Soon I will be moving away from Classic Drive a bit to have a baby. It makes me think after having lived and breathed classical music every day of my life for the past five years, how I’m going to manage to keep these beautiful daily musical discoveries in my life when I take care of a baby.
To say classical music was what got me out of bed in the morning is really an understatement. Since 2018, I’ve spent every weekday browsing through the stories and sounds of music written over the past thousand years, and I’ve managed to fall more in love with it than before.
In and among the anticipation (and not-so-occasional flashes of dread) of becoming a parent is the music I’m compiling at home to play to this little stranger. And I was a little surprised to look at this list and see how many of them I only recently discovered. I will definitely pass on my grandmother’s rugged love for all things classically Czech, Rusalka will play a lot in my house, but here are some of the voices I’ve had a much more recent love affair with, which I can’t wait to share.
Margaret Bonds: Troubled Waters
This one has risen to the top of my list of choices when I need an immediate reset. There’s something instantly transporting about the rhythm of how the left hand starts, and when you hear that familiar melody ringing out in the right hand, you’re somehow comforted, but all the musical touches and surprising harmonies of Bonds keep you intrigued and contemplative until it’s over. Like all the best gospel tunes, it’s dark and painful, and somehow always soothing.
Grażyna Bacewicz: Piano Quintet No. 1, II. Presto
A composer for when it’s not time to beg that baby to go to sleep. I don’t know when it will be, but I plan to make plenty of room for this Polish powerhouse. She wrote most of her music between the wars and was clearly a brilliant and intimidating icon of the classical world. Bacewicz told the world that she didn’t walk, she just ran. She insisted that everyone think, write and compose so slowly that it made her head spin. The oberek of his first piano quintet is as unstoppable and irresistible as I like to imagine Bacewicz was – a stellar model for any child.
Charlotte Sohy: String Quartet No. 1, I. Allégresse
A name I hadn’t heard of until 2022, and seemingly out of nowhere, three entire albums dedicated to his music have been released this year. Sohy is an early 20th century French romance – sometimes it gets a little wild and unexpected, and often it’s sweet and impressionistic… It was taught by the great Mel Bonis and chronicled her own life and tribulations through diaries and fascinating compositions like her. spellbinding string quartet.
Belle Chen: Departure
Last year, a very close friend asked me to make her a playlist of women’s lullabies for the birth of her baby. How great, I don’t have to create my own from scratch! Here is just one of the queens on it. Belle Chen’s miraculous and adventurous sound world isn’t entirely conducive to sleep, but much of it is so sweet, adventurous, and unexpected, you never know if it’ll be a bop or a hypnotic melody to take you away from your sweet— it’s still magical, and I can’t imagine a world in which one of my babies doesn’t love it.
All of these voices that I hadn’t yet met when I started at ABC Classic in 2017. They all came into my life unexpectedly and simply because they were making music at the time we were looking for it, or because talented musicians have bet it all on recording their long-lost vocals.
While I will miss the daily scavenger hunt for new classical music tracks and vocals, I’ve discovered so much to share with this new little stranger.