Who are the composers behind the most famous classical masterpieces? Take the opportunity to get to know some of them and listen to the music – maybe it will be the start of a lifelong friendship.
Ludwig van Beethoven (1770-1827)
Beethoven has become synonymous with classical music: the introduction to the Fifth Symphony has been number one on the classical lists for hundreds of years. In social life, Beethoven could be a lout with his straightforward and uncensored comments – he did not have time for flattery or obsequiousness.
Johannes Brahms (1833-1897)
In the past, people talked about the music’s three big “B’s”: Bach, Beethoven and Brahms. They became white plaster busts and placed on the piano in every middle-class home, or even on a pedestal. Far away from a Hamburger guy who played the piano at cheap harbor restaurants where sailors and prostitutes flocked.
Edvard Grieg (1843-1907)
There is a weightlessness in Grieg’s music that makes it go straight in. He had a divine sense of melody and as a skilled craftsman could create an enchanted mood or a sensual intoxication in just a few moments, with seemingly simple means. The Norwegian with the hat, the drooping mustache and the sad eyes.
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (1756-1791)
Mozart is from the Rococo – the art style that is balanced, neat, clear and distinct. Just like his music. He was positive and cheerful and this in combination with an exceptional musical talent makes his music glide forward like on clouds. He was a master of the piano and a rascal on the violin – and often broke.
Jean Sibelius (1865-1957)
This tough Finn is often associated with the forests and granite cliffs of Finnish nature, but he was just as much a world-famous socialite. Jean Sibelius’ real name was Johan, called Janne, and the surname has its origins in Sibbe farm, owned by the family for generations. That it became Jean is because Sibelius inherited a box of business cards from an uncle with this name.
Dmitry Shostakovich (1906-1975)
The life and career of the Russian composer Dmitry Shostakovich was truly a roller coaster in the shadow of dictator Stalin. After the sensational breakthrough of the first symphony and subsequent successes, everything crashed with the opera Lady MacBeth, which Stalin thought sounded bad. But was Shostakovich an accomplice or a subversive system critic?
Wilhelm Stenhammar (1871-1927)
In Sweden, Wilhelm Stenhammar has always been regarded as a composer on a large scale. Alongside Hugo Alfvén, he is the strongest candidate as a national Swedish equivalent of the Norwegians’ Grieg, the Finns’ Sibelius and the Danes’ Nielsen. In addition, he was chief conductor of the Gothenburg Symphony Orchestra and one of the leading Swedish pianists of the time.
Richard Strauss (1864-1949)
Richard Strauss was a natural talent and with a father in the Main Opera Orchestra in Munich, there were also the external conditions. The composer often sat in the opera darkness where he got the musical experiences of his life when Wagner’s huge works were staged, magnificent both in terms of scenography, performance and musical richness of sound. This is where his taste for “extra everything” was born!