Thursday, 5 May 2016

Desert Island Music favourites - Beethoven is the celebrity choice

Favourite composers to take to a desert island
  1. Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
  2. Ludwig van Beethoven
  3. Johann Sebastian Bach
  4. Franz Schubert
  5. Giuseppe Verdi
  6. Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky
  7. Sir Edward Elgar
  8. Giacomo Puccini

Favourite specific works
  1. Beethoven - Symphony No 9 in D minor 'Choral'
  2. Rachmaninoff - Piano Concerto No 2 in C minor
  3. Schubert - String Quintet in C major
  4. Beethoven Symphony No 6 in F Major 'Pastoral'
  5. Elgar - Pomp & Circumstance March no 1 in D Major 'Land of Hope and Glory'
  6. Beethoven - Piano Concerto No 5 in E Flat Major 'Emperor'
  7. Elgar - Enigma Variations Nimrod
  8. Beethoven - Symphony No 7 in A major

Desert Island Discs is a BBC radio programme which has been going for more than 70 years. The idea is that some famous person, usually one residing in Britain, is invited to choose eight pieces of music, a book and a luxury item to take to an imaginary desert island - as a way of having a discussion about his or her life and opinions.

The above is the averaged list of the musical preferences of the hundreds of celebrities - what strikes me is how sound they are. The top three composers - Mozart, Beethoven and Bach - are exactly the same as Charles Murray extracted by his vast and systematic analysis of scholarship:

And the specific pieces most often chosen are all worthy  - if we allow Elgar's 'Land of Hope and Glory' its place due to English Patriotism.

It is interesting that although Mozart was the favourite composer. he does not make the top ten for specific pieces of music; which is probably due to his having written so many excellent and popular items in so many genres that the votes are thinly spread across them.

I wonder what the favourite Mozart items was? My guess would be the Requiem, due to its featuring in the play/ movie Amadeus - even though it is only partly by Mozart and not regarded as among his best works by scholars. What - if not the Requiem, then, should it be? For me: The Magic Flute; for most musically-informed people The Marriage of Figaro - but in a general poll, maybe the Clarinet Concerto?