For centuries, classical music had the habit of fusing innovation and tradition, and performers and composers of the 21st century and 20th century have been living up to that standard. Not only are they embracing the progress that classical music has made over the last centuries, but they have always been finding ways to make classical music more relevant in the digital age and meet the requirements for diversity.
What Are the Best Modern Classical Music Albums?
Amid the fast pace and noise of our lives, many of us reach for escapist and increasingly calm music. We seek ambience, beauty, and solace.
To help you out, we’ve made a selection of the best modern classical music that will help you float far, far away from the troubles and stressors of the daily grind.
1. Tree Of Light by Riopy
Tree Of Light by Riopy has 10 songs, and the album lasts 39 minutes in total. The album was released in 2019 by the Rhino Warner Classics label. The songs are all very soothing and will help you relax in no time.
Riopy is a self-taught prodigy that uses his instruments as a weapon for environmental action. He’s a pioneer of togetherness, love, connection, and a voice for emotional change. The album has a powerful opening track called “Tree of Light – A Call to Arms”. Definitely check it out.
This stellar album features 8 songs, and it lasts 34 minutes. Some of the songs include “Apprehensive”, “Ashamed”, and “Delighted”. This album is highly unique in sound and concept and it stands out for its sheer tranquility and beauty.
The songs strike an ideal balance between emotive expression and restrained minimalism while touching on both of these themes in profound ways. The songs on the album are woven together beautifully and intricately.
Einaudi’s album has 21 songs that last 1 hour and 42 minutes. Some of the songs include “Einaudi: Life”, “Einaudi: Corale”, and “Einaudi: Time Lapse”. This album received overwhelmingly positive reviews from music critics.
The contemplative and rhythmic melodies are what you would expect from this celebrated composer, but what makes this album really shine out is its unique mood. Every song creates a complete and seamless picture that grabs your attention and is seamlessly accompanied by strings and piano.
Indoors by Mischa Blanos has 7 songs that last 34 minutes. This Romanian music artist has unparalleled sensitivity and an unorthodox style when it comes to composing music. Each of the songs has a different vibe. For instance, while “Pillow Talk” is cold, nocturnal, and steady with a solo piano, “Am Wired” is relentless, atmospheric, and insidious.
Mischa Blanos’ music finds a beat or an answer that can describe every second and every moment, from sunrise to sunset. The artist blends unique style with different music genres and evades any strict definitions.
Pianoscope by Alexandra Streliski has 12 songs that last 28 minutes. Some of the songs on the album include “New-York,” “Valse Por Maman,” and “Bourrasques.”
Alexandra is a French-Quebec composer and pianist who is a part of the neoclassical movement. She is one of the most famous female composers and contemporary music artists. Her first album, Pianoscope, received acclaim from L’Express magazine in France and The Telegraph in England.
The songs on the album are a pleasure to listen to and they offer an incredible feeling of relaxation. The harmonies are very fresh, and they mix the expected with the unexpected. It’s probably one of the most emotional albums out there, and is intensely personal. The songs accurately convey the world around us, and there is much fragility and grace in each melody.
So, What Is Modern Classical Music?
The term “classical music” describes choral music, chamber music, orchestral music, and solo performance pieces. However, this is a broad genre, and there are several distinct periods. Each classical era has its own characteristics that distinguish it from classical music.
As you may have guessed, modern classical music is classical music that is composed close to the present day. Modern forms of classical music include minimalist music, experimental music, electronic music, and serial music.
Why Classical Music Is Important
The more you study the history of music, the clearer the musical influence from classical composers becomes, whether you’re interested in pop, rock, or rap. Classical composers such as Mozart, Schubert, and Bach play a crucial factor in music’s evolution and the evolution of its genres, no matter how long ago their music was composed.
For instance, Prelude and Fugue No. 20 in A Minor by Bach combined the composer’s classical style with a more modern approach. Later, this came to be considered the first jazz song.
Reading music is a transferable skill in the music industry. This is the reason why so many of today’s musicians grew up playing some sort of classical instrument, like the violin or the piano. Overall, whether you simply listen to classical music or have learned several different instruments, its influence is undeniable.
Eras of Classical Music
Classical music is divided into stylistic and historical eras, or subgenres. To round out our classical music knowledge, let’s take a look at the seven eras of classical music.
Most music historians begin categorizing classical music in the medieval period, which lasted from 1150 to 1400. Medieval music was known for its monophonic chant. Due to the use of the monophonic chant by Gregorian monks, this music was also called Gregorian chant. Besides singing, musicians from the medieval period played on instruments like the recorder, the lute, select string instruments, and the flute.
The second era of classical music is the Renaissance period which lasted from 1400 to 1600. The music from the Renaissance era presented polyphonic music to the audience. Its choral music was performed in a liturgical setting.
In the Renaissance, the following instruments were played: guitar, lyre, rebec, and viol. Other instruments that emerged during this era were brass instruments like the sackbut. Some of the most recognizable composers of this time were Thomas Tallis, John Dowland, and Giovanni Pierluigi da Palestrina.
Then, from 1600 to 1750, the Baroque period reigned supreme in the European music world. During this era, classical music became complex. Tonal music, or music based on major and minor scales rather than modes, was embraced in the Baroque era. The Baroque era also kept the polyphony from the Renaissance Era.
Most of the familiar instruments that orchestras use today were also used in Baroque music, including oboe, bassoon, contrabass (double bass), cello, viola, and violin. The dominant keyboard instrument was the harpsichord, even though what first emerged during this era was the piano. The most renowned composers during this era were Henry Purcell and Alessandro Scarlatti.
During the late Baroque period, famous composers like Georg Philipp Telemann, George Frideric Handel, Dominico Scarlatti, and Antonio Vivaldi gained huge popularity. However, Johann Sebastian Bach was the most influential classical composer who wrote music during this era, and he composed groundbreaking organ music, cantatas, fugues, and preludes.
The Classical period lasted from 1750 to 1820. During this time, the sonata form, the instrumental concert (that highlighted virtuoso soloists), and the symphony were first introduced to the audience. Additionally, the string quartet and chamber music for trio also grew popular.
The most well-known composer in the Classical period was Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. However, there were many other famous composers, like the sons of J.S. Bach – C.P.E and J.C. Bach, Franz Schubert, and Joseph Haydn. Ludwig van Beethoven began his career during this period, but his innovations helped usher in the next musical era.
The Romantic period lasted from 1820 to 1900. This transformative time brought music with drama and emotion. Beethoven’s Symphony No. 9 was an early romantic work that set a standard for nearly all music that followed in the nineteenth century.
Many of the beloved composers we listen to today emerged during this era, including Sergei Rachmaninoff, Jean Sibelius, Richard Strauss, Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky, Gustav Mahler, Anton Bruckner, Johannes Brahms, Robert Schumann, Hector Berlioz, Felix Mendelssohn, Franz Liszt, and Frederic Chopin.
The emotional power of Romanticism was used by opera composers like Giacomo Puccini, Giuseppe Verdi, and Richard Wagner to create beautiful melodies sung in German and Italian. This era also saw the emergence of a new instrument: the saxophone.
From 1900 to 1930, the Modern period flourished. Composers from this era enjoyed breaking the harmonic and structural rules that were established in the previous forms of classical music. The Rite of Spring by Igor Stravinsky challenged traditional notions in tonality, embraced mixed meter, and stretched instruments to their natural limits.
Impressionism was a sub-genre of twentieth-century music led by French composers Maurice Ravel and Claude Debussy. Other fellow composers like Bela Bartok, Paul Hindemith, and Dimitri Shostakovich stuck with classical forms like the sonata and the piano concerto, but still challenged harmonic traditions.
One of the most radical composers during this period was the German composer Arnold Schoenberg who, alongside his followers Anton Webern and Alban Berg, embraced serial music and disposed of tonality altogether.
The Postmodern Period of classical music started in 1930 and exists to this day. Early composers of postmodern music include Olivier Messiaen, who combined classical music with instruments such as the ondes martenot.
Composers like Christopher Rouse, John Adams, Steve Reich, Philip Glass, Gyorgy Ligeti, Henryk Gorecki, Krzysztof Penderecki, Witold Lutoslawski, and Pierre Boulez blended the lines between atonal and tonal music and blurred distinctions between jazz and rock and classical music.
What Are the Benefits of Classical Music?
Listening to classical music delivers some serious benefits.
One of the best things about listening to classical music is that it boosts your listening skills. Contemporary music like rock and pop can get quite repetitive, which means you’re going to listen to the same thing over and over again. On the other hand, classical music has sections that are very different from one another, and the music has different movements.
This means that you will challenge your ears and brain by listening to something that isn’t constantly repeating itself. The best thing is, you can listen to the same piece of music over and over again, and each time hear something new and exciting.
Thanks to the lack of vocals, classical music is one of the best forms of background music. Vocal parts of songs usually distract you from whatever you’re trying to do, and you’re not as productive. Classical music is one of the best types of music to listen to when you’re trying to boost your productivity.
Additionally, classic music helps people relax and feel less stressed. This form of music has an extremely calming effect on most people, and if you’re feeling down, classical music can help boost your mood.
Something else we want to mention is known as the Mozart Effect. It’s a commonly-held belief among parents that if their babies constantly listen to classical music, it will make them more intelligent. Even though this theory has been largely debunked, there are still some benefits that come from Mozart’s music. According to a study, people who listened to music by Mozart showed an increase in brain wave activity which is directly linked to memory.
The last benefit we would like to mention is that classical music can decrease blood pressure, according to a study conducted by Oxford University. In their research, the researchers played different styles of music to participants, and classical music was effective in lowering blood pressure.
In a consumer society that focuses on dance crazes, the latest technology, and whatever is trending on social media, people make the mistake of thinking that classical music is irrelevant. However, this respected art form is far from dead, with many of today’s artists drawing inspiration from classical pieces. It’s a rich and varied genre, and not only will it boost your body and brain health, but it will also make you a more cultured and interesting person.
The best modern classical music is definitely worth your time. So, throw on some Mozart, sit back, and soak in the health benefits!