I guess they'd be in my top three. After all, they're the only three in my iPod.
Here's the deal—when I went running yesterday something weird happened to the music I was listening to on shuffle. Out of 1,400 songs on my iPod, three—a whole three—are orchestral works, what some people might call “classical” music. And in defiance of all laws of probability, two of those three songs played back-to-back. I was kind of hoping the third would play after the second, but alas—the laws of probability were obviously enforced after that first little act of defiance.
But that got me to thinking—if I only have three pieces of orchestral music on my iPod, those would have to be my three favorite, right? After all, I went out of my way to put them in there so I could listen to them, so they'd have to be the top three right? And as far as I can tell, they're the only symphonic works I've gone out of my way to hear performed live (thank you, Marquette Symphony Orchestra). So here they are—Jim's top three pieces of orchestral music of all time--
(And note, I'm not calling them “classical” because they're not that old. Two of them, in fact, are from the 20th century and the third is from the late 19th, so that's not really “classical”, it is?
Number 3—Tchaikovsky “1812 Overture”. I have a recording from the Montreal Symphony I listen to, only because it contains the two things that make this a great orchestral work—church bells and cannons. I've often thought it would be so cool to have the Marquette Symphony perform the piece live in front of, say, St Peter's Cathedral. It'd be even cooler if they'd let me fire the cannons.
Number 2—George Gershwin's “Rhapsody in Blue”. My recording is from the LA Philharmonic from 1999, although I loved hearing it performed by the Marquette Symphony a few years ago on a piano George Gershwin actually picked out for Kaufman Auditorium. I like the story behind the piece, too—Gershwin had promised Paul Whitman that he'd have a work that mixed jazz & symphonic music written for a big show in the early 1920s, didn't get it quite finished, and improvised most of the piano parts during the initial performance. Those improvised parts, by the way, now make up a large chunk of the symphony. But what I love about it is how one of those improvised piano parts kind of abruptly ends 10 minutes and 30 seconds into the work, and leads into one of the most beautiful pieces of music ever written (even if it has been co-opted by airline TV commercials over the years). Call me strange or an old softy or whatever you'd like, but that one passage of music gets to me every time.
Number 1—Like there was ever any doubt as to my favorite piece of symphonic music ever written?
So, not that you care, there they are—my top three orchestral pieces of music. See what kind of weird things pop into my mind when the laws of probability are cast aside for a second?