Top Twenty arrangements

Top Twenty

Place the cursor over each title to view an excerpt of its famous melody or theme. To order the arrangement for just £5, please click the title of the piece.


  (1671 - 1751)
Adagio in G minor
Albinoni was a stationer's apprentice (his dad manufactured playing cards) before deciding to concentrate on music from 1710. The Adagio in G minor started life as two thematic drafts and a figured bass, and was one of a huge number of works the prolific Albinoni wrote between 1710 and 1741.[Excerpt]
(c. 1720)


  (1685 - 1750)
Air on the G String
This famous air originally came from Bach's orchestral suite No.3 (of four) in D Major, all four composed between 1729 - 1736. A transcription in C Major for violin by Wilhelmj in 1871 (with the melody played just on the G string) is why we know this beautiful work by its familiar name today.[Excerpt]
(c. 1731)


  (1838 - 1875)
Habanera from Carmen
Carmen is Bizet's best-known and most successful stage work. Delibes (see below!) was a huge admirer of Bizet and was present at the work's premiere in 1875. 'Habenera' has Carmen's most famous melody - heard in the film 'Trainspotting' above the equally famous 'Tango'-rhythm bass.[Excerpt]
(1873 - 1874)


  (1854 - 1893)
'Ebben Ne Andro' from La Wally
The publishers of La Wally were sceptical of its success, only offering Catalani a fee in three instalments. Catalani believed they favoured Puccini and Verdi, and died before the last instalment was paid - but the opera was by far his most successful. It can be heard in the cult French film 'Diva'.[Excerpt]
(c. 1890)


  (1836 - 1891)
'Flower Duet' from Lakme
Lakme is Delibes' opera masterpiece; the Lakme part was written for a star soprano, who sings with another soprano in the famous 'Flower Duet'. Used atmospherically in the cult David Bowie film 'The Hunger' this duet is now famous for being the music used by British Airways in its adverts.[Excerpt]


  (1841 - 1904)
Largo from the New World Symphony
In 1891 the president of the US National Conservatory of Music requested Dvorak to become artistic director (at a fee 25 times greater than he was receiving in Prague). Dvorak agreed and was asked 'to add the new world of music to that which Columbus found' - hence the great symphony's title.[Excerpt]


  (1857 - 1934)
'Nimrod' from the Enigma Variations
The Enigma Variations are thirteen character-pieces capturing Elgar's feelings about his friends, with a 14th variation describing himself. It was a work of great self-discovery for Elgar, and the most well-known variation of all is 'Nimrod', a beautiful and moving slow work given its own key of Eb.[Excerpt]


  (1845 - 1924)
'Pie Jesu' from the Requiem
The Requiem is Faure's most popular work, written (in his own words) 'for the pleasure of it'. It actually took over twenty years for the work to assume its present form - Faure composed it between 1877 and 1893, and then re-orchestrated it in 1900. It is one of the few large-scale works in his output.[Excerpt]


  (1843 - 1907)
In the Hall of the Mountain-King
The third and final movement of Grieg's first Peer Gynt Suite Op.46, based on Ibsen's play, though Ibsen never cared for the music. It builds up brilliantly and ominously (you hear it while waiting for the Nemesis ride at Alton Towers!). The first movement 'Morning', also has a much-loved tune.[Excerpt]


  (1685 - 1759)
A stately, but moving Sarabande, or slow dance, from Handel's keyboard suite No.11 in D minor. The piece consists of a theme and two short variations. The theme is used effectively in the Levis advert where a running couple smash their way through walls and eventually up two trees.[Excerpt]


  (1874 - 1934)
'Jupiter' from The Planets
'The Planets' was first performed in 1918, achieving genuine recognition; its sudden popular success also led to the publication and performance of many of Holst's earlier works. The theme from 'Jupiter' was that of the 2003 Rugby World Cup: 'Mars' is also famous, 'Neptune' simply stunning.[Excerpt]
(1914 - 1916)


  (1868 - 1917)
The Entertainer
The most famous of Scott Joplin's thirty eight piano rags, 'The Entertainer' is named after Joplin himself, as this was how he was known in the Williams Brothers' saloon in Sedalia, Missouri (The Maple Leaf Club) where he wrote the rag. Its use in the film 'The Sting' sparked a revival of his work.[Excerpt]


  (1860 - 1911)
Adagietto from Symphony No. 5
The 5th symphony dates from the period of Mahler's marriage to Alma Schindler, and it is often thought that he wrote the Adagietto for her as a form of musical love letter. Composed in a newer, denser style, its powerful, romantic string theme is used very effectively in the film 'Death in Venice'.[Excerpt]


  (1756 - 1791)
'Lacrimosa' from the Requiem
Mozart did not live to complete his last great work, a commission from a Count, whose envoy would mysteriously visit Mozart unannounced. The composer Sussmayr finished the Requiem and we're unclear of how much of it is his - but the beauty and the power of the Lacrimosa are surely all Mozart's.[Excerpt]


  (1653 - 1706)
Canon in D
The Canon in D was originally written for three violins and continuo. It is famous for its nobility, simplicity and its use of a ground bass (a bass figure, in this case four bars long, that repeats throughout the entire piece.) More than any other work it has made Pachelbel's name known today.[Excerpt]
(c. 1697)


  (1858 - 1924)
'Un Bel Di' from Madame Butterfly
While in London in 1900 to supervise 'Tosca' at Covent Garden, Puccini's attention was drawn to a play called 'Madam Butterfly' showing at the Duke of York Theatre. Taken with its use of a strong female protagonist, Puccini happily met the author in the Green Room and secured the rights.[Excerpt]


  (1835 - 1921)
'The Swan' from Carnival of the Animals
Saint-Saens wrote 'The Carnival of the Animals' while on holiday and thought the piece too frivolous for publication, allowing it to be published only after his death. Ironically it has since become his most well-known work, consisting of fourteen musical portraits of animals (and piano students!)[Excerpt]


  (1840 - 1893)
Romeo and Juliet
In August 1869 the composer Balakirev knocked on Tchaikowsky's door, annoyed by his friend's inactivity, insisting that he should write a piece inspired by Romeo and Juliet. The result, revised by Tchaikowsky two years later; an overture with one of the most romantic love themes of all time.[Excerpt]


  (1678 - 1741)
'Winter' from the 4 Seasons, 1st Movement
'The Four Seasons' are four concertos from a group of twelve - seven of which are 'descriptive'. For this famous work Vivaldi wrote four sonnets, expressing each in a concerto, and marked the score with words such as 'cold wind' to show which musical passages describe the sonnet's words.[Excerpt]


  (1813 - 1883)
Ride of the Valkyries
From 'Die Walkure', the second of the four operas of Wagner's famous 'Ring' cycle in which he aimed to unite all art forms in the service of one work. The film 'Apocalypse Now' shows this thrillingly dramatic theme played from helicopters in the Vietnam War, purely for its effect on the enemy.[Excerpt]
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