The Era of Haydn, Mozart, and Beethoven, running roughly from about 1775 to 1820, is known to musical historians as the Classical Era. This era follows the Baroque period and preceded the Romantic.
Most scholars consider Beethoven a bridge figure, the last of the great Classical composers and the first of the Romantics. Like most composers, Haydn, Mozart, and Beethoven didn't label themselves. Their music was called Classical by later writers who saw in it qualities associated with the art and architecture of ancient Greece and Rome. In the ancient Classical ideal, beauty and depth of expression are inseparable from clarity and beauty of form. And even the most passionate expression is achieved within the bounds of established proportions. As Mozart himself once wrote, "Music, even in the most terrible situations, must never offend the ear, but must please the hearer. Or in other words, must never cease to be music."
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