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Posted at 5:29 PM on March 7, 2006 by Don Lee

John Zech's March 3 post and Valerie Kahler's follow-up yesterday got me thinking about some of the classical pieces that compel me to hum or whistle along whenever I hear them.

To be honest, I probably couldn't hum much of the final movement of Debussy's Cello Sonata, but its delicate urgency makes me want to. I love bathing in the near-bathos of the Air in Grieg's "Holberg" Suite. The fast, contrapuntal passage in the middle of Copland's "Appalachian Spring" always gets me charged up. I never tire of the tangy angularity in "Stick Dance," the first of Bartok's Six Romanian Dances. And the Scherzo in Ravel's String Quartet features a pithy pizzicato.

This little exercise is not the same as compiling a list of Desert Island Discs. If I expected to be left alone somewhere for a long time, hummability wouldn't the main criterion as I packed my CD case. But I welcome the company of these catchy classical tunes most anytime.