New to classical music? These pieces made the biggest impact on me.

Years ago, I bought a 40 cd box set of classical music composers. I had no idea about classical music at all, but wanted background music to help me concentrate while reading.

I’ve become a bit of a classical music dilettante. Here are a few of my favourites:

Claude Debussy – Clair de Lune

Claude Debussy is always available on flights. If I’m flying overnight, I’ll often plug in, turn the volume down and relax with this after a film or two and a couple of wines.

Eric Satie – Gymnopedie Number 1

Supposedly Satie was a friend of Debussy. I think this piece was on the film Donny Darko.

Claude Debussy – The Girl With the Flaxen Hair

I like the name as much as the tune.

Philip Glass – Knee Play 1

I listened to this after watching the Philip Glass documentary ‘Glass’. This piece of music had the biggest impact of all. I still remember when I first heard it. I was in my flat in London, struggling away on my novel, when this came on, and grabbed me. I stopped everything I was doing and listened to it on repeat for at least an hour.

Ryuichi Sakamoto – Merry Christmas Mr Lawrence

I love this. The name is great and the music is beautiful, with an oriental edge to it. The mix of English title and Japanese styling gets me thinking of Haruki Murakami the Japanese novelist and his western interest. Having only had one short trip to Japan, this music makes me want to throw some clothes into a bag and jump on a plane.

For me, there’s a melancholy tone running through all of these pieces, but as well as that there’s nostalgia and inspiration. With each piece I can picture myself in a different setting and season, from a shoebox in London to a coastal cottage in Scotland, from a balmy summer night, to a frosty winter morning. Wherever I am, I can listen to these pieces and relax.



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About stevenjohntait