Classical guitar music has a way of moving and stirring the soul in ways that nothing else can. To put it in the words of Thomas Edison, ‘Life’s most soothing delights are a baby’s good night and classic music.’ The guitar is, without a doubt, one of the most formidable instruments, blessed with a rich harmony and dynamic possibilities.
The guitar, and especially when one chooses to play classical music upon it, comes to life in a unique way regardless of who is playing it. This is perhaps one of the mysteries of classical guitar music. That everyone who plays the six strings doesn’t play them the same.
Everyone has their own vibe, their own character, their own soul that they bring to their playing. If you don’t believe this to be true, take some time to listen to these 10 great classical guitar music pieces (listed in no particular order).
1. Canon in D (Pachelbel) by Per-Olov Kindgren
Canon in D as composed by Johan Pachelbel is among one of the most easily recognizable classical songs. You have probably heard it being played as a wedding entrée song by the bride. This rendition by Per-Olov Kindgren is one of the most beautiful, peaceful and calm arrangements of the song. The song is played with a haunting beauty and you can listen to Per-Olov Kindgren all day.
2. Ave Maria – Schubert
Franz Schubert’s classic is played expertly by Michael Lucarelli in a church. The acoustics of the guitar complement the church scenery perfectly. When it comes to classics, this one certainly sits among the great classical guitar music alongside compositions by Beethoven and Mozart. Lucarelli did justice to the song and left nothing to be desired with his skillful strumming.
3. Moonlight Sonata No. 14, 1st Movement – Ludwig van Beethoven
Beethoven’s Moonlight Sonata, deep and somber, touches the deepest part of you. In your mind’s eye, you can almost see a starless night sky, lit only by the bright moon. You can see the naked trees bending against the force of the wind. It’s a quiet night where almost anything is possible. This is the power of music, the strength that is Beethoven.
4. Malaguena by Michael Lucarelli
Picture a white desert, Michael Lucarelli dressed in an all-black ensemble sitting on a lone chair in the middle of that dessert. He begins to strum away on the strings of that guitar. You would be forgiven for thinking that he is part of a Spanish quartet. The song digresses and takes on a more somber tone before going back to its Spanish tune.
5. Clair de Lune Suite Bergamasque – C. Debussy
Clair de Lune translated from French to English means Moonlight. Often heard being played on piano, Claude Debussy’s Clair de Lune channels peace and puts one in a calm and relaxed frame of mind. The music is almost dreamlike and helps to foster a soothing atmosphere. It’s easy to see why this classical guitar music piece has been so well-loved over the centuries.
Clair de Lune is not a solo piece but is nestled in between three other pieces which are namely, the Prelude, Menuet, and Passepied. All four pieces combined make up the Suite Bergamasque.
6. Rondo AllaTurca (Turkish March) – Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
The Rondo AllaTurca comes from Mozart’s Sonata No. 11. Mozart is said to have composed the entire Sonata No. 11 when he was just 27 years old. It is believed that he was in Vienna at the time, in 1783. This piece is the second of the three sonatas’ that make up Sonata No. 11. At the time that Mozart composed this Sonata, there had been influences of Turkey in Europe, and artists and musicians alike were finding ways of integrating aspects of the culture of Turkey that they saw from the Ottoman Army that was stationed in Europe.
The song is playful and joyful at the same time, combining happy tones. It’s a song that is sure to put you in a good mood.
7. Hallelujah performed by Per-Olov Kindgren
Per-Olov Kindgren plays Hallelujah. The familiar song takes on a new charm as Per-Olov Kindgren plays the classical song in his typical calm and soothing way. This rendition is certainly worth listening to. The only qualm was the beginning of the song, which could have been completely left out if you ask us. But all in all, it’s a delightful rendition of the hit song.
8. Fur Elise – Bagatelle No. 25 in A Minor – Ludwig van Beethoven
The song was purportedly written For Elise, a character lost to history. The score for this piece was discovered 40 years after Beethoven had died. To this day nobody is certain who Elise was and why Beethoven composed such a piece. Fur Elise is undoubtedly one of Beethoven’s most famous compositions.
9. Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy by PyotrIlyich Tchaikovsky
Tchaikovsky’s music is synonymous with Russian Ballet and it’s no surprise that this piece is one of the most common musical scores used in ballet today. It is indeed a dance specifically designed for a ballerina to dance to. It comes from the third Movement of The Nutcracker. The chief ballerina of the company is the one who is bestowed the honor of dancing this dance.
Tchaikovsky wrote the piece for a musical instrument known as the celesta and was later transcribed for the classical guitar. This piece has been associated with ballet ever since 1892 when the Russian ballet company performed his The Nutcracker for the first time.
10. Flight of the Bumblebee – N. Rimsky-Korsakov
This piece by Nicolai Rimsky-Korsakov is distinct and unmistakable. Specifically designed to sound like a swarm of bumblebees, the orchestral interlude is one of those works that seems to start at a climax already. The piece is a part of the opera The Tale of Tsar Saltan and was composed between 1899 and 1900.
It is easy to see why classical guitar music was favored in the renaissance courts of days gone by. But to be fair, guitar music can be traced back to thousands of years, to the Persians. This is the history of guitar music, and it is still continuing to evolve to this day.