10 Classical Pieces You’ve Heard, But Don’t Know The Name

10 Classical Pieces You’ve Heard, But Don’t Know The Name Of

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“Where have I heard this before?.” Can we all agree that there’s nothing more annoying than humming a tune but not knowing what it’s called or where it’s from? You rack your brains trying to summon that piece of information back and nothing comes to mind even though you’re absolutely certain that you’ve heard this piece before – it’s downright unnerving, and what’s worse is, in this case, there are no lyrics you can look up to solve the riddle. Luckily for you, we are here to help!
Even if you are not an avid classical music listener, we are prepared to bet that you have most likely heard the pieces we’re going to present to you in your favourite movie or tv show.
Here are some of the most famous tunes in the history of classical music, accompanied by where you may have heard them.

  1. Für Elise - Ludwig van Beethoven
    You’re probably familiar with this title, but did you know that the famous “Für Elise” is actually called “Bagatelle No. 25 in A Minor”? According to a likely (but unconfirmed) theory, Beethoven dedicated the piece to Therese Malfatti, an Austrian musician and close friend of his. There may or may not have been a marriage proposal involved, but it is not certain that the German composer ever asked for her hand. Where have you heard “Für Elise” before, you ask? Probably in Quentin Tarantino’s Django Unchained, to name a title you have surely seen.
  2. In The Hall Of The Mountain King – Edvard Grieg
    The title may not tell you much but we’re pretty confident that you will recognise “In The Hall of the Mountain King” from the very first notes. Many references to this fun and bombastic piece the Norwegian composer wrote for his Peer Gynt Suite No. 1 can be found in pop culture by musical artists The Who, Apocalyptica, and Savatage, andin movies such as Rat Race and The Social Network.
  3. Orchestral Suite No. 3 In D Major: II. Air on the G String – Johann Sebastian Bach
    Part of a group of four orchestral suites composed by Bach between 1724 and 1731, the “Orchestral Suite No. 3 In D Major” is widely known for its second movement, “Air on the G String”. This moving piece appears in many popular TV series such as How I Met Your Mother and The Looney Toons Show. It also plays in the background of thriller and horror movies like Sleepy Hollow, Se7en, and Halloween.
  4. Moonlight Sonata – Ludwig van Beethoven
    This haunting masterpiece by Beethoven has left its imprint on pop culture as well. After hearing Yoko Ono playing “Moonlight Sonata” on the piano, John Lennon was inspired to write “Because” for The Beatles. The artist actually modelled the song after what he heard when he asked Ono to play the song backwards.
  5. Eine Kleine Nachtmusik - Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
    Due to its lively rhythm, “Eine Kleine Nachtmusik” is oftentimes associated with ballrooms and fancy dancers. Hence why it’s often used for dynamic scenes in many movies. Some examples include Tim Burton’s Batman, Alien, Daddy Day Care, There’s Something About Mary, Ace Ventura, and Charlie’s Angels.
  6. Orphéè Aux Enfers: Galop Infernal (Can Can) - Jaques Offenbach
    In this opera, Jacques Offenbach takes up the Greek myth of Orpheus and Eurydice in a comic key, presenting an Orpheus who has no intention of saving his wife Eurydice and is forced to do so against his will. Many read in this work a satire of Napoleon III of France. The famous Can Can appears in the award-winning Moulin Rouge! and the Disney classic The Little Mermaid.
  7. Ride Of The Valkyries – Richard Wagner
    Ride Of The Valkyries” refers to the beginning of act III of Die Walküre, the second of the four epic music dramas constituting Richard Wagner's Der Ring des Nibelungen. In Norse mythology, Valkyries were maidens who led the souls of heroic fallen warriors to Valhalla, the hall of Odin. This epic piece is most famous for its usage in many acclaimed movies and TV shows, such as 8½, Apocalypse Now, Valkyrie, The Blues Brothers, Skyfall, The Simpsons, Breaking Bad, and Scrubs.
  8. Boléro – Maurice Ravel
    Fun fact: initially, the ballet “Boléro” was composed as a commission by Ravel, later becoming his most famous composition to the composer’s surprise (he thought most orchestras would refuse to play it – can you believe it?). It has been featured in numerous television series, including Doctor Who, Digimon Adventure, IT Crowd, and Baby Einstein.
  9. The Blue Danube - Johann Strauss II
    An Der Schönen Blauen Donau” in German, “The Blue Danube” is one of the most well-known pieces by the Austrian composer. Even though it received a mild welcome from audiences in Strauss’ time, it gained wide popularity in later years and turned into such a great success that the Viennese version became the unofficial national anthem of Austria. Fans of Kubrick’s classic 2001: A Space Odyssey will no doubt recognise this waltz!
  10. Symphony No. 9 in E Minor, Op. 95 "From the New World" - Antonín Dvořák
    Allegro con fuoco” is the title of the fourth movement of Bohemian composer Antonín Dvořák’s Symphony No. 9, and you can definitely count on this thunderous symphony to bring the fire. Did you know that astronaut Neil Armstrong brought a recording of it along on the moon-landing Apollo 11 mission in 1969? Not bad huh? If, like us, you did not go to the moon, you might have heard “From The New World” in the critically-acclaimed sci-fi drama Arrival and in the dystopian world of Maze Runner: The Death Cure as well as, yes, in Barbie as Rapunzel.

Questi sono solo dieci degli innumerevoli brani di musica classica che sono apparsi in film, programmi televisivi e persino pubblicità nel corso degli anni. Quanti ne conoscevi? Scommettiamo che erano più di quanti avessi previsto! Se ti incuriosisce l’idea di scoprire altri brani famosi che probabilmente conosci ma di cui non ricordi il titolo non preoccuparti, non dovrai metterti a cercare tra migliaia di video su YouTube: abbiamo noi quello che fa per te! Ti basta aprire la nostra playlist "Classical Music You've Heard, But Don't Know the Name Of" per addentrarti in un mondo di musica classica che metterà alla prova la tua memoria!