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Music can be an excellent source of motivation! So when you’re ready to start writing or need to break through a stubborn case of writer’s block, listening to music can help you focus and be more productive.
Whether you listen to a piece that’s soft and gentle or energetic and dramatic, choose a tempo that offers you the best inspiration for what you’re trying to achieve with your work. We’ve put together a list of classical pieces that are sure to hit all the “write” notes and get your creativity flowing!
1. “The Aquarium” from the Carnival of Animals—Camille Saint-Saëns
Musical Note: Originally written for fun, Saint-Saëns worried it would hurt his image as a composer and refused to let it be performed in public. Today, it’s one of his best-known works.
2. “Gymnopédie,” No. 1 from Gymnopédies—Erik Satie
Musical Note: The three pieces were a nod to a Spartan festival where young men would dance and compete with each other.
3. “The 1812 Overture”— Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky (skip to 14:23 for the cannon shots!)
Musical Note: This piece was written to celebrate Russia’s defeat of Napoleon’s army in 1812.
4. “Rhapsody in Blue”—George Gershwin
Musical Note: Gershwin’s piano part was completely improvised at its premiere in New York City.
5. “Adagio for Strings” from String Quartet No. 1, Opus 11—Samuel Barber
Musical Note: In 2004, BBC listeners voted it as the world’s saddest piece of music. It was played at the funerals of Franklin D. Roosevelt, John F. Kennedy, Albert Einstein, and Princess Grace.
6. “Liebestraum” from Liebesträume—Franz Liszt
Musical Note: “Lisztomania” describes the rock star treatment Liszt received as a virtuoso. Women would rip off pieces of his clothing and clamor to get any broken piano strings—or his hair.
7. “O Fortuna” from Carmina Burana—Carl Orff
Musical Note: One of the most popular pieces of classical music, “O Fortuna” was composed in the late 1930s but is based on a medieval poem written in the early thirteenth century.
8. “Lacrimosa” from Requiem in D Minor—Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
Musical Note: Mozart believed he was cursed to write the requiem for himself. It is disputed whether he composed the entire piece or not.
9.“Gabriel’s Oboe” from The Mission Soundtrack— Ennio Morricone
Musical Note: Though an Oscar was highly anticipated for Morricone’s score for The Mission, he did not win. In 2007, the Academy awarded him an Oscar posthumously. Morricone composed scores for over four hundred films.
10. “Flower Duet” from Lakmé—Léo Delibes
Musical Note: The piece became an unofficial theme song for British Airways after appearing in an advertisement.
11. “The Blue Danube Waltz”—Johann Strauss II
Musical Note: The waltz is Austria’s second national anthem. The piece was written to lift up the national mood after Prussia defeated Austria in the Seven Weeks’ War in 1865.
12. “Will Hunting” from Good Will Hunting—Danny Elfman
Musical Note: The score for Good Will Hunting earned composer Danny Elfman his first Academy Award nomination.
13. “Ride of the Valkyries” from Die Walküre—Richard Wagner
Musical Note: The opera in its entirety is five hours long. “Ride of the Valkyries” has been featured in numerous film scores, including Apocalypse Now.
14. “Divenire” by Ludovico Einaudi
Musical Note: Einaudi’s concerts are renowned for the intensity and passion of his performance.