. But Vivaldi was not granted another year: The once most famous musician in Europe died in 1741 completely unnoticed by the music world and was buried in a poor grave. At this point, the current main building of the Vienna University of Technology , a plaque commemorates the celebrity who closed themselves to the new style.

Summary: Baroque (until 1750) against Classical (1770-1830)

While the baroque gave the musical form at least the same importance as the content , the pre-classical period began to dissolve this relation. The concertante principle (competing voices or instruments) remains important, but is enriched by increasingly original ideas - which ultimately culminates in the classical music. The previous orchestral movements, which were dominated by the figured bass in the Baroque , give way to harmonics closer to the melody .

Some of the musical forms preferred in the Baroque - such as passacaglia , chaconne , fugue , sonata , solo concerto , suite , cantata and passion - are losing their importance. String quartets , symphonies and (solo) concerts dominate the high class , which is already apparent in the Mannheim School, founded around 1750 (Stamitz 1717–1757, Ignaz Holzbauer 1711–1783, FX Richter 1709–1789 et al.) And the Vienna School . The former creates the classic form of the sonata and the symphony, the latter (with Wagenseil and Monn) emphasized in the sonata form, the second issue and the implementation , which then developed Haydn to the championship.

In the Viennese Classic (approx. 1780–1830) the strict polyphony of the Baroque is finally broken, a shift from the ecclesiastical to the secular space takes place, and the contrasts increase: extreme changes in tempo, soprano versus bass , changing dynamics , surprising sound effects like in Haydn's “Symphony with a Bang” . The compositions have simpler harmony and now strive for clear, pleasing forms.


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