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String quartet performing for the Mozart Year 2006 in Vienna
String quartet performing for the Mozart Year 2006 in Vienna

Classical music is art music produced or rooted in the traditions of Western culture, including both liturgical (religious) and secular music. Historically, the term 'classical music' refers specifically to the musical period from 1750 to 1820 (the Classical period). In a more general sense classical music refers to Western musical traditions considered to be apart from or a refinement of western folk music traditions and encompasses the broad span of time from before the 6th century AD to the present day, which includes the Classical period and various other periods. The central norms of this tradition became codified between 1650 and 1900, which is known as the common-practice period.

The term "classical music" did not appear until the early 19th century, in an attempt to distinctly canonize the period from Johann Sebastian Bach to Ludwig van Beethoven as a golden age. The earliest reference to "classical music" recorded by the Oxford English Dictionary is from about 1829.

European art music is largely distinguished from many other non-European classical and some popular musical forms by its system of staff notation, in use since about the 11th century. Catholic monks developed the first forms of modern European musical notation in order to standardize liturgy throughout the worldwide Church. Western staff notation is used by composers to indicate to the performer the pitches and durations for a piece of music. In contrast to most popular styles that adopted the song (strophic) form or a derivation of this form, classical music has been noted for its development of highly sophisticated forms of instrumental music such as the symphony, concerto, fugue, sonata, and mixed vocal and instrumental styles such as opera, cantata, and mass. (Full article...)

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A choral symphony is a large musical composition, generally including an orchestra, a choir and soloists, which adheres to some extent to the tenets of musical form for a symphony in its internal workings and overall musical architecture. The term "choral symphony" in this context was coined by Hector Berlioz when describing his Roméo et Juliette in his five-paragraph introduction to that work. The direct antecedent for the choral symphony is Ludwig van Beethoven's Ninth Symphony. The Beethoven Ninth incorporates part of the Ode an die Freude ("Ode to Joy"), a poem by Friedrich Schiller, with text sung by soloists and a chorus in the last movement. It is the first example of a major composer using the human voice on the same level with instruments in a symphony. While Berlioz, Felix Mendelssohn and Franz Liszt followed in Beethoven's footsteps, it was with the advent of the 20th century that the choral symphony seemed to come into vogue, with notable works by Benjamin Britten, Gustav Mahler, Sergei Rachmaninoff, Dmitri Shostakovich, Igor Stravinsky and Ralph Vaughan Williams, among others.
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Wilhelm Richard Wagner (/ˈrɪ.ərd ˈvɑːɡ.nər/; German pronunciation: [ˈʁi.çaʁt ˈvaɡ.nɐ]; 22 May 1813, Leipzig, Germany – 13 February 1883, Venice, Italy) was a German composer, conductor, theatre director and essayist, primarily known for his operas (or "music dramas", as they were later called). Unlike most other great opera composers, Wagner wrote both the scenario and libretto for his works.

Richard Wagner was born at no. 3 ('the House of the Red and White Lions'), the Brühl, in Leipzig, on 22 May 1813, the ninth child of Carl Friedrich Wagner, who was a clerk in the Leipzig police service. Wagner's father died of typhus six months after Richard's birth, following which Wagner's mother, Johanna Rosine Wagner, began living with the actor and playwright Ludwig Geyer, who had been a friend of Richard's father. In August 1814 Johanna Rosine married Geyer, and moved with her family to his residence in Dresden. For the first 14 years of his life, Wagner was known as Wilhelm Richard Geyer. Wagner may later have suspected that Geyer was in fact his biological father, and furthermore speculated incorrectly that Geyer was Jewish.

Geyer's love of the theatre was shared by his stepson, and Wagner took part in his performances. In his autobiography, Wagner recalled once playing the part of an angel. The boy Wagner was also hugely impressed by the Gothic elements of Weber's Der Freischütz. In late 1820, Wagner was enrolled at Pastor Wetzel's school at Possendorf, near Dresden, where he received some piano instruction from his Latin teacher. He could not manage a proper scale but preferred playing theatre overtures by ear. Geyer died in 1821, when Richard was eight. Consequently, Wagner was sent to the Kreuz Grammar School in Dresden, paid for by Geyer's brother. The young Wagner entertained ambitions as a playwright, his first creative effort (listed as 'WWV 1') being a tragedy, Leubald begun at school in 1826, which was strongly influenced by Shakespeare and Goethe. Wagner was determined to set it to music; he persuaded his family to allow him music lessons.

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Book 1 – Fugue in D major Performed on a Flemish harpsichord by Martha Goldstein Problems playing this file? See media help.

The Well-Tempered Clavier (Das Wohltemperirte Clavier in the original old German spelling), BWV 846–893, is a collection of solo keyboard music composed by Johann Sebastian Bach. He first gave the title to a book of preludes and fugues in all 24 major and minor keys, dated 1722, composed "for the profit and use of musical youth desirous of learning, and especially for the pastime of those already skilled in this study".

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The Royal Opera House is an opera house and major performing arts venue in the London district of Covent Garden. The large building, often referred to as simply "Covent Garden", is the home of The Royal Opera, The Royal Ballet and the Orchestra of the Royal Opera House.
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Did you know...

... that Johann Sebastian Bach is only one of 53 "musical Bachs" in several generations?

... that the longest non-repetitive piano piece is The Road, composed by Frederic Rzewski, and it lasts about 10 hours?

... that Gioachino Rossini wrote his comic opera The Italian Girl in Algiers in less than three weeks?

... that Stockhausen's Helikopter-Streichquartett is played by a string quartet and four helicopters?

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