Medieval music is European music written during the Middle Ages. This era begins with the fall of the Roman Empire and ends in approximately the early fifteenth century. Establishing the end of the medieval era and the beginning of the Renaissance is difficult. (Read more: Wikipedia)
Renaissance music is European music written during the Renaissance. Defining the beginning of the musical era is difficult, given the gradually adopted "Renaissance" characteristics: musicologists have placed its beginnings from as early as 1300 to as late as the 1470s. Famous composers include Gilles Binchois, Guillarume Dufay, Josquin des Prez, and Giovanni Pierluigi da Palestri. (Read more: Wikipedia)
Baroque music describes a style of Western Classical music approximately extending from 1600 to 1750. This period follows the Renaissance and was followed in turn by the Classical period. The word "baroque" came from the Portuguese word barroco, meaning "misshapen pearl", a negative description of the ornate and heavily ornamented music of this period; later, the name came to be applied also to its architecture. Baroque music forms a major portion of the classical music canon, being widely studied, performed, and listened to. Composers of the baroque era include Johann Sebastian Bach, George Frideric Handel, Alessandro Scarlatti, Antonio Vivaldi, Georg Philipp Telemann, Jean-Baptiste Lully, Arcangelo Corelli, Claudio Monteverdi, Jean-Philippe Rameau and Henry Purcell. The baroque period saw the development of functional tonality. During the period, composers and performers used more elaborate musical ornamentation, made changes in musical notation, and developed new instrumental playing techniques. Baroque music expanded the size, range, and complexity of instrumental performance, and also established opera as a musical genre. Many musical terms and concepts from this era are still in use today. (Read more: Wikipedia)
The dates of the Classical Period in Western music are generally accepted as being between about 1750 and 1830. The Classical period falls between the Baroque and the Romantic periods. The best known composers from this period are Joseph Haydn, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, Ludwig van Beethoven, and Franz Schubert; other notable names include Luigi Boccherini, Muzio Clementi, Antonio Soler, Antonio Salieri, François Joseph Gossec, Johann Stamitz, Carl Friedrich Abel, Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach, and Christoph Willibald Gluck. The period is sometimes referred to as the era of Viennese Classic or Classicism (German: Wiener Klassik), since Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, Joseph Haydn, and Ludwig van Beethoven all worked at some time in Vienna, and Franz Schubert was born there. (Read more: Wikipedia)
Romantic music is a musicological and artistic term referring to a particular period, theory, compositional practice, and canon in Western music history, from about 1830 to 1900. Romantic music as a movement evolved from the formats, genres and musical ideas established in earlier periods, such as the classical period, and went further in the name of expression and syncretism of different art-forms with music. Romanticism does not necessarily refer to romantic love, though that theme was prevalent in many works composed during this time period, both in literature, painting or music. Romanticism followed a path that led to the expansion of formal structures for a composition set down or at least created in their general outlines in earlier periods, and the end-result is that the pieces are 'understood' to be more passionate and expressive, both by 19th century and today's audiences. Because of the expansion of form (those elements pertaining to form, key, instrumentation and the like) within a typical composition, and the growing idiosyncrasies and expressivity of the new composers from the new century, it thus became easier to identify an artist based on his work or style.
Romantic music attempted to increase emotional expression and power to describe deeper truths or human feelings, while preserving but in many cases extending the formal structures from the classical period, in others, creating new forms that were deemed better suited to the new subject matter. The subject matter in the new music was now not only purely abstract, but also frequently drawn from other art-form sources such as literature, or history (historical figures) or nature itself. (Read more: Wikipedia)
20th Century (1900-2000)
At the end of the 19th century, the Romantic style was starting to break apart, moving along various parallel courses, such as Impressionism and Post-romanticism. In the 20th century, the different styles that emerged from the music of the previous century influenced composers to follow new trends, sometimes as a reaction to that music, sometimes as an extension of it, and both trends co-existed well into the 20th century. In the early part of the 20th century, many composers wrote music which was an extension of 19th-century Romantic music, and traditional instrumental groupings such as the orchestra and string quartet remained the most typical. Traditional forms such as the symphony and concerto remained in use. Gustav Mahler and Jean Sibelius are examples of composers who took the traditional symphonic forms and reworked them.
Impressionism started in France as a reaction, led by Claude Debussy, against the emotional exuberance and epic themes of German Romanticism exemplified by Wagner. In Debussy's view, art was a sensuous experience, rather than an intellectual or ethical one. He urged his countrymen to rediscover the French masters of the 18th century, for whom music was meant to charm, to entertain, and to serve as a "fantasy of the senses". Other composers associated with impressionism include Maurice Ravel, Albert Roussel, and Isaac Albéniz. Many French composers continued impressionism's language through the 1920s and later, including Albert Roussel, Charles Koechlin, André Caplet, and, later, Olivier Messiaen. Composers from non-Western cultures, such as Tōru Takemitsu, and jazz musicians such as Duke Ellington, Gil Evans, Art Tatum, and Cecil Taylor, also have been strongly influenced by the impressionist musical language. (Read more: Wikipedia)