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  • Archive for March, 2012

    Favorite Classical Pieces

    2012 - 03.30

    I consider myself to be quite open-minded when it comes to music, and although I gravitate mostly toward rock and popular, I do enjoy many classical music pieces. Now when I say ‘classical music’, I am referring to the genre of music and not necessarily the music from the Classical Period (think Mozart). I suppose I have my mother to thank for having introduced this genre of music to me at a very young age. When my mother was young, she used to play the French horn in her school’s orchestra and was in turn exposed to this amazing genre of music. My mother has played nearly everything from Bach to Beethoven, Tchaikovsky to Gershwin. Below are several YouTube videos featuring some of my all time favorite masterpieces.

    1. Richard Wagner — The Ride of the Valkyries from Die Walk├╝rie
    My mother absolutely loves this piece, and I could not agree with her taste more on this one. Richard Wagner (pronounced Vahg-ner) is considered the master of the German opera and was one of the most progressive composers in history. His music was absolutely breathtaking, and this piece is probably the best testament to its magnificence. On a side note, Wagner has always been a very controversial composer in a sense that his music and personal ideals were thought to have influenced the Nazi Socialist Party. Adolf Hitler was a fanatical fan of Wagner, and he often worked to incorporate his music into his heroic mythology of the German nation. Hitler actually held many of Wagner’s original scores in his Berlin bunker at the end of World War II, despite the pleadings of Weiland Wagner to have them put into his care. These musical scores were destroyed with Hitler in the final days of the war.

    2. Franz Liszt — Hungarian Rhapsody No. 2 in C-Sharp Minor
    Seriously one of the most amazing pieces of music I have ever listened to. Franz Liszt was a musical prodigy from a very young age. In my opinion he is a GOD of the piano. He could sight read very difficult pieces even as a child, and when composing, he always strove to make the piano sound as much like an orchestra as possible, which makes his music extremely difficult to play. For some, mastering Liszt is mastering music. Amazing…just amazing.

    3. Pytor Illich Tchaikovsky — 1812 Overture
    Ah, Tchaikovsky. It’s hard to choose just one piece to feature here from him. Russian born composer Tchaikovsky is best known for his ballets such as Swan Lake and The Nutcracker, but he is also wildly famous for this piece, the 1812 Overture, written in 1880 to commemorate Russia’s defense against Napoleon Bonaparte’s advancing army at the Battle of Borodino in 1812. I actually have a personal connection to this piece as it was the very first piece of classical music that my mother introduced to me as a baby. She told me that during its epic, climactic ending featuring a volley of cannon fire, ringing chimes, and brass fanfare finale, I used to flail my arms, squeal, and bounce in my pumpkin seat to the cannon fire. Please enjoy as much as I always have!

    4. Antonio Vivaldi – “Spring” from The Four Seasons
    Antonio Vivaldi was an Italian Baroque composer who was known as “The Red Priest” because of his trademark red hair. He actually entered the priesthood and was ordained at the age of 25. However, he had extensive musical knowledge before the age of 24 because his father was a barber turned professional violinist who taught Vivaldi the violin at an early age. The most famous of his works is his series of violin concertos known as The Four Seasons, with “Spring” (Concerto No. 1 in E Major) featured below.

    5. George Gershwin – Rhapsody in Blue
    George Gershwin was a 20th century American pianist and composer who is best known for symphonic jazz. His most well known works include the opera Porgy and Bess, An American in Paris, and Rhapsody in Blue. Of these works, my personal favorite is Rhapsody in Blue which is featured below in two parts to finalize my selection of my best loved pieces. Happy listening!
    Part 1
    Part 2