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#370048 - 09/24/01 11:01 PM Music for Funerals
Alex Offline
Full Member

Registered: 05/25/01
Posts: 116
Loc: Plano, tx
It seems that lately I have been playing at a lot of funerals. Maybe this is a symptom of my advancing age. Anyway, a good friend of ours and our neighbor passed away rather unexpectedly this Saturday (despite my wife’s valiant efforts with CPR – I was never so proud of the way she took control in a crisis – please note that I was in the shower at the time and only found out when I emerged. However, it was clearly too late for CPR to do any good.) So to continue, I am playing again tomorrow. I have 4 pieces that I have found to work very well under these circumstances. They are: Adagio cantabile Beethoven’s Op. 13.; Chopin Nocturne Op. 9 #2; Brahms Intermezzo Op. 118 no. 2 and the 2nd Ginastera Argentinean Dance. Tomorrow I play the Beethoven, Chopin and Ginastera.

I am curious what other classical pieces you all think might work well for a funeral service – it’s time I added some more to my repertory. Please don’t mention any Funeral Marches - they are quite inappropriate for a service. Any ideas.

Thanks, Alex

P.S. Brendan, I thought about some of the variations from Totentanz because of the Dies Irae theme –NOT! (please note that I need the humor at a time like this).

[ September 24, 2001: Message edited by: Alex ]

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#370049 - 09/25/01 12:53 AM Re: Music for Funerals
Brendan Online   content

Registered: 05/26/01
Posts: 5538
Loc: McAllen, TX
That's awful news, my friend. One of my relatives passed away recently and there was a bitter argument in my family because I didn't want to play the service music. It would have felt too much like a gig, and that's not the way to grieve the loss of a loved one...

The Beethoven would work nicely for the service, but I'm not too sure about the others (no Chopin bias here...seriously). I remember at the funeral home for visitation, they were playing Chopin nocturnes in the background, and I thought that it fit that particular setting well. However, for a church, I'm not sure if it would be the best choice. Same thing with Brahms and Ginastera to a degree...

Have you tried improvising on some popular hymns? In the services that I've had to play, people seem to respond to that more than classical selections because most people know the tunes and it goes well with the theme of passing on from death to life (or whatever beliefs you may have). Not to mention it is a sacred setting.

And yes, funeral marches are about the most inappropriate thing you can play in a funeral service.

#370050 - 09/25/01 11:36 AM Re: Music for Funerals
Alex Offline
Full Member

Registered: 05/25/01
Posts: 116
Loc: Plano, tx
However, I don't play for the service. I only play interludes of the service. The organist does the hymn stuff. And, most of these are at funeral homes and not in church. I will say that the Ginastera actually works the best. It's so soulful. That's the piece that I typically get the most comments on afterwards.

And, speaking of Schumann, I think that Tramerai (please don't ask me how to spell it - who knows German?) would be a nice interlude.

#370051 - 09/25/01 02:53 PM Re: Music for Funerals
Vid Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/12/01
Posts: 1341
Loc: Vancouver, B.C.
Sorry to hear about your loss.

I agree that the Ginastera middle dance is very effective and appropriate. I think a lot of Bach pieces would work well for these kinds of services. The middle movement of the Italian Concerto comes to mind, as does the C-major Prelude from WTC1. Sarabandes from various suites would work well too I think. The middle movement of Beethoven's Pathetique is also a good one, and if its for an interlude you could skip the middle section. Hope you find these suggestions helpful.
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#370052 - 09/25/01 05:18 PM Re: Music for Funerals
Bernard Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/06/01
Posts: 3857
Loc: North Groton, NH

I am sorry to hear your sad news.

Maybe, but just maybe, Rachmaninoff's Prelude #4 and/or his Elegie (sp?) would be OK. They are both somewhat cantabile.

Oh, and Shubert's Impromptu (wouldn't you know, I can't remember the opus), but it's #3 of this particular opus. (#2 is the one in Eb with all the scale and passage work in the right hand). The one I'm thinking of is very beautiful, and would work very well I think. I'll look up the number tonight or maybe someone else knows off the top of their heads(?).
"Hunger for growth will come to you in the form of a problem." -- unknown

#370053 - 09/25/01 06:36 PM Re: Music for Funerals
Bernard Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/06/01
Posts: 3857
Loc: North Groton, NH

The Schubert Impromptu I'm thinking of is Opus 90, #3.
"Hunger for growth will come to you in the form of a problem." -- unknown

#370054 - 09/25/01 06:39 PM Re: Music for Funerals
Alex Offline
Full Member

Registered: 05/25/01
Posts: 116
Loc: Plano, tx
THe Schubert is Op. 90 #3 in Gb. Very beautiful but there definitely would need to be some cuts. The other one that I thought of is Chopin's e minor Prelude (no 4??). The piped in music had a very beautiful guitar arrangement. There's also a B minor Prelude in Op. 1 by Szymanowski that I think would work. The C major Bach prelude has potential. Any thoughts on the first movement of the Moonlight?

#370055 - 09/25/01 07:25 PM Re: Music for Funerals
Bernard Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/06/01
Posts: 3857
Loc: North Groton, NH
Alex, re: Moonlight, hm. Nice idea but I think I wouldn't. It may come across as a little sappy.
"Hunger for growth will come to you in the form of a problem." -- unknown

#370056 - 09/25/01 07:37 PM Re: Music for Funerals
jgoo Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/23/01
Posts: 3974
Loc: Seattle, Washington, USA
Alex: First of all, I would just like you to know that I send my sympothy.

Now, as for funeral pieces, if your not into playing things that are obviously sad like Chopin's Funeral March from Piano Sonata no.2, try playing something that lies inbetween happiness and sadness. I was told by a friend of my dads that when he dies, he wants me to play Chopin Nocturne Op.9 No.2 at is funeral. This is beacuae no.1, he really likes that piece and no.2, he says that it doesn't sound too sad while not sounding too happy at the same time. It lies somewhere between the two. Thats one that you mentioned earlier so, I would say to go for it.
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#370057 - 09/25/01 08:16 PM Re: Music for Funerals
jodi Offline
6000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/26/01
Posts: 6959
Loc: The Evergreen State (WA)
My husband's grandmother loved the first movement of Moonlight, so it was played at her funeral. The middle part of Chopin's Funeral march is really lovely, but I don't know if it would work to just play it? (my husband has told me several times that he WANTS the whole thing played at his funeral) I think the Brahms Intermezzo is a great choice, but then that is my favorite piece of all time. One other Schumann piece from Kinderszenen that would be nice is #10 "Fast zu ernst" I also like Traumeri, it seems to be a favorite for weddings.
I'm sorry you are having to play at so many funerals. Jodi

[ September 25, 2001: Message edited by: jodi ]

[ September 25, 2001: Message edited by: jodi ]

#370058 - 09/25/01 08:24 PM Re: Music for Funerals
Alex Offline
Full Member

Registered: 05/25/01
Posts: 116
Loc: Plano, tx
Don't be sorry. I'm just getting old. It seems hard to say but I'm middle aged (or close to it). You have picked a fine piece for your all time favorite (Brahms op. 118 no. 2). It is a worthy piece (and it's not by List).

The op. 9 # 2 nocturne was a big hit today. And, at the last minute I played the Brahms as a recessional and it was loved -- at least by my wife.

Oh well, I have to get back across the street to the wake.

#370059 - 09/25/01 10:35 PM Re: Music for Funerals
magnezium Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/26/01
Posts: 722
Loc: Singapore
at Chopin's funeral, the 4th and 6th preludes were played, that's the e minor and b minor... i still play these two preludes everyday... there's just something in them i can't explain...


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