My Favourite Classical Music, featuring Haruki Murakami’s novels, The Road to Perdition Soundtrack, Chopin and more

Road to Perdition, the movie with my favourite classical soundtrack.

Unfortunately, as I have nowhere to travel to for once, I’m in one of the few places in Britain that isn’t covered with snow. It’s dreary outside, but at least it isn’t raining like yesterday. As Bill Bryson emphasises in Notes From a Small Island, there is always a way to be positive when discussing English weather. I’m spending today reading university texts, with special attention on American Notes by Charles Dickens and Martín Fierro by José Hernández. I’m particularly enjoying the former.

Perhaps because of the dreary weather, or alternatively due to my abundance of uni reading, this post won’t be entirely literary. Instead, I’m talking about music: the classical variety. To start the post on a literature-related note, Haruki Murakami – a lover of classical music – has been featured a great deal in the blogosphere this month, due to his turning 64. As nerdy entertainment, Random House once created this interesting link which lists all of the classical pieces referred to in his fiction. From the top of my head, I could recall Leoš Janáček’s Sinfonietta being mentioned a great deal in 1Q84 (this isn’t mentioned on the Random House link, probably because the novel is more recent), alongside Bach in Norwegian Wood. Music is such an integral part of Murakami’s novels, and by listening to the pieces mentioned you can often understand the layering of the plot so much more.

Then there’s Tolstoy’s The Kreutzer Sonata, inspired by the elemental drive of Beethoven’s violin and piano sonata of the same title, and Corelli’s “Heil Puccini” in the music-centred Captain Corelli’s Mandolin. The list could go on and on, to Proust, Turgenev, and my recently read The Garden of Evening Mists. All of these novellists and novels attempt to capture the intangible power of music in writing, and I’d say that they all succeed to some degree or other. The link between music and literature is so interesting, and I could think about it a great deal.

Four or five years ago I started properly listening to classical music, and now I often find that it matches my mood (and sensitive ears) better than my usual music choices (if you’re interested in being nosy, here’s my account). 
I’d like to mention the classical pieces that I enjoy most, and perhaps explain why:

1. Road to Perdition soundtrack – Thomas Newman

Despite only recently watching Road to Perdition, and enjoying it greatly, I’ve adored the soundtrack for many years. I first heard it on a radio programme, labelled as the song that the DJ felt best fitted “watching the earth from space”, or something similar. I have listened to the song over and over, and I find it so beautiful.
2. Prelude in E Minor – Chopin

I frequently end up listening to this when I’m feeling slightly down, which perhaps isn’t the best of ideas. It’s a very melancholy, mournful song, with something devastating about it. I wonder what Chopin had on his mind at the time.

3. Le Nozze di Figaro, K.492, Act III: Canzonetta sull’aria – Mozart

Yes, another choice from a film, but it’s a great one. The moment in Shawshank Redemption when Andy (Tim Robbins) plays the duettino over the prison’s loudspeakers must be one of my favourite moments of any film. “Red” (Morgan Freeman) remarks in his voice-over narration that,

“I have no idea to this day what those two Italian ladies were singing about. […] I’d like to think they were singing about something so beautiful it can’t be expressed in words, and it makes your heart ache because of it.”

Ironically, the opera characters are singing about a duplicitous love letter to expose infidelity, and Andy’s wife’s affair is the event which indirectly leads to his imprisonment. This is such a poignant, moving song, and the film captures its effect so well. 
4. The Planets: Jupiter – Holst

This piece has so frequently been used for patriotic means (rather annoyingly, I find), but the orchestral version is lovely. The middle section is so powerful and uplifting to listen to, and it always makes me feel a little less feeble than I normally do. 
I must excuse myself now for the clichéd adjectives and descriptions used in this post. However, by writing this post I now feel less affected by the gloomy weather, and therefore my goal has been successful. Have a good weekend everyone!
It's good to meet you! I started Tolstoy Therapy back in 2012 to share my healing journey through anxiety and PTSD with books. I also climb mountains, go on solo adventures, and write over at

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