A brief History of Classical Music
through its essential compositions

(compiled by Piero Scaruffi)


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Synopses of classical musicians
These are the composers born in the 19th century Click here to go back to the beginning

Opera


Giovanni Pergolesi (Papal State, 1710): La Serva Padrona (1733)
Niccolo Jommelli (Naples, 1714): Armida Abbandonata (1770)
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Christoph Gluck (Germany, 1714): Orfeo ed Euridice (1762)
Christoph Gluck (Germany, 1714): Alceste (1767)
Christoph Gluck (Germany, 1714): Ifigenia in Aulide (1774)
Giovannni Paisiello (Naples, 1740): Nina pazza per amore (1789)
Domenico Cimarosa (Naples, 1749): Il Matrimonio Segreto (1792)
Wolfgang Mozart (Austria, 1756): Idomeneo (1781)
Wolfgang Mozart (Austria, 1756): Le Nozze di Figaro (1786)
Wolfgang Mozart (Austria, 1756): Don Giovanni (1787)
Wolfgang Mozart (Austria, 1756): Cosi` Fan Tutte (1790)
Wolfgang Mozart (Austria, 1756): Die Zauberfloete (1791)
Luigi Cherubini (Tuscany, 1760): Medee (1797)
Ludwig Van Beethoven (Germany, 1770): Fidelio (1814)
Gaspare Spontini (Papal State, 1774): La Vestale (1807)
Daniel Auber (France, 1782): Fra Diavolo (1830)
Carl-Maria von Weber (Germany, 1786): Der Freischutz (1820)
Giacomo Meyerbeer (France, 1791): The Huguenots (1836)
Gioacchino Rossini (Papal State, 1792): Il Barbiere di Siviglia (1816)
Gioacchino Rossini (Papal State, 1792): La Gazza Ladra (1817)
Gioacchino Rossini (Papal State, 1792): Guillaume Tell (1829)
Gaetano Doninzetti (Venice, 1797): Don Pasquale (1843)
Gaetano Doninzetti (Venice, 1797): Lucia di Lammermoor (1835)
Gaetano Doninzetti (Venice, 1797): L'Elisir d'Amore (1832)
Jacques Halevy (France, 1799): La Juive (1835)

Instrumental


Giovanni Pergolesi (Papal State, 1710): Stabat Mater
John-Francis Wade (Britain, 1711): "Adeste Fideles" (1751)
Franz Haydn (Austria, 1732): Die Schopfun/ The Creation (1798)
Franz Haydn (Austria, 1732): The Seasons (1801)
Franz Haydn (Austria, 1732): Symphony 44 (1771)
Franz Haydn (Austria, 1732): Paris Symphonies 82-87 (1785)
Franz Haydn (Austria, 1732): Seven Last Words of Christ (1785)
Franz Haydn (Austria, 1732): London Symphonies 93-104 (1790)
Franz Haydn (Austria, 1732): Symphonies 88-92 (1787)
Franz Haydn (Austria, 1732): Quartets op.17 (1771)
Franz Haydn (Austria, 1732): Quartets op.20 (1772)
Franz Haydn (Austria, 1732): Quartets op.54 (1788)
Franz Haydn (Austria, 1732): Quartets op.71 (1793)
Franz Haydn (Austria, 1732): Quartets op.76 (1797)
Franz Haydn (Austria, 1732): Quartets op.77 (1799)
Franz Haydn (Austria, 1732): Harmonie Messe (1802)
Luigi Boccherini (Lucca, 1743): String Quintets
Luigi Boccherini (Lucca, 1743): String Quintet in E major, Op. 13 No. 5
Luigi Boccherini (Lucca, 1743): Sinfonie
Luigi Boccherini (Lucca, 1743): Concerti
Muzio Clementi (England, 1752): Gradus ad Parnassum (1817)
Muzio Clementi (England, 1752): Piano Sonata in Bb Op 24/2 (1788)
Muzio Clementi (England, 1752): Piano Sonata Op.25 No.5 (1790)
Muzio Clementi (England, 1752): Piano Sonata in G major, Op. 37/2 (1798)
Muzio Clementi (England, 1752): Piano Sonata in G minor, Op. 34/2 (1795)
Muzio Clementi (England, 1752): Sonatinas for piano Op. 36 (1797)
Muzio Clementi (England, 1752): Piano Sonata in B Minor Op. 40/2 (1802)
Muzio Clementi (England, 1752): Piano Sonata in D Major, Op. 40/3 (1802)
Muzio Clementi (England, 1752): Piano Sonata in B-flat Major, Op. 46 (1820)
Muzio Clementi (England, 1752): Piano Sonata in G minor, Op. 50/3 (1821)
Wolfgang Mozart (Austria, 1756): Eine Kleine Nachtmusik (1787)
Wolfgang Mozart (Austria, 1756): Symphony 36 in C major K425
Wolfgang Mozart (Austria, 1756): Symphony 39 in Eb K543 (1788)
Wolfgang Mozart (Austria, 1756): Symphony 40 in G minor K550 (1788)
Wolfgang Mozart (Austria, 1756): Symphony 41 in C major K551 (1788)
Wolfgang Mozart (Austria, 1756): Symphony 25 in G minor K183 (1773)
Wolfgang Mozart (Austria, 1756): Sinfonia Concertante for Violin, Viola and Orchestra in E-flat major, K364 (1779)
Wolfgang Mozart (Austria, 1756): Concerto 24 in C minor K491 (1786)
Wolfgang Mozart (Austria, 1756): Concerto 20 in D Minor K466 (1785)
Wolfgang Mozart (Austria, 1756): Concerto 21 in C K467 (1785)
Wolfgang Mozart (Austria, 1756): Concerto 25 in C major K503 (1786)
Wolfgang Mozart (Austria, 1756): Concerto 27 in Bb K595 (1791)
Wolfgang Mozart (Austria, 1756): Concerto for clarinet K622
Wolfgang Mozart (Austria, 1756): Requiem (1791)
Wolfgang Mozart (Austria, 1756): Posthorn Serenade KV 320 (1779)
Wolfgang Mozart (Austria, 1756): String Quartets Nos. 14-19 (1785)
Wolfgang Mozart (Austria, 1756): String Quartet No. 20 K 499 in D (1786)
Wolfgang Mozart (Austria, 1756): String Quartet No. 19 K 465 in C major "Dissonance" (1785)
Wolfgang Mozart (Austria, 1756): Quintet for 2 Violins, 2 Violas and Cello in G minor, K 516 (1787)
Wolfgang Mozart (Austria, 1756): Piano sonata No.11 in A Major K331 "Alla Turca" (1783)
Wolfgang Mozart (Austria, 1756): Piano sonata No.14 in C Minor K457 (1784)
Wolfgang Mozart (Austria, 1756): Fantasy in C Minor K. 475 (1785)
Wolfgang Mozart (Austria, 1756): Rondo in A Minor K511
Wolfgang Mozart (Austria, 1756): Adagio in B Minor K540
Wolfgang Mozart (Austria, 1756): Minuet K355
Wolfgang Mozart (Austria, 1756): Gigue K574
Wolfgang Mozart (Austria, 1756): Divertimento for String Trio in E-Flat Major K 563 (1788)
Luigi Cherubini (Tuscany, 1760): Requiem (1816)
Luigi Cherubini (Tuscany, 1760): Mass in D Minor (1836)
Ludwig Van Beethoven (Germany, 1770): Symphony 3 (1803)
Ludwig Van Beethoven (Germany, 1770): Symphony 5 (1808)
Ludwig Van Beethoven (Germany, 1770): Symphony 6 (1808)
Ludwig Van Beethoven (Germany, 1770): Symphony 7 (1812)
Ludwig Van Beethoven (Germany, 1770): Symphony 8 (1812)
Ludwig Van Beethoven (Germany, 1770): Symphony 9 (1824)
Ludwig Van Beethoven (Germany, 1770): Mass in C (1807)
Ludwig Van Beethoven (Germany, 1770): Missa Solemnis in D (1822)
Ludwig Van Beethoven (Germany, 1770): String Quartet op.127 (1825)
Ludwig Van Beethoven (Germany, 1770): String Quartet 4 in C Minor op.18/4 (1801)
Ludwig Van Beethoven (Germany, 1770): String Quartet 6 op.18/6 (1801)
Ludwig Van Beethoven (Germany, 1770): String Quartet 7 in F Major op.59/1 (1806)
Ludwig Van Beethoven (Germany, 1770): String Quartet 8 in E Minor op.59/2 (1806)
Ludwig Van Beethoven (Germany, 1770): String Quartet 9 in C Major op.59/3 (1806)
Ludwig Van Beethoven (Germany, 1770): String Quartet 10 in E-flat major op.74 (1809)
Ludwig Van Beethoven (Germany, 1770): String Quartet 11 in F minor op.95 (1810)
Ludwig Van Beethoven (Germany, 1770): String Quartet op.130
Ludwig Van Beethoven (Germany, 1770): String Quartet op.131
Ludwig Van Beethoven (Germany, 1770): String Quartet op.132 (1826)
Ludwig Van Beethoven (Germany, 1770): String Quartet op.135 (1826)
Ludwig Van Beethoven (Germany, 1770): Grosse Fuge op.133
Ludwig Van Beethoven (Germany, 1770): Violin Sonata 5 in F Op. 24 (1801)
Ludwig Van Beethoven (Germany, 1770): Piano Trio 7 in B-flat Major op.97 "Archduke" (1811)
Ludwig Van Beethoven (Germany, 1770): Cello Sonata 3 in A op.69 (1808)
Ludwig Van Beethoven (Germany, 1770): Piano sonata 8 in C Minor "Pathetique" op.13 (1799)
Ludwig Van Beethoven (Germany, 1770): Piano sonata 10 in G Major op.14/2 (1799)
Ludwig Van Beethoven (Germany, 1770): Piano sonata 13 in E-flat major "Quasi Una Fantasia" op.27/1 (1801)
Ludwig Van Beethoven (Germany, 1770): Piano sonata 14 in C-sharp Minor "Moonlight" op.27/2 (1801)
Ludwig Van Beethoven (Germany, 1770): Piano sonata 15 in D Major "Pastoral" op.28 (1801)
Ludwig Van Beethoven (Germany, 1770): Piano sonata 21 in C Major "Waldstein" op.53 (1804)
Ludwig Van Beethoven (Germany, 1770): Piano sonata 22 in F Major op.54 (1804)
Ludwig Van Beethoven (Germany, 1770): Piano sonata 23 in F Minor "Appassionata" op.57 (1804)
Ludwig Van Beethoven (Germany, 1770): Piano sonata 26 in E-flat Major "Das Lebewohl" op.81a (1810)
Ludwig Van Beethoven (Germany, 1770): Piano sonata 28 in A Major op.101 (1816)
Ludwig Van Beethoven (Germany, 1770): Piano sonata 29 in B-flat Major "Hammerklavier" op.106 (1819)
Ludwig Van Beethoven (Germany, 1770): Piano sonata 30 in E Major op.109 (1820)
Ludwig Van Beethoven (Germany, 1770): Piano sonata 31 in A-flat Major op.110 (1821)
Ludwig Van Beethoven (Germany, 1770): Piano sonata 32 in C Minor op.111 (1821)
Ludwig Van Beethoven (Germany, 1770): Sonata no.7 in D major op 10. No.3 (1798)
Ludwig Van Beethoven (Germany, 1770): Sonata no.11 in Bb major op 22 (1800)
Ludwig Van Beethoven (Germany, 1770): Violin sonata op.47 "Kreutzer" (1803)
Ludwig Van Beethoven (Germany, 1770): Diabelli Variations op.120 (1823)
Ludwig Van Beethoven (Germany, 1770): Bagatelle op.126 (1827)
Ludwig Van Beethoven (Germany, 1770): Bagatelle No. 25 in A minor "Fur Elise" (1810)
Ludwig Van Beethoven (Germany, 1770): Piano Concerto 3 op.37 (1803)
Ludwig Van Beethoven (Germany, 1770): Concerto for Violin, Cello, and Piano in C major op.56 (1803)
Ludwig Van Beethoven (Germany, 1770): Piano Concerto 4 op.58 (1807)
Ludwig Van Beethoven (Germany, 1770): Piano Concerto 5 op.73 (1809)
Ludwig Van Beethoven (Germany, 1770): Violin Concerto (1806)
Hamamizade Ismail Dede Efendi (Turkey, 1778): "Seven Mevlevi Pieces for Samah"
Nicolo` Paganini (Genoa, 1782): Violin Concerto 1 (1816)
Nicolo` Paganini (Genoa, 1782): Moto Perpetuo op.11/6 for wind instruments
Carl Weber (Germany, 1786): Clarinet Concerto No.1 in F minor, Op.73 (1811)
Gioacchino Rossini (Papal State, 1792): Petite Messe Solennelle (1863)
Franz Schubert (Germany, 1797): Fantasia in C major "Wanderer" D760 (1822)
Franz Schubert (Germany, 1797): Fantasia in F minor D940
Franz Schubert (Germany, 1797): Sonata 21 in Bb D960
Franz Schubert (Germany, 1797): Sonata 18 in G major D894
Franz Schubert (Germany, 1797): Sonata D959 (1828)
Franz Schubert (Germany, 1797): Sonata D960 (1828)
Franz Schubert (Germany, 1797): Quartet 12 in E major D353 (1816)
Franz Schubert (Germany, 1797): Quartet 13 in A minor D804 (1824)
Franz Schubert (Germany, 1797): Quartet 14 in D minor D810 "Death and the Maiden" (1826)
Franz Schubert (Germany, 1797): Quartet 15 in G major D887 (1826)
Franz Schubert (Germany, 1797): String Quintet D956 (1828)
Franz Schubert (Germany, 1797): Forellen-Quintett D667 (1819)
Franz Schubert (Germany, 1797): Die Schoene Muellerin (1823)
Franz Schubert (Germany, 1797): Symphony 5 in B-flat (1816)
Franz Schubert (Germany, 1797): Symphony 8 in B minor "Unfinished" (1822)
Franz Schubert (Germany, 1797): Symphony 9 in C Major "Great" (1828)
Franz Schubert (Germany, 1797): Winterreise (1827)
Franz Schubert (Germany, 1797): Schwanengesang (1828)

Composers born before the 18th century

Composers born in the 18th century

Composers born in the 19th century

Composers born after 1899

Composers born after 1929

Composers born after 1949


See the note at the bottom of this page about the country credited for the musician (it is not necessarily the country where the musician was born, and not the country that exists today but didn't exist back then).

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The Essential Sonatas
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The Greatest Pianists
The Essential Concertos (except piano)
The Greatest Violin Players
The Essential Trios, Quartets, Quintets, Sextets
The Greatest Flutists, Cellists, etc
Music for Chamber Ensemble
The Essential Operas
The Greatest Sopranos
The Essential Ballets
The Best of Early Electronic Music
The Greatest Vocal Music
Best of Jazz Music
Best of Rock Music
Note about crediting the country: The country that i list next to the name is not necessarily the country of birth. First of all, i have decided that the country of birth should reflect the status at the time, unless the person physically grew up somewhere else. For example, Italy's national hero Garibaldi was NOT born in France, even though Nice today is French. He was born in Nice, Italy, because back then Nice was Italian. Septimius Severus was a Roman, not a Libyan. Kafka was an Austrian, even though today Prague is not in Austria. Otherwise we should change the birthplace of people every time the borders change. Of course, if i had the space, i would specify the region: Prokofev was born in the Russian province of Ukraine, Stalin was born in the Russian province of Georgia, etc... but i would still write Garibaldi was born in the Italian province of Piedmont (because Nice back then was part of Piedmont). So i prefer to look at the original borders, not today's borders (which will change tomorrow).
This rule needs to be corrected for "accidental" births: the Italian poet Ungaretti was born in Egypt but he grew up in Italy; the US astronaut Michael Collins was born in Rome but he grew up in the USA; Natalie Portman is not an Israeli; Keanu Reeves is not a Lebanonese; Emma Watson is not a French; Nicole Kidman is not a Hawaiian; the singer Freddie Mercury was not a Kenyan. Even this rule can be tricky to apply: Muzio Clementi was born and raised in Italy but moved to England as a teenager.
The biggest problem is with the West European empires that stretched over multiple continents and were never really one country: was Tagore a British or Indian poet? Was Doris Lessing a Rhodesian or British writer? I am leaning towards writing British Empire. If you only write "India" or "Rhodesia", you mislead. Lessing was not an African writer, and Tagore was born in Kolkata which became part of India only after the British left (previously it was part of the Mughal empire, a Muslim empire that never called itself "India").
For people born centuries ago the discussion becomes even more complicated. We routinely think of Vivaldi as being "Italian" and Bach as being "German". Neither Italy nor Germany existed at the time. Vivaldi was born in the state of Venezia/Venice. Bach was born in a tiny state that was part of the Holy Roman Empire. Torelli was born in Verona, which belonged to the Republic of Venice. Tartini was born in a town that belonged to the Republic of Venice although today it is part of the country of Slovenia. Monteverdi was born in the state of Milan (which was under Spanish domination) but he started his career in Venice. Southern Italy was part of the Kingdom of Naples, which changed hands a few times but was mainly a Spanish colony.
Not being very fluent in old German history, i simply write "Germany" when the artist mostly worked in a German-speaking city belonging to the Holy Roman Empire.