I thought I would kick off 2018 with a very different blog to what readers are used to here at murraycampbell.net. For fun, I wish to offer a definitive (yes, I said definitive!) list of the finest musical works ever written (perhaps not definitive…but close).
Music is one of God’s greatest gifts to the world, and these are some of the most extraordinary examples of this Divine endowment.
Narrowing the possibilities to only 25 is sufficiently impossible, let alone settling on a sequential order with some silly countdown. For how can one compare Bach to Mozart, or Debussy with Rachmaninov? Can’t one appreciate both apples and oranges? Nonetheless, not all compositions are created equal.
Lists often reveal more about the compiler than they do about the items being collated; this is probably no exception. That withstanding, in my view these are 25 of the greatest compositions ever written. Some of these works I learned and performed when I was younger, and others I first discovered others at an even younger age, while others grabbed hold of me as an adult. Many of them have a back story which I won’t bore you with, but one thing each of these works have in common, and that is, I regularly listen to them. While some of these works are notable for their influence on music history, and all for their musical genius, they each offer to send listeners traveling through the chromatic scale of human experience, whether it is by their sheer beauty or wonderment or sorrow or haunting qualities.
No doubt others will have alternate suggestions. It’s probably safe to say that among 1000 or even 100,000 readers, no two lists will be alike. And yes, I’m sure the philistines among us will be tempted to include a song that utilises the creative genius of I – vi – IV – V and the compulsory drum kit!
So what would you include?
If you have never listened to these works, go ahead and enjoy, be moved, be delighted, be challenged, be intrigued.
“Jesu meine freude” Motet BWV 227
Well Tempered Clavier
Goldberg Variations BWV 988
Violin Sonata in G Minor BWV 1001
Mass in B Minor BWV 232
St Matthew’s Passion BWV 244
George F Handel
The Magic Flute
Piano Concerti nos. 20 and 21
Clarinet Quintet in A Major
Piano Sonata No.8 in C Minor “Pathetique” (or no.29 “Hammerklavier”)
Symphony 5 in E Minor Op.64
Prélude à l’après-midi d’un faune
Preludes for Piano (books 1 and 2)
String quartet in G Minor
Piano Concerto no.2 in C Minor Op.18
Piano Concerto no.3 in D Minor Op.30
Symphony no.2 in E Minor Op.27
Cello Concerto in E Minor Op. 85
Piano Concerto no.2 Op.102
6 thoughts on “25 of the Greatest Music Compositions”
That’s a nice list Murray, but these pieces are all 100+ years old. Can I suggest you listen to something a bit more contemporary? Have a listen to Gorecki’s Symphony of Sorrowful Songs, I think you’ll like it
The Shostakovich was written around 1957.
I listen to modern works and there is much wonderful music written post WW2. I particularly appreciate Messiaen, but I didn’t think any made the cut
I’m pretty certain that the no decent music was written after Telemann died!
Ah you got me there, my bad. Glad you like Messiaen, I love his Quartet for the End of Time beyond words.
But leaving quarrels about numbers of decades aside, the spirit of my comment is that the conservatism of your blog is reflected in your music taste. That’s not wrong, but worth reflecting on.
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I did think about more contemporary works, but couldn’t think of one that would make the list. Nonetheless, your suggestion is good food for thought. thanks
Nice list! Are you a fan of any Bartok? One of my colleagues refers to the 3 Bs as Bach, Beethoven, and Bartok (he’s not too keen on Brahms).
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