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Music - Best Classical Selections

This list is for compositions, not performances. While performance is an issue with classical music (more than the non-classical listener will admit/realize, less than the classical snobs will admit/realize), I'm not going to explore these nuances here unless I have a strong preference. It's just not that compelling, to me.

Two works of Beethoven's 7th are pretty similar; Dylan's and Hendrix's versions of "All Along the Watchtower" are incredibly different. (Top 10 Index)
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Fanfare For the Common Man/Rodeo/Appalachian Spring - Aaron Copland
Often found together, these three pieces work well together.

For those not familiar with these pieces, well, yes you are. A snippet from Rodeo is part of the American Beef Council's commercials, Fanfare for the Common Man pops up all over the place (recently, in 9/11 specials & reports). You've heard it before. Now hear them in their totality; it's worth a listen.

Late Symphonies - Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
It's hard to pick a best/favorite Mozart symphony - ditto for Beethoven.

Mozart's 41st - the Jupiter Symphony - usually gets the nod as the best; I like the 38th (Prague) and the 40th more - especially the 38th.

Pictures At an Exhibition - Modest Mussorgsky
Here is one where I have a preference in performer: First, I prefer the piano version over the orchestral version; second, for piano versions, I love Vladimir Ashkenazy's interpretation and am indifferent to the Horowitz version.

Requiem (K.626) and Coronation Mass (K. 317) - Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
I have a CD that contains both these pieces than plays so often I'm surprised the laser hasn't eaten it yet. So, in my ear, these two go together.

The Mass is more religious; the Requiem (also a mass), is far darker and more powerful. The latter is one of Mozart's last works, I believe.

Rhapsody in Blue - George Gershwin
A great composition with the unforgettable clarinet opening, it will be forever tied - in my mind - with Woody Allen's Manhattan.

That's not a bad thing...

Gershiwn is - like Copland, with his popular works - somewhat of a cliche simply because of his popularity. That's valid but, ultimately, decided by the music's merit.

Gershiwn's music - United Airlines commercials/Allen's Manhatten or not - passes the merit test.

Waltzes - Johann Strauss II
Like Gershwin, Strauss waltzes are somewhat of a cliche, but there is a reason for this: They are that good. Pick your favorites, be it "Tales From the Vienna Woods," "The Emperor Waltz," "Vienna Blood" or the required "On the Beautiful Blue Danube" (An der shonen, blauen Donau). Must haves for any collection.

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