The Well-Tempered Ear

What is the best classical music for commencement and graduation? | May 21, 2011

A CORRECTION AND A REMINDER: I incorrectly listed the two concerts by the Oaskwood Chamber Players (below) for last weekend. I was wrong and apologize. They are this weekend, TONIGHT at 7:30 p.m. in the Oakwood Village West Auditorium, 6201 Mineral Point Road, on Madison’s far west side, the Oakwood Chamber Players and then on Sunday at 1:30 p.m. at the UW Arboretum Visitors Center. The unusual program includes Mayer’s Bagatelles for flute, clarinet and bassoon; Poulenc’s Trio for oboe, bassoon and piano; and Juon’s Divertimento, Op. 51, for piano and wind quintet. Tickets are $20 for adults, $15 for seniors; $5 for students. For more information and reservations, call

By Jacob Stockinger

Well, it’s the season.

It’s time for commencement and graduation ceremonies.

It may have already happened, or it is happening this weekend, or will happen soon.

I keep thinking about the best pieces classical music pieces to play to celebrate the event.

And even though I wish to find new ones, I keep coming up with the same old — but great — answers.

So here they are:

Elgar’s famous Pomp and Circumstance March No. 1:

And BrahmsAcademic Festival Overture:

So go ahead: Pass these along via email or texting or whatever media you have along with your best wishes and congratulations.

After all, education is a struggle these days—and promises to be more so in the future.

I just read where last year in the US student debt surpassed all credit card debt.

That isn’t right, but it is the reality.

So wish your special graduate, at no matter what level, well.

And do it with music.

And let me know if you know of other commencement music to recommend.

The Ear wants to hear.

Posted in Classical music

1 Comment »

  1. I mistakenly deleted your interview with the WYSO young artist flutist but was extremely impressed with the maturity, humanity expressed in her answers to your questions. Likewise I was figuratively blown away with the concert of 4 Young Artists winners with the Madison Symphony recently. Although the youngest of those 4, the pianist winner of that program was a simply spectacular player/interpreter of Saint-Saens.

    One thing those 2 girls had in common was their exposure to the National Music Camp/Interlochen Arts Academy. As a former staffer in the music library there, I can tell you that that site is a magic place for serious musicians. I’ve recorded with the NMC WYSO [World Youth Symphony Orchestra] under Van Cliburn and these kids, despite their young age, are truly world-class musicians. Any young music player who wants to experience the best serious music has to offer could do no better than attend the NMC/IAA. If I hadn’t gotten a physical exam notice for the draft, I would quite likely have never left there. The pay is peanuts but the environment is heaven for a serious musician.

    Comment by Larry Retzack — May 21, 2011 @ 11:22 am

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