September is Classical Music Month, making this the perfect time to celebrate this timeless genre of music. Music has evolved tremendously over the past few centuries, but we’ve never forgotten about the compositions from years gone by. From Beethoven to Mozart, the history of classical music is quite extensive. Take a break from listening to today’s chart-topping songs, and read about some of history’s most well-known pieces of music.
Symphony No. 9 in D minor, Op. 125
When discussing the topic of classical music, talking about Ludwig van Beethoven is a given. Though he lost his hearing later in his life, Beethoven was still able to compose plenty of famous classical music pieces, making him a cultural icon. The Symphony No. 9 in D minor, Op. 125 was the final complete symphony that he composed before passing away in 1827.
This could be considered the first example of a choral symphony, as it was the first of its kind to incorporate vocals. The final movement in particular is famous for incorporating the “Ode to Joy” poem by Friedrich Schiller. To this day, Beethoven’s 9th is considered to be among the composer’s greatest works.
Jupiter Symphony (Symphony No. 41)
Frequently referred to as the Jupiter Symphony, Symphony No. 41 from Mozart is considered one of the most famous music compositions of all time. It was Mozart’s final symphony, and was also the longest composition he made in his career. The nickname didn’t come from Mozart however, the Jupiter name is frequently attributed to Johann Peter Salomon, a German violinist.
The symphony is made up of four movements: Allegro vivace, Andante Cantabile, Menuetto: Allegretto, and Molto allegro. Interestingly, the symphony has no opening, though it is suggested that this was because it was meant to conclude Symphonies 39 and 40, which Mozart wrote in succession with Symphony 41. Critics adored the composition at the time, and its fame is recognized even today.
Piano Quartet No. 1, Op. 25
Composed by Johannes Brahms from 1856 to 1861, the Piano Quartet No. 1 is an iconic piece of piano music. Classical music was moving out of the chambers and into concert halls at that time, but Brahms stuck with chamber music to keep people from making comparisons between him and other composers. This piano quartet is divided into four movements: Allegro, Intermezzo: Allegro ma non troppo, Andante con moto, and Rondo alla Zingarese: Presto.
The composition is known for its odd combination of instruments: a piano, a violin, a viola and a cello. The finale in particular is famous among music enthusiasts, due in part to the fast rondo that was incorporated. This rondo was given the nickname “Gypsy Rondo” due to its Austro-Hungarian influences.
Ultimately, Brahms’ insistence on defying trends resulted in a famed piece of music that is still loved centuries later.
Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky is one of the most famous musicians to come from Russia, and Swan Lake is considered to be among his best creations. Based on old German and Russian folktales, this ballet was recognized for being the first of its kind to be written by a composer known for symphonies. The original production was considered a failure, but later refinements, such as the addition of a pas de deux, allowed the ballet to find success.
The story of Princess Odette, who was changed into a swan by a wizard’s curse, is beloved even today. As the ballet’s chief conductor, Tchaikovsky strived to create a fast, exciting score to get viewers engaged in the story. The original story and music were adapted for use in several films and TV shows, signifying its effect on popular culture as a whole.