The emergence of the Rococo style had been in many respects a revolt against the more severe forms of the earlier Baroque music. At the same time, although Italian music and musicians were still dominant in the field of opera, all through Northern Europe a number of local schools, particularly in the field of instrumental music, arose around the middle of the eighteenth century. Paris was the centre of music in Northern Europe, but other, equally important, schools flourished in London (where J. C. Bach was soon to become the leading composer), Mannheim (where a series of Bohemian musicians were gradually establishing a new orchestral technique), Berlin (which remained rather old-fashioned in its tastes, and where C. P. E. Bach first began to write his major works before moving to Hamburg), and Vienna. As matters turned out, Vienna and the surrounding Austrian empire became the geographical centre for the emergence of a new school which has in the course of time acquired the name "Viennese Classical Style."
The second half of the 18th century brought many new developments. Out of the suite grew the popular serenade, and from that the more fastidious string quartet. In solo song the later Berlin School completed the return to nature, and stressed the popular element. Bach's sons, especially Carl Philipp Emanuel (died 1788) reflect the passionate "Sturm und Drang" movement, particularly in keyboard music. In a similar manner the Mannheim School furthered the development of modern symphonic art. Gluck (died 1787) led Italian and French opera towards a new truth of dramatic expression, whilst the "Singspiel," the German form of comic opera, began to flourish. The authority of Haydn (died 1809) and Mozart (died 1791) was recognized as the classical style grew out of the "Sturm und Drang" and as an early forerunner of the romantic period the "Biedermeier" developed from the sentimentality of the late "Galant" style.