Classical music

Classical music is art music produced or rooted in the traditions of Western music (both liturgical i.e religiously inspired and secular). It encompasses a broad period from roughly the 11th century to the present day.


Classical music players in an orchestra. image: R.Conan-Davies

The central norms of this tradition became codified between 1550 and 1900, which is known as the common practice period (part of an era of music).

 The major time divisions of classical music are as follows: 

  • the early music period, which includes the Medieval (500–1400) and the Renaissance (1400–1600) eras; 
  • the Common practice period, which includes the Baroque (1600–1750), 
  • Classical (1750–1820), and Romantic eras (1804–1910); and the 
  • 20th century (1901–2000) which includes the modern (1890–1930) that overlaps from the late 19th-century, the high modern (mid 20th-century), and contemporary or postmodern (1975–2015) eras.

European music is largely distinguished from many other non-European and popular musical forms by its system of staff notation, in use since about the 16th century. 

Western staff notation is used by composers to prescribe to the performer the pitch, speed, meter, individual rhythms and exact execution of a piece of music. This leaves less room for practices such as improvisation and ad libitum ornamentation, which are frequently heard in non-European art music and in popular music. 

The term "classical music" did not appear until the early 19th century, in an attempt to distinctly "canonize" the period from Johann Sebastian Bach to Beethoven as a golden age. The earliest reference to "classical music" recorded by the Oxford English Dictionary is from about 1836.


Classical era include:

  •  Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach, 
  • Johann Stammsitz, 
  • Joseph Haydn, 
  • Johann Christian Bach, 
  • Antonio Salieri, 
  • Muzio Clementi, 
  • Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart and Luigi Boccherini.

Prominent composers of both the Classical and early Romantic eras include Ludwig van Beethoven and Franz Schubert.