Monday, February 16, 2015

Ten Favorite Pieces of Music

There are two reasons bloggers love lists: they tend to generate traffic because the Internet loves lists and second, they are easier than actually writing something! So after tossing off a few list posts, this will be the last one for a good while. Well, except for one on the ten best 19th century symphonies that I am still working on!

My ten favorite pieces of music are those pieces that I just like to listen to; that reliably provide a certain thrill, a certain glimpse of something we have no words for. Not pieces that I should like or that are 'important' or historically significant. Just ones I like. You might like some of them too. As is my practice, to avoid the problem of ranking, I will put them up in chronological order.

1. Viderunt Omnes, organum by Léonin, c. 2nd half of the 12th century AD.

2. Nuper rosarum flores, motet by Guillaume DuFay, 1436, composed for the consecration of the Duomo in Florence.

3. Dona nobis pacem, from the B minor Mass, J. S. Bach, 1749. Not performed until 1859, over a hundred years later.

4. Andante from Divertimento, K. 138 for strings by W. A. Mozart, composed in Salzburg shortly after returning from his second Italian journey in 1772. He was sixteen years old. Though Mozart composed many wonderful slow movements, I don't think any of them are more touching than this one.

5. Presto (finale) from the Symphony No. 92, "Oxford" by Joseph Haydn, composed in 1789 for the Count d'Ogny. Haydn at his most exuberant.

6. Cavatina from the String Quartet in B flat major, op. 130 by Ludwig van Beethoven, composed in 1825. One of the most deeply emotional pieces of music ever written.

7. des pas sur la neige... from the Préludes for piano, Bk 1 by Claude Debussy completed in 1913.

8. The Rite of Spring, by Igor Stravinsky, also completed in 1913.

9. String Quartet No. 8 in C minor, op. 110 by Dmitri Shostakovich. A work of great personal significance, this was written in a mere three days in 1960.

10. Strawberry Fields Forever, written by John Lennon and released as a single by the Beatles in 1967. Also a piece with great personal significance.

Bonus piece: I feel the need to put one more piece in here and frankly, it is between Bob Dylan and Leonard Cohen. As a long time resident of Montreal, I choose Cohen. Here is his song Dance Me to the End of Love:


Anonymous said...

I have a pretty fast Internet connection and yet it's taking a while to load up your blog. It's all these youtube pics. I suggest perhaps keeping only 2 or 3 posts on the front page and rolling the rest into "older posts." Just a thought.

Bryan Townsend said...

That's an interesting idea. I haven't noticed a problem myself. What sort of hardware are you using?

Anonymous said...

I use firefox with a 60Mbps download speed connection.

You wouldn't notice because your pictures have been cached. Once they're cached on my machine then scrolling is no problem. It's just that a new page might take up to a minute to be loaded.