Ten Spooky Classical Music Favorites for Halloween

By |2018-10-30T23:22:08-05:00October 30th, 2018|

It’s Halloween, and you’re looking for that perfect, spooky Halloween music that’s a little more sophisticated than “The Monster Mash” and “Thriller” and “Werewolves of London.” Look no further, friends. I’ve done my own hopping around to see what others consider to be their Top 10 classical spooky favorites. My list is a little different; [...]

10 Great Violin Concertos You Must Hear

By |2018-05-20T07:40:39-05:00May 19th, 2018|

The fun thing about really getting to know the violin concerto repertoire is that there are always more treasures to discover… The violin concerto repertoire is so rich and satisfying, I’m embarrassed to admit that, prior to becoming an adult beginner on the violin in 2005, I was only familiar with a few of them. [...]

Finnish Perfection: The Sibelius Violin Concerto

By |2018-01-09T22:22:34-05:00January 9th, 2018|

There is something immoderate about Sibelius’ Violin Concerto—something vulnerable and unspeakably beautiful, right there along something dark and brooding. The piece illustrates that not only do darkness and beauty coexist, they enhance each other… It’s complex, gripping, devilishly complicated, and sounds like no other concerto in the violin repertoire. Listening to Finnish composer Jean Sibelius’ violin [...]

Sibelius, “Finlandia,” and the Cry of Freedom

By |2017-12-05T22:23:43-05:00December 5th, 2017|

In 1900, Jean Sibelius revised his patriotic tone-poem, Finlandia, and its popularity grew in leaps and bounds. Suddenly the world knew about Sibelius, Finlandia, and Finnish national pride… Jean Sibelius Jean Sibelius’ tone-poem, Finlandia, wasn’t supposed to be the program headliner that Saturday night at the San Francisco Symphony. The main draw was the Sibelius Violin Concerto, [...]

From the Sacred to the Profane: More Music for My Desert Island

By |2017-10-12T14:03:23-05:00May 26th, 2017|

In truth, much of my favourite music is not sacred but profane, insofar as it is not overtly religious or in the least liturgical; and yet these profane favourites are certainly sublime, reflecting the goodness, truth and beauty of Creation, the harmony of the cosmos and the music of the spheres… Several months ago [...]

“In Memoriam”

By |2017-05-27T16:56:08-05:00May 24th, 2017|

Editor's Note: Jean Sibelius wrote In Memoriam (Op. 59), in memory of Eugen Schauman, a Finnish nationalist who assassinated the Russian Governor-General of the Duchy of Finland, in a bid to further Finnish independence. The work is a funeral march for orchestra. Sibelius composed a first version in 1909 and completed a final version in [...]

My Fatherland! Ten Classical Pieces About Home and Country

By |2018-10-20T10:46:57-05:00February 23rd, 2017|

In an era of resurgent nationalism, it seems timely to present ten of the greatest classical music pieces written by composers about their countries. 1. Bedřich Smetana: Má Vlast (My Fatherland) Czech composers of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries embraced the spirit of nationalism, and Bedřich Smetana's monumental cycle of tone poems about his [...]

The Top Ten Greatest Violin Concertos

By |2018-11-19T11:35:33-05:00December 31st, 2014|

The violin concerto as a form of music has endured for some 300 years and remains, alongside the piano concerto, the most popular type of concerto played in modern concert halls and committed to recording. The genre was first developed during the Baroque era, when the concerto was conceived as a tripartite structure, running about [...]

Ten Scary Classical Music Pieces for Halloween

By |2018-10-30T23:57:16-05:00October 31st, 2014|

Great music pierces the soul…and can sometimes terrify it. Over the centuries, composers, like nearly all artists of every variety, have been fascinated by the subject of death and by the supernatural—the world of witches, goblins, ghosts, and demons. Composers have given us Dances of the Dead, frightful tone poems and songs, scary opera [...]

The Ten Most Beautiful Classical Symphonies

By |2019-03-26T15:38:02-05:00November 27th, 2013|

“Imagination creates reality.” —Richard Wagner Though beauty is an absolute reality, we human beings see through a glass darkly, and the space between objective beauty and our own personal taste can be fuzzy. Any list that seeks to rank the most beautiful works of any kind is thus going to be subjected to fierce [...]