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The Playlist: Introduction to Classical Music

For September, we're going to class on classical music.We're tapping expert opinions for a starter set of symphonies, sonatas and more to get newcomers into classical music. If you have a suggestion, call us at 1-866-340-1932 or email

  • Track One is a favourite of the Prince George Symphony Orchestra's musical director Kevin Zaresky. He introduces the opera Carmen as the blockbuster movie of its day, akin to Avatar or the Avengers. His choice of song "Chanson du Toreador" is a machismo piece of music that thrilled audiences... and continues to do so today.
  • Track 2 come's from CBC Music's Robert Rowat.  A new production of Wagner's famed opera, the "Ring Cycle" recently aired on PBS.  Rowat recommends this piece because of its scale alone and considers it the most important work in the operatic repertoire.
  • Track 3 "Symphony Number 9 by Ludwig van Beethoven (as heard on Daybreak performed by the Symphony Orchestra of Radio Bavaria).
  • Track 4 comes to Daybreak as a request by local astronomy guy, Maurice Sluka.  His choice is "La Paloma" sung by Italian Tenor Beniamino Gigli.  It was written by Spanish composer Sebastian Iradier following a trip to Cuba in 1861.
  • Track 5 is known for its explosive finale.  It's well known across many genres, having been used in countless movie soundtracks.  The Year of 1812 composed by Tchaikovski.
  • Track 6 has been interpreted as a romantic love song.  To others though, it sounds more like a funeral march... or a march into madness.  Daybreak listener Doug Wilson adds to our Playlist with one of Beethoven's greatest, "Moonlight Sonata".  It was performed on Daybreak by Canadian artist, Stewart Gooding.
  • Track 7 came at the suggestion of listener Clive Keen, who wrote: "Listeners might enjoy Vaugh Williams' song Linden Lea, surely one of the most beautiful songs ever written. An amusing note is that this simple 3-minute song earned Vaughn Williams more than most of his full-scale symphonies."
  • Track 8 is another listener request, this one from Liz Jones who enjoys driving through the wilderness of northern British Columbia while listening to the second movement of Mozart's "Clarinet Concerto in A Major."
  • Track 9 is at the request of listener Dee Klawsen, who suggests the beautiful "Claire de Lune" by the French composer Claude Debussy and named after the poem by Paul Verlaine. We played a version by Alain Lefebvre.
  • Track 10 came to us via a challenge from Prince George listener Stephan Wagner, who wanted us to move out of the European classics to other parts of the world. So we played one of the most famous classical Chinese compositions, "High Mountain and Flowing Water," thought to be written by the ancient guqin master Boya. We played the version by the more recent guqin master Guan Pinghu.
  • Track 11 is a suggestion from listener Lawrie Fawcett who wanted to hear some violin, and thinks "Salut D'amour", composed by Edward Elgar and played by child prodigy Sarah Chang was the best way to get it.
  • Track 12 comes via  listener Jan Riegl who suggests Gustav Holst's "Jupiter, Bringer of Jolity" from the "The Planets" suite would be a good way to brighten everyone's mood. We played the piece as performed by the Toronto Symphony Orchestra.
  • Track 13 is a shoutout to all the "band geeks" past and present at Duchess Park Secondary School from alumni Emma Bailey. Here song choice is "Unfolding Sky" by Canadian composer Marjan Mozetik, who you can find at
  • Track 14 goes to our own in-house classical music fan Marissa Harvey, who recalls many hours practicing the French horn, in particular on Mozart's Concerto No. 3 in E Major for horn.
  • Track 15 is our final track, but we will revisit this playlist. So for unfinished business, we chose "Unfinished Symphony" by Franz Schubert to close the list for now.

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