A Brief History of Western Music – Unit 4, Lesson 4

Johannes Brahms “Sapphische Ode” is a Romantic art song, here sung by Christa Ludwig, accompanied by Gerald Moore.

This is “The Shepherds’ Farewell” chorus from the oratorio l’Enfance du Christ (The Childhood of Christ) by Hector Berlioz performed by the Royal Choral Sociery. Listen for the chromatic harmonies; those are the ones that surprise you a bit.

If you are a fan of Barry Manilow, you might recognize this: Prelude No. 20 in C minor by Frederic Chopin, played in its original form by Tavi Erez.

Progammatic orchestral music was often used for ballets, which told the story visually as the music did with it. This is an excerpt from Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky’s Swan Lake:

Guiseppe Verdi wrote some of the best and grandest operas of all time.  This aria is from Rigoletto and sung by one of the finest tenors ever, Luciano Pavarotti.

To give you a sense of just how grand and opulent opera can be, here’s the “Triumphal March” from Verdi’s Aida on stage at the Verona Opera. It involves not just singers and orchestra, but also dancers, spear-carrying marchers, large props and sets, and even real horses.