What are the most trivial facts about classical composers?

HELP! We’re in a trivia night tonight and we know classical music will play a big part of it …

does anyone know any little facts that aren’t widely known about classical composers?

I am a direct decendant (on my fathers mothers side) of Johann Sebastian Strauss. na na na na na QWACK QWACK qwack qwack nah nah nah nah nah nah QWACK QWACK qwack qwack

excellent …

feel sure that will be a question.

sarcastic grin

I think I need to better define the term ‘research’ Luke…

fine …

I was only trying to help

Antonio Vivaldi and I share a birthday.

Prior to Mozart, most composers had a benefactor of some kind. Mozart was the first to try to break away. He died a pauper although some think that was because he spent all the money he made to support a mistress. It would have been difficult for him to spend that much without knowing where it went. Mozart also would have his wife read the newspaper to him while he was transcribing music because he found that terminally boring.

Beethoveen was the first truly successful composer. He broke away and didn’t have a benefactor later becoming pretty rich. He sold a single piece to several different music companies at once and made money off of each one. This was before copyright laws so the rival companies would eventually steal his music anyway. It should be said that even that was pretty shady at the time.

Alexander Scriabin died from an infected pustule that he had lanced in England. His son Julian also died young. Also, Julian was an aspiring composer and his pieces rivaled his fathers in their beauty and complexity.

Scriabin and Rimsky-Korsakov both heard/saw music as a stream of colours. The key of D major to both of them was a decidedly golden/golden brown colour. They would argue with other composers who didn’t have that ability by putting their ideas together. One composer (don’t remember his name) said it was total hogwash. He had composed some piece that featured a pot of gold or goldfish and the two other composers said but you subconsciously put it in the key of D, you follow our path even subconsciously.

What we know as solfege (ie, do, re, mi, fa, sol, la, ti, do) was derived from a hymn to St. John the Baptist. The original lyrics were supposedly extremely homo-erotic. The solfaggio was taken from the first syllable of each of the stanzas since they progressed stepwise. Originally it only went up to La. The final Ti and Do were added much later in the Rennaissance since this was during the earlier Middle Ages.

Speaking of notational styles, Guido D’Arrezzo (sp?) formed a method where each of the individual joints on his fingers represented one of the notes in solfege. His method was the most widely used training source for choirs and individual singers for several hundred years.

The modern notational staff was based off of Gregorian chant notation. Gregorian Chant notation points to where C or F are and only has four lines rather than the 5 of a modern day staff.

If you don’t count Gregorian Chant or non-western music, there are four different types of clefs that modern instrumentalists use. They are the bass cleff, the tenor clef, the alto clef, and the treble clef. The tenor clef is used in some bassoon music and the alto clef is used as the primary clef for the viola. They both show where middle C is in relationship to the staff. The bass clef outlines where F is and the treble clef outlines where G is, incidently. Also, several musical instruments play at different intervals than they are written. It is just one of the quirks of standardized fingerings and ease of reading.

The lute was as popular in the pre-Baroque periods as the piano is today in classical music.

Whoops, I realize I am off topic about composers. The Mad Prince of Verona, Carlo Gesualdo, was a Rennaissance composer afflicted with a mad passion for music. I can’t remember the term for it but it is similar to melomania (that may actually be it). He compulsively wrote music that sounds more twentieth century than Rennaissance. He caught his wife cheating on him and murdered her lover.

Josquin Desprez learned his compositional craft from Orlando di Lasso. They were the most well known and respected composers of their time. Josquin Desprez was the equivalent of a rock superstar for his time. He was really the first composer to make a name for himself. Prior to that most of the composers were monks and didn’t credit any of their music to themselves but to God.

I could go on for ages, but I suppose that would be a good start on some musical trivia.


grin thanks for the help

Now is a good time to announce we didn’t win :frowning:

If you don’t know much about the subject you aren’t going to be able to learn it by tonight, but just in case:

  1. You do know Beethoven was deaf, right?

  2. PDQ Bach isn’t really related to J.S. Bach.

  3. Rossini, not Bugs Bunny, wrote The Barber of Seville.

  4. Rachmaninoff had a really big hand span - about 1.5 octaves.

If any of these come up, do I get a percentage of the prize?

Well, I guess SqrlCub showed ME up!

*grins at MissBunny

damn and we were sure Bugs was the right answer :slight_smile:

Mozart was fond of billiards. The smooth rolling of billiard balls across the table was inspirational to his creative process.

Sorry Miss Bunny. Anyone have a composer that they want some dirt on? I can usually do alright.


Benjamin Britten was in love with my father, and wanted to quit writing classical music and work in Rothman’s Department Store (in Eastern Long Island) in order to be near him.

It’s in Humphrey Carpenter’s biography of Britten (my father first learned about when the book came out). I talk about it on my web page.

Beethoven used to make his morning coffee by grinding precisely 60 coffee beans. Keith

Most of the really famous Russian composers had other professions, and were just amateur composers, if I remember right. I think Borodin was a chemist of some note, and there were a few of the Big Five that were doctors.

Didn’t Heydn spend almost his whole life writing for some Austrian duke?

I really know next to nothing about classical music. Now rock music I could go on for DAYS about, but I’m mostly clueless WRT classical.

Anton Bruckner was a total rube. There are dozens of delightful anecdotes about this big Czech schnauzer.

When von Bulow, one of the great conductors of the late 19th century, led the Vienna Philharmonic in the premiere of Bruckner’s Third Symphony, the composer handed the conductor a tip afterward.

The Adagio from his Seventh was used as Hitler’s funeral music.

Bruckner’s also the only composer of the Romantic era to have a Symphony Number Zero.

Nitpick: Gregorian chant clefs indicate where do and fa are. Chant had no inherent key.

Carnival of the Animals is now Camille Saint-Saëns’ most well-known piece. He composed it as private entertainment for his friends and did not allow it to be performed publicly while he was alive (except for one excerpt - The Swan). This was because he didn’t want to be known for such a frivolous piece.

Thanks for the help anyway guys. hugs for SQRL Depsite pLt’s facade we’re not complete imbeciles - we did know a fair bit and managed 7/10 for the classical music round.
But next week’s bonus round is Time And Space.

What the hell? Do they want to be anymore general?
btw: background. We attended a trivia night a few weeks ago and whimsically joined a team. We did pretty well and came second to a team that we discovered wins every single week. Without exception.

This of course enraged our sense of injustice to the point where we vowed to return and rectify the situation. We returned the following week and came second again. Last night we dropped to third. sigh This could be a long year…

Thanks again.

hey …

we did come up with a means of cheating …

Hands free mobile phone, someone at home with the internet and encarta and stuff.
It’s only Rachel who has an aversion to cheating and she’ll come around :slight_smile:

Yes we have come up with a theoretical plan as to how we could cheat. No, we’re yet to be swayed into actually applying what would be a full-scale intricate (and yet fun)operation.

There’s just this little thing about ethics, slutboy…