7 Pieces Of Pump Up Classical Music That Energize You Up

Pump Up Classical Music
Pump Up Classical Music

If you’re looking for classical music that can get your heart racing or classical scores that inspire you to work out, then this list of pieces is for you.

Pump Up Classical Music

1. ‘Mars’ (The Bringer of War from The Planet Suite: Op.32) Gustav Holst

Composed in the heat and destruction of World War One, (1914-1916), this is the opening piece from Holst’s epic orchestral suite called ‘The Planets’. The clue’s in the title of this work and the presence of war are evident from the opening bars.

With a time signature of five beats in each bar, the piece feels awkward yet compelling. The opening ostinato rhythm drives the music forward relentlessly.

As the score builds to each climax, marked by a colourful change of chord, the image of marching armies and the terror of battle saturate one’s imagination.

It is no surprise to learn that this piece has been a significant influence on many film scores including John Williams’s score for ‘Star Wars’‘.

2. ‘Hoe Down’ (From ‘Rodeo’) by Aaron Copland

This is the final movement from Copland’s ballet he called ‘Rodeo’. He was commissioned to write the piece in 1942 continuing from his success with his first cowboy ballet called ‘Billy The Kid’.

Copland had reservations about composing a second ballet in the same style, but in the light of the popularity of the first, he was persuaded. Copland titles the four sections of the ballet suite as episodes that more accurately captures the essence of the pieces.

Whilst ‘Hoe Down’ might not supply the same intensity as ‘Mars’ does, it’s a lively dance piece that is fast-moving and fun. There is an energetic exuberance that runs through this four-minute piece that makes you smile.

The story on which the ballet is based is as old as time. On Burnt Ranch, a girl has designs on a boy, and in the ‘Hoe Down’, she finally gets her heart’s desire.

3. ‘Short Ride In A Fast Machine’ by John Adams

Commissioned by the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra in 1986, this short work has become one of the most popular in Adam’s ever-expanding catalogue of works.

Even though Adams is not a fan of categories in music, especially when considering his own output, he does broadly fall into the genre of minimalism.

Adams has carved his voice amongst other notable minimalists, Reich, Riley, and Glass, taking what he wants from the genre and making it his own.

Short Ride is a brilliant piece that uses intricately layered ostinatos that play alluring tricks with your sense of pulse.

The pace, as you might expect, is rapid throughout the four-minute work that truly feels like you are tearing along a dusty highway in a supercharged car. 

4. ‘Unter Donner und Blitz’ by Johann Strauss II (Op. 324)

If you are someone who enjoys the lighter side of 19th Century Austrian music, then this track might well be for you. Strauss, the younger, composed a phenomenal selection of waltzes, (some five hundred), in his life that ensured the success of his career.

This particular waltz was composed in 1868 and is perhaps one of the rowdiest he wrote. From almost the opening bar, the fast tempo sets us on a path strewn with timpani rolls and crashing cymbals.

Given that the title of the piece means thunder and lightning, this will not be a surprise. The waltz is in ternary form with a pleasant woodwind theme that arcs its way through the second section. Listen out for the astonishingly raucous coda.

5. ‘The Sabre Dance’ by Aram Khachaturian (1942)

Maybe one of the most popular classical pieces of orchestral music, this frantic dance will give you the motivation to meet almost any physical challenge. Originally, this dance was conceived as part of Khachaturian’s ballet titled ‘Gayane’.

Sadly, this work does not receive the attention it deserves, and the composer also felt that the success of the ‘Sabre Dance’ detracted from so much other work he had completed.

The dance is formed in two sections with the outer parts dominated by the tune that is extremely well known. By contrast, the middle section is calmer, making use of what is thought to be an Armenian folk song.

This section provides but a brief respite before the orchestra returns to the original idea of the opening. Not only are the tunes expertly crafted, but Khachaturian’s orchestration is equally inspired.

What makes the initial theme stand out is the addition of the xylophone to the melody. The sliding trombones that answer the first few bars question is an additional attractive bit of orchestration. At only two and a half minutes duration, this is a blisteringly quick addition to the list.

 6. Symphony No.40; K.550 by WA Mozart (Fourth Movement – 1788)

The somewhat restrained and refined nature of music from the Classical era makes finding a motivational track a little challenging. WA Mozart composed a welterweight of music in his all too brief lifetime.

Amongst the six hundred pieces are the collection of symphonies. This particular one was composed towards the end of his life yet has a vitality about it that seems to divide itself from the troubles Mozart was experiencing.

Of the four movements in this work, the last has a spirit and joy that epitomises the Classical era. It is graceful, elegant, and beautifully structured.

In this movement we hear Mozart in a buoyant mood, having transitioned from the darker opening movement towards a lighter finale. Everything about this concluding movement is powerful, hopeful, and energetic. 

7. ‘Anvil Chorus’ from ‘Il trovatore’ by Giuseppe Verdi

The list would be lacking if I didn’t include this monumental piece. Verdi is celebrated as an opera composer, and when you hear music like ‘The Anvil Chorus’, it’s almost impossible to disagree.

The music depicts Spanish Gypsies hammering their anvils at dawn’s first light. It comes in Act Two of the opera and makes quite an impression.

This is an opera filled with passion, death, and revenge. The ‘Anvil Chorus’ stands as one of the most dramatic and inspired of Verdi’s scores.

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