Peer Gynt Suite No.2 (4) Edvard Grieg Download 'Peer Gynt Suite No.2 (4)' on iTunes
Every afternoon this week for his Big Piece after Six, John Brunning celebrates the lives and great recordings of the most legendary classical artists. Listen and download their famous recordings.
Over the course of his 35 year career as the principal conductor of the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra, Karajan made his name with his vast output of recordings. He is one of the best-selling conductors in the history of classical music, having sold an estimated 200million records.
The Soviet pianist's interpretations of piano repertoire are internationally recognised. He said: "Life unfolds for me like a theatre presenting a sequence of somewhat unreal sentiments; while the things of art are real to me and go straight to my heart."
A prolific performer and teacher, the American violinist has passed on his skills to some of today's best performers. His pupils included Nigel Kennedy, Nicola Benedetti, and the violists Paul Coletti and Csaba Erdélyi.
Educated at Julliard, Van Cliburn won the International Tchaikovsky Piano Competition in Moscow in 1958, aged 23. At the height of the Cold War, it was unusual for an American pianist to be recognised in such a public way. His recording of the first Tchaikovsky Piano Concerto was the first classical recording to sell one million copies, and eventually went triple-platinum.
Wonder-cellist Jacqueline du Pré is known for her interpretation of Elgar's Cello Concerto. She was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis in 1973 and was tragically forced to stop performing.
Arrau preached fidelity to the score, and played exactly as it was written on the page. He said: "Since in music we deal with notes, not words, with chords, with transitions, with color and expression, the musical meaning always based on those notes as written and nothing else - has to be divined."
The Canadian pianist was best-known for his personal interpretations of Bach's keyboard music, but he didn't confine himself to Baroque music. He enjoyed music by Beethoven, Mozart, Haydn, Brahms, as well as pre-Baroque composers and 20th Century works.
Bel canto soprano Maria Callas is the definition of diva. Her remarkable talents stretched to performing a wide range of opera classics, from light-hearted Donizetti, Bellini and Rossini to larger roles from Verdi and Puccini operas.
With some 200 recordings to his name, Gedda was acclaimed the world over for his musical intelligence, and the beauty and control of his voice. He recorded some of the most challenging roles in the entire operatic repertoire and was also a superb recital singer. Photo: Louis Mélançon/Metropolitan Opera
The Russian cellist and conductor gave his first concert in 1942, and went on to inspire a generation of performers. Julian Lloyd Webber described him as 'probably the greatest cellist of all time'.
Conductor Carlos Kleiber kept a low profile throughout his career, refusing interviews and being selective about his conducting appearances. Considering his success, the number of recordings he made was surprisingly few.
Virtuoso violinist Jascha Heifetz was very particular about his choice of strings. His three lowest strings were gut strings rather than steel.
Segovia is well-known for his guitar transcriptions. He took versions of classical pieces originally for other instruments and arranged them so they were playable on the guitar.
The Austrian-born violinist commissioned Elgar's Violin Concerto, and premiered the work in 1910. He was known for his signature sweet tone and his personal choice of phrasing.
A talented soprano, Schwarzkopf was granted Austrian citizenship to enable her to sing in the Vienna State Opera. Her performances of Mozart operas were highly esteemed, but she turned to German lieder later in life.
Composer, violinist, conductor, and teacher - it's no wonder his hometown of Liveni renamed itself in his honour. He's pictured here with one of his pupils, violin legend Yehui Menuhin.
Carlo Curley was a prolific organist, who supported himself purely through giving recitals, and never held a church organ post. His lively performances and good-humoured personality brought him international fame.
Tortelier's extensive recording catalogue of major cello works proves him to be one of the best cellists of the 20th Century, but it seems he was also an inventor. He pioneered the bent cello spike, so the instrument could lay more horizontally than vertically against the player's body.
Oistrakh gave his concert debut at the age of six, and continued to wow audiences throughout his career. He performed in the Oistrakh Trio with cellist Sviatoslav Knushevitsky and pianist Lev Oborin.
Kempff was well known for his interpretations of piano music by Beethoven and Schubert. He recorded a complete set of both composers' piano sonatas.
Dennis Brain popularised the horn as a solo performance instrument, and produced one of the definitive recordings of Mozart's Horn Concertos. He belonged to a family of horn players - his grandfather, father, and uncle all played the instrument.
The Hungarian-British conductor's career was interrupted by the rise of the Nazis. He was banned from conducting in his refuge country of Switzerland, so earned his living as a pianist.
Rubinstein's interpretations of Chopin are some of the most highly regarded of all time. He retired from his career in 1976, aged 89.
The Italian conductor was the first music director of the NBC Symphony Orchestra, and directed La Scala Milan, the Metropolitan Opera in New York, and the New York Philharmonic Orchestra throughout the course of his career.
One of the best coloratura sopranos of the 20th Century, she was dubbed 'La Stupenda' after performing the title role in Handel's Alcina. She toured Australia with Pavarotti in 1965.
Casals' recording of the Bach Cello Suites is remembered among his best works. Made between 1936-39, they have been remastered and are still popular today.
The Swedish tenor appeared in some of the best opera houses in the world, from the Metropolitan Opera, the Royal Opera House, and La Scala. His talent led him to be known as the Swedish Enrico Caruso.
Conductor Adrian Boult championed a great deal of British music throughout his career. He gave the first performance of Holst's The Planets, but also introduced works by Bliss, Britten, Delius, Tippett, Vaughan Williams and Walton to new audiences.
A keen player of Baroque trumpet repertoire, André shot to fame with his performances on the piccolo trumpet. Not content with only playing trumpet music, he also performed transcriptions of works for oboe, flute, voice, and strings.
Furtwängler is known as one of the key conductors of symphonic and operatic music in the 20th Century. His interpretations were often highly personal, as he chose to deviate from what was written on the score in favour of his own subjective approach to the music, which was extremely popular.
British oboist Goossens came from a highly musical family: his father and brother were conductors, and his sister was a harpist. He commissioned oboe works from Elgar and Vaughan Williams throughout his career.
Barbirolli conducted the Hallé Orchestra, which he helped save in 1943. The orchestra had depleted to around 30 players, as most of the musicians were serving in the armed forces.
Known as 'the king of swing', jazz clarinetist Benny Goodman also explored a great deal of the best classical repertoire. His first classical recording, from 1938, was Mozart's Clarinet Quintet in A.
The Australian conductor was a jack of all trades, specialising in a wide range of repertoire from Janáček and Mozart, to Gilbert and Sullivan.
One of the great piano legends of the 20th Century, the Grammy Award-winning performer championed repertoire from her native Spain.
Thomas Beecham founded the London Philharmonic Orchestra with his colleague, fellow conductor Malcolm Sargent. He championed composers like Delius and Berlioz, who weren't well known in Britain at the time.
Bernstein travelled the world as a prolific conductor and composer. He wrote a lot of classical repertoire, but also contributed significantly to the Broadway stage with hit musicals like On the Town and Candide
The Spanish soprano encompassed a wide range of repertoire throughout her career. In her early years she performed a lot of opera, and continued to give recitals focusing French and Spanish art songs as her career progressed.
Caruso's 1904 recording of 'Vesti la giubba' from Leoncavallo's opera Pagliacci was the first ever sound recording to sell a million copies. His career spanned a relatively short length of time - only 25 years.
The tenor who needs no introduction. One of the 'Three Tenors', he was one of the most commercially successful singers of all time. His last stage performance was 'Nessun dorma' in the 2006 Winter Olympics in Turin, Italy.
The Russian-born violinist performed long into his 80s, retiring only after he broke his hand. He was known for his interpretation of Bach's solo violin music.
During Leinsdorf's performance with the Boston Symphony Orchestra, it was announced that President John F. Kennedy had been assassinated, so he changed the programme to include Beethoven's funeral march from Symphony No. 3.