An Interactive Site to Identify the Most Beautiful Musical Compositions of Each Country

Welcome music lovers! Please join the discussion, vote, and offer suggestions for what you think are the most beautiful musical compositions of each country in the world. See my initial posting for the rules of the game. Then click on the country label (on the right side) and use "Comment" to offer your thoughts, votes or suggestions about the music of that country. To suggest candidate compositions, please provide the title and composer of the piece and, if possible, a link to an audio or video sample of the music. Once a number of nominations are received for a country, I will create a "poll" for people to vote on their favorite

Monday, March 21, 2011

Germany's Most Beautiful Music

We started on Germany with 18-month old Lizzy's nomination of Beethoven's Ode to Joy, with an accompanying link to her favorite rendition of that beautiful piece, which you absolutely must watch!

Daughter Dana called my attention to another incredible video of a three-year old conducting the final movement of Beethoven's 5th Symphony, which is totally joyful, beautiful and awe-inspiring. You can see it at this link. Watch it!

It is darned difficult trying to pick the most beautiful music from Germany, but I have to say, in my mind it comes down to all Beethoven. It is hard for me even to decide among his symphonies, with the 9th, the 5th and the 7th all being amazingly beautiful. And which movements from each of those is the most beautiful?

In any case, here are my initial nominations for Germany's most beautiful music, in no particular order. New nominations, Beethoven or not, are welcome! (Click on links to hear versions posted on Youtube).

Beethoven's Symphony No.9 (especially the last movement with the "Ode to Joy")
Beethoven's Symphony No. 7
Beethoven's Symphony No. 5
Beethoven's Piano Concerto No. 5 (Emperor)--especially the first movement
Beethoven's Violin Concerto in D--especially the third movement.
Beethoven's Piano Sonata No. 23 (Appassionata)
Beethoven's Piano Sonata No. 14 (Moonlight)

See "Comments" below for additional nominations.


France's Most Beautiful Music

For the most beautiful music from France, my father Richard Mason has nominated Jules Massenet's "Meditations" (from his opera "Thais") which he says he listens to almost every day! It is indeed a meltingly beautiful melody. You can listen to a version played by Itzhak Perlman at this link.

The Most Beautiful Music from the United States

Here are the nominations so far for the most beautiful music to emerge from the United States. See my first (2/27) blog entry ("Most Beautiful Music in Your Country") and accompanying "Comments" for these nominations and some links to samples. The first three are the only ones listed in the poll on the main page (under the photo of the violin). Vote your preferences for now. Later I will create another poll with all of the nominees.

Gershwin, "Rhapsody in Blue"
Copland, "Appalachian Spring"
Barber, "Adagio for Strings"
Copland, "Fanfare for the Common Man"
Howard Hanson, "Symphony No. 2 (Romantic)"
Alan Hovhaness, Symphony No. 6 (Celestial Gate)"
Lowell Lieberman, "Concerto for Piccolo and Orchestra"
Joseph Waters, "Suite Noire"
Leonard Bernstein, "Maria" (from "West Side Story")

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Bach, Beethoven, Wagner or...Mozart? Germany's most beautiful music.

Selecting the most beautiful piece of music from Germany seems an impossible task, and raises innumerable issues. First of all, what constitutes "German?" Is it German-speaking composers, or those born in, or who lived in, an area we now call Germany? (Germany wasn't created as a single state until the late 19th century). Secondly, there are so MANY composers and compositions that could be considered among the best of all time: Beethoven, Bach, Brahms, Wagner, Haydn--not to mention Mozart, who some consider German but was born in Salzburg and spent most of life there and in Vienna. Thirdly, considering German composers raises the tricky question of what musical forms are we considering as a "piece of music?" Is it a symphony? A movement of a symphony? A sonata or a concerto? An opera--or an aria from an opera?

I will leave all of these questions open to discussion here on this blog, and invite your nominations for the best piece of music by a German composer.

Our first nomination, however, comes from my 18-month old granddaughter Lizzy, via her mother Melanie, who emailed me that "Lizzy would like to submit this for Germany. "She listens to it a dozen times a day," Melanie adds. Maybe this particular rendition of the "Ode to Joy" is not the very best, but it does speak to the excellent taste of my descendants, says the proud grandfather.

I would second Lizzy's nomination. It is definitely German. It is definitely beautiful. And it is "a piece" of the final movement of Beethoven's last (9th) symphony.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Zimbabwe's Most Beautiful Music

A posting from Brian:

I have a couple of songs I really like from Zimbabwe. The first is by Oliver Mtukudzi: Todii. It is a sad song but just as beautiful. It comes from his 1999 album Tuku Music.

The second one is by Thomas Mapfumo: Chamunorwa. It comes from his 1991 album of the same name. It is truly a classic, its beauty lies in the mixture of the traditional mbira and the bass guitar. Makes me miss my family and friends back home. These two artists are the best to come out of Zimbabwe.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

China's Most Beautiful Music

My friend and colleague, Han, has contributed the following:

Here are a few pieces that I really like:

1. Liangzhu (Butterfly Lovers, violin)

2. Erquan yinyue (Moon Reflected on the Two Springs, Erhu)

3.Sinian (Nostalgia)

The first two are Han Chinese and are very well-known in China, and the third is a Tibetan song that is not among the most well-known in China but extremely beautiful. The singer's name is Yadong, a Tibetan from western Sichuan.