Ask classical-music buffs to choose a single favorite masterpiece and chances are that their selections will share a discomforting trait — all will be at least 100 years old. My pick, though, comes from the heart of the past century. It’s a work of internal perfection, startling elegance and vast philosophical import that opens as wide a window to eternity as any venerable favorite by Bach, Mozart or Beethoven.

The full impact of John Cage (1912-92) upon modern aesthetics has yet to be grasped, and he still has more detractors than fans. Yet even his most vehement critics must concede …

This is the begininng of a Wall Street Journal article. I’ve not read the rest because I don’t subscribe to WSJ.

Now my choice would not be John Cage, but it wouldn’t be Bach, Mozart or Beethoven either. (Not that I don’t love those composers, because I certainly do!) Nope. I’d go for Ravel, I think. Or Mahler. Or Sibelius. Granted, they aren’t totally recent works either, but they aren’t quite 100 years old. Yet.

But, in reality, I couldn’t choose one favorite work. It just doesn’t work that way for me. At least let me make a list of 10. Or 50. Or 100. Please.

Too Many Cooks?

Under the direction of conductor Christopher Johnston, the Symphony Orchestra premieres Suite for Electric Guitar and Orchestra, composed by eight Fairfax Academy for Communication and the Arts students.

Wow. Eight students compose one work? Wish they’d make me reeds instead.


  1. I find that my favorites shift around with what I have heard recently.  Last night I heard the KC Symphony doing the Mozart horn concerto #4, with Eric Ruske, and that has been a piece I like very much.  I listen to my recording with Dennis Brain several times a year.  But then they played the Dukas Villanelle for Horn and Piano as orchestrated by Bujanmowski, and that became my momentary fave.  They followed up with Mahler’s 5th symphony, and that was very fine, also.  The first piece was “Translucent Thoughts” by Adam Schoenberg, at least that is 21st century, but not yet likely to become even a temorary favorite, though I liked it.  Repetition might help propel it forward in my esteem.   The first times I heard recordings of  Beethoven’s 1st symphony I did not much care for it.  Now when I see it on a program that I’m going to hear, I am delighted.

    Still, what’s going todisplace Don Giovanni or Parsifal or Beethoven’s 1st symphony or many dozens of others?  Steak was our diet several times a week when I was in graduate schol (50 years ago) because it was fast food and pretty cheap.  We got very tired of steak, so how can I have a single favorite piece? 


  2. Patricia Mitchell

    I often like what I’m playing. For a while. (If it’s a long run of an opera I’m often ready to like something new!) Or I like what I’ve recently discovered. Or I like what I’m in the mood for. And I’d never want to have to select just one work.

    I don’t even WANT to have a single favorite piece!