Discover Music

Painting Pictures with Sounds, a Guide to Vivaldi's Four Seasons

The Four Seasons
The Four Seasons

Vivaldi's Four Seasons is not only the composer’s most celebrated work, it is one of his most revolutionary. Likely written around 1718–20 whilst a court composer in Mantua, Italy, the work is a collection of four concertos for violin, each of which represents a season of the year in the order Spring, Summer, Autumn, Winter. Collectively they are one of the first substantial examples of what musicologists call 'programme music.'
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What's the story behind Beethoven's Fur Elise?

Who was Elise?
Who was Elise?

Fur Elise is one of the most popular and yet puzzling pieces in classical music. A minor work during Beethoven’s lifetime it was lost after his death in 1827, only to be rediscovered forty years later. Since then it has become one of the most familiar pieces written by him.

What is it, then, that makes this pieces so special? And who was the mysterious 'Elise' of the title?
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Scott Joplin - from 'Entertainer' to cultural icon

The Entertainer
The Entertainer

Scott Joplin is a name we associate with great ragtime pieces such as the Maple Leaf Rag,' Rose Leaf Rag and The Easy Winners. None are quite so well-loved, however, as his The Entertainer. Whilst the piece serves for many as an introduction to the music of this great composer, a little dig into its history also helps us to understand Joplin's wider importance in music history.
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How 'Air on the G String' got its name

Bach's Air on the G String
Bach's Air on the G String

Air on the G String is one of Bach's most familiar and best loved pieces. A concert classic, it has also appeared countless times in film, television and advertising. We may feel, therefore, that we know this piece well, but the work's rich history includes some rather surprising facts....

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Top Ten Classical Music Mishaps

A page-turn gone wrong
A page-turn gone wrong

Performing on stage is not for the faint of heart. There are the hours of practice and the agony of performance nerves. When things go well, of course, it is one of the most rewarding and exhilarating activities. When things go wrong, however, they can go very wrong indeed. And there are plenty of people to witness your discomfort!

Here is our collection of some of the most notorious classical music mishaps. Though they are funny, spare a thought for the musicians involved who, more often than not, handle them with professionalism and a wry smile.
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5 things you may not know about Beethoven's 5th

Beethoven and a yellow hammer bird.
Beethoven and a yellow hammer bird.

Like Beyoncé, Adele or Madonna, Beethoven's 5th Symphony is so familiar it's known simple by it's first name: 'The Fifth'. But here are 5 facts about the piece you may not know:
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10 Most Difficult Pieces for Violin

Paganini
Paganini

The violin is second only to the piano in terms of the famous virtuosos associated with the instrument, from early pioneers like Vivaldi and Locatelli through to the legendary Paganini and on to later romantic and 20th-century masters such as Joachim, Ysaÿe, Kreisler, Sarasate, Heifetz and Milstein. We’ve chosen ten of the most difficult and spectacular works ever written for the instrument, including finger-contorting, bow-shredding works ranging from stone-cold masterpieces by Bach, Bartok and Sibelius through to candyfloss showstoppers by Paganini and Ernst.

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The funniest ever performances of classical music

The Melodica men
The Melodica men

Think classical music is a bit serious? Take a look at these hilarious performances of some of the great works of the classical repertoire and think again….
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Ten short pieces for choir by twentieth-century masters

Debussy, Ravel and Kodaly - 20th century choir composers
Debussy, Ravel and Kodaly - 20th century choir composers

Twentieth-century composers might not have churned out masses, motets and cantatas on the industrial scale of composers from earlier eras but there’s still plenty of great choral music to explore, much of it secular rather than religious in inspiration,
and often featuring a healthy dose of folk music influence. We’ve rounded up ten of our favourite short 20th-century choral classics to help get you started, many of them still relatively little known. Most are upbeat and relatively straightforward to sing – and with no single movement lasting more than five minutes offer manageably bite-sized introductions to some of the century’s leading composers.
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Charles III Coronation Music Guide

King Charles III and Queen Camilla [source: Wikipedia]
King Charles III and Queen Camilla [source: Wikipedia]

The Coronation of King Charles II on May 6th 2023 was an occasion dripping with magnificent music, both familiar and newly composed. In a lavish ceremony lasting over two hours the crack team of musicians provided all the pomp, gravitas and emotion that the ancient Coronation rite demands.

Here is the ultimate chronological guide to the music played on that day, complete with links to recordings of the newer works and the sheet music to those familiar classics, so you can play through the Coronation music yourself.
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