An expanded catalogue of one-hit classical wonders

An expanded catalogue of one-hit classical wonders


norman lebrecht

May 05, 2020

David Leonard has a collector’s pash for composers who only wrote one great tune in their lives.

Here’s his set:

1 Rubinstein’s Melody in F

2 Paderewski’s Minuet

3 Dohnanyi Rhapsody op 11/3

4 Suk – Fantasticke Scherzo Op. 25

To which I would add:

5 Litolff’s Scherzo

6 Eric Coates’s Sleepy Lagoon

7 Alfven’s Swedish Rhapsody

8 Rodrigo Concierto de Aranjuez: Adagio

Your thoughts?

Some wonderful further suggestions.

9 Leonard Slatkin volunteers Reznicek’s Donna Diana overture

10 Julius Fucik’s Entry of the Gladiators

11 Pachelbel’s Canon

12 Albinoni’s Adagio

13 Richard Addinsell’s Warsaw concerto

14 Jacob Gade Tango Jalousie

15 Mikhail Glinka, Ruslan and Lyudmila overture

16 Hamish MacCunn The Land of the Mountain and the Flood

17 Amilcare Ponchielli – Dance of the Hours

18 Allegri Miserere

19 Thomas Arne, Rule Britannia!

20 Jaromir Weinberger, Schwanda the bagpiper polka and fugue

Keep ’em coming


  • marcus mauger says:

    Coates wrote a whole bunch of cracking tunes!

  • Andrew says:

    Coates: Dambusters!
    I’ve definitely sung some Alfven choral works
    Dohnanyi has some pleasant chamber works

    • Tony Sanderson says:

      As others have commented, Coates wrote a lot of music that was popular in his day. The Jazz Symphony for the film “A Symphony in Two Flats”. His songs were popular early on, particularly a setting of some of Burns’ poems.

      Rodrigo’s “Fantasia para un gentilhombre” is quite popular. There is a difference between being popular and it being the greatest work. Dvořák’s New World Symphony is his most popular work, but is it his best?

      I think Norman has achieved his aim though, in stirring up a lot of debate.

    • Ainslie says:

      I had an elementary school band teacher who was a rather priggish woman. We played “Dambusters”, but she insisted on calling it “Darnbusters”.

  • Jean says:

    Rubinstein’s 4th Piano Concerto should be in standard repertoire.

    Suk’s Fantasy, and most orchestral works as well !

    • Ross Amico says:

      Every time I hear that Rubinstein concerto, I can’t get it out of my head. Why it’s not more often played is unfathomable.

      • JamesM says:

        Oscar Levant played the heck out of it and made a fine recording.

      • Fliszt says:

        Arthur Rubinstein summed it up thusly: “The Rubinstein 4th Concerto strives for grandeur, but it results in grandiloquence”. It definitely has some fine thematic material and thrilling virtuoso passages, but the 3rd movement is particularly weak (it can benefit from a few cuts), and there are structural weaknesses to be found throughout the work. However, it’s definitely the best of the treasure-trove of 2nd rate romantic piano concerti, and deserves an occasional performance.

  • Robert Roy says:

    Eric Coates? One melody?

    Sounds like David Leonard has some homework to do!

    • V.Lind says:

      I’ve been a Coates fan since I first saw the original version of The Forsyte Saga in the late 60s (possibly a little later here in Canada, but back in the day when I was a sprog). Later learned it was from The Three Elizabeths, which I rather like in its entirety. I also like The Dam Busters march. And there’s nothing wrong with the London Suite.

      I’ve never heard of Alfven, but I have known the Swedish Rhapsody since I was a tot in Scotland — my father played a piano version and I could hum it from about the age of 2. When I turned this on it took me back years.

      He’s a bit rough on Rodrigo. I quite like the whole concerto. I also enjoy the cello concerto that JLW commissioned — it’s not the greatest, but it makes a nice occasional change on the concert stage from the usual three or four the top players seem to stick to.

    • pjl says:

      I think that was Norman’s addition….has he never heard the Knightsbridge March etc????

    • David Leonard says:

      Coates wasn’t my idea – it was Norman’s (and I disagree).

    • and he can then spend some time on Dohnanyi.

  • Pierre says:

    Dohnanyi is a one hit wonder? I don’t know, I remember his String Trio Serenade being fantastic (as well as his cello sonata, which is, I do admit, rather unknown, but quite pleasing)


    • Ross Amico says:

      The Suite in F minor is full of good tunes. Sargent’s recording is my favorite. But it’s the “Variations on a Nursery Tune” that seems to get all the play.

    • Peter San Diego says:

      His Ruralia Hungarica and Symphonic Minutes include some real earworms, too, as does the F minor Suite mentioned by Ross Amico. As does, for that matter, his symphonic cantata, Cantus Vitae — but good luck trying to hear that work anywhere.

    • Owen Toller says:

      I totally agree with you and the other comments. Dohnanyi is a delightful composer. What about the finale of the Sextet, which I can’t get out of my head?

      • Joel Lazar says:

        Not to disagree but merely to remark that the Suite is in F-sharp minor, not F minor…and I love it. There are several newer recordings, by the way…and in just under seventy years of avid concert-going I’ve only heard it live when I’ve conducted it myself!

  • Paul M. says:

    I highly disagree, and this article only shows how little the author knows about these composers.

    Just taking Josef Suk for instance, I believe his Serenade for String Orchestra is perhaps even more popular than his Fantastic Scherzo. But as for having written other great tunes, just listen to his: Radúz a Mahulena, Fantasy in g-minor for Violin and Orchestra, and especially the Asrael Symphony!

    • RW2013 says:

      Indeed. If I was Mr. Leonard, I’d be running for cover.

      • David Leonard says:

        Not at all. I’m talking about really major tunes, ones that once you’ve heard them stay in your head forever, not ones that are ” pleasant” or “quite pleasing”, or “good tunes”. And much as I enjoy the Suk Serenade I don’t really think it comes into the major tunes category (it’s also very long-winded – Dvorak did it better in half the time. Now I really will need to run for cover!)

    • Peter says:

      The string serenade is of incredible beauty, one of the finest in the genre. Not to forget the piano quartet, a master piece.

    • Paul Carlile says:

      Glad to see many here sticking up for Suk. Atho Mr Leonard has a point about the Scherzo Fantastique, ( a good tune indeed), it’s not neccessarily the composer’s best, and the non-tune bits go on fart oolong.

      Suk shot himself in the foot with his titles; if the Fantasy in g-minor had been called a violin concerto it would be played lots, with that gorgeous soul-wrenching tune in the central part, plus brilliant orchestral and solo writing.
      The “Four Pieces” (a hopelessly prosaic title!), for violin & piano, with unforgettable melodies in the 2nd & 3rd movements, would be played frequently if called a “Sonata.” Titles shouldn’t be a criterion for performance or public recognition, but sadly, that’s the way it usually is. Almost the only work to buck the trend convincingly is the RachPag Rhapsody.

  • Ron Swanson says:

    Another pro Suk vote from me. It is little known fact that Suk is the only person to hold an Olympic medal for music. Oddly only a silver medal was ever awarded.

  • Terry Riley’s “In C”

    Roman Hoffstetter’s very famous Andante Cantabile AKA Serenade… from the “String Quartet No. 5 Op. 3” which for many years was attributed to Haydn.

    Julius Fucik’s “Entry of the Gladiators” march. You’ve heard it a million times as “circus music”

    Edwin Bagley’s “National Emblem” march. Often misidentified as a Sousa march.

    I thoroughly expected Pachelbel to be mentioned.

    He’d have to be biggest one-hit wonder in the history of ones, hits and wonders.

    The other one-hit wonders can only wish they had what he had.

  • Jack says:

    Allegri’s Miserere

  • Daniel Poulin says:

    Warsaw Concerto, a short work for piano and orchestra by Richard Addinsell, written for the 1941 British film Dangerous Moonlight.

  • Insegrevious says:

    I’d be proud to be the composer of any one of these, but most wrote so much more…Dochnanyi’s Piano Quintet, eg…and the fact that Suk is Dvorak’s son-in-law is enough to endear him to me. So much more from all these guys!

  • Beinisch says:

    Mascagni Cavalleria

  • Jon Eiche says:

    I nominate Franz Biebl, for his Ave Maria. (But what a hit!)

    • V.Lind says:

      It’s a peach. I have three albums of Ave Marias and aside from 2 or 3 famous ones, most would seem to be by composers not known for much else.

  • Paul Brownsey says:

    And here IS the tracklist for the double CD of classical one hit wonders I mentioned above:
    1. Canon In D – Frank Maus
    2. Masterpiece Theatre Theme (Rondeau From Symphonies De Fanfares) – Simon Preston
    3. Minuet In A – Orpheus Chamber Orchestra
    4. Trumpet Voluntary – John Wilbraham
    5. Prelude (Rondeau) – The Michael Laird Brass Ensemble
    6. Adagio In G Minor For Strings And Organ – Berlin Philharmonic
    7. Meditation – Christer Thorvaldsson
    8. Dome Epais Le Jasmin (Flower Duet) – Jane Berbie
    9. Bailero – Elly Ameling Rudolf Jansen
    10. Aria – Kiri Te Kanawa
    11. Intermezzo – Berlin Philharmonic
    12. Basse-Danse – Nicholas Kraemer
    13. Pavane – Nicholas Kraemer
    14. Tordion – Nicholas Kraemer
    15. Bransles – Nicholas Kraemer
    16. Pieds-en-l’air – Nicholas Kraemer
    17. Mattachins (Sword Dance) – Nicholas Kraemer
    18. To A Wild Rose – Joseph M Cooper
    19. Adagio For Strings – Los Angeles Philharmonic Orchestra

    Disc: 2
    1. Warsaw Concerto – Misha Dichter
    2. Skaters’ Waltz – Gothenburg Symphony Orchestra
    3. Procession Of The Sardar – Royal Philharmonic Orchestra
    4. Dance Of The Hours – Berlin Philharmonic
    5. Swedish Rhapsody No. 1, (Midsummer Vigil) – Gothenburg Symphony Orchestra
    6. The Sorcerer’s Apprentice – Berlin Philharmonic
    7. On The Trail – Detroit Symphony Orchestra
    8. Galop – Royal Philharmonic Orchestra
    9. Russian Sailors’ Dance – Eastman Rochester ‘Pops’ Orchestra
    10. Sabre Dance – Leningrad Philharmonic Orchestra
    11. Toccata: Allegro – Simon Preston
    12. O Fortuna – The Chicago Symphony Chorus

    The ‘Kraemer’ pieces are Warlock’s Capriol Suite.

  • Edgar Self says:

    Good list,some arguable, as are these

    Reznicek – Donna Diana overture
    Herold – Zampa overture
    Barber – Adagio for strings
    Lekeu – Adagio for strings
    Dvorak – New World symphony – ouch!
    Chausson – Poeme for violin, orch.
    Franck – Variations symphoniques for piano, orch.
    Mascagni – Intermezzo from Cavalleria
    Leoncavallo – I Pagliacci
    Humperdinck – Hansel und Gretel
    Pachelbel – Dreistimmiger Kanon mit Grundbass
    Sergei Bortkiewicz – 2nd Piano Concerto B-flat minor
    Schoenberg – Transfigured Night
    Medtner – Skazka B-flat minor
    Franz Drdla – Serenade
    Drigo – ditto
    Cilea – L’Arlesiana, E la solita storia del pastore
    Khatchatourian – Sabre Dance/Gayne
    Delius – La Calinda
    Cesar Cui – Orientale
    C. P. E. Bach – Solfeggietto
    Michael Haydn – Mozart’s 37th symphony
    Mischa Levitzki – Valse
    Smetana – Moldau
    Michael Balf – The Bohemian Girl
    Gounod – Faust

    • David says:


      I have only two minor quibbles with your list:
      1: Delius wrote nothing worthwhile
      2: Gounod’s Petite Symphony is the sunniest and most charming symphony I’ve ever heard.

      • Donald Hansen says:

        What about the Florida Suite of Delius? Certainly “worthwhile.” Benno Moiseiwitsch thought highly of his Piano Concerto and loved playing it.

  • Jan Kaznowski says:

    Oh dear, we’ve reached a low ebb here. The Dohnanyi and Suk are very inappropriate examples.

  • Kb says:

    Addinsell Warsaw Concerto

  • Greg Bottini says:

    Widor – Toccata from the fifth organ symphony.
    Pachelbel – Kanon.
    Leoncavallo – Pagliacci.

  • jim says:

    Sorry, you’re wrong on Rodrigo. That might be his ‘greatest hit’ but there are more that get regular outings
    Fantasía para un gentilhombre
    Cuatro Madrigales Amatorios also.
    Guitar aficionados can tell us the ones that are standard repertoire.

  • Mick the Knife says:

    Bizet: Carmen
    Grofe: Grand Canyon Suite
    Chabrier: España

  • Stephen says:

    Suk ? Really ?
    His “Meditation on an old bohemian chorale” is a short masterpiece,as my friends agree when I make them listen to it every Xmas.

  • M2N2K says:

    Both Suk and Dohnanyi definitely have more than one fine piece each.

  • Fliszt says:

    Sinding- Rustles of Spring

  • Mathias Broucek says:

    Suk? Dohnanyi? Seriously?

  • Edgar Self says:

    Another vote for Rubinstein’s D-minor concerto. which has fared well on records: Oscar evant, Gregor Ginzburg, Marc-Andre Hamelin, and notably Rubinstein’s last pupil, Josef Hofman live with Fritz Reiner and the Curtis band.

    Like Moszkowski’s concerto in E (David Bar-Ilan), Hummel’s B minor with horn uartet (Hough), Tchaikovsky’s second (Donohoe, Hough, Cherkassky, Igor Zhukov, Moiseiwitsch, Jerome Lowenthal) and Sergei Bortkiewicz’s second concerto in B-flat minor (Coombs), welcome but rare revivals.
    long with Saint-Saens’s five concertos, which have variously attracted Benjamin Grosvenor, Marc-Andre Hamelin, David Bar-Ilan, Shura Cherkassky, Andre Watts, Alexander Brailowsky, Gilels, Cecile Licad, Richter, Cortot, Rubinstein, Moiseiwitsch, Robert Casadesus, Darre, Ciccolini, &tc., not to mention Saint-Saens himself, who recorded extensive solo excerpts from his second in G minor.

  • Ludwig's Van says:

    Catalani – Ebben ne andro lontano from La Wally

  • Bruce says:

    Pachelbel Canon

  • Reznicek: Donna Diana Overture

  • Arthur Kaptainis says:

    To add to the Dohnányi inventory: Piano Quintet Op. 1. Brahmsian enough to have impressed Brahms. Full of memorable material, developed with assurance.

  • David K. Nelson says:

    Is the test only one great work, or one great “tune?” Judging serious composers by their “tunes” seems rather to infantilize the whole discussion. I think the Dohnanyi Symphony in D minor is a splendid work, but perhaps not because of a “tune.” The second movement of his Ruralia Hungarica has an excellent tune, beautifully recorded by Fritz Kreisler. And the String Serenade! You’re up to your armpits in tunes.

    So let’s go down the list and confine ourselves to “tunes.”

    Rubeinstein”s Romance (often played as a violin piece) is not only a great tune, but a far greater tune than the Melody in F. Listen to the Lydia Mordkovich recording on Chandos.

    Paderewski’s Melody op. 16 no. 2 is another pretty piece, maybe not as catchy as the Minuet, but the “tune” per se is better, at least it is as arranged by Kreisler. Perlman’s recording is on YouTube. I have vague recollections of some pleasing tunes in his piano concerto as well.

    Already talked about Dohnanyi where the assertion – again confined to “tunes” – is laughably wrong.

    Suk – the most wrong perhaps. What of the piece usually translated as “love song” and recorded by Szeryng, Oistrakh, and many others. I happen to think the nicest violin recording is by Yevgeny Bushkov. Now THERE is a tune. And Suk’s Four Pieces have some lovely moments. Forgetting “tunes” for the moment, surely the Asrael Symphony, Fantasy for Violin, Serenade for Strings …. A one hit wonder? Well yes, to someone who only knows one work, everyone is a one hit wonder.

    Litolff. OK here I plead guilty to only knowing one work, and yeah the Scherzo is the best part of the Concerto Symphonique (No. 4!). But how can I simply write off stuff I have not heard, such as a Piano Trio I read references to? Who among us knows the collected works of Litolff?

    Eric Coates has been covered by others. I remember playing and liking the Knightsbridge March in school orchestra.

    Alfven. There is a lovely Elegie for violin. I don’t know his songs but I see there are Jussi Bjorling recordings on YouTube.

    If there is one thing I learned in 15 years of reviewing for Fanfare, it was that there is an awful lot of music out there yet to be heard, even by the most avid and experienced listener. And that there is no surer way of making an ass of yourself than pretending you know more than you do.

  • Bizet wrote 18 operas. Only one is regularly performed. Only one of Orff’s works is widely performed, especially outside of Germany. Dukas is known almost solely due to The Sorcerer’s Apprentice. Pfiztne’s Palestrina is almost his only performed work. There’s also Glinka known almost only for the Overture to Ruslan & Lyudmila.

    In each case this is unfortunate since their other works are often very interesting. Classical music falls into programming ruts so easily.

  • Jack says:

    Coates’ Knightsbridge March
    Oh, and everything by Karl Jenkins

  • Micaelo Cassetti says:

    Reubke’s “Sonata on the 94th Psalm” for organ.
    If you have only one “German Romantic” organ piece in your collection, let this one be it. Quite simply, it knocks the spots off so many WBD (worthy but dull) exponents of the style. His piano sonata is too…derivative of Liszt (his teacher), but his organ piece is bolder, more striking than those of his master.

  • Roland says:

    Does that David Leonard not know Rodrigo‘s Fantasia para un gebtilhombre,, just for example? Such kind of lists are not worth a penny.

  • almaviva says:

    Who knows if to Mr. Leonard even Ravel may be a one-hit wonder? Has he written anything note-worthy apart from his Bolero?

  • Mariusz says:

    I am afraid, the author simply shows a high degree of incompetence in terms of the knowledge of musical repertoire. I feel sorry for him…. or perhaps it is just a way to get desperately needed attention (?)

  • Gray Bean says:

    Dohnanyi’s Sextet, Opus 37 is a ringer! Good luck getting the 4th movement out of your head.

  • Mogens says:

    Jacob Gade: Tango Jalousie

  • DG says:

    We haven’t heard his name much since all weddings have been postponed, but…Pachelbel?

    There’s another piece that’s often recorded with Rodrigo’s Concierto de Aranjuez that I really enjoy. Fantasia for a Gentleman.

  • Nathaniel Rosen says:

    Intrada by Desplanes

  • Gustavo says:

    Hugo Alfvén – not really.

    There is more than one melody in Swedish Rhapsody No. 1, and there are more than one Swedish Rhapsodies.

    If popularity is the only criterion we may just as well add Smetana’s Moldau to the hit list.

    „Midsommarvaka“ op. 19 (1903)

    „Uppsalarapsodi“ op. 24 (1907)

    „Dalarapsodi“ op. 47 (1931)

  • Jan Kaznowski says:

    I think David Leonard himself is a one-hit wonder. Compiling this ridiculous list and then he’s justifiably never heard of again

  • SK says:

    Then there are those composers who, although they may have written numerous other works, are known mainly for one opera:

    Humperdinck (Hansel)

    Gluck (Orfeo)

    Mascagni (Cavalleria)


    Giordano (Chenier)

    Nicolai (Merry Wives)

    Offenbach (Hoffmann)

    Boito (Mefistofele)

    Ponchielli (Gioconda)

    I’m sure one can name others, but I omit Donizetti, Bizet, and Borodin, as they’re also known for other works including non-operatic, and of course omit Debussy and Beethoven, more celebrated for works other than their sole operas.

    • V.Lind says:

      I like The Grand Duchess of Gerolstein, which I have seen a couple of times and had more opportunities to do so I suspect some other people like that too.

    • Saxon Broken says:

      Offenbach: “Orpheus in the underworld” is performed more than rarely. As is “La belle Hélène”. Perhaps more rarely outside France.

      Gluck: “Iphigénie en Tauride” is performed more than rarely, as is Alceste.

      The others I agree with.

  • Minutewaltz says:

    Blumenlied by Gustav Lange?

    He wrote masses of other stuff but this seems to be the only one ever hears and then only rarely.

  • Gustavo says:

    Barber Adagio

    • Philip says:

      It is hard not to consider his violin concerto extremely standard repertoire – and quite deservedly so.

      • Saxon Broken says:

        Barber’s violin concerto is very rarely (if ever) programmed outside the US. The only thing most Europeans would ever have heard in concert is the Adagio.

    • V.Lind says:

      I seem to hear Knoxville: Summer of 1915 more in the concert hall than the Adagio. And there is plenty Barber around on US orchestra offerings.

    • Paul Carlile says:

      Altho the Barber Adagio is deservedly his best-known (“iconic”) work, one could hardly call him a one-hit composer. The violin concerto is near standard repertoire, the piano sonata a well- established warhorse, (Horowitz, Browning, Hamelin, Wild….. and any numbore of young upstarts in international competitions!), ditto the “Excursions” for piano. “Knoxville, summer of 1915,” the 1st Symphony, the Essays for orchestra, “School for Scandal” overture are all well-received on their occasional outings. I recently went to a performance of “A Hand of Bridge” an immensely enjoyable and witty chamber opera.
      The Adagio is masterly, but i’d not want it to be my only Barber, (to make the point baldly!). That was a close shave!

  • Alan says:

    Marcelo Oboe Concerto—Adagio

  • HugoPreuss says:

    Strongly disagree with Albinoni, Glinka, and esp. Rodrigo. They all wrote tons of great and regularly performed music!

  • Jackyt says:

    Poldini Poupée Valsante. I learned it on the piano over 50 years ago and can still hear it in my head . A real ear worm piece!

  • Gustavo says:

    Thomas Arne

    “Rule, Britannia!”

    Douze points?

  • psq says:

    von Flotow’s aria in “Martha”

  • Peter Bay says:

    I’m afraid the Albinoni item will have to be credited to another according to Wiki: “The Adagio in G minor for strings and organ is a neo-Baroque composition commonly attributed to the 18th-century Venetian master Tomaso Albinoni, but actually composed by 20th-century musicologist and Albinoni biographer Remo Giazotto, purportedly based on the discovery of a manuscript fragment by Albinoni. There is a continuing scholarly debate about whether the alleged fragment was real, or a musical hoax perpetrated by Giazotto, but there is no doubt about Giazotto’s authorship of the remainder of the work.”

    • Stephen says:

      Quite. And I’m surprised that Slipped Disc isn’t aware of the fact. Giazotto’s Albinoni Adagio still has a place on a list of one-hit wonders, though.

      The real Albinoni wrote a number of concerti, especially double concerti for two oboes.

  • LewesBird says:

    Since we’re looking at “pleasant sounding” and “catchy” marginal and obscure one-hit wonders, indeed “tunes”, have a look at two things that exude the garlic-scented whiff of Eastern Europe — but catchy allright. Here:

    — Nicolae Kirkulescu’s “Musical Moment for Piano”:

    — Georgy Sviridov’s “Time, Forward!”:

    And since I’ve posted it on here only last week, after Charles Krigbaum’s death from Covid, here’s again this other one-hit wonder (nothing Easter European about this one, though), his “Processional for the President”:

    • V.Lind says:

      Dmitri Hvorostovsky, no mean musician, was a HUGE supporter of Sviridov’s works. I saw him test out Russia Cast Adrift at a small recital in Montreal, and he then recorded it with the pianist Mikhail Arkadiev, who was then his regular accompanist. He later re-recorded it with the St. Petersburg State Symphony Orchestra. He also commissioned some Sviridov works — he had the greatest regard for this composer.

  • Old Man in the Midwest says:

    You folks are quite mean. Many names here have had other works that are quite good even though time has sifted through them and put them on the dust bin.

    • Gustavo says:

      OK – here’s one for the Old Man in the Midwest:

      John Stafford Smith – The Anacreon Song

  • Enrique Sanchez says:

    Jaromír Weinberger’s Polka and Fugue from “Schwanda the Bagpiper”

  • minacciosa says:

    Dohnanyi’s catalog is still far too unknown in most places to conclude thus. His Symphony No.2 is a truly great piece, a work of wartime inspiration and personal loss. His operatic contributions remain a mystery to modern stages yet Boris Goldovsky wrote that Dohnanyi’s Tante Simone is one of the great 20th-century comic operas.

    EvD could definitely write a tune; the Suite referenced above, the 2nd and 3rd String Quartets, the Violin and Cello Sonatas, etc.

    It’s fun to make lists like the subject of this post, but fun is all they are; it is no way to assess music.

    • Peter San Diego says:

      Yes! The Dohnanyi 2nd is on my bucket list of pieces to hear live, at least once in my life. (Assuming that live performances will return to our lives at some point…) There’s a thematic connection to his second piano quintet, completed in 1915 — which makes sense, since Dohnanyi regarded the two world wars as a single, modern-day Thirty Years’ War (with a hiatus). It would be wonderful to program the symphony in coordination with the quintet in a chamber series.

  • I’ve been thinking of compiling a list of composers who became famous with the least amount of music – so far, at the top are Carl Orff (3 minutes, and you know which ones), and Litolff (4 bars repeated ad nauseam).

    • norman lebrecht says:

      Go for it!

    • Douglas Cairns says:

      I get the Carl Orff ref. but as a paid-up member of the Fanclub I might point out that his hypnotic Gassenhauer was used in the film Badlands with Sissy Spacek and Martin Sheen to great effect. I bet people recognise it but don’t know it’s by him. And believe it or not I have tunes from Die Kluge, Der Mond and Trionfi di Afrodite going through my head even as a type!
      I might also add that Vivaldi is a one-hit wonder but only to phone companies and answering services, definitely not to me.

    • Edgar Self says:

      Marc-Andre Hamelin knows Rubinstein’s D-minor concerto as well as any and better than most, having made one of the best recordings of it, which I mentioned above, and a few thousand other things.

      Chapeau, Marc! I haven’t seen you here before. I trust you are well and using the time to explore right-hand literature apart from Sophie-Carmen Eckhardt-Grammate. which I hope I’ve spelt right. A bien tot.

    • Gustavo says:

      John Williams: signature theme from “Jaws”

    • Peter San Diego says:

      A lot depends on one’s definition of “fame”. For the widest public, Ravel may be known solely for “Bolero”, even though the classical world knows him for just about everything else he wrote…

  • D** says:

    Jaromir Weinberger – Polka and Fugue from Schwanda the Bagpiper

    Vincent d’Indy – Symphony on a French Mountain Air

    Philip Phile – The President’s March (later known as Hail Columbia after lyrics were added)

    Pierre Leemans – March of the Belgian Paratroopers

    John Stafford Smith – The Anacreontic Song (much better known, of course, after other lyrics were added!)

    Roy Harris – Symphony No. 3

    Samuel A. Ward – Materna (the tune which was later used for America the Beautiful)

  • Dave says:

    What tripe! Suk and Alfvén one-tune wonders? I suggest that the gentleman broadens his listening.

    Of course, if you’re saying that only one of their tunes is “famous”, that’s different. But even then, I’d lay odds against most if not all University Challenge teams identifying the Suk or Alfvén.

  • Bruce says:

    Seems like he meant to say “one HIT tune.” Popular, whether great or not.

  • Alex S says:

    May I suggest the violin concerto in E minor by Julius Conus? The Heifetz and Perlman recordings are my favorites.

  • Don Ciccio says:

    Juventino Rosas: Sombre las olas.

    Leon Jessel: The Parade of the Tin Soldiers a.k.a. The Parade of the Wooden Soldiers (some would also argue for his operetta Schwarzwaldmädel, which is delightful, but, really…)

    Iosif Ivanovici: Danube Waves

    Johan Halvorsen: Entry of the Boyars

    Richard Heuberger: Der Opernball

    Otto Nicolai: Die lustigen Weiber von Windsor.

  • Gregory Kuperstein says:

    Ippolitov -Ivanov, Caucasian Sketches

  • Vissi d'arte says:

    Carl Orff – Carmina Burana

  • Dave Payn says:

    Coates? Go and listen to some more of his works and educate your ears! Truly one born every minute…

    Oh, and Albinoni didn’t even write his Adagio…

  • Edgar Self says:

    Ponchielli has another hit, “Suicidio” from “La Gioconda”. For proof Zinka Milanov or Callas.

    there is, or was, a Reznicek Society in Alaska!

    I never knew Dohnanyi had so many fans. As a student in Wichita Falls I met him when he came from Edward Kilenyi’s in Florida at the invitation of Erno Daniel and Frederic Balazs. I knew his transcription of Delibes’s Naila waltz that Backhaus recorded with unexpected charm, and trio-serenade that Heifetz, Primrose, and Feuermann recorded.

    Who remembers Dohnanyi’s Remington LPs, Tempest Sonata and Schumann Kinderszenen with spoken titles? Example: “Bleeding Child”. Or his assault by Klemperer or vice-versa over a woman at a concert in Budapest? I have lived to see his elderly grandson Christoph, conduct. Life is strange.

    • Peter San Diego says:

      How marvelous! Erno Daniel (professor of piano at UC Santa Barbara and conductor of the Santa Barbara Symphony in the 1960s) and his wife Katinka (who did so much to propagate the Kodaly pedagogical method in the US) were family friends when I was a child. They always spoke of Dohnanyi with the greatest affection. Alas, I never heard of a Klemperer-Dohnanyi feud… 😉

      • Edgar Self says:

        Yes, San Diego Peter, thank you. Dr. Erno Dniel succeeded Lotte Lehmann as director of he Acdemy of the West in Santa Barbara. He played Liszt’s Totentanz and Hungarian Fantasia with Frederic Balazs, later of the Tucson Symphony, conducting the Wichita Falls SO when I played horn with them, and we encored he finale of the Fantasia.

        I reviewed our concert for the college paper. We got a pretty good review, which Dr. Daniel questioned me about on campus next day. He read part of it aloud about his playing in the fugatosection of Totentanz and asked, “Did you write this?” I pled guilty. He fixed me with an earnest Hungarian gaze and said, “Is true. True. Every word.” My life has largely been downhill since then.

        Balazs died in Tucson late last year, aged 98, as I learnt from reading this blog. I met two young musician friends of his while hiking the John Muir Trail in the Sierra Nevada. It really is a small world.

  • C Porumbescu says:

    Let’s get this straight – you’re saying that the man who wrote Knightsbridge, Calling All Workers, Springtime in Angus and The Dam Busters only wrote one great tune in his life..?

  • M2N2K says:

    Polonaise by Oginski

  • Chuck says:

    Orff carmina burana

  • Kyle A Wiedmeyer says:

    Joaquin Rodrigo also wrote a great flute concerto

  • Gustavo says:

    Malcolm Arnold – River Kwai March

  • Mark Sebastian Jordan says:

    Louis-Claude Daquin: The Cuckoo

  • Gustavo says:

    Walther von Stolzing – Die selige Morgentraum-Deutweise

  • Peter San Diego says:

    Karl Goldmark’s “Rustic Wedding” [Bauerns Hochzeit] symphony — simply bursting with marvelous ear worms (and a better piece, in my opinion, than his violin concerto). Bernstein made a wonderful recording of the symphony.

  • Saxon Broken says:

    Holst: The Planets.

    How many concert-goers have ever heard anything else he wrote?

  • Peter says:

    Dohnanyi-I wouldn’t underjudge his composing skills- some of his string quartets are excellent!