Quiz: The history, theory and scandals of classical music

Estimated Completion Time
4 min
Quiz: The history, theory and scandals of classical music
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About This Quiz

Did you know Rossini wrote his famous aria, "Di tanti palpiti," in Venice, while waiting on an order of risotto? Or that it's the United States that actually has the most living composers, more than Germany and Russia? And what about Beethoven's Fifth -- was it a political statement? See if you can hit all the right notes in this classical music quiz.
Which 19th-century Italian composer and violinist was known as "The Devil's Violinist"?
Antonio Vivaldi
Antonio Salieri
Gioachino Rossini
Niccolò Paganini
It was said at the time that Niccolò Paganini, who often intentionally performed with just one string on his violin, had sold his soul to the devil.

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Which Baroque musician was the first conductor to die from a baton?
Johann Pachelbel
Jean-Baptiste Lully
French musician and composer Jean-Baptiste Lully (Lulli) kept time with a large stick, and died of gangrene after accidentally skewering his foot with it.
George Frideric Handel
Johann Sebastian Bach

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Which ballet incited a riot when it premiered in Paris in 1913?
Béla Bartók's The Miraculous Mandarin
Aaron Copland's Appalachian Spring
Maurice Ravel's Daphnis et Chloe
Igor Stravinsky's Le sacre du printemps (The Rite of Spring)
Igor Stravinsky's revolutionary piece, The Rite of Spring provoked a riot when it premiered at the Théâtre de Champs-Elysées in Paris in 1913. Opinions differ as to what sparked the outrage -- the music, the dance or simply class tension.

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Which was the symphony that popularized the musical style?
Beethoven: Symphony No. 9 in D minor, Op. 125 (Choral)
Beethoven's Symphony No. 9 in D minor (Choral) changed the way the world looked at symphonies.
Brahms: Symphony No. 1 in C minor, Op. 68
Liszt: Faust Symphony
Mozart: Symphony No. 41 in C Major (Jupiter)

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What register are you singing in when you use "head voice"?
falsetto
Singing in an unnaturally high "head voice" beyond your vocal range is singing in falsetto.
madrigal
mezza voce
operatic

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About how many beats per minute is the tempo allegro?
40-60 BPM
76-108 BPM
120-168 BPM
Allegro is a brisk, bright tempo that's about 120 to 168 beats per minute (BPM).
200+ BPM

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Which composer of the Classical period is considered both the Father of the Symphony as well as the Father of the String Quartet?
Josef Haydn
(Franz) Josef Haydn, a musician and composer in the Classical period, is considered to be the Father of the Symphony, as well as the Father of the String Quartet.
Johann Hummel
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
Franz Schubert

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How big of a hand span did Rachmaninov have?
8 inches
9 inches
10 inches
12 inches
Sergei Rachmaninov, known for his precise, technical playing, is said to have had a hand span large enough to span an octave and a half (middle C to high G), or a minimum of 12 inches.

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What is a time signature?
a sequence of songs
an indication of the number of beats per measure
The time signature is an indication of the number of beats per measure.
the range of an instrument or voice
the symbols used for musical notation

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What is the first note of a scale called?
bottom
root
tonic
The first note of a scale is known as the tonic.
variable

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Known for his orchestral compositions and his musicals, which composer died of a brain tumor at the age of 38?
George Gershwin
George Gershwin, known for "Rhapsody in Blue" and "Porgy and Bess," died of a brain tumor, a glioblastoma multiforme, at the age of 38.
Cole Porter
Arnold Schoenberg
Sergei Rachmaninov

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How many movements are there in a concerto during the Classical period?
1 movement
2 movements
3 movements
The structure of a classical concerto is three movements, typically a fast, then slow, then fast order.
4 movements

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Which is known as "march" time?
two beats per measure
One. Two. One Two. In 2/4 meter, each measure has an up and a down beat -- perfect for marching.
three beats per measure
four beats per measure
six eighth-notes per measure

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What is the name of a classical song composed for a single singer accompanied by piano, such as Franz Schubert's Der Tod und das Mädchen (Death and the Maiden)?
lied
Songs like "Der Tod und das Mädchen," which is written for a single voice accompanied by a piano, is an example of a lied.
mazurka
nocturne
rondo

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Who was not one of the great composers of the First Viennese School?
Ludwig van Beethoven
Joseph Haydn
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
Giuseppe Verdi
Three great composers of the First Viennese School are Joseph Haydn, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, and Ludwig van Beethoven.

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Why did composer Peter Tchaikovsky prefer not to conduct?
he was afraid of crowds
he was afraid of having his back to the audience
he was afraid his head would fall off
Although it sounds like it couldn't be true, Tchaikovsky had a quirk where he held his chin with his left hand while he conducted - to be sure his head wouldn't fall off.
he was afraid of making a mistake

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Hungarian composer Franz Liszt is considered by many to be the first rock star. What was his fan frenzy known as?
Lisztopalooza
Lisztzone
Lisztuoso
Lisztomania
"Lisztomania," coined by German poet Heinrich Heine, raged after he performed in Berlin in 1841, and during the eight years Franz Liszt toured Europe.

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Who was the first composer of the Romantic Era?
Frédéric Chopin
Felix Mendelssohn
Franz Schubert
Viennese composer Franz Schubert was the first composer of the Romantic Era -- and/or one of the last Classical.
Robert Schumann

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What happens during a fermata?
a pause
A fermata is a pause in the music, usually held longer than a normal rest.
a jump forward to the ending measures
the note is played shorter
the note is rapidly repeated

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During what musical era did the harpsichord lose favor to the piano?
Baroque
Classical
While the harpsichord was all the rage in the Baroque period, the piano gained popularity in the Classical period.
Renaissance
Romantic

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What is staccato?
a series of notes that are not connected to each other
"Staccato" means "detached" in Italian. Such notes are shortened, followed by silence before the next note.
melody
a long concerto
meter

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Which airline is known for using George Gershwin's "Rhapsody In Blue" in its marketing?
American Airlines
Delta Airlines
JetBlue
United Airlines
United Airlines uses George Gershwin's "Rhapsody In Blue" in its marketing. "Over the Rainbow" was once considered, as well.

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Which is a "walking" tempo?
presto
largo
legato
andante
Andante is known as the "walking" tempo, with a rate of 76 to 108 BPM.

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Which is not one of the four voices?
alto
bass
sforzando
The four voices, from high to low, are soprano, alto, tenor and bass. Arrangements using all four voices are SATB.
tenor

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Because of its association with antisemitism and the Nazis, where is Richard Wagner's music unofficially banned?
France
Germany
Israel
Because of its association with antisemitism and the Nazis, Wagner's music is unofficially banned in Israel.
United States

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What is not part of a dominant seventh chord?
a root
perfect fifth
major third
minor ninth
A dominant seventh chord includes a root, major third, perfect fifth and minor seventh, but not the minor ninth. There are five common types of seventh chords.

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What do syncopated notes sound like?
emphasized upbeats
emphasized downbeats
emphasized offbeats
Syncopated notes emphasize the offbeats. Syncopation is very common in modern pop music.
emphasized rests

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The opening notes of which composer's Toccata and Fugue in D Minor were used during the opening credits of the 1931 release of "Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde"?
Johann Sebastian Bach
It's Johann Sebastian Bach's Toccata and Fugue in D Minor you hear during the opening credits of the 1931 release of "Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde." The composition can also be heard in "Fantasia," "Sunset Boulevard," "The Meaning of Life" and many more films.
Johannes Brahms
Ludwig van Beethoven
Claude Debussy

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Which eccentric composer premiered his piece, "Parade," in 1917, prompting a Parisian audience to throw oranges at the orchestra?
Ludwig van Beethoven
Erik Satie
When Erik Satie debuted his work, "Parade," a Parisian audience booed and threw oranges at the musicians. Satie often used sounds in his compositions, such as gunshots and typewriter tapping.
Igor Stravinsky
Peter Tchaikovsky

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How many notes are in a chromatic scale?
5
7
9
12
Unlike the 7 tones of the major scale, there are 12 tones in a chromatic scale.

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What is "common time"?
two beats per measure
three beats per measure
four beats per measure
Common time, 4/4 meter, is four beats per measure.
six eighth-notes per measure

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What was Beethoven charged with when he was picked up by police while out for a walk in Wiener Neustadt, in 1820?
mayhem
radicalism
rioting
vagrancy
After being picked up while out for a walk (and, possibly looking in windows), Beethoven was charged with vagrancy. He had some trouble convincing authorities that he was actually Beethoven, because he had no identification on him.

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Who created an estimated 2,000 compositions?
Johann Sebastian Bach
Georges Bizet
Orlande de Lassus
Orlande de Lassus is one of -- if not the most -- prolific composers, creating over 2,000 works.
Maurice Ravel

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Which of the following was a nickname for Austrian composer Franz Schubert?
Shorty
Button
Little Mushroom
Because of his short stature, less than five feet, Schubert's friends called him "Little Mushroom."
Napolean

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Which musical composition is known as the "silent piece"?
4'33"
In 1952, composer John Cage wrote 4'33" -- a three-movement work of silence. Literally, the score states no instruments are played. Cage wasn't the first to compose silence. Alphonse Allais also had a similar project, with "Funeral March for the Obsequies of a Deaf Man," in 1897.
Funeral March for the Obsequies of a Deaf Man
Empty Orchestra
The Invisible

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