How Much Do You Know About Famous Composers?


By: John Miller

5 Min Quiz

Image: Karl Joseph Stieler

About This Quiz

Long before Pink Floyd and the Beatles, there were major music artists who dominated pop culture. There were no radios or streaming music services back then, but composers like Mozart, Bach and Beethoven wrote pieces that were performed for audiences all over the world – and those timeless compositions lasted a whole lot longer than “Dark Side of the Moon.” What do you really know about the men who made the music you now hear on public radio?

Historians generally divide classical music into several periods, such as the Baroque, Classical, and Romantic eras. The Baroque era lasted from around 1600 to 1750. The Classical era was from around 1750 to 1820, and the Romantic spanned 1780 to around 1910. The composers who worked during these centuries created some of the best-known works of music ever. It’s anything but dusty trivia – works like “Ride of the Valkyries” and “Swan Lake Suite” are as vital and enduring now as they were when they amazed audiences so many years ago. Do you really know anything about the men who made these masterpieces?

The names of classical composers are just as timeless. Everyone knows the names like Mozart, Bach, Chopin, Debussy, Handel and Tchaikovsky. Those monikers are simply wired into the culture and DNA of the Western world. But do you think you can match the men to their masterpieces?

Take our famous classical composers quiz now! We’ll find out if you go for a leisurely cruise “On the Beautiful Blue Danube, or whether this quiz will be a sad “Requiem” for your shortcomings of classical trivia!

Which composer had already mastered the violin and keyboard by the age of five?

Mozart was an absolute genius even as a tiny child. By the time a lot of children are still struggling to speak clearly, he'd already become a master of the keyboard and violin.


Who wrote "The Nutcracker"?

It might be the most famous ballet in world history. "The Nutcracker," by Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky, is a legendary work of art that's performed all over the world each year.


Igor Stravinsky was a famous composer of the ____ century.

As classical composers go, Igor Stravinsky is a relatively recent creator. He was born in Russia in 1882 and lived much of his life in the United States, where he died in 1971.


He wrote the "Brandenburg Concertos."

Bach created the "Brandenburg Concertos" in the early 1700s. The Concertos are six instrumental pieces that historians regard as icons of the Baroque era.


At the end of his life, which composer kept writing masterpieces even though he was mostly deaf?

In adulthood, Beethoven began to lose his hearing, a fact that greatly impacted his social and professional life. But he was so talented and dedicated that he continued to write amazing compositions -- and never got to hear them with his own ears.


True or false, was Bach recognized as a talented artist while he was still living?

Some composers were virtually ignored by critics during their lifetimes. Bach's reputation was limited to small circles at first, but he later enjoyed great fame and traveled parts of the world for his work.


Which composer wrote "The Marriage of Figaro"?

He wrote hundreds of pieces in his celebrated life, but "The Marriage of Figaro" is one of Mozart's most famous works. It is a comic opera that he completed in 1786.


Giuseppe Verdi is best known for his _____.

Italian composer Giuseppe Verdi is renowned for his iconic operas, created in a classic Italian style. His "Otello" and "Requiem" are both masterpieces of the art form.


Frederic Chopin was from which country?

Chopin was born in Warsaw, Poland in 1810 and died in 1849. But during his short life, he created some of the world's most memorable music.


Franz Liszt was particularly famous for his work with which instrument?

Franz Liszt was a virtuoso pianist of the 19th century. His "Piano Sonata in B minor" and "“Liebesträume No. 3” are two of his best-known works.


Who wrote a famous piece called "The Rite of Spring"?

In 1913, Stravinsky unveiled "The Rite of Spring," which became one of his best-known pieces. The composition includes some unique choices in terms of structure and tone that threw many critics of the time for a loop … but is now regarded as a masterpiece.


Which composer is famous in part for his work in creating music for Shakespeare's " A Midsummer Night's Dream"?

German composer Felix Mendelssohn created music for "A Midsummer Night's Dream," as well as some original symphonies. He was particularly well-known for his masterful solo piano compositions.


Joseph Haydn is sometimes called "Father of the ______."

Haydn was a huge proponent of chamber music, that is, music made to be played by smaller groups of musicians. He was often called the "Father of the Symphony."


Mozart was from _____.

Mozart is one of the most famous Austrians of all-time. His brilliance at a young age propelled him to performances for some of the most powerful men and women in Europe.


What was Chopin's status during the course of his life?

Chopin shot to incredible fame during his lifetime. He was a geniune rock star of the 19th century, and in some ways, the fame took a toll on his career.


"Tristan und Isolde" was a "music drama" created by which composer?

Wagner had some revolutionary ideas about arrangements, tone, and other factors. In "Tristan und Isolde," he called his work a "music drama," a sort of theatrical production that leaned heavily on Wagner's compositions.


Who wrote the famous “Hallelujah" chorus?

In 1741, George Frideric Hande wrote the "Messiah" oratorio, which ended with the world-famous "Hallelujah" chorus. It might be Handel's finest moment.


Which artistic worked during the Baroque period?

Bach lived in the Baroque period. He was incredibly prolific, as he wrote hundreds of compositions in his life.


Antonio Vivaldi was a composer who mastered which instrument?

Antonio Vivaldi was a Venetian who adored the violin, an instrument that he mastered in his life. He composed amazing violin concertos like the "Four Seasons."


He died from an undetermined illness at the young age of 35.

In December 1791, Mozart died at the tender age of 35. Researchers have never been able to pinpoint the cause of his death, which created a void in the music culture of the day.


Who wrote a famous ballet titled "Swan Lake"?

Tchaikovsky composed the ballet titled "Swan Lake" in the 1870s. It was actually a flop at first -- but it is now regarded as one of the most popular ballets ever.


How old was Mozart when he began composing original pieces?

His genius is impossible to overstate. After mastering multiple instruments at age 5, Mozart began his work as a composer … at age 6. He was a prodigy whose work will stand the test of time.


Beethoven's Piano Sonata No. 14 is better known as the _____ Sonata.

The lovelorn Beethoven created the Piano Sonata No. 14 in 1802 for his romantic interest (and pupil) Giulietta Guicciardi. It is now known as the Moonlight Sonata.


Richard Wagner's life was marked by which characteristic?

Wagner was an intelligent music maker who had zero money sense. He spent much of his life running away from creditors.


Which composer had a high-profile love affair with a female writer who used the pen name George Sand?

Chopin had a topsy-turvy love life, completed with a broken engagement, and later, a very public romance with French writer Amantine Dupin, better known as George Sand. The two had a rollercoaster relationship that endly badly.


Gioachino Rossini composed a famous piece called "The _____ of Seville."

In 1816, Rossini unveiled his comic opera "The Barber of Seville," in Rome. Two centuries later, it is still regarded as one of the best works of comical music ever.


Which composer created "Requiem in D minor, K"?

Mozart's Requiem in D minor, K, was completed in the early 1790s. It was a commissioned piece meant to mark the death of Count Franz von Walsegg's wife.


Adolf Hitler was a big fan of which composer, whom he felt expressed many of Hitler's anti-Semitic views?

Wagner may have created lasting music, but he had some controversial political ideas, some of which were anti-Semitic. No wonder Hitler loved his music so.


How old was Beethoven when he became nearly completely deaf?

Beethoven was in his early 40s when he finally lost the last of his hearing. He continued to play very loud music, straining to create beauty in spite of his disability.


For a short time, Verdi was very active in ____.

During his life, Italian reunification was a major issue. Giuseppe Verdi was, for a short time, an elected politician. But as a very private person, he wasn't really cut out for public displays of power.


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