The Well-Tempered Ear

Classical music: Here is music to mark Memorial Day. What pieces would you choose? | May 29, 2017

By Jacob Stockinger

Today is Memorial Day 2017, when those soldiers who died in war and service to their country are honored. (Below is an Associated Press photo of the National Cemetery in Washington, D.C.)

Many blogs, newspapers and radio stations list classical music that is appropriate for the occasion.

But one of the very best compilations that The Ear has seen comes this year from Nashville Public Radio.

Perhaps that makes sense because Nashville is such a musical city.

Perhaps it has to do with other reasons.

Whatever the cause, this list gives you modern and contemporary composers and music (John Adams, Joseph Bertolozzi and Jeffrey Ames) as well as tried-and-true classics (Henry Purcell and Edward Elgar, Franz Joseph Haydn and Frederic Chopin).

It even features some music that The Ear is sure you don’t know.

Take a look and many listens:

Do you agree with the choices?

Do you like them or at least some of them?

Which ones?

Which music would you choose to mark today?

Leave a name and, if possible, a link to YouTube in the COMMENT section.

The Ear wants to hear.


  1. Come on folks. There’s one piece that’s indispensable on Memorial Day: “Decoration Day” by Charles Ives

    Comment by Joe Barron — February 14, 2019 @ 2:06 pm

  2. prokofiev – alexander nevsky, field of the dead. a personal lament

    Comment by gigi656971 — May 29, 2017 @ 1:50 pm

  3. I’ll cite four from the solo piano literature:

    1 Maurice Ravel — “Le Tombeau de Couperin” All the pieces comprising this suite are dedicated to various colleagues that died in WW I.

    2 Claude Debussy — “Berceuse” A short, grim, tribute to French soldiers who died in Belgium in WW I

    3 Gail Kubik — “Four planes; Forty men: An Elegy” A haunting tribute to the many American soldiers who lost their lives in air combat.

    4 Ross Lee Finney — “Sonata #4 for Piano (Christmas, 1945)” Essentially a prayer of thanks for the conclusion of WW II

    Comment by Tim Adrianson — May 29, 2017 @ 7:48 am

  4. Sorry, I got a “page not found” message with the link you provided (I tried it 3 times!).

    But you can read the story here:

    Nashville is a surprisingly innovative musical town. In more than country music.

    Comment by FFlambeau — May 29, 2017 @ 12:43 am

    • All good choices, except for the Haydn which was written to honor his employer’s wife, and not for the death of soldiers (Haydn sucked up a lot to aristocracy).

      Here are some other, good choices:
      1) Edward Elgar, The Black Knight;
      2) Ralph Vaughan Williams, A Sea Symphony (with words by Walt Whitman);
      3) Ralph Vaughan Williams, Toward the Unknown Region (with words by Walt Whitman) one of my favorites;
      4) Alan Hovhaness; Prayer of St. Gregory (another favorite);
      5) Howard Hanson, Song of Democracy (with words by Walt Whitman);
      6) Sergei Rachmaninoff, Isle of the Dead
      7) Dmitri Shostakovich, Leningrad Symphony (#7);
      8) Jean Sibelius, Symphony #5
      9) Maurice Ravel, “Le tombeau de Couperin” (Couperin’s Grave);
      10) Frank Bridges “Oratorio against War”

      Comment by FFlambeau — May 29, 2017 @ 1:06 am

  5. Britten’s War Requiem

    Comment by Pat Henson — May 29, 2017 @ 12:14 am

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