Classical 91.5

Four Pieces to Fall in Love With

Sep 17, 2018

Credit Ruth Phinney

When The New York Times published "5 Minutes That Will Make You Love Classical Music," your friends at WXXI began thinking of their own cherished pieces.

Here are four pieces we think you might fall for.

1. Dmitry Kabalevsky's Overture to Colas Breugnon

WXXI-FM's Program Director Ruth Phinney says she first heard Kabalevsky's overture when she was in her teens:

"This piece has special meaning in my life because when I was a senior in high school my band director knew that I planned to go into Music Education, so she allowed me (and the other seniors going into music) to conduct a piece on our final band concert.  I got to conduct Colas Breugnon.  It is a piece with such as range of emotions – from big, boisterous rhythmic sections that you feel deep in your soul, to light and energetic segments, and lyrical themes that move around through the various sections of the orchestra.  So much color from deep darkness to bright light."

Here conductor Andre Litton leads the New England Conservatory Philharmonia in a performance in NEC’s Jordan Hall, Boston.

2. Antonin Dvorak's "American Quartet"

The question of what piece of music she treasured above all gave afternoon host Mona Seghatoleslami  a moment's pause: "This question is SO DIFFICULT, nigh on impossible, but I have enjoyed the answers from so many folks who listen to and love so much music, and I suppose I cannot pretend that I am unique in struggling to settle on one."

Mona says an early and lasting love is the second movement of Antonin Dvorak’s “American” Quartet, "where long romantic melodies are exchanged over a bed of sound created by the other players in gentle rocking motion, eddies in a moonlit pond.  Love song and lullaby, yearning and rest."  

3. Maria Schneider's Winter Morning Walks

On the very day that WXXI Music Director Julia Figueras was asked to pick a favorite piece, she had lost a dear friend to breast cancer.

"That informs my response," she wrote. "One of the most magical pieces we have is Maria Schneider’s Winter Morning Walks, with texts by poet Ted Kooser.  The whole hangs together so perfectly, ending with 'How Important It Must Be.'"

How important it must be
To someone
That I am alive, and walking,
And that I have written
These poems.
This morning the sun stood
Right at the end of the road
And waited for me.

"It’s a celebration of life and love, while gently acknowledging the fragility of our time on earth," said Julia. "Today, it’s beauty, filtered through my broken heart."

Here's an overview of Maria Schneider's Winter Morning Walks.

4. Stravinsky's ballet music for "Petroushka” (the 1911 version)

This is morning host Brenda Tremblay.  The first piece of classical music I truly fell in love with was Igor Stravinsky's Petroushka.  It was a crisp fall day.  I was running up the stairs to my dorm in college when I hear this music floating out of someone's open window.   It stopped me in mid-flight.  The opening bars minutes are pure, unadulterated joy with a dash of harmonic weirdness.  Hypnotic.   I still love it!