Great White Snark: Classical is FANTASTICAL!

Friday, June 3, 2011

Classical is FANTASTICAL!

So after my last post, it was requested that I do a Top 10 Classical Music Songs post (that song would have been on here, btw). And of course, who am I to deny my readers what they desire?? So without any further ado, I present
The GWS's Top 10 Classical Music Songs (In No Particular Order)

1. "Tristes Apprêts Pâles Flambeaux" by Jean-Philippe Rameau (1773)

This is from Rameau's opera Castor et Pollux, and while I think I could do a whole post on my Top 10 Opera songs, I won't. But this one had to make the list. It is so tragic and beautiful and well-composed. Also, Rameau was like a rebel. He used a lot of different harmonies and dissonance and caused quite the stir. Furthermore, Italian opera was the thing (if you've seen Amadeus you know this was kind of a big deal). Anyway, really great piece and a good way to ease into opera. Also it was in Marie Antoinette which gives it street cred.

2. "Concerto for Harp & Strings in C - III. Allegro Agitato" by Francois Boieldieu (1795)

This mofo was TWENTY when he composed this. OMG. That makes me feel like such a waste of space. But this is a beautiful piece, my favorite for harp, I think, as it showcases what a versatile instrument it is. Anyway, it's really pretty and I like it.

3. Beethoven's 7th Symphony, 2nd Movement "Allegretto" (1811)

Beethoven is the ultimate BAMF. He wrote this piece while he was freaking DEAF. YOU TRY AND BEAT THAT. This piece is the one (in addition to one other, also on this list...) that when I hear, makes me want to stop everything and just listen. It just soaks into you, into every fiber of your being. It's often hailed as one of Beethoven's finest compositions (even he agreed), and is touted as one of the most emotionally stirring and inspirational pieces in classical music. I agree. {Also, it's in the movies The Knowing and The King's Speech, but that's not why you should like it.}

4. Mozart's "Requiem: Confutatis" (1791)

WATCH Amadeus. END OF STORY. This song will give you chills, as if it doesn't already, if you know the context behind it (highly stylized context, mind you, but context nonetheless).
Mozart wrote it while on his deathbed (he died before its completion), so super ironic because it's a Requiem mass (his wife claimed after his death he wrote it for himself. CREEPTACULAR!). Also the translation is rich. Look it up. SO GOOD.

5. Aquarium from "Carnival of the Animals" by Camille Saint-Saëns (1886)

Familiar? Alan Menken was highly influenced by this piece when writing the soundtrack to Beauty and the Beast (listen to "The West Wing" if you don't believe it). Saint-Saëns is pretty amazing...anything by him probably won't disappoint. Which leads me to my next song...

6. Allegro (from Symphony No. 3 'Organ') by Camille Saint-Saëns (1886)

Yay! I love this piece. Anything with the pipe organ I kind of tend to be partial towards, but this is just such a complex and amazing piece. Also, if it's familiar to you, it was the theme song from the movie Babe. Yes, as in the pig.

7. "Danse Macabre" by Camille Saint-Saëns (1874)

Any song that opens with a chord known as "the Devil's chord" is gonna be worth listening to, right? ;) Per Wikipedia: "According to legend, "Death" appears at midnight every year on Halloween. Death calls forth the dead from their graves to dance their dance of death for him while he plays his fiddle...His skeletons dance for him until the rooster crows at dawn, when they must return to their graves until the next year." And you wonder why I like this song?

8. "Intermezzo Sinfonico" from Cavalleria Rusticana, by Pietro Mascagni (1890)

I've been enamored with this song ever since we played it in band in high school. Needless to say, it did NOT sound like that. But it's a gorgeous piece. It sounds all lovey-dovey to me. Which I like when it sounds like this.

9. "Fantasia on a Theme by Thomas Tallis" by Ralph Vaughan Williams (aka: "The Vaughan Williams Fantasia")(1910)

This is the other classical piece, apart from Beethoven's 7th, that makes me stop in my tracks to listen. It gives me chills, it has moved me to's just an incredible piece of music. One of humanity's best contributions to the arts and the universe in general. Also, it's in that super sad scene from Master and Commander where the guy goes overboard. Anyway, it vies for my #1 favorite piece spot. It's just amazing.

10. This just makes me feel like a tool, but I don't know what this song is!

It's gorgeous, and I listen to it loads. I'm not even sure how it got in my iTunes, but if any of you can ID it (isn't there an iPhone app for that??), I would be GREATLY obliged. I'll even mention you here. Or I'll do a post on whatever you want. Or I'll bless a baby. Just help me out here!

{ETA: THE TUBAMAN FOUND IT. It's a piece called "Recercada," originally written by Spanish Renaissance composer Diego Ortiz, and performed by Emilie Autumn. MAKE SURE you check out his Deviantart page (as if his Youtube isn't enough talent for you). He's one to watch AND he has good taste in music! YAY, THANK YOU!!!}

Anyway, that's my list! Hope you enjoyed. I tried to pick songs that weren't blatantly obvious aka: I'm a classical music hipster.
^^And that's TERRIBLE.

Honorable mentions:
Toccata and Fugue in D Minor, Bach
Concerto in G, Vivaldi (ANYTHING by Vivaldi for that matter)
Symphony 40 in G Minor, Mozart
Moonlight Sonata, Beethoven
The Ode to Joy from Beethoven's 9th, Beethoven (this is the one that apparently when it ended, the applause was uproarious but Beethoven was totally deaf, so they had to turn him around when he finished conducting so he could see it. He wept.)
In the Hall of the Mountain King, Grieg. GET THIS ONE. IT SHOULD BE ON THAT LIST.

Anyway, hope you all enjoyed. Have a fav that didn't make the list? Let me know in the comments! I'm always looking to expand my music library. :)

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