#ClassicsaDay #ClassicalShorts Week 4

February is the shortest month of the year. That fact inspired #ClassicsaDay team (of which I’m a member) to make short classical pieces the theme for the month. The challenge is to select stand-alone works, not movements of larger pieces.


Participants post links to short classical pieces in the social media channel of their choice, using the #ClassicsaDay and #ClassicalShorts hashtags.

How short is short? That’s up to the individual. I limited my selections to playing times of less than ten minutes. I also tried to include a variety of style periods, and have both famous and unusual works in the mix.

Here are my selections for the fourth and final week of #ClassicalShorts.

Ethel Smyth On the Cliffs of Cornwall

“The Wreckers” was the third of Smyth’s six operas. Like many composers, she extracted extended orchestral sections for concert performance. “On the Cliffs of Cornwall” serves as the prelude to act 2.

Thomas Tallis – Spem in Alium

A 1611 letter suggests that Tallis wrote this 40-voice motet as a challenge to a 30-voice piece by Alessandro Striggio. Tallis used 8 choirs of 5 voices each in a masterful display of counterpoint.

Giovanni Pierluigi da Palestrina- Motete Ego sum panis vivus

This is one of the over 200 sacred motets Palestrina wrote. It’s considered a masterwork of form and structure, both in its use of voices and the way in which the melodic lines react to and illustrate the text.

Stefania de Kenessey – Sunburst

Contemporary composer Stefania de Kenessey launched the Derriere Guard “to return to long-forgotten, long-abandoned ideas rooted in history and tradition.” As “Sunburst” illustrates, the idea was to reimagine tonality in a modern context.

Charles Ives – The Unanswered Question

Ives wrote the work in 1908, although it wasn’t performed until 1946 — by a student ensemble at Julliard. The work features offstage strings, an onstage woodwind ensemble, and a solo trumpet.

More Recent Posts