World Cup of Classical Music: Germany vs. Argentina

Celebrate the World Cup winners – as well as the second-place team – with a little Classical 101, Germany and Argentina editions.

Classical 101: Germany

German classical music and German classical musicians have played a major role in the development of the genre, with a significant contribution to orchestral works and operas. Mozart’s Die Zauberföte, for example, remains among the most beloved operas, and Beethoven’s symphonies are considered prime examples of the Romantic era. Robert Schumann is also credited with the creation of lied, a mixture of romantic poetry and music.

In honor of yesterday’s victory, get to know the biggest composers from this World Cup-winning country:

Johann Sebastian Bach

J.S. Bach

Born in 1685 in Eisenach, Johann Sebastian Bach was a Baroque composer who Beethoven described as “the original father of harmony.” Although he was not recognized as a great composer during his lifetime, Bach’s fame developed during the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. He is famed for his more than 300 cantatas (of which close to 100 have been lost) as well as his music’s intellectual depth and beauty. An example of this can be heard in his Christ lag in Todesbanden.

Ludwig van Beethoven


Born in 1770, Ludwig van Beethoven is perhaps the most famous German composer of all time. Despite his hearing loss during the later stages of his life, he became a crucial figure in the transition between the Classical and Romantic musical periods, and  remains one of the most influential of all composers. One of Beethoven’s most famous works in his Symphony No. 9.

Robert Schumann


Robert Schumann was born in 1810 and brought forth a new type of music called lied. After a hand injury ended his dreams of becoming Europe’s finest pianist, Schumann turned his energies to composition and is now recognized as one of the greatest composers of the Romantic era. Listen to his Piano Concerto in A Minor, Op. 54 to hear the composer’s prowess.



Richard Wagner was born in 1813 in Leipzig and is known for his operatic works. His compositions are known for their complex textures and rich harmonies. Arguably his most famous work is his Der Ring des Nibelungen (The Ring of the Nibelung). It’s famous “Ride of the Valkyries” can be heard below:



And to honor the second-place winner in the 2014 World Cup…

Classical 101: Argentina

Argentina’s contribution to classical music does not match that of Germany’s, but this should not detract from their legacy. Argentinians have contributed widely to many forms of classical music. Opera must be considered one of the main areas of classical composition. The Teatro Colón in Buenos Aires is considered one of the best opera houses in the world and represents the counties dedication to the art form. The country is less known for producing romantic and conservative compositions such as orchestral and piano works.

Alberto Williams


Alberto Williams, born in 1865 in Buenos Aires, is known as a pianist, conductor, and a pedagogue. While he was in Paris as a young man, Williams took lessons in composition from César Franck, who supposedly became fond of Williams. He is known for his orchestral works with his Symphony No. 2 in C Minor being one of the most popular.

Carlos Guastavino


Carlos Guastavino was born in 1912 in Santa Fe Province and is considered one of the most prominent Argentine composers of the twentieth century. He generated 500 compositions throughout his life and many were based on Argentine folk songs. He is sometimes referred to as the “Schubert of the Pamapas” and his songs Pueblito, mi pueblo, la rosa y el sauce (“The Rose and the Willow”) and Se eqivovó la paloma(“The Dove was Wrong”) have now become national favorites.

Alberto Ginastera


Born in 1916 in Buenos Aires, Alberto Ginastera became a peer of Guastavino and established himself as another of Argentina’s great twentieth century composers. He is famously known for his composition of the opera Don Rodrigo, but is also known for his orchestral works.


Classical Music & Film

Classical music has long influenced the world of film, both directly and through the influence of composers. Figures like Max Steiner and Erich Wolfgang Korngold forged the identity of early Hollywood music with their Romantic compositional styles, and classical pieces were often used as test music for producers and writers.

Here are several classical works made ubiquitous by their inclusion in film.

Toccata and Fugue in D Minor
by Johann Sebastian Bach

Music Dr Jekyll and Mr HydeThe Piece: Toccata and Fugue in D Minor was first published in 1833 after Felix Mendelssohn, a frequent admirer of Bach’s work, prepared and edited the piece. Critics and musicians alike praised the piece throughout the 19th century, with Mendelssohn, Liszt and others adopting it as a part of their repertoires. Mendelssohn deemed it “at the same time learned and something for the people”- certainly an astute presage of the work’s eventual popularity in the film world.

The Score: The booming, iconic introduction was used for the main titles of 1931’s Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, creating an indelible association with the horror genre. However, the film world perceived it as a powerfully dramatic score in its own right, leading to its inclusion in Sunset Boulevard and Federico Fellini’s 1960 Palme D’Or winning film La Dolce Vita. Robert Schumann, though, viewed the aggressive opening lines as clever histrionics revealing Bach’s sense of humor, a view that is perhaps more in line with how the oft-parodied work is now regarded.


“The Call to Cows” and “The Finale” from William Tell Overture
by Gioachino Rossini

A Clockwork OrangeThe Piece: Rossini’s final opera, based on the play by Friedrich Schiller, was met with modest success during its initial performance history, but it is now best remembered for its four-part overture, which depicts an idyllic picture of the Swiss Alps. Franz Liszt, among others, prepared a piano arrangement that joined his concert repertoire. Though a frequent critic of Rossini, Hector Berlioz praised the overture as “a symphony in four parts,” despite its short length and uninterrupted structure.

The Score: “The Call to Cows” is often used to connote a pastoral morning setting, especially in cartoons such as Disney’s The Old Mill. “The Finale” is perhaps more recognizable. The rousing score was popular with American brass bands in the early 20th century, and gained a public profile as the theme to The Lone Ranger. Since then, it has appeared in everything from A Clockwork Orange to Armageddon and Toy Story 2.


Also Sprach Zarathustra by Richard Strauss
and The Blue Danube by Johann Strauss II

The Piece: These two Strauss’s wrote two works remembered in the film world for their use in Kubrick’s 2001: A Space OdysseyAlso Sprach Zarathustra was a tone poem that joined the classical canon after its 1896 premiere. While The Blue Danube was met with universal acclaim as perhaps the best-known waltz from the “The Waltz King” himself, Johann Strauss II.

The Score: Also Sprach Zarathustra drew inspiration from Nietzsche’s philosophical work of the same name- an appropriately heady conceit for the eccentric Kubrick. The score’s powerful introduction accompanies the title shot of 2001, and this connotation of the majestic and imposing has stuck ever since.  Kubrick did not shape the popular interpretation of The Blue Danube as he did for Also Sprach Zarathustra. However, his inclusion of the piece in 2001-where it accompanies two satellites as they “dance” in space-brought it to the public fore, and the lilting, elegant piece is now a staple in film and commercials.

Space Odyssey2001 is also notable for its use of several pieces from the modernist composer György Ligeti. Ligeti’s idiosyncratic work utilized micropolyphony, an abstract technique that went on to inform the work of minimalist composers like Philip Glass and Steve Reich. At the time of the film, Ligeti was struggling in obscurity, and Kubrick actually utilized his music without permission. The director was apparently incredulous when Ligeti objected to the unsanctioned use of his work, since, he argued, the film served as publicity for Ligeti’s music. Free marketing or not, a lawsuit duly followed, but the two soon settled out of court. Ligeti moved on with a heightened public profile, and Kubrick moved on with his reputation for an abrasive personality intact.

Ligeti’s dense work does like its classical counterparts in 2001, but it has since appeared in Hollywood films such as Martin Scorsese’s 2010 film Shutter Island. Additionally, the leitmotif from Darren Arnofsky’s Requiem for a Dream, entitled Lux Aeterna, takes its name from one of Ligeti’s works. Lux Aeterna has since been used extensively in film trailers and other forms of media, and the piece is popular for the dramatic tone it borrows from Ligeti’s work (though Requiem composer Clint Mansell wisely ignored the modernist composer’s absence of melody).

Did Bach’s Wife Pen Some of his Works?

Did Bach write all of the works attributed to him? Some academics now say No — and attribute some of those works to his second wife.

Read Story:
Bach works were written by his second wife, claims academic (The Telegraph)

Famous works attributed to Johann Sebastian Bach were not penned by the great composer but by his second wife, researchers believe.

A study by an academic who has spent more than 30 years looking at Bach’s work claims that Anna Magdalena Bach, traditionally believed to be Bach’s musical copyist, actually wrote some of his best-loved works, including his Six Cello Suites. Read entire article on The Telegraph website.