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What are the most profound works by your favorite composers?

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Showing 1-25 of 109 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Jan 5, 2013 10:17:23 AM PST
How about the Art of Fugue for Bach?

And the Seven Last Words or the Rider Quartet for Haydn?

I'm sure the late string quartets and piano sonatas by Beethoven are very profound, but I don't get them yet. So for me it is the slow movement of the 9th Symphony.

Posted on Jan 5, 2013 12:03:30 PM PST
K.J. McGilp says:
Mahler 9. Mahler in general. Along with quite a bit of Bruckner's music.
If I had to pick one it would be Mahler 9 : Karajan BPO, DG Karajan Gold.Mahler: Symphony No. 9

Posted on Jan 5, 2013 12:04:43 PM PST
KenOC says:
I think Rasmus would help this along if he defined "profound"... ;-)

In reply to an earlier post on Jan 5, 2013 12:06:44 PM PST
I will try to Ken, but it is very difficult - the thread is open for various different definitions...

Posted on Jan 5, 2013 12:23:28 PM PST
carnola says:
Merriam-Webster has three definitions on line:

1 a: having intellectual depth and insight
b: difficult to fathom or understand

2 a: extending far below the surface
b: coming from, reaching to, or situated at a depth : deep-seated <a profound sigh>

3 a: characterized by intensity of feeling or quality
b: all encompassing : complete <profound sleep> <profound deafness>

Actually, each definition suggests different works to me. In particular, the first definition relates to the intellectual side while the last relates to the emotional side. Some composers excel in profound works of the first definition (Bach, Schoenberg). Others in profound works fitting the last definition (Mahler, Schumann). A few manage to hit both, like Beethoven.

Posted on Jan 5, 2013 12:38:09 PM PST
Skaynan says:
"2 a: extending far below the surface "

That's the very definition of Mozart.

Posted on Jan 5, 2013 12:40:29 PM PST
Last edited by the author on Jan 5, 2013 12:42:27 PM PST
For me, Sibelius is The Revelator, but he's like a man in solitude.
Mahler seems more earthbound to me, but at his best he reaches for emotions that Sibelius can't express.

Mozart too.

Posted on Jan 5, 2013 2:53:39 PM PST
Last edited by the author on Jan 6, 2013 8:54:30 AM PST
John Dunstable--Veni Sancte Spiritus (Hilliard Ensemble).
Johannes Ockeghem--Requiem (Hilliard Ensemble), Mort tu as navré de ton dart (La Main Harmonique).
Guillaume Dufay--Flos Florum (Blue Heron), Nuper Rosarum Flores (Hilliard Ensemble).
Josquin de Prez--Inviolata, integra, et casta es Maria (Orlando Consort), Le déploration de Johannes Ockeghem (Orlando Consort, Hilliard Ensemble), Missa Gaudeamus (De Labyrintho), Miserere Mei Deus (De Labyrintho, Capella Pratensis).
Jean Mouton--Nescians Mater (Capella Pratensis, Tallis Scholars)
Antoine Brumel--Missa "Et ecce terrae motus" (Tallis Scholars, Huelgas Ensemble, Ensemble Janequin)
Lassus--7 Penitential Psalms (Hilliard Ensemble, Henry's Eight)
Thomas Tallis--Spem in Alium (Magnificat, The Clerks of Oxenford, Tavener Consort & Choir), Miserere (Magnificat)
John Shepherd--Media Vita (Tallis Scholars)
William Byrd--Ye Sacred Muses (Michael Chance & Fretwork, Hilliard Ensemble)
Eustache du Caurroy--Fantasies

J.S. Bach--Mass in B minor, Cantatas for the feast of St. Michael, Double Violin Concerto, Concerto for Violin & Oboe, 6 Partitas, Well-Tempered Clavier Books 1 & 2.

G.F. Handel--Messiah, Israel in Egypt, 4 Coronation Anthems--especially Zadok the Priest, Alcina, & Samson.

W.A. Mozart--the complete Piano Concertos (especially K. 453, 466, 467, 488, 491, 595, etc.), 10 Great String Quartets, 6 String Quintets, The Magic Flute, Don Giovanni, Symphonies 25, 31 "Paris", 38 "Prague", 39, 40, 41 "Jupiter", the complete Piano Sonatas, Sinfonia Concertante, and Violin Concertos nos. 3 & 5.

Beethoven--Piano Concertos 1, 3, 4, 5--especially the 5th, Symphonies 1-9, Missa Solemnis, Moonlight, Waldstein, & Les Adieux Piano Sonatas, Late Piano Sonatas 28-32--including the "Hammerclavier", Violin Sonata No. 5 "Spring", "Archduke" Piano Trio, "Harp" String Quartet, Late String Quartets--especially Op. 131.

Franz Schubert--Fantasia for four hands D. 940, String Quartet No. 15, Ave Maria, Shepherd on the Rock.

Robert Schumann--Fantasia in C, Davidsbundlertanze, Fantasiestucke, Kinderscenen, Symphonic Etudes, & selections from Album for the Young, especially Mignon.

Frederic Chopin--21 Nocturnes, 24 Preludes, Piano Concerto No. 1.

Johnannes Brahms--Violin Sonatas 1-3, String Quintets, German Requiem, Late Piano Music Op. 117-119, Violin Concerto.

Richard Wagner--Tristan und Isolde, Parsifal, Lohengrin.

Claude Debussy--24 Preludes, Suite Bergamasque, Sonata for Flute, Harp, and Viola, Prelude to the Afternoon of a Faun, Nocturnes, Images Books 1 & 2, String Quartet.

Maurice Ravel--Gaspard de la Nuit, Miroirs, Daphnis et Chloe, Piano Trio, Sheherazade.

Mahler--Symphonies 2, 3, 5, 9, 10-Adagio, Ruckert Lieder, Songs of a Wayfarer.

Jean Sibelius--Symphonies 1-7, The Swan of Tuonela, Violin Concerto, Tapiola.

Prokofiev--Violin Concertos 1 & 2, Violin Sonatas 1 & 2, Piano Sonatas 1-9 & Visions Fugitives.

Richard Strauss--Four Last Songs, Morgen.

Posted on Jan 5, 2013 3:07:08 PM PST
Last edited by the author on Jan 5, 2013 3:09:22 PM PST
David M. says:
Edit: M.R. Simpson and I simulposted the same exact list, word for word. I'll let him take credit. :)

Posted on Jan 5, 2013 3:33:01 PM PST
Last edited by the author on Jan 5, 2013 4:20:16 PM PST
Park says:
Profound eh?

How about the opening bars, or music that ends Act I of Puccini's TOSCA...

Or, LA VALSE by Ravel...

Or, the 3rd movement of Tchaikovsky's 6th Symphony...

Or, the 1st movement of Roussel's 3rd Symphony...

Or, the entire SYMPHONIE FANTASTIQUE by Berlioz...


...Now I am profoundly tired!!!

Posted on Jan 5, 2013 3:37:45 PM PST
[Deleted by the author on Jan 5, 2013 3:37:55 PM PST]

Posted on Jan 5, 2013 6:38:23 PM PST
[Deleted by Amazon on Nov 26, 2013 10:12:08 AM PST]

Posted on Jan 5, 2013 7:41:26 PM PST
Mahler 9
Tchaikovsky 6
Bruckner 9
Shostakovich 4

In reply to an earlier post on Jan 5, 2013 7:58:08 PM PST
Last edited by the author on Jan 5, 2013 7:58:28 PM PST
John Ruggeri says:
Using the definitions of Profound which carnola provided, my vote is for Verdi's opera "OTELLO".

Posted on Jan 5, 2013 11:32:51 PM PST
Last edited by the author on Jan 6, 2013 10:22:19 AM PST
WH says:
You asked for "profound", and Ken asked what that might mean. What I've listed are not, strictly speaking, my favorite works. Many of my favorite works are not "profound". They might just be playful or beautiful or intellectually intriguing; they might get my foot tapping or stir my imagination; they might be musically thrilling in their dazzling virtuosity. But for "profound": such works must be deeply searching in some way. Of those I've listed, some are anguishing in their searching, some touch depths of peace, and a few are ecstatic. Many are brief, sometimes quite brief. From longer works, I've tended to single out one movement since I'm skeptical that one can really be profound for very long. I know that I've left out important ones, but these are the ones that came to mind first. I've put them in rough chronological order:

Hildegard von Bingen: O Tu Suavissime Virga
Binchois: Amoureux suy
Brumel : Missa "Et ecce terrae motus" : "Gloria"
Josquin des Prez : Missa Pange linga
Josquin des Prez : La deploration sur la mort d'Ockeghem
Josquin des Prez : Absolon, filii mi
Schütz : Musicalische Exequien, SWV 279-281, op. 7
Bach : Well-Tempered Clavier, Bk 1: esp. Prelude & Fugue in C, BWV 846
Bach : Partita II for Violin, BWV 1004
Bach : Cello Suite #1 in G, BWV 1007 (esp. "Praeludium" and "Allemande")
Bach : Toccata & Fugue in D minor [for organ], BWV 538 ("Dorian")
Bach: Motet : "Jesu, meine Freude", BWV 227
Bach : Goldberg Variations
Haydn : String Quartet #25 in C, op. 20/2, esp. 1st movement
Haydn : String Quartet #63 in B flat, op. 76/4 ("Sunrise"), esp. 2nd movement ("Adagio")
Haydn : Symphony #104 in D, Hob. I/104 ("London"), esp. 4th movement ("Finale: spirituoso")
Mozart : Symphony #38 in D , K504 ("Prague")
Mozart : Symphony #41 in C , K551 ("Jupiter")
Mozart : Requiem : "Kyrie eleison"
Beethoven : Violin Sonata #9 in A major ("Kreutzer"): 1st movement ("Adagio - Presto")
Beethoven : Piano Sonata #15 in D major, op. 28 ("Pastorale")
Beethoven : Piano Sonata #30 in E major, op. 109
Beethoven : Piano Concerto #4 in G major, op. 58
Beethoven : Symphony #7 in A: 2nd Movement ("Allegretto")
Beethoven : Symphony #9 in D minor ("Choral")
Beethoven : String Quartet #14, op. 131
Beethoven : String Quartet #15, op. 132: 4th movement ("Allegro appassionato")
Schubert : String Quintet in C, D956
Schubert : String Quartet #14 in D minor ("Death and the Maiden"), D810
Schubert : String Quartet #15 in G, D877: 1st movement
Liszt : Piano Sonata in B minor
Brahms : Piano Concerto #2 in B flat, op. 83: 3rd movement
Brahms : Piano Quintet in F minor, op. 34
Brahms : Symphony #3: 3rd movement
Brahms: Symphony #4: 4th movement
Dvorak : Piano Trio #4 ("Dumky")
Dvorak : String Quartet #13 in G major, op. 106
Fauré : Nocturne #4 in E flat, op. 36 (esp. after the 1:00 mark)
Fauré : Nocturne #11 in F# minor, op. 104/1
Fauré : Piano Quintet #2 in C minor, op. 115
Debussy : Reverie
Debussy : Ballade slave
Debussy : Prelude, Book 1, #10 ("La cathedrale engloutie")
Debussy : String Quartet in G minor, op. 10
Debussy : Premiere Arabesque from Deux Arabesques
Ives : Piano Sonata #2 ("Concord")
Rachmaninov : Prelude #4 in D, op. 23/4
Rachmaninov : Prelude #7 in C minor, op. 23/7
Rachmaninov : Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini, var. 17-18
Stravinsky : Symphony of Psalms
Stravinsky : Agon
Stravinsky : Requiem Canticles
Barber : Adagio for Strings, op. 11
Prokofiev : Violin Concerto #1 in D minor, op. 19
Prokofiev : Visions fugitives
Bartok : String Quartet #5
Bartok : Piano Concerto #2 : 2nd movement ("Adagio - Presto")
Bartok : Rhapsody #2 for violin and piano,
Bartok : Concerto for Orchestra
Ravel : Piano Trio in A minor: 1st movement ("Modéré)
Ravel : String Quartet, esp. 2nd movement ("Assez vif")
Ravel : Sonata for Violin & Piano in G: 1st movement ("Allegretto")
Ravel : Piano Concerto for the Left Hand
Ravel : Jeux d'eau
Ravel : Pavane pour une infante défunte
Martinu : Cello Sonata #1
Turina : Homenaje a Tarrega, op. 69
Shostakovich : Symphony #5 in D minor: 1st Movement ("Moderato")
Shostakovich : Prelude & Fugue #7 in A major
Shostakovich : String Quartet #8 in C minor, op. 110
Shostakovich : String Quartet #15 in E flat minor
Messiaen : Quatuor pour la fin du temps
Boulez : Le marteau sans maître (esp. 3: "L'Artisanat furieux")
Schnittke : Piano Quintet
Ligeti : Lux Aeterna
Ligeti : Atmospheres
Ligeti : Clocks and Clouds
Crumb: Ancient Voices of Children
Rochberg : String Quartet #3
Pärt : Tabula Rasa
Pärt : Berliner Messe: esp. "Agnus Dei"
Pärt : Stabat Mater
Reich: Music for 18 Musicians: Section VI
Reich : Nagoya Marimbas
Gorecki : Symphony #3 ("Symphony of Sorrowful Songs"): 2nd movement
Higdon : blue cathedral
Adams : Dharma at Big Sur: 2nd movement ("Sri Moonshine")
Moravec : Tempest Fantasy: 4th movement ("Sweet Airs")
Lauridsen : Magnum mysterium

Posted on Jan 6, 2013 12:08:43 AM PST
Last edited by the author on Jan 6, 2013 12:14:28 AM PST
Mandryka says:
I think that the profoundest work makes you reflect and analyse your own reality. It's not just something which provides you with comfort or pleasure, something which enables you to live more happily. That's a second tier work.

A really profound piece of music helps you to develop your understanding of the human condition, of the moral, and helps you to see the authentic and meaningful in everyday banal things.

There are some examples from music with text. The Ring is one. It's harder to find examples of this type of depth in music without texts. One way instrumental music can be deep is by challenging conventional ideas about status. I think Brandenburg 5 is like this.

In reply to an earlier post on Jan 6, 2013 12:21:28 AM PST
KenOC says:
I like that -- because it's the way I feel...

In reply to an earlier post on Jan 6, 2013 12:59:18 AM PST
Last edited by the author on Jan 6, 2013 1:00:15 AM PST
Mandryka says:
One problem with Otello I think, is Iago's creed. In the Shakespeare I think it's really believable. There are people as nasty as Iago in real life, and people as insecure as Otello. But that creed reduces Iago to caricature and that makes the opera pretty shallow for me.

Wagner was deeper than Verdi. The whole complexity of the Alberich/Wotan relationship, for example, goes way beyond anything Verdi could do.

Posted on Jan 6, 2013 1:48:21 AM PST
Last edited by the author on Jan 6, 2013 3:37:22 AM PST
Skaynan says:
How about "The Magic Flute"? The music is so "profound", that it actually makes the admittedly silly libretto seem "deep", which it is really not. Neither Mozart nor Shikander ever presumed that the whole plot is anything more then pure, silly fun. Yet for the last three centuries artists, philosophers, novelists, musicians, whoever- all looking for a "profound" meaning in "the Magic Flute" which is not there. Only the music is so amazingly great that it reflects on the libretto, the libretto being what it actually is...

In reply to an earlier post on Jan 6, 2013 4:05:04 AM PST
Last edited by the author on Jan 6, 2013 4:05:57 AM PST
Interesting that Simpson mentions works by Chopin on a thread about profundity. The funny thing is I started this thread while wrecking my brain trying to think of the most profound work by Chopin and more or less concluded that profundity and Chopin just don't go along with each other.
The closest I could get to something profound from Chopin was something like the Prelude in C sharp minor opus 45, the Fantasy opus 49 and maybe some of the Ballades and Scherzos. The Funeral March is too easy, because it is so mournful -- and maybe in the end it isn't really profound at all - just very sorrowful --- and maybe Chopin wasn't being honest in that movement? (I don't know the biographical background)

In reply to an earlier post on Jan 6, 2013 4:55:08 AM PST
Mandryka says:
There's something which happens in Chopin which is profound. He makes the music go all beautiful and romantic, and then, POW!!!, he just cuts away the illusion with guns and rockets.

Cutting the dreamy romantic imagination off dead with machine gun fire and bombs seems is recurring Chopin theme. It's a sort of basic unit of meaning in the music. He's saying something deep about violence and illusion.

Examples: The last quarter of Op 39 where the chorale is attacked -- cut off (clear with Cliburn and Pletnev and Argerich); the central section of Op 48/1 there's an anthem-like theme which is attacked; the pastorale these of the 2nd Ballade, which is followed abruptly by a Presto con Fuoco, then the first returns, albeit fragmented and constantly interrupted by a restless, chromatic piu mosso, until finally the stormy theme wins out with a tumultous coda, only to have a short quote of the tranquil beginning at the end (you hear this most clearly when Moiseiweitch and Pogorelich play it (Pogorelich in his Chopin competition recording).)

In reply to an earlier post on Jan 6, 2013 5:35:11 AM PST

Yes, I think I know what you mean and I think Chopin's contemporaries Liszt and Schumann do the same thing.
But : Is it necessary to create something profound?
I would say a movement with the same mood all the way through could be just as profound...

Posted on Jan 6, 2013 7:23:31 AM PST
for me, profound means it "blows me away." in some cases, i sit stunned when it's over. not so much from a sense of virtuosity, since that is as much the performers as the composer. the profundity of the music (composition) is such that you can hear it even in a recording you may not consider to be great, thus you seek out a better recording or one more suited to your taste (everyone has different favorite performers/orchestras/conductors). here are a few of the pieces i consider the most profound:

beethoven: symphony 6, 1st movement
beethoven: symphony 7, 2nd movement
beethoven: symphony 9, 1st movement
beethoven: egmont, overture
mozart: divertimento k287, 1st movement
mozart: symphony 40, 1st movement
tchaikovsky: symphony 3, 5th movement
tchaikovsky: symphony 4, 1st movement
tchaikovsky: manfred, 4th movement
wagner: lohengrin, prelude to act 1
wagner: tristan, prelude/liebestod
wagner: gotterdammerung prologue, dawn
wagner: gotterdammerung, siegfried's death/funeral music (thematically tied to "dawn")
haydn: symphony 34, 1st movement
haydn: symphony 60, pretty much all, but especially the last 3 movements
haydn: symphony 73, 1st movement
bruckner: symphony 7, 2nd movement
bruckner: symphony 9, 3rd movement
mahler: symphony 9, 4th movement
nielsen: symphony 4, 4th movement
rachmaninov: piano concerto 2
respighi: church windows, especially st michael the archangel & st gregory the great
saint-saens: piano concerto 2
schumann: symphony 4, 4th movement
sibelius: symphony 4
sibelius: symphony 6
vaughan-williams: tallis fantasia
tallis: s*p*e*m in allium (sorry, in previous threads i think we had trouble with amazon deleting posts because of that word)
bax: winter legends for piano & orchestra, particularly the 1st movement

these pieces move me the most, and have for a long time, with the exception of a couple recent mind blowing experiences (like the bax). as i look over the list, i imagine some people chuckling at a few (or maybe several) of the pieces. i almost laugh myself. haydn's symphony 73, 1st movement?? i don't know! it doesn't seem especially profound, at least superficially, but it draws me away from anything else i may be doing and grabs my entire attention. there's something about the rhythmic structure and way he weaves it together. like i said, i don't know. it just moves me. as they say, the soul craves what the soul craves. err, wait, i just made that up. :-) but i wonder, if i made a playlist of all those pieces and listened to it all if i would just float away into another realm of existence. or, as with a similar eating experience, if i would just have mental indigestion or possibly throw up. hmmm...

Posted on Jan 6, 2013 10:33:34 AM PST
Last edited by the author on Jan 8, 2013 4:23:46 PM PST
I think the idea of what is profound can change & expand over time. When I was younger it was about what moved me to tears, or blew me away, to borrow from T. Anderson, or what I found almost unbearably beautiful. That still holds true today of course, however as I get older, I also now find music of a more contemplative nature to be profound. Much of Haydn's music for wind instruments, or du Caurroy's instrumental Fantasies, or the In Paradisum from Faure's Requiem, for example. Granted they don't have the same overwhelming impact of Beethoven's 9th or Mahler's 2nd, but they do provide a sense of peace, & inner stillness. Perhaps it is comparable to a Zen experience.

In addition, there can be an intellectually profound work, a more mathematically orientated piece of music; where one finds integrity and nourishment for the mind; which, in a certain sense, brings one in touch with a stronger sense of the geometry of the cosmos, or harmony of the spheres, if you will. J.S. Bach and Mozart can do this for me. It's hard to explain though. I suppose I am moved by how their minds inexhaustively create, & the highly intelligent order they can bring to both the structure & content of a work.

But ultimately, from a purely personal standpoint, I would say that what is profound is that which doesn't bore me, where I don't find my mind wondering & thinking about other things--music that draws me in, & engages me on numerous levels, & involves both my heart & mind.

I once heard a woman exclaim--"I felt transported!," as she emerged from a performance of Beethoven's Missa Solemnis. Evidently she had been taken out of herself for an hour and a half, wisked away into another state of being, & perhaps shown a greater sense of selflessness & humanity, I hope. That is something to contemplate. Can music be potent enough to inspire individual inner change within our collective whole? I believe that that was Beethoven's intention with the Missa Solemnis, which he offered as an 'inner prayer for peace'. That was also his favorite composer Handel's intent as well, who once said that he composed to make men better. So, does music really have the power to make people better, more humane & moral, more graceful, & therefore less prone to annoyance, anger & cruelty? Or is it just a temporary effect, at best?

Posted on Jan 6, 2013 10:42:07 AM PST
So, does music really have the power to make people better, more humane & moral, more graceful, & therefore less prone to annoyance & anger? Or is it just a temporary effect, at best? (simpson)

alas, i believe it is a temporary effect, or at least in the immediate, "oh wow that's utterly gorgeous!!!" sense. but i suppose music of that impact on a person can have a lasting, cumulative effect that helps the person to be happier, perhaps more productive in their lives. then again, there are probably serial killers or proponents of genocide sitting somewhere right now listening to beethoven's 9th. so who knows. what i do know is how it affects me. and for me, it is music such as what i listed in my previous post that makes life worth living. take that away, and i'm out.
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