Many pieces of music from Russian operas have become much more famous in the concert hall than on the opera stage. Some of these pieces include Tchaikovsky's Waltz and Polonaise from Eugene Onegin, Alexander Borodin's Polovstian Dances from Prince Igor, and Sergei Prokofiev's march from The Love for Three Oranges.
Russian artist and architect Victor Hartman was a good friend of Modest Mussorgsky. When Hartman died at the age of 39, there was a memorial exhibit of his work. That inspired Mussorgsky to create his own tribute to Hartman -- a composition depicting ten pieces of art from the exhibit.
The Mighty Handful, also known as the Mighty Five, were group of Russian composers who all wanted to develop a distinctly Russian style of classical music. The Mighty Five composers were Mily Balakirev, Alexander Borodin, Cesar Cui, Modest Mussorgsky, and Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov.
When he was a kid growing up, Modest Mussorgsky learned Russian fairy tales and folk stories from the family nurse. Those fairy tales put in an appearance in the music he wrote later on. Mussorgsky composed Pictures at an Exhibition in memory of an artist friend of his who died suddenly.
Rondo is an Italian word that means round. A rondo is an instrumental form with a refrain that keeps coming back. Unlike the verses of a song, though, the music in a rondo changes between each repetition of the refrain.
In the 18th century, Janissary music became all the rage in Europe. Janissaries were the men who guarded the sultan of Turkey. They had wonderful bands that included instruments that sounded very exotic to European ears: cymbals, triangles and bass drums.
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart wrote his first opera when he was twelve, and opera continued to fascinate him throughout his life. Mozart had such genius for combining music and theater that he took opera to a whole new level. No other composer from Mozart's day still has so many operas performed all over the world.
When Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart sat down at the keyboard at the age of three, it was clear to his father Leopold that he had a genius on his hands. From the first pieces he composed as a five-year-old, to the Requiem he was working on when he died, right before his 35th birthday, Mozart wrote an astonishing amount of beautiful music.
For some reason, Beethoven has been the butt of many musical jokes over the years. You can find Beethoven references everywhere from disco, to the Beatles, to the Broadway musical.
The beginning of the second movement of Beethoven's 8th Symphony imitates a metronome -- a mechanical device that ticks steadily to help musician keep to the beat of the music. Other composers wrote music that ticks, or that imitates other inanimate objects -- including a doll and a typewriter.