7 Unusual Classical Composers (Visitor publish

As we speak we welcome AleahFlute/Aleah Fitzwater to the weblog!

Typically when studying about classical composers, we think about them as being…nicely, slightly boring. In truth, this impression is way from the reality: many composers each previous and current had been and are fairly vibrant characters!

Learn on to study extra!


Hey there! My identify is Aleah Fitzwater. I’m a classical flutist and music instructor gone awry. I used to show in public colleges and examine religiously. However now, nicely…I’m nonetheless a classical cat, however unhinged! I write music blogs about classical composers and music digitising. I additionally organize and report classical flute variations of other/pop songs, like these by Linkin Park and Panic! on the Disco

As we speak I’m going to take you on a weird journey: We will likely be studying a few number of unusual composers. However consider me, there are many extra musicians that must be on this checklist. There simply merely isn’t sufficient room (or time!).

Let’s dive in!

Anton Bruckner

Ah, sure, the unusual classical composer who kissed skulls…or have you ever not heard??

Whereas this Austrian composer is especially recognized for his symphonies and choral works, there’s a little bit extra to glean. Considered one of his hottest symphonies (his fourth) is named the “Romantic” symphony. It’s not a typical Bruckner piece, as he was very a lot into the macabre and that is mirrored in his work.

Bruckner one way or the other bought maintain of each Schubert’s and Beethoven’s skulls after they had been being moved from cemetery to cemetery, and kissed and held them. Was his obsession with demise, or with being a fantastic and honored composer? Maybe each…both method, his want was fulfilled!

After his demise, Bruckner was mummified. This was all too becoming for the darkish composer. I stumbled upon (and unintentionally downloaded!) a couple of photos of Bruckner’s mummy. I’ll save your retinas by not sharing them right here.

Erik Satie

This umbrella-collecting, suit-wearing musical genius wasn’t highly regarded throughout his lifetime (he was, nonetheless, recognized to be fairly unusual). Somebody opened his closets after he handed away, and tumbling out of them got here tons of of handkerchiefs and umbrellas!

His girlfriend wasn’t any much less unusual, as well. She wore a corsage manufactured from carrots and fed the work she made however didn’t prefer to her pet (are oil paints edible? I believe not).

The couple as soon as bought right into a combat, and Satie supposedly threw her out of a window…but it surely all ended nicely as a result of she landed on her ft. She was, in any case, a talented acrobat!

Oh, and I nearly forgot to say…

He shaped a subsection of a non secular organisation (and finally his personal church). He additionally made a rule for himself that he might solely “eat white meals”. Yep, this quirky composer restricted himself to parsnips, hen, and different white meals. Personally? I believe I’d be going somewhat hungry right here.

Within the extra regular realm of issues, Satie helped kind the group of impressionistic composers known as Les Six.

When you’d prefer to honour Satie and his oddities, take a take heed to the piece “Embryons desséchés”, which roughly interprets to “dried embryos’:

Regardless of his strangeness, Satie’s music is normally fairly delicate and nice, and it makes nice classical music for finding out.

Philip Glass

I’ve a sure smooth spot for this composer of minimalist items, reminiscent of “Metamorphosis“. Whereas his habits and collections aren’t practically as bizarre as these of Satie or Bruckner, there’s something to be mentioned about his model of oddness.

Glass is understood for his repetitive items – lovely, elegant classical piano items, for probably the most half. Nevertheless, he additionally wrote an opera entitled Einstein on the Seaside – a piece which is nothing in need of unusual. I discovered about this one after I was an undergrad in music schooling. This four-act opera is technically thought-about an avant-garde opera, and is said to one thing Glass known as a “knee play”: an opera or musical that has little bits that maintain the bigger scenes collectively (this half isn’t all that odd).

Anyway…right here comes the quirkiness. This opera is really named after and written about Einstein. The lyrics embrace numbers…a lot of numbers. The composition itself is for SATB (soprano, alto, tenor, bass) choir, with numerous devices (and odd mixtures, like piccolo being paired with bass clarinet). You may take heed to Einstein on the Seaside in full right here:

Dmitri Shostakovich

In my humble opinion, Shostakovich was among the best classical composers to ever stay. He was a Russian composer throughout the time of the Soviet Union, post-revolution. “Waltz No. 2” is a short-yet-catchy piece that I at all times appear to search out myself listening to:

Dmitri Shostakovich wove his (German-version) initials into his works (different composers reminiscent of Bach additionally did this): DSCH – or D, Eb, C, B. This explicit mixture of notes is haunting, to say the least.

Dmitri had low vanity and was a licensed chain smoker. As soon as we dive in somewhat deeper, it’s no surprise he was so arduous on himself and located this small vice. He usually known as himself “a puppet on a string”. However why?

He had a tough time expressing his artistry, as he was very busy writing for the federal government. Soviet chief Joseph Stalin requested a plethora of music from him, and so he ended up writing many nationalistic items. I’ve to surprise, what would Shostakovich’s music have appeared like had he not had so many commissions from Stalin?

Shostakovich ended up becoming a member of the Communist get together to stop being captured or killed like so a lot of his family and friends. He went forwards and backwards with the Soviet Union for years, turning into common, then being accused of writing inappropriate and “formalist” music. Different Russian composers, like Prokofiev, had been additionally below fireplace.

His seventh symphony, or the “Leningrad Symphony”, was concerning the historic Soviet invasion. It was an exceptional success. Whereas this “true Soviet” piece stored him secure for a time, his works after the Leningrad Symphony promptly bought banned.

Shostakovich’s later compositions can be thought-about plain bizarre. When you take heed to his ninth symphony all over, it’s fairly clear that he wasn’t taking himself too severely. The finale seems like a tragic, bizarre circus. Maybe he was pointing a finger on the chaotic state of affairs, together with the warfare? Or was he merely an odd composer? I’ll allow you to determine.

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Cécile Chaminade

Most individuals don’t assume that Cécile Chaminade was that odd. However personally? I do. This classical composer was somewhat bit obsessed together with her flute professor. She was so in love with him that she wrote a concerto about him. The start of the piano half seems like ringing church bells: a illustration of her daydreams of marriage to her professor. Cringe!

Whereas she did not have a lot luck with romantic proposals, she did have numerous success with the piece. (Ultimately, she ended up marrying a music writer – a wedding which some musicologists speculate was purely for enterprise…)

The Chaminade concerto, as we now name it, is carried out by flutists all over the place to this present day. It really is a lush daydream. Right here is a superb efficiency of it that includes soloist Denis Bouriakov:

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart

Welp. Right here’s a reputation I guess you didn’t anticipate to see on the “unusual composers” checklist. Mozart was obsessed, not with an individual, however slightly…with farts.

Is it too uncouth to speak a few composer who liked farts on a classical weblog? Amadeus in all probability would have mentioned “No!”. Not solely have there been letters discovered together with this…distinctive model of humour, however he additionally wrote items concerning the subject of backsides.

The piece “Leck mich im Arsch” is simply as dangerous because it sounds. I’m not going to provide the pleasure of translating it into English. However you may take heed to it right here, I assume…

Percy Grainger

Find it irresistible or hate it, Grainger’s music appears to be right here to remain. Comically sufficient, I as soon as had a piano professor who mentioned the music of Grainger was decidedly “terrible”. He couldn’t perceive why we had been even programming his works. On the time, we had been performing his “Irish Tune from Nation Derry” which was basically a thickly orchestrated model of Danny Boy. Personally, I shortly fell in love with Percy Grainger’s reedy orchestration and plush brass chords.

Grainger was a composer from Australia. He had a knack for turning his previous conducting batons into whips. I’m not going to enter additional element on that now, so I’ll simply go away that truth there. A few of these, er, artifacts, can nonetheless be discovered within the Grainger museum at this time…alongside along with his dentures, which he insisted be included within the shows.

In addition to being a composer, Grainger was excited by vogue design. In line with Traditional FM, the garments he designed and wore had been so dangerous that he was “usually mistaken for a vagrant” when he wore his items out in town. He even created a sort of patchwork bra.

Talking of creations, he additionally invented a handful of devices, reminiscent of a mini piano tuned to microtones (intervals between notes that are smaller than a semitone). Some name him loopy, others name him a “synth pioneer”.


In relation to unusual composers, that is simply the tip of the iceberg. So, go on and dig up some extra data! However provided that you dare…

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