14 memes that will accurately teach you classical music history

1 February 2020, 12:42 | Updated: 1 February 2020, 12:58

By Kyle Macdonald

Don’t worry about the textbooks and tutorials, memes are the real way to learn 1,000 years of music history

  1. Hildegard of Bingen

    Benedictine abbess, writer, composer, philosopher, scientist, mystic, visionary, founder of scientific natural history in Germany, saint. Thoroughly awesome.

    Hipster Hildegard
    Hipster Hildegard. Picture: jeanettestorch
  2. A night out in Venice

  3. Bach's influence

    Music after 1750
    Music after 1750. Picture: social media
  4. Young Mozart visits the Sistine Chapel

    In the 17th and 18th century, Allegri's Miserere was regarded so sacred, The Catholic Church forbid any copies to be shared outside of the Sistine Chapel. That was until a 14-year-old Mozart came to hear it, and promptly went back to his Air B&B (or 18th-century equivalent) to copy it down note from note, from memory.

    Mozart meme
    Mozart meme. Picture: Reddit / Vectorial1024
  5. Mozart and Salieri

    Maybe not so entirely historically accurate, but Emperor Joseph II's fascination with Mozart over Salieri made for a great storyline in Amadeus.

  6. Haydn's Farewell Symphony

    This symphony from Joseph Haydn was performed for the first time in 1772 in Eszterháza in rural Hungary. In it was a gentle hint to his employer Prince Nikolaus that his overworked musicians might like to return home to Austria. The final movement sees each musician stand up, extinguish the candle on their music stand and leave the room in turn until only a pair of violins remain. (Prince Nikolaus let the musos return home the following day)

  7. Beethoven's deafness

    Ludwig van Beethoven still composed musical masterpieces – even when he was completely deaf. For those interested, here's why he was able to do it.

  8. Brahms took a while...

    Johannes said that the Symphony Op. 68 (from first sketches to finishing touches) took him 21 years, from 1855 to 1876. That's a lot of putting it off...

    Brahms Symphony No. 1
    Brahms Symphony No. 1. Picture: Meme H/T Owlturd comics
  9. More Brahms meme-ness

    After all those years, Brahms’ Symphony No. 1 was very good. In fact, it was so good, many thought it sounded as if it could have been written by Beethoven. That's what you get when you write in C minor.

  10. Tchaikovsky's cannons

    The Russian composer's 1812 Overture, written in 1880, depicts in music the Russian defence against Napoleon's invading forces in 1812. And it famously has cannons firing in its finale.

  11. Rachmaninov hands

    Rachmaninov's piano writing is famously full of big intervals and rapid notes – 10ths are not uncommon. The odd 11th too. Eek.

  12. Shosty and Stalin

    Brutal authoritarian and great composer clash. And every time we listen to a Shostakovich symphony, he continues to win.

  13. Stravinsky's The Rite of Spring

    Stravinsky's ballet score, in particular the Sacrificial Dance, pushed the boundaries of musical form and convention. Irregular time signatures like 3/16, 2/16, 2/8, 5/16 and 3/8 created quite a stir at its premiere and altered the course of music history.

    Stravinsky time
    Stravinsky time. Picture: Reddit / the_rite_of_lingling
  14. Stravinsky DAB

    Stravinsky DAB
    Stravinsky DAB. Picture: Me.me