My information on music comes from my late partner, Jim. His knowledge of, and ear for, music was phenomenal.
Fun Facts About Classical Music
The insight and fun facts for this classical music article came from my significant other, Jim. He has been listening to classical music since he was two years old. (At two, I was listening to "I Have a Dog, and Bingo is His Name".)
Every so often he will put on a classical music CD and as the music plays, he throws out these interesting facts about the classical composers and the circumstances surrounding the music. Some of the facts are really peculiar and in the instance of Haydn's head, a little gory.
I am going to share those fun classical music facts with you.
Overview of The Classical Music Periods: A "Lizst" of the Periods (Pun Intended)
There are actually five overlapping periods of classical music.
- The Gothic Period: Some place it at 1100–1450 and others more loosely at 9th to 14th century. It was primarily liturgical music as characterized by a Gregorian Chants—named after Pope Gregory I. During this period, a method of notating music was developed. These were a precursor to today musical notations.
- The Renaissance: 1400 and 1500s. The most usual works were motets and madrigals. Most Prominent Composers: Andrea Gabrielli, Giovanni Palestrina, and William Byrd.
- Baroque: 1500, 1600, 1700s. The most usual works were fugues, concertos and early operas (often related to mythology). The music was ornate as was the furniture of the period. The most prominent composers were Johann Sebastian Bach, George Frederick Handel, and Antonio Vivaldi.
- Classical: 1700 and 1800s. The most usual works were concertos, symphonies, and sonatas. The most prominent composers were Franz Joseph Haydn, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, Ludwig Van Beethoven, Franz Schubert.
- Romance: 1800's and early 1900s. The most usual works were symphonies, operas, ballets. The most prominent composers were Peter Ilych Tchaikovsky, Richard Wagner, Franz Liszt, Antonin Dvorak, Guiseppe Verdi, Johannes Brahms.
- Modern or Contemporary: Through the 1900s. The most usual works were symphonies, ballets, operas and film music. Most prominent composers were Aaron Copland, Leonard Bernstein, George Gershwin, Dmitri Shastakovich.
Ludwig Van Beethoven
- Beethoven preferred not to listen to his contemporaries works, for fear it would influence his own writing.
- Beethoven called his smaller pieces "bagatelles," meaning trifles.
- The symphonies he wrote are numbered 1 through 9. It's not know why the odd numbers are dynamic, while the even numbers are aesthetic or peaceful.
- All of Beethoven's symphonies have four movements.
- Beethoven was entirely deaf by the time he wrote his 9th Symphony—considered to be one of his greatest works. He conducted the orchestra when he presented the 9th Symphony. Reportedly, the audience was on its feet applauding, but due to his deafness, Beethoven didn't realize it until someone turned him around to face the audience.
Johann Sebastian Bach (German)
- During Bach's lifetime he was most famous as an organ virtuoso, rather than a composer.
- At the age of 20, in 1705, Bach walked 200 miles from Arnstadt, Germany to hear Dietrich Buxtenhude (1637 -1707) play the organ. Many of Buxtenhude's works influenced Bach.
- When you see "C.P.E. Bach" this refers to music composed by Johann Sebastian Bach's son, Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach. Similarly, W.F. Bach is J.S. Bach's other son, Wilhelm Friedemann Bach. Both sons were composers.
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
- In Mozart's short lifetime he produced over 600 compositions—over 40 or which were symphonies.
- In an article entitled "The 25 Most Powerful Songs of the Past 25 Years", (written by Jennifer Drapkin, Kevin O'Donnell and Ky Henderson, published in "Mental Floss" magazine Nov-Dec 2011): The Number 22 Most Powerful Song is Mozart's "The Magic Flute" "Music That Makes Sewage Disappear" A sewerage treatment plant in Treuenbrietzen, Germany has found that playing Mozart's "The Magic Flute" over loud speakers "make sludge-eating microbes digest faster." Acccording to the plant's chief operator, they believe "the reverberations quicken the pace for breaking down refuse."
- "Mozart and Salieri" is an opera by Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov in which Mozart is poisoned by Salieri. Mozart and Antonion Salieri (1750-1825) were contemporaries and bitter rivals. After Mozart's death, rumors circulated that Salieri poisoned Mozart. After the opera was written, even more people believed it was true. The rumor has been investigated and the conclusion is that it is not true.
- Mozart wrote five trumpet concertos for his friend Joseph Leutgeb
- Neil Diamond borrowed the music from Mozart's Piano Concerto No. 21 for his song "Song Sung Blue".
Read More From Spinditty
George Frideric Handel
Most people are familiar with Handel's Messiah, written in 1741. It is a choral piece, and has the famous Hallelujah Chorus—where the word "Hallelujah" is repeated over and over again.
Handel composed "Water Music" for King George I of England in 1717. The king liked it so much he had the orchestra play it three times.
Handel wrote the "Fireworks Suite" for King George II of England in 1749. This was to be a performance in the park with a specially designed wooden backdrop and fireworks. The music was a hit, but the building collapsed and caught fire during the performance.
Peter Ilych Tchaikowsky
A very prolific composer, Tchaikowsky has many well known works. Ballets include Swan Lake, Sleeping Beauty and the Nutcracker Suite. His music includes Romeo and Juliet as well as the 1812 Overture.
Very often the 1812 Overture is played as the finale on Fourth of July with fireworks in the background.
Tchaikowsky's 1812 Overture "By the Boston Pops on th 4th of July" Cannon Finale
Written in 1880 by Tchaikowsky to celebrate Russia's defeat of Napoleon in Moscow in 1812.
For a Lighter Look at Tchaikowsky - Disney's Fantasia - Nutcracker Suite- Dance of the Sugarplum Fairies
- The 1812 Overture is bold and loud. The Nutcracker Suite is softer. You have probably seen a holiday season presentation of The Nutcracker ballet. Disney's Fantasia has a very whimsical and oh so beautiful interpretation of The Nutcracker Suite..
- It is a great way to introduce children to classical music. Fantasia includes many great classical works at set to beautiful animated images.
- It was a full length motion picture created in the 1940s—still relevant and enjoyable today.
- One of my favorite New Year's Eve dates was going out to dinner and then watching a late night showing of Fantasia.
Franz Joseph Haydn
Haydn didn't like people falling asleep during his concerts, so he wrote the Surprise Symphony. It is quiet and relaxing until the end when the music gets louder and ends with a bang.
Haydn's symphony 101 in D major is known as the "Clock Symphony". It has a tick tock, tick tock rhythm to it.
Haydn died in 1809, but in 1820 his body was exhumed to have his remains moved. It was discovered that his head was missing. Joseph Carl Rosenbaum and Johann Neponuk Peter stole the head for scientific purposes. They were interested in phrenology and wanted to study his skull.
Questions & Answers
Question: Why do you like classical music?
Answer: Classical music is timeless and it evokes emotion. It can be very soothing or very rousing depending on the piece of music.
Question: Do you love teaching facts about the classical era?
Answer: Sure. Many of these facts are obscure. Hopefully, people will enjoy reading them and have some fun with it. A little knowledge of classical music helps toward being a well-rounded person.
Question: Why is classical music popular?
Answer: I believe it's a matter of personal taste. Some people find some pieces particularly soothing, others enjoy the intricacy and/or creativity of a particular symphony. It's a question of what the individual enjoys listening to.
Question: How is this related to classical symphony?
Answer: My apologies, I don't know the answer. This article was written with my late partner, Jim , who was a classical music enthusiast and very knowledgeable. When it comes to classical music, I am not as smart as he was.
© 2011 Ellen Gregory
I always love to hear your comments - Please share - You do not have to be a member of Hubpages to comment
koalas on April 11, 2019:
Pobery McClinton on March 05, 2019:
thanks ellen very cool!
Nevaeh Scobee on September 11, 2018:
I love all the facts you give us they are very helping and have a lovely day and say hiiiii if you see this thx love all your facts if I had to come back to the classic era I would definitely come to you anyway my hands hurt so Ima going to go but first have a nice rest of your day and I love your site byeeeee
Ellen Gregory (author) from Connecticut, USA on May 12, 2018:
It's great that you appreciate it.
Frances Metcalfe from The Limousin, France on February 01, 2017:
Didn't know toccata meant touch, a new one on me! Always good to have a reprise on composers from a lot further back in time! Must dig them out....
Donna Cook on March 10, 2014:
Terrific lens! I also like the satires of classical music like PDQ Bach.
Lynn Klobuchar on January 09, 2014:
I am always calmer and more productive when I have classical music on.
sierradawn lm on December 04, 2013:
I enjoyed my experience here!
Shinichi Mine from Tokyo, Japan on November 17, 2013:
I have always loved classical music since I played the piano. My favorite though is Mozart of the simplicity and purity of his pieces.
SavioC on October 09, 2013:
I have been listening to classical music for some time now but I learnt so many things from your lens. Its really amazing , so simple things like even/odd numbers of Betthoven's symphonies. Thanks for sharing this.
ashleydpenn on September 21, 2013:
Best lens I've ever read. You've presented some potentially dry material in an engaging and entertaining way without being patronizing. I love classical music, and have been singing for many years, but I still learn a lot! Many thanks for sharing!
anonymous on September 12, 2013:
Classical music has been my greatest passion since junior school. Mozart was (and always will be) my greatest musical hero. I once wrote a prize-winning essay on Mozart in High School, which pleased me very much! In 1996 I visited his house in Salzburg, and TOUCHED his piano - it was like touching a holy relic!
DuaneJ on September 12, 2013:
I never knew classical music could be this much fun...Great lens!
golfspice on September 07, 2013:
Enjoyed getting to know the history of the composers better through your page. I am no connoisseur of classical music, but appreciate it as much as any other music genre. I have never forgotten attending the Last Night of the Proms at the Royal Albert Hall in London, which was a brilliant experience.
TanoCalvenoa on September 02, 2013:
Love the information about some of the major composers.
Tricia Deed from Orlando, Florida on September 01, 2013:
I do not see how anyone could not like classical music. This music has been used in movies, cartoons, animation, and is the basis for many musicians when music sounds are in transition.
anonymous on August 23, 2013:
Thanks for the information. I just started to appreciate classical music and this website affords me with a good amount of basic information to start off with if I get into it like i may.
Pat Goltz on August 16, 2013:
Slight correction. Haydn's Surprise Symphony puts a loud chord toward the beginning of the second movement (the slow movement), at a point where Haydn figured his audience would have fallen asleep. Haydn had quite a sense of humor, by the way. It shows in his music from time to time.
bestpianomusic on August 15, 2013:
Great lens! I think you'd also like my lens about Moonlight sonata. Both present classical music in a lively fashion.
Renaissance Woman from Colorado on July 28, 2013:
I found these facts so interesting. Bravo to you and Jim. Very enjoyable. And now I shall break out some classical music to enjoy tonight thanks to the inspiration of this article.
SavioC on July 19, 2013:
I have a collection of classical music and when I am all by myself then its classical time & then I am lost. Mozart is soothing. It's a nice lens .
Marja79 on May 19, 2013:
I love classical music, I have lots of classical songs in my mp 3 player, I listen to them when exercising...especially Carmina Burana is quite effective song. But Bach is my favorite as well as Finnish Jean Sibelius.
Fay Favored from USA on April 29, 2013:
It took me some time to appreciate classical music as a child, but now I find it so relaxing. We have been blessed to have been to some concerts like the Boston Pops where we have heard some amazing sounds from the past. Enjoyed listening to the music hear; simply sat back and listened.
KamalaEmbroidery on April 19, 2013:
Thanks for the fun facts. I love Georgian chants and Barque music.
Auriel on March 03, 2013:
Great musical information.
Malu Couttolenc on February 22, 2013:
Love music and enjoyed readaing all these interesting and fun facts about classical music :)
SteveKaye on February 10, 2013:
Thank you for publishing this wonderful lens. I enjoyed reading the text and listening to the music.
LynetteBell from Christchurch, New Zealand on January 30, 2013:
What a great lens. Thanks.
WeirdStuff on January 06, 2013:
Great trivia! Will use to impress my piano teacher :P
anonymous on December 23, 2012:
This is great information, I like them very much. :)
RuralFloridaLiving on December 15, 2012:
Thanks, this was very enjoyable to read!
Mrs A for Apple on December 12, 2012:
That was an enjoyable read thanks!
darciefrench lm on December 02, 2012:
I didn't know much about composers before this lens, but I enjoyed learning and I always love to listen :)
Baddew Fibes on November 30, 2012:
What a lovely lens! Some fabulous selections and great facts. Thanks.
Takkhis on November 21, 2012:
Classical music remain classic for a long time.
AlexBPearl on November 04, 2012:
karen-stephens on October 25, 2012:
thank you for the lens. i too love classical music
Rosetta Slone from Under a coconut tree on October 07, 2012:
I absolutely love classical music and when I was younger I considered training as a classical musician at university. I took a different path but the passion is still there. I loved the facts on this page.
JoshK47 on September 21, 2012:
Fascinating! Thanks kindly for sharing - blessed by a SquidAngel!
Melissa Miotke from Arizona on September 18, 2012:
I find classical music more and more enjoyable the older I get. I've been enjoying going to the Phoenix symphony lately and my sister plays in the Madison, WI symphony.
rainydaz on September 09, 2012:
I don't listen to classical music a lot, but I sometimes do when I'm feeling mellow.
crazy4u2 on September 03, 2012:
I am not sure if I like classical music, but yes, I liked what you have shared in your lens. I listen to some specially in the evening hours, that too occasionally.
Wedding Mom on August 29, 2012:
I like listening to classical music. I find that it has calming effects on me. I enjoyed watching Fantasia before.
MikeRobbers LM on August 28, 2012:
I love classical music as I I play classical piano (in moderate level) :) .. thanks for this lens
Heidi Vincent from GRENADA on August 27, 2012:
I LOVE classical music. Nice lens.
Beverly Rodriguez from Albany New York on August 22, 2012:
Very informative and interesting lens. I am featuring it on my lens about a summer concert.
MayaIxchel on August 21, 2012:
Interesting lens with lots of great info! Thanks for sharing! I love classical music.
DMVAgent on August 18, 2012:
you did very good ... i love reading your articles, so interesting.. thanks for sharing this :)
Tonto Murray on July 18, 2012:
Outstanding lens. Blessings and I am going to add it to my Best Lenses lens.
Rachel214 from Haifa on June 30, 2012:
What a wealth of information. Thak you so much.
LouisaDembul on June 28, 2012:
Nice presentation of classical music. I love it myself, and try to expose my children to it. We love to sing Bingo was his name, but they also enjoy listening to classical music!
Marlies Vaz Nunes from Amsterdam, the Netherlands on June 28, 2012:
What a wonderful lens. Loved it!
YogaAngel on June 19, 2012:
I like your lenses, lots of fun facts!
Ellen Gregory (author) from Connecticut, USA on June 18, 2012:
@Psychologist: Oh no! Thanks for catching my typo.
Psychologist on June 18, 2012:
Loved some of the trivia. Did Handel really live to 104?
Yourpersonalcon on June 12, 2012:
Great lens - always love learning more about composers. Just found a really cool Kindle book on Beethoven (http://www.amazon.com/Beethoven-Music-Letters-Illu... that has some of his letters as well as his original markings on some of the music. Thanks for this site - I look forward to visiting again!
sheezie77 on June 11, 2012:
Beautiful lens! Well done!
anonymous on June 06, 2012:
I really love to read this kind of article. Thanks a lot for the information. Find out more music and concert updates and reviews at Northwest Concert & Events Blog.
Shannon from Florida on May 15, 2012:
Wonderful lens! I've learned so much about composers over the years as I've studied them with my children. I began listening to classical music when my oldest child was a baby. Now it's my favorite type of music.
Einar A on April 28, 2012:
Very interesting article! I love Classical music, particularly from the Baroque period, Bach, Dowland and some of the others.
anonymous on April 11, 2012:
Fabulous lens! Anyone who links Stokowski's version of Toccata and Fugue and goes on to mention the 1812 is walking the right road. I also adore listening to Copland (Simple Gifts), Ravel (Bolero), Widor (Toccata) Saint-Saens (Organ Symphony) and Gershwin (Rhapsody in Blue).
Ninche on March 29, 2012:
Love your lens. I know a lot about visual art (because of my education) but don't know much about music, so I really enjoyed reading it!
Ellen Gregory (author) from Connecticut, USA on March 28, 2012:
@PianoStreet LM: Thank you for pointing that out -- I appreciate it.
PianoStreet LM on March 28, 2012:
This is absolutely brilliant! But it's Ludwig VAN Beethoven, isn't it...? :-)
Chuck Nelson from California on March 25, 2012:
Wonderful! (But I still like bluegrass too)
anonymous on March 15, 2012:
Very informative lens. Thanks for sharing. Although i'm not an expert in classical music, Beethoven and Mozart are well known musician since i was young. I think this kind of music should be made known and passed on from one generation to another. Salute those musician, they are genius.
anonymous on March 13, 2012:
Sweet music to the ears and a great read for the soul! Thanks for the brilliance presented here!
Gabriel360 on February 27, 2012:
Classical music is great! Thanks for writing this!
readabooki on February 25, 2012:
This is a great primer for classical music. I only just begun studying it. Both my kids play instruments so I am trying to learn more. I am reading Classical Music 101.
tricomanagement on February 23, 2012:
love the lens - thanks for all the little interests you shared!
anonymous on February 16, 2012:
Great lens! Nice to learn some lesser-known things about classical music!
AlphaChic on February 12, 2012:
Very interesting lens. I love trivia.
kathysart on February 07, 2012:
Ohhh the world feels softer for classical music.. love this lens. Angel blessed.
flipflopju on February 06, 2012:
I love the artists you picked out to highlight. Great job!
anonymous on February 03, 2012:
interesting lens! thanks
opheliakeith lm on January 28, 2012:
Thank you for such an interesting lens! I'm always looking for ways to introduce my kids to classical music.
Kim from Yonkers, NY on January 27, 2012:
I've added this to the featured lenses on my Lyrically Instrumental musings (music) lens
armidabooks on January 27, 2012:
beautiful lens. thank you for all the interesting facts : )
iWriteaLot on January 26, 2012:
Wonderful lens. I remember singing in the Messiah when I was in high school and I've always been a fan of Beethoven. Nicely done!
hughgrissettsr lm on January 26, 2012:
great lens, luv classical music!
myamya on January 24, 2012:
Great lens! squidlikes!
Leah J. Hileman from East Berlin, PA, USA on January 23, 2012:
Fun lens, thanks. I've just recently been dusting off my classical piano music books to get back to better technique (playing pop and blues piano music has totally wrecked my good training).
Joan4 on January 22, 2012:
Excellent. I enjoyed the music and I learned a few things about classical composers that I did not know! Thank you!
vkumar05 on January 21, 2012:
Nice Lens. Thanks for sharing.
vkumar05 on January 21, 2012:
Great collection on classical music. Great Lens.
williemack58 on January 18, 2012:
I have always had a love of classical music, maybe it began with all of those cartoons I grew up watching. I have enjoyed your lens along with the information.
Hypersapien2 from U.S. on January 18, 2012:
Great lens. beethoven's accomplishments while deaf will never cease to amaze me.
MissTree on January 16, 2012:
A very informative lens. This will encourage readers to explore and appreciate classical music.
lyttlehalfpint from Canada on January 14, 2012:
Great Lens, i love classical, this was informative.
anonymous on January 11, 2012:
Awesome. Classical music is great! You provide all information that i was looking for.
Thanks for this interesting lens!
anonymous on January 11, 2012:
Correction: Beethoven is more of a Romantic composer than Classical. Even towards the end of Mozart's career, we hear hints of Romanticism-not to say that Mozart was a romantic though.
Inkhand on January 11, 2012:
A lens that made classical music interesting and fun.
Country Sunshine from Texas on January 09, 2012:
Interesting, with a lot of information. I had forgotten most of these facts, but somewhat remember them from school days. Thanks for sharing!
John Dyhouse from UK on January 09, 2012:
I am not a great fan of classical music although I do often use it for relaxing or whilst doing something else, I rarely simply listen to it although a good friend is threatening to change my attitude to this gendre. An interesting lens with lots of useful info. Thanks
VeseliDan on January 09, 2012:
bharat01 on January 06, 2012:
It is a fun lens, superb work by you.....:)
IanMayfield on January 06, 2012:
Great stuff. Lots of interesting facts I didn't know about some of the great composers. Tell Jim to keep coming out with them... and keep updating the lens!
ilovemusic lm on January 02, 2012:
You have a real talent for communicating your enjoyment of classical music in a way that people will respond to!
Auntiekatkat on December 31, 2011:
Congrats on being nominated for Community Favorite Lenses of 2011. A wonderful lens. Fortunately we both share one thing it was easier to vote than for most as mine was my "why-I-am a- vegetarian was nominated as well. A proud moment for all of us. Good luck in the voting.
JoyfulReviewer on December 31, 2011:
Interesting to learn more about the classical music I so enjoy. Congratulations on being one of the final 100 favorite Squidoo lenses of 2011!