10 pieces of classical music perfect for exercise

6 October 2021, 16:20 | Updated: 11 October 2021, 08:20

8 pieces of classical music perfect for exercise
8 pieces of classical music perfect for exercise. Picture: Getty / Alamy

By Sian Moore

Work up a sweat with our soundtrack of invigorating classical melodies.

Classical music can be an overlooked genre when picking a workout playlist.

But with its pacy tempos, stirring melodies and inspiring instrumentals, there’s plenty of music to get the adrenaline pumping and put you in the frame of mind for a run, swim, climb or gym session.

So, fasten your laces, start the stretching, and... da capo!

Click here to listen to Moira Stuart Meets... Joe Wicks

  1. The Marriage of Figaro Overture – Mozart

    The Overture to Mozart’s operatic masterpiece The Marriage of Figaro is the first musical pitstop on our list, its lively opening – an infectious, and gloriously uplifting affair led by the strings and winds – leaving its listener somewhat breathless, and lending itself perfectly to a high-energy bout of exercise.

    The Marriage of Figaro - Overture (Mozart; Orchestra of The Royal Opera House, Antonio Pappano)

  2. Chariots of Fire – Vangelis

    Used to score the rivalry between two athletes at the 1924 Olympics in Hugh Hudson’s film of the same name, VangelisChariots of Fire score has become synonymous with sport – namely, any slow-motion running sequences.

    You might just be jogging a lap of the local park, but with Vangelis’ stirring synthesisers and percussion, you’ll be transported to an Olympics track, moments from the finishing line.

    2CELLOS - Chariots of Fire [OFFICIAL VIDEO]

  3. Fanfare for the Common Man – Copland

    In need of some rousing encouragement before you work up a sweat? Copland has you covered with his ‘Fanfare for the Common Man’ which with its iconic brass fanfare and thundering timpani, is certain to inspire some pre-workout motivation.

    For added drama, save the piece for the exact moment you reach the summit of a mountain, and indulge in the sound of victory.

    Copland: Fanfare for the Common Man - National Symphony Orchestra

  4. 1812 Overture finale – Tchaikovsky

    No, it isn’t just the exercise that’s got your heart racing – the brass fanfare finale of Tchaikovsky’s 1812 Overture, a longtime favourite in the Classic FM Hall of Fame, has just begun.

    If your motivation is waning, the composer’s booming cannons and crashing cymbals are sure to help. Ready for another lap of that running track now?

    1812 Overture by Jack Everly and the National Symphony - July 4th 2014

  5. William Tell Overture – Rossini

    We can’t imagine a more appropriate piece of music to get you over a finish line than Rossini’s Overture to his opera William Tell. The finale’s iconic, galloping climax, with its trumpet fanfare and racing lines in the string section, is the perfect piece to pop an extra spring in your step, or give you that final push.

    Rossini William Tell Overture Final

  6. The Four Seasons, Spring – Vivaldi

    As winter emerges, the colder nights and mornings can put a dampener on anyone’s good intentions in the exercise department – but fear not, for Vivaldi is here to bring warmth, sunshine and merriness in abundance to your workout, with ‘Spring’ from his Four Seasons.

    The Baroque composer’s masterpiece has all the makings of a motivational piece: sprightly strings and a timeless, inspiring melody.

    Vivaldi, The Four Seasons, Spring (La Primavera), 1st movement

  7. Conga del Fuego – Márquez

    Frantic and furious in equal measure, Mexican composer Arturo Márquez’s ‘Conga’ is a joyous affair of syncopated Latin-American rhythms and spirited strings, sure to add a little pace to your practice – of the musical or physical persuasion.

    Dudamel - Concierto de Año Nuevo 2008 - 05/11 - La Conga del FUego

  8. Carmen Prelude – Bizet

    Bizet is waiting in line to give you a good old musical leg-up to get out of your chair and onto the track, with the infectious ‘Overture’ to his opera Carmen. But there’s no time for a warm-up with this, as Bizet throws us straight into a sea of exhilarating strings and winds, and crashing percussion.

    Prelude from "Carmen" by Georges Bizet

  9. Violin Concerto No. 9 in G Major, Op. 8 – Joseph Bologne

    Run, skip, jump and swim to Joseph Boulogne’s sprightly Violin Concerto No.9 in G Major. The 18th-century composer’s piece provides a magnificent burst of energy, with its pacy strings and stimulating melody.

    UW Symphony with Rachel Lee Priday: Joseph Boulogne, Violin Concerto No.9 in G Major, Op.8, Mvt. I

  10. I Giorni – Einaudi

    If yoga or pilates is your preference, or perhaps you’re searching for some musical cool-down company: look no further. Much of Einaudi’s repertoire can provide a moment of musical respite, but ‘I Giorni’ has an especially soothing quality to match slower movement, and provide room for contemplation.

    After the liveliness of Copland and Mozart, here’s a much-needed breather...

    Ludovico Einaudi — "I Giorni"

Moira Stuart met fitness and nutrition guru Joe Wicks for the latest episode of Moira Stuart Meets... catch up with the episode here.