Mozart. Beethoven. Bach. Liszt. While these men lived and died centuries ago, their names are immortalized in the classical music they composed. Originating in Western Europe, classical music spans more than a millennium and was traditionally classified into six distinct eras.
Classical music, as it is known today, is recognizable for its symphonic and repetitive melodies—though they can have lyrics, the instruments are usually at the forefront—divided into audibly-different sections called movements. Despite this constant musical structure, classical music is variable, using different instruments, styles and pitches to create a unique medley of sounds.
“The Mozart Effect” is a theory long supported by researchers which suggests that classical music can improve brain functioning. A study published in the Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine found that listening to classical music, specifically one of Mozart’s sonatas, temporarily improved the subjects’ spatial reasoning skills and increased their IQ by 8 to 9 points—though the change was not permanent.
Classical music has also been shown to help students study. According to “The Entrepreneur,” Beethoven’s Fur Elise in particular helps students stay more focused on their studies and allows them to retain more information.
Music of today is derived ultimately from the styles and sounds popularized by classical composers of centuries past, according to The Guardian’s Imogen Tilden. Radio station Classical fM claims that Lady Gaga’s pop song “Alejandro” is reminiscent of Vittorio Monti’s rhapsody “Csardas,” Maroon 5’s bop “Memories” comes from Pachelbel’s “Canon in D” and the guitar riff of The White Stripes’s “Seven Nation Army” can trace its notes to Antony Bruckner’s “Symphony No. 5,” to name a few.
Overall, classical music, despite its age, has weathered the centuries, making waves in new musical formats and influencing students across the country.