5 Famous Classical Music Pieces You Should Know

Classical music often plays a background role in our lives. There are certain pieces we have heard time and again and recognize on sound but still can’t pinpoint who composed them and when.

Here are 5 famous classical musical pieces you should know and which musicians composed them. If you’re not already a classical music buff this is an easy introduction to help match composers with some of their most famous pieces.

The next time you across one of these common tunes you’ll be able to immediately identify them and sound like a cultured classically educated lady.


1.“Symphony No. 5” by Ludwig van Beethoven

Written in 1804–1808 Beethoven’s Symphony No. 5 was considered “one of the most important works of the time” and is still one of the best-known compositions in classical music.

It often accompanies dramatic scenes in film and television and since WWII is sometimes referred to as the “Victory Symphony.”

This is the fist movement of the symphony. The whole symphony is over 30 minutes long so this enough of a taste to familiarize you with the melody.


2. “Clair de Lune” by Debussy

French for “light of the moon” Clair de Lune is one of Debussy’s most romantic and well known pieces. It is actually the third and most famous movement in his “Suite Bergamasque.”

Debussy wrote the piece in 1890 but it was not published until 1905 when he changed the title to “Clair de Lune” from it’s original title “Promenade Sentimentale.”

This is another piece widely used in TV, film and media. It’s most recent claim to fame is its feature in the Twilight series.


3. “Requiem” by Mozart

This is one of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart’s most well-known pieces. He composed it in 1791 but is was left unfinished upon his death. It was completed in 1792 by Franz Xaver Süssmayr.

There was a bit of drama surrounding the piece as it was commissioned anonymously by Count Franz von Walsegg who supposedly intended to claim the piece as his own. You can watch a dramatic interpretation of these events in the 1984 film Amadeus.


4. “Spring” by Antonio Vivaldi

“Spring” is the first movement in Vivaldi’s most famed work “The Four Seasons.” This four violin concerti was composed in 1723 and published in 1725. The other 3 movement are aptly named “Summer”, “Autumn” and “Winter.”

With it’s light and melodic tones it’s no wonder “Spring” is a popular choice for weddings, films and events. The Classical Concert Chamber Orchestra give a lovely performance of “Spring” below.


5. “Canon in D Major” by Johann Pachelbel

Although now one of the most reckognizable and famous classical music pieces Pachelbel’s Canon went though a long period of obscurity after it’s initial success during Pachelbel’s lifetime in the 17th century. It was rediscovered during the 20th century and later that century became synonymous with events, particularly weddings.

Take a listen to this piece played beautifully by Voices of Music, “the first major classical music digital channel on the internet.”


HOMEWORK: Listen to all 5 of these compositions and decide which one you like the best. Let me know in the comments! I’ve always been a fan of Vivaldi’s “Spring.”

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Photo Courtesy: Wikimedia Commons
Video Courtesy; Youtube: castout888,  Sam Viguerie, Sensual excess, Classical Concert Chamber Orchestra, Voices of Music,