Tips for Classical Musicians

Category: Classical Music Facts

Rarely Used Orchestral Instruments

A lot of composers throughout the years have pushed the boundaries of classical music by writing part of a song using new instruments. Unfortunately, not all of them have been famous and lasted so long as a fixture in the orchestra. Some of these instruments includes the following:


Prepared Piano

Since the romantic period, classical writers have been composing piano concertos. Ever since that time, piano concertos has been one of the most popular orchestral arrangements. Maverick American then had this idea of making a piano with things inserted among the strings and hammers in order to give a regular piano a range of bizarre tones.



This is invented by Welhelm Heckel, a German instrument maker. This instrument is a cross between an oboe and a bassoon. It made its first appearance in the classical music industry during the 1900s. During those times, it is often listed under the name of “bass oboe” but the name was also given to a similar instrument causing a big confusion. Eventually, this instrument was singled out by Richard Strauss.



This instrument was created in honor of a French military bandleader. Originally, it was made as a replacement for relatively quieter woodwind instruments in military bands. This instrument caught a glimpse of popularity during the 1900s when famous composers wrote parts for it in some of their works.


Glass Armonica

This instrument involves a revolving set of glass cups which makes a shimmering sound when played with fingers. Although considered a very obscure instrument, a number of famous composers have used this instrument as a part of their pieces.



In the 1920s, this instrument is known for giving off spooky, high-pitched droning sound which is used as soundtracks for classic sci-fi movies.


Wagner Tuba

Commonly known as Wagnertuben, this instrument was invented at the request of Richard Wagner. This became popular in the 19th century which is used to fill tonal spaces between trombone, tuba, and French horn.

November 15, 2017     0 Comments   , , ,

Orchestra Conductors: The Neccesity

Always standing in the middle of the stage while waving their hands, orchestra conductors seems to play a very important role during performances. Even though all musicians already have a copy of the notes or scores to be played, the orchestra in while cannot manage on its own.


A Study Conducted

A study conducted by a group of people from the University of Maryland aimed to emphasize the importance of orchestra conductors. They recruited musicians from Ferrara, Italy to participate in this study.

A tiny infrared light was installed at the tip of the conductor’s baton. Similar lights were placed on the bows of the violinists. The orchestra was then surrounded with infrared cameras. When the baton is waved, the violinists moved their bows. The lights create a pattern in space that the cameras captured. The patterns were analyzed using mathematical techniques to understand if the movement of the conductor is linked to those of the violinists.

The hypothesis was that if the conductor predicts the movement of its violinists, then it is sure that the conductor is leading its musicians. However, if the conductor can’t predict the movement of its violinists, then it is the players who are in charge.

A signal is originating from the conductor as he moves his hands and body. The musicians then receives the signal and create another signal by moving the bows of their violins. This is considered as a sensorimotor conversation.

The research was actually part of a bigger study that aims to understand if human movements have something in common with human language. Both maybe based on similar processes inside the brain.


The Results of the Study

The study found out that the conductors were indeed leading the violinists and the conductor’s movement predicted the violinists’ movement. Two conductors were used in the study: an amateur and a veteran. With this, the study also found out  that he experience of the conductor drastically affects the performance of the musicians.

November 7, 2017     0 Comments   , ,

Classical Music Fun Facts

The generation of today often associates classical music with being boring, pompous or even haughty. While there may be a bit of truth to these characteristics, this particular genre has had a significant share of “weirdness” over the last few centuries. Below are a few interesting classical music fun facts that are maybe not well known.

  • The tension associated with 230-odd strings featured inside a Grand piano is able to exert an outstanding force of 20 tones when combined on a cast-iron frame.
  • In 1993, The Helicopter Quartet was written by a very controversial composer by the name of Karlheinz Stockhausen. This quartet involved sending 4 members in this string quartet up into the skies in 4 different helicopters and each musician then played their part. While playing each musician was recorded and their music was broadcasted back for an audience inside an auditorium. The composer composed this particular piece after having unusual dreams that involved swarms of bees and helicopters.


classical music fun facts


  • The German composer known as Robert Schumann was known for plunging his hands inside the entrails of slaughtered animals in order to heal ailments. We’e not sure if that’s a classical music fun fact or just weird!
  • At the time when the American civil war had reached its peak the young John Philip Sousa watched one of the military bands. Even though this awakened a passion in him for music, when he first tried to learn how to play an instrument he failed miserably which resulted in him deciding to never return to music. He decided that he would rather pursue the path of a baker. However, after only three days as an apprentice at one of the local bakeries, John made a decision to return to music.
  • The reason why there are 2 skulls inside Haydn’s tomb is because the real skull went missing when it was stolen by a phrenologist. Another skull was then placed into the tomb. But in 1954 the real head had been restored and the substitute still remains in the tomb to this day.
  • Rossini wrote the famous aria “Di tanti palpiti” while he was waiting for a risotto meal inside a restaurant in Venice. A classical music fun fact that should remind you to always gran food, it can sometimes be when inspiration strikes!

Classical Music Fun Facts And More!

  • A single violin is composed of more than 70 pieces of individual wood.
  • Don Giovanni boasted that he was able to seduce 91 Turkish, 100 French, 1001 Spanish and 640 Italian women.
  • Many people know the Four Minutes and Thirty-Three Seconds by John Cage after it gained notoriety as it was around 4 minutes and 33 seconds of just dead silence. Another composition took this genre further when the Monotone Silence Symphony by Yves Klein consisted of a one prolonged note over 20 minutes followed by another 20 minutes of dead silence.
  • The London Symphony Orchestra was supposed to travel with the Titanic’ maiden voyage, however, they made a decision to change the boat they traveled on minutes before the voyage.
  • In 1960 at The Met, Baritone Leonard Warren died on the stage directly after singing the song Verdi’s ‘Morir, Tremenda Cosi’ which stands for “To Die, a Momentous Thing.”
  • Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky a Russian composer suffered from a form of extreme hypochondria. His condition was so extreme that he was seen always holding onto his chin when he conducted his orchestra. He stated that if he let go of his chin he was scared that his head may fall off. He was also known for never drinking anything that was not bottled as he had a fear that he may catch a disease. Unfortunately in the year 1893, he received a diagnosis that he had Cholera and died the next day.
  • In the era of the 18th century dogfish skin was typically used in order to sand the violins.

Classical Music Fun & Weird facts

Classical Music Fun Facts and Crazy Behavior

  • The duet Gioachino Rossini’s Duetto Buffo di due Gatti is composed of a single word “meow”. It is story about 2 cats arguing while the melody is said to be left mainly to the discretion of the singer.
  • An Austrian concert pianist, Paul Wittgenstein was called to military service when World War 1 broke out. Even though the man sustained significant injuries to the area of the right-arm which later had to be amputated he refused to give up on playing the Piano. Years after the war he went onto work alongside various celebrated and famous composers in commissioning new playing methods and piano concerti which allowed for more possibilities for one-handed musicians.
  • The soprano singer Dame Nellie Melba underwent a facelift operation that was unsuccessful and later died from an infection.
  • Yuri Gagarin the Russian cosmonaut sang the “My Homeland Hears” a Shostakovich song on the radio during his 1st space mission.
  • The Franz Schubert’s Symphony No.8 has often been called the “Unfinished Symphony” as only the 1st two movements were completed. Despite various theories, the reason as to why this piece remains uncompleted is still a mystery. However, one of the popular beliefs is related to that Franz abandoned this symphony once he was diagnosed with the condition known as syphilis.
  • When on a tour across England, Benjamin Franklin created an instrument which involved a set of glass bowls of various sizes which produced their on unique sound when a finger touches them. The Franklin’s “glass armonica” became famous among various 18th century composers that included Beethoven, Mozart and Strauss.
  • At the Sydney Opera House during the performance of the Boris Godunov, a live chicken fell from the stage directly onto one of the cellists.
  • Even though the Tchaikovsky’s 1812 Overture has been in use for commemorating the United States Independence Day for more than 3 decades, it was actually originally composed in order to celebrate Russia’s victory over France which was associated with Napoleon’s invasion that failed over Moscow. Tchaikovsky’s overture has been regarded as a theatrical and musical genius due to the real fireworks 16 shots fired from cannon artillery and church bells. However, Tchaikovsky himself hated this piece and actually stated that it was “loud and noisy” as well as “obviously written without warmth or love.”


Classical Music Bizarre History


  • Orlando de Lassus a renaissance composer was kidnapped a number of times when he was still a boy due to his beautiful and angelic singing voice.
  • Richard Wagner was known for been extremely hard to work alongside as he had a no-nonsense attitude and aloof and unfriendly personality. But was also believed to be drawn to a more feminine side. He was said to only wear satin or silk underwear and the letters that he addressed to the wealthy dressmakers revealed that he had a definite interest when it came to women’s clothing.
  • The Rite of Spring by Igor Stravinsky may seem like the perfectly normal as well as significantly beautiful musical piece in today’s standards. But when first released in the 1913, it was different and unexpected and caused the audience members to throw things at the orchestra and riot. The press of this time attacked Igor Stravinsky and called his piece “puerile barbarity.”
  • Adelina Patti was the person to wear the most costly opera costume in 1895 at the Convent Garden. This costume had a value of £15 million.
  • Franz Liszt was asked by so many of his fans for locks of hair that he eventually purchased a dog and then sent the fur clippings of the animal instead.

Classical Fun Facts – conductors and composers included!

  • The composer known as Robert Schumann did not originally have intentions of becoming a composer. He first wanted to be a pianist. However, after a hand injury that was believed to be associated with a “crude finger” strengthening mechanism it made this dream impossible. He made a promise to his family that he would attend law school if he failed at his musical career, but he decided to stick with music and later became one of the more influential composers for the 19th century.
  • When the conductor known as Herbert von Karajan died, his wide Eliette inherited his fortune with a worth of £250 million.
  • As Slow As Possible a piece by John Cage is on performance currently at the St. Burchardi church. We will all be dead before the piece concludes as this musical project started in the year 2001 and is planned to end in 2640, therefore meaning the piece will be 639 years in length. The note change made last was in 2013 while the next change will not be heard until the later part of 2020.
  • In Austria, one of the most favorite brands of chocolate is the ‘Mozartkugeln’.
  • When The Four Seasons was written by Antonio Vivaldi, he wrote these notes in a musical score and asked his musicians to make sounds of falling rain or barking dogs. He also went onto compose sonnets for each season to portray a story behind the music.
  • The Symphony No. 1, the Gothic by Havergal Brian required more than 800 musicians that included 82 string players in order to perform.
  • Domenico Scarlatti composed the “cat fugue” when Pulcinella his cat decided to walk over his keyboard.
  • Even though Felix Mendelssohn a German composer was widely recognized as one of the child prodigies, he was not the only child in the family. Fanny Mendelssohn, an older sister to Felix was just as good a composer and musician as her brother. However, Fanny was not allowed to pursue her passion in music due to how the public viewed women in this era. Felix admitted that he had gone onto publish a few of her compositions as his own so that she would not have to face scorn or retaliation for them.



  • Well before the iconic batons, the orchestral conductors made use of very long staves which they would hit against the ground in order to notate a rhythm. This particular practice came to an end rapidly when Jean Baptiste Lully a French composer hit his own foot that resulted in a nasty abscess on one of his toes. After refusing to have the toe amputated, the wound turned gangrenous and he eventually died from the wound.
  • La Monte Young a celebrated pianist did a piano piece for David Tudor #1 which is in fact not a song. The piece is actually a type of theatrical composition that involves a performer bringing a bucket-of-water and bale-of-hay in order to “feed” the piano. The piece comes to an end when the piano has decided it is no longer hungry or has finished eating.

Classical Music is neither boring or maybe as innocent as you may have thought. The above facts and information detailed above prove that this was truly an amazing and interesting musical era. Which weird and wonderful classical music facts have we missed that you know? Please leave a comment and share with us.

If you love classical music then you might struggle with contemporary music and we’ve a great article here on what to do if you don’t like contemporary music. Enjoy!

July 5, 2017     0 Comments   , ,