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German classical music: Composers


German Composers: Bach - Beethoven - Berg - Brahms - Bruckner - Handel - Haydn - Hildegard von Bingen - Mahler - Mendelssohn - Mozart - Pachelbel - Schönberg - Schubert - C. Schumann - R. Schumann - J. Strauss II - R. Strauss - Wagner - Webern - Weill

Collections & Genres of German Classical Music: Collections - German Operas - German Waltzes & Polkas - German Court Music - German Romantic Music - German Military Music - Early Church Music - German Lyrical Literature in Music (Lieder) - Pre-World War II Music

Johann Sebastian Bach (1685-1750)
A composer of the Baroque period, Bach was widely known during his lifetime as an organist. Since his father was the town musician of Eisenach, and his brother, who was a pupil of Pachebel's, was a church organist, Bach began playing, copying, and studying music at an early age. His genius as a composer -- including the relative complexity of his works and the layers of numerological significance they contained -- was not fully recognized until the century after his death. He remains one of the most important and influential composers of all time.

 Bach biography 
 Another lengthier Bach biography
 More Bach CDs at amazon:

The Complete Brandenburg Concertos
Boston Baroque Ensemble / Martin Pearlman
  Bach: The Well-Tempered Clavier 1 & 2
Rosalyn Tureck
  Bach: Goldberg Variations
Brian Epperson / Triskelion
Johann Sebastian Bach: Toccatas and Fugues
Christopher Herrick

Ludwig van Beethoven (1770-1827)
Beethoven was the predominant musician of the transitional period between Classicism and Romanticism. A master of improvisation, he led a troubled life, first under the hand of a brutal father, later plagued by illness, and torn by the realization he would never marry. Though he began to go deaf at the age of 28, he continued to compose monumental works, even in total deafness.

 Beethoven biography
 More Beethoven CDs at amazon:

  Beethoven: 9 Symphonien (5 CDs)

Beethoven: The 5 Piano Concertos (3 CDs)
Murray Perehia

Beethoven: Piano Sonatas

Wilhelm Kempff

The Late String Quartets
John Dalley, David Soyer, et al.

Alban Berg (1885-1935)
A pupil of Arnold Schönberg, the Austrian Alban Berg's compositions combine Mahler's late Romantic influence with the atonality and twelve tone technique of his mentor. He produced operatic versions of the dramas Wozzeck and Lulu, though he is probably best known for his Violin Concerto.

 Berg biography
 More Berg CDs at amazon:

  Berg: Violin Concerto, Lyric & Lulu Suites, Piano Sonata Op.1, etc.
Eri Klas / Rebecca Hirsch / Netherlands Radio Orchestra

Alban Berg: Wozzeck (Opera in 3 Acts)
Wiener Staatopernchor / Wiener Philharmoniker

Bach/Bartók/Berg: Concertos & Sonata for Violin

Johannes Brahms  (1833-1897)
Brahms is considered by many to be the successor of Beethoven. His Romantic style of music made him a financially successful composer, though he maintained only a modest lifestyle. A known perfectionist, Brahms destroyed entire works that did not meet his standard of quality.

 Brahms biography
 More Brahms CDs at amazon:

  Brahms: Two Rhapsodies/Three Intermezzos/Six Piano Pieces/Four Piano Pieces
Radu Lupu
  Johannes Brahms: The Symphonies
  Brahms: Sonatas for Cello and Piano

Anton Bruckner  (1824-1896)
This deeply religious Austrian composer and organist of the Romantic era is most well known for his symphonies, but he also composed masses and other sacred choral works. Cricial reception of his works was mixed during his lifetime. In the 20th century, his compositions gained increased recognition and popularity.

 Bruckner biography
 More Bruckner CDs at amazon:


Bruckner: The Complete Symphonies
Dresden Staatskapelle
Bruckner: Piano Works
Michael Schopper / Wolfgang Brunner
  Bruckner: Masses and Songs
Russian State Symphony Orchestra

Georg Frideric Handel  (1685-1759)
The German Baroque composer Handel (spelled Händel in German) spent much of his life in England. Among his vast range of works, which includes over 40 operas and 20 oratorios, and many cantatas and orchestral, instrumental and vocal compositions, his most well-known is Messiah, an oratorio set to texts from the King James Bible. Handel's influence is apparent in the works of Haydn, Mozart, and Beethoven.

 Handel biography
 More Handel CDs at amazon:

    Handel - Water Music ˇ The Music for the Royal Fireworks ˇ The Alchymist

Handel: Opera Arias
David Daniels

The Handel Collection
London Sinfonia / The City Symphony of London

Joseph Haydn (1732-1809)
Often dubbed the father of the classical symphony and string quartet, Haydn was a leading composer of the Classical period. Though he spent most of his career as a court musician, isolated from other musicians, he gained an international reputation for his original compositions. Among his vast works are 104 symphonies, 50 concertos, 84 string quartets, and diverse other pieces.

 Haydn biography
 More Haydn CDs at amazon:

  Haydn: The "Sturm und Drang" Symphonies (6 CDs)
English Concert, Trevor Pinnock
  Haydn: The Piano Sonatas (11 CDs)
Haydn: Complete String Quartets (15 CDs)

Haydn: Violin Concertos/Cello Concertos

Hildegard von Bingen (1098-1179)
Hildegard was born of noble parents and educated in a cloister of which became abbess. In addition to her visionary and theological writings and her works of natural history and medicine, Hildegard also wrote hymns in the plainchant tradition of a single melodic line. Because she was not trained in musical composition, as educated men of her age would have been, her works have an individual, improvisoratory quality.

 Von Bingen biography
 More von Bingen CDs at amazon:

    The Complete Hildegard von Bingen, Volume One: Symphony of the Harmony of Celestial Revelations
Sinfonye, Steve Wishart

The Complete Hildegard von Bingen, Volume Two: Aurora

The Complete Hildegard von Bingen, Volume Three: O Nobilissima Viriditas

Gustav Mahler (1860-1911)
The Austrian was well known as a conductor during his lifetime, but is now known for his legacy as a composer on the threshold between the 19th century and the Modern period. In an atmosphere of growing anti-Semitism, Mahler converted from Judaism to Catholicism to further his career. His works weave together various strands of Romanticism, while developing musical techniques that point toward 20th-century musical composition.

 Mahler biography
 More Mahler CDs at amazon:

  Mahler: The Complete Symphonies (12 CDs)
Israel Philharmonic / New York Philharmonic
  Mahler: Das Lied von der Erde
Kathleen Ferrier, Julius Patzak

Mahler Lieder: Des Knaben Wunderhorn

London Symphony Orchestra

Felix Mendelssohn (1809-1847)
The grandson of famed philosopher Moses, Felix Mendelssohn made his first public concert appearance at the age of 9. As an important figure of the early Romantic period, Mendelssohn largely incorporated Classical styles and techniques into his musical pieces, while infusing Romantic elements, such as the break with the rigidity of traditional forms.

 Mendelssohn biography
 More Mendelssohn CDs at amazon:

    Mendelssohn: A Midsummer Night's Dream (complete)
Boston Symphony Orchestra
Mendelssohn: Sonata For Piano/Prelude & Fugue/Variations Sérieuses/Rondo Capriccioso
Murray Perahia
Mendelssohn: Greatest Hits

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (1756-1791)
The central figure of the Viennese Classical School, Mozart is often considered the greatest musical genius of all time. Under the intense training of his father, he began composing at the age of 5 and made his first professional tour through Europe at the age of 6. He excelled in all areas of music, and his musical production during his short lifespan was enormous. His diverse oeuvre of operas, symphonies, concertos, chamber music, sonatas, and pieces of other musical genres numbers about 600 works.

 Mozart biography
 More Mozart CDs at amazon:

    Essential Mozart: 32 Of His Greatest Masterpieces

Mozart for Morning Coffee: Freshly Brewed to Perk Up Your Day (2 CDs)
Beaux Arts Trio, Walter Klien, et al.
  Mozart: Complete Symphonies (12 CDs)
Concertgebouw Orchestra Amsterdam

Mozart: The Great Serenades (2 CDs)

Johann Pachelbel (1653-1706)
The Baroque composer Pachelbel was one tne of the greatest organists predating J.S. Bach, and in fact his connections with the Bach family are many and his influence on Johann Sebastian Bach was enormous. Though best known for his Canon in D, Pachelbel also wrote many hymns, numerous cantatas for the Lutheran church, and chamber sonatas for various instruments, including the violin.

 Pachelbel biography
 More Pachelbel CDs at amazon:

  Pachelbel Greatest Hits
Gewandhausorchester Leipzig
  Pachelbel's Greatest Hit: Canon in D

Pachelbel's Canon and Other Baroque Favorites

Pachelbel: Organ Works Vol.1

Arnold Schönberg (1874-1951)
As the founder of the Second Viennese School of musical composition, Schönberg was one of the most innovative and influential composers of the 20th century. He was one of the first composers to embrace atonality in his works and he was known for his "twelve tone" or "serial" technique of composition which shunned traditional concepts of musical tonality. When the Jewish composer was forced into exile by the Nazis in 1933, he migrated to the United States, where he taught at UCLA and continued to compose until his death in 1951.

 Schönberg biography
 More Schönberg CDs at amazon:

    Schoenberg: Piano Concerto
Pierre Boulez, Mitsuko Uchida
Schoenberg, Berg, Webern: Orchestral Works / Karajan
Berliner Philharmoniker
  Schoenberg: The String Quartets
Evelyn Lear

Schoenberg: Piano Works

Glenn Gould / CBC Symphony Orchestra

Franz Schubert (1797-1828)
One of the founders of the Romantic musical style, Schubert is considered one of the most gifted composers of the 19th century. He effortlessly turned poems into songs (Lieder), producing more than 600 in his short lifetime. He also wrote 7 symphonies and other orchestral works, 20 sonatas, a variety of chamber music, 7 masses, and other choral works. Nonetheless, he was unable to secure suitable employment and he lived in relative poverty. Upon his death, he left behind many fragments and unfinished works.

 Schubert biography
 More Schubert CDs at amazon:

  Schubert: 8 Symphonies
Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra
  Schubert: The Complete Impromptus

Franz Schubert: Complete Trios

Schubert: Winterreise
Leif Ove Andsnes, Ian Bostridge

Clara Wieck Schumann  (1819-1896)
A talented concert pianist, Clara Wieck gave her first performance at age 11. Even after her marriage to Robert Schumann, as she bore and raised seven children and perfomed the other duties required of her as a wife, she continued to perform and compose. Her compositions include orchestral works, chamber music, Lieder, and many pieces for solo piano. Though she stopped composing at the age of 36, presumably due to prejudices against women in such roles, she performed and toured frequently.

 Clara Schumann biography
 More Clara Schumann CDs at amazon:

  Clara Schumann: Complete Piano Works (3 CDs)
Jozef de Beenhouwer

  In Clara Wieck Schumann's Circle

Completely Clara: Lieder by Clara Wieck Schumann
Joanne Polk, Korliss Uecker

Romances: Music of Robert & Clara Schumann

Robert Schumann  (1810-1856)
A talented composer and critic of the Romantic period, Schumann studied law before turning to music. Injury to a finger forced him to give up plans to become a pianist, and he instead turned to writing and composition. In addition to works for the piano, he produced orchestral compositions, chamber music, and Lieder. Plagued by mental illness and the symptoms of the tertiary stages of syphilis, Schumann attempted suicide in 1856 and died shortly thereafter. His wife Clara posthumously promoted his works.

 Robert Schumann biography
 More Robert Schumann CDs at amazon:

  Schumann: Complete Symphonies (3 CDs)
Orchestre Revolutionnaire et Romantique
  Songs by Robert & Clara Schumann
Vladimir Ashkenazy, Barbara Bonney

Robert Schumann: Piano Concerto/Violin Concerto

Schumann: Dichterliebe Op39; Liederkreis

Johann Strauss II (1825-1899)
Johann Strauss II, the most famous member of the Austrian Strauss family of composers, is known as the "Waltz King". Though his father wanted him to be a banker, not a musician, the younger Strauss secretly studied violin. With his more than 400 waltzes, Strauss elevated the waltz from a folk dance into a respectable form of courtly entertainment. His most famous waltzes are The Blue Danube, Tales from the Vienna Woods. He also wrote polkas, marches, and 17 operettas, most notably Die Fledermaus. He popularized his music on his tours through Europe and America.

 Johann Strauss II biography
 More Johann Strauss II CDs at amazon:

  Strauss in Vienna: Famous Waltzes, Marches and Polkas
  Johann, Josef & Eduard Strauss: Valses & Polkas, Vols. 1 & 2

Die Fledermaus
Wiener Staatsopernorchester

The Most Famous Vienna Waltzes

Richard Strauss  (1864-1949)
Under the tutelage of his father who was a professional horn player, Strauss began composing at the age of 6. The realism he sought to incorporate into his music, sometimes at the expense of tonality, was novel in its day, but has been much used by composers since. Best known for his symphonic poems and operas, Strauss was also a noted conductor. He has sometimes been criticized for his silence during Nazi rule, though he lamented the ban on his Jewish librettist and also sought to protect his Jewish daughter-in-law.

 Strauss biography
 More Strauss CDs at amazon:

  Strauss: Orchestral Works (9 CDs)
Dresden Staatskapelle, Wolfgang Liebscher, Manfred Weise
  Strauss: Also Sprach Zarathustra, Don Juan / Karajan
Fritz Reiner, John Reicher

Strauss: Tone Poems
Berliner Philharmoniker, Dresden Staatskapelle

Richard Strauss

Richard Wagner (1813-1883)
After years of political and financial instability, Wagner found the support of the fanatical Bavarian King Ludwig II, who had long admired his work. Wagner is best known for his operas and is the only theatrical composer to create plot, text, characters, and symbolism in addition to the music. His style laid the foundation for 20th-century atonality in classical music. Perhaps his best-known piece in the English-speaking world is the "Bridal Chorus" from Lohengrin, which is commonly played as a processional at weddings.

 Wagner biography
 More Wagner CDs at amazon:

  Wagner: Overture & Preludes (2 CDs)
Bayreuther Festspiele Orchester, Berlin Opera Orchestra
  Highlights from Der Ring des Nibelungen
Berliner Philharmoniker

Wagner: Greatest Hits
Boston Pops Orchestra

Great Moments from Wagner Operas (2 CDs)

Anton Webern (1883-1945)
Born in Austria, Webern was one of Schönberg's first pupils. His early compositions accordingly freely incorporate atonality, while his later works rely more heavily on his teacher's twelve tone technique. He published only 31 compositions in his lifetime, but he had an enormous influence on later composers, especially the post-war avant garde.

 Webern biography
 More Webern  CDs at amazon:

  Anton Webern: Complete Works, Opp. 1-31 (3 CDs)
Isaac Stern, Halina Lukomska

  Webern: Complete Works for String Quartet and String Trio

Schoenberg, Webern, Berg
Desmond Hoebig, David Peck, et al.

Kurt Weill (1900-1950)
First a composer of instrumental works, In collaboration with author Bertholt Brecht, Weill fashioned a new kind of opera that embodied a satirical social criticism. He became well-know with their The Threepenny Opera, from which arose his most recognized song, "Mack the Knife." A prominent Jewish composer, Weill fled Nazi Germany in 1933, eventually relocating to New York.

 Weill biography
 More Weill CDs at amazon:

  Weill: From Berlin to Broadway (2 CDs)
  Brecht & Weill Songs
Gisela May
  Weill: Die Dreigroschenoper (Contemporary and Original Cast Recording)
Jean Lenoir Orchestra, Marek Weber and His Orchestra

German classical music: An overview from Facts about Germanyby the German government [In English or German]
 Classical Music Pages: Composer biographies from The Grove Concise Dictionary of Music [In English]
 Contemporary German composers: Links featuring scores of modern-day composers in Germany
 German orchestras, ensembles, & opera companies: Info & links to German orchestral groups
German music festivals: Links to scores of recurring music festivals in Germany
 Austrian composers, festivals, & concert halls: Brief info on Austria-related muscial themes [In English]
History of music in Austria: Represented in words, pictures and sounds, from [In English or German]
 Classical music in Austria: From the Baroque to the 20th century [In English]

Composers: Bach - Beethoven - Berg - Brahms - Bruckner - Handel - Haydn - Hildegard von Bingen - Mahler - Mendelssohn - Mozart - Pachelbel - Schönberg - Schubert - C. Schumann - R. Schumann - J. Strauss II - R. Strauss - Wagner - Webern - Weill

Collections & Genres: Collections - German Operas - German Waltzes & Polkas - German Court Music - German Romantic Music - German Military Music - Early Church Music - German Lyrical Literature in Music (Lieder) - Pre-World War II Music

Popular & contemporary German music | German movie soundtracks | East German music
German classical music | German folk & traditional music | German Christmas carols | Kinderlieder
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