10 pieces of classical music for a perfect night's sleep
4 December 2018, 10:08
It has been scientifically proven that if you listen to classical music 45 minutes before bed, it helps ease you into a night full of Zzzs. So here are the top ten pieces to help you get those sheep counted!
1. Satie – Gymnopédie No.1
Luscious chords, slow tempi and gorgeous, drifting mood, the Gymnopédies by French composer Erik Satie have become synonymous with relaxation and peaceful times. The first of the set is perhaps the most famous of the collection, and it really invites you to close your eyes and float away for the night.
2. Holst – Venus the Bringer of Peace (The Planets)
After being introduced to astrology in 1913, Gustav Holst was inspired to pen a suite based on the planets of the solar system and their corresponding Roman deities. And it’s an absolute masterpiece of 20th-century orchestral music. The second movement, 'Venus', is a beautiful yet mystic homage to the Goddess of love, beauty, desire and prosperity. The solo passages in the horn and violin are exquisitely tranquil – just what you need in those moments before hitting the hay.
3. Chopin – Nocturne No.2, Op.9
Frédéric Chopin is undoubtedly one of the masters of the Romantic era, writing an abundance of beautiful, relaxing works for piano. This stunning nocturne was written when he was just 20 years old and overflows with delicate beauty, perfect for a relaxing late night. This is one to dive into with that late-night chamomile tea.
4. Ravel – Piano Concerto in G major (2nd movement)
Though at first this may sound like a solo piano piece, eventually the beautiful entry of a flute confirms the presence of the orchestra to accompany the exquisite piano melody with curiously gorgeous harmonies. This waltz is pleasantly serene and its idyllic tone is the perfect recipe for a night of slumber.
5. Beethoven – Moonlight Sonata (first movement)
The quiet masterpiece that is the first movement of this famous piano sonata by Beethoven is completely ideal for drifting off. The gentle arpeggiated figures in the right hand accompanied by sustained notes in the left create alluring harmonies, which perfectly set this nocturnal mood. Listen and drift away...
6. Bill Evans – Peace Piece
Bill Evans is one of the greatest jazz pianists to have ever lived, renowned for his innovative, almost impressionistic harmonies and the evocative beauty of his pieces. 'Peace Piece' comes from his celebrated 1958 album Everybody Digs Bill Evans and has an almost meditative quality to it, due to the repeated figure in the left hand. Whilst some discordant harmonies occur in his improvised right-hand solos, the piece constantly echoes peaceful artistry that is perfect for a relaxing (and slightly jazzy) night.
7. J.S. Bach – Prelude No.1
Bach is undoubtedly one of the all-time masters of classical music. This heavenly prelude from Bach’s collection The Well Tempered Klavier of 48 Preludes and Fugues is famous around the world for being a piece of such simple beauty, consisting of broken chords. Perfect for sending a baby to sleep (leaving parents to grab a glass of wine and enjoy the other 47 Préludes and Fugues).
8. Massenet – Meditation (Thaïs)
This romantic, reflective intermezzo comes from the second act of the opera Thaïs by Jules Massenet (composed in 1894) when the previously hedonistic courtesan Thaïs decides to follow a life of piety. The soft piano broken chords perfectly accompany the flowing violin melody, the epitome of beauty in this piece. While Massenet does feature some more intense parts, ultimately the calm allure of the violin will send you off into dreams.
9. Debussy – Rêverie
This short solo piano piece is perfectly suited to falling asleep, as its French name literally means ‘dream’. Composed quite early in Claude Debussy’s career, this gently meditative piece with its beautifully poised harmonies shows the early signs of what would become Debussy’s signature sound.
10. Mozart – Concerto for Flute and Harp (2nd movement)
Although the combination of flute and harp in a concerto may seem unusual, the mastery of Mozart really shows in his masterpiece. The calming tempo is instantly relaxing, and the beautiful airiness of the flute combined with the grace of the harp is so delicately exquisite, you will fall asleep in the calmest way possible.