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Musical Top Ten Lists

Ten themes that begin with the same note repeated
  • 16 times: Mozart: Concerto for two pianos K 365, 1st movement, 2nd theme
  • 16 - Beethoven: Piano Sonata No. 12, 3rd movement
  • 15 - Khachaturian: Sabre Dance
  • 14 - Schubert: Piano Sonata in A, D 959, 1st movement
  • 13 - Beethoven: Piano Sonata No. 21, 1st movement
  • 12 - Verdi: Requiem, Requiem aeternam
  • 12 - Tchaikovsky: Symphony No. 4, 1st movement
  • 12 - Beethoven: Symphony No. 5, 3rd movement, 2nd theme
  • 12 - Beethoven: Symphony No. 7, 2nd movement
  • 12 - Mahler: Symphony No. 5, 1st movement


Ten odd things which inspired melodies
  • Dripping water - Chopin: Raindrop Prelude Op. 28 No. 15
  • Cat walking on a keyboard - Scarlatti: Cat's Fugue Sonata K30
  • Metronome - Beethoven: Symphony No. 8 - slow movement
  • Cuckoo - Lots including Delius: On Hearing the First Cuckoo
  • New York skyline - Villa-Lobos: New York Skyline Melody (tune on paper mimics shape of cityscape)
  • Bells of Rostov, Ukraine - Tavener: Protecting Veil
  • Brass band continuing play despite being underwater - Bryars: Sinking of the Titanic
  • Incompetent orchestra starting out of tune, stopping to tune up, and carrying on - Haydn: Symphony No. 60 Il Distratto
  • Tinnitus - Smetana: Quartet No. 1
  • KGB squad hammering on your door at 4am - Shostakovich: Quartet No. 8


Ten works with unusual sound effects
  • Whales - Hovhaness - And God Created Great Whales
  • Dog - Piston - The Incredible Flautist
  • Sea birds - Rautavaara - Cantus Articus
  • Nightingale - Respighi - Pines of Rome
  • Cannon and bells - Tchaikovsky - 1812 Overture
  • Breathing - Tippett - Symphony No. 4
  • Shouting - Delius - Eventyr
  • Typewriter, revolver and siren - Satie - Parade
  • Factory hooter - Shostakovich - Symphony No. 2
  • Cuckoo, champagne cork, pistol, thunderclap etc. - J Strauss II - polkas


Ten pieces that didn't survive the first draft
  • Mozart - The Magic Harmonica
  • Prokofiev - Love of Three Bananas
  • Nikolai - Merry Wives of Watford
  • Delius - On Hearing the First Lawnmower in Spring
  • Bernstein - Bognor Regis Psalms
  • Gershwin - An American in Scunthorpe
  • J Strauss II - The Brownish-Grey Danube
  • Bartók - The Miraculous Tangerine
  • Janacek - In the Smog
  • Rossini - Chartered Accountant of Seville


Ten jobs composers had before they were famous
  • Balakirev - railway official
  • Borodin - chemistry lecturer
  • Cui - fortifications expert
  • Delius - orange grower
  • Ives - insurance executive
  • Mussorgsky - civil servant
  • Rimsky-Korsakov - naval officer
  • Shostakovich - silent movie cinema pianist
  • Tchaikovsky - civil servant
  • Verdi - farmer


Ten operas that end without anyone dying at all
  • Magic Flute - Mozart
  • Die Fledermaus - J Strauss II
  • Marriage of Figaro - Mozart
  • Barber of Seville - Rossini
  • Così fan tutte - Mozart
  • Fidelio - Beethoven
  • La sonnambula - Bellini
  • Italian in Algiers - Rossini
  • Thieving Magpie - Rossini
  • Fra Diavolo - Auber


Ten operas where daddy screws up big time
  • Philipp, in Verdi's Don Carlos, marries the woman his son is in love with
  • Herodes, in Strauss's Salome, wants to sleep with his daughter, finally has her killed
  • Rigoletto, in Verdi's Rigoletto, has his daughter stabbed by a killer in error
  • Dr Bartolo, in Mozart's Marriage of Figaro, unwittingly wants his son to marry his own mother
  • Cardinal Brogni, in Halévy's La Juive, boils his daughter in oil
  • Rocco, in Beethoven's Fidelio, unwittingly wants his daughter to be married to a woman
  • Wotan, in Wagner's Die Walküre, puts his daughter into a circle of fire
  • William Tell, in Rossini's William Tell, shoots at his son with a crossbow
  • Mr Peachum, in Pepusch's Beggars Opera, throws the husband of his daughter into jail
  • Saint-Bris, in Meyerbeer's Les Huguenots, commands a band of fanatic soldiers who shoot his daughter


Ten famous works prevented in one line
  • J S Bach: Coffee Cantata "Tea for me, please"
  • Haydn: Symphony No 45, Farewell "Hello!"
  • Tchaikvosky: 1812 Overture "I said blanks, you fools..."
  • Tchaikvosky: Pathétique Symphony "My new therapist is great - I feel so much better about myself"
  • Stravinksy: Rite of Spring "You're right to move to Hawaii, Igor, even if the weather's dull"
  • Franz Gruber: Silent Night "Good thing you put the traps out, Franz - those church mice can really mess up an organ"
  • Beethoven: Symphony No. 5 "There, it's installed - now if your doorbell gives you any trouble, Herr Beethoven, just call this number"
  • Copland: Lincoln Portrait "You know, I think the South was right in the Civil War - how about a 'Jefferson Davis Portrait'?"
  • Ravel: Boléro "OK, who's nicked my drumsticks?"
  • Delius: On Hearing the First Cuckoo in Spring "BANG!"


Ten composers with memorable names
  • George Careless Hymn composer
  • John Blow (1649-1708) English master. Sadly, he never wrote an oratorio based on the story of Job.
  • Josef Suk (1874-1935) Czech composer of rich orchestral pieces. Shame he never wrote harmonica music based on the work of the composer above
  • Anthony Piccolo (1946- ) American whose name must have caused all sorts of confusion
  • Jan van Boom (1807-72) There never was one in the Dutchman's music. 'Boom' means 'tree'
  • Johann Joseph Fux (1660-1741) Austrian. No comment.
  • Samuel Scheidt (1587-1654) German composer of a lot of... instrumental music
  • Hans Rott (1858-1884) Another German composer of a lot of orchestral music
  • Michele-Enrico-Francesco-Vincenzo-Aloisio-Paolo Carafa di Colobrano (1787-1872) Italian opera composer whose name takes up more space in the CD catalogues than the list of his recordings
  • Louis George Maurice Adolph Roch Albert Abel Antonio Alexandre Noé Jean Lucien Daniel Eugène Joseph-le-brun Joseph-Barême Thomas Thomas Thomas-Thomas Pierre Arbon Pierre-Maurel Barthélemi Artus Alphonse Bertrand Dieudonné Emanuel Josué Vincent Luc Michel Jules-de-la-plane Jules-Bazin Julio César Jullien (1812-1860) French showman conductor and composer whose parents were persuaded by the 36 members of the Philharmonic Society at Sisteron, France, that they should all be godfathers.