Hallo, alles! So, yesterday, I was talking about my favorite songs from musical theatre. But today, I thought I’d dedicate this post to one of my favorite non-musical theatre genres… classical music. While I’d say that classical music is more-or-less poorly received these days, I think that some of the most beautiful music I’ve ever heard are classical pieces. I grew up listening to guys like Mozart, Handel, Haydn, Beethoven, and especially (J.S.) Bach. In fact, up until I entered into the third grade, I actually thought that the music that those guys composed years and years ago was the music that everyone listened to. Yeah… I know. That was pretty naïve of me. But I was even shocked when I found out that the artists’ whose music I’d so grown to love were dead… I was even more shocked when I heard that they’d been dead for hundreds of years. But I think that that was also the moment in which I realized that there was something truly special about classical music. It had survived for all of those years and was still highly respected—though perhaps not always loved—by many.
And yet, through all of my love of classical music, I was always perplexed when my peers would say to me: “Why do you like that old people music? There’s no feeling—no soul—to it! It’s not even fun!” Which just made me all the more confused. I’d always thought that classical music had the most soul in it—besides perhaps, songs from musicals. And, after talking to a lot of people, I’ve discovered that a lot of the time, people only see instrumental music as classical music and view opera and such as a completely different genre. But all of the people I mentioned above—Mozart, Handel, Haydn, Beethoven, and J.S. Bach—all wrote songs with lyrics with them! But nonetheless, I can understand why some people might find classical music hard to get into. The songs that do have lyrics, oftentimes are in languages that are well… not English (i.e. German, Italian, French, etc.). But today, I’ve compiled my favorite songs that follow in a classical musical fashion! Some of these will be entire oratorios, operas, requiem masses, and in one case, a musical! Not all of them will have lyrics, but most of them will! So… los geht’s?
COMPLETE WORKS (i.e. Oratorios, operas, etc.)
· MATTHÄUS-PASSION [St. Matthew’s Passion] by Johann Sebastian Bach – This is essentially the entirety of Matthew’s account of Christ’s passion in song form. And it’s really, really beautiful. I love listening to it and, because I have it on DVD, I watch it with my family every year during the Lenten season. It’s just an absolutely beautiful oratorio by J.S. Bach. In fact, I actually have the DVD playing right now, even as I write this! It’s a beautiful piece, full of soul. The English translation of all of the songs can be found really easily online as well, so that’s always a plus for non-German speakers. But even if you don’t understand the lyrics, the music is absolutely stunning.
· GERSCHWINDE, IHR WIRBELNDEN WINDE [Swift, You Swirling Winds] by Johann Sebastian Bach – While I’d say that a great majority of J.S. Bach’s works were religious works, this secular cantata is based around the Greek myth of the contest between Pan and Apollo (Phoebus). It’s a really fun, beautiful piece to listen to and I never get tired of it! It’s one that I always get my dad to play on his CD for my birthday because it’s one that I don’t get to listen to without my earbuds very often. But man, it’s absolutely beautiful. Highly recommend this one.
· MESSIAH by George Friedrich Handel – This one’s actually unique on this list in the fact that it’s an English-language oratorio! In fact, it’s known for being the greatest English-language oratorio of all-time. It’s a Christmas-time favorite of many! I wish that I had the money to see this live at the Seattle Symphony every year but unfortunately, it only happens every so often….
· L’ANIMA DEL FILOSOFO, OSSIA ORFEO ED EURIDICE [The Soul of the Philosopher, or Orpheus and Eurydice] by Joseph Haydn – If you’re like me and love Greek mythology, the myth of Orpheus and Eurydice is nothing new but it’s always interesting to see a different take on it! Haydn is actually one of my favorite composers and I highly recommend giving this one a try! It’s great fun. Well… it’s a tragedy but… you get what I mean. Right?
· THE MAGIC FLUTE [Die Zauberflöte] by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart and Emanuel Schikaneder – While the original title of this was “Die Zauberflöte”, it is better known as “The Magic Flute” by modern audiences. Immensely popular when it opened and still being one of the top 10 most performed operas of all time, “The Magic Flute” is timeless.
· SCHIKANEDER: DAS MUSICAL by Stephen Schwartz – So, I thought that since I just brought up Emanuel Schikaneder by means of “The Magic Flute” and his work with Mozart, I thought that I’d talk about the new Stephen Schwartz musical, SCHIKANEDER. It’s a musical that uses very classical style and it’s super amazing. I highly recommend checking it out.
· TROILUS AND CRESSIDA by William Walton – I’m not altogether familiar with William Walton’s work but when I heard the music for “Troilus and Cressida”, I immediately fell in love. It’s one of the most amazing operas that I’ve ever come across in my entire life. In fact, I enjoy this opera better than the source material from William Shakespeare.
· LA BOHÈME by Giacomo Puccini – This is one opera that I really, really want to see. I’ve heard the music and loved it—it’s my favorite Puccini work—but I’ve never actually gotten to see it live! The music is absolutely beautiful and I highly, highly recommend that you check it out! I also love the tragic storyline… it kind of reminds me of MOULIN ROUGE… I don’t know if it took inspiration from “La Bohème or not but I wouldn’t be surprised!
· GOTT ERHALTE FRANZ DEN KAISER [God Save Franz, the Emperor] by Joseph Haydn – This song’s tune actually is now the German national anthem! Just a fun fact for y’all! It’s got a very regal sort of tune to it that I just utterly adore! I highly recommend giving it a try!
· PAN IST MEISTER LASST IHN GEH’N [Pan is Master, Let Him Go] by Johann Sebastian Bach – Now this is a fun one! I absolutely adore this song—it’s been a long time favorite of mine! It’s so upbeat and fun and I just love it! It’s from “Gerschwinde, ihr Windelnden Winden”, actually and it’s my favorite song from it! It’s also one of my favorite tenor pieces of all time!
· HOW CAN I SLEEP? …AT THE END OF HAUNTED END OF THE DAY by William Walton – This is a really pretty aria from “Troilus and Cressida”, sung by Cressida. And I just really, really love it! I’m pretty sure that it’s also one of the most well-known songs from the opera!
· QUEEN OF THE NIGHT (aria) by MOZART – And I’ve save the best for last! “Queen of the Night” is an aria from MOZART and man, oh, man is it a lot of fun! If you decide to only listen to one song from this list, listen to this one. It perfectly shows what I believe to be the exciting side of classical music!
And that’s it for me! As you can tell, I love classical music. What are your favorite genres of music? Any recommendations? Vielen dank und tschüss!