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Classical Composers - R-W


Composers A-P
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Sergei Vasilievich Rachmaninoff - 1873-1943 - Russia

Flight of the Bumblebee
This extremely fast piece of music comes from the Opera 'The Tale of Tsar Saltan' which was composed in 1900. The piece closes Act III, during which the magic Swan-Bird changes Prince Gvidon (the Tsar's son) into an insect so that he can fly away to visit his father (who does not know that he is alive). It is a very difficult piece for a musician to perform.
Flight of the Bumblebee on YouTube

Jean-Philippe Rameau - 1683-1764 - France

Rameau was one of the most important French composers of the Baroque music era. A 'Gavotte' is a French folk dance. It takes its name from the Gavot people from the South East of the country, where the dance originated.
Gavotte on YouTube

Giochino Antonio Rossini - 1792-1863 - Italy

William Tell Overture
Rossini was an Italian composer who wrote 39 Operas as well as a variety of other music. William Tell was a famous marksman in Swiss folklore. The new Austrian leader Gessler had hung his hat upon a pole in the town of Altdorf in Switzerland and demanded that everyone bow to it. William passed by with his son, and refused to bow. Gessler had him arrested. Gessler, who was intrigued by Tell's famed marksmanship, yet resentful of his defiance, devised a cruel punishment: Tell and his son would be executed, but he could redeem his life by shooting an apple off the head of his son, Walter, in a single attempt. Tell split the apple with a bolt from his crossbow. This piece of music was used as the theme tune for the TV Series 'The Lone Ranger' in the 1940's and 1950's.
William Tell Overture on YouTube

Camille Saint Saens - 1835-1921 - France

The Swan
'Sannois', as he was often known, was an organist, pianist and composer of the Romantic Era. 'Le Cygne' comes from 'Carnival of the Animals' written in 1886. It is played on the Cello. This is the only movement from The Carnival of the Animals that the composer allowed to be played in public during his lifetime.
The Swan on YouTube

Robert Schumann - 1810-1856 - Germany

Happy Farmer
The full title is 'Happy Farmer, Returning from Work' and it comes from an album of 43 short pieces composed by Schumann for his 3 daughters. The theme was later used as the basis for the folk song 'Red Wing' in 1907. The song tells of a young Indian girl's loss of her sweetheart who has died in battle.
Original Happy Farmer on YouTube

Red Wing Folk Song on YouTube

Johann Strauss II - 1825-1899 - Austria

The Blue Danube
Composed in 1866. Name in German is 'An der schonen blauen Donau' (By the beautiful blue Danube). It is a Waltz. Strauss' father, Johann Strauss I was also a composer.
The Blue Danube on YouTube

Shinichi Suzuki - 1898-1998 - Japan

Suzuki was a violinist, teacher and inventor of the Suzuki Method of teaching music. In a moderately quick tempo, slightly slower than Allegro but faster than Andante.
Allegretto on YouTube

Slightly slower than Andante.
Andantino on YouTube

Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky - 1840-1893 - Russia

Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy
From the Ballet 'The Nutcracker'. It was first performed in 1892. The piece is performed on a Celesta. The Celesta is a keyboard musical instrument. It looks like an upright piano. When a key is depressed, a hammer strikes a steel plate. 'Celeste' means 'heavenly' in French. The celesta was invented in 1886.
Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy on YouTube

Swan Lake - Dance of the Swans
The ballet 'Swan Lake' was composed in 1876 and tells the story of Odette, a princess turned into a swan by an evil sorcerer's curse.
Dance of the Swans on YouTube

Georg Philipp Telemann - 1681-1767 - Germany

Concerto for 4 Violins
Telemann played many instruments and became a composer against his family's wishes. Telemann was godfather to Johann Sebastian Bach's son Carl.
Concerto for 4 Violins on YouTube

Guitar Version on YouTube

Vangelis - 1943- - Greece

Chariots of Fire Theme
'Chariots of Fire' is a 1981 musical score by Greek electronic composer Vangelis (Evangelos Odysseas Papathanassiou) for the British film 'Chariots of Fire'. It tells the fact-based story of two athletes in the 1924 Olympics: Eric Liddell, a Scottish Christian who runs for the glory of God, and Harold Abrahams, an English Jew who runs to overcome prejudice. It is often used in slow-motion running sections of other films and TV programmes.
Chariots of Fire on YouTube

Giuseppe Verdi - 1813-1901 - Italy

La Traviata - Brindisi
'La Traviata' means 'The Fallen Woman' and is about a young courtesan whose life is cut short by Tuberculosis. A 'Brindisi' is a drinking song.
Brindisi on YouTube

Antonio Lucio Vivaldi - 1678-1741 - Italy

The Four Seasons
Vivaldi was a violinist, teacher, priest and composer who was born in Venice. He was known as the 'Red Priest'. This is a set of four Concertos composed in 1725 to represent the four seasons. Each season has three movements to represent the months. You can hear these pieces of music on Wikipedia by clicking

Carl Ditters von Dittersdorf - 1739-1799 - Austria

German Dance
Von Dittersdorf was also a silvologist as well as a composer. A silvologist studies forests and woods.
German Dance on YouTube

Carl Maria Von Weber - 1786-1826 - Germany

Country Dance

German Composer from the Romantic Era. This piece includes up bow 'Spiccato', a technique in which the bow bounces lightly upon the string.

Country Dance on YouTube

Richard Wagner - 1813-1883 - Germany

Ride of the Valkyries
This piece comes from the second of four operas by Wagner based on the Norse and German mythology story 'Nibelungenlied' - 'The Song of the Nibelungs'.
Ride of the Valkyries on YouTube

Bridal Chorus
This piece comes from the 1850 opera 'Lohengrin'. Lohengrin is a knight of German Arthurian legend, who is knight of the Holy Grail sent in a boat pulled by swans to rescue a maiden.
Bridal Chorus on YouTube

Emile Waldteufel - 1837-1915 - France

The Skaters' Waltz
'Les Patineurs Valse'. Features Glissando, which means gliding from one note to another.
The Skaters' Waltz on YouTube

John Williams - 1932- - USA

Schindler's List Theme

Film Music relating to the Jewish Holocaust in World War II. Oskar Schindler was a German Industrialist who is credited with saving the lives of 1,200 jews during the war by employing them in his factory. This piece of music features a Jewish violin solo by Itzhak Perlman. You can learn more about Schindler by clicking here.

Schindler's List Theme on YouTube

Heroic Music in Film
Jaws, Star Wars, Superman, Indiana Jones, E.T., Warhorse
Compilation of John Williams' Music

Superman Theme on YouTube


Lilliburlero - (Traditional)
Lilliburlero is a march that originates from the English Civil War, 1642-1651. It originated as an Irish Jig. The tune is synonymous with the War of the Two Kings, between the protestant King William of Orange, and the Catholic King James II, which took place in Ireland between 1689-1691 (which included the Battle of the Boyne in 1690).
Lilliburlero on YouTube

Samba Music (Traditional)
Samba is a dance and musical genre originating in Brazil, and with its roots Africa via the West African slave trade and African religious traditions. It is recognized around the world as a symbol of Brazil and the Brazilian Carnival.
Street Samba Music on YouTube

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