Fun Facts: Music
"After silence, that which comes nearest to expressing the inexpressible is music."
Whistles and flutes around 25,000 years old have been found at Upper
Paleolithic sites of the Aurignacian Period.
The first recorded use of the flute, clarinet, oboe, and trumpet was
in ancient Egypt.
The first pipe organ was made by Archimedes in 220 B.C.
The longest hymn is Hora novissima tempora pessima sunt; vigilemus
by Bernard of Cluny, which is 2,966 lines long.
The earliest known example of musical notation was found on a clay
tablet in Mesopotamia (modern-day Iraq), dated to around 1,800 B.C.
"Old King Cole" was a real person. Coel was a fourth-century British
prince who is said to be the father of St. Helen, who was the mother of Roman
emperor Constantine. Coel appreciated music, which may be why the nursery
rhyme makes mention of "his fiddlers three".
The Gregorian chant was named after Pope St. Gregory I.
Jean-Baptiste Lully (1632–1687), the first documented conductor, was the first
musician to use a baton. It was a heavy, six-foot-long staff that he
pounded on the ground in time to the music. One day, at a concert to celebrate
the king's return to health, he accidently stuck the staff into his foot. He
developed gangrene and died.
Before the invention of the mechanical clock in the 14th
century, the most complex machine was a pipe organ in the cathedral in
Winchester, England. It was installed by Bishop Aelfeg around 950 A.D.
It had 400 pipes, and 70 men were needed to operate the 26 bellows.
Only one person walked with Mozart's coffin from the church to the
cemetery where Mozart was buried in an unmarked pauper's grave.
Mozart's middle name was not Amadeus. His full name was Johann Chrysostomus Wolfgangus Theophilus Mozart. He called himself Wolfgang Amade (not Amadeus) or Wolfgang Gottlieb (both Amade and Gottlieb mean the same, in Latin and German respectively, as the Greek name Theophilus).
In contrast to Mozart, who by his death at age 35 had written 41 symphonies,
Johannes Brahms did not publish his first symphony until he was 43 years old.
Mozart had a significant role in the development of the modern piano, as
he had expressed approval for Johann Andreas Stein's 'Viennese' mechanism.
Mozart's piano had been made exactly according to Stein's specifications.
Ludwig Van Beethoven's last words were: "I shall hear in heaven!".
Beethoven was deaf for the last few years of his life.
Hungarian musician Franz Liszt received so many requests for locks of his
hair that he bought a dog and snipped off patches of fur to send to admirers.
Mendelssohn left the score for his A Midsummer Night's Dream
overture in a cab, and was able to rewrite every note from memory.
Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin, Jim Morrison, Brian Jones, Kurt Cobain,
and Amy Winehouse all died at age 27.
Because the middle finger on each hand was considered too short,
Ignace Jan Paderewski, the famous Polish pianist, composer, and
statesman, was told by a teacher that he could never expect to be a
The largest musical instrument in the world is the organ in the
Municipal Auditorium, in Atlantic City. Designed by U.S. senator
Emerson L. Richards and completed in 1930, the organ has 33,112
pipes ranging in length from 6 millimetres to 19.4 metres.
While bagpipes are today identified with Scotland, they date from ancient
times and may have been introduced into the British Isles by the Romans.
Tchaikovsky suffered from many mental breakdowns and neuroses. He believed
that his head would fall off, so when conducting an orchestra he would hold
his chin with his left hand.
The world's shortest opera is Milhaud's The Deliverance of Theseus,
which was first performed in 1928 and is only 7 minutes 27 seconds long.
After attending the first performance of Mozart's opera The Marriage
of Figaro, the Emperor Joseph II's only comment was "Too many notes".
American composer John Cage (1912–1992) composed a work in 1952 entitled
4' 33", which consists of four minutes and thirty-three seconds of
A 1964 piece of music written by avant-garde American composer Lamonte Young
is called "The Tortoise Recalling the Drone of the Holy Numbers as They Were
Revealed in the Dreams of the Whirlwind and the Obsidian Gang, Illustrated by
the Sawmill, the Green Sawtooth Ocelot, and the High-tension Line Stepdown
At only four lines long, the Japanese national anthem is the shortest
The national anthems of Jordan and San Marino are also four lines long.
The longest is the Greek national anthem at 158 verses long.
The American Film Institute has named composer John Williams' score for
Star Wars as the greatest film score of all time.
The largest drum ever made was 12 feet in diameter for the Boston World
Peace Jubilee of 1872. It weighed 600 pounds.
Originally, the first line to Irving Berlin's "White Christmas" was
"I'm sitting by a pool in Beverly Hills dreaming of a White Christmas."
A friend suggested dropping the reference to Beverly Hills,
and the song went on to become the most commercially successful song ever.
The first hydraulic organ was built by Ctsebius, a Greek mechanic, in
the third century B.C.
The first composer who tried his hand at setting an opera to music was Francisco Bamirino, an Italian artist. The piece to which he affixed the charms of a melodious accompaniment was "The Conversion of St. Paul," which was brought out at Rome in 1460.
Pink Floyd wrote the music and lyrics for their Dark Side of the
Moon album in seven weeks. It was on the charts for a record 591