Classical music: the 100 greatest pieces of all time

Musical Fete (1747) by Giovanni Paolo Pannini
Musical Fete (1747) by Giovanni Paolo Pannini Credit: De Agostini

Ivan Hewett and Rupert Christiansen select 100 pieces sure to stir your heart, from the raw to the romantic

The sheer vastness of classical music, a tradition that is now at least half a millennium old, makes choosing the 100 best pieces an impossible task. Over the centuries, it has become so incredibly varied within itself – spanning everything from a two-minute medieval carol to a two-hour opera written last week – that the phrase “classical music” has almost lost its meaning.

There is an easy way out: swap “best-known” for “best” and you have a far simpler task on your hands. But that would have meant packing this list with the kind of hoary old favourites that fill compilation albums –...

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