2. String Quartet in G major, op. 76 no. 1 by Joseph Haydn
Father of the Symphony, Father of the String Quartet, friend and mentor of Mozart, tutor of Beethoven, Joseph Haydn was an Austrian Classical composer too grand for words. Prolific does not even begin to describe his career: the man wrote over one hundred symphonies and 83 string quartets, 150 baryton duos and trios, over 40 piano trios (the development of which he also fathered), numerous concertos, trios and duos for various instruments, marches, dances, sonatas, 15 masses, a handful of songs, 13 operas and other musical comedies. So just sit back and enjoy just a fraction of his work, a string quartet that doesn’t necessarily moves you in a deep way, but can be a beautiful, elegant and soothing background music for your Sunday leisurely activities (I especially like the I. Allegro con spirit and III. Menuet. Presto – Trio).
1. Cello Concerto in E minor, op. 85 by Edward Elgar
This work was recommended to me a long time ago by a friend who was trying to make a case for the beautiful sound of the cello, in the detriment of the violin. I was hooked and switched to the cello team instantly. Much has been written about this Cello Concert in E minor, it has been linked to the World War I (Elgar having composed it in a cottage from where he could hear the sound of the artillery across the Channel) and to his dying wife, it had a disastrous premiere and has been largely neglected until the 1960s, when the cellist Jacqueline du Pré played it repeatedly at The Proms and recorded it with the London Symphony Orchestra and Sir John Barbirolli, which brought the work back to the public attention and into the concert halls, becoming a standard piece in the cello repertoire. Here, you can watch a documentary about Jacqueline du Pré and Elgar’s Cello Concerto journey. If you don’t have time for the whole thing, just dedicate seven minutes of your day and listen to the first movement or just to the first three minutes, it’s that memorable and moving.
Disclaimer: this is not an exhaustive list of all the works curated by Clemency Burton-Hill in the book Year of wonder: classical music for every day. To enjoy the full catalogue of pieces proposed by the author along with her comments on the composers and the music itself, feel free to pick up her awesome book here (not affiliated, nor sponsored).