Portal:Classical music

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The Classical Music Portal

String quartet performing for the Mozart Year 2006 in Vienna

Classical music is art music produced or rooted in the traditions of Western culture, generally considered to have begun in Europe after the fall of the Western Roman Empire in the late 5th century CE and continuing to present day. Classical music refers to Western musical traditions considered to be apart from or a refinement of Western folk music or popular music traditions. The major periods are the medieval (500–1400), Renaissance (1400–1600), Baroque (1600–1750), Classical (1750–1820), Romantic (1800–1910), Modernist (1890–1975) and Postmodern era/ Contemporary (1950–present) eras. These periods and their dates are all approximate generalizations and represent gradual stylistic shifts that varied in intensity and prominence throughout the Western world.

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. It includes both sacred (religious) and secular 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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Portrait of Mendelssohn, 1839.
Felix Mendelssohn's Violin Concerto in E minor, Op. 64 is his last large orchestral work. It forms an important part of the violin repertoire and is one of the most popular and most frequently performed violin concertos of all time. A typical performance lasts just under half an hour. Mendelssohn originally proposed the idea of the violin concerto to Ferdinand David, a close friend and then concertmaster of the Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra. Although conceived in 1838, the work took another six years to complete and was not premiered until 1845. During this time, Mendelssohn maintained a regular correspondence with David, seeking his advice with the concerto. The work itself was one of the first violin concertos of the Romantic era and was influential to the compositions of many other composers.

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Richard Wagner in 1871

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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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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A picture of the first theatre drawn shortly before it burned down in 1808.
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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