It is common to ask yourself what music you would choose to take with you to a desert island. Instead, I will use this criterion: if I were listening to a broadcast while working on a project, what music would cause me to stop working and listen intently? This by no means is a list of music I revere, it is just those particular pieces that I have to stop and listen to no matter what. I am partial to fugues, luscious orchestral sound, and piano music I used to (attempt to) play.
I can’t imagine why anyone would be interested in this list.
Vivaldi: six violin concertos “La Stavaganza” Opus 4 (almost never played for some reason – I had a recording of it in college that I played incessantly)
Bach: both books of the “Well-Tempered Clavier”; “The Art of Fugue”; the Goldberg Variations; the choral fantasias from the “St. Matthew Passion” that open and close the first part, and the closing fantasia; the two great fugues on Kyrie Eleison and the Crucifixus from the Mass in b minor; and the choral fantasia that opens Cantata 8, “Liebster Gott, wenn werd ich sterben?.” Plus….
Mozart: Barbarina’s lament for a lost pin that begins Act IV of “Le Nozze di Figaro”; the opening Kyrie of the Great Mass in c minor; most of his piano sonatas. Plus….
Beethoven: The first movement of Opus 130 string quartet (top of my list along with Bach’s Well-Tempered Clavier); the first (fugue) and middle (theme and variations) movements of Opus 131 string quartet; piano sonata opus 106 “Hammerklavier”, especially the closing fugue; Diabelli Variations opus 120; many other string quartets and piano sonatas
Mendelssohn: complete incidental music to “Midsummer’s Night’s Dream” with singing and recitation
Chopin: Preludes; 4th movement, Sonata #2
Brahms: Requiem; “Variations and Fugue on a Theme by Handel” opus 24; “Liebeslieder Waltzes” Opus 52
Borodin: Polovtsian Dances; “In the Steppes of Central Asia”
Dvorak: “Serenade for Wind Instruments” opus 44; opening movement of “Stabat Mater”.
Tchaikovsky: “Romeo and Juliet”
Kodaly: “Hary Janos” (recording out of print, narrated by Peter Ustinov)
Bartok: Opening fugue of “Music for Strings, Percussion and Celesta”; String Quartet #4.
Ravel: “Gaspard de la Nuit”
Stravinsky: “Le Sacre du Printemps”; “Le Chant du Rossignol”; “L’Histoire du Soldat”; “Symphony of Psalms”
Hindemith: “Symphonic Metamorphosis of Themes by Carl Maria von Weber”
Prokofiev: Symphony #5, second movement; “Cinderella” ballet, clock scene; Toccata; “Alexander Nevsky” cantata
Khachaturian: Piano Concerto (second-rate piece I happen to have loved as a youth) played by William Kapell
Britten: “Rejoice in the Lamb”; Serenade for Horn, Tenor and Strings; Four Sea Interludes from “Peter Grimes”
Weill: “September Song”
Beatles: “Fool on a Hill”