Medieval era:
Palestrina represented the “high art” of the Renaissance, and indeed may have saved the complexity of music by convincing the council of Trent, a group intending on reforming the church. The Pope Marcellus March became a standard of the councils ideals, in that they could accept polyphany in a clear and dignified manner.
Baroque era:
Monteverdi wrote Orfeo and Ariana, very important operas, especially as Orfeo was the first important opera in Western music.
He succeeded in standardizing such aspects of opera as aria and recitative, and monody.
J.S. Bach
Baroque era:
Beginning as an organ virtuoso, Bach was a master of counterpoint. He composed Organ Fugue in G Minor, as standard in imitative counterpoint. Later he composed the Brandenberg concerto, allowing the harpsichord a place as a solo instrument.
G.F. Handel
Baroque era:
Handel is famous for his piece, the Messiah. As a hired musician working for the aristocracty, once for the king, producting Water Music, on the boat (dance suite) and later oratorios. In the Messiah, the king was said to stand because of how moved he was during the Hallelujiah chorus.
F.J. Haydn
Classical style:
Haydn worked as a sort of servant under the Esterhazy family until the master of the house died, and he took control of the London Symphonies.
At this point he traveled and gained wealth through his compositions.
W.A. Mozart
A true child genious, mozart had some freedom to compose as he wished, taking part as a vioinist and other positions in his church. Later in life, he became famous with his great Italian operas, The Marriage of Figaro and Don Giovanni.
L.v. Beethoven
Late Classical and early romantic:
A fairly troubled man, Beethoven grew up under an abusive and drunken father who made him practice piano almost constantly. Seen as a genious of inspiration, Beethoven was commissioned with little restraint, and formatted the mechanics of Romantic music.
His life developed in three parts, each showing a different perspective of music. His early period showed traditional forms but still had an edge, with such movements as Pathetique. THen he moved into the middle or Heroic period, therefore beginning the romantic era, while almost deaf. He projected anger in these pieces, with pieces like the fifth symphony.
Finally he reverted to some of the traditional ideas of music and settled down in his last days, the sublime period (Ode to Joy).
Romantic era:
Learning about music through song, Schubert quickly moved to the piano, with which he would party with his friends in Schubertiads. (Party on Schubert)
Romantic era:
Writing only for the piano, Chopin was known for his poetic abilities. He developed the mazurka and the nocturne, in which he arpegiated chords to immitate harmony.
Romantic era:
Liszt was from the aristocracy who was thought to be a great virtuoso of the time. His hands could stretch great distances, and he wrote a lot of etudes to show off his talents.
Verdi was a huge name in Italian opera. He was internationally regarded and seen as the go-to-guy for opera. La traviata is perhaps his most famous work.
He was not born very wealthy but early on showed his prowess for music. He also favored woodwinds over large string symphonies. His symphonic poem, Afternoon of a Faun was put to dance, and showed the uncertainty and modern dance of the impressionist period. Its sensualness created some problems on the stage version.
Puccini was a realist who composed La boheme.