Classical Music is a complex and wondrous art form spanning hundreds of years, and is usually composed by suicidal geniuses.
Palestrina's Creed (XBOX 360): You kill people with your Counterpoint Blades and Beard Scythe.
The O.G.'s of classical music included awesome people like Palestrina, Josquin des Prez, and William Byrd (Renaissance composers). Some of the music produced during this time was pretty sweet, including Josquin's "Ave Virgo Virginum", Byrd's "Sing Joyfully Unto God", and Palestrina's "Gold Digger". Unfortunately, most of the other stuff going on at the time was monotonous, coma-inducing bullshit, featuring a lot of lyrics about God sung by guys with severed balls. Although there was another interesting guy named Gesualdo (pronounced Jizz-Waldo, F.Y.I.) who composed frightening, awesome music and occasionally killed people.
The next interesting thing happened in 1685 in the Baroque Era, when Maria LÃ¤mmerhirt crapped out a scowling, fully-grown German man by the name of Johann Sebastian Bach. He is generally considered to be the father of Western music, and composers such as Mozart and Beethoven had serious boners for his music. Since I know that most Cracked readers are too lazy, uncultured, and swine-like to click on the above links, I'll go ahead and spoil this little trivia nugget: he is the most represented artist on the Voyager Golden Record, the record we sent into space in an attempt to avoid looking like morons to aliens (our future masters will see right through this).
"As much as I like the harpsichord, I'm afraid I'll still be killing you to death."
Haydn thinks turn-based combat is an unbelievably ridiculous concept.
Composers of the Classical Era viewed the previous styles in much the same fashion as some modern gamers view Role-Playing Games: low-tech, outdated, boring, repetitive, and for virgins. They made significant advances in harmonic usage and expanded musical form. The main figures of this period are Haydn, Mozart, and Beethoven. With the new advances in compositional techniques came an exponential increase in frutiness, with melodies and operatic plots reaching new excesses. This period produced some amazing works including Mozart's Requiem, all of Beethoven's symphonies, and like one or two things that Haydn did.
The Romantic composers got way too into opera, and composers like Wagner, Verdi and Puccini produced epic operatic works dealing with each of the two operatic genres: love/alcohol or death/alcohol. A whole crapload of Russians got into the act, including a group called The MIghty Five (Rimsky-Korsakov, Mussorgsky, and three dipshits), and the epic (and super-tall) Rachmaninoff. This was also the era of the totally awesome and totally fabulous Tchaikovsky, who wrote The Nutcracker ballet. I should also mention that Wagner was a total Nazi, and wore dresses sometimes.
Rachmaninoff took regular intimidation breaks while composing.
Philip Glass: He'll rape more than your ears.
The Modern Era is pretty much an anything-goes kind of situation, and includes Neoclassicists like Stravinsky, Serialists like Alban Berg and Arnold Schonberg, and straight-up Douchebags like Milton Babbitt and John Cage. Minimalism, which really got going in the 1980's, uses mind-numbing repetition to put you into a trance (and provide film soundtracks), and features composers like Philip Glass and Arvo PÃ¤rt. Modern classical music is all over the map, and tends to produce either incredibly satisfying art, or intolerable aural bitch-fits that make you want to kill yourself. A great example is John Cage's 4'33", a revolutionary work that proved that people are dumb enough to believe that a piece made completely of silence is some kind of artistic statement.
Though a few people know who Yo Yo Ma and Pavarotti are, classical music is not popular at all anymore. There are a couple of "crossover" classical artists around such as Sara Brightman and Andrea Bocelli, though I should add that many serious classical musicians want those two people dead.
"Seriously, don't ever make me listen to that shit again."