My 5 Classical Music pieces to find comfort and solace
One of the questions non-professional musicians ask me most frequently is… “What classical pieces should I listen to?”
Well, I thought it was a good moment to write about this. In hard times such as the ones we are currently facing, we all need to find peace and solace; we all need to find moments to connect with our emotions and just be present with all that we are feeling, learning to accept the insecurities of the present and knowing that this will all pass.
I put together this little list: my top 5 suggestions, pieces which touch my emotions directly and provoke much-needed reflections. These are pieces which have been living with and within me for long, each carrying some of both my most treasured and painful experiences.
By clicking on each title, a new window will pop up and lead you to my favourite YouTube recording of each of the pieces. Then below each title you can read a short description of why they are special to me, and hopefully they can become so to you too. I kept diversity in mind: I am bringing you classical pieces from different music periods, contrasting styles and moods, and varied instrumentation.
Of course this is a little selection: my list is immense, so if you enjoy this let me know: I would be delighted to write a second article with further suggestions.
Music taste is extremely personal, but I hope this is of help to someone in this period when it is so important to find comfort and to stay in touch with our humanity.
Renaissance Music (roughly 1400-1600):
I remember being a little girl and being obsessed with my mother’s discs of medieval and baroque music, but particularly the music of the Renaissance. Describing music in words is a terrible challenge, but I will risk describing it as the most honest, human music. It sounds like life, like pure emotions straight out of one self. Isn’t that what we all need sometimes?
Listen to this with headphones, comfortably loud. Allow it to fill your whole body with its sound and I promise it will be one of the strongest musical experiences in your life. It is for me at least - every single time.
This final movement of Mahler’s Symphony No. 9 is heartbreakingly desperate yet so beautiful. It always reminds me that for every painful situation in our lives there is always space for hope and gratefulness; that accepting the inevitability of certain events in our lives is essential, and that the true challenge is to discover how we can grow stronger from those experiences.
To me, what is most special about Arvo Part’s music from the late 1970’s onwards is the space it gives us, listeners, to understand ourselves. It is music of reflection, inner peace, self-discovery.
Part temporarily abandoned the world of composition for about 10 years in the middle of his career: he needed to re-discover himself and his voice in music. In that period he studied medieval and renaissance music. After 10 years away, he returns with a completely new composition style and technique, of which Spiegel I'm Spiegel is a gorgeous example.
D. Shostakovich, Prelude and Fugue in D minor, no. 24 (1951)
An unbelievable blend of darkness and hope.
This piece accompanied me throughout my high school years. I found a lost CD at home without a cover, and in the middle of so many other pieces this one was there. The last one of Shostakovich’s Preludes and Fugues, and my very favourite. The images it evokes in my mind are of cemeteries and birds breaking free: darkness and hope.
And of course I couldn’t leave without sharing my passion for string quartet music
Like all his pieces, Debussy’s music breathes dreams and imagination, phantasy and nature. There is not so much I would like to add here, apart from asking you to explore more of his music if you like this pearl of a movement, perhaps his piano works could be in your explorer list?
It is so important to keep the fire of our creativity alive these days, and to me Debussy’s music is a beautiful way of sparking that fire.
If you enjoyed this, you can find me on:
And if you can and would like to, you can consider making a small donation here, to support my music videos and music related content.