It is very difficult to define western classical music due to the extremely broad range of forms, styles, genres, and historical periods that can be attributed to this musical genre.
The roots of classical music in the western world are considered to be found in early Christian liturgical music, and its influences date back to the time of the ancient Greeks. The general, and arbitrary time divisions of classical music are roughly: the early music period, which includes Medieval (500–1400) and Renaissance (1400–1600) times, the Common practice period, which includes Baroque (1600–1750), Classical (1750–1830) and Romantic (1815–1910) periods, and the modern and contemporary period, which includes 20th century (1900–2000) and current contemporary (1975–current) times.
Classical music is characterized as solely instrumental without any vocals. Vocals are added for opera performances. Most of the instruments used in classical music were invented before the mid-19th century and often much earlier. They consist of the instruments found in an orchestra, together with other solo instruments, such as the piano, harpsichord, and organ. Most classical music is played by a symphony orchestra. As of the 20th century, electric instruments are occasionally added, such as electric guitar and violin, synthesizers and computer-generated sounds. There have also been samplings and mash-ups with other musical genres.
Famous classical composers include: Ludwig Van Beethoven, Wolfgang Amadeus, Mozart Johann Sebastian Bach, Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky, George Frideric Handel and Antonio Vivaldi.
Classical music remains a popular genre today. Concert halls continue to be filled, new talents and big names, such as: Yo-Yo Ma, Krystian Zimerman, and Susanne Hou are active on the scene; record and cd sales are still here, premium and free classical music online has been added to free classical music on radio shows and stations. All this points out to the fact that classical music shall remain with is for many years to come.