This article made me kind of laugh. It just sounds so … I dunno … innocent, I guess. It’s in the Harvard Business School paper, and is called “Who Has Time for Classical Music?” The writer is telling business students that they should take time to go to classical music concerts, and then gives reasons why. Following the article you get a list of the “must listen to” music.

Here it is, for your perusal:

HBS Student Classical Repertoire List

Renaissance Period
MONTEVERDI, The Coronation of Poppea: Act III, Scene 7

Baroque Period
HANDEL, Messiah
BACH, Cantata No.8
HAYDN, Lord Nelson Mass

Classical Period
MOZART, Don Giovanni
MOZART, Symphony No.40 in G minor
BEETHOVEN, Piano Sonata in C minor, Op.13 (Pathetique)
BEETHOVEN, Symphony No.5 in C minor

Romantic Period
BERLIOZ, Symphonie Fantastique
BERLIOZ, La Damnation de Faust
MENDOLSSOHN, A Midsummer’s Nights Dream
CHOPIN, Premiere Ballade in G minor
SCHUMANN, Piano Concerto in A minor
LISZT, Wild Hunt: Transcendental Etude No.8
RACHMANINOFF, Prelude in C-sharp minor, Op.3, No.2
GRIEG, Concerto in A minor, Op.54 (Norwegian Concerto)
WAGNER, Die Walkure: Act III, Finale
VERDI, La Traviata
TCHAIKOVSKY, The Nutcracker
DVORAK, Symphony No.9 in E minor (From the New World)

Contemporary Period
SKRYABIN, Piano Etude, Op.8, No.12

Could any of you put a “must listen to” list together that looked anywhere similar to this (typos excluded). What would you list?

Me? I couldn’t do it. I’m guessing my husband, Dan, could. Oh Daaaan?

Anyway, I thought the article was rather juvenile and I’m a bit shocked that it comes from Harvard Business School. Looking more carefully I see that it’s written by someone with a diploma from the Royal Conservatory of Music. Say what?!

But what the heck do I know? Am I being my typicall harsh self? Do tell.


  1. Yup… I cringed especially over the remark about how “listening to Mozart” will make you smarter. To me, there’s something very sad about people claiming we should love music because “it’s good for us”. How about because we love it? And why only Mozart, for goodness sake? Just because the record store has a bin of cut-rate “Mozart Effect” CDs on sale?

    This is a bit like the people who profess to love classical music because it’s “relaxing”. What the heck can they be thinking?

    We’re glad we have your blog, Patty, to help keep us in touch with the flesh-and-blood world of real music making!

  2. Patricia Mitchell

    It’s good to know someone out there understands why that article bugged me. (But I do admit I laughed too, it was so stupid … oops, that’s mean, isn’t it? And to think the writer believes listening to Mozart makes her smarter. Hmmm. Then she wrote THAT? Yikes.)

    This whole “listen to it because…” (it will make you smarter/it’s relaxing/it makes you appear classier/it’s what rich people do) thing is just plain annoying. But oh well. I guess that’ll never stop, eh?

    Thank you for your encouragement! Sometimes I think I’m writing to myself here, or wasting other people’s time, with my words. But of course I love doing it and I don’t plan on stopping, no matter my insecurities. (Kind of the same way I am about my playing, to be honest.)

  3. Funny.  I have no idea whether classical music (or any music) is good for me in any sense.  Fifty years ago I might have made a list something like
    Handel:  Messiah
    Mozart.  Jupiter, Don Giovanni
    Beethoven.  Fifth Symphony
    Berlioz.  Symphony Fantastique
    Brahms.  First Symphony
    Wagner.  Flying Dutchman
    maybe some jazz
    no pops

    and now I would not change much, maybe 3rd ahead of 5th Symphony for Beethoven, as well as 1st and 2nd (which I did not like at all when I was much younger), all Beethoven piano sonatas, Marriage of Figaro ahead of the Don with Magic flute a close third, lots of early 20th century French flute music, Piazzolla’s Maria de Buenas Aires,  La Traviata,  Rake’s Progress, and lots more.  I really could not choose a list, any list would be terribly incomplete.  I heard  a Cage percussion piece performed a couple of weeks ago, and I loved it; I would not have crossed the street to listen to it before I heard it.  And where would jazz and pop be in all of this?  A memorable musical experience for me and my wife was stopping for gas at a station about 45 miles east of Kansas City late one warm summer night, and hearing Elvis singing “Don’t Be Cruel.”  (I heard Hound Dog on the juke box at the Student Union at Cal too many mornings to care at all for Elvis, and pretty much a similar dislike of most of the 50’s pops.)

    In the middle of those past 50 years I went through a terrible time of depression; then I did not hear any kind of music with pleasure.  Enjoying music has been the best part of my recovery.

    Yes, music is good for you if you like it.  But so are ice cream, poetry, roast beef, sex, visual art and much more. 

  4. Patricia Mitchell

    Things can be good for you. The same things can be bad for you. Music is, for me, like breathing … or at least I want it to be. Truth is, though, I could live without it forced to. Breathing is rather essential.

    In any case, I simply can’t put a list together. It would change constantly. I can tell you which pieces send me into a “state” … whether it be happiness, sorrow, or even self-pity. But even those might change depending upon the day, my mood, and so much more. (My husband used to be able to tell, back in my rather bad days, if he should really come into the room by hearing just what I was listening to!)