Guess the Composer

Put your ear to the test in this audio quiz

By Google Arts & Culture

Guitar on a table (1915) by Juan GrisThe Kröller-Müller Museum

Have you got a good ear for the classics? Test your knowledge here. Scroll on to hear four pieces of classical composition, and read the clues. See if you can guess the composer's name before scrolling on for the next audio clue...

The family of Jorge Flaquer (1842 - 1845) by Joaquín EspalterMuseo Nacional del Romanticismo

KARL BÖHM, ALFRED PRINZ (clarinet), VIENNA PHILHARMONIC (1974): WOLFGANG AMADEUS MOZART CLARINET CONCERTO in A major, K. 622 2. Adagio
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Composer 1 - The child prodigy

We’re going to kick off our composer quiz with an easy one. Arguably the most famous classical composer of all time, this child prodigy began writing music at the tender age of 5. During his short life he composed a large number of pieces including operas, concertos and symphonies. Some of his most famous works include The Magic Flute, the Clarinet Concerto and his Unfinished Requiem. Do you know which composer we’re talking about?

By Gjon MiliLIFE Photo Collection

Answer: Mozart

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart was born in Salzburg in 1756. A musical genius, he began performing for royalty as a young child and went on to write some of the best known classical works of all time. Incredibly famous in his own lifetime, Mozart died in 1791 when he was aged just 35. 

Snow Scene - The Nutcracker (2014)Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre

Swan Lake Finale II
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Composer 2 - The romantic

Born in 1840, our next composer came of age in the Romantic Period. Like Mozart, this composer began playing the piano at the age of 5. Though prodigiously talented, he initially trained as a civil servant before enrolling in the Saint Petersburg Conservatory in 1862. This composer is best known for works including Swan Lake, The Nutcracker and the 1812 Overture. So can you name this famous musician?

LIFE Photo Collection

Answer: Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky

The first Russian composer to have a global impact, Tchaikovsky’s powerful works remain evocative and emotive to this day. During his career, he wrote operas, symphonies, concertos, chamber music and choral music, though it’s probably his ballets that he’s most famous for. 

Solo part for the 2nd piano concerto B flat major op. 19 by Ludwig van BeethovenBeethoven-House Bonn

Quartet (C major) for piano, violin, viola and violoncello WoO 36 no. 3
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Composer 3 - The Superstar

Our next composer is another giant of classical music. Born in 1770, his works are among the most performed classical pieces of all time. As well as being a fantastic composer, he was also an extremely talented piano player. His best known works include the Moonlight Sonata, the Pathetique Sonata and the Fifth Symphony. Can you guess which composer’s work we’re listening to?

Portrait of Beethoven (1890) by Painter Bayer, copy after the drawing of Joseph StielerGerman Historical Museum

Answer: Ludwig van Beethoven

One of the most admired composers of all time, German-born Beethoven actually began to lose his hearing as a young man. Although he never became totally deaf, his hearing continued to deteriorate throughout his life. Beethoven’s heroic style saw him win critical acclaim during his lifetime. His works have endured incredibly well and continue to be performed around the world. 

Violin by Carol M. HighsmithOriginal Source: Ford’s Theatre National Historic Site, FOTH 7816

Concert for strings RV 158, 1° Mov (Allegro Molto)
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Composer 4 - The Violinist

Born in Italy in 1678, our next composer was a virtuoso violinist and is best known for his compositions for strings. Considered one of the greatest Baroque composers, he wrote over 50 operas during his career. However, the composer is probably  best known for The Four Seasons, a group of 4 violin concertos composed in the early 18th century. Do you know who we’re talking about?

I Virtuosi Del Teatro Alla Scala/vivaldi - Concerto In La Min. Op.3 N.8 (rv 522)Teatro Alla Scala

Answer: Vivaldi

As well as being a composer, Antonio Vivaldi worked as a violinist, teacher, impresario, and Roman Catholic priest. Known for staging elaborate operas, his distinctive music remains incredibly popular to this day. 

The Concert (1623) by Gerrit van HonthorstNational Gallery of Art, Washington DC

Learn more about Vivaldi, and the Four Seasons, here.

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