5 June 2014

Classical Music for Beginners

Good afternoon everyone! Today's post follows a slightly different theme to what I usually write about... But I think it's good to have a change from time to time!

I am a big fan of classical music - I've already told you all about my love for ClassicFM. I'll say it from the start; I am definitely no expert. I just know what I like listening to, and what puts me in a good mood. Classical music is like any other genre though; your favourites depend on what the situation is and what you're up to, so it's very hard to pick just a few recommendations... I've given it a go though, and below are five of my top classical pieces. I think these are great ones for newbies to this genre - why not have a listen? Go on....

1. Song for Athene. Composed by John Tavener in 1993.

We'll start off with a piece from the 20th century! Song for Athene is in my opinion, one of the most beautiful pieces ever written. It is extremely moving, in part due to its very sad history; it was composed by Tavener after the funeral of family friend, and was famously sung at Princess Diana's funeral. In addition to this, Tavener himself only passed away recently at the age of 69. This song has been described as haunting, which I would agree with - I know whenever I listen to it, I have to stop what I'm doing to take it in. 

2. Rhapsody in Blue. Composed by George Gershwin in 1924.

This piece is just AWESOME! I've never met anyone who doesn't like this piece. It makes me dream of the 1920s in New York, Great Gatsby-style, with flapper dresses and the ladies 'finger-waving' their hair (Check out Schwarzkopf's website if you want to learn about finger-waving).

3. 2nd Movement - Symphony No. 7. Composed by Ludwig van Beethoven in 1811. 

This symphony is made up of four different pieces (aka movements) but today I am focussing on just the second piece. I would describe it in one word as 'stirring'. I remember once I'd had a very stressful day at work, and I came home, put this on and lay on the bed to gather my thoughts... Just brilliant! Now if you're finding it a bit daunting to throw yourself into the world of Beethoven, don't panic. Did you see The King's Speech in 2010 with the very lovely Colin Firth? Watch the clip below to jog your memory.

Such a great film - and I'm sure the more observant ones among you will have noticed that the gorgeous piece of music playing throughout the scene is, of course, the piece I'm banging on about. Good job Beethoven!

4. Miserere. Composed by Gregorio Allegri in the 1630s.

We're going further and further back in time with each piece, this one being my oldest recommendation as it was composed in the 1630s. But this piece may actually be my all time favourite. It sends shivers down my spine - it's around 15 minutes long, and is perfect to listen to at the end of the day as you're getting ready for bed and unwinding.

5. The Lord of the Rings. Composed by Howard Shore in 2000.

OK, so I've finished with a film soundtrack... But this one is so brilliant, I couldn't help it! There are literally hours and hours of music to accompany the LOTR films, featuring well known artists such as Enya, Annie Lennox and the glorious Renee Fleming. Unsurprisingly The Fellowship of the Ring and The Return of the King scores both won Oscars, and the music appeals to lots of different tastes. My flatmates at uni used to have this on to work to, and I have to say, it was very good for essays!

Like I said, I could go on recommending pieces forever, but I'll leave it there for now. Let me know whether you like these choices, whether you have your own favourites, or whether you'd like some more suggestions - tweet me @secretmaggiemay.


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