12 amazing pieces of classical music that aren't in the Hall of Fame
30 January 2015, 16:07 | Updated: 20 January 2020, 15:06
Don't get us wrong, we love the Hall of Fame. But we just can't understand why these pieces aren't in there too. Here are 12 amazing works of genius that you won't believe are absent from our top 300 pieces of classical music.
Beethoven – Symphony No. 8
So plenty of Beethoven's other symphonies make it into the Hall of Fame every year. The biggies like No. 3, No. 5 and No. 6 are stalwarts, so why does this equally barnstorming symphony miss out? That gorgeous tick-tocking second movement, the breathless finale… we can't believe this one isn't on the list.
Verdi – Otello
Oh don't worry everyone, he's only one of the greatest opera composers of all time completely at the top of his game. No biggie. Otello is easily one of Verdi's best operas thanks in part to that timeless story, but you just can't ignore the quality of the arias. Here's Bryn Terfel to show you why:
Chopin – Minute Waltz
Seriously, we have no idea why this one isn't in the Hall of Fame. Chopin has made it in on a number of occasions with different pieces, but no-one's plumped for this gem of structuring and melody. It's only little, why not give it a go this year?
Berlioz – Grand Messe Des Morts
There's no shortage of Requiems in the Hall of Fame (thanks to Mozart, Fauré, Brahms and Verdi), but one of the other big-hitters in the genre has been rather unjustly left out. Berlioz's mass for the dead is every bit as epic, beautiful and emotionally exhausting as its rivals, as you can see.
Rossini – Barber of Seville
The overture from the Barber of Seville is one of the catchiest pieces of music in the whole classical world. And in the whole non-classical world too. Just wait til you get to two minutes in. You will not be able to not sing along.
Mahler – Symphony No. 9
Oh sure, vote for the Symphony of a Thousand and the Resurrection, just completely ignore one of the great No. 9s of musical history… Confirming that all the best composers only manage 9 symphonies in total (Mahler died before completely finishing his 10th), this particularly dramatic opus is surely worth a spot in the Hall of Fame alongside his others. Here's Claudio Abbado showing how it's done:
Puccini – Turandot
Two words: Nessun. Dorma. This is one of Puccini's most famous arias and, ok, the rest of the opera might be a bit out-there what with the princess who kills any suitor who can't solve her riddles. But surely this barnstorming aria makes the opera worth one of your precious Hall of Fame votes.
Bach – St. John Passion
Bach's St. Matthew Passion made it into the Hall of Fame last year, but what about its older brother? If anything, it's a little more ramshackle and emotional than the St. Matthew Passion, but that only adds to the charm.
Prokofiev – Peter & The Wolf
Surely one of the most popular pieces ever written, Peter & The Wolf seems to be the victim of being taken for granted. Perhaps it's seen as that piece we always remember from childhood and learning about the orchestra rather than the grown-up symphonic masterpiece it most definitely is.
Williams – Superman
He's the most famous film composer ever, but one of his greatest themes doesn't feature in our Hall of Fame. Star Wars, Saving Private Ryan, Jurassic Park, E.T., Harry Potter and Schindler's List all made it, but the the rousing music for Superman was nowhere to be seen. Come on people, there's no excuse.
Shostakovich – Symphony No. 7 (Leningrad)
It's by no means a crowd-pleaser for everyone, but the effect that Shostakovich's 'Leningrad' symphony has had on culture is massive. Originally conceived as a retort to and protest against Hitler's invasion of the Soviet Union, it's come to represent marginalisation and repression everywhere. So many musical ideas about terror and invasion are jammed next to each other in a thrilling mass - there's no reason this piece shouldn't be doing better in the Hall of Fame.
Britten – Young Person's Guide To The Orchestra
Another piece we remember fondly from childhood, but perhaps forget about later in life. A breathless tour of the whole orchestra set to a fantastic Purcell tune, this is exemplary stuff from Britten. Surprisingly, his only entry in the Hall of Fame is the superbly depressing opera Peter Grimes - we think it's time another Britten masterpiece made it in.