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Top Ten Pieces of Classical Music

Updated on April 16, 2013

Discover a world of beauty.

We've all heard their names, Mozart, Beethoven, and Bach. Some of us might remember listening to those baby Mozart or Beethoven cd's when we were small. They are played in movies, commercials and cartoons (Tom and Jerry). But who are the men and women who stand behind these masterpieces?

*Note: I wrote the first part of my introduction before making this lens. Now that I'm finished I feel so much closer and well acquainted with these genius, tragic, bizarre, beautiful composers.

I hope you will too.

Photo Credit: Flickr

Classical Music: Yes or No?

Do you like classical music?

See results

Recommended: best of the classical world. - The best of the best.

Now that you've gotten aqainted with some of the great masters of classical music, why don't you try out some more?

Top 200 Classics – the Very Best of Classical Music
Top 200 Classics – the Very Best of Classical Music

200 should last you a lifetime.

enjoy, relax, and admire.

 

10. Orpheus In The Underworld: Infernal Galop - You don't know his name but you know his music.

Photocredit: wikipedia
Photocredit: wikipedia

Jacques Offenbach

1819-1880

A German-born French composer, cellist and impresario of the romantic period.

He was born the 17th child to a cantor at the local synagogue. Offenbach began to compose music at age 6 and gave his first concert at age 12.

He composed 100 operettas in his lifetime.

He is still known for his overtures, a few songs from his famous operettas, and a very famous can-can! (Check out the video)

Orpheus In The Underworld: Infernal Galop

Did you know?

People Underestimated Offenbach. During his lifetime, and in the obituary notices in 1880 critics stated that his music would be forgotten.The Times Predicted : "It is very doubtful whether any of his works will survive."

9. Also Sprach Zarathustra - The song played in only every movie!

Richard Strauss

1864-1949

Strauss's father was a professional horn player who taught his son music early on.

This little composer began music at age 6 (talk about genius..) and performed his first symphony at age 17!

At 21 he became the conductor of the Meiningen Orchestra and later became the junior conductor at the Munich Opera.

Strauss also wrote opera and continued to conduct. Many of his operas had controversial subjects or characters.

Also Sprach Zarathustra

8.Blue Danube - inspiring.

Johann Strauss Jr.

1825-1899

Named "The Waltz King" (because of the many waltzes he wrote).

Johann Jr.'s father was a successful musician and composer. He tried to convince Johann Jr. to be a banker, But Johann had other plans. He began composing at the age of 6. Strauss Jr. played for many court balls and eventually become the Royal Director of Music for Court Balls in Emperor Franz Joseph's court.

Strauss Jr.'s music could be easily sung or whistled and was very popular in Vienna and all around the world. He had a dance orchestra that toured Europe and the U.S.

His most famous waltz is the Blue Danube.

Blue Danube

Did you know?

Johann's jr. dad was also a famous musician.

But he is placed 100th on this list.

7. Piano Concerto in A minor, Op. 7 - An inspiring woman.

Clara Schumann

1819-1896

Ok so she's not a top ten. But I had to include her! Being such a feminist my eyes were starting to ache from all the men on this page.

Clara Wieck-Schumann is a composer and ALSO the wife of composer Robert Schumann.

Clara became interested in music at an early age, making her first musical appearance at age 9 and performing her first piano recital at age 11. She studied voice, violin, score reading, and composition, among other musical things.

Robert Schumann and Clara married in 1840. They had eight children together and were great friends with Johannes Brahms, another composer.

Throughout her life, Clara was well-known as a piano soloist, gaining fame for her technical proficiencies, sensitive interpretations of musical works, and her ability to express the composer's intent in the music.

Clara wrote 66 pieces, including works for piano and orchestra, solo piano and even cadenzas for piano concertos already written by Beethoven and Mozart!

Piano Concerto in A minor, Op. 7

Did you know?

There are many famous women composers: Fanny Mendelssohn, Amy Beach , Hildegard von Bingen and Lili Boulanger.

Go girl power!

6. Canon In D

Pachelbel, Johann

(1653-1706)

German composer Johann Pachelbel was known for his works for organ, and was considered one of the great organ masters of the generation before J.S. Bach.

He was the teacher (!) of Johann Christoph Bach, who later gave lessons to his younger brother Johann Sebastian Bach. He wrote a huge amount of music, of which his organ chorale variations and Magnificat settings are especially remarkable, he is principally known today for a single piece, the extremely popular Canon in D Major.

Canon In D

Funny Parody: - Canon in D is everywhere. Don't believe me? Watch this.

5. William Tell Overture

Rossini, Gioacchino

(1792-1868)

An Italian composer. He began composing at age 12.

Born in Italy, his father was a musician and his mother was an opera singer. As a boy, he was a singer and played the cello and horn. At 15, he entered a music school in Bologna, Italy where he learned to compose music. His first successful composition was completed at age 18 in Venice, Italy, and his masterpiece, The Barber of Seville, was first performed in Rome, Italy when he was only 24 years of age.

Pretty impressive for such a young man.

He composed thirty operas. Rossini was a lazy man, fond of women, and a very good cook. He liked to host dinner parties for his friends, among whom was Franz Liszt, another famous composer. Rossini was married two times and both wives were opera singers.

William Tell Overture

4. Toccata And Fugue In D Minor - creepy...

I wouldn't want to mess with him.
I wouldn't want to mess with him.

Johann Sebastian Bach

1685-1750

A German composer, organist, and violinist with works for choir, orchestra, and solo instruments.

Bach was born to a family of musicians who taught him music at a young age.

At age 10 he became an orphan after his mother and father died not too far apart (eight months late). He moved in with his eldest brother, Johann Christoph Bach (1671-1721). J.C Bach taught him Organ.

His first major appointment, in 1708, was as organist at the ducal court at Weimar. This was followed by a six-year stay (1717 - 23) as kapellmeister at the princely court of Köthen, which was in turn followed by his appointment as cantor at the great church of St. Thomas in Leipzig, where he would remain for the rest of his life.

He composed over 1,100 works in almost every musical genre (except opera).

Toccata And Fugue In D Minor

3. Eine Kleine Nachtmusik: Allegro

Mozart Wolfgang Amadeus

1756-1791

Mozart was the greatest child star that ever lived! He was traveling all over Europe playing music by the time he was six. Because of his constant travels, Mozart eventually learned to speak fifteen different languages.

He wrote his first sonata for the piano when he was four and composed his first opera when he was twelve! Mozart could compose anywhere - at meals, while talking to friends, while playing pool and even while his wife was having a baby. He composed very quickly and wrote huge amounts of music.

During his lifetime, Mozart was quite famous and successful but spent money fast. He was poor and in debt when he died of kidney failure at the age of 35 and was buried in an unmarked grave. Mozart is considered by some to be the greatest composer who ever lived. While most composers specialize in certain kinds of pieces, Mozart created masterful works for almost every category of music - vocal music, concertos, chamber music, symphonies, sonatas, and opera.

Eine Kleine Nachtmusik: Allegro

2. 1812 Overture - Who was Peter Tchaikovsky?

Tchaikovsky, Peter

(1840-1893)

This Russian composer wrote symphonies, operas, ballets, and chamber music.

He wrote the music for three of the most famous ballets: Swan Lake, The Sleeping Beauty and The Nutcracker.

If you've ever been to a ballet then most chances are that you've heard his stuff.

Despite his successes, Tchaikovsky's life was full of personal crises and depression. Some dark events: He left his mother for boarding school, his mother's early death, his suppressed homosexuality, and the collapse of the one enduring relationship of his adult life, his 13-year association with the wealthy widow Nadezhda von Meck. His sudden death at the age of 53 is generally ascribed to cholera, but some attribute it to suicide.

1812 Overture

1. Symphony No. 5: I - The greatest piece of all times.

Beethoven

1770-1827

This song brings back memories of me and my best friends doing a school project for music class. We probably replayed this song about 100 times!! We had to keep replaying it so that we could analyze it...We weren't too good at it...obviously.

But enough about me. Let’s talk Beethoven. This number one piece was born in the hands of a music legend.

Beethoven had a dark and sad childhood. His father was an abusive alcoholic who forced his son to play the piano. If Beethoven messed up he was punishes harshly. By the tender age of 12 he was earning his family a living (that’s a lot on a little boy’s shoulders!) by playing organ and composing. He was eventually known as the greatest pianist of his time.

Beethoven never married. He proposed too many women who all rejected him.

His hearing began to deteriorate in his late twenties. However, he continued to compose, conduct, and perform, even after becoming completely deaf. What an inspiration!

Symphony No. 5: I

Classical music newbies or masters?

How many composers did you already know? (Before this lens)

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Looking for something else? - Search for it here.

Comments? - Your feedback is important to me.

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    • profile image

      John Viola 

      3 years ago from Madaba

      But most of these are not examples of "Classical" music. For instance, Bach was Baroque.

    • ismeedee profile image

      ismeedee 

      5 years ago

      Fabulous lens, so full of information and great examples of work! I've always loved Schumann and never actually knew she was a woman!! Angel Blessed!

    • rstaveley lm profile image

      Richard Staveley 

      5 years ago from Burley in Wharfedale, Yorkshire, England

      Great lens and very informative.

    • profile image

      RuralFloridaLiving 

      5 years ago

      Enjoyed your article - Very interesting!

    • profile image

      AlexBPearl 

      5 years ago

      Great lens

    • selah74 profile image

      selah74 

      6 years ago

      First lens I've seen on classical music. Well written.

    • profile image

      anonymous 

      6 years ago

      Good job!

    • profile image

      santadelcobre 

      6 years ago

      Amazing lens, love classical music and even though I might consider a few other on my personal top 10, it's true that these 10 pieces are truly representative.

    • ussiandiram profile image

      ussiandiram 

      6 years ago

      pachabel is the best

    • top101 profile imageAUTHOR

      top101 

      6 years ago

      @Stephen Lewis: These are the top 10 pieces that I picked :)

    • Stephen Lewis profile image

      Stephen Lewis 

      6 years ago

      Confused a bit, but that is easy to do. Are these the top 10 that you picked, or the top 1n in the above recommended book?

    • bilafond lm profile image

      bilafond lm 

      6 years ago

      Wow, good work and deliberate too. I have not heard about quite a few. Need to bookmark this page and return to listen as well. Thank you so much for posting this.

    • PianoStreet LM profile image

      PianoStreet LM 

      6 years ago

      A great lens with a very adequate selection ogf music - although top ten lists are always difficult to make and the area of classical music... there is simply to many great masterworks to choose from!

    • profile image

      JoshK47 

      6 years ago

      Positively wonderful selections, indeed - blessed by a SquidAngel!

    • kraji lm profile image

      kraji lm 

      6 years ago

      Interesting choice of music. I love classical music. Canon in D is one of my favourites.

    • Phillyfreeze profile image

      Ronald Tucker 

      6 years ago from Louisville, Kentucky

      Ludwig Van Beethoven is a musical genius whose 5th Symphony is known by 10 of millions of people around the world. Music that is composed in such a manner soothes the soul and gives it longevity for centuries.

    • uneasywriter lm profile image

      uneasywriter lm 

      6 years ago

      Great lens! I have always loved Blue Danube.

    • profile image

      mrducksmrnot 

      6 years ago

      Beautifully done. Canon is my favorite. To watch a live concert and conductor play any of the classical music is a treat one will not forget. Again, most beautifully done lens and great music for relaxing.

    • SelfishBeat profile image

      SelfishBeat 

      6 years ago

      Love your lens and selection ... If I may add (or recommend) another masterpiece by Beethoven, which is Egmont Overture ... It is one of my all time fav.

    • profile image

      crstnblue 

      6 years ago

      Very nice collection of classical music and good job.

      Thumbs up for you and "keep walking"!

    • Northbright profile image

      Norbert Isles 

      6 years ago from Philippines

      Love your list. I'm glad you love classical music at such a young age.

    • aesta1 profile image

      Mary Norton 

      6 years ago from Ontario, Canada

      Am happy to see this lens especially written by someone your age.

    • dogface lm profile image

      dogface lm 

      6 years ago

      I love classical music! Many pieces on this pages are totally new to me. Gotta check them out!

    • Rangoon House profile image

      AJ 

      6 years ago from Australia

      A beautiful list of magnificent sounds.

    • tridensright profile image

      tridensright 

      6 years ago

      Great lens on the Masters! Thanks for the comment at SquidU

    • tylerabernethy22 profile image

      tylerabernethy22 

      6 years ago

      I LOVED the picture that you have in your intro!!! Hahaha, he can really rock some shades.

    • profile image

      arikurniadi 

      6 years ago

      great lens! i love Canon in D.

    • LornsA178 profile image

      LornsA178 

      6 years ago

      My husband and I enjoyed this lens very much, we love classical music. He knew 7 composers featured in this lens. Great job! Thanks!

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