The wedding music post

Phil Ford

Waiting for my wife to come home –and watching my two beautiful children playing baseball in the back yard — puts me in an uxorious mood. In the comments thread of Jonathan’s recent post on scientism in music, reader Kevin Hollo asked if we classical heads had any recommendations for his upcoming wedding. This seems like a good enough topic for its own post. I call out to all Dial M readers and fellow bloggers: help a dude out. All suggestions, practical or whimsical, will be welcome. This is what I wrote in the comments:

I’m not suggesting anything for anyone’s wedding, but I’ll tell you what was played at mine:
music before the ceremony: Brahms G major violin sonata, 1st mvt.
processional: Beethoven Bagatelle op. 126 no. 3 in E flat
recessional: a pair of Scarlatti sonatas, can’t remember the Kirkpatrick #s offhand.
This was one of the few times where having mostly musicians for friends really paid off.

A CBC-TV broadcast of Glenn Gould playing the bagatelle:

As one of my students said yesterday, we all go through a Gould phase at some point. But, you know, there’s a reason for that.

About Phil Ford

Chairman of the Committee for the Memorial to the Victims of Modernism
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10 Responses to The wedding music post

  1. Jeannette says:

    The piano version to Grieg’s Holberg Suite was my prelude. 🙂
    I recommend Corelli trio sonatas for something different. (Must also come with musicians–like myself and friends once upon a time when we were a fancy trio–who can easily adapt it suit a wedding.)
    Mendelssohn trio makes nice music, too.

  2. TTU Theory says:

    We used the prelude to the first Bach cello suite as the processional and the gigue as the recessional (it was a fairly brief ceremony). We also had a live jazz quartet at the reception–a big hit even with the non-musician guests.

  3. Andrew says:

    I love the sound of Scarlattis as the recessional.

  4. Kip W says:

    A friend of the family used Grieg’s “Wedding Day at Troldhaugen” at her wedding after hearing me play it — I think she had Dad play it, come to think.
    I got married at the courthouse. Then we went home and I played the Mendelssohn march. My cousin, unfortunately, recorded it and still has the tape.
    Thanks for mentioning Gould and the CBC. I went over to YouTube and have been finding things I didn’t know existed, like him playing and conducting the fifth Brandenburg.
    The two Scarlatti sonatas I’ve worked on the most, in D and E, I seem to recall, turn out to be the two everybody’s worked on. Even the CD my old piano teacher recorded has those two — it’d be too much to hope he got the idea from me, but I worked on them with him.

  5. Kip W says:

    Just clarifying — I love the Mendelssohn, but not that performance of it!

  6. kevin r hollo says:

    just wanted to say thanks again to everyone for all the input! such a great showing. will be looking into some of these, and digging the gould (tho a bit melancholic for a processional, yeah?) for his theatric left hand.
    best to everyone,

  7. Phil Ford says:

    Well, I wouldn’t recommend playing the Bagatelle quite as slowly as Gould does. One of Gould’s specialties, along with playing things at lightning speed, was playing things incredibly slowly . . . but at the same time never “getting caught with his subdivided beats showing,” as he once put it. In other words, he could play things with such rhythmic control (that is, control of the minute fractions of time that exist between beats, and between subdivisions of beats) that he could maintain tension between moments widely separated in time, which meant that his slow performances didn’t plod. In the case of this Bagatelle, a late piece of Beethoven’s, his tremendous rhythmic control ends up turning what is, after all, a bagatelle (i.e. a slight little piece) into a monument of late-Beethoven Olympian contemplation. Which is perhaps not quite what you’re after in a wedding, it’s true. My friend Mia Kim played it a bit faster and it came off well, though.

  8. Elizabeth Upton says:

    Again, echoing the appreciation for musician friends, at my wedding I had a viol consort playing dances from Praetorius’ Terpsichore as an introduction and for both Processional and Recessional.
    Before the ceremony started, a friend sang “Here the Deities Approve” from Purcell’s St. Cecilia’s Day ode “Welcome to all the Pleasures,” accompanied by the viols (who made their own arrangement for me!). I liked the pagan touch it added to the day:
    Here the Deities approve
    The God of Music and of Love;
    All the talents they have lent you,
    All the blessings they have sent you,
    Pleas’d to see what they bestow,
    Live and thrive so well below.

  9. chris says:

    Hi , I have a wedding guitar website , based in Maryland with music samples ytou may listen to.

  10. Jeffrey Quick says:

    I had a wedding once where the bride came in to the Byrd/Cutting Woods so wild, and the groom to the beginning of the Altenberg Concerto for 7 trumpets and tympani. No, we weren’t trying to project traditional sex roles; it just happened that way.

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