Classical music for studying that is a little less dead and Austrian

Photo courtesy of Pixabay.


The constant characterization of classical music as “good study music” always leaves me feeling conflicted. On the one hand, it’s wonderful that people outside of the musician bubble are enjoying the music that so many Bulter students labor over. But why is classical music relegated to the study room? Is the reason people love classical music for studying because the music is so dead to them? At this point, I wonder if classical music becomes like doing homework in an old cathedral: productivity stemming from the ornate walls that encase you as the solemn dead air leaves you alone with your thoughts.

As a classical musician, I wanted to provide an alternate classical music playlist featuring music that is so much more alive. Typical classical music study playlists tend to stay in one very specific place in time in music history — turn-of-the-19th-century Vienna — but classical music is so much more than that. Classical music is a living art form, and there is a lot of space between where the art form is now and where it was when Beethoven died.

It’s important to me that people understand classical music is democratic, and that its composers reflect humanity as a whole, coming from across the spectrum and representing every identity. Lesser known composers such as William Grant Still, Jennifer Higdon, Nobuo Uematsu, Amy Beach and Florence B. Price are featured equally alongside Viennese giants like Haydn and Mozart.

Also featured is a collection of compositions from the “canon” — works that are considered standard in the music world — by Russian and American composers. This is not because I think these works are underrepresented by any means, but rather because I love this music and think that these works should be featured for a general audience. The slight over-represenation of Russian composers is something of a personal touch, and one that I am not sorry for.

I hope that this playlist can be a soundtrack to the undoubtedly hellish end of the spring semester. If there are pieces you enjoy, I encourage procrastinating by exploring more of their works and learning their story.

Happy studying!


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