Classical Music Classics

Peter Ilich Tchaikovsky

Many people remember this music for its ending with chimes, bells, and cannons along with the full orchestra, which is in celebration of the Russian defeat of Napoleon's army in 1812. But, in the beginning, the music is a quiet hymn-like melody derived from a Russian folk song. Tchaikovsky's skill for writing melodies has few peers.

Richard Strauss

These compositions are known as "tone poems" in which a certain scene, or character, or location, etc. is depicted by the music. People who heard this at the very beginning of the movie 2001--A Space Odyssey were stunned by the orchestra's brass and percussion sections. That music is the very beginning of the first tone poem "Thus Spake Zarathustra." And fear not, the rest of these works are just as exciting as the other "tone poems" by Richard Strauss. By the way, this is not the "waltzing" Strauss.

Johann Sebastian Bach

The opening work is his "Tocatta and Fugue in D Minor" for Organ. This is a "crank up the volume" and let the organ push you back into your chair. All of the music on this CD offers up a well-rounded selection of Bach's music.

Maurice Ravel

Many folks will immediately recognize "Bolero." It begins with a lonely snare drum and one woodwind instrument. The drum keeps repeating itself over and over throughout, and getting louder and louder as more instruments are added over and over with the full orchestra finally coming in, leading to a stunning climatic ending. "Bolero" has been featured in several films. Remember the movie 10? The library has other recordings of Ravel's orchestral works, all quite stunning in their orchestration.

Carl Orff

It is believed the text for this secular cantata was written by monks/young clergy students from the 12th or 13th centuries. Some texts are about love, eroticism, and humor. The music is like Audio Fireworks. The "O Fortuna" has been utilized in oh so many movies.

Aaron Copland

This music is typical of all of Copland. You will hear his use of jazz and folk music. Beginning with Copland's homage to the land below the Rio Grande, "El Salon Mexico," and continuing on with his lesser-known "Dance Symphony" (a ghoulish work taken from his never-staged 1920's ballet "Grohg"), Dorati and his orchestra move to the stirring "Fanfare For The Common Man," and then traverse the suites Copland extracted from his two ultra-popular ballets--"Rodeo" and "Appalachian Spring."

Antonio Vivaldi

Vivaldi wrote well over 700 compositions (four hundred concertos, forty some operas, and many compositions for the voice). In the "Four Seasons," it is the first movement, "Spring," that is the most recognizable of the four seasons. It was used for months by the Weather Channel. "Spring" also found its way into movies, i.e. Elvira Madigan and The Banger Sisters to mention a couple. In "Spring", Vivaldi gives us a sense of brightness and lightness, just perfect for the feel of Spring.

Giacomo Puccini

La Bohème is a story of young love set in the bohemian culture of 1830s Paris. The bittersweet tragedy centers around an optimistic group of friends surviving on limited means. Rodolfo, a poet, shares a garret with his artist friend. Mimi is a seamstress living in a neighboring apartment. Mimi and Rodolfo meet and fall instantly, madly, in love. But the diva is already desperately ill with tuberculosis and not long for the world. Available in DVD format, plus CDs.

Claude Debussy

There are two masterpieces on this recording, "La Mer" (The Sea) and "Prelude a l'apres-midi d'un faune" (Prelude to the Afternoon of a Faun). In "La Mer," Debussy's use of instrumental colors brilliantly produce the many sounds and moods of the sea. The "Prelude" as described by Debussy were "successive scenes which the desires and dreams of the faun pass through in the heat of the afternoon."

Igor Stravinsky

This is music originally written for ballet. The overall subject is Pagan Ritual. The music is recognizable, but many people find it just too dissonant for comfort. It premiered in Paris in 1913, resulting in a riot. It remains a controversial piece. His ballet titled "The Firebird" is far more acceptable to the ear, and has a magnificent climactic ending. Both are landmarks in their fields. Multiple copies are available in the library's collection. OnE of the copies contains Stravinsky's Firebird Suite - it's spectacular.

Richard Wagner

Many people are frighted to death of Wagner's music because of its extreme length. BUT have no fear, this is a recording of his operas' Overtures and Preludes. These preludes and overtures have been used in many movies like Excalibur, My Big Fat Greek Wedding, Shadow of the Vampire, Apocalypse Now and more. Wagner's music can be powerful, big muscled, or so sad to make one weep.

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart

Mozart wrote so much delightful music. This collection contains excerpts from some of his orchestral music featuring such instruments as the violin, piano, clarinet, flute and French horn.

George Handel

With out a doubt, the "Messiah" is the most frequently performed choral composition throughout the world. The first part, "Christmas," concludes with the "Hallelujah Chorus" and is heard around the world at Christmas time. The lesser -known part two is performed during the Easter season. If you have never heard the "Hallelujah Chorus," then you must be from another planet!

Johann Pachelbel

The Canon also appears on the CD titled Dinner Specials which also features nice representative compositions by Vivaldi, Mozart and J.S. Bach.

Edvard Grieg

Grieg is a master of charming melodies used throughout all his music. The "Peer Gynt Suite No.1" is no exception. "Morning" begins with a graceful melody which suggests a morning with a sun rise feel and the chirping of birds. The last section, "In the Hall of the Mountain King" is probably the best known of "Peer Gynt Suite No.1" having been utilized in numerous movies.

Modest Murrorgsky; orchestrated by Ravel

Originally composed in 1874 for the piano, depicting drawings and watercolors by friend Victore Hartmann. It has since been orchestrated by several composers. By far, the most performed orchestration is that of Maurice Ravel in 1922. Every picture can tell a musical story. Also, Mussorgsky wrote a "Night on Bald Mountain" which has been used in numerous films, including Disney's Fantasia.

Frédéric Chopin

Almost all of Chopin's music was written for the piano. Of special interest here is his "Sonata No. 2 in B flat minor." The third movement of this sonata is one of the most famous funeral marches in classical music. Movies such as Beetle Juice and Citizen Kane are just a couple of movies in which it has been utilized. The Sonata #2 is just one example of his many piano pieces. The rest of the recording provides an excellent representation of his compositional skills as a composer.

Johannes Brahms

It took over twenty years from its original thoughts to its premiere in 1867. The premiere of the First Symphony, in 1876, was a triumph, and the influential Hans von Bülow did not hesitate to proclaim it "the Tenth"(in reference in Beethoven's 9th)--a tribute Brahms understood, of course, but received with mixed feelings. For a first symphony, Brahms, if he had composed no others, this would still be considered one of the greatest ever written. He only wrote three more--all are equally astounding.

Jean Sibelius

His tone poem "Finlandia" is probably the most recognizable orchestral piece by him. And his Second symphony is probably the most popular. His music personifies the majestical essence of Finland and its people.

Camille Saint-Saens

This a one of the few symphonies that features the organ "big time." It is used in the second movement quietly, while the fourth movement begins with a tremendous chord by the organ. This thrilling 4th movement was used in the movie Babe with great effect.

Ludwig Beethoven

This, along with his 9th symphony, are his best-known symphonies. In addition to his 5th symphony, this specific recording has his 7th symphony as well. All are considered masterpieces. Just a footnote here: During World War II, the first four notes of his Fifth Symphony in Morse Code (short short short long) signified "V" for Victory.

Ludwig Beethoven

The last movement of Beethoven's 9th symphony has become the national symphony for the world.

Antonin Dvořák

Antonin Dvořák's 9th Symphony, known also as the "New World Symphony," was composed by Dvořák while he was visiting the United States. The 2nd movement was rewitten (transcribed) into a moving choral piece known as "Going Home." It is frequently performed by high school and college choirs around the country.

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart

Mozart, amongst all of his many compositions, includes music set to children's poetry. In this CD, Vol.1, you will hear the famous "Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star." After the simple playing of "Twinkle, Twinkle" you will hear five variations of the melody. The completed music has twelve variations. If you like Mozart,this collection of his music will surely be delightful.

Samuel Barber

This recording of the "Adagio for Strings" plus other orchestral works by the America composer Samuel Barber makes this a wonderful introduction to his music. The "Adagio" seems to be searching the soul, probing here and there. It roots out the very essence of spirituality. It is both passionate and profound. This music was heard in the movie Platoon.

Van Cliburn

Beethoven's beloved "Moonlight Sonata" is included in this collection of famous piano music. The "Moonlight Sonata" is composed of three movements. The first and most famous is slow and deliberate, almost languid in its expression. The second movement is in a waltz style that floats with playful melodies. In a roar, the third movement relentlessly pounds away at you with few moments for you to take a breath, then once again, roars to its conclusion. This two-CD collection also has other titles worthy of mention. Tchaikovsky's "Piano Concerto No.1," "Clair de Lune" by Debussy, "Funeral March" and "Heroic Polonaise" by Chopin, "Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini" by Rachmaninoff, and "Liebestraum No.3" by Liszt. There are other composers whose wonderful music is included in the landmark collection.