Pronunciation of classical music composers

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How many times you heard a famous piece of classical music, and you didn’t dare to pronounce the name of the composer? How about the opera you love so much? Can you pronounce the name of the genius who wrote it? Here is a list of the most famous composers of all time and the correct pronunciation of their names.

How to pronounce Ludwig van Beethoven

The German composer and pianist, born in 1770, is one of the most important and influential composers of all time. He wrote nine symphonies, various concertos for piano, violin, and string quartets. That’s the reason you have to pronounce his name correctly. Click Ludwig van Beethoven and listen to the audio pronunciation.

How to pronounce Vincenzo Bellini

The Italian opera composer, born on November 3, in 1801, was one of the most important musicians in Italy and his name is one of the easiest to pronounce. He wrote ten operas: the most famous are La sonnambula (The Sleepwalker), I puritani (The Puritans) and Norma. The delicious Italian dish, pasta alla norma (a pasta dish from Sicily with fried eggplants and tomato sauce), was named after the famous Sicilian composer. The Bellini cocktail as well, invented by Giuseppe Cipriani, founder of the Harry's Bar in Venice, was named after him. Click Vincenzo Bellini and listen to the correct pronunciation.

How to pronounce Hector Berlioz

Hector Berlioz, the French composer born in 1803, December 11, wrote Symphonie fantastique (Fantastical Symphony) and Grande messe des morts (Requiem). Berlioz gave a big contribution to the modern orchestra: he wrote Grand traité d’instrumentation et d’orchestration modernes, a technical study on musical instruments and orchestration. 
Click Hector Berlioz and listen to the correct pronunciation.

How to pronounce Georges Bizet

Georges Bizet, born Alexandre César Léopold Bizet, was born in Paris in 1838, October 25. He died early, at 37, but the cause of his sudden death was never clear: it could have been a heart attack or a depression which led him to kill himself. His most important work is Carmen, based on a novella by French dramatist Prosper Mérimée. The pronunciation of his name can be tricky due to the final “t”. Click Georges Bizet and listen to the correct pronunciation.

How to pronounce Gaetano Donizetti

The Italian composer, Gaetano Donizetti, born in 1797, November 29, was from Bergamo in Lombardia. He was a very important exponent of the Bel Canto, literally translated into English: beautiful singing. He wrote his first opera, Il Pigmalione (Pygmalion), when he was 19. Years later, he wrote Lucia di Lammermoor. His last name may sound difficult to pronounce to the English-speaking world. Click Gaetano Donizetti and listen to the correct pronunciation. Remember: Z has the sound as in the word pizza.

How to pronounce Antonínv Dvořák

The Czech composer, born on September 8, in 1841, started playing violin at the age of 6. He wrote nine symphonies, ten operas, chamber music and piano music, and he is famous worldwide. Antonín Dvořák is the composer with the most difficult name to pronounce. Click Antonín Dvořák and listen to the correct pronunciation.

How to pronounce Joseph Haydn

The German composer Joseph Haydn, born on March 31, in 1732, was a famous symphonist, and he was also the inventor of the string quartet. He was a music teacher as well: his most renowned pupil was Ludwig van Beethoven. His name is still one of the most mispronounced ones: the majority of people think that his last name is of British descent. Click Joseph Haydn and listen to the correct pronunciation.

How to pronounce Franz Liszt

The Hungarian composer, born in 1811, October 22, was also a conductor, a pianist, and a teacher. He became a virtuoso pianist after attending to a concert by Italian violinist Niccolò Paganini. Liszt wanted to be as good with his piano as Paganini was with his violin… and he made it. Click Franz Liszt and listen to the correct pronunciation.

How to pronounce Jacques Offenbach

Jacques Offenbach, born in Germany, in 1819, June 20, spent almost all his life in France, where his given name Jacob became Jacques. His last name is now pronounced in French. Offenbach wrote about one hundred operettas, a genre of light opera, and an unfinished opera, The Tales of Hoffmann. Click Jacques Offenbach and listen to the correct pronunciation.

How to pronounce Giacomo Puccini

Giacomo Puccini, born Giacomo Antonio Domenico Michele Secondo Maria Puccini, was one of the most prolific and celebrated composers of all time. Born in Tuscany in 1858, December 22, Puccini composed the most famous operas: Manon Lescaut, La Bohème, Tosca, Madama Butterfly, and Turandot. Why so many operas dedicated to women? Because Puccini was an unrepentant womanizer. Click Giacomo Puccini and listen to the correct pronunciation.

How to pronounce Gioachino Rossini

The Italian composer, with a given name tough to pronounce, was born in 1792, February 29. He was a very prolific composer: he wrote 39 operas. The most famous are Il barbiere di Siviglia (The Barber of Seville), La Cenerentola and Guglielmo Tell (William Tell). He was nicknamed The Italian Mozart. Click Gioachino Rossini and listen to the audio pronunciation.

How to pronounce Franz Peter Schubert

Franz Peter Schubert was an Austrian composer, born on January 31, in 1797. He had syphilis and died very young, at 31. Still, he left a massive legacy. His most important symphonies are Die schöne Müllerin (The Beautiful Girl from the Mill), Die Winterreise (The Winter Journey), and the Great C Major Symphony. Click Franz Peter Schubert and listen to the correct pronunciation.

How to pronounce Richard Strauss

Richard Strauss, the most influential Romantic German composer and conductor, was born in 1864, June 11. He wrote operas, symphonic poems, but what we all know is his famous Frühlingsstimmen, an orchestral waltz written in 1882. Click Richard Strauss and listen to the audio pronunciation. 

How to pronounce Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky

The Russian composer, whose name is easy to say but difficult to spell, was born in 1840, April 25. Tchaikovsky wrote symphonies, operas, chamber music, but we mostly appreciate his ballets: Swan Lake, The Sleeping Beauty, and The Nutcracker. Click Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky and listen to the correct pronunciation.

How to pronounce Giuseppe Verdi

Giuseppe Verdi is the most important Italian composer and the pronunciation of his name is not that difficult, but the thing is... we just wanted him to be in this list.
Born Giuseppe Fortunino Francesco Verdi, in the province of Parma, on October 10, in 1813, the great musician wrote the most famous operas performed all over the world: La traviata, (The Fallen Woman), Nabucco, Il trovatore (The Troubadour), Aida, Ernani, Falstaff, I masnadieri (The Bandits), Rigoletto. When he was young, he was rejected by the Conservatorio di Milano, the renowned school of music in Milan, but later the very same school was renamed after him: Il Conservatorio di musica Giuseppe Verdi. Click Giuseppe Verdi and listen to the correct pronunciation.

How to pronounce Antonio Vivaldi

The Italian Baroque composer, Antonio Vivaldi, born on March 4, 1678, was a virtuoso violinist, a teacher, and a priest. Shame he could not play wind instruments because he had asthma. His best-known work is a set of four violin concertos, The Four Seasons (in Italian Le quattro stagioni), which was composed in 1720. Click Antonio Vivaldi and listen to the correct pronunciation.

01 dicembre 2023
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