Many individuals have a tendency to call any symphonic music “classical music.” Strictly speaking, the period of classical music falls between the Baroque and Romantic periods, or roughly the 18th century. Some of the best-known classical composers of this era include Joseph Haydn, Franz Schubert, and Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. Other minor figures include Antonio Salieri, Carl Phillip Emanuel Bach, and Christoph Gluck.
Europe adopted the Classical style in the 18th century, reflecting a reawakening of the styles of antiquity. In music, the size and scope of the orchestra was expanding, as was the demand for less complex and demanding works, such as dominated in the Baroque era, a style best represented by Johann Sebastian Bach. Classical composers sought a lighter style than the Baroque, consisting of melody above chordal accompaniment, and using a variety of keys, rhythms, and dynamics.
Classical composers began emerging around 1730, especially through Gluck’s transformation of opera. Many classical composers set up operation in Vienna, where by 1750 a new type of musical ensemble, consisting of strings and winds. Joseph Haydn became the leader of this Vienna style. Although Mozart largely overshadows his work, Haydn’s contribution to setting the course for future classical composers cannot be overstated. Yet Mozart’s arrival in Vienna in 1780 brought to completion the transformation of music to the classical.