10 most relaxing pieces of classical music
28 June 2022, 15:23
We think these are the best pieces of classical music to make your day more relaxing.
Classical music can be a powerful tool for relieving everyday stress, helping you sleep and supporting your mental health.
Listen on Global Player: Classic FM Relax, our live playlist of calming music
Grieg – Morning Mood
Evocative, rich and lyrical, the Norwegian composer’s music is always very special. ‘Morning Mood’, from the Peer Gynt Suite No.1, is Grieg’s depiction of the sun rising in the Moroccan desert, in music. It begins with a light touch, before expanding into a glorious, full-bodied work for symphony orchestra. Sunshine music, at its best.
Einaudi – Primavera
The gentle, lyrical pianism of this Italian composer-pianist is an instant late-night winner and the perfect way to ease the stresses of the day. Our weekday Smooth Classics presenter Margherita Taylor says: “Anything by Einaudi transports me to another world, where I can dream to my heart’s content.” His critically acclaimed ‘Primavera’ from Divenire (2004) is utterly delightful – take a listen below.
Bach – Air on the G String
This perfectly poised piece comes from Bach’s Orchestral Suite No. 3 in D. It features one of the Baroque composer’s finest melodies over a slowly pulsing accompaniment. As with all of Bach’s music, you can listen to each line of the music as a melody of its own. For a moment of musical meditation put this piece on at night, close your eyes and follow the notes of the bass line – and marvel at its beautiful melody.
Phamie Gow – War Song
Scottish composer, pianist, harpist and singer Phamie Gow has made a lasting impression with her classical-Celtic crossover sound. The soft, lilting and free-flowing nature of her solo piano ‘War Song’, from the 2013 album Softly Spoken, makes for delightful evening listening.
Satie – Gymnopédie No.1
Erik Satie was a bit of an eccentric in life, but wrote some of the early 20th century’s most sublime and visionary music. In his Gymnopédies, there’s a wonderful sense of musical distillation: the melodies are beautifully simple; nothing is rushed, and everything feels just as it should be. It’s almost impossible to hear them and not feel relaxed afterwards.
Coleridge-Taylor – ‘Children’s Intermezzo’ from Othello
Based on Shakespeare’s play of the same name, English composer Samuel Coleridge-Taylor’s Othello Suite comprises five movements, the second of which is the rather wonderful ‘Children’s Intermezzo’. Clarinets lead the melody, as an accompaniment of plucked strings play out underneath, forming a reassuringly steady texture for that glorious, expanding melody.
Debussy – Clair de lune
This beautiful piece from his Suite Bergamasque is Debussy’s musical description of moonlight. The French impressionist composer was a master of pianistic colour, gentle melody and subtlety. There’s a wonderful hint of jazzy harmony in there too.
There’s much to discover in Debussy’s other piano music, but this is the perfect piece for relaxing. Find a cosy corner, listen and imagine that glistening light of the moon.
Pärt – Spiegel im Spiegel
In Pärt’s masterpiece Spiegel im Spiegel, a simple arpeggio on the piano is combined with a slow-moving melody line from the cello. The simplicity and stillness of the result is just divine. The title translates as ‘mirror in the mirror’, referring to a state of infinity. Hypnotically slow, the sparse accompaniment from the piano evokes a gentle drip of water or the tolling of a distant bell. We think this exquisite, other-worldly music provides the perfect soundtrack to lull you into a deep state of relaxation.
Craig Armstrong – Romeo and Juliet
Classic FM Requests presenter Anne-Marie Minhall says: “If there’s been a stressful journey home (pretty much the norm), I like to travel to a different place and listen to something like Craig Armstrong’s big screen music from Romeo & Juliet or Nigel Hess’s Piano Concerto played by Lang Lang. Piano music rules at home; sometimes nothing else will do whilst pondering over a crossword.”
Brahms – Wiegenlied (Lullaby)
This is surely the most famous lullaby in the world, and you can’t help but sing ‘Go to sleep, go to sleep’ along with it. It’s a beautiful Brahms tune (he wrote such lovely melodies). Here’s one of the world’s greatest cellists to play it for you...