Saturday, November 21, 2009


"The List," Roseanne Cash's CD of that title, is a recording of a number of songs that her father, the late Johnny Cash, considered to be essential from his experience and point of view -- a collection that has understandably become very dear to her. I am certainly not the only one who will derive an idea from this: Hey! I should make a list. Just for fun, I'm working on a list of songs, but in the meantime I have another list.

A few years ago a friend said, "Dick, you're a classical music guy. Why don't you give me a list of pieces you think I'd like." Instead, I thought I'd give her a CD per month of some of my favorites. I never gave her the list or the CDs (potential friends, this might give you pause), but it's been churning in the back of my mind ever since. So, with this journal entry, I endeavor to answer that request: Twenty classical music works that I suggest (from my extremely limited bank of knowledge) to those who, like my friend, would like to get acquainted with the genre.

(I make this list with gratitude to my college roommate and [still] friend, Peter, who came to school with an LP of Bach's "Wachet Auf." It's the first classical music I'd ever heard -- except for my parent's single "Montovani" record. I listened to Bach's cantata over and over, and was hooked. Thanks, Peter.)

I decided to create this list off the top of my head, which means that next week it would be different, as it would if I took the time to rifle through my records and CDs. Although this is pretty much stream-of-consciousness, I vaguely attempted to represent a variety of periods and backgrounds. I ended up with composers of eight or nine nationalities across four centuries.

(By the way, there is nothing scholarly or objectively representative about my selections. These are all pieces that send me.)
Many of these will seem obvious or "popular" to some. But that, in a way, is just the point. It's a list for those who want to see what the attraction to classical music is all about, and these have stood the test of time (well, most of them).

Many will have more rarified tastes; but whether rarified or common, a collection like this naturally invites you to submit your own contributions, dear reader. Here's my list, in chronological order:

  • Vivaldi: The Four Seasons
  • Bach: Toccata and Fugue in D Minor
  • Bach: Cantata “Wachet Auf” (Sleepers, Wake)
  • Handel: Concerti Grossi
  • Mozart: Requiem
  • Beethoven: Symphony #6 “Pastoral”
  • Liszt: Un Sospiro
  • Verdi: Requiem
  • Bruch: Violin Concerto #1
  • Elgar: Enigma Variations
  • Mahler: Symphony #2 “Resurrection”
  • Sibelius: Symphony #5
  • Rachmaninoff: Piano Concerto #2
  • Howard Hanson: Symphony #2 “Romantic”
  • Aaron Copland: Symphony #3 (includes the original setting of “Fanfare for the Common Man”)
  • Barber: Violin Concerto
  • Bernstein: West Side Story (Either the suite or the cast album conducted by Bernstein)
  • John Rutter: Requiem
  • Morten Lauridsen: O Magnum Mysterium (on the CD, “Lux Aeterna”)
  • John Adams: Harmonielehre

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Yes, I remember the old days - lots of music exploration then and, I guess, now too.
My father and I used to listen to
Camille Saint-Saƫns' Piano Concerto No.4 in C-, Op.44. It was (and still is for me) a thrilling piece with a strong theme that is carried throughout by piano and them by orchestra. Best played at VOLUME.