Time for some classical music
September 8, 2018 9:07 PM   Subscribe

5 Minutes that will Make you Love Classical Music. "I posed a deceptively simple question to our writers and editors, as well as some artists we admire: What are the five minutes or so — longer than a moment, shorter than a symphony — that you’d play for a friend to convince them to fall in love with classical music?" - Zachary Woolfe, NYT classical music editor.

The list includes modern classical composers, and of the 3 B's, only Beethoven is included.
posted by storybored (96 comments total) 111 users marked this as a favorite
 
This was lovely. I am looking forward to hearing mefites chime in with their own suggestions.
posted by blurker at 9:17 PM on September 8 [1 favorite]


Bum bad da dum dum dum da dum da dum-

*crash*

Da dum da da da da da da dum da dum

*crash*

Helps if you make hand motions while you make crashing noises. Hooks ‘em every time.
posted by Homo neanderthalensis at 9:26 PM on September 8 [2 favorites]


And if you enjoyed the "Liebestod" (from Wagner's Tristan und Isolde; Yannick Nézet-Séguin's pick), you'll love this.

In all seriousness, though, this is great---thank you, storybored. I listen to a fair amount of classical music, but I'm
very much looking forward to going through the list.

Take that "Liebestod", for example. I've never been able to get into Wagner, but that---that's really something. It's immensely helpful to have somebody who knows what they're talking about say "this bit: that's the bit to listen to" if you want to hear what's wonderful about this composer, or this piece, or this genre.

And as I think about how I'd answer it, I really don't know. I'm tempted to repeat this link to Bach's Gigue Fugue from a previous comment, but I ... I'll have to think about this. It's a fascinating challenge, because you can't just say "Go listen to all of [this piano concerto]": you have to figure out what it is about the piece that provokes such a reaction, and pick out the bit that displays those qualities. (And if it's only five minutes, there's a better chance that the person you're talking to will go listen to the excerpt.)
posted by golwengaud at 9:33 PM on September 8 [2 favorites]


I can't believe someone didn't throw everyone in the world a bone and include the "1812 Overture" (as - I think - alluded to above), and I can't believe some pretentious critic actually included "4'33"" as a piece to make someone who didn't know anything about classical music love classical music. Jeez, read the room, guys.
posted by yhbc at 9:39 PM on September 8 [15 favorites]


Depending on mood, either the last five minutes of Bach's Toccata and Fugue in D minor, or the first five minutes of Glass's Itaipu symphony.

In both cases it's all about those chord sequences, the modulations. Both give me chills.
posted by Dysk at 10:02 PM on September 8 [1 favorite]


Stravinsky's "Madrid" etude.

Of course, the usual bit of "Clair de Lune."
posted by sonascope at 10:04 PM on September 8 [4 favorites]


Holst's Jupiter from The Planets. Sevenish minutes I know, but it really only needs five.
posted by ethansr at 10:06 PM on September 8 [9 favorites]


Seconding Clair de Lune. The famous passage is five minutes of the most beautiful, lucid, captivating music. Not overwhelming. Just a wonderful, heartwarming yet wistful little little reverie.
posted by darkstar at 10:16 PM on September 8 [2 favorites]


Following on yhbc’s excellent observation that this isn’t supposed to be a list of intricate works from highbrow insights, the popular classical pieces are popular for the very reason that they have mass appeal.

I mean, there’s a reason that everybody knows about Vivaldi’s Spring, Beethoven’s 5th, 9th, and Moonlight Sonata, Handel’s Water Music, Messiah, and Royal Fireworks, Bizet’s Carmen, Grieg’s In the Hall of the Mountain King, Mozart’s Queen of the Night Aria, Boccherini’s String Quartet, etc., etc.

I kind of think that the authors didn’t really want such pedestrian suggestions, and really wanted the more educated ones, but didn’t want to sound too toffeenosed about it.

Welp, to listen to Brahms’ 3rd Racket... :-P
posted by darkstar at 10:30 PM on September 8 [4 favorites]


Resoundingly seconding ethansr's mention of Jupiter (who can resist letting out a whoop of joy at the end of it?) And no Saint-Saens' Carnival of the Animals? To say nothing of the lack of mention of Saturday morning cartoons. Who even are these people, man??
posted by Greg_Ace at 10:32 PM on September 8 [1 favorite]


Moonlight Sonata is the greatest music ever written for killing people.

I mean, people that deserve it.

Of course.

*cough*
posted by aramaic at 10:46 PM on September 8 [5 favorites]


More than double the time limit, but fuck it: "Benedictus" from Beethoven's Missa Solemnis.
posted by Halloween Jack at 10:48 PM on September 8 [5 favorites]


Neat idea, though the number of Revel and Strauss pieces makes me think this plan isn't going to work out very well. People who devote their lives to classical music have a very different relationship to music than the rest of us.

I'd have picked Bach's Cello Suite No 5.

(4:33? Really? I agree it's a neat concept. . . but, that can't possibly be a serious answer to the question you were asked.)
posted by eotvos at 10:51 PM on September 8 [2 favorites]


Okay, I'll bite. First Messiaen's "Mode de valeurs et d'intensites," just because the idea of taking superserialism and making an actual meaningful exciting piece of music out of it is so cool. Then the last movement from Beethoven's Seventh, because you can dance to it; there's a reason that when my orchestra did it the concertmaster kept telling us "You guys! Be more pop!".
posted by huimangm at 10:53 PM on September 8 [3 favorites]


Seems like the second movement of Beethoven's 7th Symphony is more popular, but I really love the third movement. All of the swells that get more and more exultant!
posted by little onion at 11:06 PM on September 8 [3 favorites]


The thing I love about 4:33 is that I can violate copyright laws merely by sitting at my desk reading a website reading the washington post.
posted by el io at 11:10 PM on September 8 [3 favorites]


The best five minutes of Chopin is Artur Rubinstein playing the Valse Brillante.
posted by J.K. Seazer at 11:14 PM on September 8 [2 favorites]


I can't believe some pretentious critic actually included "4'33"" as a piece to make someone who didn't know anything about classical music love classical music. Jeez, read the room, guys.

That wasn't the question, though. The question asks for five minutes of music to convince "a friend." There is no further qualification. It's not necessarily a friend who knows nothing about classical music. It could be a friend who knows lots about classical music and thinks there is nothing new to say. Or a friend who has heard all and only the "classics" and thinks they're stuffy and boring. (For the last group, I'll recommend listening to my wife's setting of Jennifer L. Knox's Hot Ass Poem.)

In any event, I think we're better off setting aside the question actually asked. I mean, if you want to convince somebody to like "classical" music, then you need to know something about that person's tastes and interests and hang-ups. Better to ask and answer the question: What do you think is the best five minutes of classical music and why? I think putting the question that way opens up a lot more honest space for people to talk about what they find engaging about classical music and why they love it, rather than trying to guess at what will make somebody else like it.

I keep coming back to the prelude of Bach's cello suite no. 1. I could probably listen to that forever. But right at this moment, I'll take a couple of Copland's settings of Emily Dickinson poems. The whole set is too long for this, but five minutes is enough time to listen to Why do they shut me out of heaven? and The world feels dusty. To me, these are just the right kind of sad and moving and penetrating.
posted by Jonathan Livengood at 12:01 AM on September 9 [7 favorites]


Chopin's Op. 28 Préludes were the first classical pieces that I fell for: for five minutes' worth try nos. 6, 9 & 23.
posted by misteraitch at 12:11 AM on September 9 [4 favorites]


I reject the question. Five minutes ain't enough by orders of magnitude. Even Stalin didn't impose time limits on the likes of Shostavich.
posted by philip-random at 12:23 AM on September 9 [3 favorites]


I know it's been used many times, and can feel trite to those who have become accostomed to it, but I hold that the beauty and otherworldly quality of Duo des fleurs is well-worn for reasons that draw in those who may otherwise not find an easy home in classical music.
posted by CheapB at 12:28 AM on September 9 [1 favorite]


It’s one of the popular pieces darkstar alluded to but as a CBC radio listener of a certain era, I’d probably give my pick to Pachelbel’s Canon in D.
posted by juv3nal at 12:29 AM on September 9 [3 favorites]


I'm happy to see Lou Harrison get a callout in the article, as I've fallen in love with his stuff after discovering it a while back. That said, it's not that Chaconne that does it for me, but the first movement, "Gending", of his Varied Trio.

Not only does it demonstrate how Harrison highlighted some of the most interesting trends of post-modern classical music, like looking for tonal inspiration from outside the western tradition (although we can quibble about whether it amounts to appropriation in his case) and the use of unconventional instrumentation (I mean, just look at how that piano is used at the beginning of the piece), but it really synthesizes it all into a wonderful, gorgeous piece of music that clocks in at exactly 5 minutes to boot.

I'd also consider throwing in a somewhat unconventional recommendation for "Verses" by Ólafur Arnalds, seeing as it borrows and reinterprets a phrase from the third movement of Chopin's Piano Sonata No. 3 (as part of his larger Chopin Project collaboration with Alice Sara Ott). But then I've always been a sucker for his lush melancholic electronic semi-classical works (some of which, to be fair, might end up falling outside the scope of this list as a result).
posted by The Situationist Room with Guy Debord at 12:34 AM on September 9 [2 favorites]


(for the CBC reference)
posted by juv3nal at 12:35 AM on September 9


I'm going to take the perspective that my friends are probably deeply familiar with all the standards through muzak and church music. The former is intentionally arranged to be bland, joyless, and commercial, the latter might not be but is presented with a definite emphasis on the traditionalism. I have the BBC podcasts when they did all of the Beethoven symphonies, and come back around to the anecdote about the 5th, "When Berlioz's teacher walked out, he was so astonished that when he tried to put on his hat, he couldn't find his head." So in the spirit of work I've found astonishing lately:

Since we just got out of Bernstein month, I'll put up West Side Story, "Dance at the Gym". It's such a classical music thing to stitch things together from the contemporary vernacular, and West Side Story is a work that somehow juggles so many emotional extremes, sometimes in the course of a single ballet sequence.

Mark Summer, "Julie-O." A recent live performance prompted me to look up multiple variations.

Arvo Pärt, "Spiegel im Spiegel." Probably something that my friends have heard as part of film scores, but don't recognize as a stand-alone work.

The Kronos Quartet arrangement of "Purple Haze." I was 17, and an extremely bored violist from a years of dull string quartet parts when I first heard them perform this.

And my favorite three minutes, Astor Piazzolla, "Libertango."
posted by GenderNullPointerException at 1:50 AM on September 9 [4 favorites]


If I was going for 'something fun' then Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy as played by Solid State Tesla Coils.

If I was actually picking a serious classical piece I'd go for Toccata and Fugue as played by Vanessa Mae
posted by HypotheticalWoman at 2:24 AM on September 9 [1 favorite]


All depends on friends and whether the weather. But if we are assuming they don't already voluntarily enjoy and listen to classical music, you have to go to the basics.

Some of my non-classical friends might fall in love within the first five minutes of Aaron Copland - Appalachian Spring or other great chunks of Copland. Others would go for George Gershwin - Rhapsody in Blue.

Others would fall in love with Thomas Tallis's Spem in Alium or Elgar's cello concerto.

If you catch them young or drunk on eggnog (or both!), the dances in the Nutcracker are packed with hummable toe-tappers: Arabian, Russian, Chinese, flowers, mirlitons, sugar plum fairy, and so on.

Bach - die Kunst der Fuge is a great way to learn a simple subject quickly and then listen to how it is worked and reworked through Bach's mind. I know certain guys for whom that -- the working out of things -- would be the big attraction that made them step into classical long enough to maybe stay.

For me, maybe the first classical music that caught my ears was my mother's old (Beecham, 1957, not so old at the time) vinyl LP of Rimsky-Korsakov: Scheherazade turning on our family's cheap record player. Sinbad at sea. That definitely had me within the first five minutes, and I think it would still work on a kid in the right frame of mind, but they might have to put on their pajamas and lie on the carpet in the living room when the sun is setting through the big windows facing west.
posted by pracowity at 2:39 AM on September 9 [7 favorites]


Silly friends: Rainer Hersch's Pachelbel's Canon Medley (Pachelbel vs Puff the Magic Dragon vs Bob Marley vs Oasis vs a number of others) even though it's actually six minutes.

Metal friends: Apocalyptica's version of Hall of the Mountain King (though the original is pretty metal too)

Musicophiles who have not yet discovered older music: the first five minutes of Allegri's Miserere through their best headphones with their eyes closed.
posted by Vortisaur at 2:45 AM on September 9 [6 favorites]


It's all in the framing. Years ago, a friend said he had several CDs of the best of classical music, and he'd leave those on sometimes to set a mood but never went out of his way to listen to a particular track. It all just sounded classical to him, so how did people develop favorite composers?

I told him that the important thing is not always the notes; it's how the silence is framed by the notes. You've heard silence in a concert hall before. But what happens during the brief silences when the pianist pauses? Is it just silence in a concert hall or is there magic? Start Rachmaninoff's 2nd piano concerto in the middle of the 2nd movement at 15:20. Then stop it at 19:45. My friend didn't want to stop to answer the question. Guess who became his favorite composer.
posted by Former Congressional Representative Lenny Lemming at 3:08 AM on September 9 [2 favorites]


"But the part you played for me wasn't even the best part."
"I know."
posted by Former Congressional Representative Lenny Lemming at 3:16 AM on September 9 [1 favorite]


Thank you for your comment, Vortisaur. After following that link to the Tallis Scholars singing that hauntingly beautiful piece by Allegri, I just bought their album.
posted by darkstar at 3:20 AM on September 9


Thank you for the link, and thanks for all the other suggestions! I grew up listening to classical music, although I'm really just familiar with the greatest hits at this point. Also I just finished reading Madeleine Thien's Do Not Say We Have Nothing, which made me want to seek out more classical music (which, of course, I have not done yet). But now the music has come directly to me!
posted by hopeless romantique at 3:31 AM on September 9


Five minutes? I usually throw Reich's Music For 18 Musicians at people (it's roughly an hour long) and figure if they aren't fascinated by the end they should just stick to The Rolling Stones.
posted by hippybear at 3:41 AM on September 9 [1 favorite]


I can't believe someone didn't throw everyone in the world a bone and include the "1812 Overture"

Everyone but Tchaikovsky. He apparently hated the piece.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 4:23 AM on September 9


Second movement of the Emperor concerto. If we can’t get it into five minutes, chop the end off ruthlessly, because then they’ll just be forced to seek out more.
posted by Segundus at 4:31 AM on September 9


Edgar Meyer’s Double Concerto for Cello and Double Bass is a surprising bit of music. My little guy loves it, it grabs his attention in a way that is unusual for a toddler. I really like it too.
posted by chuke at 4:33 AM on September 9 [1 favorite]


I'd tell them to listen to the first part of piece that got me back into classical music after a long time away: Schoenberg's Verklärte Nacht (Transfigured Night), up to the pause at the 4.50 mark here (the orchestral version) or 4:43 here (the sextet). It's an amazing piece - so dark, cold and beautiful - and, sadly, unique.
posted by A Thousand Baited Hooks at 4:34 AM on September 9


One of my favorite bits of music ever, from Handel's Alexander's Feast, always makes me want to go out and conquer worlds after listening. Even better when you realize that they're just trying to wake up a drunk who dozed off at the dinner table.
posted by Hal Mumkin at 4:44 AM on September 9 [1 favorite]


I’d show them this breathtaking film sequence where Strauss’ superb waltz is beyond perfect.

And then: Beethoven’s Ode to Joy with many beautiful voices. Who can hear it and not be moved?
posted by kinnakeet at 6:49 AM on September 9 [3 favorites]


For those who think of classical music as "stuffy" and "European" but still want something with a good tune, I would try the finale of Ives Symphony No. 2 (about 7 minutes) or the "Celebration" & "Open Prairie" movements from Copland's "Billy the Kid" Suite.
posted by Johnny Assay at 7:17 AM on September 9 [1 favorite]


Such a weird thing to ask. If we're using the term "classical music" in the spirit of the question, we're talking about most Western art music made in the last millennium or so. It seems really odd to ask what 5 minutes of music might make someone fall in love with diverse traditions spanning over a thousand years. It's like asking me what song, from the earliest Child ballad, through musichall, grunge, dubstep and Abba, to the last Aphex Twin single (or literally any other combination of artists and genres) I would recommend to make someone fall in love with "popular" music. It's utterly meaningless, and a really counterproductive approach.

If we present "Classical music" as some monolithic tradition, rather than the diversity of loosely relates genres it actually is, how can we expect people with limited knowledge to approach and appreciate it? It's surely much more useful to introduce a person to an artist or piece in the meaningful context of their actual tradition, rather than the context of "Classical music", which really is used to mean nothing more than "music you should like, but you probably don't, do you, you fucking pleb?". It misses the point. No-one loves "classical music" in its sense of "Western Art Music", any more than anyone loves the entire breadth of "popular music". These terms are simply too broad to adequately describe the sort of thing that people can love or even appreciate the true scale of.

I, personally, would like the terms "Classical music" and "Western Art Music", to piss off. They reflect nothing but an arid cultural snobbery that will persist in keeping people from appreciating the works the terms seek to categorise, and the traditions that they obscure.
posted by howfar at 7:21 AM on September 9 [5 favorites]


My personal favorite performance of the Queen of the Night aria, by Diana Damrau.

If that few minutes doesn’t get a friend at least a little bit interested in what we generally mean by “classical music”, well then, they may be beyond help...
posted by darkstar at 7:29 AM on September 9 [2 favorites]


I didn't listen to all of the pieces, but most of the descriptions of them seem as pretentious as possible. I would have preferred at least one recommendation being something like, "Listen to this banger. It absolutely fucking slaps. If this doesn't get your ass moving then I don't know what to tell you."
posted by runcibleshaw at 7:36 AM on September 9 [4 favorites]


Probably György Ligeti's Continuum.

I can't listen to much "classical" music before the 20th century. I've sung bass in Vivaldi's Gloria and heard plenty of Bach and wouldn't choose to listen to either in my own time. If I personally am convincing a friend, then I imagine they didn't hear anything in the popular tunes where (to put it blandly) many violins are playing and maybe a woman is singing.

No aspersions. I just would rather hear a harpsichord being played really fast.
posted by solarion at 7:39 AM on September 9 [2 favorites]


The five minutes of DeBussy alluded to above is the Suite Bergamasque from Clair de Lune and it is my all time 100% favorite piece of classical music. I cry every single time I hear it, orchestral version or piano, and it's tears of joy.
posted by cooker girl at 7:54 AM on September 9


Ravel is already well-represented on that list, and deservedly so, but my pick would have been the Pavane, probably as arranged for piano and violin, although solo piano is amazing too.
posted by saladin at 8:04 AM on September 9 [1 favorite]


If we present "Classical music" as some monolithic tradition, rather than the diversity of loosely relates genres it actually is, how can we expect people with limited knowledge to approach and appreciate it? It's surely much more useful to introduce a person to an artist or piece in the meaningful context of their actual tradition, rather than the context of "Classical music", which really is used to mean nothing more than "music you should like, but you probably don't, do you, you fucking pleb?".

I think the problem you get into when presenting it as anything more detailed than that is that to people who aren't interested in any of those genres yet, any more detailed explanation sounds like the teacher in Peanuts.

I like some classical music, and I own a few CDs and I have been to a few performances, but I am by no means a huge fan or very knowledgeable, and as soon as anyone starts talking about it in detail, I just feel small and overwhelmed and I lose interest.
posted by jacquilynne at 8:17 AM on September 9 [1 favorite]


I agree that communication about "classical music" is really difficult, but it feels to me that this is a result of pretending that there is a distinction between "classical/art music" and "popular music". As if there is some special understanding that people need to have in order to be able to enjoy particular kinds of music, beyond familiarity with the conventions of the genre. The idea that there is some music that primarily needs to be explained, instead of experienced, in order to be appreciated, is linked to the very idea of "classical music" as a meaningful category that exists outside of real historical traditions. If someone said "listen these three pieces by Bach, Vivaldi and Handel; if you like them you'll probably like other baroque music", that seems infinitely more useful than "listen to this, it will make you love classical music". Even if it by some miracle this latter achieved its inane and ill-defined goal, what would you do with that love? How would you find new things that matched you love? Unless being transformed into "someone who loves classical music" means that you now have entirely indiscriminate taste, what the hell good does it do you?
posted by howfar at 8:33 AM on September 9 [1 favorite]


(For the last group, I'll recommend listening to my wife's setting of Jennifer L. Knox's Hot Ass Poem.)
I love this!

I, personally, would like the terms "Classical music" and "Western Art Music", to piss off. They reflect nothing but an arid cultural snobbery that will persist in keeping people from appreciating the works the terms seek to categorise, and the traditions that they obscure.
Speaking of which, as always don't read the comments in any of the youtube links oh god I only ever see these as copypasta and forgot that people say these things unironically

Assuming the angle of 'introducing area person less familiar with classical music to it', I really think (at least among the people I know) that this would be broken into two categories- people who are ok with a 'classical' sound (mostly the sound of orchestral instruments) and people who resistant to it except for in games and film scores, minimalism, or in service to a non-classical instrument/voice in a non-classical context.

For the former, I'd probably pick something out of hat in a pops playlist. Within that there seems to be certain categories:
. Lush Sounds Depicting Landscape, from which I'd rec: the Moldau and Hebrides overture. Not necessarily a pops piece but in the same category is Britten's Moonlight from the Sea Interludes.
. Spiritual Pieces that would Sound Great in a Cathedral: Allegri Miserere as linked above (though I lean towards recordings with a scoop up to the high note, which is half the frisson for me), Vaughn-Williams Fantasia on a theme of Thomas Tallis, Pärt's Fratres.
. Nice Choon, Melancholy/Moody/Feelings: Ravel's Pavane for a Dead Princess, Clair de Lune as has been mentioned, Brahms Hungarian Dance 1.

For something a bit (a lot) more upbeat, Glinka's Ruslan and Ludmila overture is always a romp (especially this recording).

To the latter, maybe Shostakovich? Something minor and percussive and sounds 'epic', of which feeling can be more accessible to some people. Maybe last movement of 11.

There's a segment of my friends to who I'd recommend Caroline Shaw (one of the artists asked in the article), maybe her Partita for 8 voices which is modern and interesting and fantastic, but she requires a slight degree of tolerance for well, contemporary techniques.
posted by womb of things to be and tomb of things that were at 8:35 AM on September 9 [1 favorite]


I went through a period recently of being obsessed with Casta Diva from Bellini’s Norma. What’s strange is that I have never had the slightest interest in opera, and can’t even pinpoint how or why this song came to be in my head. One day it was simply there, and I felt compelled to figure out what it was. Once I’d figured it out, I had to listen to it over and over again. It is captivating for reasons that I cannot easily articulate.
posted by dephlogisticated at 9:07 AM on September 9


Seconding Bach Cello Suite No. 1, which is, always and forever, Autumn to me, irrespective of the season, but particularly so when the leaves are brown and on the ground and a chill-edged breeze is scuffing them down the street. The suites are, in general, one of my favorite pieces of music, but this sets the mood for them so nicely.

My own contribution would be either Dowland's "Flow my tears" or Catalani's "Ebben? Ne andrò lontana." Both express melancholy so beautifully, with no more notes or gestures than are necessary.
posted by the sobsister at 9:12 AM on September 9


Watching movies and hearing a 5-minute snippet of classical music is how we always learned about it. That's why we're all, until the end of time, doomed to hear Mozart's piano concerto No. 21 referred to as the "Elvira Madigan", even thought most people alive today have never seen that movie. It did, however, set off a craze for that concerto, just as, when I was a young adult, everyone bought a copy of Pachelbel's Canon after seeing "Ordinary People". OK, and I admit I went out and bought Scott Joplin after seeing "The Sting".

I grew up in Michigan listening to Karl Haas's "Adventures in Good Music" on AM radio, before he got syndicated on NPR. I can't over-estimate the good he did in his career. I remember him doing a show in the late 60s on how The Beatles were just as profound as classical music. I remember him doing a show on music that truck drivers told him they liked. A little corny and obvious? Not if you're 8 years old.

If I hear a good performance of something on the radio, and I think it has broad appeal, I'll tell a little story about it on Facebook and post a YouTube link. I did "The Moldau". I posted a bunch of different composer's takes on "La Folia" (I called it the "Tiger Rag" of classical music). I posted "The bells of St. Genevieve"). I think of Karl Haas when I do it.
posted by acrasis at 9:23 AM on September 9 [1 favorite]


Okay. I loved that PUBLIQuartet thing and bought the album it's on. Top piece of all time, for me, is the third movement from 'Quartet for the End Of Time' by Messiaen, I love that song when The Cunning Little Vixen kills all the chickens (Janacek), and, since I'm allowed to count them as classical music (am 1?), 'Alabama Song' and 'Pirate Jenny' by Weill and 'Allons-y Chochotte' by Erik Satie.
posted by rubberduh at 9:28 AM on September 9


The article beat me to the Beethoven 7 allegretto.

Nobody mentioned Carmina Burana, "O Fortuna"?

For me?
First half minute of Brahms' 4th.
The conclusion of Dvorak's 7th.
More Dvorak: the awesome battle bits of the Hussite Overture.
The crazed last movement of Tchaikovsky's 5th.
posted by doctornemo at 10:18 AM on September 9 [2 favorites]


The closing aria of Bach's Goldberg Variations, from the later performance by Glenn Gould. Although to be fair the impact of this is much increased after having listened to all that came before.

Prokofiev's Classical Symphony moves along at a fair clip, it's only about fifteen minutes long so you could take any movement, I like particularly the Finale.
posted by carter at 10:55 AM on September 9




I just realized now after all these years that Cage wrote 4’33” at that length to maximize his shot at radio airplay.

I met Cage once, as a guest in a composition seminar back in 1983 or so. Despite his reputation for tolerance, he indicated distaste for my musical work of that era, for being too loud.

I’m much louder now.
posted by spitbull at 11:50 AM on September 9


I would have preferred at least one recommendation being something like, "Listen to this banger. It absolutely fucking slaps. If this doesn't get your ass moving then I don't know what to tell you."
posted by runcibleshaw


Listen to this banger.

okay it's six minutes
posted by TWinbrook8 at 11:57 AM on September 9 [2 favorites]


Halloween Jack, you can convey magic with the first five minutes of the Missa Solemnis's Benedictus. The whole 11+ minutes is every inch the blessing its title promises.
posted by lhauser at 12:11 PM on September 9 [1 favorite]


I made a silly 1812 overture joke last night and boy do I regret it. Not the silly joke part- the 1812 overture joke. Guess who has the 1812 overture stuck in their head all last night and now this morning? no joke is worth this suffering
posted by Homo neanderthalensis at 12:18 PM on September 9


I met Cage once, as a guest in a composition seminar back in 1983 or so. Despite his reputation for tolerance, he indicated distaste for my musical work of that era, for being too loud.

I do not get Cage. At all. My husband, who adores him, dragged me to a performance of his work one night and I came very close to filing for a divorce the next morning. I finally decided that the music itself is more or less beside the point. Which, you know, is fine, and I get it, but goddamn it do not EVER drag me to an evening of John Cage works again. (And yes, I generally like contemporary music.)

My own choice: "Batter My Heart," from John Adams's Doctor Atomic, performed by Gerald Finley.
posted by holborne at 12:41 PM on September 9 [1 favorite]


TWinbrook8 - Listen to this banger.

Gotta pump up the base for this one! Used to try and blow up my dad's speakers with this.
posted by carter at 1:04 PM on September 9


Bass drop at 3:52 ...
posted by carter at 1:06 PM on September 9


Brahm's Hungarian Dance No. 1 has been mentioned, but I'd also suggest the Hungarian Dance No. 5 as an introduction to what orchestras can pull off. I always thought it had as wonderful a hook as any pop song, and was delighted several years ago to discover others agree* with me.

*Fair warning, it is incredibly catchy and may stick in your head for days.
posted by los pantalones del muerte at 3:37 PM on September 9 [1 favorite]


Always remember, Blues Traveler's "Hook" is actually Pachebel's Canon.
posted by hippybear at 3:54 PM on September 9 [1 favorite]


I'll throw this one out there--if even one person listens to this as a result of this post I'll be quite satisfied:

Charles Ives, Concord Sonata Movement III, "The Alcotts." It's one of the most intensely passionate, melodic, beautiful, grand--but yet, intimate--pieces I've ever heard. It makes me fall in love with it and music again every time I listen to it, and often brings me to tears. I've always been fond of Gilbert Kalish's performance in particular.

For the record, I love all of the Concord Sonata, but it's not super approachable outside of "The Alcotts..." I mean, there is an instruction at one point to put your whole forearm or a piece of wood on the keyboard to get a cluster of notes...

Also if you're fond of Clair de Lune check out (well, everything by Debussy...his work is incredible) the fourth movement from Suite bergamasque, Passapied. I mean it's pretty different from Clair de Lune but it's brilliant and lovely and wistful, and has all that wonderful arpeggiated wide-interval harmonics that Debussy was such a master of.

Yes I may love piano music most of all...so let's not get into Chopin either, we'll be here all day...
posted by dubitable at 4:59 PM on September 9 [1 favorite]


Always remember, Blues Traveler's "Hook" is actually Pachebel's Canon.

Not only that, but the song is about how lyrics can be vacuous and insincere as long as the hook is good. It's a wink and a nudge about how derivative pop music is, delivered in the form of a pop song, based around the world's most recycled hook. I don't love the song but the concept is kind of genius.
posted by dephlogisticated at 5:11 PM on September 9


I started the Vanessa-Mae Toccatta and Fugue thinking, “She seems a little flashy and conceit....HOLY SHIT SHE’S GOOD.”
posted by Abehammerb Lincoln at 5:23 PM on September 9


To the latter, maybe Shostakovich? Something minor and percussive and sounds 'epic',

Up to the horn climax about 4:20 into The Isle of the Dead might do it.

I don't know, to me this depends way too much on the friend and why they've never developed an interest before.
posted by praemunire at 6:21 PM on September 9 [1 favorite]


My interest began with the movie 32 short pieces on Glenn Gould, which exposed me to a bunch of Bach in short minutes long bursts. I still have a strong affinity for Gould playing Bach. The English Suites are probably my fave. Maybe some Martha Argerich?
posted by xammerboy at 6:33 PM on September 9


holborne, that’s amusing!

I got this: when I was 17 I sat through most of a *24 hour* John Cage birthday marathon performance at Symphony Space. 5 minutes, pfffft.

My theory is that Cage is like the Ayn Rand of 20th C art music, someone young folks (mostly male) worship and most get over. The ones who don’t now write PhD dissertations though. I swear there have been 30+ dissertations on Cage and his circles of influence just that I’m aware of in the last decade or so. Although the tide of worship has turned and more recent scholarship is taking a more complicated look.

My composition that pissed Cage off was a rendition of his “Variations I” assembled from tape loops of screeching train brakes on one machine and a yodeling cowboy singer on the other, swirling around in a quadraphonic mix, played about as loud as a pair of Crown 350s driving four Bose monitors could get. (I was 20, it was Cambridge in 1983, so sue me.)
posted by spitbull at 8:24 PM on September 9 [2 favorites]


I first heard Purcell's Music For The Funeral of Queen Mary when I was 15.

My heart was pounding as I sidled up to the ticket counter of the art house cinema, wearing my most adult clothes, and my most adult demeanor of insouciant almost sneering ennui.

I have no doubt the grizzled ticket clerk knew I was under age. In later years I now like to think a little romantically that he not only knew, but made a conscious and brave decision to allow me in despite the rules-to admit me to this secret club.

My heart continued to pound sitting there in the dark, and I was certain the mistake would be found, and I would be dragged out of the cinema at any moment- until the curtain drew back, the distant war drums started beating, and then the horns grabbed me, viscerally, to the glorious technicolor horror of A Clockwork Orange
posted by Plutocratte at 9:06 PM on September 9 [2 favorites]


Always remember, Blues Traveler's "Hook" is actually Pachebel's Canon.

As is the Village People's Go West, which the Pet Shop Boys really brought out in their cover version.
posted by carter at 6:27 AM on September 10


And those are far from the only ones.
posted by Greg_Ace at 8:24 AM on September 10 [1 favorite]


I already have plans to force all of my friends to listen to the (seven-minute) Second Movement of Rutter's Gloria -- I've requested it to be performed at my funeral.
posted by DrAstroZoom at 1:20 PM on September 10 [1 favorite]


Vivaldi, Summer, III. Presto
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 1:53 PM on September 10 [2 favorites]


Oh god yes, DevilsAdvocate.

One of my all time favorites. Just watching the video brought me to tears.

Had I been in the room during that performance, they might have had to carry me away at the end on a stretcher. I’m quite certain I would have at least lost the ability to stand. Smelling salts might have been needed. Supplemental oxygen, almost surely. Possibly a phone call to my emergency contact.
posted by darkstar at 3:46 PM on September 10 [1 favorite]


I didn't listen to all of the pieces, but most of the descriptions of them seem as pretentious as possible.

As a composer of contemporary concert music, I basically live day-to-day walking a line between "oh God my discipline truly IS full of self-important baloney" AND "I'm so tired of various people labelling enjoyment of any piece of music that requires quiet, thoughtful listening as 'pretentious'." Lord knows there's no way to try and engage people that everyone will approve of.

I, personally, would like the terms "Classical music" and "Western Art Music", to piss off. They reflect nothing but an arid cultural snobbery

I mean, I'm basically right with you, because the label "Classical" has always been elitist and favored an Enlightenment-era composer-as-Genius model that is very problematic. But labelling my genre as just "new music" or "contemporary music" or "contemporary concert music" is awkward and not very descriptive and no one seems to be able to get on board with one particular brand name, plus the NYT no doubt has strategic reasons for lumping in contemporary music with "Classical" selections.

I can't believe some pretentious critic actually included "4'33"" as a piece to make someone who didn't know anything about classical music love classical music

Ha! You never know. Some people find 4'33" really compelling as a starting point. Unfortunately what usually happens is that people find it ridiculous and off-putting (while assuming it represents the apotheosis of post-modern music) and are immediately alienated from other cool stuff like Pauline Oliveros or Alvin Lucier or Robert Ashley or Gordon Mumma or any of those folks.

Anyway it's hard enough to convince the unwilling to love Classical-classical music on its merits; "contemporary music" is a whole new ballgame, and the assumption that lovers of the latter will learn to love the former is flawed and unfair to current composers.

tape loops of screeching train brakes on one machine and a yodeling cowboy singer on the other, swirling around in a quadraphonic mix

sounds bitchin'

(For the last group, I'll recommend listening to my wife's setting of Jennifer L. Knox's Hot Ass Poem.)

For those who are interested, here's a much better recording of Hot Ass Poem.
posted by daisystomper at 7:40 PM on September 10 [1 favorite]


“Western art music” is the opposite of an “elitist” term. It was popularized by ethnomusicologists and popular music scholars (and it used to piss of scholars of WAM, and composers and theorists devoted to curating the WAM canon — which I also joke stands for “White And Male”) because it locates European “classical” music by function (many urbanized societies develop “art” musics) and geography (although I prefer “European” to “western”), thus denying its universality as “capital M Music,” as many snobs still think of it.

In the 80s and 90s, if you said “Western art Music” in a music department you were automatically seen as a radical suggesting that classical music was just the folk music of rich Europeans.

My basic issue is that WAM has a relatively small and shrinking audience, despite its outsized philanthropic and public funding support and dominance of academic music scholarship. It just is not that important as music anymore. And it’s no better as “art” than any other music. Aesthetic taste is subjectively and culturally determined. No music is objectively better than other music because of the circumstances of its creation or the complexity of its technical realization. The word “classical” embodies an ideology of superiority through elitism, patronage, and enlightened taste; it’s a 19th century conceit only belatedly extended back to Baroque or earlier music, or even to 18th century court music. “Western Art Music” emerged as a term that rejected the “classical” pretension. The word “art” is not evaluative, it’s comparative. Hindustani Music is “art music” too in this scheme, as is much jazz.
posted by spitbull at 8:52 PM on September 10 [1 favorite]


My theory is that Cage is like the Ayn Rand of 20th C art music, someone young folks (mostly male) worship and most get over.

My theory is that Cage is like the Kanye West of art music, someone young folks (mostly male) love to argue about one way or another. Eventually you realize he's just a fallible human being with some good ideas and some bad ones.

Anyway, Yuval Sharon citing 4'33" is a masterful troll to this question, as this thread shows. For what it's worth, Yuval isn't a critic, but an opera director known for wild stuff like Hopscotch, an opera in LA that mostly takes place in cars driving around the city. He's a lot of things but I wouldn't call him pretentious -- his MO seems to be mostly to throw a grenade into the heart of classical music pretentiousness, as he does here.
posted by speicus at 2:04 AM on September 11


Yuval isn't a critic, but an opera director known for wild stuff like Hopscotch, an opera in LA that mostly takes place in cars driving around the city. He's a lot of things but I wouldn't call him pretentious

I'm having a hard time squaring these two sentences. I like me a non traditional or experimental setting for a music performance, but it is pretty much textbook pretentiousness.
posted by Dysk at 7:38 AM on September 11


It just is not that important as music anymore. And it’s no better as “art” than any other music. Aesthetic taste is subjectively and culturally determined. No music is objectively better than other music because of the circumstances of its creation or the complexity of its technical realization.

That's a vacuous statement. Clearly, different kinds of music have different purposes, and some music is intended for aesthetic contemplation in a way that other music isn't. Western Art Music fills an artistic and intellectual niche that many other genres don't. Saying "oh Classical music isn't objectively better, why should we care if it's dying" is kind of like saying "oh rhinoceroses aren't objectively better than other animals, why should I care if they go extinct?" I mean, sure, there are many genres of music that offer complexity, emotional depth, extended contemplation of time, etc., but they aren't WAM and don't offer the exact same experience.
posted by daisystomper at 9:56 AM on September 11


The common fall back of taste being subjective and culturally determined isn't all that compelling either I'm afraid. That is, after all, where human values come from, our subjective and cultural experience, but we still hold that some subjective states are more beneficial, even accepting that others will disagree. Making those arguments is how we learn and advance. Shrugging one's shoulders and saying "eh, who cares, it's all the same" isn't really a virtue.

but it is pretty much textbook pretentiousness.

It'd be pretentious if just done for effect or out of condescension, which would seem to be the case for anyone who actually did build their career out of "trolling", but if the choice had meaning and added to the performance in some way, then it's hard to see it as pretentious I'd think.

The weird thing about discussions of classical music is that it so often does still turn on ideas of it somehow being pretentious, even though its place in the culture is marginalized and the so-called "low brow" popular forms have completely eclipsed it. The need to continue to kick at "classical" music and find ways to place popular music on par with it is just weird, suggesting some uncertainty or, yes, pretension in putting on airs of importance that are difficult to justify while claiming both all music is equal, but "classical" music is less so.

This isn't anything new for orchestras, composers, and musicians in the "classical" tradition, many of whom have either already embraced other forms of music, popular and less so from around the world, but also have had conversations about learning from popular music for decades now. Yet the resentment towards classical music still lingers, very strange.
posted by gusottertrout at 10:42 AM on September 11 [1 favorite]


but if the choice had meaning and added to the performance in some way, then it's hard to see it as pretentious I'd think.

Ah, see I think something can be genuinely awesome and effective and still be pretentious.
posted by Dysk at 1:39 PM on September 11 [1 favorite]


Elgar's Nimrod & Lux Aeterna from The Enigma Variations.

If the friend was a Trekkie, I'd play them Brahms String Sextet Number 1, Movement 2. It's been known to make Vulcans cry.

If I was introducing someone to classical music, I'd encourage them to watch these animated graphical scores along with the music. They can really help one appreciate the depth and complexity of the pieces.

The one piece of classical music that I found almost all my friends liked regardless of their musical tastes was Gorecki's 3rd Symphony. The 1992 Zinman / Upshaw recording was very successful. Everyone I introduced to it was entranced by it, even if they weren't otherwise interested in classical music.
posted by homunculus at 2:30 PM on September 11 [2 favorites]


The weird thing about discussions of classical music is that it so often does still turn on ideas of it somehow being pretentious, even though its place in the culture is marginalized and the so-called "low brow" popular forms have completely eclipsed it.

This is also kind of context dependent, as well. Yes, the biggest pop stars are a bigger deal than the biggest classical musicians, but once you're out of the rarefied air of chart toppers, that just doesn't hold true. A person playing electric guitar in a covers band gets nothing of the respect that a working classical violinist gets, for example. A fan of techno is looked down upon in a way that a fan of baroque music is not. I could go on, but yeah - your workaday classical musician or fan gets respect and status in society in a way that you're workaday soul guitarist or hip hop producer doesn't.
posted by Dysk at 6:17 AM on September 12


Daisystomper, Im not going to argue with you, but it’s not a “vacuous” statement in my worldview at all (as a professional ethbomusicopogist and musician). All human societies sing and dance. Other than that, it’s all relative. Different people find different value and meaning in different kinds of music. The philosophically relativist stance about aesthetic quality has a strong theoretical grounding once you break out of a Eurocentric idea of what “Music” even is (especially in relation to language and dance and ritual).
posted by spitbull at 6:49 AM on September 12


even though its place in the culture is marginalized and the so-called "low brow" popular forms have completely eclipsed it.

You’re conflating different kinds of value and power here. Classical music (and latterly classicized Jazz) is uniquely state subsidized in the US (and a lot of other places) at numerous levels. It is overwhelmingly the target of music-oriented philanthropy. And it still dominates academic discourse about what “Music” is as human activity. It may not fill stadiums and sell merchandise like pop music, but it has enormous social prestige, which is why generations of immigrants have advanced in the US by excelling at it (from Irish tenors to Italian conductors to Jewish violinists to Asian American piano virtuosi). If Music is a required subject in a core curriculum at the college level, for a century that has meant a very specific period of western art Music is featured. In the elite Music departments and schools of this country, specialists in some aspect of classical music are overwhelmingly predominant on faculties.

All of this is changing rapidly, leading to a defensive formation around the old prestige apparatus. And a lot of attempts to change it and make classical music more commercially sustainable and broadly accessible to new audiences (like this OP link). But there is no doubt an infrastructure that has been relatively durable for the last century is in transition.

There’s a significant academic literature on this subject if anyone is curious to read further.
posted by spitbull at 6:58 AM on September 12 [2 favorites]


Ah, see I think something can be genuinely awesome and effective and still be pretentious.

I think I get where you're coming from here, but I can't go with it since when I hear the term it's used exclusively as a pejorative, usually carrying the idea of someone trying to prove they're "better" than someone else by showing off in ways that are "fake". It basically demands the status quo or convention be upheld as that's what matters, anything else is fancypants gobbledygook. The term most frequently seems to arise when someone states some enjoyment of something another found unintelligible, with the claim acting to dismiss the preference over grounds of it being more an act than real as enjoyment should fit expected norms. That doesn't account for every case, of course, but it covers most I've heard, even from people who might consider themselves relative "elitists" otherwise.

Yes, the biggest pop stars are a bigger deal than the biggest classical musicians, but once you're out of the rarefied air of chart toppers, that just doesn't hold true.

Hmm, that doesn't fit my experience at all. I mean there certainly is some sense of classical musicians being more unusual than pop musicians, so some interest is added for rarity, but it's difficult to really even make a comparison due to that same sense. I mean cover band level guitarists are as common as coffeeshops, amateur cellists with regular gigs aren't seen in nearly the same numbers. If you're talking someone playing in a symphony orchestra, they would be assumed to have a fairly high skill level, varying perhaps a bit by the orchestra, that carries a different connotation than a guitarist in a local band, making it closer to a "famous" guitarist, in which case the guitarist gets more notice, though the symphony musician certainly would still have some respect, but from more of a distance for being less understood generally. I'm not sure there is a good direct comparison at the musician level really, since the trades themselves vary, classical musicians being more "craft" and popular bands often doing more of their own creating, which lends itself more to idiosyncratic expression, which isn't a bad thing, just different.

You’re conflating different kinds of value and power here.

To some extent, sure, but that's part of the issue as it looked to me like you kinda are too by favoring the academic side, which has issues associated with that system that don't necessarily translate into larger cultural values. There's been a host of academic writing about popular culture since at least the eighties when I first started paying attention, as I'm sure you're aware, but a lot of that wasn't coming from the music department, so even in academia things have shifted, but with tenure professors and departments can be awfully slow to change and given many practicing musicians in popular music fields can play without the extensive training classical musicians rely on, that too would account for some difference in how departments are run I'd think. That isn't a knock on popular musicians and doesn't mean there isn't a place for training in other musical fields, just that the divide isn't going to be wholly captured by reference to universities alone I'd think.
posted by gusottertrout at 7:56 AM on September 12


Read an article a while back that Paul McCartney launched a performing arts in Liverpool. Its primary innovation? Mandatory courses in law and management, because that's how almost many graduates of performing arts education make a living in the arts. Most of the rest end up in teaching. Full-time employment prospects as a performing artist are even worse than tenure-track jobs in most fields. If you're moderately lucky, there's part-time and gig work for congregations. MPR ran an interview with a classical-folk duo that just landed enough performance gigs to give up teaching.
posted by GenderNullPointerException at 8:51 AM on September 12


that carries a different connotation than a guitarist in a local band, making it closer to a "famous" guitarist, in which case the guitarist gets more notice,

Eh, I'm talking professional working musicians in both cases. The guy playing a double bass at a jazz club (assuming he's playing classified jazz and not like, jazz fusion) for a living gets a lot more respect than the dude making a living in a wedding band doing pop songs. Maybe in your neck of the woods the latter are a dime a dozen, but they aren't where I live. You can charge a lot more teaching people to play a classical instrument and read standard notation than you can teaching drums or guitar and tab. Despite the fact that nearly everyone gets (got? I do hope it's changing, not because I dislike classical - I don't! - but because giving people a broader exposure gets more people interested in music which is inherently a good thing) a fair bit of the former at school (for free!) and none of the latter.
posted by Dysk at 1:30 PM on September 12


Put it another way - nobody ever gets told they're just pushing buttons because they play the piano - at any level - but outside of people making bank doing it, there's no shortage of derision for electronic music producers and DJs for just pressing buttons on a laptop.
posted by Dysk at 1:37 PM on September 12


I think the point is getting a bit stretched for reasons that don't really capture the differences between the forms. I mean any classically trained musician could play in a wedding band, but many or possibly even most wedding band musicians couldn't play classical music at anything but the most rudimentary level. That isn't what popular music is about. Wedding band musicians only need to be able to imitate popular music and imitation in that direct of manner runs counter to what is most prized in popular music, which is "authenticity" and individual voice/style. Popular music isn't, by default, technically demanding and that isn't a knock against it as that isn't what people listen to it for in a general sense. Some popular musicians, of course, are quite talented and proficient, but that isn't the main demand of the form. Which can be seen a bit perhaps in how some talented players, Yngwie Fucking Malmsteen, for example, attractive attention for their ability, but not much notice for their songs for mass audiences compared to many far less proficient musicians who are extremely popular.

Talking about respect in that sense is asking for or looking at a number of different things that are context dependent based on both the music and the person providing a response. To take electronic music, there is no minimum bar for claims of being proficient at creating the music, it only requires having access to the equipment and a desire to create. Gaining respect comes from demonstrating some talent for creating something that gains the listeners attention and praise, not just from access and making music alone.

Since electronic music as a popular genre is relatively new, there will be those who simply won't be able to hear it as music in their familiar conception of the term at all, so respect from them is harder to come by as it, at best, would only accompany market success, and even then still be a mystery as to why that success happened. Older forms of music are understood at a cultural level in a different sense. People don't have to particularly enjoy classical music personally to recognize how it works and understand some at least vague sense of its history. Respect in that way is granted for the understanding of the skill but not necessarily for the music itself.

Popular music is appreciated for what it is, by most people, and given respect when there is a demonstrated ability shown that is understood, as Malmsteen might get, but more usually for simply providing an enjoyable/meaningful experience for the listener. Since anyone can join a band or create music without any necessary level of talent or skill at all, the base level of respect is necessarily different than something where there is some better baseline of those things involved.

That's roughly how it works in all the arts, a caricaturist at the county fair isn't going to get the same kind of respect a fine artist might from those who understand the form and skills involved, but they might get lots of respect from people who can't draw and don't have any interest in the fine arts. At the same time, since anyone can pick up a brush and create paintings, simply doing that doesn't automatically gain respect even when one displays the works publicly and sells some. There's art hung in coffeeshops everywhere that appeals to a few and is disliked by others. The respect doesn't come from the act of creating, but the response to the work.

A commercial artist sits somewhere between those levels, respect is generally going to be given for skill, but not necessarily for "feeling" in the viewer. It's respect, but a lesser sort than given for someone that creates something that moves you. That's often where it seems like classical musicians end up, respected for their ability, but not much beyond that. They're culturally anonymous for the most part, and the rarity of meeting one with even some vague understanding of what it takes to succeed in that now esoteric field provides some measure of respect, but as much out of surprise and incomprehension as actual care. To that extent, yes, the cultural history of classical music serves to its comparative advantage, but also leaves it behind when that comparison is to things one actually cares about, which isn't that music for most anymore.
posted by gusottertrout at 12:34 AM on September 13


I mean any classically trained musician could play in a wedding band

If they're classically trained on a relevant instrument, sure. A bassoonist is going to struggle with most 60s rock standards.
posted by Dysk at 5:59 AM on September 13


(And beyond that, they won't have the breath of knowledge of standards ready to go that a wedding band requires. Jazz musicians will have something similar, but the classical musicians I know are rarely if ever called on to play something without having a week or two of time to practice or learn the piece, never mind whole nights if being expected to be able to take arbitrary requests. That's an often overlooked element of successful working musicians in a lot of fields - any halfway competent musician can play your average chart tune given prep time. The skill is in having that body of knowledge ready to go, ready to be preformed to a high standard at the drop of a hat.)
posted by Dysk at 6:03 AM on September 13


This Fugue, attributed to W. T. F. Bach, could serve as a nice introduction to the form for the politically minded.
posted by homunculus at 4:08 PM on September 13


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