Why is Beethoven – perhaps – the greatest composer of them all? One thing he does is expand everything – the volume goes up to 11 and down to almost nothing. Also, he cared deeply, about music and humanity. In his Coriolan Overture he makes us care about an obscure Roman general intent on [self-]destruction… and it’s fab. (14 mins)… Listen
When Tristan & Isolde take a magic love potion it’s not exactly happy ever after. Love wins in the end, it’s just they’re both dead. Passionate, overwhelming, transformative music from Richard Wagner sends them on their way and leaves us all in a state of transcendent bliss. Listening time 30 mins… Listen
The song goes that life is a rollercoaster, baby, and few can give us all the emotional ups and downs as well as Tchaikovsky. The first part of this ride is stormy, turbulent, passionate and full of loss and yearning, as Tchaikovsky is battered by what fate and life throws at him. As the other song [almost] goes: He gets knocked down, but he gets up again! Listening time: 31 mins… Listen
I’m always a bit surprised to find myself humming bits of Ma Vlast – My Country by one of the Czech’s favourite sons. I guess I must really love it!
Feared by the Nazis, loved by the Czechs, this is the acceptable face of nationalism, and its full of great tunes and causes deep satisfaction.
Listening time 32mins
What’s in a name? Not much it seems. An ‘Intermezzo’ is often a short piece that breaks up something bigger… but Brahms used it as his go to name for any short piano pieces where nothing else came to mind! In any case, these three Intermezzos for solo piano from late in Brahms’s life are beautiful, wistful, dreamy and give us a perfect break from whatever you’ve got going on… Like all Brahms pieces they’re musically perfect too. [21′]… Listen