Friday, December 21, 2012

Music for the End of the World

Today's the day! The day, according to the Mayan prophecy, that the world comes to an end. Or, perhaps, just the beginning of a new era as it wasn't actually a prophecy, but just the end of a 5125 year long calendar cycle. I remain unconcerned because I have been hearing predictions of the end of the world since the 1960s and none of them have come to pass. But still, if the world were to come to an end today, what music would you want to hear last? A guitarist friend of mine said once that he would like to die while (or just after) playing this piece:

Lovely as that is, I think I would probably prefer to die while (or just after) playing some Bach. Perhaps this:

That limits it to whatever music is available for your instrument, but since everything (almost) has been recorded, we can all listen to our favorite music while (or just before) the world comes to an end. Now I'm pretty sure that you don't want to spend your last moments listening to Ke$ha or Psy doing Gangnam style. Perhaps something a bit more profound and consoling? There are some pieces that are very appropriate, I think. Logically, the correct choice would be the Quartet for the End of Time by Messiaen:

But I think most people would prefer something by Mozart like the last movement of his last symphony, No. 41:

There are lots of possibilities by Bach. The St. Matthew Passion:

Or the Mass in B minor:

There are some good possibilities by Beethoven such as the Quartet in C# minor, op 131:

Or, more apocalyptically, the Great Fuge:

But perhaps we could go in a different direction entirely and listen to something like this, looking to end in calm rather than in storm:

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