Classical music is still incredibly popular and can be heard everywhere. For example, some pieces of music have become famous for their use in films. We have even forgotten other classical melodies that they were made by a composer. What are the ten classical pieces of music that everyone knows?
10. Carl Orff – O Fortuna
The original Carmina Burana consists of a large collection of medieval songs. The German composer Carl Orff composed new music in 1935 for twenty-five of these songs. The dramatic ‘O Fortuna’ that introduces and closes the work was later widely used in films and commercials. It was also frequently sampled in house records by, among others, Apotheosis.
9. Antonio Vivaldi –Le quattro stagioni
The Italian baroque composer Vivaldi completed a violin concerto in 1723 that would depict the seasons in four parts. Thanks to the rise of radio and records, Le quattro stagioni, and in particular the beginning of spring, would become one of the best-known classical pieces of all time. Violinist Nigel Kennedy recorded the piece in 1989, after which the album became an unprecedented bestseller with two million copies sold.
8. Gioachino Rossini – William Tell Ouverture
The Italian composer Rossini presented his opera about Swiss folk hero Wilhelm Tell in 1829. The opera lasts four hours, but it is mainly the opening that has been recognized by everyone ever since. Towards the end of the overture sounds an energetic music that would be used in the following century as the starting tune of the cowboy series The Lone Ranger. Since then it is impossible not to make the association with galloping horses.
7. Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart – Eine kleine Nachtmusik
Mozart wrote numerous memorable melodies during his short life. The opening of Serenade for strings no. 13 in G major, better known as Eine kleine Nachtmusik (1787), has become almost synonymous with classical music with its characteristic jumping melody.
6. Richard Wagner – Die Walküre
The German composer Richard Wagner became famous for his large-scale operas. Der Ring des Nibelungen an ambitious work on Germanic mythology has had a great influence outside of classical music. The work consists of four parts that are carried out over different days. The most famous part is undoubtedly “Die Walküre”. This piece of music would start a second life thanks to its use in the Vietnam film Apocalypse Now (1979). During a helicopter attack on a village, American troops use the music to frighten their opponents.
5. Georg Friedrich Händel – Halleluja
The German composer Handel was a contemporary of Bach who composed much of his work in England. His Messiah, an Oratorio was composed in 1741. The work often takes two and a half hours and is very popular around Christmas time. The second part is closed by “Halleluja” that is sung by a choir. Since then, the way the choir sings the word has become almost proverbial.
4. Johan Strauss II – An der schönen blauen Donau
The first version of the An der schönen blauen Donau waltz was initially a cautious success. The Austrian composer Johan Strauss II would further develop the piece into a complete instrumental version for orchestra. The interpretation that was staged for the first time at the Paris World Exhibition (1867) caused a sensation. Since then, the roller has always remained popular, thanks in part to the performances by André Rieu. Director Stanley Kubrick made original use of the waltz in his 2001: A Space Odyssey. An der schönen blauen Donau sounds during a legendary scene in which a spaceship connects to a revolving space station.
3. Richard Strauss – Also Sprach Zarathustra
Also Sprach Zarathustra is a symphonic poem of about 33 minutes that was composed in 1896 by the German musician Richard Strauss. The piece would quickly become part of the standard repertoire of orchestras. The exciting introduction ‘Einleitung, oder Sonnenaufgang’ would lead a life of its own. This piece would also play an essential role in 2001: A Space Odyssey during the opening scene in which a monkey first uses a bone as a weapon. A few years later the Brazilian musician Deodato would score a worldwide hit with a swinging version. Since then Also Sprach Zarathustra often sounds like an introduction during sporting events.
2. Johannes Sebastian Bach – Toccata en fuga in d-moll
After a small dip, Bach has become one of the most famous composers of all time. The origin of one of his masterpieces Toccata and fugue in d-moll cannot be traced. It is often seen as a youth work in which Bach shows his talent. The dramatic organ work created a sensation in the nineteenth century when it was finally published on sheet music. Since then it has been one of the most popular pieces from classical music. A well-known performance is from a symphony orchestra led by Leopold Stokowski. This is mainly due to Fantasia (1940), Walt Disney’s animated ode to classical music, in which Toccata and fugue in d-moll serves as an opening.
1. Ludwig von Beethoven – Fifth symphony
The motif of eight notes with which Beethoven’s fifth symphony starts are undoubtedly the most famous melody from classical music. It is hard to explain why this simple melody is so famous. Of course, Beethoven’s fame is great, but he wrote several masterpieces. Perhaps the combination of drama and simplicity is recognizable and easy to remember. The motif is still used on a daily basis if, for example, you want to add something to the conversation. There are countless versions of the Fifth Symphony in circulation, including a disco version on which John Travolta dances during one of the famous dance scenes in Saturday Night Fever.