Last week we talked about your Top Five list of favorite books. This week Part II takes us to the world of music.
What are your Top Five pieces of music of all time?
When I think about an all-time favorite list, I always end up with classical pieces only. My taste for contemporary music is much more variable and changeable. But these pieces have stood the test of time, and obviously not only for me. The following have accompanied me since my violin-playing days of youth. I tend to favour music I have played myself, because only then do I have the feeling I know the piece from “inside”. There is no better feeling…
1. Antonin Dvorák: String Quartet N°12 in F major “American” – A thoroughly modern piece, this quartet has fantastic rhythms and unforgettable melodies. I played this with my string quartet at a competition when we were sixteen. We didn’t win because others were better technically, but musically we totally blew them all out of the water with our interpretation of the second movement. In hindsight, a wonder for four kids that young. It must have been sheer enthusiasm and love for the music that propelled us. Still my absolute favorite piece of chamber music.
2. Ludwig van Beethoven: Symphony N°6 in F major “Pastorale” – the best and maybe most famous example of programme music, the Pastorale is uplifting and joyful, even when the thunderstorm comes.
Also, the third movement has the best oboe solo. I adore the oboe. The second clip is just the third movement, called “Lustiges Zusammensein der Landleute (Merry gathering of country folk)” for its fantastic oboe solo:
3. Antonio Vivaldi: Nulla in mundo pax sincera (RV 630) – church music is fabulous. To be honest (and trusting that my dear mother does not read this blog), it is the reason I made it to church every Sunday when I was a child. There was a very active choir and orchestra in our church so I had the pleasure of at first sitting through, later participating in the many great works Bach, Vivaldi, Händel, Mozart, Schubert and Haydn wrote for the church. I wish I could sing like that.
4. Camille Saint-Saëns: La Carnavale des Animaux – Sheer fun! Saint-Saëns was a pianist and this was his way to make fun of pianists and at the same time challenge them to give their best. This is hard on the two pianists and total fun for the orchestra. I remember enjoying myself tremendously as a “squirrel”. There is a German text to accompany the music by Loriot, which is very funny and witty. In English something similar has been written by the poet Ogden Nash. But there are also serious pieces in the carnival. The Swan, a devastatingly beautiful cello and piano piece, was performed in church at my wedding. Everybody cried.
5. Giacomo Puccini: Nessun Dorma, Aria from Turandot – A good, swashbuckling tenor aria is hard to beat. I included the Three Tenors, because this is truly one of the great musical moments of our lifetime. Although we all know Pavarotti was in a league of his own…😉
I had the hardest time picking the fifth piece. What to include, what to leave out? I must say I had a fabulous evening though, trying to decide and narrow it down. I picked Nessun Dorma because it always, always makes my soul soar with joy. Vincero, indeed.
Honorable mentions: Maurice Ravel Bolero, Robert Schumann Symphony N°3 e-flat major “Rheinische”, Antonio Vivaldi The Four Seasons, Johannes Brahms Hungarian Dance N°5, W. A. Mozart: Krönungsmesse – Coronation Mass (Mass No. 15 in C major, KV 317);
To go out in a blaze of glory, here is Brahm’s Hungarian Dance N°5, my son Paul’s favorite music.
I can’t wait to hear (literally this time!) your favorites. You can imbed a youtube video in the comments (just paste the link). That might make the spam detectors of wordpress a bit nervous, so if your comment doesn’t appear right away, it may have been temporarily spammed, I will then have to approve it and it’ll appear.
So, please, let’s hear it for your Top Five of music!