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Forgotten Gems of Classical Music

Updated on April 16, 2012

There are so many beauties within classical music that are recognized by pretty much everyone. Beethoven's 5th Symphony, for instance, or Pachalbel's Canon in D. Who can't help but smile when the lively sounds of Vivaldi's Spring start on the radio? And Chopin's Nocturne in C sharp minor has been used countless times for a film score, it's plaintive strains intensifying the heart-wrenching scenes.

Believe it or not, these composers wrote other masterpieces. For some reason, no one listens to them anymore. For every ten recordings you can find of Rachmaninoff's Prelude in C sharp minor there's only one of his Prelude in D, even though it's every bit as beautiful and shows a completely different facet to his works. Here are a few works that you've never heard before that you might enjoy.

Classical music isn't necessarily something that everyone thinks they love. But the fact of the matter is, they probably just haven't heard the right works in the right context. So it you're one of those who thought it was for stuffy people who didn't know how to have fun, think again. Hopefully you'll find something to make you smile, cry, or any other emotion you need to let out. Happy listening!

Chopin's Nocturne in C# Minor, Op. 27, No. 1

It's not the famous one that has been turned into solos for flute, violin, and other instruments besides it's original piano. This one has a haunting opening theme followed by an impassioned, almost angry middle section. It seems to tell a story, full of every emotion possible but ending with a tone of hope.

Vaughn William's The Lark Ascending

The lushness and beauty of Vaughn William's music is epitomized in this orchestral work. Nobody can make strings sing like British composer, and this is a beautiful example of that.

Bernstein's West Side Story Symphonic Dances

This one walks a fine line of being classical and Broadway, because the original melodies were from the musical score. But they were good enough to make into a wonderful collection of fun and complex orchestral arrangements.

Bellini's Dopo L'oscuro Nembo

Forget Nessun Dorma, The Flower Duet, and O Mio Babbino Caro. Bellini's aria for mezzo-soprano is beautiful and when sung by Elina Garanca it's one of the most glorious melodies written.

Rachmaninoff's Prelude in D

The pianistic pyrotechnics are just as impressive as anything Rachmaninoff ever wrote, if not as loud as his standard fare. It's very tender and almost loving, with a lullabye feeling to it.

Herbert Howell's Like as the Hart

In January of 1941, during the Battle of Britain, composer Herbert Howells wrote four choral works expressing the despair and sorrow of the English people. In context of the history, the plaintive lyric "When shall I come to appear before the presence of God?" takes on even more meaning.


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    • StellaSee profile image


      8 years ago from California

      Hi collegatariat! Man, whenever I listen to Chopin I wish I continued with my piano lessons! My personal favorite is Chopin's Etude in C minor op.10 no. 12 :)

    • collegatariat profile imageAUTHOR


      8 years ago

      You know, even with it in the policy, I'm sure your students would end up learning whatever they want to... it seems to work that way for her at least. As long as people keep branching out and don't get stuck on the 'famous' pieces, I guess it's permissible for them to like something like Fur Elise. ;)

    • jamila sahar profile image

      jamila sahar 

      8 years ago

      i love your sisters policy ! maybe i should put a sign about this and / or put it in the policy ! (just joking) i like my students to play what inspires them, but i do try to encourage them to listen and have interest in other works by Beethoven.

    • collegatariat profile imageAUTHOR


      8 years ago

      Thanks for reading and your vote Jamila! I know what you mean about students just wanting to work on the 'famous' works-- my sister has piano studio with a strict anti-Fur Elise policy! But there's so much more room to create an interpretation original and fresh if not everyone has played it before.

      Thanks for your comment!

    • jamila sahar profile image

      jamila sahar 

      8 years ago

      wonderful hub exposing incredible music that is not often heard. indeed there are many Beethoven works WoO that are wonderful. in my own teaching i often encounter many students who either want to play 'fur elise' or the 'moonlight sonata and are not open to learning works that are not as popular. however, from my experience in the universities studying most professors prefer to hear obscure works as opposed to hearing the same pieces over and over. voted up and interesting thanks for sharing looking forward to reading more of your hubs!


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