The Romantic Legacy

late nineteenth to early twentieth century

(Classical Music Map)


I. History of Classical Music  (by John Stanley)
The great composers and their masterworks in MP3 format
Albeniz Borodin Donizetti Hindemith Prokofiev Schutz
Albinoni Brahms Dowland Janacek Puccini Scriabin
Allegri Britten Dvorak Kodaly Purcell Sibelius
Arne Bruckner Falla Leoncavallo Rachmaninov Smetana
Auber Busoni Field Liszt Rameau Strauss J.S.
Bach Byrd Gabrieli Lully Ravel Strauss R.
Barber Carissimi Gershwin Mahler Respighi Stravinsky
Bartok Charpentier Gesualdo Mendelssohn Rimsky-Korsakov Tallis
Beethoven Cherubini Glinka Meyerbeer Rossini Tchaikovsky
Bellini Chopin Gluck Monteverdi Saint-Saens Telemann
Bernstein Clementi Gounod Mozart Scarlatti Verdi
Berwald Corelli Grieg Mussorgsky Schoenberg Victoria
Berlioz Couperin Handel Pachelbel Shostakovich Villa-Lobos
Bizet Debussy Haydn Paganini Schubert Vivaldi
Boccherini Delibes Hildegard Palestrina Schumann Wagner
Orff  "Carmina Burana"
II. History of Jazz

Ruggero Leoncavallo



The son of a police magistrate, Leoncavallo was born in Naples and entered the Conservatoire there in 1866. He remained for ten years before moving on to Bologna University to broaden his education, and received a degree in literature two years later. Leoncavallo then arranged to have his first opera, Chatterton, performed, raising the money himself. His efforts failed when the impresario organizing the venture absconded, taking the funds with him.

 The composer spent the next few years in poverty, earning a living by playing the piano in cafes while travelling across Europe. His fortunes appeared to have changed when he was introduced to the publisher Giulio Ricordi, but after several abortive projects Leoncavallo lost patience and over the next five months wrote the poem and music of his opera I Pagliacci.

In 1892 he took the score to a rival publisher who immediately arranged a performance in Milan. The opera, based on the experiences of Leoncavallo's father as a judge, makes good use of a plot in which a middle-aged actor murders his young and unfaithful wife. The work was a resounding success, mainly due to the coupling of a melodramatic plot with intensely passionate music: moments of great excitement follow in quick succession, forging a powerful and colourful impression.

In 1893 both Leoncavallo and Puccini independently began setting the text of the popular novel La Boheme, but Leoncavallo's version reached the stage a year after Puccini's and was unable to compete with his rival's already highly popular work. After this he turned to a French subject for his next opera, Zaza. This picturesque work is unashamedly sentimental. The emotional and lyrical music requires a skilled soprano with a forceful stage presence if it is to succeed. Although Zаzа was enthusiastically received at its first performance in 1900, it failed to surpass Pagliacci, which remains his most popular opera.

At this time the gramophone record was coming into use and Leoncavallo was one of the first composers to grasp the opportunities it offered. In 1904 he recorded his best-known song, Mattinata, and three years later became the first man to record an entire opera when he conducted Pagliacci in the studio. He spent his final years travelling widely to promote his music, and his last opera, Edipo Re, was performed posthumously in Chicago in 1920, the year after its composer's death.

Although Leoncavallo never achieved the universal recognition he felt should be his, he was an accomplished musician and his best work has a dramatic appeal that has guaranteed continuing popularity.


Ruggero Leoncavallo



Ruggero Leoncavallo (1857-1919)



Drew Slatton
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Strauss Richard



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