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10 classical music songs you've heard but (maybe) you don't know the name of
Not a fan of classical music? Perfect, then this is the right article for you!

In this article, we want to offer you 10 classical music pieces that you have surely heard, even if you do not remember when and where.

You may have heard them in commercials, TV series, movies, or even with other music. We are sure that some, if not all of these songs will have the "aha!" Effect on you.

From Beethoven to Tchaikovsky: listen to the videos below and find out where you've heard this music before.

Morning Mood - Edvard Grieg
”Morning Mood” (Norwegian: Morgenstemning i ørkenen, lit. 'Morning Mood in the desert') is part of the Peer Gynt op. 23, written in 1875 as incidental music to Henrik Ibsen's opera of the same name, and was also included as the first of four movements in Peer Gynt Suite No. 1, op. 46.

In 1960 Duke Ellington recorded a jazz interpretation of Peer Gynt on his album Swinging Suites by Edward E. and Edward G.. A fight ensued in Norway between the Grieg Foundation and its supporters, who found the recordings offensive to Norwegian culture, and Ellington's Norwegian supporters. Ellington's versions were withdrawn from distribution in the country until 1967, when Grieg's copyrights expired.

German band In Mood used "Morning Mood" as a sample for their collaboration with Juliette to create the song "Ocean Of Light".

In the popular cartoon series The Simpsons, “Morning Mood” is like a cheeseburger being gracefully unwrapped in the sunlight.
Even some movies have used “Morning Mood” to set up a scene, including:

  • Soylent Green
  • The Book Of Life
  • Jackass 3D

“Morning Mood” has also found its place in many TV series besides The Simpsons, such as:

  • Modern Family
  • Misfits
  • The Big Bang Theory
  • Animaniacs

Für Elise - Ludwig van Beethoven
The famous Bagatelle n. 25 in A minor by Ludwig van Beethoven is more commonly known as "Für Elise".

  • In 2002, rapper Nas used samples of "Für Elise" in his hit single "I Can"
  • The 2003 film 'Elephant', inspired by the Columbine school shooting, makes disturbing use of “Für Elise”
  • On “A Charlie Brown Christmas,” Schroeder performs “Für Elise,” explaining the piece's association with Christmas
  • The “Two and a Half Men” series uses “Für Elise” as Alan Harper's phone ringtone

Edvard Grieg, In the Hall of the Mountain King from “Peer Gynt”
Edvard Grieg composed "In The Hall Of The Mountain King" for the play Peer Gynt.

The piece has also been used in some films, such as:

  • Rat Race
  • The Social Network


“In The Hall Of The Mountain King” was partly used for the opening song of the cartoon series “The Adventures of Sonic The Hedgehog”

Alton Towers resort commercial uses tunes from 'In The Hall Of The Mountain King'

photo credit Hadi Karimi

Dance Of The Sugar Plum Fairy - Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky
“Dance Of The Sugar Plum Fairy” is part of the ballet “The Nutcracker”. It appears towards the end in act 2, scene 14. This particular piece is among the most recognizable in the ballet.

Due to its upbeat nature, "Dance Of The Sugar Plum Fairy" is commonly used in the pop genre:

A cappella band Pentatonix released "Dance Of The Sugar Plum Fairy" on their 2014 album.

In the NEW version of Tetris, “Dance Of The Sugar Plum Fairy” is available as background music.

The tune can also be heard in several other video games, including:

  • Bioshock
  • Lemming
  • Wii Winter Olympics
  • Kingdom Hearts 3D: Dream Drop Distance
  • Grand Theft Auto V

photo credit Hadi Karimi

Johann Sebastian Bach – Orchestral Suite No. 3 D-dur (BWV 1068)
The “Orchestral Suite No. 3” is the best known of the four orchestral suites composed by Bach. Even more famous is the second movement of the suite, also known as "Air on the G string". Let's see where you might have heard it:

The best known is, probably, the use of “Air on the G String” in Sweetbox's 1997 ” Everything will go well ”, but also in the “Quark” show hosted by Piero Angela.

The “Orchestral Suite No. 3” is often played in the background of many films such as:

  • Sleepy Hollow
  • Se7en
  • Harold and Kumar flee Guantanamo Bay
  • Halloween
  • The devil's advocate

Many TV series use it such as:

  • how I Met Your Mother
  • The Looney cartoon show

Of course, the piece is equally popular in video games, including:

  • Gran Turismo 4
  • Arms dealer

It was also used to advertise the famous Hamlet cigars (Hamlet was probably the best roller in Cuba, but that's another story)

Pachelbel's Canon - Johann Pachelbel
Pachelbel's Canon, also known as Canon and jig in D major or Canon for three violins and continuo, is a Baroque musical composition in the form of a canon, for three violins and continuo, attributed to the German musician Johann Pachelbel.

An orchestral arrangement of the canon, recorded in 1968 by the famous chamber orchestra Jean-François Paillard, had an extraordinary popular success; in the following decades, the piece was recorded by many other groups, performed in concerts and used as a soundtrack.

The canon has been used extensively in several TV series, such as:

  • Grimm
  • How I Met Your Mother
  • Parks And Recreation
  • Doctor Who
  • The Simpsons

Even some video games have not hesitated to use “Pachebel's Canon”:

  • Infinite Bioshock
  • Gran Turismo 4

Of course, it was also used in some films and shorts:

  • Disney's Tangled Ever After
  • The Proposal
  • Fantastic Four: Rise Of The Silver Surfer
  • Wedding Crashers
  • Dude, Where's My Car

Habanera - Georges Bizet
L'amour est un oiseau rebelle (Love is a wayward bird), also commonly known as the Habanera, is one of the most famous arias from Georges Bizet's Carmen.

The score for the aria was taken from a habanera composed by the Spanish musician Sebastián Iradier and entitled “El Arreglito”. Bizet was convinced that it was a popular song. As soon as he discovered that it was instead a song composed by a musician who died less than 10 years ago, he was forced to modify the score of his opera by adding a note to the popular aria of its protagonist.

This famous French aria can be heard in various films and other media.

The following films have used "Habanera" at one point, among others:

  • Pixar's Up
  • Bad Santa
  • Superman Returns
  • 11:14

The "Habanera" can also be heard in the episodes of many TV series, such as:

  • Doctor Who
  • glee
  • Mad Dogs

Many cartoon series have also used air, including:

  • The Ren & Stimpy Show
  • Animaniacs
  • Courage The Cowardly Dog

Photo taken by Daniel Azoulay

photo credit Hadi Karimi

Ode To Joy - Ludwig van Beethoven
The “Ode to Joy” (also known by its German name “Freude Schöner Götterfunken”) was part of the final movement of Beethoven's Ninth Symphony. It is the musical setting of a poem written by the German poet Friedrich Schiller.

Why is it so familiar to us?

In 1972 (and then again in 1985), "Ode To Joy" was adopted as the official anthem of the European Union
Many films have also made use of the ode, such as:

  • Clockwork Orange
  • Help!
  • Die Hard

From 1996 to early 1998, WWF wrestler Triple H (known as Hunter Hearst Helmsley) used "Ode to Joy" as his entrance song.
Many television stations play the ode as the closing theme of the Summer Olympics and Winter Olympics.
It was also used in the anime “Neon Genesis Evangelion”.

William Tell Overture - Gioachino Rossini
The Guglielmo Tell overture (original French title Guillaume Tell), is the introductory orchestral piece of the work composed by Gioachino Rossini. The opera premiered in 1829 and was the last of 39 operas composed by Rossini.

The Overture is in four parts, each musically connected to the other without pauses. The overture, which runs for approximately 12 minutes, paints a musical picture of life in the Swiss Alps, describing the whole setting of the work.

Below are some of the uses of the “Wilhelm Tell Overture”:

The "Wilhelm Tell Overture" was used as the theme song for both "The Lone Ranger" (radio show, TV series and film) and "The Adventures Of Wilhelm Tell" (TV series).
It has been used a lot and often by Warner Borthers icons Bugs Bunny and Duffy Duck in various episodes of the series.

Other TV series have also used the 'Wilhelm Tell Overture', including 'The Flintstones'.

Many advertisements have also used the overture as it is apparently aimed at a male audience, such as:

  • Reebok
  • Honda

The most famous use was certainly in the film "A Clockwork Orange" during the infamous orgy scene.
Many sporting events like to use the overture, such as:

  • the Hong Kong Jockey Club
  • Indiana University for their baseball games.

Covers and adaptations of the overture have been particularly appreciated by rock and metal bands such as Manowar in their "William's Tale".

Also Sprach Zarathustra – Richard Strauss
Thus Spoke Zarathustra (Also sprach Zarathustra), op. 30 is one of Richard Strauss' best-known symphonic poems. Composed in 1896, it is evidently inspired by the poetic-philosophical work of the same name by the German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche.

The idea of Thus Spoke Zarathustra flashed through Nietzsche like a thunderbolt in August 1881, in the Engadine, "6000 feet beyond man and time". Zarathustra has always been Nietzsche's most read and revered book, but at the same time it is his book of puzzles, protected by firm seals, a book that surprises and looks different every time you open it.

The usual duration of the interpretation is half an hour.

In the original recorded version of the 2001: A Space Odyssey soundtrack, the version is performed by the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra, conducted by Karl Böhm.
Very popular in the seventies the fusion arrangement by the Brazilian pianist Eumir Deodato (1973), used in the film Beyond the garden (1979).

“Even Sprach Zarathustra” has often been used individually or in direct reference to 2001: A Space Odyssey in several television series as well, such as:

  • The Big Bang Theory
  • Futurama
  • 3rd Rock From The Sun
  • The Simpsons
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