Friday, March 31, 2017

What is the Greatest Piece of Music of All Time?

Original Photograph from Archives
Cinephiles spar over what is the best movie of all time, and certainly the phrase, "The Citizen Kane of _____" is used often enough to describe the best of the best.

What do people believe to be the musical equivalent?   What is the greatest piece of music of all time?  Or, in your own mind, what might be the two or three contenders? Would you include any of the following:
  • Bach's Mass in B Minor?
  • Mozart's The Marriage of Figaro?
  • Beethoven's 5th Symphony?
  • Beethoven's 9th Symphony?
From Wagner?  Lloyd Webber? (Kidding.) But are there more contemporary pieces that deserve that title?

52 comments:

  1. As it is Bachs Birthday today, I wrote a post about my connection to him. Unfortunately, your question is impossible to answer.

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  2. Handel's Messiah.

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  3. "Wagner's music is better than it sounds." - Mark Twain's Autobiography (re-quoting humorist Edgar Wilson Nye)

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  4. Whatever it is, I still wouldn't want to hear it more than once a day.

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  5. This is a single question for an infinite supply of answers, as so much of an art form's "success" is from its reception. I offer Copland's "Appalachian Spring" for such consideration. I do not view it as a signpost of American culture, but rather a stirring inspiration to aspire towards, through music that comes "to" the listener as opposed to something requiring a leap in order to reach.

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    1. No discussion of music and American culture is complete without mentioning Duke Ellington and reflections in D, satin doll and sophisticated lady...

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  6. I find myself coming back repeatedly to four: Mendelssohn’s Violin Concerto, Dvorak’s 9th (“New World”) Symphony, Massenet’s “Meditation” from Thais, and the Intermezzo from Cavalleria Rusticana. I would also have to consider my favorite singers’ performances of some of the great arias (Pavarotti’s “Nessun dorma,” Maria Callas’ “Vissi d’arte, and Rene Fleming’s “Song to the Moon,” for example), which are remarkable achievements of composition and performance. If I could only pick one piece from that list, though, I’d take Dvorak’s 9th.

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  7. BBC 4 used to have an amusing program called "Desert Island Discs." What eight pieces of recorded music would you (the interviewee--usually a literate and well-known figure) take with you if stranded on an deserted island? It was always fun to imagine what not only was great, but what you could also stand to listen to over and over (I agree with Blue Train). I found it fun to imagine how I would answer but never made a final list. My opinions and tastes, I find, change with experience and time.

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    1. As it happens, my taste in music could be called broad but my selection of things to actually listen to is limited to how many CDs will fit in the shoebox on the floor in my car, which I think might be about fifteen or twenty, maybe more if I count those stashed in the door bins.

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  8. Jessica by The Allman Brothers. Hands down. Close runner up: Hoe-Down, Aaron Copland.

    I have eclectic taste ;)

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    1. I'm with you, and won't argue, beyond saying I would include all of Copland's "Rodeo."

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  9. Beethoven's Symphony 5 is a favorite along with Handel's Messiah and I would like to add Tchaikovsky's 1712 Overture. Beyond the great composers, I'm a huge fan of Nat King Cole and Johnny Mathis.

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    1. Apologies, you will find 1712 not as appealing as 1812!

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    2. I think P.D.Q Bach wrote the 1712 Overture.

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  10. Appalachian Spring by Aaron Copland.

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  11. "A Charlie Brown Christmas" soundtrack by Vince Guaraldi

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    1. I listen to this soundtrack all year round. The best Christmas music.

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  12. Vaughn Williams Tone poem on a Theme by Tallis
    Thrilling
    BarbG

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    1. I was about to list this but then I realize my favorite piece of music and the greatest piece of music might possibly be different! Still not sure what the greatest piece of music is, though this one is probably in the top 1,000 or so... - ER

      - ER

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  13. Wow. We are a broad spectrum group. Handel's Messiah, 1812 Overture by Tschiakovsky, Beethoven's 9th, most of Copeland, and Simon and Garfunkle's Sounds of Silence.

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  14. I must agree. So many pieces touch my soul, but Handel's Messiah...sigh

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  15. Bach: Brandenburg Concerto No. 3

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  16. Claudio Monteverdi : Zefiro Torna

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  17. What great choices, all! I offer the most sublime two minutes of choral music: Mozart's Ave Verum Corpus.

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  18. "Layla and Other Assorted Love Songs" by Derek and the Dominos.

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  19. Do any of you listen to Robert Aubry Davis' " Millennium of Music?" "Music written a thousand years before Bach was born. "
    At one time our local university carried the program, but they replaced it with local college kids running the station. ( I know, I know, they need to learn)....I keep XM Radio just to listen to that program Sunday mornings.

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  20. Bach's Cello Suite No. in G. Grand.

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  21. Vivaldi "The Four Seasons".
    Magnificent!

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    1. I forgot to add this. Love...especially in his church in Venice. Sublime.

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  22. In my ignorant opinion...Handel's Messiah

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  23. Standing the test of time would be the measure, so classical music come to mind. My timeline also encompasses "sound tracks" - awed by John Williams' prolific and versatile genius. Indiana Jones "Raiders March" playing against the ride-into-the-sunset Last Crusade final scene & rolling credits. I should have such a score for my last scene; rolling credits not a bad idea either.

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  24. Samuel Barber - "Adagio For Strings", Ralph Vaughan Williams - "The Lark Ascendng", are the first two classical favorites that come to mind.

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  25. Right now it is the soundtrack from the movie "Fantasia", anything sung by Andrea Bocelli, and of course the soundtrack from "A Dharlie Brown Christmas". This list is subject to change at any time.

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  26. Beethoven's "Emperor" piano concerto with Glen Gould and L. Stowkowski

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  27. Something by JS Bach.....Anything by Bach.....Possibly everything by Bach
    Messe de Notre Dame by Guilliame de Machaut. That's 14th century you know. Best thing that had been written up until that time. Stravinsky's Sacre De Printemps. Caused a riot

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  28. Whitey Houston singing "I Will Aways Love You", written by Dolly Parton. Not classical, but the tune and the way she sang that stepped up octave was one "for the ages."

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  29. Former Oboe player.
    Bach Sonata in C major for Oboe and Continuo

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  30. Dvorak's New World Symphony , Mozart's "Laudate Dominum (music of angels), Jerusalem Blake/Perry , Thais: Meditation , Highland Cathedral (bagpipes) , Le Nozze di Figaro-Sull'Aria , Ella Fitzgerald sings Cole Porter, Peter Duchin, Frank Sinatra, and Bing Crosby/Christmas Carols

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  31. The Lark Ascending or Tallis Fantasia by Vaughan Williams

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  32. This post makes me think of Dr. Karl Haas!!!!

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  33. For me, no musical work can eclipse the chills I feel when I hear Elgar's "March of the Mogul Emperors". But Holst's "the Planets (Venus is my favorite) is a very close second. In a bit of a curve ball, I also think Kygo's version of "Cut Your Teeth" is a masterpiece.

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  34. Miles Davis, So What, and Sonny Rollins, Blue 7.

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  35. Classic - I agree that is must be Handel's Messiah. Though personally I think Handel's "Esther" is just glorious.

    Modern - Candi Staton "You've Got the Love"

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  36. Handel's Messiah.
    Lot's of great music mentioned that will keep me busy a while.

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  37. Mahler's 2nd Symphony, "The Resurrection" A live performance of this, because of the size of the orchestra and chorus is rarely available, but it can be a life-altering experience.

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