Greatest Classical Composers of All Time
Even if you're not a fan of classical music, chances are you've heard all of these maestros before. Which ones are the most masterful?
Beethoven (1770-1827) was a German composer, and arguably the most significant figure in the transition from the Classical to the Romantic era. The most notable characteristic of Beethoven's style is the use of strong structure to develop epic themes that unfold like a dramatic novel. His greatest works include: Fur Elise, Midnight Sonata, and Symphonies 5 & 9.
Sample: Midnight Sonata
Mozart (1756-1791) was a naturally gifted and prolific, composing in all the major genres, including opera, concerto, and symphony. He chiefly defined the "Classical" style along with Haydn. His greatest works include the Requiem, Figaro, and Don Giovanni.
Sample: Requiem Mass in D Minor
Debussy (1862-1918) was an Impressionist French composer with a musical style mirroring French Impressionist painters like Monet. Debussy's whimsical melodies were designed to evoke mood over image, avoiding traditional compositional theory. His greatest works include: Claire de Lune, Afternoon of a Fawn, and the Nocturnes.
Sample: Clair de Lune
Wagner (1813-1883) was a German composer best remembered for his grand operas. Wagner revolutionized dramatic music with his concept of the "total art work." His style and subject matter was grandiose, seeking to fuse classical Greek ideals with Germanic legend. His greatest works include: Ride of the Valkyries and the Bridal Chorus.
Sample: Ride of the Valkyries
Haydn (1732-1809) was an influential Classical Austrian composer who defined the standard for Symphony, Sonata, String Quartet form. His music tended to develop large structures out of short ones and was quite formal. Some pieces were humorous. His greatest works include: The Creation and The Seasons.
Sample: Symphony No. 94 "Surprise"
Schubert (1797-1828) was a prolific Austrian early-Romantic composer, best known for his masterful melodies. Schubert's melodies were spontaneous and capricious, capable of evoking joy as well as despair. His greatest works include: the Fifth Symphony, Ave Maria, Trout Quintet
Sample: Ave Maria
Bach (1685-1750) was a great Baroque composer with extraordinary technical talent, especially for composing complex fugues on-the-fly. Bach was a great solo organist with a flair for showing of the intellectual depth of his compositions. His greatest works include Concerto No 2, Art of the Fugue, Musical Offering, and Toccata.
Sample: Toccata and Fugue in D minor
Tchaikovsky (1840-1893) was a Romantic Russian composer best remembered for his wildly popular concert and ballet music. His style is eclectic, mixing western melodies with elements of folksong. His greatest works include: Swan Lake, The Nutcracker, and Symphony No 5.
Sample: Waltz of the Flowers from The Nutcracker
Chopin (1810-1849) was a Polish Romantic composer and talented master pianist. Many of his compositions were written for solo piano. He tended to write short, technically demanding melodies and invented a new style called Ballade. His greatest works include: Nocturnes 2, 8, and 20; and Preludes 4 and 15.
Sample: Prelude in E-Minor
Brahmns (1833-1897) was a German Romantic composer and master of counter-point. He was also a master pianist, performing many of his own compositions. Brahmns' style fused traditional Classicism and Baroque with new-era Romanticism. His greatest works include Symphony 1, 2, 3, and 4, Piano Concertos 1 & 2, and Ein Deutsches Requiem.
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