The Ultimate Classical Music Quiz



9 Questions

What is the main difference between the texture of Baroque and Classical music?

What was the main keyboard instrument during the Classical period?

Which of the following is not a type of instrumental music from the Classical period?

Who are some of the best-known composers from the Classical period?

What is sonata form?

What was the role of the harpsichord or pipe organ basso continuo during the Classical period?

What was the main focus of Christoph Willibald Gluck's opera reform?

Who is considered the 'father of the symphony' and 'father of the string quartet'?

What was the role of London in the Classical period?


Classical Music: Characteristics and History

  • The Classical period of music lasted roughly from 1750 to 1820 and was sandwiched between the Baroque and Romantic periods.

  • Classical music is characterized by a lighter, clearer texture than Baroque music but with a sophisticated use of form and counterpoint, especially in liturgical vocal music and later in secular instrumental music.

  • The period saw the replacement of the harpsichord with the piano as the main keyboard instrument, which allowed for greater expression and dynamic range.

  • Instrumental music was important and included the sonata, trio, string quartet, quintet, symphony, and solo concerto, while vocal music included choral works and opera.

  • The best-known composers from this period are Joseph Haydn, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, Ludwig van Beethoven, and Franz Schubert, and the period is sometimes referred to as the era of Viennese Classicism.

  • Classical music drew on the style galant, which emphasized light elegance over the Baroque's impressive grandeur.

  • The structure of Classical music is generally clear and well-defined, with a contrast between tonic and dominant introduced by clear cadences.

  • The orchestra increased in size, range, and power, and the harpsichord or pipe organ basso continuo role fell out of use, leaving the string section and woodwinds as a self-contained section.

  • The Classical period also saw the development of sonata form, a set of structural principles for music that reconciled the Classical preference for melodic material with harmonic development, which could be applied across musical genres.

  • The transition from the Baroque to the Classical period saw composers seeking a more effectively dramatic style, with greater musical variety and abrupt changes in texture, dynamic, harmony, or tempo.

  • The outstanding achievement of the great classical composers was their ability to make these dramatic surprises sound logically motivated, so that "the expressive and the elegant could join hands."

  • The Classical period saw the decline of the continuo and its figured chords and the move to standard instrumental groups, which led to simpler parts for ensemble musicians to play and virtuoso solo parts for certain instruments.The Emergence and Development of the Classical Style in Western Art Music: A Summary

  • The Classical period in Western art music saw a move away from the complex, dense polyphonic style of the Baroque towards homophony, a lighter texture which uses a clear single melody line accompanied by chords.

  • Christoph Willibald Gluck radically overhauled opera by cutting away improvisational ornaments and focusing on points of modulation and transition, using changes in instrumentation, melody, and mode to achieve powerful dramatic shifts in emotional color.

  • The period between the Baroque and the rise of the Classical (around 1730) saw the emergence of various competing musical styles, including those of the sons of Johann Sebastian Bach: Wilhelm Friedemann, who continued the Baroque tradition in a personal way; Johann Christian, who simplified Baroque textures and influenced Mozart; and Carl Philipp Emanuel, who composed passionate and sometimes violently eccentric music of the Empfindsamkeit movement.

  • By the late 1750s, there were flourishing centers of the new style in Italy, Vienna, Mannheim, and Paris, with dozens of symphonies composed and bands of players associated with musical theaters. Opera or other vocal music accompanied by orchestra was the feature of most musical events, with symphonies and concertos serving as instrumental interludes and introductions.

  • Joseph Haydn was the first great master of the Classical style, composing over forty symphonies in the 1760s alone, and taking existing ideas and radically altering how they functioned, earning him the titles "father of the symphony" and "father of the string quartet".

  • Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart brought his genius to Haydn's ideas and applied them to the major genres of the day: opera and the virtuoso concerto, merging his taste for flashy brilliances, rhythmically complex melodies and figures, long cantilena melodies, and virtuoso flourishes with an appreciation for formal coherence and internal connectedness.

  • The period around 1790-1820 saw the emergence of a new generation of composers, born around 1770, who had grown up with the earlier styles but heard in the recent works of Haydn and Mozart a vehicle for greater expression.

  • Ludwig van Beethoven launched his numbered works in 1794, and Johann Nepomuk Hummel concentrated more on the piano than any other instrument.

  • Changes in performance practice, the relative standing of instrumental and vocal music, technical demands on musicians, and stylistic unity had become established in the composers who imitated Mozart and Haydn by the end of the 1780s.

  • Gaspare Spontini was deeply admired by future romantic composers such as Weber, Berlioz, and Wagner, and his innovative harmonic language, refined instrumentation, and "enchained" closed numbers formed the basis from which French and German romantic opera had its beginnings.

  • The social world of music saw dramatic changes, including international publication and touring, concert societies, more specific and descriptive notation, and schematics for works being simplified yet more varied in their exact working out.

  • London played an important role in the Classical period as the home to the Broadwood's factory for piano manufacturing and as the base for composers who had a decisive influence on what came later, such as Muzio Clementi and Jan Ladislav Dussek.

  • The emergence of what would later be called Romanticism, with its preference for obvious and dramatic emotionalismThe Classical period in music saw a broad change in style and the center of music with composers like Haydn, Mozart, and Beethoven studying each other's works and behaving like quarrelsome rivals. The period was characterized by a downward shift in melodies, increasing durations of movements, and the greater use of keyboard resources. The influence of the Baroque style continued to grow, particularly in the ever more expansive use of brass. Ludwig van Beethoven, Franz Schubert, Carl Maria von Weber, and John Field are among the most prominent in this generation of "Proto-Romantics." The Classical style gradually got phased out under the weight of changes, with the most commonly cited one being harmonic innovation. The Classical period saw the development of the modern guitar, and the string section of the orchestra was standardized as just four instruments. Orchestras had at least two winds, usually oboes, flutes, clarinets, or sometimes English horns. The harmonie ensemble of entirely winds was employed for certain events, and the brass section became more expansive.


Test your knowledge of Classical music with our quiz on its characteristics and history. From the emergence of the style in Western art music to the great composers of the era, including Haydn, Mozart, and Beethoven, this quiz covers it all. Learn about the different genres, instrumental and vocal music, and the changes in performance practice and social world of music during the Classical period. Whether you're a music enthusiast or just looking to expand your knowledge, this quiz will challenge you and provide insight into a

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