Favourite Orchestral Pieces?

A recent Reddit thread made me think about what my favourite orchestral pieces are. While I am happy to admit that these days I tend to listen more to jazz than classical music, it nevertheless continues to be an important part of my ever expanding music collection. The people most culpable for shaping my taste in (classical) music were probably the conductors in the various orchestras I’ve been playing in. There is nothing like playing a piece of music for weeks to really getting it to know inside out. Even initially inaccessible works like Hindemith’s “Plöner Musiktag” start sounding beautiful after you’ve given them a whirl a couple of times.  So I probably have to thank these poor men (and women) in front of me, wielding their little sticks and shaking their fists at the cocky part of the wood wind section. Anyway, here are my 10 favourite orchestral pieces of all time, in no particular order:

  1. Luigi Cherubini: Requiem in C-Minor.  Emotive, rousing stuff from the man judged by Beethoven to be the best of his contemporary composers
  2. Johann Sebastian Bach:  Christmas Oratorio. The classic singalong.
  3. Johannes Brahms: Symphony Nr 1. Once you’ve heard the brooding, evocative first movement you’ll never forget it. Breathtaking.
  4. Franz Schubert Symphony: Nr 8 (Unvollendente): Lovely transitory work that slots right between the classic and romantic period. Haunting.
  5. Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart: Symphony Nr 41 (Jupiter): One of the most astonishing pieces of music ever, its fourth movement manages to cram five motives into an absolutely mindblowing fugal coda. You must have the mind of Stephen Hawkins to mesh them , make them sound beautiful and manage to let them finish all together.
  6. Ludwig van Beethoven: Symphony Nr1.  I know, you might say that Nr 3/5/6/9 are all more glamorous, but my favourite is Nr1.
  7. Joseph Haydn: Symphony Nr 82 (L’ours).
  8. Jean Sibelius: Finlandia. Even it’s use in ‘Die Hard 2’ can’t ruin it’s appeal.
  9. Gustav Holst: First Suite in Eb. Never mind ‘The Planets’. This is far more evocative.
  10. Leonard Bernstein: Symphonic Dances from West Side Story. ‘Nuff said

So there you have it: the 10 most played orchestral pieces at casa del fordiebianco.

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