Mozart's Contribution to Classical Music

The classical music period that started in the early 18th century and ended in the early 19th century is perhaps one of the most significant periods of music. The classical period gave rise to composers like Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart and Ludwig van Beethoven, who remain among the most significant classical music composers. The orchestra rose to prominence in the Baroque era of music, and Mozart's work with orchestras and symphonies led to the progression of musical styles.

There were several historical innovations that differentiated the classical period from the preceding Baroque period. One of the most significant changes in music was the replacement of the harpsichord with the fortepiano as the main keyboard instrument in the orchestra. The fortepiano used leather-covered hammers to strike the strings, unlike the harpsichord, which used quills to strike the strings. As a result of the replacement of the harpsichord with the fortepiano, composers could express themselves more creatively as the force with which the piano keys were pressed altered the sound. The use of the fortepiano as the main keyboard instrument meant that composers were now free to use either major or minor keys in their compositions. The second significant development during the classical period is the overthrow of monarchies and the rise of democratic governments across the globe. The royalty was gradually replaced by a less wealthy but more abundant merchant class that not only had time to listen to music but had the time to learn it as well. The rise of the merchant class led to the rise of the self-funded musical composer who no longer depended on the royal class for funding. This period is also famous for the democratization of music by making it accessible to all classes in society instead of previous periods where music was the domain of the extremely wealthy.

Classical music was mainly homophonic, with a focus on melody above choral accompaniments. In Mozart's Piano Concerto No. 20 in D Minor, K. 466, there is one dominant melody, accompanied by single notes and simple chords. This was a stylistic feature unique to the classical period as opposed to the preceding Baroque period, where composers combined multiple melodies to come up with a composition. Similarly, arrangements during this period focused on elegance rather than grandeur. The focus on elegance led to the creation of less cluttered music while a majority of Mozart's compositions were in major keys; the Piano Concerto No. 20 in D Minor, K. 466 was a departure from his norm. The use of the D Minor key as the backbone of the composition did not affect its popularity. This composition remains one of Mozart's most significant works. Another stylistic characteristic of the classical era is the use of a fast-slow-fast style in the composition. Mozart’s Piano Concerto No. 20 in D Minor, K. 466 also uses the same style with the first part of the composition, the Allegro being fast. The middle part of the composition, the Romance, is slow, and the final part of the composition, the Allegro Assai adopting a fast pace. Other musical composers of the time used a similar approach to their compositions.

Mozart was one of the greatest musical composers of his time, and his work influenced other artists, including Beethoven, who is also one of the great composers of the classical period. Beethoven, who appeared during Mozart's lifetime, used some of Mozart's compositions as introductions for his compositions. Apart from influencing other great artists of the day and the present, Mozart also has a significant influence on today's society. Before Mozart's time, most of the music available was mainly religious music, and the church and royalty had control over compositions. However, Mozart diverged from this direction by producing thought-provoking and emotional music that challenged the accepted way of life. This shift in music was also a result of the rise of democratic governments over monarchies that led to the rise of a new merchant class of the society that was wealthy and was not under the control of the church or monarchies. Mozart also has a contribution to an egalitarian society as he made music accessible to all classes of people in the society. Before the classical period, music was mainly religious and only accessible to the very wealthy classes of society. Mozart's work to make non-religious compositions and teach other composers led to a situation where every member of the society could access music. The democratization of music is perhaps one of Mozart's most outstanding achievements.

Mozart’s arrival in the music scene at a young age in the mid-18th century led to some of the significant changes in the style of music available at the time. The classical period of music signaled a departure from the grandeur style of the music of the baroque period to a more straightforward, less-cluttered style of music that focused on melody and harmony. Apart from his influence in musical spheres, Mozart also played a role in changing society, especially his efforts to make music available to every member of the society.


  1. Heartz, D. (1995)
07 July 2022
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