Top 50 Favorite/Best Classical – #16 Dvorak Symphony No. 7 in D minor, Op. 70

This is the first Dvorak piece on my list, and there are still two others. Yeah, I like his style of romanticism, a beautiful blend of Czech nationalism infused with a love of life itself. This is very reflective in this symphony, which he wrote specifically with the purpose of conveying the spirit of Czech pride and nationalism. His Symphony No. 7 in D minor comes in on my list at #16. It’s also the start of a couple of symphonies on my list. In fact, in the remainder of the Top 16, there are seven total symphonies! I really love the structure of the symphony, feeling it gives the greatest overall ability for a composer to delve deep into particular ideas or feelings the composer wishes to convey. 

The symphony starts with a first movement that introduces a strong, patriotic primary theme, tinged with the sadness in D minor of the political struggles of the Czech people. Using the sonata-allegro form, the first movement has the usual structure and delivers a great opening. 

Where Dvorak raises the bar on the symphony is the second movement, which begins quietly with a soft theme that deceives you into thinking it will be soft and quiet throughout, but it has sudden bursts of joyous rhapsodies. It is a reflective piece, as he had indicated it was for remembering sad times. 

The third movement has the same intensity, charm and darkness of my favorite of his Slavonic Dances, the No. 8, starting with a great, catchy melody. It has a lot of off beat motion and a very contrasting trio in the middle. The fourth movement is a propulsive, intense, driven piece of musical art. It has a similar ending to the powerful 9th Symphony from Schubert (which I’ll get to soon). This ending, though, wrenches out the pain and anguish one last time before the story ends. 

This symphony is not played as often as it should be. It’s actually tough to judge which of Dvorak’s symphonies is the best one, this one or the 9th. At the moment, for me, the 9th has the edge because I’ve listened to it longer and it ages better than fine wine. Because it isn’t played often, I never heard it when I was younger, and only recently got around to listening to all of Dvorak’s symphonies. He’s good. He’s really really good. His symphonies are all quite well done at mixing romanticism with classicism. But this one is easily the best out of all his others aside from the 9th. 

For a video, this one from the Frankfurt Radio Symphony with Peter Oundjian is quite excellent. Enjoy!

#16 – Dvorak Symphony No. 7 in D minor, Op. 70

#17 – Rachmaninoff Piano Concerto No. 3 in D minor, Op. 30

#18 – Mozart Don Giovanni, K. 527

#19 – Liszt Les Preludes, S. 97

#20 – Mozart Le Nozze di Figaro, K. 492

#21 – Tchaikovsky Swan Lake, Op. 20 

#22 – Mahler Symphony No. 2 in C minor

#23 – Tchaikovsky String Quartet No. 1 in D major, Op. 11

#24 – Williams Empire Strikes Back

#25 – Beethoven Piano Concerto No. 5 in Eb major, Op. 73

#26 – Bernstein West Side Story

#27 – Enescu – Octet for Strings in C major, Op. 7

#28 – Shostakovich String Quartet No. 8 in C minor, Op. 110

#29 – Mussorgsky Night on Bald Mountain

#30 – Webber Phantom of the Opera

#31 – Prokofiev Alexander Nevsky

#32 – Chopin Nocturne in Bb minor, Op. 9, No. 1

#33 – Debussy Images, Book 1, L110

#34 – Debussy Pour Le Piano, L. 95

#35 – Chaminade Guitare, Op. 32

#36 – Chopin Berceuse in Db major, Op. 57

#37 – Boulanger Nocturne pour violon et piano

#38 – Schönberg Les Miserables

#39 – Rachmaninoff Piano Concerto No. 2 in C minor, Op. 18

#40 – Miranda Hamilton

#41 – Strauss Salomé

#42 – Britten Peter Grimes

#43 – Loewe My Fair Lady

#44 – Liszt Mephisto Waltzes

#45 – Webber Evita

#46 – Poledouris Conan The Barbarian

#47 – Bernstein Trouble in Tahiti

#48 – Beethoven Symphony No. 5 in C minor, Op. 67

#49 – Chaminade La Lisonjera, Op. 50

#50 – Beethoven Coriolan Overture, Op. 62

Honorable Mention

Saariaho L’Amour de Loin

Schubert String Quartet No. 14 “Death and the Maiden”

Desmond Take Five

Wagner Die Walküre 

Puccini Tosca

Davis So What

Stravinsky Petroushka 

Wagner Tristan Und Isolde

Tchaikovsky Serenade for Strings

Williams Raiders of the Lost Ark

Verdi Aïda

Schoenberg Verklärte Nacht

Grisey Les espaces acoustiques

Gade – Octet for 4 violins, 2 violas, 2 violoncellos in F major, Op. 17

Schubert – Symphony No. 8 in B minor, D759

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