Celebrating Classical Music Month

Celebrating Classical Music Month

September marks the beginning of Classical Music Month, a 30-day celebration of centuries of musical masterpieces by the greatest of the great. To kick off the month, we polled members of the Symphony and staff to curate a unique playlist of our favorite pieces of classical music to share with you.

Also, to make this celebration extra special, we’re delighted to share a month-long discount on our Classical subscription packages! All September long, save 10% on our Classical 6-, 9-, or 18-Concert packages or the 5-Concert Andrés Celebration package. Use promo code MASTERPIECE at checkout to enjoy the savings and hear an entire season of music performed by the world-class Houston Symphony. 

Brinton Averil Smith

Principal Cello

KORNGOLD: Die Tote Stadt

"Asking to pick your 'favorite' piece of music is kind of like being asked to pick your favorite food. You have things you dearly love, but without the variety of choices, the favorite would become stale. There is so much great music—more than you could get your fill of in a lifetime.

Korngold as a composer represents the height of what I believe music can and should be; so beautiful, so moving that you are transported and can hear a glimpse of some almost unimaginable beauty. When I listen to this music, I am changed, every time.”

Alex de Aguiar Reuter

Development Officer

MOZART: Coronation Mass in C, K. 317

"Besides being a gorgeous work, with wonderful moments for orchestra, choir, and a quartet of soloists, it also is short enough to be enjoyed by newcomers to classical music. Also, as a vocalist, it is a very fun piece to sing, too!”

Freddie Piegsa

Front of House Coordinator

BACH: Cello Suite No. 1 in G Major, Prélude

"I mostly like the variation in the music that piques my interest.”

Leonardo Soto

Principal Timpani

Brian Del Signore

Principal Percussion

MAHLER: Symphony No. 3

LS: "This piece had a major impact in my life when I heard it for the first time."

BDS: "Everything in life is expressed in this piece of music, according to Gustav Mahler, and I believe him.”

Eric Skelly

Senior Director of Communications

MAHLER: Symphony No. 8

"I gravitate toward the big Germanic, Romantic and post-Romantic repertoire to begin with. "Veni Creator Spiritus," Part 1 of Mahler's Eighth, is the most exuberant, joyous piece of music to me ever written. The finale of Part 1, with each section of the orchestra and dual chorus making successive rapid runs up the scale, is like aural bottle rockets going off from each individual section of the orchestra...one right after the next. You never know where the next one's coming from. Then everyone makes one final run up to a brilliant, blazing chord like a blinding fireworks finale. I had the privilege of singing this with the Houston Symphony during my time in the Symphony Chorus. What a thrill!!!”

Mark Bailes

Marketing Associate

TCHAIKOVSKY: "Pas de deux" from The Nutcracker

"This short movement is filled to the brim with emotion, from the first demure note to the final cascading crescendo. It transports me to a space decorated by music and beauty but also a muted sense of melancholy veiled behind a curtain. I can feel the might of Tchaikovsky's musical genius and inner turmoil in my stomach when I hear it.”

Katie Salvatore

Board Liaison & Development Officer

MAHLER: Symphony No. 2

"It truly encompasses the entirety of life. There is joy, poignancy, tenderness, and at times so much power that it almost overwhelms the senses. I love the chorus ending and can't wait to hear it performed at the Houston Symphony in the spring!”

Mark Nuccio

Principal Clarinet

Katy Judd

Director of Marketing

RACHMANINOFF: Symphony No. 2

MN: I am a romantic and this piece represents the epitome of romance, turbulence, excitement, and love. I am excited that we are performing it in the 2021–22 season!

KJ: It’s impossible to pick just one favorite, but one piece in the current season to which I’m particularly looking forward is Rachmaninoff’s Symphony No. 2 in March. It has long been one of my favorite symphonies. It’s some of the most stunningly beautiful and exuberant music you will ever hear, and is filled with glorious “Rachmaninoff-esque” melodies. Every time I hear it, it’s one of those magical listening experiences that makes me forget everything else in that moment. I can’t wait to hear it performed live by our incredible Houston Symphony—it will be spectacular!”

Boson Mo

Second violin

BRAHMS: Symphony No. 1 in C minor

"It is impossible for any classical musician to pin down what their favorite work is...we simply have too large a selection to choose from. By saying that my favorite work is by Brahms, I'm inadvertently cutting out all the great music from composers such as Beethoven, Ravel, Rachmaninoff, etc At this moment, my favorite work is the First Symphony by Johannes Brahms. Every day when I walk into my workplace, I relive the magic that is symphonic music. Somedays, I even wonder how it was possible for any human to have had the idea of throwing a hundred musicians into the same space and expected an outcome that is anything else but utter cacophony. Having said that, I think there is hardly a better example of a great symphonist than Johannes Brahms. As a student, Brahms dutifully studied the music of his predecessors and contemporaries, carefully distilling the musical essences from the likes of Mozart, Beethoven, Schumann, etc. As he came into his own, critics of the time began comparing his work to that of the colossus Beethoven, even going as far as saying that he was the genius who was finally going to transcend the musical apex that Beethoven achieved. Brahms's First Symphony is about rising to and transcending expectations. It is about defying naysayers. It is also about depicting the grandeur of nature and the wonderment of life. It is about his love for Clara Schumann. Last but not least, it is about the supreme lushness of beauty that is the Symphony Orchestra.”

John Mangum

Executive Director and CEO

BEETHOVEN: Symphony No. 9

"The message of the piece—that joy brings people together—really resonates with me. And it's the culmination of all of Beethoven's greatness in one visionary piece.”

Lesley Sabol

Director of Popular Programming

RAVEL: La Valse

"It's dramatic, yet playful!”

Allison Conlan

Director of Education and Community Engagement

RACHMANINOFF: The Isle of the Dead

"It's difficult to pick a favorite piece, since there are so many different styles, periods, and even genres within the orchestral repertoire that I'm drawn to in different ways. However, here's one that I can pinpoint as playing a formative role in my life!

The first Houston Symphony concert I experienced in Jones Hall was in January of 2012 during a three-week-long Rachmaninoff Festival. A 20-minute tone poem called The Isle of the Dead closed the first half of the program, and I vividly remember the journey the music took me on. It's a rich and evocative piece that helped me realize that I was exactly where I needed to be, doing what I needed to be doing. Despite the morbidity of the title, this piece brought me peaceful closure on my performance ambitions but allowed me to see the beauty behind the doors that were wide open for me here at the Symphony. I was in awe of the musicians in front of me on stage and excited (yet challenged, in a good way) by the opportunity I had to play a role in making a difference in our community through this amazing orchestra and our musicians.”

Samantha Sheats

Major Gifts Officer

HOLST: "Jupiter" from The Planets

"It's such a beautifully written, epic piece. There are so many hidden elements that I find something new every time I listen to it. It's the kind of piece that just makes me happy every time I listen to it!”

Paula Wilson

Digital Marketing Coordinator

REINECKE: Flute Concerto

"It is difficult to pinpoint just one piece of classical music, but as a flutist, I love playing music from the Romantic period. I especially enjoy performing Reinecke's flowing melodies, lush chords, and rich textures with orchestra (or piano). Each movement of the concerto has its own beauty and technical challenges, making each interpretation a unique experience.”

Heather Fails

Manager Ticketing Database

SAINT-SAËNS: Danse Macabre

"This piece of music makes me feel as if I were a child again out trick or treating on Halloween Eve, painting a masterwork within my mindscape. In addition to being nostalgic and joy-inducing, this piece is so masterfully composed—simply all-around brilliant.”

Megan Conley

Principal Harp

DEBUSSY: Prelude to the Afternoon of a Faun

"It’s transportive, and also has a beautiful harp part!” ”

Gwen Watkins

Chief Marketing Officer

BEETHOVEN: Piano Concerto No. 5

"It's really difficult to pick one piece of music, but this is one that I have cherished for decades since I was a young girl. The first movement used to make me leap and twirl around the house! I had the opportunity to see it performed by the Houston Symphony with André Watts many years ago, and it was completely exhilarating to hear it performed live--an experience I hope to have again soon.”

Elizabeth Shackelford

Director of Digital Marketing

BEETHOVEN: Symphony No. 5

"It's such a giant of the classic music world and probably the first piece many of us hear as children! It lays the foundation for an appreciation of orchestral music.”

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