Classical Music Top 100 (Works 81–100)

Here you will find the works no. 81–100.
You can go back to the works 1–30 here.

Works 81–100

81) Ralph Vaughan Williams – A Sea Symphony (1910)

SWR Symphony Orchestra, Gaechinger Cantorey, Laura Aikin, Michael Nagy, Dennis Russell Davies

With his Sea Symphony, the 38-year-old Ralph Vaughan Williams made his first public appearance with a major work – and promptly triggered storms of enthusiasm: The large dimensions of the Sea Symphony meant that English symphonic music suddenly became the focus of world attention.

You can find the full work presentation here:
Vaughan Williams, A Sea Symphony Explained (5-4-3-2-1 Method)

82) Johann Sebastian Bach – The Well-Tempered Clavier (1722/1742)

Paul Barton (Piano)

The importance of Bach’s Well-Tempered Clavier cannot be overstated: With its combination of free preludes and strict fugues in all keys, it is and remains simply the Old Testament of music.

You can find the full work presentation here:
Bach, The Well-Tempered Clavier Explained (5-4-3-2-1 Method)

83) Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart – Clarinet Quintet ("Stadler") (1789)

Armida Quartet, Sabine Meyer (clarinet)

With his Clarinet Quintet, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart laid the groundwork: The piece for clarinet and string quartet, which Mozart wrote for his friend Anton Stadler, is the first piece with this instrumentation ever.

You can find the full work presentation here:
Mozart, Clarinet Quintet („Stadler“) Explained (5-4-3-2-1 Method)

84) Ludwig van Beethoven – Symphony No. 5 (1808)

hr Symphony Orchestra, Andrés Orozco-Estrada

Beethoven’s Symphony No. 5 is one of the most famous pieces of classical music ever. This has mainly to do with the beginning, often interpreted as the “fate motif”, as well as the implicit program (“per aspera ad astra”).

You can find the full work presentation here:
Beethoven, Symphony No. 5 Explained (5-4-3-2-1 Method)

85) Gustav Mahler – Symphony No. 5 (1904)

Gürzenich Orchestra Cologne, François-Xavier Roth

Gustav Mahler himself described his Symphony No. 5 as “cursed.” With no other symphony did he spend so much time fiddling with the orchestration. Today, Mahler’s 5th Symphony is one of his most popular works, famous for the funeral march in the 1st movement, the Adagietto (which became known as film music), and the radiant finale.

You can find the full work presentation here:
Mahler, Symphony No. 5 Explained (5-4-3-2-1 Method)

86) Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky – Symphony No. 5 (1888)

Concertgebouw Orchestra, Semyon Bychkov

Tchaikovsky’s Symphony No. 5 was written in a special phase of his life: actually, after his 4th Symphony, he had already felt as if he could compose nothing more, but then, 10 years after the 4th Symphony, he wrote Symphony No. 5 within a few weeks. A musical motif, often called the “fate motif”, runs through the entire symphony.

You can find the full work presentation here:
Tchaikovsky, Symphony No. 5 Explained (5-4-3-2-1 Method)

87) Ludwig van Beethoven – Piano Concerto No. 5 (1811)

Pierre-Laurent Aimard (piano), hr Symphony Orchestra, David Afkham (conductor)

In the midst of the Napoleonic Wars, Beethoven works on his Piano Concerto No. 5 – and once again enters new musical territory: Beethoven turns the form on its head and notates everything down to the last detail.

You can find the full work presentation here:
Beethoven, Piano Concerto No. 5 Explained (5-4-3-2-1 Method)

88) Dmitri Shostakovich – Symphony No. 5 (1937)

WDR Symphony Orchestra, Semyon Bychkov

When the politically endangered Dmitri Shostakovich worked on his Symphony No. 5, he knew what the Stalin regime expected of him: a work as triumphant as possible, loyal to the regime. Shostakovich complied with this request – at least apparently.

You can find the full work presentation here:
Shostakovich, Symphony No. 5 Explained (5-4-3-2-1 Method)

89) Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart – Piano Concerto No. 21 (1785)

Fazil Say, hr Symphony Orchestra, Peter Oundjian

In Mozart’s Piano Concerto No. 21 there are some peculiarities that gave the genre a boost in development. Because of its special relationship between solo piano and orchestra, it counts among Mozart’s so-called “symphonic piano concertos.”

You can find the full work presentation here:
Mozart, Piano Concerto No. 21 Explained (5-4-3-2-1 Method)

90) Johann Sebastian Bach – The Art of Fugue (1740–1749)

Holland Baroque

In the Art of Fugue, Johann Sebastian Bach shows us vividly what can be made of a theme: The different types of fugues are combined with the most diverse processing techniques.

You can find the full work presentation here:
Bach, The Art of Fugue Explained (5-4-3-2-1 Method)

91) Johannes Brahms – Symphony No. 4 (1885)

NDR Elbphilharmonie Orchestra, Christoph von Dohnányi

In his Symphony No. 4, Brahms once again took his personal style of composing to the extreme: From the tiniest cells he builds the great arches. For many, this way of composing is too extreme, others find just that great.

You can find the full work presentation here:
Brahms, Symphony No. 4 Explained (5-4-3-2-1 Method)

92) Franz Schubert – Great Symphony in C Major (1826)

Konzerthausorchester Berlin, Joana Mallwitz

When Franz Schubert was writing his Great C Major Symphony, all of Vienna was talking about only one event: the premiere of Beethoven’s monumental 9th Symphony on May 7, 1824. Somehow or other, Schubert had to respond. He did it with a particularly extensive symphony, which has some peculiarities.

You can find the full work presentation here:
Schubert, Great Symphony in C Major Explained (5-4-3-2-1 Method)

93) Anton Bruckner – Symphony No. 7 (1884)

NDR Elbphilharmonie Orchestra, Günter Wand

With his Symphony No. 7, the 60-year-old Anton Bruckner finally received the recognition for his musical work that he had so long desired. The world success of the 7th Symphony was also due in large part to the premiere conductor Arthur Nikisch, who organized introductions to the work 🙂

You can find the full work presentation here:
Bruckner, Symphony No. 7 Explained (5-4-3-2-1 Method)

94) Johannes Brahms – Piano Concerto No. 2 (1881)

Igor Levit, NDR Elbphilharmonie Orchestra, Alan Gilbert

Johannes Brahms took quite a long time with his Piano Concerto No. 2. His first piano concerto 22 years earlier had been such a flop that he had to digest it first. The Piano Concerto No. 2, on the other hand, became a world success.

You can find the full work presentation here:
Brahms, Piano Concerto No. 2 Explained (5-4-3-2-1 Method)

95) Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky – Swan Lake (1877)

Mariinsky Ballet

Tchaikovsky’s Swan Lake is so famous that people often mean “Swan Lake” when they say “ballet.” Quite consistently, Tchaikovsky has built two different musical worlds here, one of which represents the people, the other the swans.

You can find the full work presentation here:
Tchaikovsky, Swan Lake Explained (5-4-3-2-1 Method)

96) Claude Debussy – Prélude à l'après-midi d'un faune (1894)

London Symphony Orchestra, François-Xavier Roth

Many see Debussy’s Prélude à l’après-midi d’un faune as the birth of new music. For ten minutes, Debussy takes us into a world full of unusual timbres, forms and melodies.

You can find the full work presentation here:
Debussy, Prélude à l’après-midi d’un faune Explained (5-4-3-2-1 Method)

97) Franz Schubert – Trout Quintet (1819)

Anne-Sophie Mutter, Daniil Trifonov, Hwayoon Lee, Maximilian Hornung, Roman Patkoló (1st movement)

The Trout Quintet is a bright, cheerful composition by Franz Schubert, who wrote variations on his song “The Trout” in it. The Trout Quintet was commissioned by an Upper Austrian civil servant and patron of the arts.

You can find the full work presentation here:
Schubert, Trout Quintet Explained (5-4-3-2-1 Method)

98) Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov – Flight of the Bumblebee (1900)

Royal Scottish National Orchestra, Neeme Järvi

There is probably no other piece that is as much the subject of a lampoon as Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov’s Flight of the Bumblebee. Who actually started the questionable trend of having to play the Flight of the Bumblebee as fast as possible on as many instruments as possible? 🙂 It is a bit of a pity, because the Flight of the Bumblebee is not such a bad piece.

You can find the full work presentation here:
Rimsky-Korsakov, Flight of the Bumblebee Explained (5-4-3-2-1 Method)

99) Sergei Prokofiev – Peter and the Wolf (1936)

hr-Sinfonieorchester, Ulrich Noethen (narrator), Anna Skryleva (conductor)

Prokofiev’s Peter and the Wolf is one of the most popular pieces for introducing children to classical music. But it is also worthwhile for adults to listen to the musical fairy tale. Prokofiev makes it easy for us to follow the story by assigning a specific instrument to each character.

You can find the full work presentation here:
Prokofiev, Peter and the Wolf Explained (5-4-3-2-1 Method)