The parameters of these periods of music are not precise, with many composers working in what we now call two different musical eras. For instance the dividing line between Renaissance and Baroque is somewhat blurred, and there are even early and late divisions within the Baroque, known as the Low and High Baroque. We regard the end of the Baroque as being about 1759-60 after the deaths of J.S. Bach, Handel and Rameau.
The Classical Era which follows tends to end with the death of Schubert who many think to be a Romantic but, in fact, wrote in Classical form. So much of his music sounds very romantic. The greatest composer of the Classical Era was Beethoven, who died a year earlier than Schubert and probably composed as much romantic-sounding music as Schubert. As you can see, the dividing lines are quite arbitrary but they give us handy labels to attach to composers and their music so that we can place them in the context of their times.
Even the Romantic Era had an early and a late period. Consider the differences in the music of composers such as Chopin and Schumann and then of composers towards the end of the 19th century such as Wagner and Richard Strauss. Also the division between that era and the Modern Era is rather blurred with a number of ‘romantic’ composers, including Elgar and Glazunov, ‘shuffling off this mortal coil’ in the 1930s.
To assist our listeners in placing some composers in context, we begin a new weekly domain called Periods and Their People. Each month, programmers of this domain will create programs on the same musical era progressing to the next time span over a period of six months.
- The Programming Committee
Periods and Their People will be heard every Saturday morning from 9.05am beginning in January with music of the Late Baroque (1700-1759).
This article appeared in the January issue of Fine Music Magazine. Read the full magazine online here.