The Well-Tempered Ear

Classical music: What classical music goes best with Super Bowl 47 today since there are fewer live concerts to attend that conflict with the football game? | February 3, 2013

By Jacob Stockinger

Today is Super Bowl Day.

Can you believe that tickets average $3,500?

Anyway, for Super Bowl 47 today in New Orleans — between the Baltimore Ravens and the San Francisco 49ers — it seems like a lot of local music groups have learned the lessons of past years and not scheduled live concerts that conflict with the popular sports event.

Even if the Green Bay Packers aren’t playing in this year’s championship game –- which will start with a 5:30 p.m. CST kickoff on CBS tonight and can be watched on TV or streamed live on the CBS sports web site –- preventing or avoiding the loss of audiences to other events seems a wise choice.

So The Ear asks: Can you name a good classical piece that goes well with the Super Bowl?

Here is some of Aram Khachaturian’s score for the ballet “Spartacus” that seems to capture the right combative spirit:

And maybe Gustav Holst’s popular and dramatic “MarsThe Bringer of War” from his tone poem suite “The Planets” is another appropriate choice.

Can you name other works that capture the same spirit?

Let me know in  the COMMENT section, preferably with a link to a YouTube video.

I will appreciate it for this year – and I expect in future years, when maybe Green Bay will appear again.

And win.


  1. William Tell Overture might be good right about now…I think they need the Lone Ranger to come to the 49ers rescue 😉

    Comment by Penelope Curtis — February 3, 2013 @ 7:07 pm

    • Hi Penelope,
      Good thought.
      Great music.
      But Kimosabe arrived too late to help, it seems from the final score.
      Thanks for reading and replying with wit.

      Comment by welltemperedear — February 4, 2013 @ 9:14 am

  2. How about Arthur Honegger’s “Rugby”? Admittedly. it’s European, but it’s the closest evocation of a sporting event that I can recall. Also, for some reason, the brassy, extroverted Symphony No 3 of William Schuman evokes American sports events. I’m sure there are other pieces written for Symphonic Band that are even more specific, but I don’t know that area of the literature.

    Comment by Tim Adrianson — February 3, 2013 @ 3:12 pm

    • Hi Tim,
      If it is sports, and a rough sport at that,
      which rugby definitely is,
      then it works
      for the Super Bowl
      and for American football.
      Thanks for “playing” along.

      Comment by welltemperedear — February 4, 2013 @ 9:16 am

  3. Beethoven’s 7th, it sounds a lot like Won’t Get Fooled Again, by the Who. It is even in the same key and uses the same chord progression of G-D-A, like most good rock n’ roll. Yet we watch this non- game game every year, so perhaps we are able to be fooled again and again after all.
    Also, many sections of Pictures at an Exhibition have a certain dynamic energy like a good sporting contest. The question remains, “Is the SuperBowl a good sporting contest, or an ad-fest, beauty contest, and wrestling match wrapped up in cheap clothes with a lot of spangles all over it. I’ll be playing jazz at the Fountain while the game is on, and I will engaged in music while the Roman gladiators are fiddling around. MBB

    Comment by Michael BB — February 3, 2013 @ 10:49 am

  4. I’d play Gloomy Sunday (Reszo Seress) at top volume and hope…

    Comment by Omunene — February 3, 2013 @ 10:00 am

  5. John Adams’ “Short Ride in a Fast Machine.”

    Comment by Susan Fiore — February 3, 2013 @ 7:35 am

    • Hi Susan,
      I like that suggestion a lot, just as I like the music itself.
      Except for one thing: all the ads — some of which are very entertaining — and all the color commentary and hype make it more like a a VERY LONG RIDE IN A VERY SLOW AND BUMPY MACHINE.
      That aside, the drive, rhythm and repetition all make the music of John Adams a great choice.
      Thank you.
      Enjoy the game and the music.

      Comment by welltemperedear — February 3, 2013 @ 9:23 am

  6. I would vote for Nielsen’s 4th symphony as a good piece for football


    Comment by Robert — February 3, 2013 @ 7:15 am

    • Hi Robert,
      Thank you for reading and deploying.
      What good, broad and informed taste you show.
      That symphony is subtitled “The Inextinguishable,” if I am not mistaken.
      Kind of like the game of football itself,
      Or like the seemingly endless broadcast of this big-money and big-hype championship game.
      But it is powerful and forceful music — and power and force, as well as finesse and grace, is what this top-rated championship football game is all about.
      Enjoy both the music and the football.
      The Ear

      Comment by welltemperedear — February 3, 2013 @ 9:28 am

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