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Six religiously inspired musical masterworks

October 19, 2013

I’m in Seattle at RMA headquarters for three weeks discussing the future of Grasshopper (don’t worry, not whether there is a future, but what it might look like). Although there is a great apartment for me to stay in, I’m separated from my books and my music. I don’t hold with Kindle or some such nonsense —paper for me thank you very much— and my laptop speakers can theoretically play my music but what they mostly do is repeatedly stab it in the kidneys until it’s lying as a bleeding and broken corpse on the floor.

However it did get me thinking about music categorization and I thought it would be fun to put up two blog posts with the best humanity has to offer from two opposing groups. Today, my six favourite religiously[1] inspired masterpieces, tomorrow my six favourite pieces making light of religion.

In order from awesomest to only somewhat less awesomest:

1. Stabat Mater composed by Giovanni Battista Pergolesi. As tends to be the case with Classical music, there are many renditions and interpretations but this is one I particularly like.

2. Agnus Dei composed by Samuel Barber (choral version of his Adagio for Strings). It’s a remarkably melodic piece for something this modern.

3. Spem In Alium composed by Thomas Tallis. Pretty much everything by Tallis is fantastic and there are some really good British choirs that carry his works.

4. Lux Aeterna composed by György Ligeti. Probably made famous by its inclusion in 2001: A Space Odyssey. It’s certainly not something I can listen to on a whim, but when the mood takes me this can be an incredibly moving experience.

5. Magnificat composed by Arvo Pärt. Certainly not the best work by Pärt, I prefer his minimalist, secular work like Fratres, Spiegel im Spiegel and Tabula Rasa.

6. Toccata and Fugue in D minor, BWV 565 composed by J. S. Bach (probably) and arranged by Ekseption. Lest I be accused of having narrow preferences. Originally written for church organ, so there.

[1] All of it Christian as it so happens

[N] And then of course there’s always this

One Response to “Six religiously inspired musical masterworks”


  1. Hi David,

    I heard you are in Seattle. I am teaching an Intro to Computational Design class at LWIT in Kirkland, WA. If you have time on a Wednesday evening and would like to talk to a group of design students regarding the use of grasshopper in areas such as graphic design, animation, industrial design, etc, I would be glad to host you.

    Cheers,
    Pablo Wenceslao


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