CBS Culture Playlists
Here you can find various playlists with classical music.
Each playlist is about one hour and has a theme and a description of the music – Enjoy.
We know, we’re not the first ones to come up with the idea of a classical music playlist to help you study, but exam season is upon us, and we thought you might need a little pick-me-up…
So whether you’re sitting in the crowded rooms of Solbjerg Plads during exam season, or need some extra motivation to drag you away from Netflix and help you get started with studying, this is for you! We made it extra long too, to help you get through the most intense study sessions or all-nighters. Now, there’s really no excuse: drink some coffee, put on the study playlist, and get it done!
Robert Schumann: Kinderszenen, Opus 15. (1838)
Kinderszenen, which translates to “Scenes from Childhood” is a set of thirteen short pieces written for piano. Schumann originally wrote 30 pieces, and then chose 13 for the final version. Number 7 is titled “Träumerei” or “Dreaming”, and is probably the most famous of them all.
Jules Massenet: Méditation (1894)
This piece for solo violin and orchestra was written by french composer Jules Massenet as an entr’acte, or symphonic intermezzo for his opera “Thais” (you know we had to sneak some opera in there). The music is meant to symbolise time of reflection… a perfect fit for studying, we think.
Ludwig van Beethoven: Piano Sonatas No. 8 (“Pathétique”) and 14 (“Moonlight) (1798, 1801)
Beethoven wrote many Sonatas for Piano, so many in fact, that it is almost impossible to choose between them. We have, however, manages to select to of the most beautiful – No. 8 “Pathétique” and No. 14, the famous Moonlight sonata. “Piano Sonata” means that they each consist of three movements, with the second one typically being the slowest, and most melodic one.
Claude Debussy: Prelude to the Afternoon of a Faun (1894)
“Prelude to the Afternoon of a Faun” is a symphonic poem for orchestra, written by Claude Debussy. It is based on the poem “Afternoon of a Faun” by french poet Stéphane Mallarmé and was revolutionary in its composition when it premiered. It is a turning point in the history of music and is often considered to be the beginning of modern music.
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart: Piano Concerto No. 23 (1784)
It’s Mozart. It’s a Piano Concert. Listen to it. That’s all there is to say.
Ludovico Einaudi: Nuvole Bianche and Dolce Droga (2004)
Ludovico Einaudi is a contemporary Italian composer, whose pieces have been featured in film soundtracks such as This is England or The Intouchables. These two pieces are from his album “Una Mattina”, which was inspired by his own everyday life.
Arvo Pärt: Hymn to a Great City (1984)
Arvo Pärt is another one of our time’s most popular composers, especially when it comes to film soundtracks. Pärt wrote Hymn to a Great City in 1984 as a gift to his friends Mirjam and William Miesse. The name of the city referred to in the title of this miniature is not clear, although it was initially associated with New York when it premiered there.
Easter is coming, and it is one of the holidays that has inspired many classical composers to compose some of their best work. In this playlist we aim to give you just a little taste of each of these wonderful pieces – and wish you a happy Easter!
Giovanni Battista Pergolesi: Stabat Mater (1736)
The “Stabat Mater” is, much like a “Gloria”, “Hallelujah” or “Ave Maria”, a catholic hymn with a set text that has been reinterpreted by countless composers. The hymn portrays Mary’s suffering as she sees her son Jesus being crucified. Pergolesi’s version is for a soprano and an alto voice with instrumental accompaniment. It was composed in the final weeks of the composer’s life and is considered to be some of Pergolesi’s most sacred work.
Johann Sebastian Bach: Easter Oratorio (1725)
It is no secret that Bach has composed some of the greatest works for biblical holidays, and the easter oratorio is no exception. It is composed for four voices which are assigned roles (Simon Peter – tenor; John the Apostle – bass; Mary Magdalene – alto; Mary Jacobe – soprano).
Georg Friedrich Händel: Messiah (1741)
Everyone knows the “Hallelujah” part of Händel’s Messiah – but there is more to it than that! It is structured in three parts and tells the story from the prophecy about a Messiah to Christ’s birth, crucifixion, resurrection, ascension and reception in heaven. There are many great movements in this piece, in the playlist we present only a short selection.
Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov: Russian Easter Overture (1887-1888)
This purely instrumental piece written by Rimsky-Korsakov is based on some russian orthodox liturgical chants. Though Rimsky-korsakov himself was a non-believer, he had always been interested in liturgical music, and this piece is said to be one of his three best works (together with “Cappricio Espagnol” and “Scheherazade”).
Ralph Vaughan Williams: Five Mystical Songs (1906-1911)
The english composer Ralph Vaughan Williams uses Anglican priest George Herbert’s (1593–1633) poem “Easter” as inspiration for his composition. The poem is split up into two parts and followed by 3 other poems, which are not easter-themed. The music is written for a baritone soloist and instrumental accompaniment.
Oscar Peterson: Easter Suite (1984)
The Oscar Peterson Trio was a well-acclaimed Jazz trio and remain well-known to our days. The “Easter Suite” was commissioned by the South Bank television show and premiered on Good Friday 1984. Though sometimes criticised for not measuring up to past monumental works for easter (see Händel, Bach, etc.) it is a fresh take on the theme. It is a reminder that easter music doesn’t have to be stuck in the baroque era – it’s for everyone!
Max Richter: Recomposed Vivaldi, The Four Seasons
When anyone mentions spring and classical music in one sentence, one cannot help but think of Vivaldi’s four seasons and its iconic first movement. This time, we feature it not in its original version, but in Max Richter’s fascinating recomposition.
Ludwig van Beethoven: Violin Sonata No. 5 in F “Spring”
Although Beethoven’s 5th Violin Sonata was not originally called “Spring” (a name that was given to it after the composer’s death), we think it brings the idea of spring across very well. It was published in 1801, and dedicated to Count Moritz von Fries.
Christian Sinding: Rustle of Spring
Sinding is not a very well-known composer, but this short piece is really worth lending an ear to. You can really hear hear the spring breezes and rustling leaves in the virtuoso piano.
Robert Schumann: Symphony No. 1 “Spring”
The “Spring symphony”, as it is known, is the very first symphony Schumann ever wrote, mainly encouraged by his wife Clara. It premiered in 1841 in Leipzig, conducted by another famous composer – Felix Mendelssohn.
Giuseppe Verdi: Les Quatres Saisons: Le Printemps
In his opera “Sicilian vespers” (“I vespri siciliani”), Verdi composed a short cycle of the four seasons for a ballet in Act 3 of the opera. Nowadays, the ballet is usually removed from the opera performances, but the music has remained.
This playlist revolves around the one composer people immediately think of when they hear “classical music” – Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. In this playlist, we want to bring you some of his most well-known and most-loved compositions, as well as some you may not have heard yet. Enjoy!
The danish pianist and comedian Victor Borge once said: “In my dreams of Heaven, I always see the great Masters gathered in a huge hall in which they all reside. Only Mozart has his own suite.”
We start of with a trio of overtures from three very different operas: Le nozze di Figaro, The Magic Flute, and Don Giovanni (if you have watched “Amadeus”, you’ll have heard this one before). All of them remain solid classics within the opera repertoire, and are enjoyed by people all over the world to this day.
Rondo alla Turca, also known as “Turkish March” is a classic of Mozart. At the time of him being in Vienna, turkish music – or what people thought was turkish music – was en vogue; Mozart even wrote an entire opera in this style (Die Entführung aus dem Serail).
Eine kleine Nachtmusik is another one of the ever popular pieces from the Mozart repertoire. Often used as elevator music or as a ringtone, it can be tearing at your nerves, but in its original form, it is rather beautiful – one understands why it remains so popular.
Mozart wrote 41 Symphonies, and he seemed to get the hang of it towards the end: you may not recognise it by name, but as soon as you hear the first movement of his Symphony No. 40 in G minor you know you’ve heard it before. And you don’t mind hearing it again.
So far, we’ve used only excerpts or singular movements, but we had to include at least one complete work. Mozart’s Piano Concerto No. 21 in C has three movements, of which the second, the “Andante” is probably best known. This music has been used in many film soundtracks such as Superman Returns, The Spy Who Loved Me, and Elvira Madigan, which eventually became the symphony’s nickname.
We end this week’s playlist with Mozart’s last work – his (in)famous Requiem. A Requiem in the catholic church is a mass for the dead. The story about the then already very ill Mozart saying he was writing this requiem for himself is well known, not least thanks to the 1984 film “Amadeus”. We chose the two most iconic parts of the Requiem: Introitus and Lacrymosa.
Eerie music, sorcery and witchcraft, and the dead coming out to dance – be prepared to feel goosebumps, because this week’s playlist is all about Halloween!
Johann Sebastian Bach: Toccata and Fugue in D Minor: Perhaps the best-known piece of music by Bach, this organ masterpiece is brilliant for getting in the Halloween spirit, as it is both ominous, monumental, and awe-inspiring.
Carl Orff: Carmina Burana – O Fortuna: The opening piece of the Carmina Burana cantata by Carl Orff might not have a direct connection to Halloween, but it is an epic and stirring piece of choir music and goes well with this week’s spooky tunes.
Camille Saint-Saens: Danse Macabre: This well-known “tone poem” is based on a medieval french superstition that “Death” would appear at midnight every halloween and call the dead from their graves to dance, while he played the fiddle. If you listen closely, you can hear death playing the solo violin and understand the strange mix of joyful dance music and at times almost atonal, mysterious atmosphere.
Modest Mussorgsky: Night on the Bald Mountain: Another tone poem, this composition was inspired by the russian legend of the “witches’ sabbath”, according to which every year, the witches gather to “ gossip, play tricks and await their chief—Satan”. The piece is divided into 4 phases: I Assembly of the witches, their chatter and gossip, II Cortège of Satan, III Black service (Black mass), IV Sabbath.
Hector Berlioz: Symphonie Fantastique – Songe d’une nuit de sabbat: It is no secret that Berlioz wrote part of this work while under the influence of opium, which is reflected in the music itself. Or, as Leonard Bernstein put it: “Berlioz tells it like it is. You take a trip, you wind up screaming at your own funeral.” The piece tells the story of a young artist in love, who eventually dies of an overdose of opium he takes because his love remains unrequited. Regarding the fifth and final part, which we chose to play, Berlioz writes: “He sees himself at a witches’ sabbath, in the midst of a hideous gathering of shades, sorcerers and monsters of every kind who have come together for his funeral”.
Franz Liszt: Totentanz: Liszt was certainly fascinated by the topic of death and had himself been at the 1830 premiere of Berlioz’s’ Symphonie Fantastique. With “Totentanz” meaning “Dance of the Dead”, the topic is similar to that of Saint-Saens, while the music is also based on the Gregorian chant of the “Dies Irae”.
Giuseppe Verdi: Requiem – Dies Irae: A “Requiem” is a catholic funeral mass divided into several distinct sections. Verdi’s requiem might not be as well known as that of Mozart, but it certainly doesn’t fall behind in dramatic intensity. We have chosen the second part, which is the “Dies Irae” sequence (latin for “Day of Wrath”).
Paul Dukas: The Sorcerer’s Apprentice: Our final piece is based on a poem by Goethe, which tells the story of a Sorcerer’s Apprentice’s attempt to use magic gone wrong. The poem was written in 1797. One hundred years later, French composer Paul Dukas wrote his “symphonic poem” based on the german example. Fast forward another 43 years, and his music along with the original story appears in Disney’s “Fantasia”, with Mickey himself taking the role of the apprentice.
It seems grey, rainy autumn is here to stay for good, so why not get nice and cozy inside and throw on this week’s CBS Culture playlist – perfect for that evening “hygge”.
Avo Pärt – Spiegel im Spiegel: This calm and serene song is perfect for an evening in, or as background music for studying.
L’Automne from Glazunov’s “The Seasons”: Alexander Glazunov’s Ballet is all about the changing seasons, and these three pieces for autumn are the grand finale to the whole ballet.
“Autumn” from Vivaldi’s Four Seasons: we can’t really make an autumn playlist without including Vivaldi’s “Autumn”, where he brilliantly captures the joy and celebration of harvest time, and also takes us on a wild hunting spree.
Hans Christian Lumbye – Høstblomsten: The danish composer Lumbye is probably most famous for his “Champagner Galopp” where you can hear the champagne bottles being popped open, but this piece which translates to “Harvest Flower” is just as nice to listen to.
Tchaikovsky- The Seasons “August-October”: besides composing ballet favourites like Swan Lake and The Nutcracker, Tchaikovsky wrote – among others – a cycle of piano pieces called “Seasons”, one for each month. We have chosen the ones from August to November, which take you through the typical occurrences of the season, from the harvest to hunting to the loneliness you feel in the grey weather.
September from Richard Strauss’ “Vier letzte Lieder”: Richard Strauss (not to be confused with the waltz-obsessed Johann Strauss I and II) is perhaps not everyone’s cup of tea – but worth giving a try. This song, titled “September” is taken from the cycle “Vier letze Lieder” (transl. “Four last songs”), which he wrote shortly before his death. It is based on a poem by Hermann Hesse describing the melancholy scene of the tired summer dying and the garden mourning the flowers and the leaves.
September-November from Fanny Mendelssohn’s “Das Jahr”: we end our playlist by yet another “yearly” piano cycle with one piece being based on one particular month, this time by Fanny Mendelssohn. She was one of the few female composers of her time to actually be published, and she worked closely together with her much better-known brother Felix Mendelssohn.