Quintessential New York

Sunday, August 22, 2010 - 09:56 AM

New York's Statue of Liberty (flickr: pollobarba)

We at WQXR are putting together a very special CD. The theme is New York. So if you live in New York, used to live in New York, wish to live in New York or have heard of New York, we want to know what classical music you’d want on such a recording -- and why?

Yes, we’ve got Rhapsody in Blue and West Side Story on the list. But what else? Is there a piece that sounds like New York in winter? In the fall? Is there a piece you hear while traveling, that reminds you of New York?

How do you capture the essence and history of this city in classical music? Tell us what you think and why.

More in:

Comments [91]

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Oct. 10 2011 04:04 AM
Al Levy from NEW YORK, NY

Shocking, unless I missed it. No one mentioned Street Scene by Alfred Newman. THAT IS NEW YORK

Nov. 13 2010 11:48 PM

Elliot: you just suggested putting a can next to the radio (or computer) and depositing money when one heard something one liked. Maybe QXR should produce some and distribute them at the studio and QXR sponsored events ,e.g., Free For All.

Oct. 24 2010 11:20 AM
Catriel Blum from Toronto, Ontario, CANADA

EVen though I've lived in Toronto for over 30 years, I grew up on Long Island, and to me the quintessential NYC is contained in three versions of the same story: the film "My Sister Eileen", the Broadway show "On the Town", and the ballet "Fancy Free", all connected directly with Bernstein -- the story is NYC, the music is NYC. I lived in Greenwich Village during the 70's, and always felt I was in the middle of the film!And the music is always NYC!

Oct. 07 2010 12:47 PM
Patrick Sere from New York

Leonard Bernstein's music for On the Waterfront, that classic tale of violence, corruption and redemption...

Sep. 29 2010 11:19 PM
L. Lubin from Fort Lee

So many great and interesting ideas, just like NYC! But I have to reinforce Copland's Quiet City, especially in the recording by Bernstein/NY Phil on DGG with Phillip Smith on the trumpet solo. I close my eyes and see a Greenwich Village side street at about 2am, just after a summer rain has finished, leaving the pavement shining. A trumpeter lies on his back on a third floor brownstone fire escape. The english horn is the woman in the window across the street.

Sep. 10 2010 01:25 PM

I hope you will play some Toscanini and the NBC Symphony Orchestra. This group is a prized part of New York City history and represent a fantastic orchestral tradition. Their recording of an American in Paris might be fitting - but the Mozart is so good!

In the same line of thought, how about some Bruno Walter and the NY Philharmonic? Some of the finest moment in orchestral history took place in this very city.

Sep. 06 2010 10:32 PM
Nina from Sunnyside

This isn't on topic but seems like a good place to ask you whether you -- and your colleagues -- could tell us the key as well as the number especially when you're announcing one of a series of works, e.g., a Mozart piano concerto (listening to No. 21 right now), a Beethoven sonata, etc.

Thanks, Elliott!

Sep. 05 2010 09:45 AM
Pearl Lau from Brooklyn

The opening clarinet notes of Bernstein's "West Side Story" give me chills each time. The whole piece is wonderful but those opening notes, and the anticipation of what will now come, is the best. I was born in Hong Kong and grew up in New York City. My daughter's High School, (LaGuardia) performed it a few years ago. There we were, on the west side of New York City, listening to "West Side Story" ...the kids were fantastic...what an experience!

Sep. 02 2010 10:34 AM
Joel from Brooklyn

"Summer in the City" by The Lovin' Spoonful, a song I've always associated with New York.

Sep. 01 2010 06:27 PM
Gerry Keen from New York

So much wonderful music. I would suggest Gershwin's "Concerto in F" as quintessential New York. I'd be glad to see Ner York City Ballet revive the Jerome Ballet.
And I'm pleased to see Ferde Grofe mentioned. I'd add his "Metropolis" to this impressive list. I believe I first heard this largely unknown gem on a Beau Hunks recording. Thank you, WQXR.

Aug. 31 2010 09:53 AM
Ruy Mauricio de Lima e Silva Neto from Paraná - Brasil

Without hesitation, I would vote for Fantasia Concertante for 32 Violoncellos and Orchestra that our beloved Heitor Villa-Lobos has composed in Paris, in the summer of 1958, at request of his friend, the great Bernard Greenhouse who, at that time, was a member of The Violoncello Society, of New York.The piece had its première at the Town Hall, in December 1958 and was recorded, by the same performers, a few days later. It was released by Everest Records and I can tell it from my own experience, when I went for the first (and sole, alas!) time to the Big Apple, in January 1970, and used to play the record, on and on,in my hotel room near Central Park, amazed at the strict correspondence of what I was hearing from the loudspeakers of my tiny Singer phonograph and what was at the window, before my very eyes.

Aug. 29 2010 06:00 PM
Lilly Knuth from Garden City So

I'd like part of Dvorak's New World Symphony included. Each time I hear it I remember visiting the house where he stayed in city.

Aug. 29 2010 10:45 AM
Peter Huelster

I suggest Philip Glass, String Quartet #4. A beautiful, anguished memorial to an artist lost to AIDS, by a quintessentially New York composer.

Aug. 28 2010 02:07 PM
Dante from somewhere

Mahler sym. 9 mvt. 3 - because it's loud and confusing!?!

After all, he did visit NY once

Aug. 27 2010 10:15 PM

There must be notable moments from the Met opera and the NY Philharmonic that stand out as New York moments. Debuts and exits, memorials, openings. Conductors and divas. West Side Story. On the Town, historical. perhaps many listeners are more familiar with "cross over" program music than classical and would benefit from a less general question. But the CD is a great idea. good luck. I would like great moments in NYC musical history represented. But that's just me.

Aug. 27 2010 06:49 PM
Michael Meltzer

Back in 1956, when the word "crossover" had not yet been coined, the Modern Jazz Quartet (absolutely a New York institution) recorded a hauntingly beautiful composition by its pianist, the late John Lewis, called "Fontessa" (c.11 minutes). John Lewis was an alumnus of the Manhattan School of Music, returning as one of its earliest, and to this day, most esteemed Jazz Faculty members.
"Fontessa" is also the album title on Atlantic Records. If you listen to just one minute of it, you will fall in love with it, know it is the essence of New York, and know it is perfectly and preferentially appropriate to your upcoming CD.

Aug. 27 2010 02:28 PM
William Leo Coakley from New York

It’s surprising that few listeners to a classical music station seem to associate New York with the great music we are privileged to hear each year. I think of one of the starring elements of New York, the Trinity Church Choir. How exhilarating it is to hear them in their beautiful old New York church singing, say, the rousing finale of Bach’s Johannes-Passion, ‘Ach Herr, lass dein lieb Engelein.’

Aug. 27 2010 01:56 PM
Bruce from Manhattan

Surprised to see in all the Gershwin works, no one's mentioned the Second Rhapsody! I think it's right up there with all the others. And despite the title, An American in Paris always makes me think of Manhattan as well as the wonderful sounds of the City of Light, especially the honking horns ...

Aug. 27 2010 01:08 PM
Josh from Queens

For me music that invokes NYC includes Gershwin's Fascinating Rhythm (besides Rhapsody in Blue) and Bernard Hermann's great theme to Hitchcock's North by Northwest that actually begins in NYC and captures the fast frenetic pace and pulse of the city. I would also include music from Sondheim's 2 NYC musicals Company and Follies - esp Another Hundred People and Broadway Baby. Loesser's My Time of Day from Guys and Dolls greatly captures NYC pre-dawn hours. I also agree that New World Symphony and parts of Beethoven's 7th Symphony invokes the frenzy and exhiliration of NYC. And I would definitely include Billy Joel's NY State of Mind the quintessential NY song - perhaps even as an instrumental piece.

Aug. 27 2010 02:40 AM
Daniela, Member of WQXR from Brooklyn Heights, NY

And has anyone mentioned, THERE'S A BOAT THAT LEAVIN' SOON FOR NEW YORK from Porgy and Bess, George Gershwin's mainstream jazz Operetta. But, again, my favorite standard is AUTUMN IN NEW YORK, lyrics by Billie Holliday.

Aug. 26 2010 03:14 PM

Thank you Michael Pickel.

Aug. 26 2010 01:34 PM
Michael Meltzer

You now probably have enough suggestions to put together a 24-hour all-New-York broadcast day.
Why don't you do that for 9/11?

Aug. 26 2010 01:17 PM
Mary from Forest Hills, NY

Bernard Herrmann's score for "Taxi Driver" - wonderful, even though it is evocative of a darker period in New York.

Aug. 26 2010 11:34 AM
michel bensadon from Westchester

My best years in New york are associated with Leonard Bernstein. When news of 9/11 reached me I grieved and listened to Mahler's Symphony #5 conducted by Lenny. Ever since I have associated New York's Battery Parl with Mahler's Fifth.

Aug. 26 2010 07:42 AM
Shahan Kavafian from Royal Oak, Michigan

New York is "America"
"America" is the "New World
So? Whet else but Antonín Dvořák's Symphony No.9, Op. 95 " From The New World".

Aug. 26 2010 12:13 AM
Michele Caplan from Scarsdale/Edgemont

Much as I love Rhapsody in Blue and the New World Symphony, and to be honest, just about every piece people have mentioned, I have a personal favorite. "LBJ" from "Hair" remembers a time when NY was my oyster. If you have perchance forgotten, it goes like this... "LBJ took the IRT down to 4th St. USA. When he got there, what did he see? The youth of America on LSD....." Hope you have a little room for my little ditty.

Aug. 26 2010 12:07 AM
Lee Gelber from Astoria, NY

Yes, Rodgers & Hart's great anthem to our city, I'll Take Manhattan should be included - after all they were both New York natives and a Hoosier Cole Porter wrote a great tribute to his adopted city,I Happen to Like New York. The late great Bobby Short, who also adopted New York did both songs beautifully

Aug. 25 2010 11:03 PM
Mary Heller from Poughkeepsie

Hearing Duke Ellington playing "Take the A Train" made me fall in love with NYC as a teen ager living in Iowa. The Duke and his jazz continue to represent quintessential New York City.

Aug. 25 2010 10:38 PM
Lucy Jefferson from Boston

"Autumn in New York", anything by Ellington. I had not thought of Manhattan Towers" by Gordon Jenkins for 50 years until I saw t mentioned here. Also, Count Basie....

Aug. 25 2010 10:04 PM
Charles Gilmore from Jackson Heights

How about Ellington/Strayhorn's "Take the A Train", and the song "Another 100 People" from Stephen Sondheim's "Company"? That sounds like New York to me!

Aug. 25 2010 09:33 PM
Michael Meltzer

"Manhattan Towers" was a suite composed by arranger Gordon Jenkins that sold 2 million records, but it ran 16 minutes in original form, and was enlarged later.
What the pop stations usually played as an excerpt was a cut called, "New York's My Home," which Amazon lists separately, playing time 6'23". Pop stations almost never played anything much over 3 minutes in those days, I would bet there is a 3-minute version to be had.

Aug. 25 2010 09:12 PM
Basil Wallace from Morristown.NJ

I seem to remember a mucical compositiom about New York entitled "Manhaten Towers" My memory is not what it used to be. But this a pssibility for the CD

Aug. 25 2010 07:57 PM
Conway Policastro from East Rutherford, NJ

Hey Elliott, Midge and Naomi ~ Since so many of us are so in love with September Song, why not play it for us? It would be great to hear the original (Walter Huston) version, as well as an orchestral, and perhaps a solo instrument version, yes? Maybe even a chamber music version too.
Many thanks ~ Conway...

Aug. 25 2010 07:08 PM
Michael Pickel from Falmouth, Maine

I'd like to second "Quiet City" by Aaron Copeland. One can hear New York at dawn in this piece.

Thanks. Look forward to the CD


Aug. 25 2010 07:05 PM
Michael Meltzer

You have several citations for "Slaughter on Tenth Avenue," an excellent choice.
I would like to try to help point you toward the original soundtrack recording from "Words and Music" conducted by Lenny Hayton (husband of Lena Horne) and the MGM studio orchestra. It accompanied some absolutely riveting "apache dancing" by Gene Kelly and Vera Ellen. Subsequently released as a single by MGM records, it made the top 20.
Later, Chappell published an expanded orchestration, I think by Robert Russell Bennett, for school and "pops" orchestras, very smooth, very slick. It was recorded by Bennett, Eric Kunzel and others, but lacks the gutsy, "down and dirty" New York feel of the MGM original.
Look for it, please!

Aug. 25 2010 07:00 PM
William from Westchester County

I second all of those who included in this list Dvorak's 'Symphony from the New World' and Gershwin's 'Rhapsody in Blue'. If you're going to include Sousa (and yes, WQXR is Sousaphobic), then please include Sousa march written about NYC: Manhattan Beach....and of course, The Stars and Stripes Forever. Any possibility we can get the Goldman Band to contribute their talents towards that end?

Aug. 25 2010 06:49 PM
Daniela Gioseffi, Member of WQXR Classical Music from Brooklyn Heights, NY City

So many responses, I can't read them all, but has anyone mentioned the standard ballad of the mainstream jazz era, AUTUMN IN NEW YORK, why does it seem so inviting...? Lyrics by Billie Holiday, and also sung beautifully by that extremely fine voiced singer of mainstream standards, Jo Stafford. And there is of course, Sinatra's version of NEW YORK, NEW YORK, also made famous by Liza Minelli, and then, too, there's Billy Joel's I'm in a New York State of Mind... I'm a classical buff, but these mainstream standards are lovely in their melodies and lyrics, even for a classical music lover who also tolerates mainstream jazz and folk, and some choice mello pop rock. The above songs are not classical music, but they are classic standards with good melody and lyrics.

Aug. 25 2010 06:43 PM
Pamela Lewis from Elmhurst

"Blue Towers," by Irving Fine is a wonderfully exuberant piece that from first note to last evokes the energy of New York City. It is the New York skyline set to music.

Aug. 25 2010 06:38 PM

Besides Rhapsody in Blue, I would add Gershwin's Piano Concerto in F. The first movement always sounded like a busy city to me! The rest of it is evocative of NYC too, I think.

Aug. 25 2010 06:29 PM
Diana Stein from on Rt 66 in Grants, New Mexico

I was born and raised in NYC - my hometown despite the fact that I have lived out West for 55 years. My family lived on Ft Washington Avenue at the entrance to Ft Tryon Park overlooking the Hudson River. I vividly recall the famed Cloisters in the park playing recordings of Gregorian chants which began my love of early religious music.

My passion for classical music (thanks as well to WQXR) led me down from the Theatre Guild (Oklahoma and Oh, What a Beautiful Morning), one block below The Dakota on Central Park West, to the New York Public Library on my one hour lunch breaks. There I sat and first heard Handel's Water Music on an LP recording. The connection, of course, will always be the nearby Hudson River. I love the music to this day, as well as Handel's Music for the Royal Fireworks.

A comment that a blogger made about September Song - by a favorite composer of mine, Kurt Weil, is a sore point for me as it is usually sung by females. However, the story in Knickerbocker Holiday is of an older man falling in love with a young lass, and is seldom heard sung by Walter Huston. I was so touched by his not-very-musical voice, but sung from his heart (he can be seen and heard on YouTube). Of course, he was rejected in his suit of the lassie.

Aug. 25 2010 06:01 PM
David Bruce

John Alden Carpenter's Skyscrapers and William Grant Stills Symphony #1. When I hear them I feel like I can walk out of my apartment or Art-Deco office building and back into 1920s New York.

Aug. 25 2010 04:12 PM
Ursula from Brooklyn, NY

Dvorak's "American" String Quartet, with that utterly wonderful middle movement. I know, I know...he was in Iowa at the time, but that's a piece I first heard on your station while living in Brooklyn, and I associate it with New York. And Dvorak lived in New York, too.

And please...NOT NOT NOT "Autumn in New York," simply the worst song in the world.

Aug. 25 2010 10:41 AM
Bernie Negrin from Summit, New Jersey

Have we forgotten Duke Ellington's "Take the A-Train". How about Charles Ives "Central Park after Dark", or A. Copland's "Music for a Great City and Quiet City for Trumpet?Orch.
We also are forgetting the great music written by John Williams for the re-dedication of the Statue of Liberty.
New York, a city of diverse cultures and ideas, IS Music! Virtually all of the music of Gershwin, Copland, and Bernstein have their roots deeply embedded in the genre that is New York City.
I look forward to the choices made for your disk. Perhaps a listener poll should be taken from your final list.
Enjoy the hunt!

Aug. 25 2010 08:30 AM
John J. Christiano from Franklin NJ

SOUSABOY...Forget Stars & Stripes....WQXR has Sousaphobia :)

Aug. 25 2010 08:09 AM
Joe Longo from LA

Of course "New York, New York" from "On the Town." But also the main theme music from "Breakfast at Tiffanty."

Aug. 24 2010 10:24 PM
Kathryn Bloom from Boston

I'm one of thousands of middle-class kids whose parents took us to hear the D'Oyly Carte whenever it came to town. Whenever I hear one of the popular Gilbert & Sullivan overtures, I don't think of England -- I'm back home in New York in the '50s. I hope you'll add G&S to your "little list."

Aug. 24 2010 09:23 PM
Howard from NJ formerly Brooklyn from Washington Township NJ

Has anyone thought of the HUDSON RIVER SUITE by Ferde Grofe It uses the sounds of boats on the river as well as other industrial sounds.

Aug. 24 2010 08:51 PM
Stanzi from LIC

So far, comments vary from classical to Broadway to free association (i.e Die Walkuere). You asked for classical, but several CDs could be compiled of Broadway songs: "Way out West on West End Avenue" (get along little taxi, you can keep the change, I'm going home to my kitchen range..) and "I'll Take Manhattan"(Rodgers and Hart) ; "Take me back to Manhattan" by Cole Porter (I'm just longing to see once more, my little home on the hundredth floor); + 42nd Street (naughty bawdy and gaudy), + Kander and Ebb's "New York, New York". It's endless, and endlessly wonderful.

Aug. 24 2010 05:32 PM
Carroll from Brooklyn

After the last 2 months, I think Gershwin's "Summertime" (Porgy and Bess) is so-o-o-o-o appropriate. And, I agree with Neoclassic - "Slaughter on 10th Avenue".

I also like Bernstein's "Glitter And Be Gay" (Candide), which can really stand for Midtown Manhattan.

Aug. 24 2010 05:29 PM
Eric from Long Island

Metroplex:Three Postcards From Manhattan by Robert Sheldon

its a concert band piece and it is amazing.
A musical portrait of Manhattan's cityscape, Metroplex opens with a vision of the New York skyline, tall buildings and concrete canyons. This leads to an urban jazz scene in one of Harlem's clubs. Finally the music takes us on a wild taxi ride through the heavy traffic of this incredible city. The skyline is seen once more as we leave Manhattan, hopefully to return again soon.


Aug. 24 2010 05:17 PM
elizabeth from Northern Manhattan

Many have mentioned Gershwin's "Rhapsody in Blue". But one of my favorite pieces by the same composer is his "Lullaby" for strings. It always makes me think of rare quiet moments in our great City.
I also think "My Time of Day", from Guys and Dolls is a great piece of New York music.

Aug. 24 2010 04:30 PM
Cindy Legorreta from Union Square

I am so delighted that a savvy listener mentioned Gordon Jenkins' MANHATTAN TOWER SUITE. That's the one I was going to mention. Jenkins of course would go on to do those sublime orchestrations for Frank Sinatra in later years. Yes, "Tower" is a bit hokey and, dated. But, you know what? When they sing the line about, "the skyline after dark,", people - we know we're THERE!! Oh, a second choice (speaking of Sinatra) might be his version of "Violets For Your Furs", telling the story of a young couple in love, and the fellow is buying a little corsage for his lady. I can just see them, walking arm in arm near Rockefeller Plaza; they reach the skating rink, stopping at a vendor, as a light snow begins to fall. A touching, quintessential New York moment with just the right music!

Aug. 24 2010 04:11 PM
carol winer from New York City

Manhattan Tower by Gordon Jenkins, especially "We're Having a Party" and "New York's My Home" always made me dream of the sophisticated penthouse life I aspired to when my parents listened to it and I was growing up in Brooklyn. Also, how come several mention "September Song" but not "Autumn in New York"....a great song. Gimme NY in Autumn and Schubert's Shepherd on the Rock for balance.

Aug. 24 2010 03:58 PM
Brian Sindel from NYC

wonderful suggestions, how about
Alter's Manhattan Seranade and even Sondheim'smusic from Company or Follies? (very NY musicals)

Aug. 24 2010 03:55 PM
Michael Scarborough from Sunnyside Gardens, Queens

Knickerbocker Holiday is a good choice, but, for my money, the quintessential NYC musical/opera is Street Scene by Kurt Weill. A close second is, of course, Bernstein's, On The Town. And don't forget Bernstiein's song, The Penny Candy Store beneath the El. Can ya get mo New Yoak dan dat? Fuggedaboudit!

Aug. 24 2010 03:53 PM
Jack McConville from Jersey City NJ

Naomi and Midge get an F in knowledge of NY Music. From Wikipedia: "Knickerbocker Holiday is a Broadway musical written by Kurt Weill (music) and Maxwell Anderson (book and lyrics); it was directed by Joshua Logan. It opened at the Ethel Barrymore Theatre on October 19, 1938 and closed on March 11, 1939 after 168 performances. The original production starred Walter Huston, Jeanne Madden, and Ray Middleton. Among the songs introduced in the show was the "September Song", now considered a pop standard."

Aug. 24 2010 03:36 PM
Anu Arponen from NYC

Please include and play NY born and NYC living
composer Charles Coleman's Streetscape for Symphony Orchestra It was composed about 10 year ago in Tribecca in Manhattan and premiered with Cincinnati Symphony Paavo Jarvi conducting.
view days after 9/11 and it has all the sounds and feeling of today's New York. It is today's New York City 21 century. Check out Charles' web for sample www.charlescoleman.com
Also add on his Absolution to this collection.
Thanks Anu

Aug. 24 2010 03:35 PM
Ltepp from NY, NY

New York is vibrant and alive. When I think of New York I think of "Rhapody in Blue". It was written by a great New Yorker, and brings all the excitement of the city into the music.

Aug. 24 2010 03:20 PM
roger gross

Yes September Song is from"Knickerbocker Holiday" therefore NY- NL should have known that!!

Aug. 24 2010 03:05 PM
Mark from Bronx, N.Y.

Hi Elliott,
The Walton Viola Concerto has the feel of autumn in New York; the first and third movements feel like sunset, all the buildings glowing orange against the grey-blue sky.... like weather getting colder, the sweet sadness of leaves falling. The second movement is like New York in the bustling noon..... I've just always associated the piece with New York in October!!

Aug. 24 2010 02:55 PM
Richard Newburger from New York City

During his stay in the U.S. Antonin Dvorak composed the "New World Symphony." It premiered at Carnegie Hall in 1893. Dvorak was influenced by Native American Music and African-American spirituals.

Aug. 24 2010 01:59 PM
Edith Ries

I think that Leonard Bernstein's "On the Water Front" music truly paints a New York City picture. I would also suggest the ballet music from "West Side Story." I love the "September Song" suggestion. What is more beautiful than New York City in September and October?

Aug. 24 2010 01:57 PM

Well Elliott, I've always thought that New York was THE American city....and it deserves the most American of American music. And no one says America better than the March Champ himself! I believe a great Sousa march should be included ......and if its Sousa.....its got to be ''Stars & Stripes Forever'' Always rousing and totally American patriotic for our best big city! P.S.- ( You don't think I'm obsessed with march music, do you?)

Aug. 24 2010 01:40 PM
Jim from Cold Spring, NY

A wonderful introduction to NYC via the GWB:
William Schuman : "George Washington Bridge" for Concert Band

Aug. 24 2010 01:07 PM
Bob Reminick from Mastic, LI & Ithaca, NY

Of course, absolutely, Rhapsody in Blue was mentioned, but there is, in my opinion, a best, and very NYC version, with Leonard Bernstein (I first heard this LP around 1970, no idea when it was recorded, but it has American in Paris on the other side)

Aug. 24 2010 01:05 PM
Thomas from Sparta, NJ

Gian Carlo Menotti's best opera (in my opinion and his, too) is set in New York City: "The Saint of Bleecker Street." It's been a long time since I've seen it (that's a hint to the NY City Opera or Metropolitan that it's time for a revival!) so I wouldn't know what excerpt to choose, but it is excellent music and completely appropriate to the planned CD.

Aug. 24 2010 01:04 PM
Hal from NYC

Constance Lambeth-(sp?) The sound of a city-scape etching

Aug. 24 2010 12:11 PM
Carolyn from Long Island, NY

Mozart's Clarinet Quintet - might sound strange, but my father always sings "East side, West side, all around the town-side" to the opening bars!

Aug. 24 2010 10:46 AM
Alan from Astoria

I think the "On the Town" Dance suite would be better than west side story, since it's shorter.

How about some of Nino Rota's music from Godfather 2? Or Morricone's music from "Once upon a time in America?" Might be tough to get the rights, I guess.

Definitely try to put some Glass or Reich on it. That music definitely screams modern New York. Well, New York post 1975, at least.

Aug. 23 2010 11:51 PM
glo from maspeth, ny

I'll take Manhattan - Richard Rogers

Aug. 23 2010 09:16 PM
Robert St.Onge from Cochiti Lake,NM

The song "The Lordly Hudson" by Ned Rorem sung by either Susan Graham or Nathan Gunn,both fone performances. After all,what is New York without the Hudson River?

Aug. 23 2010 03:13 PM
EricG from Brooklyn, NY

I don't see how you could do this and not include Gershwin's "Rhapsody in Blue" or Varese's "Ameriques"

Aug. 23 2010 02:40 PM
Paul Campbell from Manchester UK

How about Central Park In The Dark by Ives?

Aug. 23 2010 02:29 PM

Wasn't this already up on Facebook?

I recommended Copland "Quiet City"

Aug. 23 2010 01:16 PM
Tiffany from Long Island

Would it be too cliched to say, "Rhapsody in Blue" by Gershwin? New York was his inspiration for the piece, and seeing it used in the film, "Manhattan" as it was just illustrates what the piece means to me- an ode to the city. (The use of it in Disney's "Fantasia 2000" with Al Hirschfeld inspired animations furthers the connection for me!)

Aug. 23 2010 12:46 PM

I love this question. Without a doubt, to me the piece that is most quintessentially New York is the John Adams piece Century Rolls, Mvt 1. I go jogging almost every morning with this piece playing on my IPOD. It starts out slow, but with a pulse almost like the city waking up and then breaks into a frantic pace—the chord structure almost feeling fractured like a typical New York day. But then there are also moments of peace and quiet that you steal and cause you to look briefly inward. Also, I think Adams references Copland and Bernstein but then modernizes it for today’s city dweller. It is chaotic, serene, frantic, tranquil and most of all hopeful—just like any typical day in New York.

Aug. 23 2010 09:11 AM
John J. Christiano from Franklin NJ

For the constant construction...."Anvil Chorus"!

For the air traffic overhead....
"Flight of the Valkurie".

For the subways...."Orpheus in the Underworld".

For the canyons of concrete "Grand Canyon Suite".

Aug. 23 2010 08:54 AM
Rob Schachter from indianapolis

Ellington's Take the A Train...when I hear it I am reminded of the 'jump' that is New York New York!


Aug. 22 2010 01:02 PM

My personal association stems from Wayne Wang's movie "Smoke" where he uses a sample (in the opening sequence I believe) of one of the Preludes and Fuga's of Shostakovich (played by Sviatoslav Richter if I remember correctly).
Intriguing project, making a portret of New York City in classical sounds..! As most of these sounds originate from, and stand for, circumstances, periods and places many migrants who made NYC fled from, and, today, many New Yorkers, I guess, would detest to live in too. In other words: in my view "classical music" and "NYC" are at least semantically or symbolically each others opposite.
Or are they?
Why do NYC people love classical music anyway ;-)?

Aug. 22 2010 12:45 PM

Neoclassic - Slaughter on Tenth Avenue

Aug. 22 2010 12:28 PM
Ken Lally from Oyster Bay, NY

Neoclassic - Slaughter on 10th Avenue

Aug. 22 2010 12:04 PM
Don Zimmerman from Gargas France

Anything from "On the Town"... and there must be something by Duke Ellington that fits.

Aug. 22 2010 12:02 PM
Michael Meltzer

Way back when conductor & ex-trumpeter Maurice Peress was music chairman at NYU, he presented outdoor summertime concerts in Washington Square Park. It must be 50 years now, but I still have a vivid image and tonal memory of the first time I heard the Shostakovich: Piano Concerto #1, with Eugene List at the piano and Maestro Peress himself on the lead trumpet, surrounded by Washington Square ambience and skyline.
That piece of music also happens to be the essence of "city."

Aug. 22 2010 11:16 AM
Anne from white plains, new york

When I was hospitalized as a teenager, (out of town) I developed a relationship with WQXR.
My favorites were MANHATTAN TOWERS by Gordon Jenkins. My other favorite was Ravel's Bolero. both pieces reminded me of NYC where I grew up!

Aug. 22 2010 11:03 AM
Joseph Fischetti from Staten Island, New York

Im a clarinetest here in NYC and ive played the Leonard Bernstein sonata for clarinet and piano many times. I was playing a live tape of a performance I gave of the sonata to a friend of mine and it was very interesting that at the same moment we remarked that the piece was about New York. It evokes the frenetic pace, the skyline in the evening and even in the second movement the subways traveling below the city. The sonata for clarinet and piano by Leonard Bernstein sounds like New york. Thank you.

Aug. 22 2010 11:01 AM
Catherine Jestice

What music captures New York? "The September Song," for sure. Every aspect of it. Hearing it -- that sweet melancholy of time passing -- one is in New York, past and present. For me the true passing of summer into fall is not Labor Day or the date on the calendar, but when Jeff Spurgeon plays "The September Song." I expect to see the trees of Central Park going red and gold.

Aug. 22 2010 10:53 AM
karl stoll from Brooklyn NY

aron copland : Quiet City , right before sunrise what a feeling !!!

Aug. 22 2010 10:43 AM

Beethoven's 9th ( Ode to Joy)

Also known as the NY Ranger's Stanley Cup theme song...

Aug. 22 2010 10:28 AM
Ian F from NYC

Pacific 231 - Honneger.

The sound of rush hour

Aug. 22 2010 10:28 AM
Gerry Clare from Nottingham, UK

I've heard of New York! I ran the marathon there twice. The song that most reminds me of Winter in New York is the classic recording of 'Che gelida manina' as sung by Bjorling and de los Angeles (no irony intended!). Why? It is a quintessential tale of survival in a northern city - bittersweet and uplifting, like New York itself.

Aug. 22 2010 10:27 AM

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