Here is a list of 10 pieces of classical music everyone should listen to

Rachmaninoff: Piano Concerto No. 2 in C minor

Rachmaninoff Piano Concerto No. 2 in C minor

After the mediocre reception of his first concerto and first symphony, Rachmaninoff was left in a depression during which he composed virtually nothing. This piece signified his recovery and established him as a great composer. The piece is an instant classic and loved by pretty much everyone due to its tear jerking melodies and warm, rich harmonies.

Here it is played by Arthur Rubinstein

Chopin: Ballad No. 4 in F minor

Chopin Ballad No. 4 in F minor

A piece widely loved among musicians and a fan favorite of Chopin’s work, certainly my favorite at least. The piece starts out deceptively calm and serene, but as the piece develops, it becomes more and more fiery, dramatic and complex. It’s incredibly technically challenging and a real feat to learn, but very rewarding.

Another great rendition by Rubinstein

Debussy: Images, Book 1: No. 1. Reflets dans L’eau

Debussy Images, Book 1 No. 1. Reflets dans L'eau

As the title suggests, the piece conjures up images of various states of light reflecting off the water. The piece is very impressionistic and being one of Debussy’s later works, he utilizes non-conventional harmonies and ambiguous keys to express various senses, colors and emotions.

Here it is performed by James Boyk

Stravinsky: Trois mouvements de Petrouchka

Stravinsky Trois mouvements de Petrouchka

A shortened version of Stravinsky’s ballet ‘Petrouchka’ transcribed for piano by the composer himself for Arthur Rubinstein. Not to be confused with the composers other ballet ‘Rite of Spring’ which famously caused a riot in Paris at its premier. This one is a little bit more conventional than ‘Rite of Spring’ while still being musically innovative. If you enjoy this transcription, consider listening to the full ballet suite.

Rubinstein’s recording

Mahler: Symphony No. 5 in C-Sharp minor

Mahler Symphony No. 5 in C-Sharp minor

Warning: this piece is a Titan. Typically over an hour in length, the piece has incredible emotional range. Fittingly so as it consists of 5 lengthy movements. Save it for a time when you can listen to it all the way through, its well worth the time.

Conducted by Leonard Bernstein with the Vienna Philharmonic

Brahms: 3 Intermezzos, Op. 117

Brahms 3 Intermezzos, Op. 117

Some of Brahms’s latest works were composed as late as 1892. These pieces are not as complex as his symphonies, concerti, or sonatas but are far more intimate and introspective. The Intermezzo’s are some of Brahms most widely loved compositions.

Here is a great rendition by pianist Radu Lupu

Ravel: Piano Concerto in G major

Ravel Piano Concerto in G major

During his time in the states, Ravel was heavily inspired by jazz music. This pieces is a blend of his more French impressionistic style with the jazz stylings prominent in the states. While the first and third movements are very fast and jazzy, the second movement is slow and serene.

As played by Martha Argerich

J. S. Bach: English Suite No. 2 in A minor

J. S. Bach English Suite No. 2 in A minor

Not much to say about this one other than its my personal favorite of Bach’s suites. It’s Bach keyboard music in all its glory.

Here is a great recording by legendary Bach specialist Glenn Gould.

Beethoven: Piano Concerto No. 5 in E-Flat major ’emporer’

Beethoven Piano Concerto No. 5 in E-Flat major 'emporer'

Devoid of any of the angst that Beethoven is commonly associated with, this piece highlights his often overlooked sensitivity. This piece is also arguably the most influential concerti due to its unconventional form and length.

Here it is played by arguably the greatest Beethoven interpreter of the 20th century, Daniel Barenboim.

Sibelius: Violin Concerto in D minor

Sibelius Violin Concerto in D minor

Sibelius was a composer from Finland. Reflective of the country’s long winters and short days the piece has a cold and dark atmosphere. The first 2 movements are more lyrical while the final movement is more dance like, once nicknamed the polar bear polonaise.

Played by Maxim Vengerov

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Last Update: June 6, 2016

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