Results of Q2 Music's Inaugural New-Music Countdown

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Taking a cue from the entertaining WQXR 2011 Classical Countdown, Q2 Music asked listeners to vote for their favorite pieces of classical music composed in the 20th and 21st centuries. The resulting list, tallied from hundreds of votes, begins to offer some insights into tomorrow's classical canon. 

Our inaugural new-music countdown will run Saturday from 2 pm to midnight, and Sunday from 7am to midnight. We will be counting down the top 50 listener favorites. 

Thank you to everyone who participated, and if you have ideas for next year's countdown, e.g. favorite pieces post-WWII, of the 21st century, from American composers of 20th and 21st centuries), let us know! 

Disclaimer: Some pieces due to their length (I'm looking at you, Nixon and Einstein!) will be excerpted, but don't worry, the portions are all large in this hearty cornucopia of musical main courses. 

50. Samuel Barber — Violin Concerto, Op. 14

49. Osvaldo Golijov  Tenebrae

48. Osvaldo Golijov  St. Mark's Passion

47. Michael Gordon  Trance

46. Maurice Ravel String Quartet in F

45. Magnus Lindberg — Clarinet Concerto

44. Leonard Bernstein — West Side Story

43. Leonard Bernstein — Chichester Psalms

42. John Corigliano — Symphony No. 1

41. John Adams — Harmonielehre

40. Igor Stravinsky — The Rake's Progress

39. Gyorgy Ligeti — Lux Aeterna

38. Gyorgy Ligeti — Six Bagatelles for Woodwind Quintet

37. Gustav Mahler — Symphony No. 5

36. George Gershwin — Rhapsody in Blue

35. Elliott Carter — Concerto for Orchestra

34. Donnacha Dennehy — Gra Agus Bas

33. Darius Milhaud — Le boeuf sur le toit

32. Claude Debussy — La mer

31. Charles Ives — Piano Sonata No. 2, "Concord, Mass., 184-1860"

30. Bela Bartok — Music for Strings, Percussion, and Celesta

29. Arvo Part — Spiegel im Spiegel

28. Aaron Copland — Symphony No. 3

27. Steve Reich — Different Trains

26. Philip Glass — Einstein on the Beach

25. Luciano Berio — Sinfonia

24. John Cage — 4'33" (substitution: String Quartet in Four Parts)

23. John Adams — The Chairman Dances

22. Igor Stravinsky — Symphony of Psalms

21. Dmitri Shostakovich — String Quartet No. 8

20. David Lang — The Little Match Girl Passion

19. Bela Bartok — String Quartet No. 4

18. Bela Bartok — Concerto for Orchestra 

17. Arvo Part — Tabula Rasa

16. Terry Riley — In C

15. Louis Andriessen — De Staat

14. John Adams — Nixon in China 

13. John Adams — Dr. Atomic

12. Benjamin Britten — War Requiem

11. William Duckworth — The Time Curve Preludes 

10. Thomas Ades — Asyla

9. Morton Feldman — Rothko Chapel

8. Alban Berg — Violin Concerto

7. Olivier Messiaen — Turangalila Symphony

6. Aaron Copland — Appalachian Spring

5. Henryk Goreck — Symphony No. 3

4. Olivier Messiaen — Quartet for the End of Time

3. John Adams — The Dharma at Big Sur

2. Steve Reich — Music for 18 Musicians

1. Igor Stravinsky — The Rite of Spring


More in:

Comments [21]

Q2 Music

@Niki Allie from NYC

This is an archived blog post.

You can find information about the 2012 Q2 Music countdown here:

Dec. 17 2012 11:51 AM
Niki Allie from NYC

THIS IS FROM LAST YEAR?!?!? Did you repeat the top tracks THIS year 2012?!?

"Our inaugural new-music countdown will run Saturday from 2 pm to midnight, and Sunday from 7am to midnight."

FOR GOODNESS SAKES... why not post the dates this is or was airing... I am assuming I missed it... but who knows?

Dec. 15 2012 11:37 PM
Original Newark from metro Detroit

I did not know this was going on, or I would have voted for Prokofieff's Vilin Concerto #2. It is such a superb piece -- all three movements.

Jan. 03 2012 04:59 PM
SL from Pittsburgh

Thanks for the list! I've heard and enjoyed several of these pieces, but many are new to me. Really look forward to checking out the rest.

Jan. 03 2012 01:49 PM

Love your idea, operaticwolverine -- and Q2Music has done some great focal weeks, such as one last year on Gavin Bryars and another on Nico Muhly. I'm totally in agreement that folks who need no introduction (like Herr Beethoven) also need very little awareness-raising. Especially when they're long deceased. I'd have been just fine without Beethoven Awareness Month. For me, a classical station doing Beethoven Awareness Month had all the thrill and surprise of the Pope coming out in favor of peace, you know? Q2 Music, however, did quite a deft job of dancing through Ludwig Month, hooking in living composers' work to some of that of Beethoven, looking for some LvB context on contemporary classical, etc.

We must remember that WQXR, Q2 Music's fine mother ship, remains a far more traditional-classical service than its audacious two-year-old offspring Q2 Music. So from time to time we just have to bow to Mom and watch as the older saints go marching in, remembering that we're lucky WQXR has created Q2. It might take some patience at times with the "old dead white guys," as I rather uncharitably call the greats of ages past -- their work hauls in much-needed donations for WQXR. What a friend we have in Tchaikovsky.

The longer Q2 Music flexes its youthful muscle -- and the longer we show up for it and support it -- the stronger it will get and the more WQXR will trust this fine child it's given us to generate its own keen focal points within "the fearless and relevant music we crave." :)

You're doing the right thing. Turn up. Listen. Drop comments. Tweet madly. Tell your friends. Alert the fanboys and girls. Grow the base. Go forth and multiply.

Jan. 02 2012 11:48 AM

Beethoven led the way in the countdown two years in a row. I love this station, and Beethoven but this indicates that WQXR listeners were already well aware of why Beethoven Awareness Month? I would love to see an awareness month happen in 2012 that explores a composer whose works WQXR listeners are less aware of.

Jan. 01 2012 11:33 PM

Hey to you, too, Richard. (Happy Q2-New Year!)

SteveS, who is bad-mouthing the process? I'll ask them to step outside. Looks like people have enjoyed it to me, and rightly so. Great stuff.

Do you mean over on the WQXR Countdown for Older Folks? Sorry, I mean for Lovers of Older Music? Different gig.

This is the Mighty Q2 Music, WQXR's best service, listened to only by extremely handsome and accomplished people with very low body fat and highly promising futures. The only better-looking people than the Q2 listeners are the staff and composers.

It's the fearless and relevant music you crave, dude. 24/7. Free. Crank it.

Jan. 01 2012 10:40 PM

Years ago, listening to The Gorecki 3rd, I heard Upshaw with Zinman and the London Sinfonietta, I remember that I had been confused about the pronunciation of the composer's name. I wrote to David Garland. He mailed me the "ck" pronunciation page from a dictionary of Slavic pronunciations. That was real down home Public Radio at WNYC

Jan. 01 2012 09:36 PM
SteveS from NYC

It was a great selection of music! I don't understand why so many are posting negative comments about the voting process, the placements, who got on the list and who didn't, etc. Classical music, like art, is deeply personal. I highly doubt anyone will stop listening to the music and composers they truly treasure due to a "list" meant simply to be enjoyed. Thank you WQXR for another great year.

Jan. 01 2012 08:27 PM
Katy Morgan from Manhattan

This is great!

I agree, post-WW II would make for a more interesting list, and some time it would be great to make it post-2000...really put our feet to the fire!

Jan. 01 2012 06:15 PM

WW from NJ: Here are playlists:

And to find them yourself in the future, hit the "Full Player" button at the top right of any page, then look at the bottom-left side of the full player for a link to "Full Schedule and Playlists." Once there, choose Q2 Music again. You'll find current and previous playlists.

Yes, just before the New Music Countdown started yesterday, you heard Daniel Bjarnason's "all sounds to silence come." That was the Isafold Chamber Orchestra, Bjarnason conducting. Are you a fan of Daniel's work? Reykjavic has just nominated him again as the Icelandic Music Awards' Composer of the Year -- and his piece "Birting" ("Emerging") is nominated Composition of the Year. Here's a bit about that at his label, Bedroom Community: And don't miss a free download of Reyja from his and Ben Frost's SÓLARIS, just went into Olivia Giovetti's review of the CD on this page:

Just so you know, the normal run-of-net playlist here at Q2 is not announced. During the Countdown, we're having the luxury of Nadia Sirota's fabled alto augmenting the visual playlist. Normally, you use the playlist, except during hosted shows. Nadia's own show is the flagship, heard noon to 4p Eastern, Monday through Friday. Her commentary is a major element of Q2's programming, as is Olivia Giovetti's in the Friday 1p show, "The New Canon." We've had some great guest hosts lately on "Hammered!" (11aET M-F), such as composer Timo Andres.

Couldn't agree with you more about the genius of Q2 Music. And most of the time, its programming is much more recent than some of the pieces you're hearing now. This countdown chased us all the way back through the 20th century. In normal running mode, the emphasis is on living composers. Couldn't be better.

They've kept me listening for the two years they've been up and running. Hope you'll stick with Q2 Music, as well. The fearless and relevant music you crave.

Jan. 01 2012 02:45 PM
WW from NJ

Listened Saturday afternoon to Q2. The piece before the countdown began was not identified afterwards and I can't find it on the playlist, or was it the Bjarason? The artists for the versions played were never identified on the radio! Who played the lovely recording of the Barber violin concerto? Also, I can't find old Q2 playlists archived. Where are they? I love the idea of a separate station for this music, and now that I know it's there, am going to listen more.

Jan. 01 2012 03:33 AM

Leonard Bernstein might be New York City's greatest gift to music up until his end.

In Steve Rowland's radio project "Leonard Bernstein: An American Life", someone says that if he had just written "West Side Story" he would be a giant.

Alan Rich wrote of two Lenny's in "So I've Heard". In one chapter he was separately giving praise and criticism.

Lenny was overlooked in the "Minnesota Public Radio" project "American Mavericks". Kyle Gann never mentions him in the essays. But, typically, Lenny was seen at a Jazz club, crouched down by the drum kit. Someone said, hey, get that guy out of there. But a wiser soul said, leave him alone, that's Leonard Bernstein picking up licks. Wow!

Anyone can tell, I love Lenny.

If you can see the PBS video "Leonard Bernstein:Reaching For the Note", don't miss it.

Dec. 31 2011 06:18 PM

Awesome! Forget about listening to the rest of the QXR countdown, this is even cooler and more unique!

Dec. 31 2011 02:04 PM

The text list above does not appear to have been updated since number 43. Should I be looking somewhere else?

Dec. 31 2011 09:05 AM

Ah, the Barber - I have it with Hilary Hahn!!

Dec. 30 2011 08:33 PM

Thanks for the listing, and, hey to Porter.

Dec. 30 2011 08:31 PM
Susan Scheid

This is already SO much more interesting than the main WQXR countdown! I agree with Porter--next year, how about having a cut-off of post-WWII (in line with the cut-off used by none other than Academy Records, BTW. Still, I'm not complaining. This is shaping up to be a most interesting and much-needed list.

Dec. 30 2011 08:01 PM

Post-WWII is good as a cutoff for next year. Get those silly Impressionists out of the way. :) As a matter of interest, it would be very interesting to see such a list put together for post-2000, a true just-this-century slugfest, all spit and Iceland. (Get your free Sólaris download of Reyja here while they last -- -- I liked it so much I bought the album.) As I always say, these weekend playlists at Q2 Music are the best. And this weekend, best of the best. I may start drinking early.

Dec. 30 2011 07:03 PM

Hi Richard, we will post them in text form on this page as we begin the countdown. Thanks!

Dec. 30 2011 10:35 AM

Is there some reason that you cannot post the list in text form???

Dec. 30 2011 09:12 AM

Leave a Comment

Email addresses are required but never displayed.

The WQXR e-newsletter. Show highlights, links to music news, on-demand concerts, events from The Greene Space and more.

Follow WQXR 







About Q2 Music

Q2 Music is WQXR’s multiplatform home for musical discovery and dynamic new classical music from trailblazing composers, ensembles and leading New York new-music venues. Q2 Music's 24/7 stream lives online at and is accessible via the free WQXR app.


Follow Q2 Music