The Well-Tempered Ear

Classical music: What music would you play to honor and mourn the dead, wounded and traumatized victims of the gay night club shooting in Orlando, Florida? | June 19, 2016

By Jacob Stockinger

It has been a week now.

A very long, hard and emotional week.

The Ear has heard some classical music dedicated to the victims — 49 killed, some 50 wounded and countless traumatized — of the mass shooting at Pulse, a gay night club in Orlando, Florida, that took place one week ago. (Below is a vigil in support of the LGBT community.)

Orlando shooting vigil crowd 1

Others might choose a standard like the famous “Adagio for Strings” by Samuel Barber. It is undeniably moving and perfectly appropriate.

But so far the piece that most moved The Ear, unexpectedly, was a familiar one that aired on Wisconsin Public Radio: the “Nimrod” variation from the “Enigma Variations” by Sir Edward Elgar.

The Ear hears tenderness, gentleness and even love in the music. But in it he also hears strength, resilience and pride as well as sorrow, acceptance and resignation.

Plus, he likes the idea of enigma that is attached to it, given all the issues and questions — terrorism, Islamic radicalization and extremism, homophobia, self-hatred, hate crimes, gun control, protests, mass grieving — that still surround the incident and remain to be solved.

You can listen to the piece of music in the YouTube video at the bottom that features conductor Daniel Barenboim conducting the Chicago Symphony Orchestra. It has more than 3 million hits.

But The Ear is also sure that there is a great deal of other music that would suit the purpose. They include:

The passions, oratorios and cantatas by Johann Sebastian Bach.

The Requiems of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, Johannes Brahms, Giuseppe Verdi and Gabriel Faure.

The symphonies of Ludwig van Beethoven, Robert Schumann, Johannes Brahms, Peter Tchaikovsky and Antonin Dvorak.

The string quartets, piano trios, duo sonatas and other chamber music by Joseph Haydn and Franz Schubert as well as the solo piano music of Chopin, Schumann and so many others.

The masses of Haydn, Mozart, Beethoven and Schubert.

The songs of Schubert and arias and choruses from all kinds of operas, but especially those of Giacomo Puccini.

And on and on.

Leave your personal choice, with a YouTube link if possible, and your reason for choosing it in the COMMENT section.

The Ear wants to hear.


  1. Although The Ear might disagree as to the “classical” nature of this piece, I still think it works: Leonard Bernstein’s song ” There’s a Place for Us”.
    Bernstein was gay , and when you view it in that context, the song could have a much broader meaning.

    Comment by Ann Boyer — June 19, 2016 @ 8:14 am

  2. Alan Hovhaness, “Prayer of St. Gregory.”

    Comment by fflambeau — June 19, 2016 @ 7:55 am

  3. I forgot to add that, at the end of that deeply moving service, my friend Pete Axson and I played a jazz version of “Sometimes I Feel like a Motherless Child” on piano and trumpet.

    Comment by Nan Morrissette — June 19, 2016 @ 6:31 am

  4. As the pianist in our very open and affirming church, I opened the service on the first Sunday following the Charleston AME Emmanuel Church shootings last year with “Chorale” by Ola Gjielo. I played it slightly faster than the composer does on the recording. It is contemporary, melodic, clear, somber and compelling. It allows you to be still within yourself, to step back from the feelings of helplessness that shootingsor other senseless violence can incur. It allows you to feel, to hold something beautiful, even if briefly. It gives you time to ponder what has been lost. It is as comforting to olay as it is to hear. “Chorale”. A piano solo by Ola Gjielo. Listen here

    Comment by Nan Morrissette — June 19, 2016 @ 3:47 am

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