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WFMT Chime In

Chime in: What Piece of Music Changed the World?

WTTW Channel 11 will air ‘10 Buildings That Changed America’ on Sunday at 9:00 PM. Tomorrow on WFMT we will have our own countdown of the ’10 Pieces That Changed the World.’ Which compositions would be on your list?

  • Ralph Wilder

    George, double check the sports results, the Sox won last night 6 to 3

  • Frances Vandervoort

    1. Debussy: Prelude to the Afternoon of a Faun ( more revolutionary than “Rite of Spring,” which is essentially derived from well-known folk tunes)
    2. Glinka: Kamarinskaja (started Russian music on its way)
    3. Beethoven’s Symphony No. 2 (Oh, that opening chord!)
    4. Tristan und Isolde (Oh, that opening chord!)
    5. johann Sebastian Bach — anything! Try Art of Fugue (played by Pierre-Laurent Aimard) (NOT art of THE fugue!)

    Frances Vandervoort, submitter

  • Kenneth Wood

    1. The Rite of Spring is first by a wide margin.
    2. Beethoven’s Eroica
    3. Wagner’s Tristan und Isolda
    4. Mahler’s 10th Symphony, first movement

  • Ann Raven

    I love the new genre you have unveiled on wfmt, Scandinavian Naar. And I like that the host mentioned it. I was laughing, WITH him, all the way down the stairs to make my coffee.

  • Noel

    GOTTA have Well-Tempered Clavier. Through this, Bach demonstrated the twelve major and minor keys on which the vast majority of western music is based.

  • Frederick W. Miller

    1. Handel’s “Messiah” — all of it
    2. Anything by J. S. Bach
    3. Beethoven’s well known “Ode” [can’t remember full name]
    4. Austrian Hymn, hymn tune

  • Max

    Handel’s Messiah

    Verdi Requiem

    STravinsky’s Rite of Spring of course

    Berlioz Sym Fantastique – classic use of chromatic scale

    Beethoven 9th

    Any Mozart

    Any Bach

    Let’s not forget Duke Ellington

    Gershwin(Rhapsody in Blue changed United Airlines!)

    Leonard Bernstein’s West Side STory introduced Shakespeare to the previously uninitiated

    Wagner’s Ring cycle

    Mahler’s 9
    Strauss Salome or Tristan

    Tchaikovsky’s 1st piano and violin concerti and if we must – the 1812 Overture

  • Spencer Cortwright

    It may not really be a top 10, but Shostakovich Symphony #1 ought to influence a lot of young composers how to compose a work and make a new, useful statement. It’s been many a decade since anyone officially cracked the time-honored top 10.

  • Steven Morgen

    Monteverdi: L’Incoronozione de Poppea
    Bach: St. Matthew’s Passion
    Beethoven: Symphony #9
    Beethoven: The String Quartets
    Debussy: Prelude to the Afternoon of a Faun
    Stravinsky: Rite of Spring
    Wagner: Gotterdamerung
    Schoenberg: String Quartet #2
    Handel: The Messiah
    Allegri: Miserere

  • Richard Harvey

    Beethoven’s 9th Symphoney for sure!

  • Jim Fancher

    Re: “Top 10”
    Not to identify a piece of music for either, but world-changing music came from both Hildegarde von Bingen and Giovanni da Palestrina. And they have not been mentioned thus far. A further thought: Folk songs did not really change the world, but they were not often preserved (in the US, the Lomaxes started that process in 1906): Why not consider “Greensleeves”? It is one of the oldest folksongs…

  • John Empfield

    In C by Terry Riley ushered in the beginning of the “minimalist” movement and brought about a transformation of late 20th and 21st century art music, taking composing and contemporary music out of a rigid academic straitjacket and allowing a blooming of free creativity.

  • Richard Valentino

    10 Pieces that Changed the World:

    Beethoven #9

    Mozart Don Giovanni

    Beethoven #5

    Smetana Ma Vlast

    Stravinsky Rite of Spring

    Beethoven #3

    Bach St. Matthew Passion

    Schubert #9

    Wagner Tanhauser

  • Richard Miller

    In C by Terry Riley blew away the arid atmosphere of post Webernism and introduced a completely different type of music -something uniquely American and far from classical music’s European traditions.There can be no doubt about the importance of this piece.

  • Richard Valentino

    A slight revision:

    Stravinsky; Right of Spring.

    Replace it with:
    R. Strauss Also sprach Zarathustra

  • Marge Campbell

    Ravel’s Bolero

  • Anna


  • Anna

    Another interesting question would be what pieces should have changed the world but didn’t. Revolutionary pieces that weren’t published at the time of composition, slipped under the radar, or were simply not influential. I’ll start by nominating Beethoven’s grosse Fuge, which seems to have had little impact on composers who followed him.

  • Magellan

    Maple Leaf Rag (play as written…no funny business)

    Take the A Train

    Kunst der fugue


    Beethoven’s 5th

    Mozart Requiem Lacrimosa

    Chopin first ten etudes

    Brahms piano concertos (both)


    Dialogue du vent et de la mer

    Anything that Pierre Boulez conducts…or anything that only Pierre Boulez can conduct

  • Magellan

    I meant kunst der fuge…sorry

  • Jennifer More Glagov

    What a fantastic programming idea, and it’s making for a fun afternoon of listening! It would be interesting to play with the concept a bit–pieces that served as signposts for new directions in the 20th century, works that were revolutionary in the medieval and early modern periods, great art music indebted to folk traditions, a “where are they now”–top composers popular in their day but who are largely forgotten now. Just a few things off the top of my head–the possibilities are endless, of course. Thanks for getting me thinking on this dreary afternoon!

  • Dave

    Did the program director fire the rest of the on-air staff? You’ve been going since at least 9AM and its approaching 6PM.

  • Norm Sloan

    May this be the first of many such extended radio days for contemporary classical! A refreshing approach ths one .In the performance realm,too many major orchestras commission works from emerging composers that usually are 8-12 minutes,that are never played by them again and fail to seek out any more new or old by the composer and think they’ve done their ‘contemporary’ duty.Imagine Mahler being treated this way.IF it’s a very good work well played,audiences will be glad they got to hear it,which is most often the case here,whatever the length. It’s reasonable for managements to program crowd gathering War Horses or Ponies on either side of that New Work sandwich but there are now exciting established contemporary composer who are Crowdgatherers and could even fill a big concert hall for several nights of their works on a subscription series. Programming like this and the excellent RELEVANT TONES and the CRITICAL THINKING segments devoted to composers/works like these are most welcome. We love the Three Bs (and several other pre-20th Century who names don’t begin with B) and many of the Innumerable 20-21st Century A-Z’s we’ve been fortunate to hear in small concert venues,orchestra halls,on the radio and CD/LP. Thanks so much to WFMT for continually challenging and entertaining us listeners,be it with medieval chant, RING CYCLES, WOZZECK, Sondheim, pre-college musicians at work, or in the future a piece just composed this morning. If listeners wanted the predictable,they can find plenty of other stations shamelessly serving that up in the 3 -4 genre that dominate commercail radio,along with dozens of ads and blather each hour. and if someone deons’t like what’s on now comeback in a few minutes. Norm Sloan,Chicago

  • Richard Valentino

    Without having heard any of the seventeenth or eighteenth century first trumpet players in classical/ symphonic orchestras and ensembles; and not having heard most of the tweentieth and tweenty-first century trumpet players of like groups, we can still say: Adolph Herseth, symphonic trumpet player, who, simply from his recorded work with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, could easily, and confidently, and comfortably, be spoken of as [i don’t like superlatives, but in his case, what else can be said?] the best (if I must), the greatest (again, if I must), symphonic trumpet player to take his first chair at Orchestra Hall, or indeed ,at any first chair at any symphony orchestra any where in the world, at any time.

    [Of course there are thousands of CSO concert goers who know from personal experience that the trumpet player, who, often, when playing at his best, turns “beet red,” is a top player….]

    ***For “proof” of the superiority of Adolph Herseth’s incomparable skillful, musically superor, playing go to:

    Note: I think this address will work. But if it doesn’t, complain about the address here. I have a slightly different one that should work also should work. The youtube page, “Adolph ‘Bud’ Herseth Australian Radio Profile and Interview, 1977 YouTube” gives a slightly different address. The address above is the one I use with success.

    Note 2: There is a similar youtube (It sort of covers the same subject), that is a little more than seven minutes long; so it doesn’t have much value. The “truly good” one, the valuable one is 58:31 minutes long and is priceless.

  • Richard Valentino

    HAIKU for Wagner’s 200th Birthday Celebration on WFMT

    Godess of music,
    Bring waves of lovely sounds
    Wagnerian today!

  • Esther Murphy

    Strange Fruit

  • Bill Esler

    Arvo Part Te Deum has changed my world; also Gorescki, whose symphony became a global best seller – that changed the world.