If you could pick any one piece to introduce someone to the wonders and beauty of classical music, what would it be and why?

I would probably choose Barber's adagio for strings. The biggest thing I think most people miss with classical is that they believe it's soulless and boring. Something slow, and emotionally resonant is the perfect piece to make someone challenge every belief they had prior, and to fall in love with what they hear. Adagio for strings is a perfect representation of that, I think. Technically simple enough that the emotions shine one hundred times brighter. It honestly makes time stand still for me whenever I hear it.


I wouldn’t pick anything like adagio for strings. I think the biggest disagreement people have with the vibe of classical music is that it’s far longer winded than pop music. So I’d want to find something that holds attention for its duration in a manner which even a lay listener can easily recognize. And it’s not so easy to find something like that. Actually, I think, personally, adagio for strings is quintessentially the opposite of what I would show someone. It’s got emotional depth, sure, but it’s very long winded and it takes a long time for it to get to the point. I think the pacing of classical music is an acquired taste and that people should start by trying to appreciate orchestrations and individual moments and slowly move onto the music which takes things a bit slower. It’s hard for many people to allow themselves to be taken on a journey because they aren’t listening for that — they’re listening for the ear dopamine. So the ideal piece is one that has a quick narrative pace and maintains momentum throughout the whole thing so that there’s never a moment where a listener might get bored and skip it. And I think that’s hard to find because the genre is kind of predicated on this idea of incremental development. So I think I would start a brand new listener on something some may not call classical at all - film scores. The advantage of film scores is that they are paced according to the film which are are written for and there’s a clear train of thought you can follow while listening. They also tend to represent a smaller range of feeling in a piece because each track is for a single moment of the film and is assisting them in telling the story. As for which one? It would depend on what films the person likes. But I’d try to encourage them to listen more actively to what’s being to try and nudge them towards the style of listening that classical music rewards. And if they’re still into it after that, I might start to push them towards things like The Planets and Dvorak 9 which are familiar and easy to follow while maintaining the familiar orchestral scale of film scores.


Also some Shostakovich is film-score like. I like the 2nd movement of his 10th Symphony, it's not too long as well.


>Also some Shostakovich is film-score like. He also wrote thirty-six *actual* film scores between 1929 and 1970.


The opening of the 4th movement of Beethoven 5 always gave me film score kind of vibes.


Or the 2nd movement of his 2nd concerto omggg...


Ok, so the soundtrack to Platoon then?


I find that people enjoy what they already know or can relate to when it involves music. People can gush about the Jurassic Park theme song, but something similar to which they have no connection whatsoever? Meh. Similarly, some people say they hate dissonance until you put on a movie soundtrack they know and like. Then they insist that it’s different and that there is no dissonance… Video game music can also be a good choice, depending on the person.


Short and concise is the answer. Some composers wrote short works which are good for the beginner, other composers will have a section of a movement which can summarize their concepts. Tallis- Third mode melody played on Gambas or If ye love me for a choral work Messiaen- Birds & Springs for organ or Movement II of the Ascension Suite; last movement of the Quartet for the end of time. Buxtehude - Choral Prelude -Nun Bitten Wir Bach- Choral Prelude - Wo sol ich fleihen Gibbons - Verse Anthem - This is the Record of John Vaughn Williams - Kyrie from Mass in G minor Crumb- 2nd half of Starry Night Des Prez - Ave Maria Ives - part of the unanswered Question; a portion of symphony IV Perotin- a portion of Sederunt Principes and a portion of Beata Viscera Ockehem - Deo Gratias Britten- A section of the Ceremony of Carols; a portion of the young people's guide 20th century British Cathedral choral music - Sumsion - they went down to the sea in ships ; Sir John Tavener - Hymn to the Mother of God


What about the more accessible virtuoso pieces of Liszt's, like La campanella? It's constantly building tension, is "ear dopamine" in that it sounds really cool, and it's not too ridiculously long.


Could be a solid option, I’m inclined to think the average Joe wouldn’t appreciate the repetition and variation, though. Uncertain.


I remember it was one of the first pieces I heard when I began listening to Classical music, though I'm not super familiar as to just how early. But I do know the first time I heard those repetitions my jaw dropped and I got goosebumps, I had no idea a human could make such a noise.


I think if I were to go with Liszt, it would be one of these * Hungarian Rhapsodies: 2, 6, or 9 * Un Sospiro * Liebestaume no. 3 * Liszt Paganini Etude no. 6 * Schubert Lieder transcriptions * Ave Maria * Die Forelle And a video performance is needed for the untrained listener to appreciate his compositions.


The Young Person's Guide to the Orchestra...?


I would probably try to find out which instrument they have an interest in and go with something that makes that instrument shine. There are too many pieces to pick one. If they're the flashy type, maybe Sarasate violin pieces, Rachmaninoff Concertos, it just really depends. Last year my dad passed and I went to see The Nutcracker for the first time in years and absolutely lost it during Pas de Deux, so if someone is sentimental, have them listen to that and think about someone they've ever loved and see if that piece resonates. Like someone else here mentioned, films would be a good start. I'm a huge fan of Hans Zimmer and much of his stuff is classically oriented. There are other pieces like Goldberg Variations that pop up in movies like The English Patient and Silence of the Lambs, and heck I even heard Swan Lake while watching Fast X yesterday, it was hilarious the way it was used, but very effective.


I think I would have to choose Beethoven's 6th. Showing what can be done with the various instruments.


really difficult to think of b/c classical music is so diverse, and I wonder how much of my own appreciation for works I love is based on already knowing the "standard canon" enough to contextualize it the general attitude from friends around me seems to be thinking that classical music is "beautiful" but not very engaging. I'm guessing part of the blame goes to classical being marketed as playlists acting as pink noise for when you're doing work, or something to put on to help you fall asleep. The sonic equivalent of a running fan. I'd probably recommend something by Stravinsky or Prokofiev.


Wow. Well with some of these suggestions I get why classical music is less popular than it could be. You’re introducing your friends to classical with snoozefests


right lmao just put on the apple “classical essentials” playlist. this is very much overcomplicated 😂


Holst's Planets, some Debussy's piano work or Satie (based on what people liked when i showed them different classical music)


If you catch them with the gymnopédies in the right mood, they would have to be heartless to not feel something worth pursuing more.


Literally my sister


Tchaikovsky's The Nut Cracker - Pas de Deux


First movement Bach Double


Bach's Brandenburg Concertos; they're contrapuntally complex but still so tuneful; especially the 3rd and the 4th one. I'd most recommend the 4th one for the violin solo in the first movement, and the fugal final movement; I really love Bach movements in triple time. EDIT: I can't grammar.


especially the first movement of the third one, and the richter version!


Navarra, by Saraste


The Planets


Yes so many people love the planets, much more than I do, but I do like holst.


I mostly love it because it’s such a varied, well-orchestrated piece. The beauty of Venus and Saturn, the joy of Jupiter and Uranus, the terrible drive of Mars, etc. It has something for everyone.


Firebird Suite


For someone familiar with pop music, you want something similar in structure. Grieg's Peer Gynt suites are perfect. Call it an "EP" and it's easily understandable. I used them for elementary students to demonstrate concepts like ABA - very simple to understand. Then there's Brahms Hungarian Dances, or Mendelssohn's Songs Without Words. Same concept, except these are like full albums. Still easily digestible (and they can even skip one they don't like!)


Rach 2 because it's pretty but the arpeggios for the piano "fake" that more is going on than it actually is so it's more engaging. Plus, it must be so popular for a reason, and unlike other super popular pieces it isn't overused in commercials.


Bolero They will find that classical music causes earworm as much as pop music does.


God no. It is boring and it goes on far too long.


Great choice! It's also really playful which isn't what most people associate with classical music.


Idc what anyone says, it’s one of my favourites.


For some reason having to do with its construction, the Brahms Violin Concerto (1st movement at least) is very listenable to non classical music people.


Prokofiev 1st symphony "Classical" - Embraces the structure of the classical era. - A rich, "hooky" orchestral palette providing a vibrant. playful and varied music experience. - Explores many standard themes of classical music but in a masterfully unique and light manner. - Movements and entire symphony are relatively short to keep interest alive for short attention spans. - Great ear-worm melodies throughout to keep them coming back.


adagio from albinoni’s oboe concerto in d minor, op 9 nr 2. must be played on period instrumenrs and include an active archlute in the continuo. (yes i’m an archlute player)


Arvo Pärt's Fratres for violin and piano, specifically [this](https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w6Y0c1auxj4) recording, which is my favorite recording of my favorite piece of music.


For a young person, I would say Ferde Grofe's "Grand Canyon Suite." For someone older, I would recommend George Gershwin's "Rhapsody in Blue."


Probably the Tristan prelude.


Discovered this one through the film Melancholia and been addicted to this piece ever since. Good choice.


Debussy's Nocturnes As one commentator put it, "Debussy was there too, creating crystal palaces of sound" and this is one of those said palaces


As much as I love 20th century Western music, I think people are generally won over by the Romantic period. Since I’m most familiar with piano works, I’d pick a Schubert impromptu, a Chopin nocturne/prelude/etude, or a Brahms intermezzo.


Schubert really did it for me when I first started listening to classical music.


Something accessible like Vivaldi’s Four Seasons where one could imagine the pastoral landscape and hear the birds chirping and water flowing would bring casual listeners in.


18th variation from Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini, it is pure gateway, part of a bigger whole, opens up more Rachmaninov, Chopin and then some Saint Saens


Beethoven's op. 111


Last mvt of Beethoven concerto 3 if they had interest in the piano


1. a movement from a beethoven string quartet. maybe harp movement 1 2. mendelsohn piano trio 1 3. tristan liebestod (only jessye norman)


The Swan


I would hit them with a couple of Vivaldi's concertos. They're bite-sized and punchy with memorable melodic elements and great rhythm. The concerto grosso in B minor and Mandolin concerto in C stick out as particularly accessible.


Well i tried Mendelssohn concerto today and it didn't work, so not that i guess. I tried Brahms waltzes afterwards and that didn't work either, so she may be tone deaf unfortunately.


Honestly anything virtuosic would work, but problem is with consistency


Toccata and fugue in d-minor by Bach, they've already heard the beginning


I think you have to know your audience. What kind of music do they listen to? A pop music listener is going to be vastly different than a prog metal listener. Also, why do they listen to music in the first place? How engaged do they want to be?


Intro to Fantasia, Tocatto and Fuge by Philadelphia Orchestra, Dir. By Leopold Stokowski. Dramatic, dynamic, resolves wonderfully.


Ravel’s Mother Goose it’s magical


Harmonielehre - John Adams


Obviously there isn't really a recipe for getting someone into classical music (that's how I chose to read your question as I don't think most people really need to be "introduced" to the music and it's a futile endeavor to try to find a piece representative of the wonders and beauty of the tradition). As someone who grew up with popular music and who over the years got into various genres and eventually also into jazz and classical music, here's a list of well-known works that I've liked for quite a few years: Danse macabre by Saint-Saens Waltz No. 2 by Shostakovich Liebestraum No. 3 and Un suspiro (concert étude no. 3) by Liszt Isle of the Dead by Rachmaninov Various songs by Schubert Clair de lune and Prelude to the afternoon of a faun by Debussy Gymnopédie and Gnossienes by Satie Pavane pour une infante défunte, Bolero by Ravel Night on bald mountain (Rimsky-Korsakov arrangement) by Mussorgsky If I had to pick one of the above, it would be Danse macabre. It's short, it's catchy and memorable, it's orchestral and it's compellingly and intuitively programmatic (people will recognise that even just on the basis of the title, the feel of the music and/or potentially an image used as the background of a particular Youtube upload). However, liking one (!) piece (or even five) doesn't necessarily get a person into classical music. I've always liked a few pieces or parts of larger works, but what changed things for me was when I started liking 10 or +10 minute pieces, namely: Isle of the dead, Prelude to the afternoon of a faun, Strauss tone poems (and ones by other composers); eventually Beethoven symphonies (especially 6) and Stravinsky ballets changed everything for me. Once I got into those, I knew I could get into a lot of other works as well (and I did). As one can tell, programmatic music or other non-absolute music (e.g. songs or works written to accompany a story such as a ballet) was crucial for me. In general, while personal experiences can differ greatly, I think Romantic as well as generally 20th century music (of course I'm thinking of e.g. Arvo Pärt, Prokofiev, Philip Glass or Gershwin and not Schönberg, Stockhausen and Bryan Ferneyhough) - in other words more recent music - probably has a much better shot at being interesting to people.


rachmaninoff piano concertos 2 and 3


Fourth movement of Beethoven's 7th


Shostakovich 5th symphony. With a musical history lesson too, of course.