This history of Western art music is organized into separate chapters for each of the periods of its development from the Medieval Ages to the present day. The text is mostly taken from various Wikipedia articles which may be accessed by clicking on the various headings and names of composers.  As my intention is to trace the development of the art form my focus is mainly on the works of the composers rather than their lives. Each chapter has an accompanying Spotify playlist. The numbers that appear before the names of compositions refer to track numbers in the playlists. My hope is that by listening to the examples after reading about a particular composer the reader will gain a greater understanding and appreciation of the music than would be gained by merely reading about it or listening to it without any knowledge of the state of the art in the era in which it was composed.

Western art music or classical music generally refers to the art music of the Western world, considered to be distinct from Western folk music or popular music traditions. It is sometimes distinguished as Western classical music, as the term “classical music” also applies to non-Western art music. Classical music is often characterized by formality and complexity in its musical form and harmonic organization, particularly with the use of polyphony. Since at least the ninth century it has been primarily a written tradition, spawning a sophisticated notational system, as well as accompanying literature in analytical, critical, historiographical, musicological and philosophical practices. A foundational component of Western culture, classical music is frequently seen from the perspective of individual or groups of composers, whose compositions, personalities and beliefs have fundamentally shaped its history. 

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