Here are two folk idiom compositions, one Romanian and one American:
Bela Bartok’s Romanian Folk Dances performed by the Danubia Orchestra
Aaron Copeland’s “Hoe Down” from the ballet Rodeo performed by the U.S. Marine Band
This is a representation of the Neo-Classical style:
Francis Poulenc: Gloria – II. Laudamus te performed by the Monteverdi Choir
Anton Webern created haunting textures using the atonal twelve-tone style. His “Five Pieces for Orchestra” is performed by the Berlin Philharmonic:
John Cage wrote music for electronic sounds, squeaking doors, and random instrumentation. This work was originally “composed” for piano in three movements totaling four minutes and thirty three seconds. It was recently covered by a heavy metal band, Dead Territory, to great effect.
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.
Georg Frideric Handel was the master of the oratorio, and his works bridge the Baroque and Classical periods. This is the world’s largest performance of the Hallelujah Chorus from his Messiah.*
Franz Joseph Haydn is regarded as the father of the symphony. This is an excerpt of his Symphony #100, performed by the Berlin Philharmonic.
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart wrote masterpieces in every genre from a very young age. Here are few scenes from his comic opera Cosi fan tutte presented by Zurich Opera.
Ludwig von Beethoven’s compositions expanded on the traditional concepts of classical form. His 9th Symphony broke the tradition of instrumental music and added singers in the final movement for maximum emotional impact. Here’s the Vienna Philharmonic and the New York Choral Artists at Carnegie Hall:
Franz Schubert was one of the foremost composers of the art song. Janet Baker sings “An die Musik,“ accompanied by Murray Perahia:
“Tu se’morta” from the opera L’Orfeo by Claudio Monteverdi performed by Jordi Savall
“Where is the Newborn King?” from The Christmas Story, an oratorio by Heinrich Schütz performed by the Neubeuern Choral Society
J. S. Bach “Tocata and Fugue in D Minor” performed by Stewart W. Foster
J.S. Bach Cantata #80 performed by the Gesualdo Consort and Musica Amphion
Itzhak Perlman plays and conducts the strings of the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra in Vivaldi’s “Spring” from The Four Seasons.
The motet “Pucelete – Je languis – Domino” is an example of basic polyphony.
Complex polyphony was a trademark of the Renaissance composer Josquin de Prez. This is his “Kyrie” from the Missa Pange Lingua.
John Wilbye was a prolific composer of English madrigals such as “Draw on Sweet Night.”