Classical Music & the Modern Music Business

By DHalps on Mar 24, 2015 in Uncategorized - 0 Comments

I wanted to write this article because my music career began with a piano and classical music lessons.  I can thank my foundation as a musician to classical piano; it gave me invaluable tools such as knowledge of music theory, refining my ear and hearing sounds, and the ability to play with rhythm.

When you dig a little deeper about this genre of music, you learn there are some fascinating facts and just how important the classical period was.  A lot of people neglect this aspect of music nowadays so I wanted to just cover a brief history, & fill you guys in on some awesome facts that spawned modern music, and the modern music industry.


Few Genres of music have had such an influence on the world as Classical Music. Generally recognized as having taken place from 1750-1820, the classical music period fell between the baroque and romantic musical time zones. Not only have some of its most famous composers such as Ludwig Van Beethoven and Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart shaped the way music business has evolved, they helped lay the ground work for all other musical periods that followed. While music around the world has come and gone in popularity, classical music has remained a staple and fundamental building block of all music.

Although when we turn on the radio we rarely hear stations broadcasting classical style music on the airwaves, this form of music is still often found in movie soundtracks, theatre, opera, and television. It retains a consistent popularity as sales of classical music cds and downloads remain relevant in the modern music business world.

For example, a few years back, the German Recording Industry Association published statistics showing that classical music CD sales gained 23 percent in the first half of 2009 over the same period in 2008 (http://www.dw.de/classical-music-sells-even-without-the-help-of-crossover-artists/a-4580791).

In 2010, a study showed that roughly 18 percent of all music sold in South Korea was classical, which made them the highest consumers of the classical genre in the world. The same study showed France who consumes 9 percent of its music via the classical form was second.

In the United States, a representative from Sony was quoted saying that Classical music only accounts for around 3 percent of cd’s sold in America. However, in apple’s itunes store, which sold around 1 billion tracks in its first three years, Classical music accounted for 12 percent of all sales (http://www.nytimes.com/2006/05/28/arts/music/28kozi.html?adxnnl=1&pagewanted=all&adxnnlx=1385791885-LiWXZrW9/7Z9SU4hWuhXMA). That’s roughly 120 million downloads sold!

While classical may not be selling many CD’s these days, that is more a reflection of the dying medium that is the compact disk. Given the trend in recent data, there is no doubt that this form of music still has, and will continue to maintain a strong grip on the hearts and mind of the people around the globe.

It’s important to note the simplicity of most classical musical melodies. This is the reason why many of these musical pieces and melodies which are over two hundred years old, are still to this day ingrained in our minds. Most successful compositions from that time can easily be identified simply by humming or whistling a few notes of the melody.

Not only was this influential to music during this period, but modern day chorus’ or recognizable song melodies can often trace their lineage to this practice. Classical music is also noted by several other key characteristics. Some notable qualities include; the change in mood and multiple movements within a single composition, flexibility of Rhythm (as noted by abrupt pauses, long holding of notes, syncopation), and the shifting dynamics within a song such as crescendo (gradual loudness) and diminuendo (gradual softness).   Some of these techniques can help you stand out and make something unique!

Some of the most influential musicians in music history were from the Classical period; and above all others from this period was a man named Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart.   Even small children in today’s modern world will recognize this name. His melodies and tunes are stamped into our brains, but Mozart did much more than simply write music.

Mozart was a pioneer in breaking the shackles of patrons and the smothering musical class system. A musical genius from an early age, Mozart spent much of his childhood performing for various royal courts around Europe and eventually in his late teens became a court organist to the archbishop of Salzburg.   This was the norm, a talented musician such as Mozart would be commissioned to play and write music exclusively for his commissioner and court. This patronage system had its positives; mainly financial stability, shelter, and food for the musician; however it also meant a musician such as Mozart was confined, restricted to compose for a specific patron, and limited to outside influences and freedoms.

Mozart was not fond of this system and was known for his off the wall antics and childish displays in rebellion (this infamous behavior was well demonstrated in the highly acclaimed film “Amadeus” starring Tom Hulce and F. Murray Abraham).  Mozart was aware that he was the talent, and became tired of being exploited. Eventually, Mozart became one of the first independent composers/musicians in history. Mozart continued his career in music without the financial backing of any rich patrons, courts, or churches.

During the classical period, another great music milestone was advent of public music concerts. Not only did this enable musicians to earn a living free of the musical caste system, it also meant that gone were the days when music was almost exclusively played for royalty and for the church. Now the public and the common man, for the first time could also partake in the joy of music at their disposal. Due to its increased popularity, public music events led to the development of different genres of orchestra, as well as further development of Opera and Ballet.

Further developments that shaped the classical era happened in 1777, when Pierre de Beaumarchais founded one of the first organizations to protect composer and author rights, La Société des Auterus Dramatiques. This organization laid the groundwork for modern day performing rights. Also during the classical time period the first music publishing company was formed in Germany, named Breitkopf & Hartel. This firm was the original publishers of famed composers such as Beethoven, Mozart, Haydn, and many more).  

Classical music has had a profound impact on all of music.   Just as we see in all musical periods and styles, the birth of a new era always hinges on taking elements of what already is known and adding to and reinventing those elements. Classical music, more than others, has laid many important frameworks to the spectrum of all music. It is an ideal way to learn music theory, develop rhythm, and hone your skills at various instruments.

Studies have even reported that classical music is the music of intelligence.   Many women insist on playing classical music while carrying a baby in their womb, thinking that it will have some effect on their child’s intellect.   People often play classical music while they study, as it helps their brain relax and act more efficient.   Simply put, classical music is a still a staple form of music in today’s world and will not lose its significance for the foreseeable future.

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