The word "classical" as applied to music has two meanings. The narrow meaning is the music that predominated in cultivated circles from about 1759 or so (the year Handel died) through about 1827 (the year Beethoven died). The most prominent classical composers were Haydn, Mozart, and Beethoven, though there were many others as well--among them J.S. Bach's sons, esp. C.P.E. Bach, Johann Nepomuk Hummel, Luigi Boccherini, Karl Ditters von Dittersdorf.and many others. Of course, this time classification is a bit arbitrary; Schubert, who died a scant 20 months after Beethoven, is generally considered a Romantic composer, though many of his longer works from all but the last few years of his life are basically classical in the narrow sense.

In the broader sense, classical music is more difficult to define precisely; you can find exceptions to almost any generalizations you make.

Yes, classical music tends to be in longer forms that popular music, but a great many classical composers have written songs which are no longer that the average pop song. There is even an Australian composer named Myroslav Gutej whose 3 movenment Piano Sonata #7 lasts a total of 24 seconds!

Yes, classical music tends to be "serious" music; in fact, many have adopted the term "serious music" in lieu of classical music, because they think it more accurate. But that does not mean that all non-classical music is not serious, or that no classical music has humor. Many operas have comic plots; probably about half of opera plots involve crossdressing by at least one character. And Brahms Academic Festival Overture, written, as you might expect, to celebrate a particular academic festival, horrified many of the academics and delighted their students because it was based on four popular German student drinking songs. Much of the humor of J.S. Bach is lost to us now, because much of his music, including his sacred cantatas and organ music, incorporated melodies from the popular music of his day; this often shocked many members of the congregation. At the other end, the song "Strange Fruit," popularized by Billie Holiday, certainly qualifies as "serious" music.

And finally, whether a composer is considered classical or popular can be a rather arbirary, individual decision at the margins. I have made the decision, for example, to include all of Duke Ellington, even his longer symphonic compositions, in with my jazz section. OTOH, I categorize both George Gershwin and Scott Joplin (not just his opera Treemonisha) as classical composers.

And while I think rap is an abomination, I must say that many people who began as rap "artists" have turned out to be people of real artistic depth in music and movies. Queen Latifah is one of the few who has branched out into other kinds of music, but others, like Ice T and Will Smith have shown themselves to be fine actors with genuine depth. And, divorced from its often obscene, violent, and mysogynistic content, rap as a form, if not a name, has been around for a long time, going back at least as far as the Gilbert and Sullivan patter songs. And give another listen to Pete Seeger's "Talking Atom" from the late 40's, if you have never heard it.
Favorite essentials to a good classical CD collection:

Bach: Brandenburg Concerti--Marriner, cond.
Handel: Messiah--Charles Mackerras, cond.
Haydn: String Quartets, Op. 76--Tatrai Quartet.
Beethoven: Piano Concerti (5)--Leon Fleisher, piano, George Szell, cond. Cleveland Orchestra.

Brahms: Symphonies--Georg Solti, Chicago Sym.
Mahler: Symphonies--Bernstein, NYPO
Dvorak: Sym 9 "New World"--Zdenek Macal, cond, London Philharmonic Orch.
Stravinsky: The Rite of Spring--Stravinsky, cond.
Joplin: Treemonisha--Gunther Schuller, cond.
Prokofiev: Symphonies 1, 5--James Levine, Chicago Symphony.
Shostakovich: Piano Quintet--St Petersburg String Quartet, hyperion label.

Britten: Young Person's Guide to the Orchestra--Antal Dorati, cond., Sean Connery, narrator.
by Robert Baker aka RebLem May 14, 2006
Top Definition
The pinnacle of music, which embodies all the musical theory that has been forgotten in today's music.
by Anonymous October 21, 2003
1. Classical music is a type of music that goes from the 1500s (Thomas Tallis) to the 1900s (John Rutter). It includes the Rennaisance Period, the Baroque Period, the Classical Period, the Romantic Period, and the Modern Period.
2. No one seems to understand the difference between the classical PERIOD and classical MUSIC! Music that includes an orchestra, a choral, solo instruments, or opera is CLASSICAL music, it's just no necessarily the classical PERIOD of music!
Don't listen to any of the fucked up definitions that state that the Classical Period is all classical music and that the Romantic Period is considered romantic music. It's all classical!
by Ohenry July 05, 2005
A type of music that surpasses all others because it doesn't involve computer generated beats and even more shockingly, no lyrics about bustin' a whitey's ass with lead!

Rap has no true emotion behind it. True composers like Gustav Mahler and Dmitri Shostakovich were intelligent and put real emotion into their music. Rap doesn't have any feeling so it makes you think of nothing while you are listening to it. Classical does contain lyrics in the case of Opera and Church music and if you don’t understand the language, that’s YOUR fault!

The majority of listeners are intelligent people who refuse to listen to Rap because of how bad it sounds. Classical music is still being composed today and has never been better. Some modern composers are Leondard Bernstein and John Rutter.

Everybody knows that Rappers got famous because the majority of moron Americans would rather listen to “Come and lick my lollipop, you cunt!” rather than listen to true beautiful emotion classical music.

Anyone can rap:
1: Think of some horrible lyrics about violence, drugs, rape, and misogyny
2: Repeat step 1 six times
3: Invite 5 of ya gang around
4: Give them a microphone and and a synthesizer
5: Give each person a different sheet with random notes
6: Record the result
7: Get some dumbass MTV person to broadcast your shit.

Most movies these days only classical music a.k.a. real music rather than that fucking rap shit like 8 Mile, the worst movie ever made.

The reason classical is only played during movies nowadays is because:
1: If they played rap, people would die
2: The movie industry is too civilized for Rap.
3: Rap artists like 50 cent have too many hoes to fuck and ain’t got no time to to movie music.

Classical will remain popular whereas in about 10 years rap will go out of style. People have been fans of classical music for centuries!

Classical is not boring. There’s more to classical than slow violin and piano pieces. Have you ever heard Shostakovich? Have you ever heard Mahler? I suggest buying “Shostakovich Symphony No. 4” and tell me what you think!
Non-music: 50 cent, Chingy, Nelly, Ludacris, Ja Rule, The Game, and all that other shit!
Music: Gustav Mahler, Dmitri Shostakovich, Sergei Rachmaninov, Peter Tchaikovsky, Camille Saint-Saens, Johann Bach, Wolfgang Mozart, Ludwig Beethoven, and much more…
by Level 12 August 03, 2005
The most technically demanding genre of music in the world. Classical music focuses primarily on perfection. For listeners willing to look past cliche lyrics and generic beats found in about 80% of the music on MTV or the radio today.
The user complaining about how "Classical is boring. When is the last time you saw classical music on MTV or at no.1 in the charts?" is obviously being sarcasic. Because if he/she is not, then they are misguided. Just because it's popular and people are willing to throw away their money for it, doesn't make it good. Let's make a few comparisons between rap and classical, since thats where this debate is originating from:

1. Classical music has withstood the test of time. Rap has only originated in the past 20 years, and already many people don't know 70%+ rap bands around before todays "artists" (this appears to be the case with you, too). Classical has been around for hundreds of years, and you can still go to your local music store and pick up a classical based album.

2. In your point "Emotional music comes from the heart, not from fucking black dots written on a paper with lines.", don't you think that the people who put those same black dots you're complaining about on that paper where "coming from the heart"? when they wrote it?

3. If you had any knowledge of music or music theory, you would know that the artists you meantioned all use beats that a four year old uses to play "music". Rhyming and bitching are not hard to do, using complex harmonization, sequencing, and phrasing is.

4. You're a moron, joke or not. You don't know how to use proper grammer, puntuation, or paragraphs for that matter. You also talk like a pre-pubesent 12 year old desperatly trying to "fit in with the scene" in your town or neighborhood.
by wild_jary July 31, 2005
A style of music only some people can appreciate. Not many pre-teens and teenagers my age like it (I think that's because they want to be "cool"). I like classical, and rock. They're broad, but they're both pretty cool. Classical's always going to be "classic." Maybe in like 20 years, rock'll go out of fashion. Maybe I'll still like rock then, but I don't think it'll be that big. Classic examples of composers around the classical period are Mozart, Beethoven, and a lot others, check them out at your local music store.....classical can be wild and loud and sometimes it can be soft and calm. Don't think that listening to one classical piece will determine what the whole genre is like.
I, myself, have liked classical for a while. My graphics site is, I have ClassicalFonts, my screen names have to do with classical.....but that's all another thing.
by C.C. January 22, 2005
The greatest genre of music in existence and perhaps the highest achievement of the human race. Reveals pop music for the appalling fraud that it is and displays transcendent emotion and astounding technique. Classical music is characterized by the following:

1. A great deal of complexity. Modulation, counterpoint, and elaborate orchestration are all commonplace. Time signatures other than 4/4 are hardly unusual and melodic development is the rule rather than the exception. Pieces are typically at least 10 minutes long and occassionally reach hours in length.

2. Seriousness. Classical composers and musicians take their music very seriously. Profound subjects such as the salvation of humanity and genuine joy are quite common while everyday and frivilous subjects are avoided. Skill and quality are more important than image.

3. Implication. Lyrics are relatively rare and emotion is conveyed primarily through the music itself. In stark contrast to pop music, rhythm is almost always implied rather than explicitly stated through sledgehammer basslines.

4. Forms. Musical forms such as the sonata, symphony, and concerto make up the bulk of classical pieces. These forms are shared within classical but rarely, if ever, appear outside it. These forms tend to be composed of multiple movements, usually three or four.

5. Instrumentation. Classical music tends to use certain instruments, such as violins, piano, flute, etc. that distinguish it from other genres using other sets of instruments.
Sarah cringed as she heard the country music on the radio and hastily switched to a classical music station.
by Sekais February 16, 2006
Apidemy of well made music; Opposite of corporate, thrown together, modern sales pop-music; Fine Art for the ears.
"Classical; Classic; Classic great music."
by LORD HELL FEAR BLOOD March 16, 2003
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