Different Eras in Music History

Paper Info
Page count 7
Word count 1980
Read time 7 min
Topic Art
Type Term Paper
Language 🇺🇸 US

Renaissance Era

Missa Sine Nomine, Giovanni Palestrina

  • 11:15–11:21, the polyphony is divided into two different levels (soprano and bass) in order to show the approaching instrumental conflict.
  • 15:12–15:31, the tempo is adagio: there is only one voice dominating.
  • 20:42–20:47, accelerando seems to introduce the final part and to separate it from the previous one.

Giovanni Palestrina (1525–1594), an Italian composer and a well-known polyphonist of the Renaissance era. When he was a teenager, he was a chorister in the church. His first protector was Julius III, who lived in Italy, and Giovanni Palestrina moved to Rome. In 1555 the famous composer became a part of the choir in the Sistine Chapel, which was extremely prestigious. He is known for its innovative, dynamic tone of music and experiments with polyphony in his compositions.

Missa L’homme Armé, Josquin des Prez

  • 7:04–7:13, the tempo is adagio, the beat is slow, the melody immerses the listener.
  • 51:14–51:22, the dynamics changes as it aims to identify the replacement of women’s voices by the men’s ones.

Josquin des Prez (1450–1521), a French composer, was one of the most known representatives of the Franco-Flemish Polyphonic School. The musical pieces are typical for the era of the early Renaissance. He concentrates mostly on the church music and the compositions for the choir. He experimented with the melody and favored high-pitched voices.

Miserere Mei, Deus, Gregorio Allegri

  • 1:58–2:02, women’s soprano introduces the change of the beat.
  • 11:50–11:54, the dynamics is forte; the voices become louder.

Gregorio Allegri (1582–1652), an Italian composer and a priest. One of the specialists in the polyphony of the 17th century; he is a figure of the Roman School. He was in correspondence with Giovanni Palestrina and was the choir leader in the Sistine Chapel until his death.

Style Description

Polyphony and the experiments with the tempo are among the most distinctive characteristics of the Renaissance era. Missa Sine Nomine is famous for its voice merging and the rotation of different tempos in the music piece (often used in this period). Missa L’homme Armé starts in a calm way, but the dynamics become faster and faster during the composition. Change of the beats and explicit woman’s soprano are the essential parts of Miserere Mei, Deus.

Historic Influences

The specificity of the relationships between the church and the government in the Renaissance era has to be taken into consideration. The music pieces for the choir are in demand while the secular compositions are not respected.

Baroque Era

One Charming Night from the opera Fairy Queen, Henry Purcell

  • Throughout the song, the tempo is adagio, which shows the romantic atmosphere.
  • 1:57–2:10, the song is homophonic as it is a lyrical part of the composition.

Henry Purcell (1659–1695), an English composer and a famous figure of the early Baroque. He wrote musical pieces in almost all genres – operas, compositions for dramatic theatre performances, and secular music. His own pieces were played at his funeral; he was buried at Westminster Abbey.

Cello Suite No. 1 in G major, Johann Sebastian Bach

  • 10:55–10:58, the dynamics change, the notes become higher.
  • Throughout the music piece, there is a major tonal system, which makes the composition more positive and cheerful.

Johann Sebastian Bach (1685–1750), the author of more than 1000 compositions. He worked with all the genres except opera, especially concentrating on sacred church music. He is famous for the new way of writing pieces for the organ part and is considered to be the master of baroque polyphony. He was a religious person and composed many songs for the church choir.

Hallelujah Chorus from Messiah, George Handel

  • 1:18–1:21, the music is playing forte because the chorus sings in a loud way.
  • 3:22–3:24, the tempo is allegro: the dynamics are rising.

George Handel (1685–1759), an English and German composer famous for his church compositions. He was educated in Italy, and then he moved to England. He wrote more than forty operas, many organ concerts, vocal music, and even “popular” secular songs, for example, Water Music, Music for the Royal Fireworks, etc.

Style Description

The Baroque era is known for its dissimilarity. Piece 1 is repetitive and lyrical (Shay 300), but Piece 3 is extremely dynamic and energetic. Both of them are devoted to romantic style, and the difference between them shows the variety of forms used by the composers. Piece 2 is contradictory itself and has a regular change of the tempo, which is typical for this period.

Historic Influences

Theatre performances become more and more popular and demanded by the rich audience. Composing secular music for operas and performances is one of the best ways to make a statement. However, the religion is still strong, and writing compositions for the church choir is prestigious.

Classical Era

Symphony No. 40, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart

  • 0:19–0:21, the orchestra is playing forte, the change of the tone is fast.
  • 1:39–1:42, the tempo is allegro; the melody becomes more positive.

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (1756–1791), an Austrian classical composer and a genius musician known all over the world. He had a phenomenal memory, musical ear, and incredible talent. He is the youngest knight of the Order of the Golden Spur. He was a virtuous pianist and organist and was always welcome at the royal court (Carter 3). His death is full of mysteries and myths because of his confrontation with Salieri.

Für Elise, Ludwig van Beethoven

  • Throughout the composition, the melody is repetitive: the piece has a cycling nature.
  • 2:51–2:54, the motif becomes lighter, the notes are higher.

Ludwig van Beethoven (1770–1827), German composer and pianist. One of the most famous figures of the First Viennese School. He is well-known for his music pieces for the church choirs, theatre performances, and operas. His instrumental compositions are considered to be highly significant and remarkable. His work had a huge impact on the composers of the 19th century.

Overture from The Barber of Seville, Gioachino Rossini

  • 0:37–0:42, the tempo is forte, and it creates a sense of suspense.
  • 4:12–4:15, the tone increases dramatically, the dynamics become faster.

Gioachino Rossini (1792–1868), a well-known Italian composer famous for his operas. Sometimes he is called “Italian Mozart” for his light song melodies. He is claimed to revitalize the Italian opera and to predetermine the development of this sphere in the 19th century in the whole of Europe. He created his compositions both in Italian and French languages.

Style Description

Composers of the Classical period were interested in creating music pieces for concerts and operas. Piece 3 is an essential part of The Barber of Seville as it introduces the central theme of the play. The cycling nature of the compositions is common in this era, and we can see its representation in Piece 2 and Piece 1 despite their contrasting melodies and tempo.

Historic Influence

The role of the royal authority becomes more important than the position of the church. Being a part of the court is prestigious and makes the composer respected by society. At the same time, wealthy people order compositions for themselves, and many music pieces of that era are written on request.

Romantic Era

Fantaisie Impromptu Op.66, Fryderyk Chopin

  • 0:09–0:15, the tempo is allegro: the dynamics increases.
  • 3:19–3:24, accelerando, the next fast part is about to start in a second.

Fryderyk Chopin (1810–1849), a Polish composer with Franco-Polish origins. All entire adult life, he lived and worked in France. One of the most well-known pianists and figures of the West European Romanticism. Fryderyk Chopin is a pioneer of Polish national composer’s school. He worked in diverse genres and wrote music for dancing and poetry.

Salut d’Amour Op.12, Edward Elgar

  • 0:08–0:12, the violin solo and a slow beat introduce the piano part.
  • 2:19–2:26, the texture is homophonic in order to make the solo of the violin a separated melody.

Edward Elgar (1857–1934), a British composer, the knight of the Order of Merit. He created various symphonies, concerts, songs, and instrumental music pieces. He concentrated on writing compositions for the orchestra with one or several leading instruments. He composed songs for theatre performances such as Diarmuid and Grania. His portrait was placed on the British banknote in the denomination of 20 pounds from 1993 to 2003.

Piano Concerto No. 1 in Bb minor (Op.23: 1), Pyotr Tchaikovsky

  • 0:10–0:13, piano cadenza aims to introduce the forte melody of the music piece.
  • 0:28–0:31, the tempo is adagio, the beat is slow, and the tune is light.

Pyotr Tchaikovsky (1840–1893), a famous Russian composer, educator, and music critic. Tchaikovsky wrote music for operas, ballets, romances, concerts, and choir performances. He was also interested in the psychological aspects of music and the impact of diverse compositions on a human mind. His work marked the beginning of the new era, not only in the musical sphere but in the Russian art industry in general.

Style Description

The notable characteristic of the Romantic era is music pieces composed in the orchestra style. Piece 2 is a perfect example of dramatizing the composition, which is common for this period. Piece 1 is strong and forte and, at the same time, light and peaceful. Piece 3 consists of several piano solos and changes of the tempo, which make the listener perceive this composition as a set of melodies.

Historical Influences

The appearance of the Romanticism is supposed to be connected with the French Revolution. The artists and creators become the symbol of freedom and honesty. The typical composer of this period is a person who does not write the compositions for churches and concentrate on the work for the secular world.

Modern Era

Le Sacre du Printemps, Igor Stravinsky

  • 6:37–6:42, the tempo is allegro, and the accent is on the percussion instruments.
  • 20:28–20:46, the melody is calm, and the beat is slow.

Igor Stravinsky (1882–1971), one of the leading composers of the 20th century. He was a citizen of France and the USA, but in his music, there are many references to Russian cultural traditions. Neoclassicism had a serious impact on the work of Stravinsky during his last years. It is possible to divide his compositions into several types: Russian period, Neoclassical period, and Late period. He is a member of the Royal Swedish Academy of Music.

Interlude from Wozzeck, Alban Berg

  • 1:24–1:27, the dynamics is increasing, the musicians are playing forte.
  • 2:29–2:34, the solo of the trumpet, it is louder than the other instruments of the orchestra.

Alban Berg (1885–1935), an Austrian composer and music critic famous for his expressionist compositions. One of the parks of his native land is named after him. Berg rose the global prominence after the premiere of the opera Wozzeck in 1925. He was a close friend of the philosopher Theodor Adorno.

America from West Side Story, Leonard Bernstein

  • Throughout the music piece, the tempo is allegro, and the beat is fast; the percussion instruments are dominating.
  • 4:46–4:51, the tempo is fast, and the notes are high, it provides the holiday feeling.

Leonard Bernstein (1918–1990), an American composer, pianist, and an orchestra conductor. He is the author of music pieces for the ballets, musicals, and symphonies. Bernstein was the leading conductor of the New York Philharmonic. He played an essential role in the popularization of American music.

Style Description

The Modern Era is described as the period of innovations and experiments. One of the brightest examples of the Expressionism was the opera Wozzeck (Hsieh 325). Music becomes a source of telling a story with the aid of dance, song, or performance (example – Piece 3). For Stravinsky, compositions are the way to express the feelings of the composer and to share the individual perception of the world with the audience.

Historic Influences

The accelerating of technical progress has a crucial influence on the art sphere. The composers share their ideas about the world and its future by writing music pieces for modern performances. Art becomes not only an elite industry but also a demanded way of entertainment for the mass audience.

Works Cited

Carter, Jessica. “The Impact of the Mozartean Cadenza from the Classical Era to the Romantic Era: A Case Study of K. 466.” Graduate Research Journal, vol. 6, no. 1, 2019, pp. 3–14.

Hsieh, Amanda. “Lyrical Tension, Collective Voices: Masculinity in Alban Berg’s Wozzeck.” Journal of the Royal Musical Association, vol. 144, no. 2, 2019, pp. 323–362.

Shay, Robert. “Henry Purcell ed. by Margaret Laurie and Bruce Wood.” Notes, vol. 74, no. 2, 2017, pp. 300–303.

Cite this paper


NerdyHound. (2022, May 22). Different Eras in Music History. Retrieved from https://nerdyhound.com/different-eras-in-music-history/


NerdyHound. (2022, May 22). Different Eras in Music History. https://nerdyhound.com/different-eras-in-music-history/

Work Cited

"Different Eras in Music History." NerdyHound, 22 May 2022, nerdyhound.com/different-eras-in-music-history/.


NerdyHound. (2022) 'Different Eras in Music History'. 22 May.


NerdyHound. 2022. "Different Eras in Music History." May 22, 2022. https://nerdyhound.com/different-eras-in-music-history/.

1. NerdyHound. "Different Eras in Music History." May 22, 2022. https://nerdyhound.com/different-eras-in-music-history/.


NerdyHound. "Different Eras in Music History." May 22, 2022. https://nerdyhound.com/different-eras-in-music-history/.


NerdyHound. 2022. "Different Eras in Music History." May 22, 2022. https://nerdyhound.com/different-eras-in-music-history/.

1. NerdyHound. "Different Eras in Music History." May 22, 2022. https://nerdyhound.com/different-eras-in-music-history/.


NerdyHound. "Different Eras in Music History." May 22, 2022. https://nerdyhound.com/different-eras-in-music-history/.