Music affects us all in different ways, whether we realize it or not. Shopping in a busy store, you may notice a change in music from something upbeat to something quite mellow – this helps keep everyone calm. Music triggers our brain’s chemical reactions positively by reducing stress and depression levels and classical music is one of the most effective. But, where to begin? Our list of pieces of classical music everyone should hear at least once in their lifetime is a great place to start. Prepare to feel peace and calm.
St Matthew Passion, J.S. Bach
This oratorio has become one of Johann Sebastian Bach’s most revered compositions. It is believed he may have written as many as five but this is only one of two that have survived. Listen to St Matthew Passion conducted by Professor Dan-Olof Stenlund in Lund Cathedral and performed by Sweden’s Malmö Chamber Choir and orchestra.
English Suite No. 2 in A minor, J.S. Bach
Another entry on our list from Bach. This one generally speaks for itself, it’s a keyboard-focused piece that is simply glorious. Listen to legendary pianist Glen Gould master this beautiful composition.
Reflets dans l’eau, Claude Debussy
Written in 1905, this is from the first volume of his “Images” and is also the first of three pieces which are usually performed separately. Written for the piano, Reflets dans l’eau, or “Reflections in the Water”, is an impressionistic piece, as its name would suggest. Listen to Reflets dans l’eau as performed by pianist James Boyk in 1984 at the Dabney Lounge at the California Institute of Technology, where he was Pianist in Residence at the time.
Vespers, Claudio Monteverdi
Considered to be a musical revolutionary as well as the godfather of opera, Claudio Monteverdi’s Vespers was the bridge over the gap between the age of Renaissance and the early days of the Baroque periods. Listen to this beautiful work as performed by the Eindhoven Vocal Ensemble.
Nocturne in B-flat minor, Op. 9, No. 1, Frédéric Chopin
Chopin always comes to mind as one of the world’s greatest piano talents and experts have also dubbed him the poet of the piano with his melodies. The work of Frédéric Chopin evokes emotions and one of our favorite works of his is Nocturne in B-flat minor, Op. 9, No. 1. Listen to this beautiful composition as performed by pianist Artur Rubinstein.
If you gravitate more toward the new classics, you may want to consider listening to music by Phillip Glass, Kronos Quartet, or Clint Mansell as they’re well on their way to achieving a status similar to their predecessors. To dig even deeper into the classics, read The Stories Behind Some of the World’s Most Beautiful Ballet Music. So, tell us, which of these classical pieces is your favorite?