Interesting & Fun Facts About Classical Music

Updated on February 12, 2018
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My information on music comes from my late partner, Jim. His knowledge of, and ear for, music was phenomenal.


Fun Facts About Classical Music

A lot of 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 2 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.

  1. The Gothic Period - some place it at 1100 - 1450 and other more losely at 9th to 14th century.

    It was primarily liturgical music as characterized by a Gregorian Chants -- name after Pope Gregory I.

    During this period, a method of notating music was developed. A precursor to today musical notations.

  2. The Renaissance - 1400 and 1500s

    The most usual works were : motets and madrigals

    Most Prominent Composers: Andrea Gabrielli, Giovanni Palestrina & William Byrd

  3. Baroque - 1500, 1600 & 1700s

    The most usual works were: fugues, concerto's and early operas (often related to mythology). The music was ornate as was the furniture of the period.

    Most Prominent Composers : Johann Sebastian Bach, George Frederick Handel, Antonio Vivaldi

  4. Classical - 1700 and 1800s

    The most usual works were: Concertos, symphonies, and sonatas

    Most Prominent Composers: Franz Joseph Haydn, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, Ludwig Van Beethoven, Franz Schubert

  5. Romantic - 1800's and early 1900s

    The most usual works were: Symphonies, operas, ballets

    Most Prominent Composers: Peter Ilych Tchaikovsky, Richard Wagner, Franz Liszt, Antonin Dvorak, Guiseppe Verdi, Johannes Brahms

  6. Modern or Contemporary - through 1900s

    The most ususal works were: Symphonies, ballets, operas and film music

    Most Prominent Composers: Aaron Copland, Leonard Bernstein, George Gershwin, Dmitri Shastakovich

Ludwig Beethoven
Ludwig Beethoven | Source

Ludwig Van Beethoven

1770 - 1827 German

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
Johann Sebastian Bach | Source

Johann Sebastian Bach (German)

1685 - 1750

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.

Toccata is Italian for Touched

"Originally it was a short movement,often merely a prelude, in which the player's 'touch' was displayed through rapidity and delicacy."---as defined in "The Concise Oxford Dictionary of Music" Third Edition

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart | Source

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart

1756 - 1791 German

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".


At some point in a concerto a soloist is featured. The soloist part is usually embellished to show off the virtuosity of the soloist. Thus, you will hear of a "piano concerto" where the pianist is featured; or a "violin concerto" where the violinist is featured.

Kochel and Opus

Ludwig Von Kochel (1800 -1877) developed a system of numbering and cataloguing Mozart's works. These are the "K" numbers which stand for "Kochel". Thus, you will often see a Mozart work as: "Symphony No.4 in D major, K.19"

Beethoven used his own system for cataloguing his works and called them "Opus". Mendelsohn also used Opus to catalogue his work.

(By the way, the plural of Opus is Opuses).

Both Kochel and Opus catalogs are chronological by the date the work was published.

Joahnn Sebastien Bach
Joahnn Sebastien Bach | Source

George Frideric Handel

1685 -1759 German-British

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.

Do you have any interesting facts about classical music to share?

See results

Chamber Music

It's an instrumental group of musicians. As their performance is intended for a smaller room, often private, it is a smaller group. There is usually only one performer for each part of the piece.

Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky
Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky | Source

Peter Ilych Tchaikowsky

1840 -1893 - Russian

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
Franz Joseph Haydn | Source

Franz Joseph Haydn

1732 - 1809 Austrian

Haydn didn't like people falling asleep during his concerts, so he wrote the Surprise Symphony. It is real 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.

Hob. Numbers

Anthony van Hoboken catalogued all of Haydn's works. He organized them according to type rather than chronologically. (Opus and Kochel numbers list the works chronologically.)

His catalog is called the Hoboken-Verzeichnis.

Antonio Vivaldi - 1678-1741 - Baroque composer

He wrote over 400 pieces.

Because his pieces are so much alike, his critics say he only wrote one and all the rest are just modifications of the first.

Questions & Answers

    © 2011 Ellen Gregory

    I always love to hear your comments - Please share - You do not have to be a member of Hubpages to comment

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      • Frances Metcalfe profile image

        Frances Metcalfe 14 months ago from The Limousin, France

        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....

      • profile image

        Donna Cook 4 years ago

        Terrific lens! I also like the satires of classical music like PDQ Bach.

      • profile image

        Lynn Klobuchar 4 years ago

        I am always calmer and more productive when I have classical music on.

      • sierradawn lm profile image

        sierradawn lm 4 years ago

        I enjoyed my experience here!

      • smine27 profile image

        Shinichi Mine 4 years ago from Tokyo, Japan

        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 profile image

        SavioC 4 years ago

        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 profile image

        ashleydpenn 4 years ago

        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!

      • profile image

        anonymous 4 years ago

        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 profile image

        DuaneJ 4 years ago

        I never knew classical music could be this much fun...Great lens!

      • profile image

        golfspice 4 years ago

        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.

      • profile image

        TanoCalvenoa 4 years ago

        Love the information about some of the major composers.

      • Tricia Deed profile image

        Tricia Deed 4 years ago from Orlando, Florida

        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.

      • profile image

        anonymous 4 years ago

        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 profile image

        Pat Goltz 4 years ago

        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.

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        bestpianomusic 4 years ago

        Great lens! I think you'd also like my lens about Moonlight sonata. Both present classical music in a lively fashion.

      • Diana Wenzel profile image

        Renaissance Woman 4 years ago from Colorado

        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 profile image

        SavioC 4 years ago

        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 profile image

        Marja79 4 years ago

        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.

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        Fay Favored 4 years ago from USA

        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 profile image

        KamalaEmbroidery 5 years ago

        Thanks for the fun facts. I love Georgian chants and Barque music.

      • profile image

        Auriel 5 years ago

        Great musical information.

      • TheLittleCardShop profile image

        Malu Couttolenc 5 years ago

        Love music and enjoyed readaing all these interesting and fun facts about classical music :)

      • profile image

        SteveKaye 5 years ago

        Thank you for publishing this wonderful lens. I enjoyed reading the text and listening to the music.

      • LynetteBell profile image

        LynetteBell 5 years ago from Christchurch, New Zealand

        What a great lens. Thanks.

      • profile image

        WeirdStuff 5 years ago

        Great trivia! Will use to impress my piano teacher :P

      • profile image

        anonymous 5 years ago

        This is great information, I like them very much. :)

      • profile image

        RuralFloridaLiving 5 years ago

        Thanks, this was very enjoyable to read!

      • Mrs A for Apple profile image

        Mrs A for Apple 5 years ago

        That was an enjoyable read thanks!

      • darciefrench lm profile image

        darciefrench lm 5 years ago

        I didn't know much about composers before this lens, but I enjoyed learning and I always love to listen :)

      • Baddew Fibes profile image

        Baddew Fibes 5 years ago

        What a lovely lens! Some fabulous selections and great facts. Thanks.

      • takkhisa profile image

        Takkhis 5 years ago

        Classical music remain classic for a long time.

      • profile image

        AlexBPearl 5 years ago

        Great lens.

      • karen-stephens profile image

        karen-stephens 5 years ago

        thank you for the lens. i too love classical music

      • Rosetta Slone profile image

        Rosetta Slone 5 years ago from Under a coconut tree

        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.

      • profile image

        JoshK47 5 years ago

        Fascinating! Thanks kindly for sharing - blessed by a SquidAngel!

      • Melissa Miotke profile image

        Melissa Miotke 5 years ago from Arizona

        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 profile image

        rainydaz 5 years ago

        I don't listen to classical music a lot, but I sometimes do when I'm feeling mellow.

      • profile image

        crazy4u2 5 years ago

        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 profile image

        Wedding Mom 5 years ago

        I like listening to classical music. I find that it has calming effects on me. I enjoyed watching Fantasia before.

      • MikeRobbers LM profile image

        MikeRobbers LM 5 years ago

        I love classical music as I I play classical piano (in moderate level) :) .. thanks for this lens

      • Heidi Vincent profile image

        Heidi Vincent 5 years ago from GRENADA

        I LOVE classical music. Nice lens.

      • artbyrodriguez profile image

        Beverly Rodriguez 5 years ago from Albany New York

        Very informative and interesting lens. I am featuring it on my lens about a summer concert.

      • MayaIxchel profile image

        MayaIxchel 5 years ago

        Interesting lens with lots of great info! Thanks for sharing! I love classical music.

      • profile image

        DMVAgent 5 years ago

        you did very good ... i love reading your articles, so interesting.. thanks for sharing this :)

      • Tonto Murray profile image

        Tonto Murray 5 years ago

        Outstanding lens. Blessings and I am going to add it to my Best Lenses lens.

      • Rachel214 profile image

        Rachel214 5 years ago from Haifa

        What a wealth of information. Thak you so much.

      • LouisaDembul profile image

        LouisaDembul 5 years ago

        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 profile image

        Marlies Vaz Nunes 5 years ago from Amsterdam, the Netherlands

        What a wonderful lens. Loved it!

      • YogaAngel profile image

        YogaAngel 5 years ago

        I like your lenses, lots of fun facts!

      • LiteraryMind profile image

        Ellen Gregory 5 years ago from Connecticut, USA

        @Psychologist: Oh no! Thanks for catching my typo.

      • profile image

        Psychologist 5 years ago

        Loved some of the trivia. Did Handel really live to 104?

      • Yourpersonalcon profile image

        Yourpersonalcon 5 years ago

        Great lens - always love learning more about composers. Just found a really cool Kindle book on Beethoven ( 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!

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        sheezie77 5 years ago

        Beautiful lens! Well done!

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        anonymous 5 years ago

        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.

      • iijuan12 profile image

        iijuan12 5 years ago from Florida

        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 profile image

        Einar A 5 years ago

        Very interesting article! I love Classical music, particularly from the Baroque period, Bach, Dowland and some of the others.

      • profile image

        anonymous 6 years ago

        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 profile image

        Ninche 6 years ago

        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!

      • LiteraryMind profile image

        Ellen Gregory 6 years ago from Connecticut, USA

        @PianoStreet LM: Thank you for pointing that out -- I appreciate it.

      • PianoStreet LM profile image

        PianoStreet LM 6 years ago

        This is absolutely brilliant! But it's Ludwig VAN Beethoven, isn't it...? :-)

      • CNelson01 profile image

        Chuck Nelson 6 years ago from California

        Wonderful! (But I still like bluegrass too)

      • profile image

        anonymous 6 years ago

        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.

      • profile image

        anonymous 6 years ago

        Sweet music to the ears and a great read for the soul! Thanks for the brilliance presented here!

      • Gabriel360 profile image

        Gabriel360 6 years ago

        Classical music is great! Thanks for writing this!

      • profile image

        readabooki 6 years ago

        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 profile image

        tricomanagement 6 years ago

        love the lens - thanks for all the little interests you shared!

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        anonymous 6 years ago

        Great lens! Nice to learn some lesser-known things about classical music!

      • AlphaChic profile image

        AlphaChic 6 years ago

        Very interesting lens. I love trivia.

      • kathysart profile image

        kathysart 6 years ago

        Ohhh the world feels softer for classical music.. love this lens. Angel blessed.

      • profile image

        flipflopju 6 years ago

        I love the artists you picked out to highlight. Great job!

      • profile image

        anonymous 6 years ago

        interesting lens! thanks

      • opheliakeith lm profile image

        opheliakeith lm 6 years ago

        Thank you for such an interesting lens! I'm always looking for ways to introduce my kids to classical music.

      • Zodiacimmortal profile image

        Kim 6 years ago from Yonkers, NY

        I've added this to the featured lenses on my Lyrically Instrumental musings (music) lens

      • armidabooks profile image

        armidabooks 6 years ago

        beautiful lens. thank you for all the interesting facts : )

      • iWriteaLot profile image

        iWriteaLot 6 years ago

        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 profile image

        hughgrissettsr lm 6 years ago

        great lens, luv classical music!

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        myamya 6 years ago

        Great lens! squidlikes!

      • captainj88 profile image

        Leah J. Hileman 6 years ago from East Berlin, PA, USA

        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).

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        Joan4 6 years ago

        Excellent. I enjoyed the music and I learned a few things about classical composers that I did not know! Thank you!

      • vkumar05 profile image

        vkumar05 6 years ago

        Nice Lens. Thanks for sharing.

      • vkumar05 profile image

        vkumar05 6 years ago

        Great collection on classical music. Great Lens.

      • williemack58 profile image

        williemack58 6 years ago

        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 profile image

        Hypersapien2 6 years ago from U.S.

        Great lens. beethoven's accomplishments while deaf will never cease to amaze me.

      • profile image

        MissTree 6 years ago

        A very informative lens. This will encourage readers to explore and appreciate classical music.

      • lyttlehalfpint profile image

        lyttlehalfpint 6 years ago from Canada

        Great Lens, i love classical, this was informative.

      • profile image

        anonymous 6 years ago

        Awesome. Classical music is great! You provide all information that i was looking for.

        Thanks for this interesting lens!

      • profile image

        anonymous 6 years ago

        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 profile image

        Inkhand 6 years ago

        A lens that made classical music interesting and fun.

      • Country-Sunshine profile image

        Country Sunshine 6 years ago from Texas

        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 profile image

        John Dyhouse 6 years ago from UK

        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 profile image

        VeseliDan 6 years ago

        Interesting reading!

      • bharat01 profile image

        bharat01 6 years ago

        It is a fun lens, superb work by you.....:)

      • IanMayfield profile image

        IanMayfield 6 years ago

        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!

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        ilovemusic lm 6 years ago

        You have a real talent for communicating your enjoyment of classical music in a way that people will respond to!

      • Auntiekatkat profile image

        Auntiekatkat 6 years ago

        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 profile image

        JoyfulReviewer 6 years ago

        Interesting to learn more about the classical music I so enjoy. Congratulations on being one of the final 100 favorite Squidoo lenses of 2011!

      • OhMe profile image

        Nancy Tate Hellams 6 years ago from Pendleton, SC

        Oh Me! I really need to spend some time here and learn more about these great composers. Congrats on being in the Top 100 Community Favorites.

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        anonymous 6 years ago

        Returning with and angel blessing for this musical delight!

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        fullofshoes 6 years ago

        Loved reading your lens. Of course I am partial to the Pops concert on the 4th in's where I am originally from.. ;)

      • WriterJanis2 profile image

        WriterJanis2 6 years ago

        Very informative lens. I really like how you included Fantasia as introduction for children. This is what I did with my kids. Great lens!