Contemporary Concert Music Listening Guide

This list is chiefly assembled from various lists by other composers and musicians. This list is to get you started in listening to 20th and 21st century composers.  It is by no means comprehensive, but it should give you a taste of some of what’s out there.

JOHN ADAMS Short Ride in a Fast Machine
Harmonium
THOMAS ADÈS (Various Works)
SAMUEL BARBER Adagio for Strings
Piano Concerto, op. 38
BELA BARTOK String Quartets
Concerto for Orchestra
Music for String, Percussion, and Celesta
Violin Concerto No. 2 in B Minor
ALBAN BERG Lyric Suite
Violin Concerto
LUCIANO BERIO Sinfonia
LEONARD BERNSTEIN Symphony No. 2
BENJAMIN BRITTEN Serenade for Tenor, Horn, and Strings
War Requiem
JOHN CAGE Sonatas and Interludes for Prepared Piano
ELLIOTT CARTER String Quartets
AARON COPLAND Piano Variations
Appalachian Spring
Fanfare for the Common Man
JOHN CORIGLIANO Symphony No. 1
GEORGE CRUMB Ancient Voices of Children
Black Angels
LUIGI DALLAPICCOLA Liriche Greche
PETER MAXWELL DAVIES Eight Songs for a Mad King
CLAUDE DEBUSSY Piano Music
Prélude à L’Après-midi d’un faune
FREDERICK DELIUS Florida Suite
TAN DUN CD: Nine Songs/Ritual Opera (CRI Label)
EDWARD ELGAR Enigma Variations
GABRIEL FAURE Requiem
MICHAEL FINNISSY (Piano Works)
BRIAN FERNEYHOUGH (Various Works)
PHILIP GLASS Einstein on the Beach
HENRYK GORECKI Symphony No. 3, op. 36
JOHN HARBISON Mirabai Songs
CHARLES IVES Central Park in the Dark
Songs
The Unanswered Question
GYORGY LIGETI Atmospheres
Lux Aeterna
String Quartet No. 2
Piano Etudes
OLIVIER MESSIAEN Terrangalila Symphonie
Quartet for the End of Time
Vingt Regards sur l’Enfant-Jésus
CARL NIELSEN Symphony No. 4
ARVO PART Fratres
Litany
SERGEI PROKOFIEV Piano Sonatas
Romeo and Juliet
Violin Concerto No. 2
SERGEI RACHMANINOFF Vespers, op. 37
Piano Concerto No. 2
SHULAMIT RAN CD: Music of Shulamit Ran (CRI Label)
MAURICE RAVEL Orchestra Music
La Mer
STEVE REICH Music for 18 Musicians
Triple Quartet
Different Trains
NED ROREM Songs
JOHN RUTTER Requiem
ALFRED SCHNITTKE String Quartets
Requiem
ARNOLD SCHOENBERG Pierrot Lunaire
Variations
Verklarte Nacht
Survivor from Warsaw
String Quartets
ALEXANDER SCRIABIN Piano Preludes
Poem of Ecstasy
DMITRI SHOSTAKOVICH Symphonies Nos. 8, 10, and 11
Violin Concerto No. 1
String Quartet No. 8
JEAN SIBELIUS Swan of Tuonela
Symphonies
RICHARD STRAUSS Last Four Songs
IGOR STRAVINSKY Concerto for Piano and Winds
Symphony of Psalms
Octet
Movements
Petrouchka
Firebird
Le Sacre du Printemps
Apollon Musagète
TORU TAKEMITSU CD: Toru Takemitsu (Virgin Label)
MICHAEL TIPPET Child of Our Time
EDGARD VARESE Octandre
Ionization
ANTON WEBERN Symphony
VAUGHN WILLIAMS Fantasia on a Theme of Thomas Tallis
The Lark Ascending
Serenade to Music
Symphony No. 5

What Pieces & Recordings Do You Recommend?

This is undoubtedly an extremely incomplete list.  Please comment below to share your recommended listening for 20th and 21st century concert music. Also, what are some of your favorite recordings of contemporary concert music?

©2016 Aaron Alon. All Rights Reserved.

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