|Top 100 Classical Music|
|Romantic & 20th Century|
Vivaldi: The Four Season (Spring: First Movement)
Classical music is music that has withstood the test of time, and has delivered the same kind of pleasure it did when they were performed in the concert halls and royal chamber rooms in the distant past. Some classical music are hard to appreciate because it takes a kind of sensitivity to take pleasure from it. Lovers of classical music are those who:
- Like the sound of a full orchestra (found in symphonies, suites, etc.) and/or the combination of traditional musical instruments (found in chamber music, sonatas, etc.).
- Like to hear what the best composers – many of them unique geniuses – have created through the ages
- Like the intellectual stimulation of listening to complex musical elements
- Appreciates the emotional depth of music.
Classical music demands a listener’s full attention. Yes, some will find it boring because the rhythm is not always danceable, and the melody is not always obvious (Classical music is not always about melodies.). Yet the best classical music has the power to move many people even if they heard it a hundred times. (That's why the music is still alive after all these centuries)
Below is a list of 100 best classical music pieces for people who are just beginning to expand their musical horizons. These are not "light classical music" like waltzes or overtures, but full-length compositions that are "deep" but accessible.
A short cut to appreciating classical music is to place them in the context of their time periods. Each time period has its own musical style in vogue, and it would help a lot to learn the features of each time period, and the circumstances in which the composers worked.
Baroque (1600-1750) – characterized by polyphony or ornate or heavily ornamented music
Bach: Brandenburg Concerto No. 2 First Movement
1. Bach, J. S. – Brandenburg Concertos
Exciting pieces from the greatest Baroque master, exploiting the sounds of unique instrumental combinations, from the jubilant first to the intimate sixth.
2. Bach, J. S. – Goldberg Variations
Written for an insomniac baron, Bach created an astonishing series of transformations of a simple, gracious, and unadorned theme, from the ebullient to the introspective.
3. Bach, J. S. – Double Concerto for Violin
A marvel of contrapuntal inventiveness, with the imitative solo lines weaving in and out of each other with a playful brilliance in the first and third movements, and intense lyricism in the slow movement.
4. Bach, J. S. – Mass in B Minor
A magnificent spiritual work that defines high baroque. It shows Bach’s considerable skill as a choral composer, producing a work characterized by architectural grandeur and complexity.
5. Handel, G. F. – Water Music
Along with Vivaldi’s The Four Seasons, the most popular instrumental music before Mozart. This music was composed to be played outdoors, specifically on the barges that float on King George I’s water party in the Thames river.
6. Handel, G. F. – Messiah
This oratorio is so spiritually moving that many believe it to be divinely inspired. In his use of soloists and choruses, Handel’s sense of timing and proportion is matchless, and the sheer physical pleasure of the sound is remarkable too. Famous for the very popular “Hallelujah chorus”.
Handel: "Hallelujah Chorus" from The Messiah
7. Vivaldi, A. – The Four Seasons
Each of the four concertos depict a season, beginning with Spring. A bravura showpiece for the violin soloist, and a dazzling example of musical scene-painting.
Classical (1750-1820) – characterized by music of strict form, grace and elegance
8. Mozart W. A. – Symphony No. 35 “Haffner”
This magnificent symphony opens with a movement that is full of energy, with commanding unisons, tremendous leaps and the vilins’ cracking grace notes. The finale is full of surprising extensions and diversions.
9. Mozart W. A. – Symphony No. 39
A smiling symphony, full of sunlight and mellow, flowing lines, once the discordant and angry introduction has passed.
10. Mozart W. A. – Symphony No. 40
A tragic utterance quite unlike anything previously written by Mozart. The second movement is profoundly spiritual.
Mozart: Symphony No. 40 First Movement
11. Mozart W. A. – Symphony No. 41 “Jupiter”
Known as the “Jupiter” because of the haughty and imperial nature of the first movement. For complexity and sheer excitement, here is nothing comparable to the finale where Mozart juggles many distinct themes, until he unites them all in a dazzling display of invention.
12. Mozart W. A. – Sinfonia Concertante in E flat Major for Violin and Viola
Mozart’s “crowning achievement in the field of the violin concerto” is an interplay of glorious melodies between the violin and viola.
13. Mozart W. A. – Piano Concerto No. 21
This work has a lot of exquisite melodies and limpid textures. Famous for the serene and lyrical second movement used in the soundtrack of “Elvira Madigan”.
14. Mozart W. A. – Quintet in A Major for Clarinet and Strings, K. 581
With its wide palette of color, extreme emotional contrasts, wonderful melodies and innovative exploration of the clarinet’s range, this is one of Mozart’s most brilliant creations.
15. Haydn F. J. – Symphony No. 94 “Surprise”
The “surprise” nickname comes from the second movement where halfway through a light Andante, there pops a sudden fortissimo from the timpani. It was believed that Haydn did this to wake the sleepy among the audience.
16. Haydn F. J. – Symphony No. 100 “The Military”
The nickname comes from the use of “military” instruments – kettledrums, triangle, cymbals, and bass drums in the second movement. The military flavor also appears near the end of the symphony with great grandeur.
17. Haydn F. J. – Symphony No. 103 “Drumroll”
The drumroll appears unannounced at the beginning of the symphony. This dramatic flourish announces one of Haydn’s most original works.
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