'Feelgood' Music

August 28, 2020, 7:56 AM · Don't we need it just now! Do you have any particular pieces which help to put you in a better mood regardless of your starting point?
Let me explain. If I'm feeling down I find that music which is incorrigibly cheerful can actually be very irritating. But there is music at the 'cheerful' end of the spectrum which always gives me a lift. If I'm feeling good to start with I feel even better at the end. If I'm feeling down it moves me towards the good territory without jarring or annoying me. So here are some examples of the music on my 'feelgood' memory stick - in no particular order:

Schumann piano quintet
Dvorak - string quintet Op 97
czech suite
Mozart - piano concerto no 15 K450
no 21 K467
no 23 K488
Haffner symphony
2 piano concerto K365
Beethoven - Archduke trio
Pastoral symphony
Quartet Op74 ('Harp')
Nielsen - Symphony no 3 'Espansiva'
Vivaldi - Op4 'La Stravaganza'
Janacek - Sinfonietta

Replies (18)

August 28, 2020, 8:10 AM · Shostakovich String Quartet No. 8, movements 2 and 3.

Chopin op. 25, no. 5

Tchaikovsky Symphony No. 5

Beethoven Symphony No. 3

Edited: August 28, 2020, 8:25 AM · The string Serenades from Dvorak and Tchaikovsky.
Grieg's Holberg Suite.
Elgar's Serenade and his Introduction And Allegro.
Britten's Simple Symphony.
August 28, 2020, 12:36 PM · French Swing Jazz, both vocal and instrumental
August 28, 2020, 2:51 PM · Beethoven Symphony No 7 - does it every time!
Edited: August 28, 2020, 3:49 PM · It seems this is about listening. For me, first is Mendelssohn Octet, most of the Bach works, Beethoven, most string quartets.

Nobody has mentioned the music that just makes you happy to play for yourself - no audience.

For me the Hal Leonard 101 series (that I use as "friends and family music" with my students) also has a lot of Broadway, Uptown Jazz, Movie, Classical Themes, and some Disney (albeit most modern Disney is anything but easy) and for me seasonal church music from the Episcopal Hymnal (which is where I began my journey over 40 years ago).

I do love "classical" and enjoy the challenge that it offers but for sheer joy of just playing for me... Thanks Hal!

August 28, 2020, 5:02 PM · Not that "feel-good" music definitely isn't the same as my "favorite pieces" list. Also, some of these pieces are for wind ensembles.

Mozart, Divertimento K. 138
Mozart, Sinfonia Concertante for Violin and Viola
Beethoven, Symphony No. 4
Beethoven, Piano Concerto No. 4
Mendelssohn, Octet
Mendelssohn, Symphony No. 4 (Italian)
Schumann, Symphony No. 1 (Spring)
Bizet, Symphony
Gounod, Petite Symphonie
Gade, Symphony No. 4
Gade, Octet
Rheinberger, Nonet
Grieg, Holberg Suite
Rimsky-Korsakov, Trombone Concerto
Borodin, Overture to Prince Igor
Valborg Aulin, String Quartet in F major
Faure, Masques and Bergamasques
Vaughan Williams, Overture to The Wasps
Holst, Suite No. 2 for Military Band
Gliere, Horn Concerto
Prokofiev, Symphony No. 1 "Classical"
Yasushi Akutagawa, Trinita Sinfonica
Shostakovich, Festive Overture
Bernstein, Overture to Candide
Kabalevsky, Overture to Colas Breugnon
Adams, Short Ride in a Fast Machine

Actually I could include most of Niels Gade's catalogue in "feel-good" music -- I think the main reason he's not regarded as a "great" composer is that his music is a bit too consistently cheerful.

As far as music that makes me happy to play for myself, there isn't actually much of it because I don't like any unaccompanied instrument all that much. I suppose the Bach cello suites (note again that I play viola), and not much else.

August 29, 2020, 1:01 AM · I think that looking for external influences to make you feel better when you're not feeling good is in many cases not the best approach to the problem, though music is likely to be much better than many recourses in that it also happens to engage your own faculties towards that end.

I've found on occasion that playing a sad piece can improve my mood, because doing so gives expression, therefore some release.

But for the unconvinced or undecided, there's also music like Handel's F Major sonata for example - sad,happy,sad,happy.

Edited: August 29, 2020, 10:05 AM · Joey DeFrancesco's 1989 album "All of Me" ... find it on Spotify, you'll have a smile on your face in 30 seconds, I promise.

How about the various "serenades for strings" by Josef Suk and Edward Elgar, for example, or Tchaikovsky. Enjoyable to play along with.

Edited: August 29, 2020, 9:17 PM · Vivaldi always provokes smiles. I know he is not on the "greatest" list, but I always have the impression that he had just invented harmony (of course he didn't) and was having great fun playing with this new toy. His opera arias are a revelation, not heard by us until very recently.
August 31, 2020, 3:32 AM · J Ray - I agree entirely with your comments, especially 'I've found on occasion that playing a sad piece can improve my mood, because doing so gives expression, therefore some release.'. You have found better words to express what I was thinking about.
Many of my selections include an element of sadness, melancholy or even tragedy for exactly this reason.
Elsewhere some great suggestions to add to my collection. How could I miss the Mendelssohn Octet??!! (Now remedied).
September 1, 2020, 6:09 PM · I can't remember specific titles right now, but some of Haydn's pieces are joyfully uplifting, especially on a sunny morning.
September 2, 2020, 2:05 PM · I do love a bit of feelgood classical music. The Vaughn Williams English Folk Song Suite is one of my go to pieces for a pick me up. It reminds me of an England that has gone by and that no longer exists.
September 2, 2020, 6:40 PM · MZ, you find it blows away the morning dew for you, do you?
September 2, 2020, 8:45 PM · Chuck Mangione? Might be cheating though.
Edited: September 3, 2020, 6:26 AM · @M Zilpah - full agreement abouut RVW's Folksong Suite! Also the Tallis Fantasia and The Lark Ascending.

Two further suggestions, both from the choral liturgical traditions:

THOMAS TOMKINS 'When David Heard'...go for the Gesualdo Six recording, in a lower key. Immensely poignant setting of words expressing personal pain.

WILLIAM HARRIS 'Bring us O Lord God'...sung by VOCES8. Words by John Donne - no further explanation needed!

Both are on YouTube, and are also architecturally fabulous.

Edited: September 3, 2020, 6:34 AM · Interesting that the OP writes

"Mozart - piano concerto no 15 K450
no 21 K467
no 23 K488"

as my ex only likes the slow movement of 21 (she's a German who likes a lot of German MOR and Bierfest yodelling! Educating her has been tricky). I've got the complete Serkin, but the compilation I made (of 21 and 23) developed a data error before she even played it for the first time. So I just this week bought 2 copies of Brendel/Marriner's 21,15,23.

I'm a bit of an opera pleb, and I'm happy with Mozart, Bellini and Puccini Opera Highlights, with a bit of Delibes thrown in. And Pavarotti singing Donizetti. I know, a lot of people think I need educating too!

September 3, 2020, 7:37 AM · Beethoven and Tchaikovsky Violin Concerti, played by Zino Francescatti.
Does it every time.
September 3, 2020, 1:02 PM · Yes @Sander Marcus - I remember an LP pairing the wonderful Francescatti in the Mendelssohn and Tchaikovsky.

This discussion has been archived and is no longer accepting responses.

Facebook Twitter YouTube Instagram Email

Violinist.com is made possible by...

Shar Music
Shar Music

Yamaha Silent Violin
Yamaha Silent Violin

Corilon Violins
Corilon Violins

Pirastro Strings
Pirastro Strings

Dimitri Musafia, Master Maker of Violin and Viola Cases
Dimitri Musafia, Master Maker of Violin and Viola Cases

Violinist.com Business Directory
Violinist.com Business Directory

Violinist.com Guide to Online Learning
Violinist.com Guide to Online Learning

ARIA International Summer Academy

Meadowmount School of Music

Antonio Strad Violin

Bay Fine Strings Violin Shop

Bobelock Cases



Los Angeles Violin Shop

Nazareth Gevorkian Violins


Metzler Violin Shop

Leatherwood Bespoke Rosin



Johnson String Instrument and Carriage House Violins

Potter Violins

String Masters

Bein & Company

Annapolis Bows & Violins

Laurie's Books

Discover the best of Violinist.com in these collections of editor Laurie Niles' exclusive interviews.

Violinist.com Interviews Volume 1
Violinist.com Interviews Volume 1, with introduction by Hilary Hahn

Violinist.com Interviews Volume 2
Violinist.com Interviews Volume 2, with introduction by Rachel Barton Pine