Who Has Time for Classical Music?

Who can possibly find time to attend a three-hour classical music performance when there are urgent e-mails to reply to, dense case studies to read, and company presentations to attend? HBS students should make the extra effort; a classical music concert has the potential to influence and change one’s world view.

How can the businessman possibly benefit from listening to classical music? Benefits of occasionally replacing HBS parties with Boston Symphony Orchestra concerts are as follows:

1. Listening to classical music encourages the business student to stretch one’s mind and reflect upon humanity. Studying classical music trends is fascinating because it parallels social history. In fact, all art forms represent culture.

2. To fully engage oneself in a musical experience, one must study the composer’s biography. The entrepreneur might find this examination of interest, since every classical music giant successfully found ways to reinvent themselves.

3. An appreciation of classical music will cultivate a broader range of sensibility.

4. Playing Mozart in the background while reading intense case studies can help improve concentration, focus, and information retention.

5. HBS students seem eternally stressed. Listening to certain genres of classical music has been clinically proven to reduce stress in all forms-physical, mental, and emotional.

However, which works of classical music are worthy of our precious time? What repertoire is considered the foundation of every classical music library? For the beginning music appreciation student, the endless choices might seem daunting. What follows is a recommended list of the classical music giants and their most enlightening and ethereal repertoire in which every business person MUST indulge at some point in their lives. (See below)

The HBS student is blessed because Boston is arguably-after New York City-one of the most musically-rich cities in America. Classical music performances are just around nearly every corner of the city. For example, on February 8th, 2007, Maestro James Levine tackled Berlioz’s magnificent large-scale musical setting of Goethe’s dramatic poem, La Damnation de Faust. Under the baton of the maestro stood a beautifully fused collaboration of the Boston Symphony Orchestra with the Tanglewood Festival Chorus.

The classical music superstar, Hector Berlioz, saw himself as an heir to Beethoven. Born during the Romantic Period of music, Berlioz was faced with the challenge of making history after Beethoven. How could an aspiring musician during this time possibly move music aesthetics forward with Beethoven as the standard? The musical genius, Beethoven, composed music at the ethereal level. With the goal of obtaining originality and higher unity with Beethoven as a precedent, Berlioz’s brilliant solution was to synthesize the two best artistic worlds-choral symphonic instrumental music endowed with dramatic literary association. As a result, an entirely new musical art form and idea was born-the program music and the idee fix.

Although popular music is an extraordinary achievement, sadly, America seems to be slowly losing its taste for classical music. HBS students, who are the future leaders of the world, should set the trend for change. The mathematical Bach composition might not be easy to listen to; however, in the end, the art of listening to classical music is guaranteed to be a fulfilling experience. Start with a Bach chorale, gradually shift over to a Berlioz program music, and end with a Scryabin piano etude. Then, watch how your view of work and life richly changes.

HBS Student Classical Repertoire List

Renaissance Period
MONTEVERDI, The Coronation of Poppea: Act III, Scene 7

Baroque Period
HANDEL, Messiah
BACH, Cantata No.8
HAYDN, Lord Nelson Mass

Classical Period
MOZART, Don Giovanni
MOZART, Symphony No.40 in G minor
BEETHOVEN, Piano Sonata in C minor, Op.13 (Pathetique)
BEETHOVEN, Symphony No.5 in C minor

Romantic Period
BERLIOZ, Symphonie Fantastique
BERLIOZ, La Damnation de Faust
MENDOLSSOHN, A Midsummer’s Nights Dream
CHOPIN, Premiere Ballade in G minor
SCHUMANN, Piano Concerto in A minor
LISZT, Wild Hunt: Transcendental Etude No.8
RACHMANINOFF, Prelude in C-sharp minor, Op.3, No.2
GRIEG, Concerto in A minor, Op.54 (Norwegian Concerto)
WAGNER, Die Walkure: Act III, Finale
VERDI, La Traviata
TCHAIKOVSKY, The Nutcracker
DVORAK, Symphony No.9 in E minor (From the New World)

Contemporary Period
SKRYABIN, Piano Etude, Op.8, No.12