For this month of December, when everyone is subjected to the ceaseless repetition of the Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy, I offer this list of other un-famous classical pieces you probably already know.
- Delibe: The Flower Duet, (Youtube) from Lakmé really demonstrates Léo Delibes’s ability to write gorgeous melodies. Also to sell chocolates on airplanes. A real renaissance man. (Youtube)
- Of course you’ve heard this (supposedly) Bach organ piece in every horror comedy and weekday nights on MSNBC sometime between 9-10PM EST, bud did you know its status as BWV 565 is in doubt because it contains consecutive fifths and it is scientific fact that Bach can do no wrong…? (Youtube)
- Not as famous as the Messiah “Halelujah,” but the Händel coronation anthem “Zadok The Priest” still makes its way into popular culture occasionally. (Youtube)
- Most non-musicians also know the finale of the William Tell Overture, but also often heard but not well known is the “Ranz des Vaches” right before that, which is used regularly in, uh, Looney Tunes to set pastoral scenes. (Youtube – the more famous part at about 2:35)
- Similarly, the Grieg piece “Morning Mood” is used in cartoons and pop culture to indicate a peaceful morning. Interestingly, Grieg wrote it to represent the glory of the sun rising in Egypt. (Youtube) The piece is part of the Peer Gynt suite, which also includes the very famous “In the Hall of the Mountain King.”
- Also, if you’ve ever needed some latin flair, or dance music, you go for Libertango, by Astor Piazzolla. (Youtube). It is essentially the go-to song of modern tango.