25 of the Greatest Music Compositions

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.



Blurry photo of Maurizio Pollini taken by me at the Lincoln Centre 2017


J.S  Bach

“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




Don Giovanni

The Magic Flute

Piano Concerti nos. 20 and 21

Clarinet Quintet in A Major

Requiem Mass



Piano Sonata No.8 in C Minor “Pathetique” (or no.29 “Hammerklavier”)



The Ballades



Symphony 5 in E Minor Op.64



La Boheme



Prélude à l’après-midi d’un faune

Preludes for Piano (books 1 and 2)

La Mer

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


Dmitri Shostakovich

Piano Concerto no.2 Op.102

6 thoughts on “25 of the Greatest Music Compositions

  1. 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


  2. 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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