Brian Newhouse, Managing Director of Classical Music at MPR | APM put forth a question to the classical staff last Friday, and the emails started flying.
It seems they're expecting a foreign exchange student, and that student asked to be introduced to Classical music. What happened next was a flurry of "desert island" pieces from an array of our staff. We wanted to share with you — and have you weigh-in — our growing list of classic classical pieces.
Tim Roesler (Senior Vice President, Minnesota Public Radio)
"For me it's the finest 8 minutes in classical music; the Allegretto [second movement] from Beethoven's 7th."
Jodi Gustafson (Sr. Administrative Assistant, Classical)
"I'll contrast with the complete serenity of Arvo Pärt's Te Deum."
Julie Amacher (National Host, Classical 24)
Alison Young (Host/Producer, Classical Music Service)
"I think I could listen over and over to Claude Debussy's Suite Bergamasque. Just sublime and transporting too."
Rex Levang (Music Director, Classical Music Service)
"At 15, I think my desert island piece might have been [Gershwin's] Rhapsody in Blue. Today, I'd be harder pressed!"
Judy McAlpine (Sr. VP & General Manager, APM, Content and Media)
"[Golijov's] Azul, because its beauty is beyond words."
William Johnston (Regional Digital Media Intern, Classical MPR)
"Mahler's Second Symphony, particularly the final movement, although it loses much of its power when not preceded by the remainder of the work, especially Urlicht (the fourth of five movements). The sublime beauty and transporting power of that final movement is a gem set in the rest of the work.
A runner up would the Richard Strauss Vier letzte Lieder (Last Four Songs), particularly the fourth, and especially when paired with Tod und Verklärung (Death and Transfiguration) from which Im Abendrot (Evening, the fourth song) draws a key musical motive and creates a beautiful moment."
Jen Keavy (Marketing Manager)
"Schoenberg's Verklarte Nacht (Transfigured Night). Intense, emotional, expressive. (Yep, I said it! I love Schoenberg.)
Bach's Cello Suites — all of them. They are meditative and transcendent, and are known to bring me to tears, especially when performed by Pablo Casals.
Also on the list is Carissimi's oratorio, Jepthe. Beautiful and dramatic."
Randi Yoder (Sr VP & Chief Development Officer)
"At 15, I was starting to perform (in choir) Handel's Messiah and could barely get through the parts we sang without my throat tightening up because it was so moving. In fact, my first gift to MPR in the late 70's was motivated by a recording of it MPR was giving away as a premium. I went completely off our early years of marriage budget to get the 'free' copy which of course would have been cheaper to acquire at the music store! I still play it and sing along."
Emily Reese (Host, Cultural Programming)
"Ravel, Mother Goose Suite, the Enchanted Garden part. What I do when I'm teaching classical music to someone who's clearly interested is I make them a CD with as many different pieces I can fit in that 70 minutes, then I talk them through each piece, or write a few words about each, explaining why I love it. It's pretty easy when you have a disc of Bach, Ravel, Beethoven, Shostakovich, et cetera, to put very simply why you like them. I think, anyway."
Lynne Warfel (National Host/Producer)
"When I was 15 I had this oddball, eclectic love of The Beatles, rock and roll, Broadway shows and Stan Kenton's kind of music — a love inspired by my jazz trumpeter Dad. I hadn't been exposed much at all to classical, but when I was, it was head-on with the finale to Mahler's Resurrection Symphony with Leonard Bernstein and the NY Phil. No half-measures! As a (then) new singer who liked big Broadway 'production-number' endings and big brassy trumpet sections, it was perfect. Rattled the rafters. Same year: [Carl Orff's] Carmina Burana and Brahms' Symphonies for the first time: Philadelphia Orchestra. Loved stuff that made noise with lots of brass and percussion.
Now it's your turn. Give us your list of "must listen" works in the comments below.