Lecture: Science and Sentiment
The Late Baroque style was popular at the beginning of the Enlightenment, but was also a holdover from the 17th century. Handel is a great example:
Handel: Music for the Royal Fireworks: Overture (1749)
The grandeur and formality of the style are characteristc. I don't like listening to Handel. I keep looking over my shoulder to see what great person is entering the room! Handel was a professional composer, who achieved international fame and earned a fortune with his music.
Johann Sebastian Bach kept the drama, but focused on skillful renditions of variations on themes people would enjoy listening to. In contrast to Handel, Bach's influence was confined to Protestant Germany until after his death, when others revived his music.
Bach: Brandenburg Concertos -- Concerto No. 4 in G major (1721)
Bach's music is intellectual, and to my mind a far better representation of refined Enlightenment tastes.
Many of us use the term "classical music" to mean anything that's old, doesn't have lyrics, and is played on violin or piano. But in fact it's a specific era and style marking an effort toward true lyricism, using clear melodies which could be enjoyed by the elites in society who patronized composers. The music tends to be light, with little of the dissonance that occurred in Baroque music.
Classicists were trying to revive an ideal of balance and moderation inherent in the ancient societies of Greece and Rome, while at the same time creating graceful melodies and harmonies.
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart took what could have been a very austere and restrained form, and created some of the most beautiful music in history. Although he wanted to be a court composer, he worked in many genres, including opera and dance music. He died unappreciated and unfulfilled in his ambitions; in some ways I think his music was simply beyond the comprehension of the wealthier set of patrons. (In the play and film Amadeus, the Emperor tells him his music has "too many notes".) In his case, it was the middle class that knew a good thing when they heard it. Here's one with lots of notes:
Mozart: First Movement, Sonata No. 15 in C Major (1788)
Baroque music reflected the drama and emotion of religious conflict between Catholic and Protestant, while Classical music reflected an orderly, controlled, graceful society. The transition marks the Enlightenment.
Now see how the art and music went together in the transfer from Baroque to Classical