Classical Music: The Era of Haydn, Mozart, and Beethoven (Norton Introduction to Music History)

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9780393951912: Classical Music: The Era of Haydn, Mozart, and Beethoven (Norton Introduction to Music History)

In this, the fourth volume in the Norton Introduction to Music History series, Philip Downs traces the rise and decline of the "Classical" style from the birth of Haydn (1732) to the death of Beethoven (1827).

He demonstrates the enormous diversity and constant change that characterized every aspect of music during this period.  By dividing his text into twenty-year spans, Downs is able to trace the development of musical style.  Within each span he looks at the social conditions and daily life of the musician, and the aesthetics and audience preferences in structures, performing combinations and styles.  The lesser composers, or Kleinmeister, are observed, since they are the most accurate mirrors of their times.  Haydn, Mozart and Beethoven receive full biographical scrutiny at each stage of their development.  Copious music examples and abundant illustrations are also provided.

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From the Back Cover:

The latest volume in the Norton Introduction to Music History series focuses on the rise and decline of the Classical style, which flourished from the middle of the eighteenth century to the second decade of the nineteenth. The author demonstrates the enormous diversity and constant change that characterized music and musical life during this period. Downs eschews the usual stylistic labels, such as Rococo and High Classic, and instead organizes the text into short time spans. Within each, he looks to the social conditions and daily life of the musician, the aesthetics and audience preference in structures, performing combinations, and performing styles. The minor composers, or kleinmeister, are carefully observed, since they most accurately mirror their times. On the other hand, the giants, who left their mark on music for all time, receive full biographical scrutiny at each stage of their development. The book begins with the transition from the Baroque up to 1760 and the burgeoning new style that developed in the next two decades. The author then focuses on the early years of Haydn and Mozart before giving full treatment to the last twenty years of the eighteenth century, which saw the Classical style reach its apogee. Downs returns to the mature Haydn and deals with the last decade of Mozart's life, and finally considers Beethoven's musical origins and accomplishments. He concludes by documenting the eighteenth-century heritage at work in the early nineteenth century. Copiously illustrated, with abundant music examples, this fascinating survey provides invaluable insights into the period that produced some of the most astonishing music ever written.

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