Results of the 2011 Classical Countdown

Thursday, December 29, 2011

For the past several weeks we asked listeners to vote for their favorite pieces of classical music. We received thousands of votes for pieces that truly ran the classical music gamut.

The countdown this year will run from Thursday, Dec. 29, to Saturday, Dec. 31. It will begin each morning at 9 am and run each day to around midnight. And in honor of WQXR’s diamond anniversary, we will be counting down the top 75 listener choices.

As we count down the final results, we’ll post regular updates here. To find out what recordings were played, please consult our playlists page. Thank you to everyone who participated.

75. Felix Mendelssohn — A Midsummer Night’s Dream

74. Giacomo Puccini — Turandot

73. Modest Mussorgsky — Pictures at an Exhibition

72. Edward Elgar — Enigma Variations

71. Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky — Swan Lake

70. Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky — The Nutcracker

69. Samuel Barber — Adagio for Strings

68. Richard Wagner — Tristan und Isolde

67. Carl Orff — Carmina Burana

66. Gabriel Faure — Requiem

65. Johann Sebastian Bach — Cello Suite No. 1

64. Claude Debussy — Prelude to the Afternoon of a Faun (Prelude a l'apres-midi d'un faune)

63. Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky — Violin Concerto in D, Op. 35

62. Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart — Piano Concerto No. 21 in C, K. 467

61. Maurice Ravel — Bolero

60. Giacomo Puccini — La Boheme

59. Johannes Brahms — Piano Concerto No. 2 in B-flat, Op. 83

58. Johann Pachelbel — Canon in D

57. Sergei Prokofiev — Romeo and Juliet Suite

56. Edward Elgar — Cello Concerto in E Minor, Op. 85

55. Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart — Le Nozze di Figaro (Marriage of Figaro)

54. Aaron Copland — Rodeo

53. Sergei Rachmaninoff — Piano Concerto No. 3 in D Minor, Op. 30

52. Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart — Serenade No. 13 in G Major, K. 525 "Eine kleine Nachtmusik"

51. Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart — Don Giovanni

50. Jean Sibelius — Symphony No. 2 in D Major, Op. 42

49. Felix Mendelssohn — Symphony No. 4 in A, Op. 90, "Italian"

48. Gustav Mahler — Symphony No. 1 in D, "The Titan"

47. Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky — Piano Concerto No. 1 in B-flat Minor, Op. 23

46. Johannes Brahms — Symphony No. 4 in E Minor, Op. 98

45. Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky — Symphony No. 5 in E Minor, Op. 64

44. Ludwig van Beethoven — Piano Sonata No. 14 in C Sharp Minor, Op. 27, No. 2 "Moonlight"

43. Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky — Symphony No. 6 in B Minor, Op. 74, "Pathetique"

42. Leonard Bernstein — Candide

41. Bedrich Smetana — Ma Vlast

40. Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart — Clarinet Concerto in A, K. 622

39. Antonin Dvorak — Concerto in B Minor for Cello, Op. 104

38. Leonard Bernstein — West Side Story

37. Johann Sebastian Bach — St. Matthew Passion

36. Igor Stravinsky — L'Oiseau de feu (The Firebird)

35. Anton Bruckner — Symphony No. 8 in C Minor

34. Johannes Brahms — Violin Concerto in D, Op. 77

33. Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart — Symphony No. 40 in G Minor, K. 550

32. Johannes Brahms — German Requiem, Op. 45

31. George Gershwin — An American in Paris

30. Johannes Brahms — Symphony No. 1 in C minor, Op. 68

29. Ludwig van Beethoven — Violin Concerto in D Major, Op. 61

28. Giuseppe Verdi — Messa da Requiem

27. Felix Mendelssohn — Violin Concerto in E Minor, Op. 64

26. Igor Stravinsky — Le sacre du printemps (The Rite of Spring)

25. Johann Sebastian Bach — Goldberg Variations, BWV 988

24. Franz Schubert — Piano Quintet in A, Op. 114, D. 667, "The Trout"

23. Jean Sibelius — Symphony No. 5 in E-flat Major, Op. 82

22. Gustav Holst — The Planets, Op. 32

21. Antonio Vivaldi — Four Seasons, Op. 8

20. Gustav Mahler — Das Lied von der Erde

19. Johann Sebastian Bach — Mass in B Minor, BWV 232

18. Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart — Symphony No. 41 in C, K. 551, "Jupiter"

17. Gustav Mahler — Symphony No. 5 in C-sharp Minor

16. Ludwig van Beethoven — Symphony No. 6 in F Major, Op. 68 "Pastoral"

15. Franz Schubert — Symphony No. 9 in C, D. 944, "The Great"

14. George Gershwin — Rhapsody in Blue

13. George Frideric Handel — Messiah

12. Johann Sebastian Bach — Brandenburg Concertos

11. Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky — Symphony No. 4 in F Minor, Op. 36

10. Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart — Requiem Mass in D Minor, K. 626

9. Ludwig van Beethoven — Piano Concerto No. 5 in E-Flat Major, Op. 73, "Emperor"

8. Sergei Rachmaninoff — Piano Concerto No. 2 in C Minor, Op. 18

7. Aaron Copland — Appalachian Spring

6. Antonin Dvorak — Symphony No. 9 in E Minor, "From the New World"

5. Ludwig van Beethoven — Symphony No. 3 in E-Flat Major, Op. 55 "Eroica"

4. Ludwig van Beethoven — Symphony No. 7 in A Major, Op. 92

3. Gustav Mahler — Symphony No. 2 in C Minor, "Resurrection"

2. Ludwig van Beethoven — Symphony No. 5 in C Minor, Op. 67

1. Ludwig van Beethoven — Symphony No. 9 in D Minor, Op. 125 "Choral"


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Comments [203]

Joe Joe nyc from NY nY

As a person who has played classical piano for 20+ years
I tip my hat to all the voters : But I would like
to have seen more Chopin and Liszt as they are Great composers
of this beautiful music. but then again we all have our personel
likes and dislikes .... chao....Joe Joe , nyc

Mar. 05 2013 04:15 PM
Kenneth Bennett Lane, Lake Hiawatha, NJ from Richard Wagner Music Drama Institute, Boonton, NJ

Since my childhood at age 10, when on WNYC I heard the Rhine Journey and Siegfried's Funeral Music from Gotterdammerung with Toscanini conducting his New York Philharmonic version before the Symphony of the Air much later recorded version, I have been an ardent fan of Wagner's oeuvre. I started vocalizing with my child's voice on the music I studied from the Wagner partiturs [full orchestral scores] and piano vocal scores of Wagner's operas that were donated to the Jersey Avenue Main Library of Jersey City by the President Franklin Delano Roosevelt administration as part of their Works Project Administration. Wagner's music convinced me that I JUST HAD TO COMPOSE AND SING. Because of that ALLADIN'S LAMP inspiration, I have made a career as a Wagnerian heldentenor and an opera composer. My cousin MICHAEL BLANKFORT wrote both the books and screenplays for the 1953 film THE JUGGLER Hollywood film made in Israel starring KIRK DOUGLAS and the 1950 Hollywood film BROKEN ARROW starring JAMES STEWART and JEFF CHANDLER [Cochise]. The music for THE JUGGLER was composed by opera composer GEORGE ANTHEIL, in whose opera VOLPONE I sang the tenor leading role [Mosca] in its professional world premiere in NEW YORK in 1953. ANTHEIL, famous for his opera TRANSATLANTIC and BALLET MECHANIQUE looked exactly like Peter Lorre. I am a romantischer heldentenor. I have sung four solo concerts in the Isaac Stern Auditorium of Carnegie Hall. As part of my Ten Language Solo Debut concert at the Isaac Stern Auditorium of Carnegie Hall, I opened my three hour concert with the Invocazione di Orfeo from Jacopo Peri's opera EURIDICE composed in 1600, the first opera, composed in the same year as Shakespeare wrote HAMLET. Also, at this same three hour long solo concert are my singing of Florestan's monologue "Gott! welch dunkel hier!' from "FIDELIO" and "Sound an Alarm" from Handel's "JUDAS MACCABAEUS." They can be heard from my live performance on my three websites,, ,, and They received rave critical notices in newspapers and magazines. My voice teachers were the legendary MET OPERA singers Alexander Kipnis, Friedrich Schorr, Frieda Hempel, Martial Singher, John Brownlee, Karin Branzell and Margarete Matzenauer. As an opera composer myself ["Shakespeare" and "The Political Shakespeare"] I fully comprehend the assumed urgency of recognition of the still living. However, it's important to revere and enjoy the MASTERPIECES of art, music, literature, architecture and science in its multiple formats . I am the director of the Richard Wagner Music Drama Institute in Boonton, NJ where I train actors in all the Shakespeare roles and big-voiced singers in all the Wagner opera roles. On my websites one may download, free, at "Recorded Selections" my singing of Siegfried, Gotterdammerung Siegfried, Tristan, Siegmund, Parsifal, Lohengrin, Rienzi, Walther von Stolzing, Otello, Eleazar and Florestan.

Dec. 24 2012 06:25 PM
Jonella from Boondox of Sullivan County, NY


Dec. 24 2012 10:42 AM
Rosanna from NYC

Aha! Kindred souls who gag on hearing Delius ...

Jan. 09 2012 02:34 AM
brunhilde from Manhattan

My dear Michael,

You are assuming everyone is gung ho on making sure their favorite is the "winner"! I don't think so. Just give me one reason for sitting at the computer and entering one's favorite piece, hour after hour after hour? Why would I want to do that? I don't and I wouldn't. It's a game, silly, not "I gotta win"!

Jan. 06 2012 04:11 PM
Michael Meltzer

The point, Brunhilde, is that you're NOT "seeing how many other people like them" if people vote more than once. You're seeing how many times the same single person is voting again and again to move a piece from the bottom of the list to the top.

Jan. 06 2012 10:57 AM
Brunhillde from Manhattan

I'm sorry....were the rules of the "game" to list only one piece of music....i.e., the one and only piece of music you become the first place winner? Those who objected to voting more than once seemed to think so.... I didn't interpret the instructions that way. There are quite a number of favorites I like and if I list them, it is fun to see how many other people like them, AND it certainly gives WQXR an idea of what their listeners like.

Jan. 06 2012 09:51 AM
Michael Meltzer

To Carrie:
If you are ever in a situation where unfortunately the Delius cannot be turned off, there are across-the-counter sea-sickness medications that can be helpful

Jan. 06 2012 03:44 AM
Carrie from NYC

Thanks, WQXR. It's amazing that many feel the same winners are always winners - e.g. Beethoven! There are reasons these compositions have lasted through countless seasons and years and sometimes centuries of performances and listeners. People like this music! Just ask orchestras around the country and their subscribers. No one forced anyone to like this music. (Or to vote for it in the countdown.) Am I surprised? No. Would I have liked more esoteric pieces...Yes. But then again, why should someone be forced to listen to something they don't like? I am dying to hear more Monteverdi and Glass and Tallis and Janachek and Pachebel and Sibelius....but I will turn off the radio as soon as Delius comes on......I have my loves and my dislikes, and inbetween I listen with open mind, enjoy or not enjoy. WNCN in NY was a very unfortunate wonderful classical station, stubbornly persistant in what they aired.....I pray that QXR does not fall in their footsteps. Therefore, I will listen to those 100 winners whenever they play them, and goggle when one of my unknowns is played.

Jan. 05 2012 09:37 AM

I'm an occasional listener to WQXR via internet in Australia. Top 100s are popular on the national ABC Classical radio station & late last year they had a top 100 of 20th Century music. Elgar's Cello Concerto made number 1 & as with WQXR, many people couldn't believe that their favorite piece did come further up the list or didn't make it at all. The voting was different from WQXR's: everyone who voted chose 10 & equal weighting was given to each vote. This allowed some non mainstream pieces to get into the list.
A few years ago classical top 100 ran & Beethoven's 9th was most popular. A few years later, Dvorak's New World was on top.
I commend the 20th century top 100 because a lot of music I had never heard before got into the list. US composers were well represented with 4 x Glass, 2 x Barber 4 x Gershwin, 3 x Copland with Bernstein, Adams & Korngold. Of course, Mahler, Sibelius, Prokofiev & Shostakovich were well represented. Surprisingly, Janacek didn't make the top 100.

Jan. 05 2012 05:26 AM
John J. Christiano from Franklin, NJ

The "gimmick" of restricting the top works to 75 to match WQXR's years on the air was barely clever and a disservice to the listenig public. My God, that means I won't hear the top 100 until I'm 85!

Your list of honorable mentions is a small acknowledgement that the top list should have been longer....much longer.

How 'bout a top 100 for the next holiday...Martin Luther King Day? Groundhog Day? Vernal Equinox? Midge's Birthday?

Jan. 04 2012 11:28 AM
Rosanna from NYC

Two of my "desert island" choices would be Bach's Mass in B Minor, Klemperer conducting with Janet Baker soloing in the "Agnus Dei": (sublime) AND Chopin's 3rd Piano Sonata performed by Dinu Lipatti. (His rendition of Dame Myra Hess's transcription of Bach's "Jesu, joy of man's desiring" is also very special, IMHO.)It would be interesting to hear WQXR juxtapose an Annie Fischer recording of Beethoven piano sonatas (perhaps the "Hammerklavier") with one by Andras Schiff. Of course we can't hear comparisons any longer because David Dubal's weekly piano program got scrapped to accommodate WNYC-FM's shifted evening productions, rather a travesty! If the WNYC-FM stuff would only be returned to WNYC-FM, WQXR could play many more composers and performers and genres than we've been getting in evening prime time. Why does this have to be wishful thinking?

Jan. 04 2012 02:17 AM
Fred from Kew Gardens

The issue is less what WQXR programs on New Year’s Eve and more what occurs on the other 364 days. Clearly a significant number of listeners find the programming less than satisfactory. If you market classical music like soap, this countdown is what you get.

The old WNYC FM did an excellent job programming classical music. As WQXR markets its slick product, the quality and purpose of public radio is essentially lost. Why is there such urgency to maximize the number of listeners and contributions? Are WQXR contributions going into a general fund that supports expensive programs like Car Talk (and other questionable things)?

For many of us, WQXR is an important source for classical music. There are all kinds of pieces that I would love to hear including (especially) music that I don’t even know exists.

Jan. 03 2012 11:49 PM
Michael Meltzer

There is so much interest in this thing that the idea of categories, and countdowns in various genres seems like the public would be enthusiastic.
If haing separate orchestral, piano, vocal, chamber, instrumental solo countdowns is too much work for WQXR staff, as a not-for-profit the station could probably call upon the public for volunteer ballot counters. I'm sure that plenty of listeners would love to jump in and help sort out the entries. And, there's nothing about New Year's Eve that makes it the definitive time for a poll. There is WQXR's birthday, Bach's birthday (the spiritual father of all musicians, many possible target dates.
My personal preference for a poll would be the "desert island" one, what 10 or 12 pieces would you want to NEVER be without if you had to live in a remote place? Given that latitude, my choices would certainly be a mix of categories, I don't know about other people.

Jan. 03 2012 09:35 PM
David S Bundler

Just thoughts to be aware of, QXR has many listeners, some casual, some serious, the casuals will have their favorites, and serious their's. The casuals will go for the easy to understand, the serious for the stuff that requires focused attention. Within the serious, there is a orchestral/choral/opera/chamber/piano subdivision. All these factors affect the voting. My choices; late Beethoven quartets, and the 32nd sonata, had no chance. I know that does not mean they are not as good as they are. The countdown, is more a snapshot of the collective QXR listener base, than rating of music on it's various merits. One can note the fall of Barber's Adagio, and Mahler's 5th as the time passes from when they were in a movie. Just a guess, but Strauss's "Also Sprach.." probably would have made the countdown in the 70s, if not the top ten. I think musical works are like stars, you may have favorites, but all of them together make up the beauty of the night sky, each one shining with its own light. Listeners too, if orchestras could fill the hall with just "knowlegable" listeners, no one would applaud after the third movement of #43; Tchaikovsky's 6th. (I'll put up with that if it fills the hall, or funds the station).

Jan. 03 2012 07:36 PM
Jan Schwartz from Vacaville, CA

I am convinced that this year something went wrong in the polling! Either that, or your listeners are stuck in very big ruts! It is unconscionable that Richard Strauss, Berlioz, Liszt, and Chopin were no where on the list!! And too little Elgar! Next year, go back to 50 pieces and put a list of candidates on the web site -- much like Zagat does its restaurant surveys....
Maybe you'll get more accurate and better results and we'll all hear a greater variety of music during our end of the year celebration.

Jan. 03 2012 02:36 PM
RG from Boston

Reading the comments has been almost as much fun as listening to the broadcast itself! This was my first year as a participant, and I was very happy to see Dvorak's Cello Concerto in B Minor in the top 40 (if just barely). Can't wait to do it again next December!

Jan. 03 2012 11:20 AM
Victor from West Orange, NJ

Thank you, Michael. Everything you said and the 12th position at this list, all says that concertos are really popular. But I still do not understand: why? During the course of my life I had many versions of them as LPs and I've dispossessed all of them. I wanted to check myself one more time and I got CD with Amsterdam Baroque under Ton Koopman. Almost nothing again. And I am absolutely in love with the Orchestral Suites. Same Bach, same ABO + Koopman. Just the music is different.
On the other hand, I feel very rewarded by the my personal discovery of Mahler, thanks to this countdown.

Jan. 03 2012 07:24 AM
Michael Meltzer

Nothing is wrong. A few years back, I did some telemarketing for the Chamber Music Society of L.C. They present the 6 Brandenburgs every December in 2 concerts, and the series' containing those concerts sell out almost immediately, the previous August. If you have to miss one of your regular series concerts and want to exchange your ticket, the Brandenburgs are the only ones they won't let you exchange into. Single tickets almost never happen, either.
They really are popular.

Jan. 03 2012 01:51 AM
Victor from West Orange, NJ

Well, I can understand everything, but Johann Sebastian Bach — Brandenburg Concertos at the 12th position. Even considering the fact J.S. Bach is my favorite composer. And not only mine - this summer he was deservedly took a first place in NYT's Anthony Tommasini top 10 composers list:
It just can't be! All other Bach's pieces on the list - are so much in a different league - The Mass, The Variations, The Cello Suite, The St. Matthew. Not mention his music not even on the list: piano concertos, violin concertos, partitas, passions. These Brandenburg Concertos are so Telemann-like and they take high places every year. This sounds like electing GWB twice in a row. Something is wrong.

Jan. 02 2012 10:01 PM

Many thanks to WQXR for the opportunity to comment. The countdown was for listeners' favourites - that's fair enough. I imagine that most of those who voted are passionate about the traditional music that they grew up listening to, and, having little interest in anything different, wanted to hear just more of the same. So they cast multiple votes that way. It's a bit like comfort food, which one could easily get fat on, not daring to go out on excursions (for excercise) to make what could turn out to be wonderful discovery. I wish WQXR would not be afraid of alienationg their listener base - I doubt that that would happen. There is an incredible range out there; there are "unfamiliar" pieces which just might interest the less adventurous once they're exposed to them, and often. There is Q2, of course, and McNight also plays some different pieces late at night, but surely, there should be some room for new pieces on QXR during the day, and I believe we should feel educated and informed by public radio.

I still appreciate the work done by WQXR very much.

@ AP from Long Island - I much like that Columbia University station. I listened to what they referred to as "Extreme Bach" several years ago and thought it one of the best bits on radio, ever. I am delighted to hear that they have David Dubal on. And AP, do have a go at Radio 3 on the BBC when you can.

I had hoped that there would be votes for Arvo Part, whom I think is just brilliant, but was not surprised by his absence. Vaughan Williams did not make it either, sadly, nor did Bartok, Britten, Liszt....
Happy New Year.

Jan. 02 2012 05:38 PM
Michael Meltzer

Hillaire Gallagher: My own thoughts on all the ways that WQXR mishandles Ralph Vaughan Williams overshoot the allowable 3,000 characters per entry by far too much. I am editing it down but it is a huge job. I will post when ready at an appropriate site.

Jan. 02 2012 01:20 PM
HYH from Freeport, Long Island

Such a great running conversation of listeners. Such passion. Thank you everyone. After the holidays and all that goes with it, this has been highly entertaining. I agree with limiting votes to one per person and calling it favorites. Agree that more early music should be played, can't believe Chopin, Liszt, R.Strauss, etc. didn't make list but there's always next year. Hoping WQXR will play less 'circus' music/muzak during day (i stream online at work)and a broader selection of piano, choral and chamber music of more composers. Agree that WQXR should also play wider variety of performer/performances from across the years. Grateful WQXR is public and still with us w/great programming--loved the Q2 holiday stream too. And yes, indeed, WKCR Bach Fest is delicious every year. Great to have both! Happy 2012 to all! Keep the conversation going.

Jan. 02 2012 12:58 PM
Chuck from Clark

I hope the results don't influence programming too much. There are many of us out here who love early music (by early I mean early Baroque and before), though we didn't get any of our favorites into this year's countdown. Please play Palestrina, Machaut, Perotin, Josquin, Gesualdo, Lully and all the rest!

Jan. 02 2012 10:50 AM
Michael Comins from Manhattan

Debussy represented only by Afternoon of a Faun? Ravel represented only by Bolero? No Bartok? Something lacking here.

Jan. 02 2012 02:55 AM
Hillaire Gallagher from New Jersey

I cannot believe that none of Ralph Vaughn Williams' pieces made the list

Jan. 02 2012 02:50 AM
personna from New York City

As I listened to the year 1211's favorites I felt that "favorite" might be equated with "hummable" (definitely not humble, but also "assertive") music.
As Americans,the preference has always been for melodies. Something one could sing to, put words to. When I was taught "music appreciation" in my elementary public school in NYC, the teacher put words to the major works of music that we were supposed to remember. I cannot ever forget some of these such as "This is the sympony that Schubert wrote and never finished..." And we actually sung this!! This may be why contemporary music has such a small audience in the US.

Jan. 01 2012 09:17 PM
Mike from Brooklyn

I can only come up with one type of plan to prevent the absence of many popular composers from the 2012 list. In spite of its formulaic quality, (or maybe because of it!) I think it improves the fairness of a process that has been missing, dissing and dismissing some great composers year after year after year. It will use as the objective standard of "popularity" WQXR's own online record store!

First tally the votes, and set aside the best-liked 65 selections. Then, include one piece of each of the 15 most recorded composers - according to ArkivMusic - who do not make the list. That brings the list to 80. This will surely bring in Haydn, who will never make it on his own! Gounod and Britten would probably also owe the honor to this process. The exclusions of Chopin, Liszt and Shostakovich were probably flukes this time, but a method such as this would ensure their selections anyway. Just give it a try.

Thank you, station management. Happy New Year to you and all listeners.

Jan. 01 2012 08:07 PM
RK Scher from Gainesville, Florida

I listened as the Classical Countdown unfolded, and was generally pleased with the voters' choices (i did not vote). As always with these things, selections (and rankings) will be open to debate. And that's healthy. But the longer I listened, I realized that constructing the Countdown, with the rules WQXR imposed, is analogous to selecting the All Star Baseball teams each season. And the results are analogous as well. Just as it is possible to predict which baseball "stars" will be on the teams, so it is with classical warhorses. The rankings, and number of votes, will vary - but they will be heard, and the "stars" will be on the field. At the margins are some players who are hot, and/or have fan appeal (which could disappear the following year). And so it is with the music - Tallis is played one year, Strauss another, but the vagaries of fashion (and who votes) choose both the benchwarmers on the All Star team and the classical also-rans; here one year, gone the next. Still, good going, WQXR! These countdowns are fun, provocative, and provide another reason for me to turn on my computer here in Florida to listen. Happy New Year to all at WQXR; and my fellow listeners around the world.

Jan. 01 2012 04:29 PM
Steve from Brooklyn

David from Westchester's listing of number of selections per composer is interesting. For the sake of diversity perhaps a cap of say 2 or 3 pieces per composer could be implemented. As for myself, I was preparing to break out the bubbly while listening to Pierrot lunaire. Disappointing.

Jan. 01 2012 04:20 PM
susan from Manhattan

In 2010, with only 50 works played, Ralph Vaughn Williams Fantasy on Tallis Theme was at #21. Not on this year, which is sad. I'd like more earlier music, & B for Brazilian, Villa-Lobos Bachianas Brasilieras (sp?). That said, this was an enjoyable & lively Countdown.
We should be thankful for a year + of WQXR as a public station. They have excellent announcers & do a great job. Last, yes, great idea adding Kent Tritle.

Jan. 01 2012 04:00 PM

Folks: for some more analysis on your choices - including some of the omitted composers - here's an article that breaks it down further. Have a read and share your thoughts on what makes for a great piece if you can.

Thanks again for all your input and comments this year!

Jan. 01 2012 03:27 PM
John Strong from Setauket, NY

Someone mentioned a Strauss tone poem as a possible contender. Perusing the list I see not a one Strauss work. Sad!

Jan. 01 2012 02:01 PM
AF from Long Island

My new means of escape from Classical Countdown: New 24/7 classical station in NYC!

I am really so tired of the too frequent playing of "most beloved classics" in regular programming that I need to escape from this Classical Countdown!

My usual means is WSHU, Fairfield CT, which I am fortunate enough to receive "off air," and which I like very much.

This year I had a new option, which is also quite good: WWFM from New Jersey is broadcasting classical music 24/7 in HD (excellent sound) on the HD 2 of WKCR, the radio station of Columbia University which is at 89.9 on fm dial (89.9 HD 2 for WWFM on HD dial). (See info at

Also discovered that the Columbia University station itself (89.9 fm or 89.9 HD 1) has some hours of classical music, too, including the awesome year end annual BachFest--from Dec 22 to Dec 31--all Bach music, 24 hours a day for nearly 10 days--quite a feast!!

AND WWFM BRINGS DAVID DUBAL BACK TO THE RADIO IN NYC!! Reflections from the Keyboard is now called The Piano Matters. Hear him on WWFM at 89.9 2 HD or at 10:00 pm Wed night, with rebroadcast on Sundays at noon (also archived webcasts of earlier programs).

Jan. 01 2012 01:57 PM
Michael Meltzer

WQXR, these people are not cranks. They are a mirror held up for you to look at yourselves.
Do you really, truly like what you see?

Jan. 01 2012 11:59 AM

Wow! So much Mahler and no Shostakovich at all? So much Brahms and no Schuman at all? So much Tchaikovsky and so little Schubert? So much Stravinsky and no Barthok at all. Also no Britten, no Hindemith, let alone Schoenberg or Lutoslawsky. OK, you will say Lutoslawsky should be looked for in the Q2 list, although what will actually happen is that at least a quoter of the 20th century will be left underestimated. So radical success of the Romanticism (Beethoven obviously chosen to be its representative as well) and such a failure of the 20th Century: even the Impressionism is smashed by quasi-Romantics like Mahler and Sibelius! And such a bad performance of the Baroque: no Matthaus Passion, no Water or Firework Music. Shocking dropping of Rossini's Ouvertures, of Saint-Saëns's Third Symphony, of Janacek's Simphonietta, so loved by the audience, rock-audience including. Wagner's is also doing bad, but it is such a surprise to have Mozart so badly beaten by Beethoven and ironically his most recognized piece is half-his. The dear Haydn who invented this idiom is entirely disqualified. Well, luckily no Johan/Joseph Strauss but sadly no Richard. Slavs are doing curiously well, Brits are (almost) missing, French did not make it again, Americans are recognized in their most obvious hits but did not make a break, the music taste is still German, which is perhaps good but a little boring.

Jan. 01 2012 11:24 AM
Hyperion from Forest Hills, NY

Congratulations to WQXR on another splendid year, and your annual countdown is the highlight of the New Year's celebration for me. It's so reassuring to know that so many people still care deeply about great music, and watching as the most popular pieces get tallied is like having a reunion of old friends. While I understand the frustration of some that Beethoven's Symphonies always take pride of place, please be understanding: the Ninth Symphony is like a religion for many of us! :-)

Jan. 01 2012 10:19 AM
Licht Rule from Queens

All such fun, and so thoroughly meaningless.
Next thing ya know, it's "Casey Kasem's "America's Top Forty," with Jerry Lee Lewis playing the c harp minor prelude & fugue from Book I.

Only 2 piano solo works in all 75 says a lot about the voters but more about the stations' limited programming imagination.

If you play Brahms Academic Festival Overture over and over and over,and the overture to Candide again and again and again how will the young listeners and folks new to classical music know that Chopin's 58 mazurkas are sublime? Or that Beethoven wrote a world of string quartets, not only the finale to the Razumovsky #3?

Jan. 01 2012 09:22 AM
Michael Meltzer

Ditto, Rosanna. Clara Haskil, Wanda Landowska (who was also a beautiful pianist), Lily Kraus, Walter Gieseking, Benno Moiseivitch, Shura Cherkassky, and the Dame Myra Hess arrangement of Jesu, Joy of Man's Desiring played by Dame Myra Hess.

Jan. 01 2012 06:20 AM

Lots of great comments. But if the "vote early and often" situation exists in Dec. 2012, I'm stuffing the ballot box with the overture to "The Barber of Seville" -- King's Singers-style.

It's just plain old clever Classical music.


Jan. 01 2012 02:53 AM
Jeff from Jerusalem, Israel

If you really want to challenge your musical tastes then maybe you should consider listening to Q2 which programs modern classical music. It isn't all dissonance, and provides a wonderful way to expand your musical palate. Although I love many of the old warhorses mentioned on the list (and many of the suggestions that people mentioned in their posts)they still excluded much of the music that comes from the 20th and 21st centuries. There is a wealth of beautiful music that comes from the modern period and listeners should give it a chance.

Jan. 01 2012 02:07 AM
Rosanna from NYC

I second M. Meltzer's comment on the wisdom of hiring Kent Tritle to host a weekly program devoted to choral music! WQXR-FM can only benefit from playing more choral music, more chamber music (Haydn & Mozart can't be beat), and more early music (including recent DVDs by Stile Antico)-- plus by better using your inventory, which must be vast! Please rotate performers so that we can hear Clara Haskil as well as Leif Ove Andsnes!

Jan. 01 2012 01:51 AM

As much as I love "West Side Story," it's a sign of the rapid decline of American society's cultural sensibilities that people think that this is classical music.

What next? Will "She's Leaving Home" and "Eleanor Rigby" be selected because they are accompanied by a string quartet? Or perhaps The Who's "Tommy"?

By the way, do you know which very popular classical composer's music is NOT listed at all? Chopin. It can't be the length of his pieces because some of his more famous ballades, scherzos, and polonaises are just as long as Pachabel's "Canon," which is listed.

Also, no Haydn at all (not surprising); and no Verdi operas (very surprising), just the Requiem. But there's West Side Story.

Jan. 01 2012 01:08 AM
Peter Feldman from New York City

Not only the music by Franz Liszt did not appear in the 2011 classical countdown but even more horrendous is the absence of Frederic Chopin and the great french composer Hector Berlioz. I agree with many other comments that the music of Mahler is not so extraordinary. I find it banal. Rossini was a great orchestrator who could obtain subtle color of the orchestra without the need of 100 instruments or more like Mahler and Wagner. There is something wrong with the countdown and listeners must be allowed to place only one vote to avoid stuffing the voting box otherwise this voting is not representative of anything.

Jan. 01 2012 12:46 AM

So, who's going to download/save/app/iPad/BlackBerry this list so that we'll have a comparison in December 2012? 'Cause we'll have a LOT of the same discussions.


Jan. 01 2012 12:05 AM
Michael Meltzer

I've certainly said enough, but there's one comment that must be addressed!
There is no need for choral singers to stuff ballot boxes, and the morality of that community is irreproachable. I have been one for most of my life, and there are literally thousands of us in NYC. The comment was an insult not lightly taken.
Hiring Kent Tritle was one of the smartest things WQXR ever did, and I'm sure your listener base has been augmented quite measurably as a result. Bach was a beneficiary, deservedly.

Jan. 01 2012 12:03 AM
helen dreyfuss from ues manhattan

Thank-you for a great party ofeaningful start for the new year. old friends...some suprises, some disappointments, but always familiar loved ones. What a memorable way to begin a happy new year!

Dec. 31 2011 11:58 PM
David from Westchester from New York

According to my tally, big winners were Mozart: 9, Beethoven: 8 (including 4 of top 5, 5 of top 10 and 6 of top 25), Tchaikovsky: 7, Bach: 5, Brahms: 5, Mahler: 4, Mendelssohn; 3, Dvorak, Copland, Schubert, Sibelius, Stravinsky, Bernstein, Elgar, Puccini; 2 each, 16 with 1 each.
Most surprising results - Copland in top 10, higher than anything by Mozart, Brahms, Schubert, Mendelssohn and everybody else not named Beethoven, Mahler or Dvorak.
Best pieces not included - Brahms - Symphony #2, Violin Concerto, Piano Concerto #1; Schubert - Symphony #8; Mendelssohn - Octet; Beethoven - Appassionata & Kreutzer Sonatas.
Final thought - If poll were done in July instead of December, would we still have so many requiems?

Dec. 31 2011 11:56 PM
Marie from Wanamassa, NJ

There is a funny line in a Frasier episode where Frasier says to Niles “Remember when we thought Beethoven’s Fifth was good classical music?” And they have a chuckle at their naïve bad taste. I am not a classical snob, really I’m not, but some of this music is just so…mundane.

At Jeff's announcement of Beethoven’s Ninth as number one, I turned off the radio, put on Schubert’s Trout Qunitet and contentedly went on knitting. Of course the fact that I am home knitting and listening to classical music on New Year’s Eve speaks volumes in itself, so you can take my comment from where it comes.

Happy New Year everyone. :)

Dec. 31 2011 11:46 PM

AFLAC! I know it's attended.


Dec. 31 2011 11:42 PM

Hmmm, I atended a live concert this evening and heard two Handel "Water Music" suites, an aria from "Samson" and the Vivaldi "Gloria" -- I guess they're just not favorite enough.

I'm glad I heard them.


Dec. 31 2011 11:33 PM
Chuck From Butler,NJ


Dec. 31 2011 11:11 PM
Carol Luparella from Elmwood Park, NJ

Thank you, WQXR, for a superb Classical Countdown! This one was so much better than the past couple of years, because we heard 75 great works over the course of these last three days. Next year, how about playing the top 105 works over 4 or 5 days? That would really be an outstanding way to welcome the new year!
To WQXR, thank you for all the wonderful music for the past 75 years, especially these past two years as a public radio station; to the listeners who participated in this online conversation, thank you for all your enjoyable and interesting comments; and to everyone a happy, healthy New Year!

Dec. 31 2011 11:09 PM
cuzzzzz from New Jersey

I've heard many terrific performances by Paavo Jarvi, but this Beethoven's 5th left me cold.

Dec. 31 2011 10:52 PM
mo g

i cannot handel the ba[t]ch of music presented; some works ravel in their debu[ssy]; others are appreciated by hindu holy men, the brahms; too many candid[e] pieces; 2 mo[re] zarts than than i can cop[land] with. i went to the barber with players from nc state, the wolfgang. mendels sohn was there opus 2; we beet[hoven] our beards orff. i wore a serge[i] suit.i ate the italian trout;the emperor, the great, from brandenburg thought he was the messiah but goldberg had the resurrection; what a mess[a]was de requiem; let the can[n]on roar during a midsummer's night;happy new year to ma vlast

Dec. 31 2011 10:16 PM
peter g from ringwood

We, the uncouth, honestly do not understand why people so like Mahler - although there are striking and beautiful moments in it, how can M's Symphony No. 2 be in the top 10? We find the piece unfocused, and that it goes on and on.
Bemused, as always, every year,
Peter and others.

Dec. 31 2011 10:04 PM
Papa Haydn

Fred, you are so kind with your praise, and Barry, so clever with the nicknames!

Even here, we experience fatigue. So I shall soon retire for the night, expecting to drift asleep to the most sublime movement in the entire classical domain - the adagio of Ludwig's Ninth Symphony.

Good night. Happy New Year.

Papa Joe

Dec. 31 2011 09:49 PM
yichihara from NJ

I agree with Mr. Meltzer and David from NJ. You can make not only Opera category but also Piano category, Violin/Cello category, Vocal/Choral category, Chamber music category, Beethoven category, Mozart category, Schubert category, Brahms category, Russian composers category … if not 100 then Top 50 or 20, along with your Web cast alternative channels, year around. That would make WQXR more engaging. What do you think?

Dec. 31 2011 09:47 PM
Steve from Brooklyn

In response to David from NJ, given the state of the world, wouldn't Götterdämmerung be more appropriate? Or, if one is in the mood for a chamber work, how about String Quartet #15 by Shostakovich, which sounds like it was written posthumously. (The point made by comrade Vladimir from Siberia a few days ago re Shostakovich is well taken.)

Dec. 31 2011 09:40 PM
Fred from Kew Gardens

And that's a compliment in the sense of contrast and flattery to Haydn.

Dec. 31 2011 09:36 PM
Fred from Kew Gardens

Dear Papa Haydn- I agree. This is in fact is one of my all time favorites, but just think how much greater it would sound following a Haydn sonata.

Dec. 31 2011 09:32 PM
Barry Owen Furrer

Perhaps Haydn's Symphony No. 94 will come out on top - now wouldn't that be a surprise if not a miracle and this coming from someone who is not a philosopher . . . . drum roll, please!

Dec. 31 2011 09:28 PM
Papa Haydn

Thank you, Fred from Kew Gardens!

Speaking of being taken "seriously", how can anyone else's work be so regarded after being treated as we are right now to Mr. Mahler's great Second Symphony?! It is so hard not to weep!

None of this is really about me. And never being known among my peers for self-serving egotistical outbursts, why start now? ENJOY!

Dec. 31 2011 09:20 PM
Dillon from Olympia, WA

Personally, I am sad to see that not a single work of Richard Strauss was selected for the Countdown. I love the notion of counting down some of the most popular pieces of all time, but I was guessing what would make the Top 10 earlier today, and so far I've guessed all correctly. A surprise would be nice now and then! We all know Beethoven's Ninth will make #1, but I feel like a lot of people (especially in the comments section) would not vote for it, because they know that it usually makes #1. So why is it still there?

Dec. 31 2011 09:17 PM

I don't find much real suspense in this list, at least, for No. 1. I have mixed feelings about it (I don't want to post a "spoiler") in that I agree with it on the whole but I will be very surprised if another piece makes the cut this year.

Well, we have had several upsets in politics and elsewhere so there is a chance...

Dec. 31 2011 09:02 PM
David from NJ

Maybe in the future there could be a day for opera favorites, the top three in the 12 hours from noon to midnight. How about the complete version of Strauss' "Die Frau Ohne Schatten"? What happened to Saint Saens Third Organ Symphony?

Dec. 31 2011 09:02 PM
Fred from Kew Gardens

Dear Papa Haydn- we still love you. It's just a "Lark". Mozart even paid you the greatest respect with those magnificent "Haydn Quartets".

Dec. 31 2011 09:01 PM
Barbara Hannah Grufferma from New York City--Manhattan

I cannot imagine a New Year's Eve without the WQXR countdown. As I listen to Beethoven's 7th . . . I am overwhelmed by the joy that WQXR brings me -- and my family -- every day. Thank you, and all the best in the New Year . . .
Barbara Hannah Grufferman

Dec. 31 2011 08:43 PM
Mike from Brooklyn

What's funny about the U.K. list presented by Steve from Brooklyn apropos of our Haydn discussion is that it appears the ol' chap cannot get any "respect" even in London, of all places! (Though we'd need the rest of the list to really know.) But it's good to see that they favor their own as loyally as we do ours.

Dec. 31 2011 08:39 PM

Jeff - You just called these the "Greatest" pieces of Classical Music. We were asked to vote (hopefully only once) for our FAVORITE, not for what we consider the greatest. There is a BIG difference. Please call the countdown the listeners' FAVORITES, for that is what it is supposed to be.

Dec. 31 2011 08:32 PM
Jonnyboy from New York City

What I find missing from the countdown
1) Previous Year's ranking
2) The final 5 or 6 ranked works being played on New Year's Eve when many, if not most, people are out celebrating
3) The total number of submissions - and there should NOT BE multiple submission by the same person

Nevertheless, it is a great treat.

Dec. 31 2011 08:09 PM
Steve from Brooklyn

Thank you Papa Haydn, this list needed that:) Folks may (or may not, for that matter) be interested in what our friends across the Pond selected for their top ten. Note the local flavo(u)r, but this time not the likes of a Gershwin, Bernstein or Copland (What ever happened to Ives, the best of the lot??). In any case, RVW, with two entries below, is near the top of my all time short list.

1. Rachmaninov – Piano Concerto No 2
2. Vaughan Williams – The Lark Ascending
3. Vaughan Williams – Fantasia on a Theme by Thomas Tallis
4. Beethoven – Piano Concerto No. 5 ("Emperor")
5. Mozart – Clarinet Concerto
6. Beethoven Symphony No. 6 ("Pastoral")
7. Elgar – Enigma Variations
8. Elgar – Cello Concerto
9. Bruch – Violin Concerto No. 1
10. Beethoven – Symphony No. 9 ("Choral")

Dec. 31 2011 07:47 PM
May Hill

Thank goodness for Mozart's Requiem--the only serious music.

Dec. 31 2011 07:36 PM
Papa Haydn

To Carol from Elmwood Park.

Thank you. And I need that sense of humor every New year's Eve! That might be the ingredient of my compositional style that has most interfered with my being selected. That is, one has to compose "seriously" to be taken seriously for surveys such as these. Just a theory.

Dec. 31 2011 06:52 PM
Carol Luparella from Elmwood Park, NJ

To Papa Haydn,
I'm sorry to see that none of your works made the countdown, but at least you have a great sense of humor!

Dec. 31 2011 06:37 PM
Joe Haydn

To debi from Bradley Beach, NJ. The Creation deserves play not just for its own merits but for how much energy it drained from me in my late sixties, as the 18th century came to a close. Thank you for your kind thoughts.

Dec. 31 2011 06:23 PM
debi from Bradley Beach, NJ

To Joe Haydn:

I love your music and feel you are the most underrated composer ever. I always choose The Creation as a classical countdown selection but have never seen it chosen. Too bad. Maybe next year.

Dec. 31 2011 06:14 PM
Papa Haydn from The Great Beyond

To all my admirers and lovers of my oeuvre. Please do not be angered by the complete, callous, tasteless, ignorant, uninformed and thoughtless omission of my works from the list of 75 pieces in the 2011 Countdown. If I can accept their absence year after year after year, so should all of my dear loyal fans. (I'm dealing with it, as you can tell!)

One privilege of residence on "the other side" is being allowed to peer into the future of classical music - in particular that most important earthly annual event known as the WQXR Classical Countdown. What I can tell you, first, is that Beethoven's Ninth Symphony will win the Countdown later tonight. Second - that none of MY works will ever, ever, make that list no matter how much it is expanded! None of the 104 symphonies, 68 string quartets, 52 piano sonatas, 43 piano trios, etc. (Not even one of my favorites, the trumpet concerto!!) But I humbly ask, how could all these gifted listeners exclude the two most divine creations of the romantic era, the Second and Third Symphonies of my friend Johannes? Oh, how they flowed off his pen following his herculean struggles with the First! Anyway, that's just one ghostly opinion. Johnny himself doesn't mind those omissions as much as his failure to crack the top 25. (Poor fellow - got five, to my zero.)

Happy New Year, dear friends.


Dec. 31 2011 06:08 PM

"Old Guy", it is interesting you comment on Messiah and Gershwin (I was thinking Mozart & Gershwin but close enough). I did not take any Music Appreciation course although I did play violin when younger. I cannot really compare Mozart/Handel (or similar) to Gershwin, no offense to any of them as they are all clearly talented. However if constructing a list of favorites I would place most any Mozart Symphony, Concerto, or Opera on the current list ahead of anything by Gershwin (again, no offense).

Not really to do with Handel/Gershwin, in looking towards next year's list and reviewing some of the comments here, perhaps the list needs some segmentation and shortening - (n) favorite operas/ballet scores (n) favorite symphonies/concertos, (n) favorite chamber pieces, (n) favorite choral works. Not sure of the categorization but this may extend the pieces, although on the other hand may more limit some lists to "the usual suspects". Lets keep the ideas coming in!

Dec. 31 2011 05:41 PM
Peter Feldman from New York City

Suggestions by bottjer are good. I only wonder if WQXR reads them. I am told that voters could made multiple entries for the 2011 Classical Countdown. That is not good because the results are "faked". Also WQXR when owned by The New York Times had a policy not to repeat the same music at least after one month. Now WQXR has repeated "danzones" by Marques almost every other day.

Dec. 31 2011 05:05 PM
Christopher from Afghanistan

Claudio Abbau plays the "best" PC No.5 ("Emperor")...check it out on You-Tube...awesomely emotional...

Dec. 31 2011 05:04 PM
Serena from NYC

Really enjoying this countdown...thanks WQXR! Can't wait to hear Beethoven 3, 5,7,9, Dvorak 9, and Schubert 8 (probably not in this order though) in rapid succession!! ;)

Dec. 31 2011 05:02 PM
Old Guy in NJ

The first assignment in my college Music Appreciation course (back in the "middle ages") was an essay defining the term "classic". Recalling that, I found the juxtaposition of Handel's Messiah and Gershwin's Rhapsody in Blue very refreshing. I consider one position difference in the rankings insignificant.

Dec. 31 2011 04:33 PM

So many comments, and I am glad to see the activity being more than just complaints, most include constructive suggestions in terms of voting for the countdown and changes in overall WQXR programming. As a listener supported radio station I would hope QXR would take some of these suggestions into consideration in the new year. Gradually introducing changes would be required as to not alienate the existing base, such as introducing and focusing more on new composers and lesser played works (perhaps by initially setting aside 1-2 hours each day/evening). At least a blog should be setup, if it does not exist where listeners could post suggestions and they could be consolidated.

Dec. 31 2011 04:29 PM
Bronx Listener from Bronx

For years I've wished people could submit a list of top 3 favorite works in a number of categories, such as symphony, chamber ensemble, solo work, vocal work, opera. This would broaden the list of winning works. You could even have listeners submit favorite artists, such as soloists, composers, ensembles, and conductors. There would be plenty to play if you offered the top 25 or 50 in each category (well, maybe not 50 symphonies or complete operas). I'd even go so far as to have the radio hosts choose among themselves which of their favorite but non-winning works to let us hear from among the winning performers. You could score a work or artist 3 for a 1st place vote, 2 for a second, and 1 for a third, or something scientific like that. We have computers that can do this. Please consider being smarter about this, although I'm certainly enjoying the music this week!

Dec. 31 2011 04:27 PM
Fred from Kew Gardens

Maybe a delightful Haydn piano sonata? I'd enjoy hearing the Franck or Brahms (#2,3) violin sonatas. (The playlist gives me a headache.)

Dec. 31 2011 03:56 PM
Ramen from Brooklyn, NY

So right now my guess is...#1 will be either Beethoven 9 or one of Richard Strauss tone/symphonic poems

Dec. 31 2011 03:35 PM
Steve from Bronx

I would like to second the comments of Fred from Kew Gardens. There is a wealth of truly great music in the chamber repertoire (and it's enjoyable too!). The string quartets of Haydn, Beethoven, Bartok, and Shostakovich come to mind. ANY of the chamber works of Dvorak - quartets, trios, quintets, are all mightily worthy. So whatever WQXR can do in next years's countdown to include more chamber music would be for the better.

In this regard, I must strongly disagree with Ilse of NJ. The "usual suspects" that make up the bulk of these annual lists can be - and are - heard frequently throughout the year, and are extremely accessible (in some cases too much so). Most symphony orchestras these days are discovering that a bit of innovative and adventurous programming is drawing new, younger and more interested audiences. I believe it is time for WQXR to follow suit. The results, both aesthetically and in membership, could be mutually rewarding.

Dec. 31 2011 03:34 PM
Fred from Kew Gardens

Certainly the great Schubert String Quintet in C major(D.956) as a celebratory piece shouldn't be forgotten.

One could put together a fabulous list (in the 100s) of just sonatas and chamber music pieces.

Dec. 31 2011 03:32 PM
Susan Montauk

I agree with Fred From Kew Gardens. What are the chances of Mendelssohn's Octet being played in these next few choices? Or Beethoven's Grosse Fugue? Or any quartet by Bartok or Beethoven. I limit my votes to chamber music, but I have no interest in spending time voting repeatedly. Perhaps we need a different way to vote for chamber--some kind bundling. Suggest maybe voting for late Beethoven string quartets, let the staff pick which one as is done with the Brandenberg concertos. And how about Chopin nocturnes? Any piano piece by Liszt

Dec. 31 2011 03:10 PM
Fred from Kew Gardens

There is certainly a conspicuous absence of chamber music, sonatas for violin, piano, vocal pieces (don’t mean arias), etc. These small form works comprise some of the greatest and most abundant music ever written. In general, WQXR should set aside more time for non-orchestral music.

One of the purposes of public broadcasting is to educate and inform. It’s OK and necessary to occasionally push people a bit outside their comfort zone. I love to discover “new” music (new to me) and at the right moments listen to those profound smaller scale works. I have come to love many pieces of music that I didn't initially like.

(And while I’m kvetching, is the average daily WQXR listener’s attention span down to fourteen minutes?)

I hope WQXR’s New Year’s resolution is to expand their playlist. Then next year’s listener selections might be a bit more varied and interesting.

Dec. 31 2011 02:48 PM
Ilse from NJ

I wonder at all the fuss and furor about the “favorites” playlist. It presents the opportunity to hear some wonderful music, (of which there is little enough on radio these days). If the selections are not YOUR personal choices, I’m sure you can go to your own CD collection and listen to the works that did not make the list. The enjoyment of music is highly subjective, personal, and often emotional. Even respected musicologists do not agree on the criteria that make a “good” piece of music, and will argue vehemently, and often with snobbish elitism, for their point of view. Many styles, time periods and composers are represented on the playlist, and if some of them are derided by a few commentators as “chestnuts”, maybe there is some merit and reason for their continued popularity. To those who complain, I would suggest “lighten up!” I enjoy a variety of music, although I am a traditionalist, and I am thankful to be able to listen to classical music in this area, with WQXR the first button on my car radio. Therefore, I will continue to enjoy whatever is presented, and be grateful for the opportunity.

Dec. 31 2011 02:24 PM
David Gravitz from Ardsley, NY

There is something undemocratic about unlimited votes per person. Why not limit the voting to one per person but allow people to list their top 10 or top 5 instead of top 3 to get more variety? Also if all 5 Brandenburg concertos count as one piece, why not allow voting for the 32 Beethoven piano sonatas or the 4 Brahms symphonies, etc.?

Dec. 31 2011 01:22 PM
recent old guy in astoria from astoria, NY

Nothing like a good catfight among the classical music fans.... I would say to many---"lighten up"--it's a fun survey.
Other thoughts-
Be happy that we did not lose classical music radio in NYC.
I will play Pachelbel Canon all day in my house at loud volume to annoy some of the commenters.
Where are the two Weber Clarinet Concertos? They should be #1 and #2, I will campaign for them next year.

Dec. 31 2011 01:18 PM
Monroe from BROOKLYN, NY

So your Classical Countdown is playing the same 75 chestnuts you broadcast over and over and over all year round. Thank goodness for WKCR where I have been listening to their wonderful Bach Festival all week long!

Dec. 31 2011 01:11 PM
Steve from Brooklyn

With so much concern voiced over vote stuffing, one wonders what would be involved in invoking and enforcing a one-person-one-vote policy from a technical standpoint. Can it be done relatively easily? And while on the subject of matters technical, a real downside to WQXR's transition is the diminution in signal strength, which is especially problematic while driving. Can anything be done about this? Tchaikovsky's 4th #11 while the 5th is #45?? Oy gevalt.

Dec. 31 2011 12:58 PM
Laura H. from Woodside, Queens

I don't usually post "me too" comments, but in this case I just have to, as Bernie from UWS hit the nail on the head. So: thank you, Bernie from UWS; I agree with every word, and I hope WQXR seriously considers your thoughtful and cogent remarks!

Dec. 31 2011 12:13 PM
Michael Meltzer

WQXR needs to learn the REAL parameters of "safe" 20th-century music programming, by simply listening to the programming of its own sub-contractors: Fred Childs, Christopher O'Riley, Kent Tritle, Bill McLachlan, Bob Sherman and Michael Barone.
These are WQXR's acknowledged "experts," and they must think WQXR is run by a bunch of Neanderthals.

Dec. 31 2011 11:04 AM
Ralph Braskett from No. Plainfield, NJ

The fans of choral music have stuffed the ballot box; too much Choral; and Beethoven's #6 the Pastoral at 16; in prior years it was in the top 10.
I hope WQXR gives the numerous comments on the website serious consideration; the WNYC civil service mentality promotes a we know what we ate doing and public criticism counts for naught.

Dec. 31 2011 11:01 AM
John Strong from Setauket

I have always been dismayed that no time is given to operatic choices. Perhaps the whole opera is not practical (more on that later), but there are many opera highlights recorded (usually a full DVD) that would provide a real taste of the work. As for time: now that WQXR is no longer commercial - why a time limit? Why not have the countdown go from Christmas to New Years? Your playing everyone's favorites, so why not?

Also, rather than having folks choose only their top three favorites is very limiting and skews the results. Voting more than once is a poor idea, but I would suggest something like their top 20.

As to the winners - I am not a baroque fan. I was introduced to classical music (other than cartoons and radio shows-Lone Ranger, etc.) by the second suite of Daphnis & Chloe and Le Sacre du Printemps both still favorites. If my first contact had been the Brandenburg Concertos, I doubt I would have been converted. I enjoy them more now, but hardly a favorite.

Dec. 31 2011 10:48 AM
Nina from NYC

I am so glad that baroque, classical, romantic, and modern (Stravinsky, etc) music is being honored on WQXR! Re: Other comments: Yes, I do believe new, less famous, and other style works should be celebrated as well. However I have found that most people have not actually really listened much to the incredible works that are deservedly "classics,". They may have heard of some of them, or recognize a main melody from them, but don't really know them well. And I live an area of NYC that probably has the most concentrated number of people who have been exposed to classical music at all. Sadly, there are even fewer classical radio stations and orchestras now. So, yes, generally speaking, lets honor and play other types of works, as mentioned above, but I am very glad to hear many of the classical countdown pieces on the radio, and glad that others may as well.

Dec. 31 2011 10:09 AM

Ah! New Year's Eve breakfast with Beethoven's "Pastorale" symphony at #16 on the countdown. Such a spiritually uplifting work, well played by Gardiner and the ORR crew.

Dec. 31 2011 09:47 AM
Barry Owen Furrer

To Mr. Meltzer's point - this survey sure has people talking and that's a good thing (sorry, Martha!) and to Mr. Feldman - back in the late 70's when the CSO came to Carnegie, Solti paired Mozart #41 with Mahler #5! Talk about the best of both worlds! Perhaps a future blog could be "what makes good music good?" This will really keep the dialogue going! A happy and healthy 2012 to all!

Dec. 31 2011 09:00 AM
Bernie from UWS

I'm not so worried about people voting multiple times. Most of us have better things to do. For me the issue is this: Lists of "favorites" that focuses so heavily on core repertory become a self-fulfilling prophesy for classical radio stations.

QXR will see this as a sign that its listeners desire lots of mainstream 18th, 19th and early 20th century works and narrow its playlists to give them just that. In fact, people tune in to Public Radio because they do want to be challenged, to be introduced to something unfamiliar, and to discover neglected works that are every bit as interesting as the chestnuts but for various historical reasons didn't catch on from the beginning. Yes, there are a few reactionaries on this page who decry anything written after 1900 but I suspect many New Yorkers want a broad swath of music in their lives.

Yes, these favorites are great and deserve to be heard but so does lots of other music. A public radio station should both comfort and challenge its listeners!

Dec. 31 2011 08:48 AM
cuzzzzz from New Jersey

Peter... this doesn't mean that more people prefer Mahler's 5th to the titles above it.. it could be one person who voted a million times... this multiple voting should be done away with. Years ago I remember WQXR had it that a person could vote only once and list his 5 or 10 favorite pieces .. this to me is a more meaningful way of doing it.

Still rooting for Dvorak's New World Symphony to be number one.. will restore my faith in people's tastes.

Dec. 31 2011 08:07 AM
Peter Feldman from New York City

It is unbelievable that so many people prefer Symphony No. 5 by Mahler rather than Symphony No. 41 "Jupiter" by Mozart and Symphonies Nos. 5 and 6 by Tchaikovsky were voted even much less. What a taste!

Dec. 31 2011 07:51 AM
Tim Brown from Washington, DC

Great list! And it has some of my choices too! Thanks, Listeners, and thank you WQXR! Happy New Year!

Dec. 31 2011 07:20 AM
Michael Meltzer

To D.S.B.:
Spoken like a Davidsbündler!

Dec. 31 2011 03:52 AM
Michael Meltzer

It has been months since a QXR blog reached this level of dialogue! We have 95 comments and going strong - I think it was the first Beethoven blog that was the last time everyone out here was given an opportunity and elected to speak up.
It would be in order for WQXR to officially rejoice in this with a heartfelt commitment to keep it going, in spite of its obvious inconvenience to ivory-tower management and programming.
Be the PUBLIC station you are supposed to be, not just "listener supported."

Dec. 31 2011 03:00 AM
David S Bundler

I think Herr Beckmesser was just keeping in character, and I enjoyed you correcting him like Hans Sachs marking his errors with a hammer. I enjoyed everyone's comments, they are all feeling something very stong and personal about a sequence of ordered noises that can speak to anyone, from Europe to Asia, regardless of native tongue, and say more than words ever could. Hats off to you all, whether you want to go to war over your favorite color, or you say; I embrace ye o' millions, with this kiss I kiss the whole world; either way you are really feeling something. No small thing, many in this world cannot hear as you do. You are blessed, be thankful for your gift, be thankful for QXR.

Dec. 31 2011 01:22 AM
Bill From NJ from NJ

This is simply what it is, a list of favorite pieces people voted for, it doesn't pretend to be a literal ranking of 'the greatest pieces', this isn't a survey of 'great pieces' put out by musicologists (thank God for that, if we did we would be inundated by works by Stockhausen, Reich, Wourinam, Babbit et al who only find favor with academics). Sure it creates head scratchers (the fact that Eine Kleine Nachmusic is on the list at all, well....), but it represents the works people are familiar with. Academics and the musical elite have been trying to tell people from almost 100 years that atonal music is 'real music' and they 'have to listen to it', they have been telling people Bach is dead and so forth and serialism along with 12 tone music is real, we are supposed to listen to pieces totally removed from melodic structure because it is good for us, and guess has failed to find any kind of audience (kind of like Castor Oil, might be good for you but who would willingly swill it?). People love to point out the controversial music of its day that now is canon, but what that leaves out is the controversy didn't last long, whereas the 'schonberg revolution' and the rest of 20th century music remains that way; it is so bad they know to program the 'modern' pieces in the 1st half, so people won't walk out at intermission.

The play list I believe is a function of WNYC's music license, QXR's old license had the ability to show the full list beforehand, NYC's license did not.

And yes, the new website format is poorly designed, I test software for a living and the new interface would fail user acceptance testing/usability testing, it is confusing and clunky and the site is slow to update.

Dec. 31 2011 12:28 AM
Michael Meltzer

Beckmesser, that was a joke (& it's "invertIble"). However, I agree with Paul Hindemith that if a composer really and truly contrives to avoid tonality, the ear will assign one anyway.
The only answer to that one was John Cage's silence piece.

Dec. 30 2011 11:39 PM

As far as the new "UNfriendliness" of the site, and the difficulty of just seeing what has already been played, I agree.... the site is a little snazzier visually but much harder to actually use. (Did they get rheir money's worth on the revision?... well, probably not yet. Perhaps when it's really finished....)

I hope that if we give them time, and enough feedback, that they will fix the rough edges and make it simple again.

I also agree that it was better to be able to see in advance what will be played, but there is some new internet rule -- some new copyright rule or another -- that prevents them from posting their selections in advance (WQXR has cited it in replies to other posts.) (Not a good rule, but they have to comply.)

Dec. 30 2011 10:32 PM
Beckmesser from Nuremberg, DE

By invertable I meant in the traditional contrapuntal sense of any line being capable of being used a bass, the melodic inversions like Mozart used would be extra credit. As for avant garde, one must avoid intervals that would suggest tonality, more difficult than it sounds.

Dec. 30 2011 10:12 PM
David S Bundler

You Bruckner ballot stuffer, I remember Herbert and his then Berlin boy band play the 8th, the guy in the next seat was telling me how great Mahler was, (which then still meant "painter"), until the last movement. His face said it all from then on, it wasn't about Mahler. Do you think you could help me with Franz Berwald next year?

Dec. 30 2011 09:51 PM
Michael Meltzer

Beckmesser, be careful. In avant-garde music, EVERYTHING is invertible, because it doesn't matter what it sounds like.
Perhaps you might retrograde to requiring voters to sing "Freude, schoene, Gotterfunken, Tochter aus Elysium" in D-major and stay in tune.

Dec. 30 2011 09:40 PM

Barbara Cruse made a comment below that is exactly how I approached the voting: "I submit pieces that I am particularly fond of but are not necessarily in that 'greatest' category"

I know that there will be a *lot* of Beethoven symphonies. I don't disagree, but since I know they will be there (ahem, including the 9th), I voted for OTHER pieces I wanted to be represented.

Even great music can become a cliche. (Of course, I will enjoy and hum along with the 9th on Saturday when it comes around....)

Dec. 30 2011 09:20 PM
Carol Luparella from Elmwood Park, NJ

I am very happy to see that Bruckner's Symphony #8 is ranked at #35 on this year's Classical Countdown list. (And yes, I admit that I was one of the ballot stuffers!) Unfortunately, I didn't actually get to hear it, since it was played after 11:30 PM and I didn't think the countdown would continue that late, so I guess WQXR punished me for that! Well, no matter, at least Bruckner's music, which is so unfairly neglected, has finally been included in the Classical Countdown. If WQXR would play Bruckner's music more often, more people would come to appreciate it, and we wouldn't need to resort to ballot stuffing to get one of his symphonies in the countdown!

Dec. 30 2011 09:13 PM
debi from Bradley Beach, NJ

Whatever peoples' complaints about how this or that is done at WQXR, I am grateful to have a flourishing classical music station in the New York area. I'm sorry that it is sometimes hard to receive without static at the Jersey Shore. But I can always get into my car and turn on the radio, if there is something I particularly want to hear. By the way I have been listening to the station since 1950.

Dec. 30 2011 08:47 PM
Ralph Braskett from No. Plainfield, NJ

Laura H, Michael from R'ford, John Flory & Mary Ellen said it all.
WQXR: Think about adding a day to the top75 so you could play more than
just excerpts of #75to50. I am not a fan of Requiems & vocal classical
generally, but others are so I listen & maybe learn. I wonder if my
3rd choice: the Ride of the Valkuries from Wagner's Ring Cycle will see
the light of day on this list; my first 2 will for sure.
For July 4th how about the top 10or more patriotic pieces.

Dec. 30 2011 08:39 PM

LizzyP, I do agree with you and others re: playlists. Since I usually listen in the car, I often want to go back in time to figure out what it was I was listening to. The old format, whatever it was, was easier. I've noticed that also. I used it infrequently, but it did used to be easier.

Dec. 30 2011 08:16 PM
Beckmesser from Nuremberg, DE

Simple 5 part invertable counterpoint, nothing fancy, like what Mozart did in C major at the end of symphony #41, I think his theme was only 4 whole notes. Either that or 22 minute orchestral crescendo on one theme. I'll bet some wiseguy stuffed Mahler's 2nd and 5th into the top ten so we have to sit through them.

Dec. 30 2011 08:11 PM
LizzyP from New York

I agree with the posters who decry the current method of posting playlists. It seems to me that the WQXR website has become more and more user UNfriendly. It used to be such a pleasure to read through the list and be able to know what one could look forward to hearing. As well, it used to be much easier to look up the title of an unfamiliar piece of music once caught only snatches of while in and out of the car.

Dec. 30 2011 08:10 PM

lol Beckmesser :)

And Michael, I didn't know this was temporary...I've never noticed one way or another. If so, yes, it is kind of fun arguing about classical music, even if I cannot take such arguments seriously. But then I can't answer whatever question it was that Beckmesser wanted us to be able to I perhaps shouldn't be allowed here. :o) [said all in good humor]

Dec. 30 2011 08:01 PM
Beckmesser from Nuremberg, DE

I agree with the below about ballot stuffing, as a former classical music buyer, I recognized the choices were also approxinately the top 75 selling CDs, so far. So it is obvious some one wants the list have the music people spend money on, and money corrupts everything. The infamous cannon and Bolero are found on "greatest hits" CDs, no one would actually enjoy such music. I propose voting be limited to those with a demonstrated abilty to produce invertable 5 part counterpoint, so only educated opinions will matter.

Dec. 30 2011 07:50 PM

Great to hear Sib5 at no. 23. Nothing like a splash of Nordic ice-water to help clear the mind after all that mittel European romanticism. Sib5 was my #3 choice, and although I have and like the Rattle/Birmingham version you played, I prefer the Segerstam/Helsinki and the Vanska/Lahti performances. I suppose the final 20 will be Beethoven-rich -- so much to enjoy on WQXR.

Dec. 30 2011 07:46 PM
Vladimir from Manhattan from Manhattan, NYC

Glorious music with impeccable choices of recordings. Have not watched TV in two days. Lets list the top 500 favorites with complete performances. That would be heaven. If WQXR followed that advice, contributions would triple. Have a healthy and productive 2012, every one.
aka: Wally

Dec. 30 2011 07:33 PM
Michael Meltzer

To Dazed Cat:
If it weren't for this temporary website, just where would you have posted that opinion,and how many people would have read it?
That's exactly what I'm talking about!

Dec. 30 2011 07:28 PM

Is there any chance that WQXR might put some of the "non-winner" suggestions into the Listener Request lists? Could be a great source of listener input.

My $0.02

Dec. 30 2011 07:09 PM

I don't understand why anyone is complaining about any part of the classical countdown or WQXR. I voted for a Boccherini Fandango that I don't expect to hear. I knew I could have voted more than once, but was too busy. All the music is wonderful and the education WQXR has given me the last 30 years is priceless to me. I am so grateful to have WQXR in my life, mainly while I spend all the time I do in my car! Happy New Year in 2012!

Dec. 30 2011 07:05 PM
Michael Meltzer

What is important is that this is a prominent, accessible site for WQXR listeners to express their opinions TO WQXR AND EACH OTHER and exchange knowledge and viewpoints for the edification of the WQXR proramming department.
Recent "improvements" in the WQXR website have decimated these opportunities, apparently intentionally. That was an unhealthy move for a public station. At this moment, we have healthy dialogue.
It is in the best interest of the station that it continue.

Dec. 30 2011 06:57 PM
Mila Lipovski from New Jersey

I thank WQXR for today's choice of the performers. In the morning, when three geniuses(Brahms, Oistrakh and Otto Klemperer) were brought together,I ended up being late for my office. And right now - Glenn Gould playing "Goldberg's Variations"!!!. No comments.
I wish I could thank you for yesterday's Mr. Pogorelich's interprtation of the Mussorgsky's image of the great city of Kiev with it's countless churches and hundreds of bells singing and talking to each other... Sorry, I can't.
In his "Notes" Sviatoslav Richter names "Pictures From The Exhibition" the best piece of the Russian Piano Repertoire. Why not to play Richter's recording at the Soia Recital (Philips, 1958)?
There is another recording that is as great as the Richter's one - Valery Afanassiev, (Denon, 1991) I just wish my fellow listeners could enjoy them.

Dec. 30 2011 06:27 PM

Please--no more ballot box stuffing. It makes the list hostage to overeager fans of less than stellar pieces.

Dec. 30 2011 06:06 PM
David S Bundler

I have not seen a QXR response to those requesting one vote per, but consider this, I am a philistine regarding technology, but I know several ways to circumvent almost anything designed to limit me to one vote; multiple addresses, alternate PCs or other media, so perhaps allowing multiple votes was a way of balancing that out, putting us all on equal footing. I like what I hear so far, next year lets have 105; if you love it, I want to hear it.

Dec. 30 2011 05:48 PM
Winnifred from New York

@ Barbara Cruse: Brilliant comment, yours.

Dec. 30 2011 05:12 PM
Barbara Cruse from Florham Park, NJ

The instructions clearly ask that you submit your 'favorite' classical compositions, not those you consider the greatest ever written. And, of course, the term 'favorite' is by definition subjective. I have been listening to the Classical Countdown for many years and I know I am going to hear Beethoven's Fifth and Ninth, etc., so I submit pieces that I am particularly fond of but are not necessarily in that 'greatest' category.
I enjoy listening every year even if not every selection is a 'favorite' of mine.

Dec. 30 2011 04:12 PM
Michael Meltzer

There seem to be two Michael Meltzers - the one "from new york, n.y." is a new player.
WQXR, has this happened before and what do you suggest for distinctly recognizable identification?

Dec. 30 2011 03:59 PM
David S Bundler

I enjoyed seeing Brucker's 8th this time around, (Brahms liked it too, and Mahler was at the first performance and saw his own future). Everyone hears diffent things, that's kind of cool. You know what you like, why not just say "wow, other people like other stuff". I voted for late Beethoven, and not #9, but if Bolero speaks to someone, it has value, since music is communication. After all, "all men are brothers" not just those who share our opinions, hmm; that thought is a nice idea for a piece of music, but would it be popular?

Dec. 30 2011 02:56 PM

I think that it was wonderful to hear two vocal works so close to one another! I think that there needs to be more vocal, and not just in the Choral Mix program. In regards to earlier comments I do hope that the "New World Symphony" is rather high on the list. Anyone seen the Overture from "The Magic Flute" yet? Another wonderful piece!

Dec. 30 2011 02:55 PM

Once again, your "on air" is outdated. Mine still has "An American in Paris" as the "current" piece. What gives?

Dec. 30 2011 02:54 PM

Many have commented on the "vote often" process. I agree that all efforts should be made to limit to "one person, one vote" (albeit for whatever positions #1, #2, #3). Analogies to the MLB All-Star ballot (I have seen stadiums with punch-out stands for their players) and (gasp!) the talent/popularity show American Idol would be valid. Well, that is a bit drastic as WQXR listeners are typically not screaming teenies, but a more valid result would be obtained though single voting. All the same, I am enjoying the countdown.

Dec. 30 2011 02:44 PM
Juan Carlos Correa from Santiago, Chile

I was dissapointed too, when I heard only one piece of Elgar's Enigma variations. WQXR has always played entire works. I don't know why this is not happening this time.

In spite of all that I have just said, I think WQXR is a great radio station!!!!!!

Dec. 30 2011 02:44 PM
Laura H.

Very glad to hear all of the Verdi Requiem, as I agree with those who noted that they hate excerpts. In fact, that's one of the reasons I choose to listen to WQXR every day instead of the many other choices on the internet: most of the other choices do the awful "one movement from a great symphony" thing. Bleh.

@Susanna Levin: a lot of us liked the old playlist where you could see the music in advance, but because of Digital Millenium Copyright Act restrictions, internet radio stations are no longer permitted by law to post such lists. So don't blame WQXR for that one.

A happy and healthy New Year to all!

Dec. 30 2011 02:35 PM
Michael Meltzer from New York, NY

I heart this list!

Dec. 30 2011 02:17 PM
Peter O'Malley from Oakland, New Jersey

Pleased to hear that you are playing the full recording of the Verdi "Requiem" (a vocal work!!!), even after having played the Brahms "Ein Deutsches Requiem" the same morning.


Dec. 30 2011 02:11 PM
Michael from Rutherford NJ

Surprised and disappointed that you are playing excerpts of these great compositions. Going through 5 pieces in the first half hour? Especially Pictures at an Exhibition. I almost feel as if I am listening to the top 40 from the 50s or 60s on a.m. radio. Please play the entire pieces if you can change at this point. I hate excerpts. Happy New Year and peace to all

Dec. 30 2011 11:35 AM

@Paul: It's true that Beethoven 9 has won in many years' past. You'll just have to tune in Saturday night to find out whether or not it holds its place.

@Edward: Try giving the Brahms Requiem that we're playing now a listen!

Dec. 30 2011 11:00 AM
Edward Palumbo from N. Y. NY

As far as I am concerned, it is all downhill in classical music after Mendelssohn.

Dec. 30 2011 10:16 AM
Paul from Long Island

Dear WQXR: Has Beethoven's Ninth Symphony ever NOT been #1 in the Classical Countdown?

Dec. 30 2011 09:45 AM
Joan B from NJ

We always enjoy your annual Countdown, but by all means, let's have one vote per listener in the future.

And - I agree with Susanna Levin - please bring back the running daily playlist and the monthly calendar of featured selections. Your "old" website was much more user friendly!

Dec. 30 2011 09:42 AM

WQXR: Why did you allow everyone to vote as often as he or she wanted, thus invalidating the results?

Dec. 30 2011 09:40 AM

Michael: Thanks for your feedback. For the reason you point out, we opted to give listeners the ability to vote for their first, second and third favorite pieces. It would have been logistically unfeasible to allow listeners to vote for their #15 or #20th favorite works but we found that widening it three made for a much wider pool of responses.

Dec. 30 2011 09:30 AM
Michael Meltzer

It is also interesting what this poll will NOT tell us or the programmers. Every choice was selected by its sponsor to be #1 or #2.
There is an important class of compositions, like Mr. Furrer’s “Stars & Stripes,” or my own example of the Brahms Haydn Variations, that few people would select to be #1 or #2, but would be found in absolutely every quality record collection. I mention the Brahms, because it does not have the architecture of the Symphonies, or the pathos of The German Requiem or Nänie, but is a wonderful and entertaining Brahms smorgasbord, the perfect Brahms sampler. It would be few listeners’ #1, but hundreds of listeners would make it #15 or #20, and it would be a terrible loss to cut it from the playlist.
There are countless quality compositions like this, and a programmer has to know where to find them. A poll will not do your work for you.

Dec. 30 2011 09:08 AM
Barry Owen Furrer

This "vote early/vote often" approach is as accurate as the all-star ballot process in major league baseball. I believe in the "old days," one had to fill out a post card and actually mail it in thus cutting down on stuffing the ballot box since only one selection per card was accepted. No doubt my choice - John Philip Sousa's "The Stars & Stripes Forever" will miss the cut yet again. A happy and healthy new year to all!

Dec. 30 2011 05:57 AM
Fred from Kew Gardens

Throw the chestnuts into the fire. I'd rather have interesting programming. (I bet many listeners already have these pieces in their CD collection.)

Hmm- What will #1 be?

Dec. 30 2011 01:51 AM
Charles from Brooklyn

I must agree with the other comments that question the accuracy of the survey. How is it possible that Tchaikovsky's greatest masterpieces (Violin Concerto in D, Swan Lake, Piano Concerto no. 1), Braham's 4rth Symphony, or Elgar's Cello Concerto come in behind anything Bernstien or Copland wrote? It is clear that the poll is not representative of Classical music listeners' tastes. That said, the repertoire for the next few days is bound to be superb.

Dec. 30 2011 01:49 AM

Oops. That's "composers" -- sorry for the typo.

Dec. 30 2011 01:44 AM

Re. Steve from Brooklyn -- "And choice #61 probably has poor Ravel turning in his grave."

And turning, and turning, and turning.

I like seeing the variety of composeres so far.


Dec. 30 2011 01:33 AM
Milton Granger

I can't even find a list of the 75 choices this year in one place. Do you have such a thing?

Dec. 30 2011 01:06 AM
John Dixon from Old Greenwich, CT

You lost me at Bruckner's Eighth. It's about as well-loved as ragweed pollen. How many really prefer, by a large margin, to Mahler's First, Brahms's Fourth, Tchaikovsky's Vionin Concerto, and several of Mozart's greatest hits?
This is ballot box stuffing. All of the tiny band of Bruckner fanciers coordinate their votes. Fortunately, we'll be unlikely to hear Bruckner again for a long time.


Dec. 30 2011 12:31 AM

This is not a valid survey. You cannot run a valid survey by telling people to vote for their favorite piece as often as they would like. Sounds like corrupt politics: "Vote early and vote often!"

Dec. 30 2011 12:10 AM
Michael Meltzer

Requests to see the voting tallies for the selections may be a quandary for WQXR to decide to display. If the total vote turnout is relatively small, that would explain the peculiar sequencing of some of the selections, but it might also be an embarassing reflection on the popularity of the poll.
You are also not likely to see many choices that have been avoided or stonewalled by WQXR through the year: out of sight, out of mind. Hindemith, Poulenc, Martinu, MacDowell will get short shrift.
Finally, I'm no Bernstein fan, but I cn't keep panning him without giving the devil his due, and I think Candide may be the best thing he ever wrote. I like it, anyway.

Dec. 29 2011 11:38 PM
Carol Luparella from Elmwood Park, NJ

I think Aaron's idea is a good one. Also, you should publish the entire listing of works that listeners voted for along with the number of votes for each, so that we can see what did not make the Top 75 list.

Dec. 29 2011 10:46 PM
Aaron Liskov from 10463

Call me obnoxious, elitist, snobbish, pretentious or whatever you want, but I have a tough time believing that more people voted for the Candide Suite than Brahms' 4th Symphony, Mahler's 1st Symphony, or Rachmaninoff's 3rd Piano Concerto. Therefore, next to each piece on the list, I request that WQXR publish the number of votes received by each piece.

Dec. 29 2011 10:36 PM
Steve from Brooklyn

Responding to Old Guy in NJ, I'd like to see Beethoven's 9th get overthrown by what in my opinion is a far greater work---his 5th. And choice #61 probably has poor Ravel turning in his grave.

Dec. 29 2011 09:57 PM
Susanna Levin

Where's the rest of the list?!
The website was MUCH easier to navigate before you "improved" it. I liked that calender that you could click on to find anything that was played in the past month. PLEASE bring it back! Also the running list of everything that was played during the day.

Dec. 29 2011 09:23 PM
Virgil Scudder from New York City

How nice it is to hear complete works played at all times of day. The usual barrage of miniatures is far from satisfying. It is understandable in a commercial station but one that is listener-supported has an obligation to let us hear great works in their entirety.

Dec. 29 2011 08:19 PM
Andrea Shay from East Meadow, NY

Spent today at home - could not miss a single note of all my favorites played hour after hour - thank you WQXR

Dec. 29 2011 08:09 PM
cuzzzzz from Scotch Plains, NJ

Regarding "Miles" comment, Dvorak's New World Symphony is my favorite piece of music. I love Toscanini's recording. Dvorak's Cello Concerto with Leonard Rose and Eugene Ormandy ranks right up there, also.

Dec. 29 2011 07:39 PM

I think most out there would agree there are precious few piano concertos as great as the Brahms#2,yet it resides at #59, beneath the Pachelbel Canon. Yes, I'm enjoying the countdown, a guilty pleasure,but the slight to Brahms pains me. Maybe there should be a minimum time restriction on chosen pieces, say 15 minutes. Sorry John Cage!

Dec. 29 2011 07:25 PM
DEBI UNGER from Bradley Beach, NJ

I believe when the Classical Countdown started, there were separate categories for favorite performers. It would be nice if these were reinstated. However, I love this annual countdown because it is another opportunity to hear old favorites. Still, my personal favorites don't usually make the list: Mozart, Sinfonia Concertante, K.364, Haydn, The Creation, and Bach's complete Brandenburg Concerti.

Dec. 29 2011 07:12 PM
Sherman Feller from Fanwood, New Jersey

I always love listening to many of my old favorites this time of year! What a great way to end the old year.
To update your tradition and to expand on it, how about having a listing of favorite compositions of living composers sometimes during the year, such as on July 4th?

Dec. 29 2011 07:09 PM
John Flory from Morristown, NJ

I believe WQXR began this tradition of end-of year ranking of classical music in 1986.
(Since WQXR was at that time at 86.3 they did the top 96 that year.)
This would then be the twenty-fifth year of these end-of-year rankings.
I suggest that WQXR now publish a comparative list of all of the top 96, or 50 or 75 (or what ever for the year) choices for these past twenty-five years so we can see how the top choices have changed.
Interesting statistics and graphs could be made of these data.

Dec. 29 2011 07:00 PM
Nina from NYC

Thank you so much for playing that performance of Tchaikovsky's 5th Symphony (Muti with the Philharmonia). I just heard the 1st movement, and feel it was an incredible performance of one of my favorite movements of all music!! Thank you!

Dec. 29 2011 06:57 PM
Paul from Long Island from Long Island

in reply to Winnifred Lamptey: this may be stating the obvious, but the reason we don't hear a lot of Reich or Cage (or Babbitt or Carter or Messiaen etc etc) may simply be because they're just not good! I realize that it is impossible to define what makes music "good," but it seems to me that defining "good" music as "music that people enjoy" is probably as good a definition as any. And if serial music or 12-tone music or miminalist music, or the other 20th Century styles, have never caught on with the public, the reason maybe that such music just might not be good! I realize that just about every single year, Beethoven's 5th, 6th and 9th Symphonies, plus Dvorak's New World and Vivaldi's 4 Seasons, are right up at the top of WQXR's list - and the reason is that they're great music! (My pet peave: Brahms' Ein Deutsches Requiem should be in the top 10).

Dec. 29 2011 05:59 PM

I look for this every year, and every year I just love to see a list of beautiful music--maybe conventional, maybe old favorites, but all of which bring back to me marvelous memories, and all of which are now old friends.
In response to Miles, Dvorak's New World was my introduction to classical music, in college (if you don't count cartooons...) It was the first vinyl I bought, and from it I tentatively made other, and, I see now, extremely varied, purchases. But I had turned from rock and roll and never looked back.
Thank you, WQXR--my world would be very different without you.
(And yes, the Adagio for Strings is too far down)

Dec. 29 2011 05:46 PM

@Winnifred and Joan: In fact, we've increased the number of pieces in the Countdown this year 75 from 50, where it has been for the past several years. More of listeners' favorite pieces all around.

Stay tuned - there are some surprises too as we get closer and closer to #1!

Dec. 29 2011 04:57 PM
Winnifred Lamptey from New York City

I thank WQXR for this annual gig. My frustration level goes down considerably each year, as I get more and more used to the fact that these pieces are Listeners' Favourites, rather than The Best Pieces of Classical Music. To each his own. I still wish to hear a more varied selection - different, unconventional, non-traditional pieces of classical music. I'm delighted to see Faure in there, albeit very far down on the list. Perhaps with time we just might see more along the lines of Faure, Oliver Messaien (spelling?), Satie, Durufle, Janacek, Sibelius, perhaps some Reich and Cage, etc added to the parade of usual suspects. I take it those who do vote do not fancy music a bit outside the mainstream body of music usually played on the air. One more thing - it's "cute" to have the shorter (75) list, rather than the usual 100 pieces, to mark the 75th anniversary, but I have just realised that it's not even 5pm on the first day and we're nearly half way through.
All in all, this is much appreciated, as is the invitation for comments. Next year I shall remember to vote. Several times.

Dec. 29 2011 04:36 PM
Harry from West Windsor, NJ

After 27 years out of the WQXR listening area, imagine how much it pleases us to be back in WQXR range;between our iphone and pc--it's now all WQXR all the time.
Our five children were introdcued to classical music as Mom listened to WQXR all day from the 60's to the mid 80's, when we moved from the area.
whatever you play in this countdown is music to our ears!!!

Dec. 29 2011 04:26 PM
Vincent S. Beltrani from Hyde Park, NY

"Making the list" is what is important! Like getting into Harvard - their "first choice" is just as impressive as their "last choice"! Some people just love to play the "numbers game". I love all the pieces - some, more at one time, others, at other times. Do not ever stop playing the great music.

Dec. 29 2011 04:15 PM
BCMusic lover,Brooklyn

Happen to catch #56, Elgar's Cello Concerto, Jacqueline du Pre and London Symphony. Simply sublime; motivating reflections on what was, & to be... Thank you.

Dec. 29 2011 04:12 PM

Pachelbel's Canon ahead of Brahms 2nd Piano Concerto? The trite over the masterful - who woulda thunk it? I wonder if the Dvorak "New World" will be second again, as it was last year (if memory serves)? The story is told that Dvorak was once accused by a critic of being a "second tier" composer, to which Dvorak is said to have responded "Perhaps, but I'm a great second tier composer". How true indeed. No matter where the "New World" falls this year, it never ceases to amaze and impress. I only hope WQXR selects one of the better interpretations, the best (and very difficult to find) still being to my mind the late '50s recording by Ormandy leading the Philadelphia.

Dec. 29 2011 03:42 PM
Joan Palermo from New York City

There were a few things that I was not aware of this year i.e., your cutting down your list from 100 to 75. I agree with Michael Meltzer's thinking that voting as often as you like can skew the actual voting process. Perhaps that appeals to popularity but then other pieces may get neglected. However, I am very impressed with many of the selections I have heard so far. Some pieces I have not heard for a long time and they are very well performed. All in all, I think it is a wonderful idea and it is exciting to have so many participants. Next year I will place my vote.

Keep up the good, industrious work! Thanks.

Dec. 29 2011 03:31 PM
Paula Jane from Brooklyn, of course

Well Vladimir, at least we have Rachmaninoff and Prokofiev, but not the ones I would have liked, either. I would have preferred Variations on a Theme by Paganini and Lt. Kije. Well, half a loaf.....

Dec. 29 2011 03:27 PM
Klaus Moritz from queens NY

Beethovens Ninth is extraordinary and wonderful just like the music of JS Bach, which was reincarnated by Glen Gould. The world is just not producing that kind of music any more.

Dec. 29 2011 03:26 PM
John Strong from Setauket, NY

We are past 53-need an update to the list

Dec. 29 2011 03:15 PM
Vladimir from Siberia

I no see comrade Shostakovich on list. Why? Is no beautiful music?

Dec. 29 2011 02:49 PM
harrietb98 from Bayside, NY

Why is this selection of Eine kleine Nachtmusik so slow?

Dec. 29 2011 02:48 PM
Mort Mackof from Manhattan (NY)

Thank you once again for closing the another year with an inspirational musical party. You create a grand spirit in this listener for the coming year.

May we have a list of the actual recordings played for each of the 75 selections.

Dec. 29 2011 02:30 PM

I'm not too happy with the performance of Rachmaninoff's Piano Concerto No.3 on air right now. The pianist is playing the work at too fast a tempo. I would have preferred hearing Horowitz's landmark performance.

Dec. 29 2011 02:11 PM
Randall Gabrielan

Why not call it the most popular? This list has a pop Top 40 finish to it and while Bolero is charming, greatest? Please. Seeing the Coates request, why not next year ask for the 75, 76 or 100 most neglected or underappreciated works.

Dec. 29 2011 01:44 PM

@Isolde - we'll be taking a break from the Noon Request hour during the Classical Countdown, but returning again next week. As a general guideline, requests can be made using the "Request Music" button on our home page and are then selected and played at 12 noon weekdays.

Thanks everyone for your votes and feedback on this year's Countdown.

Dec. 29 2011 01:30 PM
Harry Gross from Mineola, New York

It occurs to me that it might be interesting to see several previous year's countdowns listed on the website, to see just how pieces move around on the list.

I'm not at all surprised to see the same pieces make the list each year. After all, these are the listeners favorites, and favorites don't tend to change all that much:-)

However, the ORDER does shift from year to year, and that might be an interesting gauge of listener taste.

I'm also inclined to agree with Mr. Meltzer. I don't think most listeners are likely to list an opera in its entirety as a 'favorite', but certainly, particular arias should fall on this list. Perhaps he is right, and the 'rules' could more plainly indicate how to vote for 'parts' of an opera as one of a listener's favorites?

Regardless, the list is always full of great music, and I, for one, enjoy listening to as much of it as I can each year!

Happy New Year, one and all!

Dec. 29 2011 01:27 PM
concetta nardone from Elmont, NY

Mr. Meltzer's comments are true. I think it would be better to have opera as a separate category. Asking for the favorite piece of classical music is almost like asking which child is your favorite. For me,
Opera --Verdi's Macbeth
Symphony - Beethoven Third
etc. etc. Yes, I love the Ninth but every year? Sounds like the fix is in.

Dec. 29 2011 12:55 PM
Michael Meltzer

The fact that "Boheme" appears so far down on the list and behind Brahms: Piano Concerto #2, suggests that perhaps you need to tweak the way you pose the opening question in taking the poll.
I suspect that many people wouldn't think of suggesting a complete opera as a "piece of music," and it's not the station's regular fare, just a Saturday Special.
If you have a music store,"La Boheme" sales can pay your rent. Brahms 2nd Concerto is a fine work, but it is of much more limited interest.

Dec. 29 2011 12:46 PM
Charles Kiley from Clark, NJ

I'm glad they did away with the "pick from this list" approach. Maybe they could add some variety by playing different performances of old favorites, such as Liszt's piano transcriptions of Beethoven's symphonies or of the Symphonie Fantastique, rather than the usual orchestral versions.

Dec. 29 2011 10:28 AM

Is there any way to find out when my request might be played? Difficult to sit by the radio for 4 days from 9Am to midnight....

I requested the Kinightsbridge Overture (or just the march) by Sir Eric Coates.

Dec. 29 2011 10:20 AM

Samuel Barber's "Adagio for Strings" is 69? How is that possible?

Dec. 29 2011 09:46 AM
olya from basking ridge NJ

Happy New Year! and thanks again for this yearly gift. but what frightens me, reading about cut-backs and the like, especially in the arts....your countdown seems to be shrinking too! It used to be the TOP100, and now its 75??

Dec. 29 2011 09:41 AM

I'm torn as to how to feel if Beethoven's Ninth gets first place again. As a singer I think that it is a wonderful challenge and drips with the raw emotion that Beethoven is so famous for. But I do not think that it is really a first place choice. I do hope that there is a little more diversity though. I would like to hear something of Smetana and some Handel choral works other than the Messiah.

Dec. 29 2011 09:24 AM
Old Guy in NJ

What are the odds on Beethoven's Ninth again for first place? Yawn!

Dec. 29 2011 09:09 AM

Hello!! It's a fun thing. The 'reasoning' is fun. As in 'fun'. And a jeu de mot on "vote early and often". I doubt that my vote of the King's Singers' rendition of the overture to "Barber of Seville" will make the cut (pun intended), but I'm still glad I voted. It might be a wake-up call.


Dec. 29 2011 02:58 AM
Michael Meltzer

What was your reasoning in instructing listeners to "Vote as often as you like?" That could seriously taint any result if you are truly searching for "listener favorites."

Dec. 29 2011 12:25 AM

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