The Courier staff’s favorite classical music pieces


Jennifer Kurz

The Elgin Symphony Orchestra has won Illinois Professional Orchestra of the Year a record-setting four times. Here they raise the thunderous tumult of Wagner’s “Ride of the Valkyries”

Courier Staff

The Nutcracker, Act I: The March by Pytor Ilyich Tchaikovsky- Alison

A nostalgic tune for me, it reminds me of when I was a dancer and the winter months were spent rehearsing for the Nutcracker performance each year. Dancing with a partner in an old fashioned red dress with puffy sleeves and blue trim, the entire collection of songs taught me the love of performing, and it is something I will never forget.

Nocturne in C Sharp Minor by Frederic Chopin- Reanna

I would be lying if I said I didn’t find this piece by watching the 2018 Winter Olympics when silver-medalist Evgenia Medvedeva captivated me with her short program skate to this classical composition. I enjoy this piece because of the overall emotion I feel when listening to it. It is haunting and beautiful at the same time, leaving you feeling melancholic.

The Rite Of Spring by Igor Stravinsky and A Night on Bald Mountain by Leopold Stokowski -Tessa

As a child I watched the classic 1940’s Disney film “Fantasia” more times than I can count. What I love the most about these two tracks is how they taught me just how powerful music can be. For the first time I learned music could strike fear into my heart. As a child I felt sick to my stomach as I heard the opening notes of either of these pieces. Today, the ability music has to make me feel joy, pain, sorrow, fear or hope all stems for those early childhood memories as I learned to associate music with color and imagery and sound with the soul.

Caprice No. 24 in A Minor by Niccolo Paganini- Kimberly

Caprice 24 is one of those pieces that have captivated audiences for over a century because of its unique composition. The final of Paganini’s famed 24 Caprices features different executions of a similar musical theme, each as compelling as the last. One of the things I love about classical music is its ability to tell a complete story without uttering a single lyric, and Caprice 24 is definitely one of those pieces I can listen to and let my imagination become one with music. The final passage is just as exciting as the climax of any blockbuster film. Throughout its entirety, the piece underscores classical music’s ability to convey the richest stories and invoke the purest emotions.

Camille Saint-Saens “The Swan” (Yo-Yo Ma & Kathryn Stott “Songs from the Arc of Life”)- Joey

An affirmation of my mortality. A single narrative haunting every breath. Memories come and dissipate. People come into my life and disappear. The melody remains. Saens’s composition depicts the legend of swans, silent their whole lives, releasing a final song of inescapable and unrivaled beauty. Once you hear the swan’s final refrain, you’ll never walk alone.

Edvard Grieg – In The Hall Of The Mountain King- by Madison

I was introduced to this piece while watching a scene in the Disney movie, “Fantasia” of a character discovering a variety of monsters while in the woods alone. Although it is a seemingly harmless and comical skit now, I was frightened by the show as a toddler and quickly learned if I muted the program during the scene, it became harmless and funny. Although I am not the biggest fan of classical music, I love this piece for its changes in octaves and progressive intensity with musicians playing faster and more passionately as the song continues. This piece initially launched my love for horror films and my fascination with music that evokes emotion.