Thoughts on what makes our favourite music

It has only recently occurred to me quite how many pieces of music have had a profound effect on my life. Some are pieces that I have grown to love through practice and performance and others that, on the first hearing, I have found myself in a prodigious state of awe and wonder, almost beyond the ability to describe. These experiences with music provide a large part of what I see as my ‘spiritual life’, and through this comes the music which forms my identity.

The music closest to my heart creates a peace, some a deep serenity, some a joy, sadness etc. The way in which they move me is always different and often in ways, and with pieces, I would not expect. I am struck, however, by the comparatively small amount of the musical repertoire I have experienced to date. To think how many of these I keep so close to me feels both overwhelming and exciting.

There is so much life and beauty still to uncover through listening and playing. I will never find it all in this lifetime, but to have experienced a small amount of it to such a degree, I believe, is such a wonderful component of faith.

A list of pieces I have found most profound, also a suggested listening. I’m sure I have missed a lot from this list!

Elgar- ‘There Is Sweet Music’ part song

Schubert- Piano Sonata no.21 in B flat (opening 1st movement)

Brahms- violin concerto 1st movement 2nd subject

John Ireland- ‘the Hills’

Puccini- La Boheme, ‘Che gelida manina’

Schubert- Two cello Quintet 1st movement cello duet

Elgar- The Dream of Gerontius

Haydn- Piano trio no.44 1&3 movements

Bach- St Matthew Passion

Elgar- cello concerto 3rd movement

Walton- Belshazzar’s Feast

Vaughn Williams- ‘O taste and see’

Purcell- Dido’s Lament

Thomas Morley- English madrigals

Sumsion- Magnificat in G

Poulenc- Cello sonata

Debussy- violin sonata

Howells- Magnificat Gloucester service

Tsintsadsze- Chonguri

Janacek- On an Overgrown Path

Shostakovich- Fugue no.7 in A

Chopin-Ballade no.3