New Music for the New Year

By Sarah Haughton

Nothing says New Year’s resolution like doing something you dislike (e.g. eating green leafy things, elevating your heartbeat past its resting rate, etc.). So why not stretch your taste in music? Here is my challenge to music teachers, students, and enthusiasts in the year 2016…large_HappyNewYear2

Listen to a composer you have never heard of before.


Here are a few composers that you should get to know better:

  • Stephen Foster (1826-1864) – Known as the “father of American music”, you should become acquainted with his music if you are a fan of today’s popular music. Among his best known songs are: Beautiful Dreamer, Oh Susannah! and I Dream of Jeanie with the Light Brown Hair.
  • Amy Marcy Beach (1867-1944) – If you enjoy listening to music from the Romantic era, you will love listening to Beach. She is not well known, but her pieces are melodious and rich in complex textures.
  • John Dowland (1523 – buried 1626) – Dowland is the father of the English madrigal and folk song. If you want a more modern rendition of some of his music, check out the artist Sting and his recording “Songs from the Labyrinth”.
  • Leoš Janåček (1854 -1914) – Janåček was a Czech composer that incorporated Czech nationalism and Western art forms, most notably: Opera. Among his best known are From the House of the Dead, The Cunning Little Vixen, and Jenufa.
  • Arnold Schoenberg (1874 – 1951) – You will probably not like this music upon first listen. Schoenberg was an advocate of atonal composition. Translation: It will not sound like anything you have ever heard before. This is because atonal music is built on non-traditional patterns and pitch series. Be prepared to stretch your musical muscles when listening to this one.
  • Francis Poulenc (1899 – 1963) – Albeit a twentieth century composer, Poulenc drew much of his inspiration from early Parisian art forms, such as the Franco- Flemish Chanson and the French harpsichord suites of the Baroque Era.
  • Guillaume de Machaut (ca. 1300 -1377) – Machaut composed both secular and sacred music. His most notable composition is Messe de Nostre Dame (Mass of Our Lady), but you will want to check out some of his secular compositions as well. Especially if you have been brave enough to sample the distinctive harmonies of Poulenc.

So go grab some kale juice, jump on that treadmill, and pipe some new music through your headphones!

Catoctin School of Music
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