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My Musical Tastes

I came by an appreciation of music from my mother's family. Mom loved to sing as she did housework, and a number of my maternal relatives are or have earned a living as musicians. My sister Linda taught music at the high school level, and my brother John is part of a musical group called Minstrosity (shameless plug: order their CD Oh, Fie! — his song Advice from the Animals is worth the price, but there are numerous other good things on the album in addition).


I inherited an appreciation for music, but no talent whatsoever. I have to admit I am devoid of any formal musical training except for 8 years of school band (trumpet). I have no real talent for music, but I enjoy listening to it. I am especially fond of brass, trumpet most of all. Favorite (brass) performers include Wynton Marsalis, the Canadian Brass, and Miles Davis.

What are my tastes? I usually joke that I am into the sound of the 60s — the 1660s. I am sometimes accused of not liking any piece written after 1840, and this is only partially true.

I'll summarize what's in the row of CDs and cassettes on my living room mantel (that's where I keep the CD/cassette player) and you can judge for yourself where my musical tastes lie.

I have a sizable collection of albums with titles like Baroque Music for Trumpets (including that very album — what can I say, I like trumpets). I have a number of albums of assorted concerti by Vivaldi, Telemann, and composers of similar vintage. I am partial to Bach (both J.S and P.D.Q!), Mozart, Haydn, Beethoven, and Handel. I also like a smattering of individual songs from other eras: Tchaikovski's 1812 Overture and Capriccio Italien. Mussorgsky's Pictures in an Exibition (especially The Great Gate at Kiev). Prokofiev's Lieutenant Kijé Suite. Blue Swede's Hooked on a Feeling (which I liked long BEFORE Ali McBeal brought it briefly into favor again). Gilbert and Sullivan's HMS Pinafore, Mikado, and Pirates of Penzance. I own lots of things by Tom Lehrer, lots of things by Tom Waits, and the occasional dixieland piece. The Beatles' Maxwell's Silver Hammer, When I'm Sixty-Four, Norwegian Wood, and Octopus's Garden (among others). I like several cuts from Heigh-Ho Mozart (a collection of Disney melodies as if written by famous composers: Scott Joplin's Under the Sea and Vivaldi's Main Street Electrical Parade are particular favorites). Since I've moved to Austin, I've picked up a couple of albums by the Austin Lounge Lizards. I have a few military marches and martial music (including the USMC Band, aka The President's Own), but nothing extensive. I have Gershwin Plays Gershwin, which is recorded from piano rolls cut by the composer himself.

Things that I really, REALLY like:

  • The 9th of Ludwig Van: I think Beethoven's 9th Symphony is the finest piece of music ever written. A particularly good performance of the "Ode to Joy" can bring tears to my eyes. Of the numerous good performances of this symphony, I own Bruno Walter directing the Columbia Symphony and the Westminster Symphonic Choir, and Eugene Ormandy directing the Philadelphia Orchestra and the Mormon Tabernacle Choir.
  • Mouret's Rondeau: A.k.a the Masterpiece Theatre theme Wynton Marsalis' version on his In Gabriel's Garden album is my favorite version.
  • Bach's 2nd Brandenburg: I like all of the Brandenburg Concertos, but this one especially. Marsalis version of this on In Gabriel's Garden was an additional reason to be happy with the album. Lotsa great stuff on IGG.
  • Pachelbel's Canon in D: I have a CD called Pachelbel's Greatest Hit, which is a collection of various arrangements of his canon in D by various artists, but my favorite performance is Wynton Marsalis' "Canon for 3 Trumpets and Strings," a cut from the aforementioned Baroque Music for Trumpets.
  • The Carnival of Venice: I like Arban's variations, and have a performance by Wynton Marsalis and the Eastman Wind Ensemble that I like best (even if he's playing a cornet). I always loved this tune, even though I could never play it because I can't triple-tongue fast enough to so it right.
  • Sousa's Stars and Stripes Forever: I have this by several bands, but the United States Marine Band has an excellent version (If they can't play Sousa, who can?).
  • Handel's Music for the Royal Fireworks: This is usually on a double bill with another favorite, the Water Music. I am partial to La Rejouissance and the Menuet.
  • Handel's Water Music: I love the opening Menuet (all those lovely horns), the allegro (ditto), and alla Hornpipe.

Things I like enough to play fairly often (in no particular order):

  • Beethoven's 5th, 6th, 3rd and 7th symphonies, pretty much in that order.
  • Anything by Tom Lehrer or P.D.Q.Bach.
  • Assorted compositions by Vivaldi, Telemann, Mozart, Bach, Haydn, and Frederick the Great (the 18th century King of Prussia — he was no slouch as a composer).
  • Many Sousa marches, particularly The Thunderer, Washington Post March, and Liberty Bell March (a.k.a. the Monty Python theme).
  • Tom Paxton's The Marvelous Toy.
  • Woody Guthrie's So Long, It's Been Good to know Ya.
  • The Kingston Trio's version of Ballad of the MTA.
  • Pete Seeger's Little Boxes.
  • Strauss waltzes/polkas, especially An de Schönen, blauen Donau, Tritsch-Tratsch-Polka, G'schichten aus dem Weinerwald, and Pizzicato-Polka and that champagne song from Die Fledermaus.
  • The Lion Sleeps Tonight (The Token's version).
  • The Irish Rovers' The Unicorn (one of my mother's favorites actually, I have this one on a 45, but no turntable, so I can't play it at all I have a lot of older stuff in that same condition sigh).
  • Al Stewart's Roads to Moscow.
  • Tom Waits' Step Right Up, Small Change, and Invitation to the Blues (all of them on his Small Change album),
  • A number of instrumentals from the 1960s and 70s, but especially Washington Square, A Swingin' Safari, Classical Gas, and I was Kaiser Bill's Batman (further evidence of my deteriorating mental state, according to some).
  • Anderson's The Bugler's Holiday.

Revised: 29 February 2004