New Year’s resolutions!? But it’s not even Thanksgiving yet.

I’m thinking for New Year’s that one of my goals for students will be for them to listen to more “classical” music. (Why the quotes? The umbrella term “classical music” refers to many stylistic periods of Western music, including the Classical era, 1750–1820, e.g., composers Haydn, Mozart, and Beethoven).

This has come about from parents asking for a “playlist” from me of great piano works for my students to listen to—thank you parents for such a great idea—but where to start? There are 100s of pieces!! And at all different levels of difficulty of course. How can I narrow it down? It’ll be fun, picking my favorites, maybe a list of about two dozen. Gonna take til the end of the year, at least.

Meanwhile, for those of my students (and others!) who follow my blog, you get a wonderful head start. Thinking about what should go on the list, I revisited an article published a few years back by Anthony Tommasini, music critic for the New York Times, in which he spent two weeks coming up with a top 10 classical composers list. Now, of course, for anyone, picking only 10 composers of all time for a list of the top 10, or even 20, or more, is tough. But his list is a great place to start:

“The Greatest” by Anthony Tommasini

I agree with most of his choices, especially Beethoven as second, and I’m happy Stravinsky and Bartók made the cut (two personal faves), and I also would’ve put Bach at the top. 🙂

Not to be missed! is the link to all of the videos of Tommasini playing examples of the top 10. Add it to your bookmarks, I just did:

Top Ten Composers Videos – Interactive Feature with Tommasini at the piano.

Unfortunately, the readers’ comments are gone, which were also wonderful to read, since everyone has their own top 10 list; some readers were truly outraged that certain composers didn’t make the cut (for example, Chopin).

Don’t be put off by how gruff and serious they all look (well, Schubert looks somewhat approachable, and Verdi could be your grandpa); their music is profound and beautiful!