Some of My Favorite Pieces of Classical Music

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Other than writing, one of my other passions is music. I love many different types of music, but I’m very biased to classical music. (Not surprising, since I’ve played it for the vast majority of my life.) Strangely enough, I think classical music can be a lot like reading a book – if you don’t understand any of the words of the book, you won’t have an enjoyable reading experience. The same holds true for music – the more you understand music, the more you will appreciate it and enjoy it. Even though I love music, I like a piece much better if I have some background and familiarity with it. 🙂

So here are a few of my favorite classical pieces with a few of my ramblings to give a little context! I hope maybe this introduces some new favorites for you or gives you a new perspective on an old favorite. I also think many of these would make great music to write to if you’re that sort of person. 🙂

Chaconne in Dm by Johann Sebastian Bach

Even if you’re not a musician, you’ve probably heard of Johann Sebastian Bach. The dude was an absolutely incredible musician and composer, and he’s known for so many pieces: concerti, the Brandenburg Suites, cantatas, and of course his suites for unaccompanied instruments (probably most famously for the violin and the cello.)

For much of my life, I wasn’t a fan of the Baroque era of classical music (the era in which Bach lived and composed.) I studied some of the movements from the Sonatas and Partitas for unaccompanied violin, but push finally came to shove in the form in March 2020. (Everyone knows what happened then.) I couldn’t play any pieces with my accompanist at school, so in the summer of 2020, I embarked on a Bach journey.

It wasn’t love at first sight, that’s for certain, but I grew increasingly fond of each piece I studied. And last semester, I reached what I think is the pinnacle of Bach’s violin suites: the Chaconne in d minor. This is close to twenty minutes of grief, hope, longing, and desire, and it’s absolutely gorgeous. Bach reportedly wrote this when he arrived home to find that his first wife had died in his absence.

All of the sonatas and partitas are worth listening to, but the Chaconne is, in my opinion, the best of the best!

Tchaikovsky’s 4th and 5th Symphonies

In my book (figuratively, of course), anything by Tchaikovsky tends to be epic. The man knew how to write melodies like no other. They’re simple, yet full of longing and pain and joy. Tchaikovsky himself is not a good role model – dude had some serious issues—but he wrote some of the most beautiful, famous music in the world, including The Nutcracker, Swan Lake, concerti, and several symphonies.

And that’s where things get really good. The fourth and fifth symphonies are probably some of my favorite orchestra literature out there. I’m massively biased toward the fourth because I played it long ago and far away in youth orchestra, but the fifth might just edge past it. I would recommend the recordings by the Oslo Philharmonic – Vasily Petrenko is one of my favorite conductors, and this Russian dude definitely knows his Russian lit.

Dvořák’s New World Symphony

I’ll tell you upfront: Dvořák in general is amazing. He, like Tchaikovsky, had a talent for developing gorgeous melodies. Being Bohemian, he was very influenced by his homeland, but after a brief trip to America, he wrote the New World Symphony in honor of the folk songs of America. Somehow, this Bohemian guy wrote a symphony that sounds incredibly American! He also wrote a string quartet (“The American”) that is as close to a rollicking cowboy movie soundtrack as there was before cowboy movies existed!

Yeah, I love Dvořák. 😊

Shostakovich’s 5th and 7th Symphonies

I’m a major music history nerd, and Shostakovich is just an example of why that is. His 5th Symphony was written while he was trying to stay alive and satisfy the Soviet demands. It’s probably the most listener-friendly of his symphonies, and the pain he expresses has to stem directly from all he and his country has suffered from their Communist oppressors.

His Seventh Symphony, commonly called the “Leningrad Symphony,” probably has the most dramatic and heartbreaking story attached to it. The city of Leningrad (now St. Petersburg), was sieged by the Nazis, and though he escaped before the worst hit the city, his heart was always with his home. The 7th Symphony is a tremendous work, and the first movement contains an irritating, yet unforgettable, motif that seems like it will never end (begins around 7:08). Whether that’s the Communist oppression or the Nazis’ advance, that’s up to the listener, but it’s an amazing piece of music. For further reading, check out this book I just reviewed!

Violin Concerto in Gm by Max Bruch

Finally, this is a sort of honorable mention. Bruch is near and dear to my heart for a couple reasons. First of all, because I wrote a long research paper about him. But mostly – and this was the reason I wrote that paper – I adore his Violin Concerto in g minor. It’s the concerto I’ve spent the most time with, and for such a conservative composer, Bruch created such a romantic and heart-wrenching composition. It’s definitely one of my favorite violin concerti of all time—again, I’m wildly biased. His Scottish Fantasy is also so worth a listen. Although it’s known as “Scratch Frantically” among violinists, it contains beautiful melodies from Scotland even though Bruch was a German composer!

I hope you enjoyed this little foray into classical music! Do you know or love any of these pieces? Do you have a favorite composer or piece of classical music? Do you enjoy writing with music in the background?

15 thoughts on “Some of My Favorite Pieces of Classical Music

  1. Ah HAH, she has finally written a blog post about classical music! (Which I shall proceed to hide under my desk, because I’m a musician and can’t identify half of certain pieces XD.)

    “Tchaikovsky had issues”…Mmmmmmhmmmm. I remember when my former piano teacher had told me not to look him up, and I didn’t…But then I remembered that long before she’d told me that, twelve-year-old me was like, “OOH, LET’S GO LOOK UP THIS GUY!!”

    But OOH, yeah, I love Shostakovich’s (still pleased with how I can spell that without having to look his name up XD) Fifth Symphony, thanks to a certain somebody who introduced me to him…*coughs* I must listen to the seventh one now…Oof, favorite classical piece? Why do you want only one LOL??? “Nuvole Bianche” by Ludovico Einaudi and “New Beginning” by Luke Faulker. Both are contemporary classical pieces, but ahhhhhhhhhhhHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH. *hearts swells in joy* The latter one especially is like icing on the cupcake I decorated yesterday, minus the fact that the icing melted and smeared the fish I’d created…For classical in general, I LOVE the “Swan Theme” from “Swan Lake.”
    (Also fueling my past obsession with ballet. XD)

    Sometimes I will write with music in the background, particularly if it’s an intense scene or a sad scene (which is when “Nuvole Bianche” comes in handy lol).

    And one other thing…I didn’t know caNAtas existed… 😉

    Liked by 1 person

    • Ahh, you knew it was coming sometime, right? 🙂 But hey, no hiding under the desk. We’re all learning – there are so many pieces out there I’ve never even heard and should know at this point, and I’m getting a music degree in college, so …

      Yes, please don’t look up Tchaik’s life. Not good. But his music is awfully beautiful.

      And Shosty for the win! (Look at you, spelling all those crazy Russian names.) The seventh is super long, but it’s really cool. Oooh, but I shall have to look those up! I love it when present-day composers write really beautiful stuff. 🙂 And Swan Lake is just … too beautiful. And I didn’t know you liked ballet!! It’s just so beautiful, isn’t it?

      Yeah, I can write with music in the background sometimes, but I cannot edit nowadays with music in the background. I just can’t focus enough.

      *hides in shame* No wonder WordPress was telling me that was misspelled. Ahhhh, thank you my editor. 🙂


      • I did know it?
        *searches through Amelia’s brain*
        Nah. LOL!
        Hm, I remembered my desk space being much smaller than what I just managed to squeeze myself into…*trying to figure out how much taller I’ve grown in the past four years XD* But at least I’m not the only person deficient in knowing music. Kind of. Maybe more so than you are, but you get the point. XD

        Haha, well, I already did years ago…But yesss to the lovely music! (And Tchaik…I cannot. XD)

        LOL, yes, yes, I must say all that beta-ing did wonders. *curtsies* I must listen to the seventh…XD And YES, please go look those up!! *”Hallelujah” chorus begins* Ahhhh, Swan Lake…*more of my heart singing* Yes to loving ballet!! I wanted to do ballet when I was a kid. Tried teaching myself for about two days last year and then lost motivation. XD So I’m currently drenching myself in dance (with many, many considerations, because the songs on YouTube are just…no). (But the dance I’m learning to “It’s the Hard-Knock Life” from the 1982 version of Annie has some attempts at ballet…XD)

        Huh, maybe it’s just how your brain perceives the music then? LOL!! Must’ve gotten exhausted from learning music and then proceeding to be drenched in editing.

        LOL, you’re welcome! 😀 I saw that and was like, “Wait a minute…” (Of course, I looked it up to make sure I wasn’t about to correct you on something that actually DID exist…XDXDXD)

        Liked by 1 person

      • Haha! And that’s some dedication right there to squeeze yourself under the desk …

        I have to have nicknames for my crazy Russians, right? 😉

        And yay for another Shosty fan!! Ooh, and good for you for trying to teach yourself. That’s very commendable. And that sounds like that song might have a lot of different styles of dance (Broadway kinda seems to meld a lot of stuff together … but then again, I’m no Broadway dance specialist, either.)

        Yeah, I don’t know. I know I’ve heard musicians talk about being unable to listen to music in the background become their brain just starts processing the music and analyzing, and therefore it’s impossible to focus on what you’re trying to do. So my future with listening to music in the background might be slowly fading away … 🙂

        Yeah … thank you again. 🙂 I just invented a new piece of music, I guess. Accidentally.


      • I have dedication in too many things LOL!!

        Yes, you may give your Russians nicknames. Also helps when you’re typing XD.

        LOL, aw, thank you! Hm, yeah, I’m no Broadway specialist either LOL!! I’m just like, “K, if this fits about three hundred seventy-five things I can think of, we are good to go!” XD

        Okay, those musicians have to be the ridiculously good ones (like you lol) to be analyzing music. I could never. *watch me minor music in college Lord willing XD*

        Yes, yes, you’re welcome. XD That should be something in Mrs. Dunn’s monologues now…

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Ahh, Vanessa!! I was so excited to see this post!!! 😀 (Finally! 😉 😛 ) I wholeheartedly agree about enjoying a piece much more if I know some of the background and the story behind it. All your thoughts about each piece you showed here were SO very interesting to read!! (Dvořák… I’ve never heard of him but he sounds so cool.) Hmm… favorite composer? Well, when my family used to study composers for school, I discovered a few I immediately started to love, but I can’t remember many now. *sobs* Though I will say, in my current WIP, the heroine, Gillory, loves Felix Mendelssohn’s music and from what I’ve learned about him, he sounds so interesting and amazing, so he’s one of my favorites now, haha!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Awww, I’m so glad you enjoyed it, Saraina! And yes, Dvořák is amazing. Such a brilliant composer! And yes for Mendelssohn! Have you ever heard his third symphony? (I think it’s his third … the “Scottish,” I believe.) It’s really beautiful, and I wasn’t familiar with it at all until I listened to it earlier this year.

      And I love that your heroine is a musician! That sounds like a book right up my alley … 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      • Oo, I haven’t heard Mendelssohn’s third symphony yet! I’ve got to go check it out! (Me too – it’s been so fun to finally write a character who loves music just as much as me. *grins* Aww, I hope so!)

        Liked by 1 person

  3. Agh!! I loved this post! 😍 Classical music is so beautiful!
    I love almost all of Bach’s pieces. And Tchaikovsky had such a talent for writing amazing music! (*coughs* But…uh…yeah, had some issues…)
    Thanks for giving us this beautiful post! ❤ 😍

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Eek! A fellow classical music appreciator. I agree with all of these. I’ve always loved classical but have hadn’t explored the worlds of Tchaikovsky and Shostakovich until recently. Swan Lake is beautiful. Dvorak’s 9th has such a special place in my heart.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yes! I feel like there’s always more composers out there to discover, and it’s so amazing when you find a new one! 🙂 And Swan Lake is just so gorgeous – the plot, etc. of the ballet is dreadful, but the restatement of the theme at the end of the ballet is just so heartbreaking. And Dvorak 9 is epic! An amazing symphony.

      Thanks for reading, Akira!!

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Okay, I like them all. However, the first one from Bach was just magical and lovely. And the last one with Hilary Hahn was so impressive. SHE was impressive. The way she put her whole self into the playing. Excellent!! Thanks for sharing.

    Liked by 1 person

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