World Cup

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.


Where the World Cup & Classical Meet

Classical Music and Football: The First XI
How has soccer… ahem, football… inspired classical composers? From a football chant by Edward Elgar to a ballet by Dmitri Shostakovich about the sport, the Guardian’s Music Blog reveals how football has left its mark on classical music.

Quiz: Composer or Footballer?
Can you guess whether the subject is a classical composer or a World Cup footballer by name alone? It may not be as easy as you think.

Placido Domingo To Sing Before World Cup Final
He’s sung before a World Cup final five times already. On July 11, Placido Domingo will make it six.

World Cup 2014: What Makes a Great National Anthem?
Some anthems we love. Some anthems we don’t. Some we really don’t. Anthems can be so polarizing a topic that composer and cellist Phillip Sheppard received death threats after contributing to a 2012 article about the worst national anthems. In this article, the BBC poses the question: what makes an anthem great?

 And here’s an inspired idea from Twitter:

Classical Music During World Cup
Brilliant. And may we offer a classical suggestion for your World Cup-watching pleasure? 24/7 classical music streaming from WDAV.

World Cup of Classical Music

As we head into the Round of 16 of the 2014 World Cup, learn about notable compositions from each of the countries in our World Cup of Classical Music. The first games begin Saturday, June 28 with Brazil vs. Chile and go through Tuesday, July 1 with Belgium vs. The United States. The round features composers of great international fame, and others of lesser notoriety. Just like the teams themselves, however, the composers are the pride  of their respective countries. Take a look and see the composer and composition of each Round of 16 country:

Saturday, June 28, 2014 | 12:00 p.m. ET

BrazilHeitor Villa-Lobos
Bachianas brasileiras
Bachianas brasileiras is a set of nine pieces for various instrumental and vocal groups, in which a contrapuntal technique in the manner of Bach is applied to themes of Brazilian origin. Each of his twelve symphonies alludes to a historic event or place.


ChilePedro Humberto Allende
La Voz de las Calles
La Voz de las Calles is a symphonic poem inspired by local merchants’ yells throughout the streets. The work is considered a national exaltation of Chile through music and it premiered at El Teatro Unión Central de Santiago.

Saturday, June 28, 2014 | 5:00 p.m ET

ColombiaGuillermo Uribe Holguín 
Tres Danzas (Three Dances)
Born in Bogotá in 1880, Holguín is perhaps one of Colombia’s most important cultural figures of his time. He composed in many genres and founded the National Symphony Orchestra of Colombia. His Tres Danzas represents one of his finest orchestral works.


UruguayPedro Ipuche Riva
Concierto para piano y orquesta
This concierto for piano and orchestra is one of Riva’s most well-known works. Perhaps one of the most famous Uruguayan composers, Riva became instrumental in establishment of classical music in Uruguay throughout the twentieth century.

Sunday, June 29, 2014 | 12:00 p.m. ET

NetherlandsLouis Andriessen
De Staat
De Staat is a large choral work based on Plato’s Republic, sung in the original Greek.


MexicoCarlos Chávez 
Sinfonia No. 2, “Sinfonía india” 
“Chávez’s music is unmistakably Mexican in its melodic patterns and rhythmic inflections. From indigenous Mexican music he took the uses of percussion, straightforward rhythms, and old forms of harmony and melody.” (Britannica Online)

Sunday, June 29, 2014 | 4:00 p.m. ET
Costa Rica

Costa RicaLuis Diego Herra
Pieza para Teclado
Luis Diego Herra, a modern Costa Rican composer, represents the recent revitalization of classical music in Costa Rica. His “Pieza para Teclado” is a piano composition.


GreeceManolis Kalomiris 
Greek Folk Dance
Manolis Kalomiris founded the Greek National School of Music and was one of the most prominent Greek composers of his time. He admired the likes of Richard Wagner and Rimsky-Korsakoff, and he used Greek fold rhythms throughout his compositions. His “Greek Folk Dance” is an example of this trend.

Monday, June 30, 2014 | 12:00 p.m. ET

FranceGabriel Faure
The best known of Fauré’s large works, the Requiem contains the famous soprano aria Pie Jesu. Most of the text is in Latin and the composer follows a French Baroque tradition. While only slightly altering the texts of the Introit, Kyrie, Pie Jesu, Agnus Dei, and In Paradisum, Faure dramatically changed the text of the Offertory.


NigeriaFela Sowande 
Considered the “father of modern Nigerian art music,” Sowande is the most famous African composer of works in the classical genre. His “Akinla” is a work for chamber orchestra and shows his prowess in composition.

Monday, June 30, 2014 | 4:00 p.m. ET

GermanyRichard Wagner 
Die Walküre 
An opera in three acts, Die Walküre is the second of the four operas that form Wagner’s cycle Der Ring des Nibelungen. The opera is based on Norse mythology and it’s most popular excerpt is the famous “Ride of the Vakyries.”


AlgeriaEl Hadj M’Hamed El Anka
Lahmam Li Rabito
Perhaps the most popular Algerian composers and musicians of classical music, El Hadj became known as “The Grand Master of Andalusian classical music.” “Lahmam Li Rabito” is one of his most popular works and clearly shows Andalusian influences.

Tuesday, July 1, 2014 | 12:00 p.m. ET

ArgentinaAlberto Ginastera 
Don Rodrigo 
Don Rodrigo is an opera in three acts to an original Spanish libretto by Alejandro Casona. Plácido Domingo had his international breakthrough by singing the title role at the US premiere of the opera by the New York City Opera.


SwitzerlandFrank Martin
Le Vin herbe
Le Vin herbe is an oratorio based on transcendent erotic themes. Finished in 1940, Frank Martin relates in music the Tristan and Isolde story as told in Joseph Bedier’s novel.

Tuesday, July 1, 2014 | 4:00 p.m. ET

BelgiumCésar Franck 
Symphony in D minor
The most famous orchestral work composed by the 19th century Belgian César Franck, the work took two years to complete and premiered at the Paris Conservatory in 1889, just a year before the composer’s death.

United States

USAAaron Copland
Billy the Kid
Aaron Copeland composed the music for this ballet based on the legend of Billy the Kid. The music evokes the image of the American West and prairie life. The ballet was so popular when it debuted that Copland extracted a concert suite from the larger work. This is the form most frequently heard today.

Stay tuned for the next round of the 2014 World Cup of Classical Music and see who moves on!