Arts Blog

Classical Music To Study To

If you’re searching for that perfect playlist to study to before a big final, while writing your thesis, or just enjoying the companionship of a good book, you may have just found it. As All Classical Portland’s 2020 Young Artist in Residence, one of my goals is to share my love for this music with people all over the world. I hope you enjoy this playlist I have curated for you, and may it help you achieve all of your scholarly goals!

Natalie Tan
2020 Young Artist in Residence
All Classical Portland

Photo of Natalie Tan
Photo Credit: Dmitri Von Klein

Cello Sonata No. 2 in D Major, Op. 58: I. Allegro assai vivace by Felix Mendelssohn

This piece lends a joy and ease to any environment surrounding it, and it creates an ethereal sense of happiness. Whenever I listen to this piece, I don’t imagine anything; it clears my mind and allows me to relax. This piece sets my entire mood for studying; it is upbeat enough that it gets me pumped and focused, but it also doesn’t distract me and take away from my concentration.

Schelomo: Rhapsodie Hébraïque by Ernest Bloch

I love this piece because I was a part of the orchestra when my friend played the cello solo at the Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall. It brings me back to the community that I found which empowers and strengthens my love for music. Because of this, whenever I hear this piece, I imagine performing on a stage as a part of an orchestra and watching the soloist bring tears to the audience’s eyes. It makes me super proud of the community that music creates and it motivates me to become a better student in everything I do.

Danzon No.2 by Arturo Márquez

The energy within this piece makes me super happy and it never fails to put me in a good mood. Whenever I listen to this piece, I imagine a lively dance floor and lots of happy smiles, usually with the faces of my friends enjoying themselves. It reminds me of the good things that I need to cherish in my life and it keeps me grateful and grounded. I imagine the composer was imagining the same thing when he wrote the piece, or at least he had some sort of image of distilled effervescent joy that he wanted to convey.

Piano Quintet In A, Op.81, B. 155: 1. Allegro, ma non tanto by Antonín Dvořák

I fell in love with the way the instruments are layered over each other and leave transparency for the melody, but then build up in resonant swells. I love how triumphant and vibrant this piece is. I picture a verdant field with flowers of all different vibrant colors. When I am looking for music to study to, I choose pieces and songs that allow me to focus but also give me energy in one way or another. Dvorak’s piece and its swells of energy and dynamic fluidity achieve both of these goals. And I just love it.

Theme from Schindler's List by John Williams

I read the book Schindler’s List when I was in middle school, and it was riveting in detail and emotion, especially for a thirteen-year-old. I love this piece because it holds a melancholy that can’t really be expressed sufficiently. To put it a different way, I don’t think I could ever really fully understand this piece and the depth of pain it tries to convey, which puts the world and my own experiences into perspective. It drives me to study because it forces me to contemplate the intersectionality of issues on a global scale and to then think creatively to make the world a better place.

Ballade No. 4 in F Minor, Op. 52 by Frédéric Chopin

The fourth ballade is almost the epitome of romantic era piano pieces for me. It brings me to a place of nostalgia because of my childhood memories listening to it. The beauty in this piece for me is its sometimes haunting, sometimes delicately beautiful nature which quickly gives way to triumphant passion. I like to think that my own experiences with this piece were also probably my first encounter with the concept of the sublime, and it has contributed to my appreciation and growth as a musician from very early on. This piece is also super energizing to listen to and it makes me excited to study whatever I am putting my mind to.

Read other posts by
JOY Program Director & Marketing Manager


Our Sponsors

Portland Fireplace and Chminey

Meet all of our sponsors  |  Become a sponsor

  • KQAC 89.9 Portland/Vancouver
  • KQOC 88.1 Newport/Lincoln City
  • KQHR 88.1 Hood River/The Dalles
  • KQHR 96.3 Columbia Gorge East
  • KQMI 88.9 Manzanita
  • KSLC 90.3 McMinnville
  • 95.7 FM Corvallis/Flynn