The Well-Tempered Ear

Classical music: Today is Thanksgiving. What piece of classical music or composer do you most give thanks for? | November 27, 2014

By Jacob Stockinger

Today is Thanksgiving Day – Thursday, Nov. 27, 2014.

thanksgiving dinner

And today’s post is simple:

Just tell The Ear what piece of music or composer you most give thanks for and why.

It doesn’t have to be big (an opera, symphony or concerto) or a recognized masterwork. It could be a small work (a prelude or song) that you are perhaps learning to play or sing that you heard most recently.

The music or the composer could be very well-known or obscure.

Your choice could be old or it could be new.

But whatever your choice is, it should hold special meaning for you. The piece of music should speak to you deeply and directly and make you feel that your life is enriched by it –- at least right now, if not in the past or the future, even though such choices tend to have staying power even from childhood into old age.

If The Ear gets enough reader comments and responses, maybe even with links to a YouTube video, it might serve as a list of suggested listening for other readers.

To celebrate all your choices, and all the possibilities of the musical arts, here is the original version with orchestra and 16 singers done by the London Symphony under conductor Sir Adrian Boult, of the lovely “Serenade to Music” by the English composer Ralph Vaughan Williams.



  1. I’m with Ann Boyer in supporting Bach, anything by him. Uplifting, spiritual, and often surprisingly modern. I especially like his Concerto for Violin, Oboe & Strings in C Major, BMV1060. Another, lesser known composer (and I know only this one work by him) is Johann Beer’s Missa S. Marcellini, whose “amen” is almost 6 minutes long and rivals anything from the Messiah. The Messiah, of course, would be another appropriate selection.

    Comment by fflambeau — November 28, 2014 @ 6:18 am

  2. Four Last Songs, Strauss, Jessye Norman. For a lifetime, the deepest. For which I am most thankful.

    Sent from my U.S. Cellular® Smartphone

    Comment by linda.marq — November 27, 2014 @ 10:05 pm

  3. I heard this a couple of months ago… sublime! Buxtehude’s Alleluia from Bux WV 15.

    Thank you for your blog–I look forward to reading it first thing each morning!

    Comment by Betsy Hagens — November 27, 2014 @ 2:39 pm

  4. Too many to possibly name, but this particular year Schubert is my God. But thanks to you for giving us the opportunity to focus on and share how much music enriches our lives. I am also grateful for you, Jake!

    Comment by Martha Fischer — November 27, 2014 @ 1:12 pm

  5. The music of Maurice Ravel. It has sustained, inspired, and enchanted me since I first heard Daphnis and Chloe. More of his pieces are in the so-called standard repertoire as a percentage of total output than any other composer in Western music history. MBB

    Comment by 88melter — November 27, 2014 @ 12:18 pm

  6. Oh so impossible a task, Ear. Shostakovich because I felt understood and understanding, as a teenager. Copeland because I felt he celebrated my home town. Milhaud and Satie because I felt uplifted and happy and connected to France. Vaughan Williams because he so captured for me the brooding quality of the winter English landscape and folk music, how the people sang, which brings me to the Beatles, Cole Porter and Johnny Mercer who make everything all right. Happy Thanksgiving to all. And, forgot, of course fado, the soul of Portugal, which, like England and France, I have come to love, as I do my homeland.

    Comment by Ronnie Hess — November 27, 2014 @ 10:47 am

  7. J.S. Bach: because his music comforts me, calms me, straightens things out when life becomes too complicated; intrigues me with its complexity, overwhelms me with its grandeur, bathes me with its simplicity.

    Comment by Ann Boyer — November 27, 2014 @ 8:21 am

  8. Although these days my mind is full of the two settings of Magnificat that the Rural Musicians Forum is doing next weekend (Hovhaness and Willcocks), I’ve been captured soulfully by Gavin Byar’s handling of “The Blood of Jesus Never Failed Me Yet” which Present Music presented in Milwaukee last weekend as part of its annual Thanksgiving concert.  Read a fine review of the piece A sonic foretaste of heaven |   | |   | |   |   |   |   |   | | A sonic foretaste of heavenMusic can move us in ways that reach beyond discursive speech. That does not mean that notes have no relation to words. Music is not a . . . . | | | | View on | Preview by Yahoo | | | |   |


    Comment by Kent Mayfield — November 27, 2014 @ 8:13 am

  9. If I had to pick one? Henry Purcell!!! God his music is mesmerizing 🙂 Happy Thanksgiving “Ear”!

    Comment by John Pass — November 27, 2014 @ 8:06 am

  10. Guillaume de Machaut: Messe de nostre dame; Bach: Kunst der Fuge; Mozart: Nozze di Figaro; Beethoven: C-sharp minor Quartet, Op. 131; Schubert: Sonata in B-flat major, Op. posth.; Mahler: Das Lied von der Erde; Puccini: Madama Butterfly; Stravinsky: Le sacre du printemps; Shostakovich: Symphony No. 7; Aaron Copland: Lincoln Portrait; Elliott Carter: Piano Sonata; Leonard Bernstein: West Side Story; Keith Jarrett: Köln; Jake Hegge: Dead Man Walking…

    Comment by Jess Anderson — November 27, 2014 @ 6:17 am

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