The Musical Eras Throughout History
As piano players, we tend to study music exclusively written between 1600 and now. There was definitely music far before this point in time, but there wasn’t much for keyboard music (pianos themselves didn’t even exist until the 1700s).
Since pianos and keyboards basically didn’t exist in the Middle Ages, we don’t spend much time talking about them in the piano world. However, this is where Western music began, and it’s a fascinating period of time.
This is the first major musical period, and lasted from about 1600 to 1750. It’s in this period where you’ll find composers such as the esteemed JS Bach.
Music from this era is very different from more modern styles, and can be more difficult to listen to and play because of this. But Baroque music is very rewarding to get into – nothing teaches you hand independence like learning some fugues by Bach.
As pianists, our Classical music learning adventures will typically start with sonatinas and evolve toward the more difficult and lengthy sonatas.
The Romantic period in music was from about 1820 to 1910. It’s typically the era that intermediate and advanced students fall in love with once they start getting into more exciting repertoire by Chopin and Liszt.
Some really great expressive writing came from this time period, which is why people tend to fall in love with it. It’s closer in sound to the modern music we enjoy, and the pieces from this period cover the full spectrum of human emotion.
Music really started to split into different categories during this time (1910-2000). This is where you get styles like Impressionism, Modernism, Ragtime, Jazz, Musicals and more.
Cultural piano music
This video explores the Classical history of Canadian music (from about the 1600s to 1900s).
This video is a walkthrough of all the major genres in American music, from Classical to folk/country to rock/pop. It’s meant as an overview – some of these genres will be looked at in full in the future.