My Top 10 Favourite Classical Pieces – Part 1

31 03 2011

Classical music might just be my favourite genre of music, in what is now a 21 year love affair. Don’t get me wrong. I love allsorts of music, I do genuinely listen to everything from Top 40 pop songs to classic rock via blues, jazz, fusion, world, hip hop, dance, progressive rock, metal, reggae etc. My iPod is a melting pot of 6059 tracks (at time of writing) and I still have another 20GB or so to play with!

One true constant about my life though has been how much I just enjoy classical music. It’s always evocative and can just evoke emotion like nothing else. It’s a sad fact though that not everybody likes it. You look at some of the current stars in the mainstream musical world and I feel a little bit like it’s just so unjust that people with what seems like very little talent can rack up huge amounts of digital downloads, and score top 10 hits across the world whereas the legacy of some of these artists and composers seems to take a back seat. However, I don’t want to get into a rant, digressing over!

Attempting to choose my top 10 pieces wasn’t easy. I had to really think about this!! So, without further ado… Let’s begin the countdown [cue the cheesy countdown intro music!]

#10 – Bolero – Popularised by Torvil and Dean’s ice skating heroics in the 1984 winter Olympics, this piece builds and builds gradually in dynamics and mood until it comes at you full pelt. The piece is a highly repetitive piece, but for me, it’s about how it grows and flows throughout. Incidentally, the film was the subject of a French shot film. An 8 minute single shot piece called Le batteur du bolero. This film focuses on one of the percussionists and his changing emotions throughout, it’s a very subtly amusing film.

#9 – Rule Britannia – Ah yes, +1 for England! A patriotic song which is the staple of the last night of the proms as well as numerous international sporting events, football particularly. This song is all about the chorus! ‘Rule Britannia, Britannia holds the waves, Britain’s never never never shall be slaves’ – Having been in LNoTP type concerts and everybody singing it proudly and waving the union jack. That’s pretty cool! One of the things I like though is how, despite the fact that this song could be non-more British even if it was holding a warm beer watching Andy Murray get knocked out of the semi’s at Wimbledon, it brings people together. I’ve seen people from a whole host of nations singing along and waving flags. That’s a truly beautiful thing.

#8 – Canon in D – The original one hit wonder, anybody who is anybody has heard Canon in D at some point in their life. Be it the classical piece or the uber-rocking Canon Rock covers on Youtube (thanks Jerry C!) this song is everywhere. The chord progression has run rampant over music, and any self-respecting artist has written a song using at least, the first 4 chords, if not all 8. Those of you who have seen Rob Paravonian’s viral rant video will know what I mean.

#7 – Haydn’s Trumpet Concerto in Eb No. 1 – Allergo – Yes, the title is a little intricate, but this piece is superb. Its allergo, it’s happy, it’s joyous, it’s symphonic, it’s just good! A great showcase for the trumpet also. One of the pieces I like to listen to in the mornings whilst commuting!

#6 – Listz’s Hungarian Rhapsody No. 2 – Another piece I’m sure a lot of you will no doubt recognise. There’s a Tom and Jerry cartoon based on this cartoon. Victor Borge did a wonderful comedy performance of it. I also believe it was theme music to BBC Cartoons for a short period when I was just a wee nipper. The ending will be familiar I’m sure. Just one piano throughout, this piece is wonderful. It changes moods and tempos a few times throughout also, and always leaves me with a smile on my face.

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