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Discussion Starter · #261 · (Edited)
Billy the Kid
Aaron Copland

OK, it's a Ballet Suite:

Introduction: The Open Prairie
Street Scene in a Frontier Town
Mexican Dance and Finale
Prairie Night (Card Game at Night, Billy and his Sweetheart)
Gun Battle
Celebration (After Billy's Capture)
Billy's Death
The Open Prairie Again

You may recognize some cowboy and folk tunes he heavily used: Git Along Little Dogies, and The Old Chisholm Trail to name a couple.

Here is Giancarlo Guerrero, at Carnegie Hall
Conducting NYO2 (National Youth Orchestra, an intensive summer training program for outstanding young musicians ages 14-17)

NYO2 Performs "Billy the Kid" Suite


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Discussion Starter · #263 · (Edited)
#122, Part 1
A Boy was Born, Op. 3
Benjamin Britten

This is a choral composition by a 19-year-old Benjamin Britten, with the byline " - The Choral variations for men's, women's and boys' voices, unaccompanied (organ ad lib)". In essence, it's a Christmas Cantata.

This 30 minute piece written in the form of a musical theme and six variations setting ten different texts dating mostly from the 16th century, although he does include the text of Christina Rosseti's In the Bleak Midwinter from the 19th century.

Theme: A boy was born

Variation 1: Lullay Jesu

Variation 2: Herod

Variation 3: Jesu, as thou art our saviour

Variation 4: The three kings

Variation 5: In the bleak midwinter / Corpus Christi Carol ("Lully, lullay")

Variation 6: Noel, Welcome Yule/Christmas/A Christmas Carol

Surprisingly, I'm unable to find a single YouTube video of the ENTIRE work, so here it is piecemeal.


The first variation is in the form of a dialogue between Mary (women's voices) and the child (boys).

Theme: A Boy was Born and Variation 1: Lullay Jesu
The National Youth Choir of Australia

Benjamin Britten: A Boy was Born - Theme and Variation I


Variation 2 tells of the massacre of the innocents with jerky rhythms, altering and distorting the original theme.

Variation 2: Herod
National Youth Choir of Australia

Benjamin Britten: A Boy was Born - Variation II


In Variation 3 a semi-chorus sings the text, "Jesu, as Thou art our saviour", punctuated four times by a boy (or boys) singing "Jesu" as a melisma.

Variation 3: Jesu, as thou art our saviour
Antioch Chamber Ensemble
, 2009, Experimental Media and Performing Arts Center at RPI in Troy, NY

Antioch Chamber Ensemble - Jesu, as Thou art our Savior - Benjamin Britten


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Discussion Starter · #264 ·
#122, Part 2
A Boy was Born, Op. 3
Benjamin Britten

Variation 4, about the three kings, has the theme as a wordless background flow to the narrative, picturing a distant procession.

Variation 4: The three kings
The Giovanni Consort
, Perth, Western Australia

A Boy was Born (Benjamin Britten): Variation 4 - 'The three kings'


Variation 5, set for upper voices only, opens with Rossetti's "In the Bleak Midwinter" sung by women's voices, whose parts 'clashing' in seconds suggest the cold while their descending phrases are meant to suggest the falling snow: against this, the boys choir sing an artlessly folk-like setting of the Corpus Christi Carol.

Variation 5: In the bleak midwinter / Corpus Christi Carol ("Lully, lullay")
National Youth Choir of Australia
Australian Boys Choir
Noel Ancell OAM
, conductor Recorded in performance at Trinity College Chapel, Melbourne on 11 July 2015

Benjamin Britten: A Boy was Born - Variation V


Variation 6 is in the form of a spritely rondo, one of the most complex to perform as it divides into eight distinct voice parts, followed by a recollection of the earlier variations and final return of the original theme.

Variation 6: Noel, Welcome Yule/Christmas/A Christmas Carol
National Youth Choir of Australia
Australian Boys Choir

Benjamin Britten: A Boy was Born - Variation VI


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Discussion Starter · #265 ·
Benjamin Britten Bonus Round

While this is not the first appearance of English composer Benjamin Britten (1913-1976) on this list (he finally appeared at #114 with his "Cello Symphony"), it shouldn't be inferred that he is a lesser composer.

In fact, he's pretty much known for changing the face of British opera (Peter Grimes, Billy Budd and The Turn of the Screw), including three church operas (The Prodigal Son, Curlew River, and the The Burning Firey Furnace), as well as some well-loved choral works (like the Ceremony of Carols, Hymn to St Cecilia, and his War Requiem) and song cycles (such as the Seven Sonnets of Michelangelo).

He may actually be the most widely performed British 20th century composer, and is certainly considered a major influence on 20th Century music.

"Music for me is clarification;
I try to clarify, to refine, to sensitize...
My technique is to tear all the waste away;
to achieve perfect clarity of expression, that is my aim."

-Benjamin Britten

. . . And, of course, there's Britten's A Young Person's Guide to the Orchestra (1946), a series of variations on a theme by Henry Purcell, composed with the primary goal of introducing the instruments of the orchestra, through several imaginative musical works.

This clever three movement symphonic work lays out the theme in the orchestra in the first movement, then restates it in each individual section of the orchestra to highlight the different timbres of each section.

In the second movement he manages to highlight the instruments in each section.

And in the third and final movement Britten combines all the sections of the orchestra in an intricate fugue using a new, dancelike theme derived from the original theme, followed by a Grand Finale, the original theme reappears reset boldly beneath the dancelike fugue theme.

Probably one of the most remarkable facets of the work is that it was actually composed for a short educational film, Instruments of the Orchestra (1946), but proved so popular that it quickly became a standard concert piece.

An animated adaptation of Benjamin Britten's The Young Person's Guide To The Orchestra | Short Film


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Discussion Starter · #266 ·
Die Fledermaus: Overture
Johann Strauss II

I'll eventually get to opera. I've been deliberately neglecting it as it seems to be a subgenre of classical music that is considerably more difficult to appreciate.

For me it was the bellowing of the singers. I'll admit I had a pre-conceived notion of opera singers as the lady with the horned helmet, or a pretentious tenor.

But I have featured a small number of pieces from opera, mostly overtures.

And here's the Overture to Strauss' Die Fledermaus ("The Bat"), his most famous operetta. The Overture is packed full of tunes from start to finish, all of which end up appearing during the course of the action that follows.

But let's start with the difference of an operetta vs. and opera. Operetta is a genre of light opera, light in terms both of music and subject matter, although the lines between the two are not as well defined as all that. Operettas are often shorter than operas, and may have some dialogue.

Anyway, this overture is similar to the "potpourri"-type of overture that would later become familiar on Broadway: essentially a parade of tunes to come within the stage work it introduces, with the perky, chromatic three-note motif heard at the very top serving as binding material.

Carlos Kleiber conducting the Wiener Philharmoniker.

Carlos Kleiber - "Die Fledermaus" - J. Strauss - New Year's Concert 1989


And Tom and Jerry fooling around with a medley of Johann Strauss II's Overture of "Die Fledermaus", with intro and outro making use of Franz Liszt's "Les préludes".

As a Los Angeles area native, I find it amusing that the animators, at 1:00 into this clip, actually somewhat accurately depicted the Hollywood Bowl area. Tom is flattened by a bus as he rolls out onto N. Highland Ave/Cahuenga Ave.

Tom and Jerry, 52 Episode - Tom and Jerry in the Hollywood Bowl (1950)


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Discussion Starter · #267 ·
A Beginner's Guide to Classical Music

Often people unfamiliar with Classical music will ask advice on how to approach it. Where do you start?


Frankly, many already are familiar with a lot of classical music.

Cartoons from the 1940s and 1950s are loaded with it.

And anyone who's a fan of theatrical films will have heard a great deal of it, even though they may not have realized it: For instance, 2001: A Space Odyssey used a great many classical pieces for its score. From the impressive opening of Richard Strauss' Also Spracht Zarasthustra, to Johann Strauss' The Blue Danube, the use of already composed works helped give the film the impact that made it so very successful.

Stanley Kubrick's A Clockwork Orange used Beethoven's 9th Symphony.

Apocalypse Now used Wagner's Ride of the Valkyries from his massive operatic suite Die Walk?re.

Even Ferris Bueller's Day Off used music from Boccerini's String Quintet in E.

So . . . I compiled a collection of some of the most compelling and accessible classical works for novice listeners.

Originally it was to be a Top Ten, which quickly grew into a Top 20, then a Top 25, and so on.

One of the problems with getting folks to come over to "the classical side" will be familiar to Prog Rock lovers . . . the length and complexity tends to just chase folks away.

CAUTION: This list is NOT really a "ranking", although works I feel are better are more likely to appear in a higher position. The list is more of an "ordering" to introduce the uninitiated to Classical Music, in a sequence that in my opinion is more likely to entice one "into the fold".

But the 1st piece is

The Planets
Gustav Holst, an 8 movement symphonic work that clocks in at well over a half hour.

This piece is #2 on the Parker Symphony Orchestra's List of 10 BADASS PIECES OF CLASSICAL MUSIC. Here's THAT full list.

Orff - Carmina Burana / "O Fortuna" (#18)
Holst - The Planets, Mars (#1)
Verdi - Requiem "Dies Irae" (#79)
Wagner - Ride of the Valkyries (#31)
Vivaldi - The Four Seasons: Summer Mvt. 3 Presto (#6)
Bizet - Carmen Overture / Les Toreadors (#62)
Mussorgsky - Night on Bald Mountain (#19)
Verdi - Il Trovatore / "Anvil Chorus"
Khachaturian - Sabre Dance
Strauss - Also Sprach Zarathustra, Prelude (#24)

. . . and their "Honorable Mentions":

Tchaikovsky - 1812 Overture (#5)
Shostakovich - Symphony No 5, Mvt 4 (#153)
Bruckner - Symphony No 1, Mvt 3
Grieg - In The Hall Of The Mountain King (#11)
Dvorak - Symphony No 9, Mvt 4 (#2)
Mozart - Requiem in D minor, Dies Irae (#35)
Bizet - L'Arlésienne Suite No 2, Mvt 4 (Farandole)
Saint-Saëns - Symphony No 3, Mvt 3 and 4 (#408)
Beethoven - Symphony No 9, Mvt 4 (#39)
Glinka - Overture from Ruslan and Ludmilla (#231)
Holst - The Planets, Jupiter (#1)
Mozart - Symphony No 25, Mvt 1
Bach - Toccata and Fugue in D minor (#90)
Smyth - The Wreckers (Overture)


Ah, but The Planets is a great look at orchestration and variety. And several film composers have used Holst's techniques to great success. John Williams has paid great tribute with his scores to Star Wars and others (he's pretty damned prolific).

Of course, the best way to experience Classical music is in a live setting. Unlike rock music, which sometimes suffers in concert, Classical music is exacting . . . it's important to the players and conductor that it be perfect. You won't find fall-down drunk singers or guitarists on acid here.

Here's a great and spirited live version by the National Youth Orchestra of Great Britain.

This version also has a new movement, to include Pluto, discovered after the suite was written.

Mars, the Bringer of War 0:00
Venus, the Bringer of Peace 7:15
Mercury, the Winged Messenger 15:09
Jupiter, the Bringer of Jollity 18:58
Saturn, the Bringer of Old Age 26:42
Uranus, the Magician 35:32
Neptune, the Mystic 41:20
Pluto, the Renewer 49:17

Proms 2016 - Gustav Holst - The Planets


This extensive work has popped up in popular music as well, especially the 1st movement.

Sinfonia, a large group of electric guitarists covered it, as did King Crimson (retitled "The Devil's Triangle"), and eventually, Emerson, Lake and Powell.

Jimmy Page adapted part of 'Mars' in the song 'Friends' on Led Zeppelin III.

Yes quoted a few sections of Jupiter in the song "The Prophet" from their 1970 album "Time and a Word".

Isao Tomita did an electronic version many years ago, and Jeff Wayne and Rick Wakeman teamed up as well in 2005 with an album Beyond the Planets.

Many artists, such as Frank Zappa, have "quoted" licks from the suite in instrumental sections of songs.

John Williams used the melodies and instrumentation of Mars as the inspiration for his soundtrack for the Star Wars films (specifically "The Imperial March")

Hans Zimmer closely used the melodies, instrumentation and orchestration of Mars as the inspiration for his soundtrack for the movie Gladiator to the extent that a lawsuit for copyright infringement was filed by the Holst foundation.

The Planets

"Sinfonia, a large group of electric guitarists covered it . . . "

Well, actually they called themselves Sinfonity. And they covered only the 1st Movement, Mars, the Bringer of War.

Holst "The Planets", Mars,the bringer of war, by Sinfonity


". . . as did King Crimson (retitled "The Devil's Triangle"), . . . "

KC's second album In the Wake of Poseidon (1970) included their re-interpretation of Mars, which they retitled The Devil's Triangle, a three movement piece (I . Merday Morn; II. Hand of Sceiron; & III. Garden of Worm).

How an album was even recorded and released is astonishing, considering the band was in chaos, with only Fripp still in the band.

Here's an excerpt. Note: KC's publishers actively scour Youtube for unauthorized KC video, so this link will likely eventually go dead. Just go to Youtube and search for "King Crimson The Devil's Triangle". People are always reposting it.

The Devils Triangle


"and eventually, Emerson, Lake and Powell."

Emerson, Lake & Powell released only one album, the 1986 self-titled Emerson, Lake & Powell. They used their cover of Mars to close out the album. For this "reunion" album Drummer Cozy Powell filled in for Carl Palmer, who was contractually obligated to the band Asia at the time

Oddly enough, Greg Lake was singing for King Crimson's 2nd album (although he had already left the band), on which their cover of Mars appeared, although he did not sing or play on that track.

Even more odd, Greg Lake ended up temporarily playing bass and singing lead vocals for Asia when they toured Asia, after founded John Wetton either quit or was fired. Wetton agreed to return on the condition that ex-Yes guitarist and Asia co-founder Steve Howe would be ousted from the band.


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Discussion Starter · #268 ·
Mars, the Bringer of War

"Jimmy Page adapted part of 'Mars' in the song 'Friends' on Led Zeppelin III."

Yes, Led Zeppelin pretty much plagiarized Holst's melody and vibe for Friends on Led Zeppelin III.

Gawd they stole an awful lot of music, didn't they?

Led Zeppelin "Friends / Celebration Day" from III 2014 Vinyl Reissue


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Discussion Starter · #269 · (Edited)
The Planets


Yes quoted a few sections of Jupiter in the song "The Prophet" from their 1970 album "Time and a Word"." Note for note.

Isao Tomita recorded his electronic version of the entire suite in 1976. Here's his version of Jupiter.

Electronic music has progressed significantly since 1976, but this was pretty cutting edge at the time.


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Discussion Starter · #270 ·
Every Beethoven Symphony at the Same Time

"You're Welcome."

It's even more amusing for Star Trek fans. The android Data, in his quest to understand humanity would listen to multiple pieces of music simultaneously, because he could process the audio of several pieces at the same time.


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Discussion Starter · #271 · (Edited)
Symphony No. 4 in F minor, Op. 36
Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky

Tchaikovsky, arguably one of the great symphonists, wrote (officially) 6 symphonies, although his 1885 "Manfred Symphony", a symphony that is not numbered (and would fall in between his 4th and 5th symphonies) would make that count 7 symphonies.

So, of course, his 6th Symphony gets all the attention: It's a great, lengthy masterpiece of late romanticism with last movement being one of most stunning pieces of music of all times.

His 5th and 3rd symphonies are probably the next in terms of being revered.

So, his 4th symphony is a a bit unusual, with some weird ideas in first and last movements, and of course in the scherzo with some oddball pizzicato messing-around. The slow movement has something special about it and the ending, well, it's one of wildest codas in symphonic genre. CLASH CLASH BUM TRA TA TA TA DAM (Did I get that right?).

However, in terms of emotional depth and complexity, it's a breakthrough work.

The symphony is in four movements:

Andante sostenuto - Moderato con anima - Moderato assai, quasi Andante - Allegro vivo
Andantino in modo di canzona
Scherzo: Pizzicato ostinato - Allegro
Finale: Allegro con fuoco

Reaction at the premieres was generally negative. A reviewer in Germany in 1897 wrote "The composer's twaddle disturbed my mood. The confusion in brass and the abuse of the kettledrums drove me away!"

So you're probably going to love it.

Here's the Mariinsky Theatre Orchestra, conducted by Valery Gergiev, from the Salle Pleyel in Paris, 2010

Tchaikovsky - Symphony No. 4 in F minor, Op. 36 (Mariinsky Theatre Orchestra, Valery Gergiev)

This video won't 'embed'; you have to click through to Youtube to hear the Symphony:


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Discussion Starter · #273 ·
Franz Liszt

Totentanz (Dance of the Dead): is a symphonic piece for solo piano and orchestra by Franz Liszt, based on a Gregorian plainchant melody Dies Irae as well as for some stylistic innovations. The piece was originally planned in 1838 and completed in 1849; But it was then revised twice, in 1853 and 1859 (now considered to be the "standard" version) although not premiered until 1865.

As it turns out, Liszt was obsessed, with death, religion, and heaven and hell. Evidently he frequented Parisian hospitals, gambling casinos and asylums in the early 1830s, and he even went down into prison dungeons in order to see those condemned to die.

Here's Beatrice Berrut on piano live recorded at the Berliner Philharmonie. Junges Orchester der FU conducted by Antoine Rebstein.

Berrut plays with wonderful passion, bringing out both the torment and the beauty of the piano part.

Liszt Totentanz @Berliner Philharmonie, Beatrice Berrut, Piano


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Discussion Starter · #274 ·
Danse Macabre, Op. 40.
Camille Saint-Saens

Oh no, another tone poem. Actually, this one started out as a song for voice and piano in 1872, but, well, you how things go . . .

Now it's considered one of the scariest pieces of Classical Music, along with the previous entry, Totentanz.

According to legend, Death appears at midnight every year on Halloween. Death calls forth the dead from their graves to dance for him while he plays his fiddle (here represented by a solo violin). His skeletons dance for him until the rooster crows at dawn, when they must return to their graves until the next year.

The piece opens with a harp playing a single note, D, twelve times (the twelve strokes of midnight)

Happy Hallowe'en

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Discussion Starter · #275 ·
Symphony No.4 in E-flat major ("Romantic")
Anton Bruckner
1874 / 1880 (1881) / (1888)

And . . . back to the symphony. This Bruckner symphony was written in 1874, and premiered in 1881, although Bruckner continued to revise it several times up until 1888. And it's a long one, and depending on the version, runs anywhere from 60 to 80 minutes.

There are three major versions.

In the second (1880 or 1881) version, the 3rd movement was completely removed and replaced. There were other major changes, and it helped create what is now referred to as The Bruckner Problem: With numerous contrasting versions and editions that exist for most of the symphonies, it's now considered difficult to ascertain the authenticity of the versions: In spite of this little problem, this is the version most commonly performed today.

But if you soldier on through this, the ending is breathtaking.

I. Bewegt, nicht zu schnell (1:00)
II. Andante quasi Allegretto (22:25)
III. Scherzo. Bewegt - Trio. Nicht zu schnell. Keinesfalls schleppend (40:30)
IV. Finale. Bewegt, doch nicht zu schnell (51:30)

That's right. The fourth movement is almost a half hour long.

There also seems to be a great deal of dissent amongst Bruckner aficionados as to which versions are the best, and I think it simply comes down to one's individual taste.

Here's Münchner Philharmoniker conducted by Sergiu Celibidache. I think Celibidache really milks this performance (and why shouldn't he?), savoring all the full, fat chords, so this performan is almost eight minutes long. Live recording from the Herkulessaal, Munich 1983

Bruckner Romantic Symphony No 4 - Celibidache Münchner Philharmoniker - 1983 Herkulessaal Live


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Discussion Starter · #276 · (Edited)
Piano Concerto No. 1
Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky

The Piano Concerto No. 1 in Bb minor, Op. 23, was composed by Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky between November 1874 and February 1875. It was revised in the summer of 1879 and again in December 1888.

And it's one of the most famous openings of a classical piece ever, famed for the sequence of pounding chords with which the soloist's part launches the first movement, right after a bold horn call . . . . well, yeah, there's Beethoven's 5th symphony, and Bach's Toccata and Fugue, and Ave Maria, and dozens of others. Sure. But this is right up there with the big boys. This work has become one of the most popular concertos ever written.

I tell ya, Tchaikovsky really had a gift for a great tune.

I. Allegro non troppo e molto maestoso - Allegro con spirito
II. Andantino semplice - Prestissimo - Tempo I
III. Allegro con fuoco - Molto meno mosso - Allegro vivo

Some eighty-odd years after Tchaikovsky sketched out his initial ideas for his Piano Concerto No. 1, it became the first piece of classical music to sell a million records when, in 1958, the pianist Van Cliburn wowed the world with his impassioned recording of the piece.

Here's Van Cliburn, with Conductor Kiril Kondrashin and the Moscow State Philharmonic Academy Orchestra in 1962.


So . . . Van Cliburn (1934-2013) was a celebrity American pianist, attaining stardom as a classical musician that nowadays is usually reserved for rock stars.

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Discussion Starter · #277 · (Edited)
Symphony 38 in D Major

Often called The Prague Symphony, as it made it's debut there.

It remains one of his most interesting and popular symphonies, owing to its richness of contrapuntal and harmonic exploration. The symphony is structured in only three movements, a departure from the more traditional four-movement form most common in the 18th century. In this work, the substantial and expertly-wrought first movement balances out the other two.

Bernard Haitink
Chamber Orchestra of Europe

MOZART "Symphony No.38 in D major K504"
(Prague) BERNARD HAITINK (2017)


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Discussion Starter · #278 ·
Piano Sonata in Bb
Franz Schubert

I've actually performed the 22 minute 1st movement. It's beautiful.

And it's Schubert's last sonata.

The breadth and majesty of the first movement spring from the opening theme; this is a long drawn out and beautiful melody whose equal notes move stepwise in the manner of many of the themes of Schubert's last year. The calm main theme itself is so broad as to be almost hymn-like. One of the most striking is the long and careful preparation for the return of B-flat major at the end of the development section, where the key of D minor is slowly abandoned until at length we hear a soft trill on a bass note and the home key is reached.

The Andante Sostenuto in C-sharp minor is a movement comparable in style to the slow movement of the great String Quartet in C, D. 956, composed during the same period. Toward the end of the movement there is a remarkable key shift, from C-sharp minor to C major.

In the main section, a somber melody is presented over a relentless rocking rhythm. The central section is written in A major, and presents a choral melody over an animated accompaniment; it later touches upon B-flat major, the sonata's home key. The main section returns with a variant of the original accompanying rhythm. This time, the tonal scheme is more unusual: after a half cadence on the dominant, a sudden, mysterious harmonic shift introduces the remote key of C major. This eventually turns into E major, and proceeds as before. The coda shifts to the tonic major, but is still haunted by glimpses of the minor mode.

The Scherzo is a con delicatezza and carefully devised section providing an excellent contrast to the emotional depths of the first two movements. The first part of the scherzo proper cadences not in the tonic or dominant, but in the subdominant. The second, B part, continues to modulate by ascending fourths, until it reaches the key of D-flat major. In this key, a new theme is presented, and the local subdominant (G-flat major, a further fourth upward) is emphasized, first in the major mode, then in the minor, with an enharmonic shift to F-sharp minor. This harmonic excursion eventually leads, through A major and a diminished triad, back to the tonic and the opening section. The trio is in binary form and in B-flat minor, bringing back again the serious tone that generally prevails.

The finale has the same structure as that of the previous sonata. The main theme opens with an 'empty' octave on G, which resolves to C minor, subsequently interpreted as V of II in B-flat major. The second theme, in ternary form, is written in the traditional key of the dominant, with a central section in D major; it consists of a long, "endless" melody played over an uninterrupted flow of semiquavers. A third theme, based on a dotted rhythm, follows, beginning in F minor, fortissimo, and then shifting back to the major mode, pianissimo. This theme eventually leads back to the main theme of the rondo. The development section is characterised by clashing rhythms of juxtaposed eighth notes and triplets, and reaches a climax on C-flat major, from which the bass descends to G, returning to the main theme. In the coda, the main theme is fragmented in a manner also similar to the finale of the previous sonata; the octave on G here descends to G-flat and then to F, and the movement closes with a triumphant presto.

Schubert's last sonata is probably his greatest achievement in the form and one of the finest contributions to the long series of classical sonatas. It has a feeling of tranquility and ease; the ease of a master who has all the technical facility at his fingertips with which to express his ideas and emotions.

I. Molto moderato
II. Andante sostenuto
III. Scherzo: Allegro vivace con delicatezza - Trio
IV. Allegro, ma non troppo - Presto

Here's Alfred Brendel. Brendel truncates the first movement down to 15 minutes by omitting the excessively long repeat.

Schubert Piano Sonata No 21 D 960 B flat major Alfred Brendel


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Discussion Starter · #279 · (Edited)
Symphony No. 3 in F major, Op. 90
Johannes Brahms

This is the shortest of Brahms' four symphonies.

I. Allegro con brio
II. Andante
III. Poco allegretto
IV. Allegro - Un poco sostenuto


You've probably heard the moody third movement already - it has been used in countless films and television shows. Notably, it's in the soundtrack to the 1946 film Undercurrent, starring Katharine Hepburn, the 1952 film tragedy Angel Face (Tiomkin's score uses it as the main theme, the 1961 film Goodbye Again (starring Ingrid Bergman), and most recently, in the 2013 film Kill Your Darlings.

It's been adapted into songs and video games, used as floor music at the 2012 Olympic Games.

Carlos Santana used the theme in his song Love of My Life (Ft. Dave Matthews), from his 1999 album Supernatural.


This passionate symphony is, overall, a quiet one. Well, except for the very loud and striking first movement.

"Now, in this symphony, I encountered things I had never imagined music capable of expressing - regret, and a yearning for what is past or for what might have been, which in either case is a longing for the impossible." - Larry Rothe

Here's one of my favorite conductors, Leonard Bernstein conducting the Wiener Philharmoniker.

Downbeat is around 0:56.

The eight minute 3rd movement starts at 26:54. If you listen to anything today, it should be this third movement. And while it is extraordinary in the context of the entire symphony (The 1st mvt. in F major, the 2nd in C major, and this one in C minor leading to the finale in F minor and finally back to F major), it certainly stands up just fine all by itself. And the french horn part may be the most heart-wrenching thing you hear all day.


Oh, and here's that Carlos Santana track I mentioned earlier.


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Discussion Starter · #280 · (Edited)
An acquaintance of mine remarked, "Love, love, love the four Brahms Symphonies. The 3rd movement here is simply amazing. It's impossible to tire of, just truly gorgeous. I notice you've listed the 3rd and 4th symphonies thus far. However, his first is one of my favorite pieces in the classical world."



We all have our favorites, and there are centuries of music from which to choose. My list has grown so long I've stopped counting, but there's well over 500. . . . And not surprisingly for a list of this sort, I've managed to list some works more than once, and I've already run into some duplicates in the first 200 (I discovered that I had Brahms' 3rd symphony THREE times). That means the order in which I present them will likely change. Occasionally I'll spot a work that's further down on the list that I'll bump up to a lower number to replace a duplicate.

And, except for the Top 100, the rankings are fairly meaningless, other than I've tried to spread the love around, and represent the many ways in which classical music manifests. I'm actually pretty lean on 20th century works, with some notable exceptions.

And I've all but ignored film composers.

John Williams, for instance, has composed some of the world's most popular and memorable works imaginable:

Jaws, Star Wars, Raiders of the Lost Ark, Harry Potter,
Close Encounters of the Third Kind, E.T., Superman, Schindler's List,
Jurassic Park.

And some other great scores that you may have forgotten:

Hook, Catch Me If You Can, Saving Private Ryan, Memoirs of a Geisha,
The Book Thief, Home Alone, Goodbye Mr. Chips, Rosewood,
Heidi, Black Sunday, The Cowboys, Dracula
The Fury, Nixon, Images, The Reivers,
Born On The Fourth Of July, The Witches Of Eastwick
, and Jane Eyre.

He also composed music for the 1984 Summer Olympic Games. He has 51 Academy Award nominations and 66 Grammy nominations (winning 24 times).


As for Brahms, he's fairly well represented in the first 200 with four works, especially considering the competition.

58. Piano Trio No. 1
101. Symphony No. 4
116. Academic Festival Overture
131. Symphony No. 3

203. Four Songs for 2 horns, harp and women's choir
204. Clarinet Quintet in B minor
262. Piano Concerto No. 2
264. Symphony No. 1
294. Symphony No. 3 [duplicate] . . . oops . . .

302. Double Concerto for Violin, Cello and Orchestra
304. German Requiem
335. Lullaby (Wiegenlied)

528. Symphony No. 2
529. Tragic Overture
540. String Quartet No. 1
541. Piano Quartet in C minor

But Brahms is undeservedly scarce, and there's a reason for this: My list was conceived as a doorway to the world of Classical music, intended for those that are interested in learning about it, but have little exposure to it.

Brahms' music is generally on the very sophisticated side: There's no Bolero or The Planets, no flashy virtuoso works. No cannons, few scary passages, and very few tunes that have made it into the mainstream culture. Brahms wasn't used for Bugs Bunny cartoons. You'll find Brahms in films, but generally more obscure films, not blockbusters like 2001.

Well, there IS Hungarian Dance No. 5 from The Great Dictator by Charlie Chaplin:

[It reminds me quite a bit of the Looney Tunes version of the Barber of Seville]

I don't know . . . I find this brilliant, although there are others that might find it to be an insolent use of great music.


This really turned out to be a long term project. I have only gotten to #131 now. Most of the entries so far have had some commentary, although some do not.

And I can't tell just how popular the thread is . . . except when folks leave comments. And some of those comments have resulted in me adding a suggested piece to the list, or even bumping a work closer to the top of the list.

And doing stats on the list? Almost impossible. You asked about Brahms, so I simply scan down the list.

For instance . . . there are eight symphonies in the Top 50, and the majority of them are from Beethoven. But most in the top 50 are orchestral works; Overtures, Concertos, Ballets, etc.

And there's a preponderance of piano works on the list. I've tried mightily to be inclusive, but it's a learning process for me as well. As a pianist, I've far more likely to be familiar with piano-based works.

To my credit, Bach's 1st Cello Suite did make the Top 20, as did Carl Orff's O Fortuna. Mozart's Requiem and Schubert's Ave Maria made the Top 40. The Top 50s had several choral works.

And I did cheat a bit with Vivaldi's Four Seasons and Bach's Brandenburg Concertos: Technically that's 10 concertos altogether, for various solo instruments.


Coming up soon are works from Liszt, Tchaikovsky, Rimsky-Korsakov, Saint-Saens, Sibelius, Rachmaninoff, Mahler, and Elgar.
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