So, this is not going to be a reflective blog post (at least it’s not trying to be). Instead, it’s going to be a top 10 of my favourite composers and the compositions that I love the most from them. If I get a little sentimental, sorry!
Pros: The Magic Flute is just the bomb; the Queen of the Night arias are some of my favourite pieces of vocal music period. He is pretty much considered the Greatest Composer of All Time along with Bach and Beethoven.
Cons: To me, I find his music a little predictable and boring. His later music gets a bit more inventive, but at the same time, it maintains this “I know I’m listening to Mozart” feel.
Pros: The Symphonies are very expressive, and they capture more emotion than Mozart’s music. He is the logical bridge between Classical and Romantic musical periods. I really enjoyed playing his piano music.
Cons: Again, he can get into a trap of being highly predictable and trackable. Less than Mozart, but I’m still aware I’m listening to music of the Classical Era.
Favourite Piece: Symphony No. 5 (What can I say…lol)
8. Johann Pachelbel (1653-1706)
Pros: Canon in D is pretty (even if it is technically a passacaglia). He contributed highly to the art form that is the fugue and chorale prelude.His other music was pretty awesome too.
Cons: Canon in D.
Favourite Piece/Guilty Pleasure: Canon in D. (I’m sorry to all my cellist friends.)
7. Claude Debussy (1868-1912)
Pros: Made impressionistic music for me, really. He and Ravel just made such pretty palate choices, just like Monet’s paintings. It’s beautiful music, and if you understand the music theory behind it, it makes it even more interesting since it was so simple yet complex.
Cons: There may sometimes be an overkill on using hazy chord changes, and it could lend itself to poor interpretations (mostly by myself, lol).
Favourite Piece: Suite Bergamasque
6. Maurice Ravel (1875-1937)
Pros: His piano music is so amazingly complex; he is perhaps the best orchestrator in all of classical music. His knowledge and use of the tonal colours of the orchestra is absolutely amazing. He also writes such a wide range of melody.
Cons: Like Debussy, his music can be too complex at times.
Favourite Piece: Pavane pour une infante defunte (Pavane for a Dead Princess)
Pros: I am a sucker for Baroque music, and Handel’s is by far one of my favourites. It’s just the way his use of the keyboard or orchestra or choir sounds. It sounds so regal and proper.
Cons: There’s this made up term that I’ve coined called the “Standard Handel Tempo” where you can apply the same tempo but it’s subdivided differently (Hallelujah Chorus = For Unto Us = Total Eclipse from Samson…etc.)
4. Pyotr Illyich Tchaikovsky (1840-1893)
Pros: Romantic music at one of its heights. He seems to understand how to use emotion in a controlled manner, which makes his music so beautiful. Swan Lake, Romeo and Juliet, The Nutcracker, Symphony No. 6…so beautiful.
Cons: Tchaikovsky’s orchestration makes an orchestra sound very small. It could sound much bigger, since there were more instruments in them than most orchestras to that point in history.
Favourite Piece: Romeo and Juliet Fantasy Overture
Pros: Some of my favourite melodies of all time were written by Puccini. Turandot, Tosca, La Boheme, and Madame Butterfly are some of the best operas written (in my opinion). His music exhibited a great use of exoticism and a keen ear for drama and tension.
Cons: Some of Puccini’s music can get a little too big at times, and the ending to Tosca, while epic, doesn’t make sense with his use of leitmotif in the opera.
Favourite Piece (Work): Tosca
Pros: Mind-blowing counterpoint and he’s just absolutely one of the most intelligent composers I’ve ever had the privilege of playing and singing. The Mass in B Minor is going to be one of my favourite major works ever.
Cons: I can’t think of any really, but he’s still behind my #1
Favourite Piece: Prelude No. 8 from the Well-Tempered Clavier, Book 1
1. Fryderyk Chopin (1810-1849)
Pros: Delicate, highly emotional music. In any medium, I feel that Chopin’s music really hits me hard in the soul. His music was the earliest memory of music that I can even conjure up, and I remember being sat in my mom’s lap as she played me the “Etude in E Major”. It also has been the music that I can interpret the easiest. His use of chords is perhaps my favourite of any composer.
Cons: Lack of output for orchestra, choir, etc. His only symphonic works have been piano concerti and similar mediums, and they seem almost designed to fit into the piano sound. His music can get a little too intimate (he was known for not being able to fill a concert hall with sound).