greatest Masterpieces in Music will be found to contain
sensuous, emotional, and rational factors, and something beside:
some divine element of life by which they are animated and
inspired" ~ W.H.Hadow
There are many
great musicians in a world's musical library that impressed us with
and individual achievement. In order to understand their art and work
much better we need to know how
they lived their lives.
In every classical musical career described
in this section, from the old masters represented by Bach and Beethoven
the musical prophets of our own day, there is a wealth of inspiration
practical guidance for students, musical readers and artist in any
While the aim has been to make the story-sketches and life story
presentations interesting to young
people, we hope that they may prove valuable to readers of
Through their struggles,
sorrows and triumphs, divine melody and harmony came into being, which
bless the world for all time to come. Although some of the great
composers remained unmarried, many of them
were influenced by women, and the effect is frequently visible in their
compositions. Dedications of musical works to women are apparently a
matter of little moment, but often they are surface indications of some
deep feeling underneath, which is expressed in the music. Browse the pages about world's greatest
musical talents and enjoy learning more about them and their unique
Guido of Arezzo - The most important writer
upon music in the
eleventh century, and one
of the most famous in the history of the art, was a monk named Guido,
living at Arezzo, in Tuscany, a Benedictine in the abbey of Pontose.
Sebastian Bach -
The memory of Bach
is enduring, his
fame immortal and the love his
beautiful music inspires increases from year to year, wherever that
is known, all over the world.
Christoph Willibald Gluck - Gluck has been called
the "regenerator of the
opera" for he appeared just at the right moment to rescue opera from
deplorable state into which it had fallen.
- Handel was always
generous in assisting
those who needed aid, and he
found the Society for Aiding Distressed Musicians.
Pierluigi Da Palestrina - Palestrina's name will be revered for all
time as the man who
strove to make sacred music the expression of lofty and spiritual
meaning. Among his greater
works are ninety-three masses, a very large number of motettes,
forty-five hymns for the whole year, sixty-eight offertories, and a
large number of litanies, magnificats and madrigals.
Josef Haydn - In Haydn we have one of the
classic composers, a sweet, gentle
spirit, who suffered many privations in early life, and through his own
industrious efforts rose to positions of respect and honor, the result
of unremitting toil and devotion to a noble ideal.
Sunshine and success had followed the gifted boy; but now shadows and
disappointments were to come, due to jealousy, intrigue and
indifference of those in power who might have helped him but failed to
recognize his genius.
Schumann - His life was important and instructive for its moral and
grandeur, its struggles for the noblest, loftiest subjects as well as
its truly great results.
Chopin - His music touches the
heart always rather than the head, the emotional message far outweighs
Berlioz - He won a noble place in
art through many trials and hardships. His music is the expression, the
reflection of the mental struggles of a most intense nature.
Liszt - The king of
pianists, a composer whose compositions
still glow and burn with the fire he breathed into them.
Verdi - He was one of the noblest of men as
well as one of the greatest composers.
Wagner - One of the most gigantic musical
geniuses the world has yet known was Wagner.
Franck - Franck is enamored of gentleness
and consolation; his
music rolls into the soul in long waves, as on the slack of a moonlit
It is tenderness itself.
Brahms - Little Johannes, or Hannes as he
was called, was surrounded from his earliest years by a musical
atmosphere, and must have shown a great desire to study music.
Edward Grieg - From every point
of view Grieg, "the
Chopin of the North,"
is one of the most original
geniuses in the musical world of the present or past.
Among the numerous composers of modern Russia, the name of Peter
Tschaikowsky stands out most prominently.
Edward MacDowell - Edward
MacDowell has been acclaimed America's greatest composer. If we try
to substitute another name in its place, one of equal potency cannot be
Claude Achille Debussy - "Art is always progressive; it cannot
return to the past, which is definitely dead. Only imbeciles and
cowards look backward. Then—Let us work!" DEBUSSY
Niccolo Paganini - As a violinist Paganini far
surpassed all other players who ever lived;
and when one follows the story of his life, the fact is apparent that
succeeded because he worked.
Bedrich Smetana - A brilliant Czech composer whose great value lies
awakening of the Bohemians to musical creation. He was also great
influence on Antonin Dvorak,
who similarly used Czech themes in his works. Smetana's work influenced
many other Czech composers who came after him, and continues to inspire
many musicians today.
Antonin Dvorak - The most brilliant name in
Bohemian music, and the one most valued by
the world in general, is that of Antonin Dvorak born in Nelahozeves, near Prague (then
Austrian Empire, today the Czech Republic).
Niels Wilhelm Gade - He was considered one of the most
musicians of his day. After a thorough musical education Gade received
native city, he attracted wider attention in 1841 by taking the prize
his concert overture, "Night Sounds from Ossian," the judges being Fr.
Schneider and Spohr, the violinist. This gave Gade a royal stipendium,
with which he immediately betook himself to study at Leipsic, where he
came under the personal influence of Mendelssohn, an influence which
he never outgrew.
Life of Arturo Toscanini -
He was been described as the world's most patient and impatient
director. In rehearsal he would take the men through a passage, a mere
phrase, innumerable times to achieve a certain tonal or dynamic effect.
he would explode when faced with stupidity or stubbornness.
From Life of Leopold Stokowski -
knows that Leopold Stokowski was one of the
world's really great orchestra conductors, a true poet of the stick
he has dispensed with the baton in recent years), and that he has made
name of the Philadelphia Orchestra synonymous with superb singing,
of tone and dazzling brilliance.
From Life of Serge Alexandrovitch
In the official biographies of Serge Alexandrovitch Koussevitzky you
find that the boss of the Boston Symphony learned the art and mystery
conducting at the Royal Hochschule in Berlin under the great Artur
of the Composers -Among the women who have influenced music
without actually creating it,
none have had greater chances to use their power than the wives of the
Beginnings of Instrumental Music
- The beginning of instrumental music, apart
from vocal, is to be found
in the latter part of the sixteenth century, but the main advances
toward freedom of style and spontaneous expression were made during
the seventeenth, and, as we might expect, originally in Italy, where
the art of music was more prosperous, and incitations to advance were
more numerous and diversified.
The most gifted of
Netherlandish masters was Orlando de
Lassus, who was born in Belgium, educated at Antwerp, spent some time
in Italy, and finally settled at Munich, where he lived for about
forty years, as musical director and composer. The compositions of
this talented man fill many volumes. He distinguished himself in every
province of music, being equally at home in secular madrigals, masses
and other heavy church compositions, and
instrumental works. He was a cultivated man of the world who held an
honored position at court and made a great mark in the community. He
founded the school at Munich which, with rare good fortune, has
occupied a distinguished position ever since, and has been one of the
most important musical centers in Europe. In
Lassus we begin to have the spontaneity of the modern composer. The
quaintness of the Middle Ages still lingers to some extent, and
learning he had in plenty when it suited him to use it, but he was
also capable of very simple and direct
melodic expression and quaint
and very fascinating harmony. While the tonality is still vague, like
that of the church modes, the music itself is thoroughly chordal in
character, and evidently planned with reference to the direct
expression of the text. A large number of madrigals have come down to
us from this great master; among them is the one called "Matona,
Lovely Maiden," which is one of the most beautiful part songs in
existence. The life of Lassus was full of dignity and honor. He was
extremely popular in Munich and in all other parts of Europe. He is to
be considered the first great genius in the art of music.