How are classical music and baroque music different?

The term 'Fortspinnung' is frequently used to define Baroque music. Fortspinnung is a German word that describes the constantly unfolding nature of the music. When you listen to music from the Baroque, you will notice that it rarely comes to a complete stop. Even at Cadences, one or more voices lead into the next phrase.

By Contrast, music from the classical period has a much stronger focus on phrase units. Try listening to a Bach Prelude and Fugue (Baroque) and a Mozart piano Sonata (Classical) and comparing the phrasing. You can find some good examples on youtube. You may also notice some differences in the texture.

Baroque music has a strong focus on counterpoint, or line against line. If you listen to a Bach Fugue for example, you will probably notice that there are several different lines moving freely of each other. One may leap up while the other leaps down, or one may step down slowly while another is moving quickly in many different directions.

Classical music has a focus on harmony, or chords. While there are still different lines in much of Classical music, you will notice that there is a more distinct melody with a chordal accompaniment.