Classical music is not only great for relaxing, it can be actively enjoyed as well. You’re in no danger of switching out Led Zeppelin’s box set or The Chronic for Classical Concertos in the Key of C, but if you’re thinking it’s time to deepen your musical repertoire, we have got the perfect launching point into the greatest hits list of classical music. Get your headphones ready for a few hours of true, heavenly music. Let us check out some of the greatest and (mostly) well known pieces of classical music our guest blogger Shreyas Sarasan loves.
Sonata No. 21 in C major
This one is not that well known, but it is great enough to start off the list.
Among Beethoven’s most recognizable works, Fur Elise is the bona fide piano piece. It enjoys immense popularity in the modern world, more so for its easy accessibility and melody than its musical complexity. Amongst a number of pieces written for his lady loves, Fur Elise probably remains the most popular and one of the greatest pieces of classical music, ever.
Eine Kleine Nachtmusik
Eine Kleine Nachtmusik, or “A little night music” is probably Mozart’s most famous work, owing to its simplicity as compared to his other works and its melodic,easy-flowing tune. Performed in classical halls to street corners(!), EKN is Mozart’s light-hearted and laid-back vision of a beautiful night serenade.
Clair De Lune
Clair De Lune can be called modern society’s fallback classical piece when scouting musical scores for high profile living. Actually the third movement of Debussy’s piano suite, Bergamasque, Clair De Lune enjoys incredible popularity for its relatively simplistic and well structured beauty, making it one of the most accessible pieces of classical music ever.
The Magic Flute
An opera by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, The Magic Flute is probably more famous as ‘Singspiel’, played and recited in a two part format. An instant success upon its release, The Magic Flute has continued to endure as one of classical music’s more dramatically accessible works, enjoying huge popularity even today all over the world in opera houses.
Antonio Vivaldi’s Four Seasons eclipses his Flute Concerto as his best work. One of the best selling baroque pieces of all time, Four Seasons consists of four violin pieces that are a wedding and aficionado favorite. Four Seasons rose in prominence and was admired for the violin pieces’ ability to evoke the feelings of a particular season in the audience.
Beethoven’s Moonlight Sonata was written as an effort to appease his 17 year old understudy, Countess Giulietta Guicciardi, and is often considered the definitive romantic classical piece, rivalled only by the fame of Fur Elise. Beautiful and filled with longing, Beethoven imbibed the Sonata with fierce personal expression which was to later become his hallmark.
Brandenburg Concerto No.3 in G-Major
Probably the finest example of music from the Baroque period, the Brandenburg Concertos were a musical set composed of six pieces which was presented by Bach to Christian Ludwig. Noted for its clean structure and intellectual depth, the Brandenburg Concertos (especially No. 3) are resounding with sound composition and teeming with intricate complexity (Baroque’s signature).
The Marriage of Figaro
Probably Mozart’s most famous opera; It is so great because of it’s sheer genius it exudes in its technique, composition and style. Inspired by a play of the same name, Mozart transports the characters beautifully into the operatic genre, leading the Marriage of Figaro to be considered a standard by which to judge opera-ctic repertoire.
Beethoven’s answer to critics who called him anything “less-than-a-virtuoso” in classical music, the 5th Symphony is oft considered by many to be the greatest piece of classical music ever written.
The 5th Symphony is also probably the most recognizable classical composition due to its opening four-note motif. This motif has been a cultural darling and has been used in everything from parodies to dramatized works.
Also referred to as the Victory symphony, the 5th Symphony is characterized by sweeping notes of struggle, heroism and transcendence.
With his 9th Symphony, Beethoven ushered in a new era of music almost singlehandedly. The use of chorals had been previously discouraged by leading composers, but Beethoven changed all of that with the 9th, which was at its core, a fusion of art forms melding poetry, choral and instrumental music into one sweeping, majestic and musical ode to joy. The fact that Beethoven was almost completely deaf by the time he finished writing the 9th serves to underline its greatness.
The 9th Symphony is transcendental. It breaks the boundaries of its own form and ascends to something more. Something shimmering. Something joyful.
About the guest blogger: Shreyas Sarasan is a freelance author and IT graduate with a good taste in music. He calls himself an otaku and a linguist.