Wednesday, December 7, 2011



Pachelbel was a German Baroque composer, organist, and teacher. He composed a large body of sacred and secular music and made a major contribution to the development of the chorale prelude and fugue. His best known work is the Canon in D.

TOMASO ALBINONI  (1671-1751)

Albinoni was an Italian Baroque composer. Today he is known for his instrumental music including his famous Adagio in G minor for violin, strings, and organ. Albinoni was an influence on Bach, who wrote at least two fugues based on his themes and used his basses for harmony exercises for his pupils.


Bach was a German composer, organist, harpsichordist, violist, and violinist whose works drew together the various elements of the Baroque period and brought it to its ultimate maturity. He enriched the style with a contrapuntal  technique, with a control of harmonic and motivic organisation, and used rhythms, forms and textures from other music. He composed a multitude of major works including Suite #3 in D (Air), Concerto for Piano and Orchestra No. 5 in F Minor, The Goldberg Variations, and The Well Tempered Clavier.


Beethoven was a German composer and pianist and a crucial figure in the transition between the Classical and Romantic eras. He is one of the most famous and influential composers of all time. He wrote 9 symphonies, 32 piano sonatas, 10 violin sonatas, and 5 cello sonatas. He composed numerous great works including Fur Elise, Piano Sonata #14, Minuet in G, and his 5th and 9th Symphonies.

RICHARD WAGNER (1813-1883)

Wagner was a German composer, conductor, and writer, who is primarily known for his operas. His work is known for their complex texture, rich harmonies, and orchestration, and the use of leitmotifs that are related to characters, places, and ideas. He wrote both the music and libretto for all of his stage works. The two most well-known extracts from his works are Ride of the Valkyries from the opera Die Valkure, and the Wedding March from the opera Lohengrin. Wagner pioneered advances in musical language, using extreme chromatism, and shifting tonal centres. Tristan and Isolde is considered by some to be the start of modern music. His masterwork is Der Ring des Nibelungen, known as the Ring cycle. It consists of four operas based loosely on elements of Germanic mythology. 

GUSTAV MAHLER (1860-1911)

Mahler was a late-Romantic Austrian composer and one of the leading conductors of his generation. He wrote 10 large scale symphonies. He was a major influence on Schoenberg, Berg, Webern, Shostakovich, and Britten. One of his most powerful works is Symphony #2, known as the Resurrection. Symphony #8 is also considered one of his greatest works.

ERIK SATIE (1866-1925)

Satie was a French composer and pianist and part of the early 20th century Parisian avant-garde. His work was a precursor to later artistic movements such as minimalism, repetitive music, and The Theatre of the Absurd. His most  well-known pieces are the beautiful piano works - the Gymnopedies and Gnossiennes.


Stravinsky was a Russian composer and one of the most important and influential composers of 20th century music. He came to fame with his ballets: The Firebird (1910), Petrushka (1911), and The Rite of Spring (1913). These works transformed the way subsequent composers thought about rhythmic structure, and were responsible for his reputation as a revolutionary, pushing the boundaries of musical design. He also worked in a neoclassical form and later adopted serial techniques.


Shostakovich was a Russian composer whose compositions were broadly tonal in the Romantic tradition, but also included elements of atonality and chromaticism. He wrote 15 symphonies and 15 string quartets, among many other works. His his strongest compositions are dark and powerful, such as String Quartet #8 and Symphony #5. For the piano he created a set of 24 preludes and fugues.

SAMUEL BARBER (1910-1981)

Barber was an American composer of orchestral, opera, choral, and piano music. His compositional style contains a sense of architectural design, with melodies that create a direct emotional impact. His most well-known work is Adagio for Strings (1938) and is a beautiful and moving piece and is considered one of the masterpieces of modern classical music.

GYORGY LIGETI (1923-2006)

Ligeti was a Hungarian composer of modern classical music. His early work was influenced by Bartok, but in 1956 he began to write electronic music alongside Stockhausen and Koenig in West Germany. His music was influenced by these experiments and many of the sounds he created resembled electronic textures. Two of the pieces to come out of this period were Apparitions and Atmospheres. Ligeti concentrated on timbre, more than melody, harmony, or rhythm. Other important pieces are Continuum, Poeme Symphonique, and Musica Ricercata. He was also a major influence on the minimal composers to come such as Terry Riley and Steve Reich.

ARVO PART (1935-Present) 

Arvo Part is an Estonian composer whose early work was influenced by Shostakovich, Prokofiev, and Bartok. Part entered several periods of contemplative silence, during which he studied choral music from the 14th to the 16th centuries. He studied plainsong, Gregorian chant, and the emergence of polyphony in the European Renaissance. After this period, the music that started to emerge was radically different. Some of his most well-known pieces were written at this time including Fratres, Cantus In Memoriam of Benjamin Britten, and Tabula Rasa. The music from this period is described as tintinnabuli - like the ringing of bells. The music is characterised by simple harmonies, often single unadorned notes, or triads, with simple rhythms and non-changing tempos.

STEVE REICH (1936-Present)

Reich is an American composer, who along with La Monte Young, Terry Riley, and Philip Glass pioneered minimal music. His innovations include using tape loops to create phasing patterns. These compositions are marked by their repetitive figures and slow harmonic rhythm and canons. Important works from this period are It's Gonna Rain, Come Out, Pendulum Music, and Four Organs. After traveling to Africa he composed the longer more elaborate piece Drumming. In 1973, he composed Music for 18 Musicians, which is considered his seminal work, and creates a beautiful, hypnotic effectparb. His later work took on a darker character and incorporated historical themes and themes from his Jewish heritage. Works from this period include Different Trains, Three Tales, and City Life.

PHILIP GLASS (1937-Present)

Glass is an American composer who was also one of the first minimal composers. His early work culminated with Music in Twelve Parts (1971-1974). Glass was looking for a way to combine his interest in harmonic progression and rhythmic structure on a grander scale, which led to his collaboration with Robert Wilson which produced the groundbreaking opera Einstein on the Beach in 1976. Glass has been incredibly prolific over the years composing numerous scores for films and theater pieces, as well as operas, symphonies, and string quartets.

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