Have fun testing your classical music knowledge with our regular competitions. The first entry picked with correct answers will win both a CD and score of the listed work(s).


Prize for this competition:

Britten War Requiem CD with the London Philharmonic Orchestra conducted by Kurt Masur and soloists Christine Brewer, Anthony Dean Griffey and Gerald Finley.
and a
Boosey & Hawkes War Requiem Masterworks full score

Total prize value £40.98 (Approximately 58 USD / 44 Euros)

  • What extra-musical activity linked the composers Carlo Gesualdo, the Count of Venosa (c. 1561–1613), Percy Grainger (1882–1961) and Peter Warlock (real name Philip Heseltine) (1894–1930).

  • Two other non-musical pastimes brought Arnold Schoenberg and George Gershwin together; what were they?

  • What links the Czech composer Rudolf Karel (1880–1945) and Gavrilo Prinzip (1894–1918), whose assassination of Archduke Ferdinand in Sarajevo set the wheels of the First World War in motion?

  • The French composer Erik Satie (1866–1925) and the American Alan Hovhaness (1911–2000) have something very different in common – what is it?

  • Which American composer was born in a log cabin?

  • Many composers have written sets of 24 preludes for piano, one in each of the major and minor keys. But which composer wrote 360 preludes, fifteen to a key?

  • Much fuss was made last December around the 100th birthday of the American composer Elliott Carter, still composing as his centenary came and went. Which other American composer, Russian-born, lived to the age of 108?

  • What was unusual about the view from the windows that greeted the young Bohuslav Martinů every time he looked out of the family home?

  • Which aristocratic composer, having lost his right arm in a hunting accident, made a speciality of writing for the left hand alone, and composed the first sonata for left hand?

  • Another composing aristocrat, also a talented artist and writer, was well known for his eccentricities, one of which was keeping a flock of pigeons dyed in different colours at the family manor?

Email your answers to competitions@boosey.com

Closing date: 28 February 2009


Autumn 2008 Competition


Congratulations to Ms Marie Gaudin from Lyon, France who won our Autumn 2008 competition.
She has received the prize of a CD and score of Strauss’s Four Last Songs.

Questions and Answers:
  • What do Rheinberger’s Eighth Organ Sonata (1882) and Brahms’ Fourth Symphony (1884) have in common, apart from the key (E minor)?
    The last movement of each is a passacaglia.

  • Which German-Danish dynasty of composers boasts a J. P. E., an Emil, an August Wilhelm and two Johann Ernsts?
    Hartmann: Johann Ernst (1726–93), his sons Johann Ernst (1770–1844) and August Wilhelm (1775–1850), the latter’s son Johann Peder Emilius (1805–1900) and his son Emil (1836–98) – and, as it happens, the composer Niels Viggo Bentzon (1919–2000) was J. P. E. Hartmann’s great-grandson, too.

  • Who was the first composer to write a string quartet in each of the 24 major and minor keys?
    Algernon Ashton (Durham, 1859–London, 1937)

  • Under what pseudonym did George Bernard Shaw write much of his music criticism?
    Corno di Bassetto

  • What –ism got the composers Michael Tippett and Ronald Stevenson thrown into prison?
    Pacifism: they were both conscientious objectors during the Second World War

  • Why was so much Classical orchestral music written in D major?
    Because of the “crooks” of the horns: before the invention of the valved horn at the beginning of the nineteenth century, natural harmonics restricted the range of keys they could play

  • Name two “western” composers born in China.
    Choose from David Avshalomov (b. Qindao, 1919), Boris Blacher (b. Niu-Chang, 1913), John Fernström (b. Ichang, 1897), Benjamin Lees (b. Harbin, 1924).

  • What links the musicals Song of Norway and Kismet and the operetta Lilac Time?
    They are all based on the music of classical composers: Song of Norway (1944) uses music by Grieg, Kismet (1953) melodies by Borodin and Lilac Time (first produced in German as Das Dreimäderlhaus in 1916) pieces by Schubert.

  • Who instructed the composers working for him that they were not to write minor chords?
    Irving Thalberg of MGM: hearing a run-through of a new film, Thalberg didn’t like the music and was told that it contained a minor chord; the next day, a memo was posted which read “From the above date, onward, no music in an MGM film is to contain a minor chord”.

  • How many overtures did Beethoven compose for his opera Fidelio?
    Four: Beethoven first called the opera Leonore (though it was presented as Fidelio from the start) and wrote three overtures for it, known as Leonore No. 1 (1807), Leonore No. 2 (1805) and Leonore No. 3 (1806); the overture which now opens the opera was written in 1814



Thanks to all the entrants – we hope you had fun puzzling out the answers. Please enter our newest competition above.

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