Howard Goodall's Story of Music

The Age of Elegance & Sensibility

Series 1 - Episode 3 The Age of Elegance & Sensibility



An immensely stimulating episode that could have stretched across two weeks: we move from 1750 to 1850, the “age of elegance and sensibility”. Where Bach and Handel had wanted to improve and educate, Haydn and Mozart wished to entertain. Their dainty, beautiful music used simpler chords, an approach Goodall illustrates by commissioning a Haydn-style cover of Rockin’ All Over the World. There’s also a lovely analysis of Mozart’s genius for melody, and how he couldn’t help pouring his emotions into his music.
This brings us to Beethoven, Schubert (and his modern equivalent: Adele) and, as a new era opens, Chopin. It’s an impeccably clear, insightful hour of factual telly.


The composer examines the age of Haydn, Mozart, Beethoven, Schubert, Mendelssohn, Schumann and Chopin. This period from 1750 to 1850 saw composers going from being paid, liveried servants of princes and archbishops to working as freelancers required to appeal to a new, middle-class audience. The era also saw tremendous social upheaval, including the American, French and Industrial revolutions, but until around the turn of the 19th century, the music that was being written bore little relevance to the tumultuous changes in society.