By Dr Justin Wildridge – Justin Wildridge is a media composer and multi-instrumentalist based in the South-West of England where he works from his own studio. He holds a Doctorate in musical composition from the University of Nottingham and has over the last twenty years composed extensively within the contemporary art music world
Bibliography – https://www.cmuse.org/classical-music-for-sleep/
At times we all struggle to be able to rest and even sleep after a challenging day. In this article, I am going to see if I can find some Classical pieces that might just help you fall gently into the world of dreams.
1. Consolation in D Flat Major (No.3; S.172) by Franz Liszt
In spite of Liszt’s formidable reputation as a travelling virtuoso and composer whose compositions verge on the unplayable by mere mortals, this series of six pieces comes as a great contrast. The “Consolations”, as Liszt titled them, represent a series of contrasting pieces, the third being one of the most popular. Liszt marks the tempo of the piece as Lento Placido which give a clear indication of the tranquil nature of the piece.
The Third Consolation has a gently rippling triplet accompanying figure over which floats an effortless, lyrical melody. There is no pretence in this composition just sublimely warm, melodic writing that feels a summer a breeze drifting lazily across the mirrored surface of a lake.
2. Song for Sienna by Brian Crain
Moving forward from Liszt into the more contemporary world of into what can broadly be considered Classical music, the Song For Sienna is a calming, reflective piece that may well evoke a relaxed mood. The style of the music is very much along the lines of the melodic minimalist composers who seem to have gained popularity today. Brian is an American composer well known for his piano works.
He is largely self-taught but began to draw attention when in his early twenties he was writing successful children’s songs. Brian had hoped to be a professional baseball player but after a number of failures, he turned his attention back towards music which clearly has brought its own rewards. Today Brian’s compositions are used in movies and on television all over the world.
3. Wiegenlied (op.49:no.4) by Johannes Brahms
This piano piece is perhaps more commonly referred to as Braham’s lullaby. Whilst the music is undoubtedly Brahms, the lyric for this lullaby have their origins in German folk poems titled “Des Knaben Wunderhorn”. It is said that a good friend of Brahms, Bertha Faber, was the first to sing this piece to her new son for whom Brahms composed the piece in celebration.
Brahms and Bertha had when they were younger, been in love and Brahms wrote this lullaby with the happy memory of Bertha singing to him a similar tune. This is the secret counter-melody in the lullaby for the child.
4. The Adagio from the Clarinet Concerto in A Major; (K. 622) by WA Mozart
One of the final works that Mozart completed before his early death was this clarinet concerto written for his friend and clarinettist, Anton Stadler. The concerto comprises of three movements of which this is the central slow movement marked an appropriate Adagio.
In this performance by the clarinettist Jack Brymer and the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, the unhurried performance allows the rich lyricism to sing from the solo clarinet and the accompanying orchestra. There is a humbling simplicity in this central movement that seems to me to reflect a certain acceptance of all that it means to be human.
At times the music becomes playful but never overstated giving the clarinet the opportunity to play through almost its entire range with a warm expression. Elegant, elegiac and plainly beautiful this is one of the most relaxing pieces I know.
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