Favourite pieces from classical and neoclassical music

There are these classic melodies that we encounter everywhere: in the café, as background music of a commercial, in waiting loops, as a ringtone. Catchy melodies that we never tire of hearing. From baroque catchy tunes like Bach's Prelude in C Major from the Well-Tempered Clavier to Yann Tiersen's film music for The Fabulous World of Amélie. Much played and much loved - that's what the pieces I'm releasing this fall in three new releases have in common.

This blog article today is about popular favorites, music and well-being, and catchy movie tunes. Among other things, it's about music that focuses on the piano in the classical tradition: so-called neoclassical music.

Classical music for the piano bar

When I play in the piano bar or at events, there are a handful of classical pieces that are always requested by guests. One of them is Beethoven's For Elise. To my amazement, there are also many young people who want this "oldie".

What is the fascination of these favorite pieces? On the one hand, it's their catchiness, which is recognizable, but also their emotional dimension, which lets you discover something new every time you hear them. I recently wrote an arrangement of a classic piece that fascinates me myself, which is now available as a digital release: Pachelbel's Canon in D. The piece for piano solo begins in the classical tradition, but develops into an airy, dreamy arrangement as it progresses.

Pioneers of neoclassicism

Which brings us to one of the keywords of neoclassicism: Because it often invites you to dream. With the release of my EP Beloved Piano Songs released the first single of a new series dedicated to popular tracks of the genre.

To kick things off, there are pieces from an early neoclassical milestone that continues to touch an international audience with its melancholic sounds 20 years after its release: Yann Tiersen's iconic soundtrack for The Fabulous World of Amélie. The music of the Japanese composer Joe Hisaishi, world famous for his film music to the popular anime of the production house Studio Ghibli, does something similar. For publication I have chosen and recorded his especially beautiful track Summer.

Pianist Marcus Sukiennik, classical and neoclassical music

What is neoclassicism?

The term neoclassicism was coined as a current by the music journalism of the 00s. However, it does not describe a fixed school, but rather a loose designation for a musical style that mixes elements of classical music with pop, jazz or even electronic music. The focus is clearly on a classical instrument: the piano.

Many of the neoclassical pieces are characterized by consonant harmonies and short repetitive segments of catchy melodies. It is about a very conscious reduction of compositional means. Names such as John Cage and Philip Glass, but also Eric Satie or Frédéric Chopin are therefore often mentioned as influencers.

Most neoclassical composers are also pianists. Among the best-known representatives of neoclassical music are Ludovico Einaudi, Max Richter, Nils Frahm, Ólafur Arnalds, Yann Tiersen, Jóhann Jóhannson and Yiruma. However, neoclassical music does not only include piano music; other instrumentalists are also active in this field. For example, the Icelandic cellist Hildur Guðnadóttir, whose film music for the film Joker 2019 Oscar winner, among others.

The neoclassical artists are sometimes celebrated like pop stars. Einaudi currently has 5.5 million monthly listeners on Spotify - the same number as Janet Jackson's listeners, for example.

Neoclassicism: Between Philharmonic and Pop

But why is neoclassicism now actually so popular and excites so many people? First of all, it is relatively simple. Minimalism and repetition make many neoclassical compositions catchy pieces that quickly seem familiar. They are often characterized by atmospheric sounds, they transport moods and are therefore particularly suitable as film music, among other things.

Nowadays, music is listened to even more often than in the past by many people, primarily for relaxation. In the office, during dinner, while doing housework, for example. Unobtrusive and atmospheric, neoclassical music gives you the space to perceive it pleasantly in the background or to engage with it completely and immerse yourself in it. In recent years, neoclassical artists have also been responsible for attracting new audiences to classical concert halls. It offers a new approach to people who might not otherwise have anything to do with classical music.

Incidentally, it is a fallacy that classical music was never background music during the lifetime of Beethoven and co - for it was also played at times for the amusement of the princely court. But it's also clear that neoclassical music is a genre that divides and is both celebrated and ridiculed. What do you think of neoclassical music?

New publications in autumn

My EP Classical music for the piano bar will be released on 08.10.21, the single Canon in D for Piano Solo shortly thereafter on 22 October. On 05 November the Beloved Piano Songs 1 - as always to be heard on all major music streaming portals.

Hope you all have a golden autumn and stay healthy.

Marcus Sukiennik

Album Cover EP Classic for the Piano Bar
Album Cover Canon in D
Album Cover EP Beloved Piano Songs 1

New releases autumn 2021

  • Release EP Classic for the Piano Bar on 08.10.2021
  • Release Canon in D on 22.10.2021
  • Release EP Beloved Piano Songs 1 on 05.11.2021
  • Piano sheet music Canon in D PDF in my shop

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