Composers You Should Know!

January 2021

This month we're doing something different! Instead of one composer's music to explore, we'll be hearing music from 8 different composers from throughout history! These are all composers whose names you should know!

Week 1

Part 1

Let's start with a contemporary composer (that means a composer who is alive right now)!

Philip Glass is an American composer who lives in New York City. His music is an example of "Minimalism;" so-called because it takes a minimal amount of musical material and repeats it over and over again in different combinations! Have you heard music like this before? Can you hear a melody in this type of music?

Part 2

Let's back up about 450 years! Music that was popular in the 1500s sounded like this music by the important composer Giovanni Pierluigi da Palestrina. Palestrina, like most important composers from this time period, worked for the Church and composed music with sacred themes.

Have you ever sung in a choir before? Do you notice how "in-sync" these eight singers are with each other? How do they communicate with each other while they are performing?

Week 2

Part 1

In the beginning of the 1900s, a famous Austrian composer named Arnold Schoenberg made a big decision. He thought that music had been limited by using major and minor keys for far too long. He wanted to "emancipate dissonance," or, in other words, create music that used striking, "crunchy" chords to express a wide range of emotions.

One of Schoenberg's famous compositions is called Pierrot Lunaire. It is a collection of songs for voice and several instruments (including piano). Can you follow along with the score for this music? Do you like this music?!

Part 2

Let's back up in history again! From the 1700s in Italy we hear this famous piece of music by the famous Baroque composer Antonio Vivaldi!

This famous concerto is part of a set of pieces called "The Seasons." "Spring" is likely the most popular piece of music ever composed by Vivaldi, who was a priest and a teacher at an orphanage for girls in Venice. Have you heard this music before? I've heard the opening of this piece in countless movies and commercials!

Week 3

Part 1

If you've participated in the Composer of the Month Club in the past, you might recognize this composer: Pyotr Tchaikovsky. He is definitely a composer you should know because his music is extremely popular and beautiful.

Some of his most famous music comes from his ballet score "The Nutcracker." Did you hear this song in commercials or on the radio during the Christmas season?

Part 2

Perhaps the most famous composer of all time, Ludwig van Beethoven, is another composer you should know! He was featured as our composer of the month last year, but in case you missed it, here's the beginning of his famous Symphony No. 5!

If you like this music, be sure to listen to all 4 movements of this symphony. This piece was one of the first pieces of classical music that I heard while growing up, and it's been a favorite of mine ever since!

Week 4

Part 1

Let's back up in history again, this time to the 1100s! Did you know that we still have examples of music written 900 years ago?!

One of the most important composers from this time is Hildegard von Bingen. She was a Catholic nun, who was skilled at many things, including music and writing. Take a look at the music in this video: this is how music notes looked on paper 900 years ago!

Part 2

Let's fast forward in time back to today! Another contemporary composer who you should know is the American composer Caroline Shaw.

Both this video and the previous video (featuring Hildegard's music) are just for voices. Isn't it amazing the different sounds that the human voice can create?!

Thanks for listening!

There are so many important composers whose names you should know! Keep listening to as much music as you can; musical curiosity is the best way to learn how to play an instrument!