Classical music

Where can I find information about the eras of classical music?

Entry last updated: 31/05/21


Classical music has developed and changed over hundreds of years. Music from each of the four main eras has a distinct sound as composers experimented with existing musical forms and developed new ones. They were also influenced by the time in which they lived and the changing world around them.

List of musical eras

Below is a list of the four main eras or periods of classical music.

  • Baroque Period (1600 to 1750)
  • Classical Period (1750 to 1827)
  • Romantic Period (1827 to 1900)
  • 20th century (1900 onwards)

Epic resources

EPIC is a collection of online resources that have been put together especially for New Zealand school students. The resources below have lots of information about the eras of classical music.

Britannica School

Britannica School has many articles about classical music.

  • To find an article about the different musical eras select the middle level.
  • Enter 'classical music eras' into the search box to read classical music.
  • Make sure you explore the links to the Primary sources, Images & Videos, and Related Resources on the page.
  • You can choose another level from Articles Reading Level found at the top of the page.

Oxford Music Online

This EPIC site has thousands of articles about the history and culture of music.

  • Choose Topic from the tab at the top of the page.
  • Then select Musicology and Music History to read articles about the different eras of music.
  • You can refine your search by selecting an Era from the list on the left hand side of the page.
  • Select update to find an alphabetical list of articles, timelines, interviews and indexes.
Tips: To get to the EPIC databases you will need a password from your school librarian first. Or you can log on to AnyQuestions between 1 and 6 pm Monday to Friday, and one of the librarians will help you online. Some EPIC databases may also be available through your public library.

General websites

There are many good websites about the different eras of classical music. Here are some websites that, although aimed at primary levels, have reliable and accurate information.

Classics for Kids

This site has information about different musical eras, and a description of the music composed during this time. It also has examples you can listen to.

  • Select Music from the tab at the top of the page.
  • Select the link called Musical Eras.
  • Select the era you want to learn about eg Baroque Music.
  • Each of these articles has audio clips about the eras, composers, and examples of of their music that you can listen to.
Tips: Websites that have .com or .co in the address can have good information, but you need to assess how reliable it is. Check the About Classics for Kids page on the website. That will tell you what the company’s mission and values are.

DSO Kids

This is a site for students that is managed by the Dallas Symphony Orchestra. It has sound bites of famous composers.

  • Find Learn + Listen at the top of the page and select Composers from the drop down menu.
  • The composers listed are grouped by the era in which they lived. Select a composer from the era you want to listen to.
  • Each article tells you a little about the composer you have chosen. At the bottom of the page is an audio clip of a selection of that composer's work.
Tips: The site is focused on local visitors, so often mentions DSO Kids Club and local DSO performances.

New Zealand sites

European classical music was introduced into New Zealand by the British settlers. This inspired local composers like Alfred Hill and Douglas Lilburn who gained fame nationally and internationally.

Te Ara: The Encyclopedia of New Zealand

This site is owned by the Ministry of Culture and Heritage and answers questions about the people, environment, history, culture, and society of New Zealand. Information is well-researched and reliable.

  • Select Creative and Intellectual Life from the options at the bottom of the page.
  • The section on Music explores different types of music in New Zealand.
  • Choose composers to read about classical composers in New Zealand.
Tips: We like sites that are from government or other reputable organisations, because we can trust the information. You can sometimes tell these sites by their web address – they might have .gov or .edu in their address – or by looking at their About us or Contact pages.

Radio New Zealand

Radio New Zealand is our country's public radio service. RNZ concert promotes New Zealand music and composition. It also has live broadcasts of concerts and recitals.

  • Enter 'classical music' into the search box.
  • Resound is a programme that has a selection of important New Zealand classical music that you can listen to.
  • Or, go to the tab called Topics to find a link to Music. Here you will find a link to RNZ Concert which promotes New Zealand music, compositions, concerts and recitals.
  • Also explore Collections from the section on Topics to listen concert recordings like the Adam Chamber Music festival or the story of music from the History through the Piano.
Tips: Some websites have .au, .nz, .uk or other codes in their url. This can tell you which country this website comes from eg .au is from Australia or .nz is from New Zealand. You can check the ‘ About Us ’ link on the website for more information.


There have been many books written about classical music - check out your local public or school library to see what they have.

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