Neo-Classicism and Classical Music

Introduction

Neo-Classicism was an artistic movement that came around in 1765 after Johann Joachim Winckelmann wrote his books, and founded modern archeology. Once people started discovering the grandeur of ancient Rome, interest in the time period sparked, and Neo Classicism came around. Neo Classicism was most prominent in architecture and sculptures, however, neoclassical art existed as well. Perhaps the most prominent of these is the Oath or Horatti, which reflects the enlightenment ideals of civic duty and service to the state. Neo Classicism would be used by Napoleon to strengthen his political power and by many dictators later on. Starting out as a movement against Rococo, Neo Classicism grew to become one of the most influential and easily recognizable forms of architecture that we have today. Etienne- Louis Boulle and Claude Nicholas Ledoux were the first 2 neoclassical architects. They started a trend that is still around today.

Johann Joachim Winckelmann

The father of modern archaeology. Without him, there would be no neo-classical movement.
The father of modern archaeology. Without him, there would be no neo-classical movement. | Source

Art

Neoclassical art depicted heroes from Greek and Roman mythology. The art was almost always drawn with to appear as if there was artificial lighting and opera. The main perspective of the picture is always perpendicular to its orientation. The Oath of Horatti was mentioned before; in addition to that, other famous neoclassical paintings include The Tennis Court Oath, The Apotheosis of Homer, and Achilles. Famous artists from the time period include Jacques-Louis David, Jean-Auguste-Dominique Ingres, and Michel Martin Drolling. The most famous of these is Jacque-Louis David, for his world-famous painting the Oath of Horatti. Neoclassical art was much darker and more serious than Rococo art. Rococo art was all about the celebration of human life, and depicted people in happy situations. Neoclassicism gained a lot of traction during the Napoleonic wars, when napoleon was conquering Europe, and was a lot more serious, depicting war and death. The Oath of Horatti exemplifies what Neo Classical art was all about. It depicts women crying while the men go off to war. It not only depicts the horrors of war, but Enlightenment ideals such as civic duty and loyalty.

The Oath of Horatii

Painted by the French artist Jacques-Louis David in 1784, it remains one of the most famous and recognizable paintings form the neo-classical movement.
Painted by the French artist Jacques-Louis David in 1784, it remains one of the most famous and recognizable paintings form the neo-classical movement. | Source

Architecture

Architecture was perhaps the most popular form of Neo Classicism. It was perfectly symmetrical, like all Greek and Roman structures. There was heavy use of exterior columns for decoration and stability. Finally, there were lots of arches and domes being used, arches provided stability, while domes looked big and imposing, thus restoring the grandeur of ancient Rome. The most famous examples of this architecture include the Vilnius Cathedral in Lithuania, the US Capitol in Washington, the Prado museum in Madrid, and Pulteney Bridge in England. Famous architects of the time period include Laurynas Gucevičius, William Thornton, Juan de Villanueva, and Robert Adam. In France and the United States, this was the most popular style of architecture. Many examples in France were built by Napoleon, to represent the rebirth of the Roman Empire. These include the Arc of Triumph and the Invalids Hospital. In the US as well, many buildings were Neo Classical in nature. The US was supposed to be a shining beacon of hope on a hill, the Rome of its time. To try to emulate this, the Americans built a lot of structures in the Neo Classical style. Later on, the Nazis would use this form of architecture in their structures, as they tried to be the new Rome as well. Mussolini of Fascist Italy also built structures in this manner, in order to attempt to revive the grandeur of Rome. The neo classical architecture style is still being used today. In the USSR, the Red Army Theater in Moscow is built in that style. There are even examples of this architecture in Canada, such as the Charles V. Keating Millennium Centre in Canada. Neoclassicism was a very important movement, and is probably the greatest thing to come out of the neoclassical movement.

US Capitol Building

The US Capitol is one of the most famous neo-classical structures ever built
The US Capitol is one of the most famous neo-classical structures ever built | Source

Sculptures

Neoclassical sculptures were very popular, as many of the archeological discoveries made were sculptures from ancient Greece and Rome. These neoclassical sculptures would be made in the same style as Greek and Roman sculptures. Napoleon had a couple of busts of himself made, to make him look like Caesar. These sculptures usually depicted naked humans, and represented purity, perfection, innocence, and openness. Some of the more famous examples include Psyche Revived by Lover’s Kiss, Jason and the Golden Fleece, Ganymede, Nydia the Blind Flower Girl of Pompeii, and Theseus Fighting the Centaur. The famous sculptors from this time include Antonio Canova, José Álvarez Cubero, Randolph Rogers, and Bertel Thorvaldsen. The most famous of these would be Antonio Canova, for his sculpture Psyche Revived by Lover’s Kiss. The sculptures showed the obsession that people from the late 1700s and early 1800s had with the classical period. During the Renaissance, must busts were of biblical figures, mostly David. In the late 1700s, the church was losing a lot of its power, and artists moved away from biblical figures and started depicting figures from Roman and Greek mythology. This shows how much power the church has lost due to the Enlightenment.

Psyche Revived By Lover's Kiss

This is by far the most famous neo-classical sculpture ever commissioned. It was sculpted by Antonio Canova. It was first commissioned in 1787.
This is by far the most famous neo-classical sculpture ever commissioned. It was sculpted by Antonio Canova. It was first commissioned in 1787. | Source

Classical Music

Classical Music was not part of the neoclassical movement, it was the music that was popular in Europe between 1550 and 1900. This music was very significant, because it formed the basis of European culture. Modern music is based off classical music. Classical music is usually very complex, and the notes are written down before being played in orchestras or symphonies. Classical music can take on many different forms; it can be a song, and opera, a symphony, and orchestra, etc. This music produced some of the most easily recognizable names in history. John Strauss II, Mozart, Beethoven, and Bach are all iconic composers who all composed classical music. Today’s most famous songs: The Blue Danube, Fur Elise, Requiem, and Toccata and Fugue in D minor are all classical songs composed by these great composers. This music formulates the basis of all music today, and was the basis of European culture for 350 years. This music also depicted the attitudes of the people. Beethoven would write songs about how he felt about Napoleon, which shows how the music was used to express the opinion of the time. Classical music is perhaps one of the greatest achievements of European Civilization, and is very important to our society today.

Ludwig van Beethoven

Ludwig van Beethoven is one of the most famous composers of classical music to have ever lived. One of his most famous pieces is Fur Elise.
Ludwig van Beethoven is one of the most famous composers of classical music to have ever lived. One of his most famous pieces is Fur Elise. | Source

Conclusion

Neo classicism, which started out as a movement to counter Rococo, and was only revived due to Johann Joachim Winckelmann became one of the most significant and influential art movements in history. Neoclassical architecture is the best testament to that, as it is still being used today, 240 years after the movement started. It has been used by rulers and by nations to attempt to reestablish the grandeur of Rome. Classical music formed the basis of European culture for 350 years. Both of these movements were extremely influential, and continue to influence us today.

Europe

Europe was the birthplace of neo-classicism.
Europe was the birthplace of neo-classicism. | Source

Greatest Composer

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