Classical Music Warped Timeline: Facts that alter your perception of time

Classical music history is typically taught separately from general history, which is why these comparisons can warp your perception of time. Here are some events from classical music history as they relate to details from general history:

  • Nintendo predates the Brahms clarinet sonatas. Nintendo was founded in 1889, and Brahms’ two Clarinet Sonatas were written in 1894.
  • Shostakovich was alive when Microsoft was founded. Microsoft was founded in May 1975, and Shostakovich died in August of that same year.
  • Gustav Mahler lived when electric cars became commercially available. Mahler died in 1911, and the first electric cars which were commercially available began in the 1890s.
  • Béla Bartók lived in a world with McDonald’s. The famous fast food chain was opened in 1940, and Bartók died in 1945.
  • Antonín Dvořák lived in America when Coca-Cola was widely available. Coca-Cola was created in 1886 and was available nationwide by 1895, and Dvořák was in the US from 1892-1895.
  • Zoltán Kodály lived during the rise and popularity of the Beatles. The Beatles began in 1960, and Kodály died in 1967.
  • Rachmaninoff attended an electronic music concert. In 1928, Rachmaninoff attended a concert of Leon Theremin, performing on his namesake instrument. (Read more about this concert here.)
  • Rachmaninoff was alive during the release of The Wizard of Oz. This classic film was released in 1939, and Rachmaninoff died in 1943.
  • We are further away from the premiere of John Cage’s 4’33” (1952) than the time between the premieres of Beethoven’s 9th Symphony (1824) and Tchaikovsky’s 6th Symphony (1893).
  • Darius Milhaud was alive during the moon landing. We landed on the moon in 1969, and Milhaud died in 1974.
  • During Stravinsky’s lifetime, France still executed some people by guillotine. France last guillotine execution was in 1977, and Stravinsky died in 1971.
  • There are some sharks alive today which predate the clarinet’s existence. Greenlandic sharks are believed to live up to 500 years old, predating the clarinet by a couple of centuries.
  • Some violins still used today are older than the Mozart Clarinet Concerto. Famed violin maker Antonio Stradivari produced violins around the turn of the 18th century, nearly one hundred years before Mozart composed his famous clarinet concerto. Several of these violins are still used for performance today.
  • Ravel’s Boléro premiered the same year that sliced bread was created. Both occurred in 1928.
  • Olivier Messiaen lived during the premiere of American sitcom Seinfeld. Seinfeld aired in 1989, and Messiaen died in 1992.
  • Wagner’s Ring Cycle premiered at the Bayreuth Festpielhaus the same year that Alexander Graham Bell patented the telephone. Both occurred in 1876.

What other events in classical music history will warp your perception of time? Leave a comment below!

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