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Penn’s music professors study melodies, harmonies and rhythms from around the world and across multiple centuries. They publish papers, write books and compose new symphonies and operas. But what do they listen to?

We asked several Department of Music faculty and staff members for their summer-tunes recommendations. They gave us so many interesting suggestions that we’re splitting this into a multi-part post. Happy summer, and happy listening!


Diana Krall, When I Look in Your Eyes

Ketner says: “Great way to spend a lazy day. Krall has a very soothing voice and the arrangements of these jazz standards are wonderful.”

Brahms: Symphony No. 1 (Herbert von Karajan, Berlin Philharmonic)

Ketner says: “In graduate school, I spent several weeks in Heidelberg, Germany, and I was told that Brahms wrote his first symphony in a town nearby. It was interesting to me to experience this piece where it was written during that summer. As an added bonus, being a trombonist, the brass playing on this recording is terrific!”

Wagner: Der Ring Des Nibelungen (Georg Solti, Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra)

Ketner says: “If summer implies more time, then what better opportunity to experience the Ring Cycle, arguably the most ambitious musical achievement of all time. There is a lot of music here—about 16 hours or so—so pace yourself.”

Mumford & Sons, Sigh No More or Babel

Ketner says: “Great tunes in a folk/rock style, these albums make me want to go to a big outdoor concert.”


The Kinks, The Kinks Are the Village Green Preservation Society

Dolan says: “‘People take pictures of the summer/Just in case someone thought they had missed it.’ Released in 1968, this album drips with a lush nostalgia for a fading England (the title song provides a catalog of the traditions under threat: Tudor hours, custard pie, strawberry jam, china cups, billiards, vaudeville, and virginity). It is by turns sweet, whimsical, and witty; its initial reception was mixed (‘Unhip But Original’ was one famous description of the album), but it has endured. Listen to it next to their later album Muswell Hillbillies (1971) for two different sonic interpretations of what it means to embrace the antiquated.”

Schubert: String Quintet in C Major (D. 956)

Dolan says: “Written for two violins, a viola, and two cellos, this expansive piece of chamber music is one of Schubert’s finest compositions. Indeed, if you wanted to restrict your listening library to a single piece of chamber music, this would be it. Schubert completed the work shortly before he died in 1828, so is this one of his last completed works. One of the most striking aspects of the work is Schubert’s ability to blend extravagant lyricism with turbulence, creating something bittersweet. This is perfect listening for long contemplative summer evenings. There are many excellent performances available; I am especially fond of the Emerson Quartet’s performance with Mstislav Rostropovich (Deutsche Grammophon, 1992).”


Bach: Brandenburg Concertos (Freiburg Baroque)

Calcagno says: “This is a beautiful recording of one of the most popular set of orchestral pieces in the history of Western music. Dedicated by Bach in 1721 to the Margrave of Brandenburg and published only in 1850, these ‘concertos with several instruments’ (as the composer called them in the autograph score) can be compared to a sounding encyclopedia of the orchestral possibilities available in the Baroque period. The brilliant rendering of the distinguished ensemble from Freiburg, playing on period instruments, brings to full life these six masterworks. A pleasant and intellectually stimulating experience.”

Molly Petrilla C’06

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