As we charge toward Christmas, I wanted to send along my very best wishes to all my readers who are celebrating this magical time of year. As a musical Christmas Card to you all, here’s a quick list of my favorite classical Christmas music. I don’t claim this is an exhaustive list, or that these they are the best selections, but all are of personal meaning to me.
Enjoy the holiday, stay safe, and may you have many blessings in the year ahead! Continue reading
Today is the Winter Solstice! It that time of year when we finally—and for those of us in Minnesota, usually far too slowly—start working our way back to summer’s light. But winter has charms all its own, with fairy-tale frost, crisp air, and wonderful snowscapes everywhere. So, let me welcome the new season with a playlist of winter-themed classical music. Some of the following selections are delicate, some melancholy, some dramatic… but all take winter, ice, or snow as their point of departure. Note that I have deliberately avoided Christmas or holiday music here… Christmas music deserves its own post.
Cheers! Continue reading
Fall is here!
It’s a magical time of year when iced tea gives way to apple cider, and school buses start to nudge out ice cream trucks on neighborhood streets. With dusk coming on earlier and earlier, there’s a new crispness to the air (at least there should be… we’ve had a run of summer-like weather here in Minneapolis…).
In honor of the new season, let me provide a listening guide to some of my favorite autumn-themed works of classical music, listed alphabetically by composer. Please feel free to share your own favorites in the comments. Enjoy! Continue reading
Summer is here! Well, at least for those of us in the northern hemisphere…. Summer is almost always portrayed as a life-affirming season, if an occasionally lazy one, where life is to be savored to its fullest.
“Midsummer Eve,” c.1908 by Edward Robert Hughes
I’m tempted to hang up a “Gone Fishin’” sign myself and run off to the lake… but instead, let me share a few classical works from a variety of genres that perfectly embody summer in all its hedonistic glory.
Cheers! Continue reading
As Mother’s Day draws near, a number of music commentators have put forth lovely little playlists of appropriate music for the holiday. I myself have assembled one, found here. These lists tend to abound in tender, gentle, loving pieces… perfect to celebrate the perfect mom.
But you know, as I was assembling my list I realized something was amiss…not everyone’s mom is perfect. Where’s a list paying homage to those monster moms? A list for those who spend Mother’s Day cowering in therapy?
Not to worry—I’ve got you covered.
Here’s an irreverent classical playlist, full of moms who will make the your difficult mother look great by comparison.
Happy [sic] Mother’s Day! Continue reading
At 4:58 local time, spring will officially be underway. This is particularly good news for those of us in Minnesota—we are just coming off record-breaking snowfalls that have made the past couple of months miserable.
I wanted to celebrate the new season with a classical playlist of spring-themed music. It’s a diverse collection that captures the many moods of spring… enjoy! Continue reading
We’re fast approaching St. Patrick’s Day—a time when everyone celebrates their Irish heritage, whether they’re Irish or not.
Ireland is justly famous for its music, and in the spirit of this festive holiday I thought I’d share a playlist of classical works with a tie to the Emerald Isle. So, grab a pint of green beer (or better yet, some fine Irish whiskey) and enjoy! Continue reading
One hundred years ago today, at the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month, guns across Europe fell silent—an armistice had finally ended the Great War. Germany, Austria, France and England agreed to stop the killing, which had become untenable for all the great countries of Europe. In the aftermath, everyone began the difficult work of taking stock of what happened… and how much had changed.
Here in the United States, World War I doesn’t have the same resonance of World War II—the US only became involved toward the end of the conflict, and American soil had not come under direct attack. But on the other side of the pond, the war was an epochal event. Horrific casualties seemed to have wiped out an entire generation. Venerable cities lay in ruins. Several empires collapsed, and even those that survived intact were swept by profound social changes.
Many classical composers fought in the war, and their works were instrumental in describing the horrors of the war, reminding us what was lost, and facilitating the process by which the world sought to understand what happened and move on from the calamity.
In light of Armistice Day, I’d like to share a classical playlist highlighting composers who fought in the war, died in the war, and struggled to explain it to their audiences.
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Halloween is once again here… and to celebrate, I wanted to put forth another playlist of appropriate classical music. In years past, I’ve presented classical playlists of music depicting vampires, works based on the writings of Edgar Allen Poe, or even a collection of horror operas.
This year, let me feature one of the most archetypal images of Halloween: the witch.
Witches have long been depicted in classical music, and they continue to fascinate composers today. Sometimes these powerful women spark terror, but in other times witches inspire sympathy, or even admiration.
Enjoy, and Happy Halloween!
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Vive le France!
Today is Bastille Day for our good friends in France, and I thought I’d celebrate here on my blog with a collection of great French works. But upon further reflection, I thought I’d take slightly different approach. It is, of course, easy to assemble a collection of French favorites: slap together some Debussy and Ravel, throw in a dash of Berlioz, and tack on Fauré’s Requiem for good measure. But ultimately I decided to focus the list more, and provide 10 of my favorite music that celebrates Paris itself—works that seek to depict its boulevards, cafés, architecture, its people… or simply life in the City of Lights.
Please note that I’ve deliberately sidestepped opera here, although Puccini’s La bohème, Verdi’s La traviata, and Massenet’s Manon certainly fit the bill!