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

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Therapeutic Music, and the Best Recordings

A reader of this blog recently sent me this email, which he said I could post here.

I was recently in the hospital for a pretty serious problem and found the music on my iPhone about as life saving and therapeutic as any treatment I received. OK a bit over stated and certainly unfair to the professionals who served me so well.

But the 9th (9 versions of it!), Ravel’s Mussorgsky, Scheherazade, the Firebird, Copland, and not the least a Philips Best of Tchikovsky 2 CD set (that was nothing short of magnificent at least to me - you see I do not have good ears). The music may not have aided my recovery, but it did allow me to retain my sanity and not to sink to too terribly into the abyss of overwhelming depression. 

And at times the music was simply transcendent.

This brings me to your site. I realize that my tastes and exposure are limited. I want to experience the rich veins that better ears have mined and I was delighted to run into you work.

Though one thing concerns me (after so many 9ths) I realize that it not just the composition, but ALSO the performance that matters. I lack the technical acumen to tell why, but darned if I can just things hear anyway.

I am hoping you might recommend some of the better recordings. I know this might open you to a hornets nest or simply be outside of you area of interest. Perhaps you work with people who’s ears are better trained (I actually have something of a physical impairment, BUT I can hear good, bad, and sometimes even great!)

So any help, encouragement, suggested sites, … really anything WILL be most appreciated.


Joe Campbell

My reply to Joe's email:
Hi Joe,

Thanks for your note.  I'm glad you like my blog, and even more glad that you like classical music and that it helps you!  Just last night, I heard the Indianapolis Symphony play Beethoven's 7th at an outdoor concert, under beautiful skies and a full moon, and it was transcendent!

You asked about particular recordings of the great music.  I have several books that I use to help me select particular performances, but you can also use the user ratings on websites like, which often have very in-depth and helpful analyses and suggestions.

For me the most useful book is the Penguin Guide to Compact Discs, and the newer version which is called the Penguin Guide to Recorded Classical Music.  It is comprehensive, having almost all recordings available, and a "professional" rating of the various recordings.    I also like "The NPR Guide to Building a Classical CD Collection" which has the "300 essential works" and recommended recordings of each (though this is a little out of date by now).  Another is Phil Goulding's "Classical Music: the 50 Greatest Composers and Thier 1000 Greatest Works."

And his response:

I can’t help but think there are others with impaired hearing or simply uneducated ears who know when something is good but don’t know why or who must listen over and again before they can sort it out.

Your suggestions should go a long way to helping me and others similarly disposed. (Without going into some of the horrors I witnessed from other patients, I’ll just say again that I was NOT stretching the case when I claimed that the music kept the awful abyss of depression at bay. And no, it was not a mental ward, but the pain and suffering there might as well have made it one. BTW I hope you will not publish this last parenthetical!)