The Classical Era

The Classical Era in Music (1750-1825)

The spirit of the Classical Era in music can be described as: harmony, balance, order, open-mindedness (Machlis & Forney, 2003). The photo shown to the left is of a concert grand piano. The Classical Era was an age of powerful aristocratic sovereigns across Europe (Machlis & Forney, 2003). During this era was the American Revolution (1775-1783) and the French Revolution (1789-1799) which changed politics and the social order in America and France (Machlis & Forney, 2003). The French poet and philosopher, Voltaire, lived from 1694 to 1778; and the Swiss-born French philosopher and composer, Jean-Jacques Rousseau, lived from 1712-1778 (Machlis & Forney, 2003).

The French painter, Jacques-Louis David, lived from 1748-1825 (Machlis & Forney, 2003). Another French painter, Jean-Auguste-Dominique Ingres, lived from 1780-1867( Kleiner, Mamiya, & Tansey, 2001). Antonio Canova (1757-1822), Napoleon’s favorite artist, made a marble sculpture of Napoleon’s sister: Pauline Borghese in 1808 (Kleiner, Mamiya, & Tansey, 2001). During the Classical Era in Music, there was a revival of interest in classicism in art and architecture, called neoclassicism (Kleiner, Mamiya, & Tansey, 2001).

In 1752, Benjamin Franklin discovered electricity (Machlis & Forney, 2003). The Louisiana Purchase in the United States was made in 1803 (Machlis & Forney, 2003).Thomas Jefferson lived from 1743 to 1826, and he designed his own home called Monticello in Charlottesville, USA which was built from 1770 to 1806 (Kleiner, Mamiya, & Tansey, 2001). In 1817, Thomas Jefferson planned the University of Virginia (Machlis & Forney, 2003). The Boston Handel and Haydn Society was founded in 1815 (Machlis & Forney, 2003). Thomas Jefferson said: “Music [is] the favorite passion of my soul” (cited in Machlis & Forney, 2003, p. 246).

Links to some famous musical composers and musicians of the Classical Era are listed in the margin to the left.


Machlis, J. & Forney, K. (2003). The enjoyment of music. N.Y.: W.W. Norton & Company, Inc.

Kleiner, F., Mamiya, C. & Tansey, R. (2001). Gardner’s art through the ages: Vol II. Florida: Harcourt College Publishers.