17 Quotes on Love and Friendship for Valentine’s Day


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1. “There is nothing I would not do for those who are truly my friends. I have no notion of loving people by halves. It is not in my nature.” — Jane Austen


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2. “Close friends are truly life’s treasures. Sometimes, they know us better than we know ourselves. With gentle honesty, they are there to guide us and support us, to share our laughter and our tears. Their presence reminds us that we are never truly alone.” — Vincent Van Gogh


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3. “Those who love you are not fooled by mistakes you have made or dark images you may hold about yourself. They remember your beauty when you feel guilty; and your purpose when you are confused.” — Alan Cohen


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4. “The beginning of love is to let those we love be completely themselves and not to twist them to fit our own image. Otherwise, we love only the reflection of ourselves we find in them.” — Thomas Merton


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5. “Friendship is born at that moment when one person says to another: “What? You too? I thought I was the only one.” — C.S. Lewis


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6. “Love anything and your heart will certainly be wrung, and possibly be broken. If you want to be sure of keeping it intact, you must give your heart to no one. Wrap it carefully round with hobbies and little luxuries. Avoid all entanglements. Lock it up safe in the coffin or casket of your selfishness, but in that casket — safe, dark, motionless, airless — it will change. It will not be broken. It will become unbreakable, impenetrable, irredeemable… To love at all is to be vulnerable.” — C.S. Lewis


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7. “You don’t love someone for their looks or their clothes or for their fancy car, but because they sing a song only you can hear.” — Oscar Wilde


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8. “So many people are shut up tight inside themselves like boxes, yet they would open up, unfolding quite wonderfully, if only you were interested in them.” — Sylvia Plath


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9. “The truth is that the more intimately you know someone, the more clearly you’ll see their flaws. That’s just the way it is. That’s why marriages fail, why children are abandoned, why friendships don’t last. You might think you love someone until you see the way they act when they’re out of money or under pressure or hungry, for goodness’ sake. Love is something different. Love is choosing to serve someone and be with someone in spite of their filthy heart. Love is patient and kind; love is deliberate. Love is hard. Love is pain and sacrifice. It is seeing the darkness in another person and defying the impulse to jump ship.” — The Great Kamryn


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10. “If we love someone, but do not love God, we demand total perfection and righteousness from that person, and when we do not get it, we become cruel and vindictive; yet we are demanding of a human being something which he or she can not possibly give. There is only one Being who can completely satisfy to the depth of the hurting human heart, and that is the Lord Jesus Christ.” — Oswald Chambers


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11. “I don’t know any perfect people, only really, really flawed people, who are still worth loving.” — John Green


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“They say love is blind. I disagree. Infatuation is blind; love is all-seeing and accepting. Love is seeing all the flaws and blemishes and accepting them. Love is accepting the bad habits and mannerisms and working around them. Love is seeing all the fears and insecurities and knowing your role is to comfort. Love is working through all the challenges and painful times. Infatuation is fragile and will shatter when life is not perfect. Love is strong, and it strengthens because it is real.” — Unknown


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13. “There is nothing better than a friend, unless it is a friend with chocolate.” — Charles Dickens


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14. “A five-year-old asked his friend: ‘What’s friendship?’ He replied, ‘Friendship is when you steal my chocolates every day, and I still keep them in the same place.'” — Unknown


15. “I find the best way to love someone is not to change them, but instead, help them reveal the greatest versions of themselves.” — Dr. Steve Maraboli


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16. “When you find people who not only tolerate your quirks but celebrate them with glad cries of ‘Me too!,’ be sure to cherish them, because those weirdos are your tribe.” — Unknown


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17. “If we could look into each other’s hearts and understand the unique challenges each of us faces, I think we would treat each other much more gently, with more love, patience, tolerance and care.” — Marvin Ashton

Get To Know Me Tag

Here are some interesting questions I’ve answered to help you get to know more about me. I found most of these questions from other lists online. If you like, you can try and answer these questions for yourself.

  1. What is your favorite childhood memory?

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I have a few, but some of these I have discussed in other blog posts (if not this blog site.) One Christmas memory stands out from when I was a junior higher. The youngest of my older brothers, Dan, was a college student at the time. I took a metal shop class that year and gave him a personalized desk organizer I had made in metal shop as a Christmas gift. I also got very creative with the letter I attached to it, supposedly a letter from Santa. It started out something like this, “Mrs. Claus, the reindeer and I have had a conference, and we decided that you deserve this.” Then, I proceeded to list his sins which included smacking his little sister on the behind and singing punk songs like “Smash Your Face.” Dan is the clown of the family, and the “Smash Your Face” song was his self-penned funny response to “Bang Your Head.” He read the letter out loud to the family and laughed until he cried.

2. Have you ever been to Europe?


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Yes, I spent the summer between my junior and senior years of college teaching English in Debrecen, Hungary. That trip also included a little weekend in Vienna, Austria. The next summer, I taught English for three months in Riga, Latvia and also enjoyed a little weekend in Tallinn, Estonia. At the end of that summer, I spent a week traveling to different cities in western Europe, including Paris, a town in Normandy Beach, London, Brussels and Bruges, Belgium and Bruhl, Germany.

3. Who is your favorite male YouTuber?

I like several, but I’ll say Brian Hull, because I’d really like to share his fun stuff with you. Brian is a voice impressionist who does impressions of characters from Disney, Pixar, Dreamworks and such. He even has some videos where he does his impressions at Disneyland or Universal Studios while conversing with the characters.

Other YouTubers I like are Caleb Hyles who sings Disney, Broadway and other fun things, Julien Neel who makes multi-tracking acapella videos where he sings all four parts, and some other crazy guys like Dude Perfect, who do all kinds of trick shots, Crazy Russian Hacker and Mark Rober who does crazy science experiments.

4. Who is your favorite female YouTuber?

I really enjoy Malinda Kathleen Reese and her Google Translate videos. In her videos, she sings songs that have been translated back and forth in multiple languages with hilarious Mad Lib style results. Here, Ed Sheeran’s “Shape of You,” which was a bit sexual, becomes an innocent song about a nerd who just likes geometry and biology. There are a few random references to “loins” though. Watch for the “gradually watermelon” part, which became a catchphrase for her T-shirt merch.

I also enjoy Bailey Pelkman, a sweet singer who sings covers of many popular songs and some others who have been mentioned in previous posts such as Erutan, a medieval/Celtic style singer, the Mona Lisa Twins and Harp Twins.

5. Who is your favorite stand-up comedian?

Brother Dan introduced me to the genius of this crazy comedian, Tim Hawkins. He has hilarious but clean comedy, and I think I have probably seen all of his videos. In this short clip, he explains the differences between boys and girls.

One fun thing about Tim Hawkins is that he incorporates a lot of music in his acts. He plays guitar, does a bunch of song parodies and is pretty good at impersonating different singers and their voices and styles. Here, he sings a song perfect for coffee lovers.

6. Which sport is your favorite?


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This is an interesting one. I like watching Olympic sports, and I’m probably like a lot of other women when I say that my favorite Olympic sports are gymnastics and figure skating. I guess I like “pretty” sports including some that have been debated as to whether they are even sports at all, such as cheerleading and synchronized swimming. I seem to like ones that are visually interesting and have some sort of acrobatic element to them, so I enjoy watching the diving in the Summer Olympics and skiing and snowboarding in the Winter Olympics. Also, some of the Extreme Sports like stunt biking, parkour and other things are interesting for similar reasons, and I sometimes look into these things for my mystery adventure stories, since they seem fitting for adventures.

7. Did you ever slip in public?


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My worst slips on ice were in the seventh or eighth grade. This was at a time when most kids walked to school. One winter school day, the sidewalks were extremely icy. Looking back on it, I think they really should have cancelled school. Also, at this time, it was not trendy to carry a backpack or book bag, so I was carrying a big pile of school books in my arms. I completely wiped out in front of a neighbor’s house, and my books went scattering everywhere. Just as I had gathered them up again, I wiped out a second time. The neighbor came out of his house to check on me.

8. Can you spell your name in Chinese?


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No, I can not. However, one of my good friends, Iris, is from Hong Kong, and another good friend, Jeannie, is from South Korea. One time when the three of us were together with our friend, Adrienne, Iris wrote my name out for me in Chinese and Jeannie did the same for me in Korean. They both wrote on the same slip of paper which I still have hanging in my room. If I really wanted to study the paper, I probably could learn to write my name in Chinese … and Korean too.

8. Do you like poetry?


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I do like poetry. My favorite poet is Robert Frost, but I also like sonnets by Shakespeare and Elizabeth Barrett Browning and romantic poetry from Shelley and Keats. I can’t say that I read poetry often, but I enjoyed studying these poets as an English major. Sometimes, I have gone for a hike, packing a snack and a poetry book, then enjoying both treats together once I was into the woods. It seemed fitting as a lot of poetry is nature-oriented. Of course, the Psalms are also poetry, and Psalms is probably my favorite book of the Bible.

9. Which flower is your favorite?


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I became interested in orchids after seeing impressive displays in greenhouses at Longwood Gardens, New York Botanical Gardens and even at Duke’s Farm in my local area. Pinterest seemed to understand this about me before I did and kept recommending more and more orchid photos for my Flowers board. There are so many interesting varieties of orchids. Some of my reading has piqued this interest as well. I read a book called The Orchid Thief by Susan Orlean, which dealt with true crime, someone who illegally obtained the flower from protected land and some crazed collectors. Also, Nero Wolfe, the private investigator in Rex Stout’s mysteries, is an orchid grower and connoisseur.

10. Are you a foodie?


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I am probably a foodie by some definitions. I am pretty open to different kinds of cuisine, am almost constantly finding new recipes and have developed a somewhat sophisticated palate. I am really aiming to eat healthy, so I’m hoping to be a healthy foodie. Sometimes, “foodie” is meant to refer to a kind of food snobbishness. I don’t think that fits me as well. I can still handle some down homey, not so gourmet fare.

11. What song did you listen to last?

Above is the song I listened to last. The song is, apparently, from a Bollywood movie, and there are clips from the movie worked into the video. Neither the violinist nor the song were familiar to me until a few days ago when it showed up in my YouTube recommendations. I think it showed up because I follow other violinists on YouTube and because I’ve enjoyed the Bollywood dances on Wii Just Dance games. For some of the latter, I was curious enough to look up the songs and see the performances in their original context. I’ve never actually seen a full Bollywood movie.

12. What was your most awkward moment while visiting someone’s home?


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Here is another junior high story. Maybe, that is just the period when awkward things happen. A good friend of mine had me over for dinner with some of her extended family, not just her immediate family whom I knew but some aunts and uncles also. We had chocolate cake for dessert. As I was eating my dessert, I saw what looked like a big piece of unmelted chocolate in the center frosting layer. I put the whole piece in my mouth and quickly discovered it wasn’t chocolate at all but a piece of metal. I knew the metal was in the cake by some terrible mistake. I was a shy and introverted kid, and I was afraid of making a fuss over it and embarrassing the aunt who had made the cake. I don’t remember how everything unfolded, but soon, everyone knew what happened. Apparently, a part of the mixer had fallen off into the cake. One of the uncles was not afraid to make a big fuss and proceeded to tell me that I should wear the metal piece on a string around my neck, and when anyone asked, I could tell them the story about how I almost died. I thought this was rather funny, but I was afraid to laugh, because I don’t think he was intending to be humorous.

13. What is your favorite dessert?


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I really enjoy chocolate and coffee flavors, so I like a really chocolatey dessert, something with coffee flavor like tiramisu or a combination of both such as a mocha cake. I also really enjoy cheesecake.

14. Do you like history?


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I do. I’m not sure if I was always conscious of liking it when I was in school. I wasn’t fond of memorizing dates, but I’m glad now that I did and have successfully memorized a lot of important historical dates. I also have memories of struggling to copy down outlines in a high school history class and keeping up with the lecture at the same time. I do remember enjoying reading about Queen Elizabeth I and King Henry VIII in school. This kind of interest in royal history has stuck with me, and I enjoy watching history period movies on royals or reading books about them.

Now, I can enjoy learning about history in my own way and might watch a historical film or read historical fiction or non-fiction. I like antiques also and watch “Pawn Stars” and “American Pickers” on History Channel. The guys from these two shows, (Mike, Frank, Rick, Corey, Chumlee), are known in my house collectively as “the guys,” as in “Can we switch to History Channel and see if ‘the guys’ are on?” Sometimes, there are other guys on this channel like “Swamp Men,” but those aren’t the guys.

15. What’s the most silly thing you’ve done in public?


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This anecdote deals with Question 2 and my time in Hungary. During my time there, we visited a large public fountain outside one of the universities. Our group of seven teachers was accompanied by our translator, Edouard. Some of us had a desire to walk through the fountain, but we were hesitant. We realized it was a little bit goofy and didn’t want to commit a cross-cultural faux pas and be labelled as “crazy Americans.” When we expressed all of this to Edouard, who became a good friend to us, he jumped into the fountain first and led the way. We couldn’t be blamed if a native Hungarian took the lead. So, all seven of us paraded through the fountain, led by our kindly Hungarian friend.

Salsa Dance for Fitness and Fun

Latin style dance fitness can be a lot of fun and is a good workout for legs and core muscles. I’ve had a lot of fun with my Crunch Cardio Salsa workout DVD. The fitness instructor on the video is Giselle Roque de Escobar, who exudes a lot of enthusiasm.

The total workout is 40 minutes long and is broken down into five different dance routine segments, in addition to the warm-up and cool-down. These include the salsa , merengue , merengue salsa, samba and Latin funk combinations. You can choose the different chapters from the main menu and can either do the full workout or do two to three of your favorite dance segments along with the warm-up and cool-down. The versatility is nice, because there may be days when you’re a little sore or not up to a full length workout but still want exercise.

Arms probably do not get the same sort of workout as your legs do, but there are arm movements, many of which are graceful and Latin-inspired. There are “flick arms,” (a wrist flick movement,) graceful twirling flamenco arms during the cool-down and even a move where you shake some imaginary maracas. After returning to this DVD from a long break, I felt it in my shoulders and upper back which must be from the arm movements.

The instructor is easy to follow. She’ll demonstrate the footwork, sometimes moves just as simple as stepping out to the side, or alternating feet stepping forward, then add hip and arm movements. There is, of course, a lot of hip movement in Latin dance.

Giselle teaching hip movement
Source: YouTube


Although some of the moves I described are done in place, you do move around quite a bit for this workout: frontwards and back, side to side and even on a diagonal. I did manage to modify things a bit and make it work for a somewhat small space. As long as you are moving at the right tempo, you can still get good exercise whether you are moving in place or in the space around you.

One favorite move is what she calls a “modified mambo,” where you turn sideways and push up on the ball of your foot for a hip roll, then move splayed hands out to the sides, as Giselle says, “as if you were presenting your hips.”

The most energetic segment is the samba segment. The rhythm for this section is quite fast, and you do what Giselle describes as “little skips.” You aren’t lifting both feet off the floor at once, but the step has a lot of bounce to it. The workout is low impact throughout, but there are a few little hops here and there too.

There is a drummer, introduced as Ravi, drumming the beat in the background behind the dancers. The DVD cover describes it as “live drums,” but a recording of drums isn’t live in the truest sense, is it? What is more accurate to say is that, while the music is canned, the drums were live at the time of the recording and has a live feel to it. The drumming, I think, does help you get a good feeling for the beat easily.

With Amazon Prime, you can get the DVD for $8.22. Click on the image link below, if you are interested.

You can also stream the workout with Amazon Prime with a $6.99 per month subscription to the BeFit channel. A free trial is possible.

Latin and Disco Dance with The Firm

Dance fitness is my favorite form of exercise, and, over the years, I’ve accumulated quite a collection of dance fitness DVDs and Just Dance games for Wii. I’ve had The Firm: Cardio Dance Slim Down DVD for a while, but it’s a favorite. It was first released in 2006 and re-released in 2013. What makes things a bit confusing is that The Firm released a different DVD by the same name in 2015, this time with a different instructor. The one I’m reviewing is led by Allie DelRio Pointer.

The workout is 45 minutes long and, aside from warm-up and cool-down, has three dance segments in different dance styles. The second is Latin dance, and the third one is disco. The first dance style is un-named both on the packaging and by the instructor in the video. Perhaps, it would be considered club or modern dancing. I’m not quite sure, but it is fun.


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This video has more interesting warm-up and cool-down segments than in many workouts. I’ve seen so many that use different combinations of very similar stretches. These feel a little more choreographed and have a few interesting and fun moves. For instance, you “butterfly”your legs in the warm-up, a kind of move where you slide on the balls of your feet and alternately point your knees inwards and outwards. In the cool-down, you do the “jerk,” a ’60s dance move, for a bit and also a sweep kick where you balance on one leg and sweep the other around in a circle.

It’s considered a low-impact workout, but there are a few little hops. In the first dance segment, there’s a cool move where you give a low kick followed by bringing both knees up in a little hop and then quickly followed by a dirt-off-the-shoulder move. (You just brush imaginary dust from your shoulder.)

In each dance segment, Allie starts out teaching one dance move, then adding on with another move and continually repeating the sequence as new moves are added until you have a full routine. I’m a little bit experienced at this, but I thought it was easy to learn.


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The Latin dance segment is also fun and features mambo and cha cha inspired steps. There are even some cha cha moves in the disco segment.


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I really enjoy the disco segment. Whether you are hoping for some ’70s flashback music or really hoping there won’t be, those tunes are not featured. Many of these fitness DVDs don’t have the music license to play music hits either new or old. The music throughout sounds like some electronic instrumentals. You can get a feeling for it with a little preview clip below.

I find that locomotion (kick ball change) move, in the clip above, to be one of the most fun out of the whole . I don’t know why. It just feels good to do those kicks.

By the way, I think Allie misspeaks in the clip when she says her favorite move is the cha cha “with legs.” I think she means to say “with arms.” It would be impossible to cha cha without legs. 🙂

Over all, the workout is very fun and varied, low impact and not too overwhelming if you are a beginner or at intermediate level. It works a variety of muscles.

You can buy the DVD on Amazon with the link below. I do get a little commission as an Amazon affiliate, but that does not affect the price which is a pretty good one.


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11 Classical Music Favorites

Lately, I’ve been reflecting on a few different times when someone has asked me, “What kind of music do you like?” and I was almost completely at a loss as to how to begin to answer the question. It doesn’t, in theory, seem like it should be a difficult one.

I enjoy music in many different genres, and it really depends a lot on my mood and activity what I like to hear at any given time. It never seems easy to summarize the scope of my musical likes and dislikes. I end up thinking, “How many hours do you have available while I expand on that answer?”

I’ve heard people say, “I like everything,” but I doubt that is literally true that they like everything indiscriminately, unless they have no taste or discernment at all. Those who say this probably mean that they listen to music in more than one category, and it seems simpler to say, “I like everything,” than to give a long answer and proceed to list all the specific songs or musicians on their like and dislike lists.

I originally thought I would attempt the long answer and list a few favorites per genre in one post. When I couldn’t narrow the Celtic genre favorites to less than five, I knew I was in trouble and would have to create a series. So, here is the first in the series … 11 Classical Music Favorites … which was almost 15 Classical Music Favorites.


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I especially like Beethoven, Tchaikovsky and other composers from the Romantic period onwards on the timeline. Two things helped me gain more of an appreciation of Bach in somewhat recent times: discovering the Swingle Singers’ jazz scat renditions of Bach and watching a biographical film on Bach. I still probably like the Romantics a bit more. My absolute favorite composer is George Gershwin, and my favorite composition of his is Rhapsody in Blue.

  1. “Rhapsody in Blue” by George Gershwin

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Gershwin, I think, is in a bit of a class by himself. When you hear his orchestra pieces, it’s hard to say whether it’s jazz-sounding classical or classical-sounding jazz. George Gershwin was inspired to write “Rhapsody in Blue” while traveling by train and hearing the rhythm of the train. I know the piece has come to be associated with United Airlines commercials, but, when you hear it, try to imagine a train and not a plane.

The embedded video in the playlist at the bottom of this article is a 1976 performance by the New York Philharmonic Orchestra, led by Leonard Bernstein. I’m amazed that Bernstein can both play the leading piano part and conduct the orchestra during the same piece.

I like the part at 1:26 where it builds up to a point that is truly bombastic and 3:29 where a lot of jumpy hand-crossing piano craziness begins. At 11:02, there is a pretty, smooth string part that is a change in musical mood, leading to a sweet violin solo. After that, things begin to build and gain a little more tension, some swelling and lessening which leads to some more almost jarringly jumpy piano.

I love this swelling brass sound at 14:46. It’s all these changes in mood and dynamic that makes the piece so exciting and emotional for me.

2. “An American in Paris” by George Gershwin


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The performance in the embedded playlist is by the Los Angeles Philharmonic Orchestra under the direction of Gustavo Dudamel.

One interesting thing about watching an orchestra performance is observing the percussion section. There are so many different percussion instruments, and while listening to a recording, I know I can’t always visualize the instrument responsible for the effect. At 1:32, some percussionist is honking what looks to be a series of old-fashioned bicycle horns. Yes, it is noisy, but I believe it is meant to suggest the traffic on Paris streets. In fact, Gershwin called these odd instruments “taxi horns.” You can see Gershwin with the original here.

It is this kind of genius that I admire in composers of movie scores where the composition fits the atmosphere or mood of a particular scene or activity or paints a picture with music. The piece, a symphonic tone poem, has segments that suggest frenzied city life like this one and other segments that are more smooth, sweet and romantic as in this smooth trumpet part set up by an interesting rhythmic segment.

If you enjoy the orchestra performance, you might also like to see it expressed in dance. The 1928 piece was featured in a 17 minute long ballet scene in the 1951 movie, “An American in Paris.” It features Leslie Caron, a ballerina, and Gene Kelly, a tap dancer, and incorporates both of their dance styles. No, you won’t see Kelly or any of the male dancers in ballet tights. It is really an artistic masterpiece with scenes that mimic the art of Renoir, Toulouse-Lautrec and others. You can watch the dance scene in this YouTube playlist or order the “An American in Paris” movie from the Amazon image link below.

3. “Hoedown” from Rodeo by Aaron Copland


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So, this is another piece that has come to be associated with a TV commercial, this time for beef … “It’s what’s for dinner.” The performance in the embedded playlist is by the Philadelphia Virtuosi. It really is a fun mood-setting piece. There are sounds that seem to suggest the movement of horses as well as an old American folk sort of fiddling style. In fact, Copland sampled traditional folk music in “Hoedown” and in “Appalachian Spring.”

4. Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony


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This is probably the most recognizable classical piece. Even if you don’t consider yourself a classical music fan, you most likely can recognize Beethoven’s Fifth. Everyone knows the DUM DUM DUM DUM part, so I thought I would highlight some of the other segments.

The playlist performance is from the 2012 Proms at the Royal Albert Hall. The conductor, Daniel Barenboim, is interesting to watch with his dramatic arm movements and faces … and so is the drummer, for different reasons. There is an interesting shift in mood at the beginning of the second movement. If you heard the first few seconds of the second movement alone, would you recognize it?

5. “Moonlight Sonata” by Beethoven


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“Moonlight Sonata” is perhaps the quietest of the pieces in this list, but it still has a lot of quiet drama, a little moody and melancholy. It evokes more of a peaceful than melancholy mood in me. It was this piece of music that helped me discover that music could have a soothing, pain-reducing effect on my migraine attacks.

The playlist performance is by YouTuber and piano player, Rousseau, who uses a reactive visualizer for an effect similar to the visuals in rhythm games like Guitar Hero and Dance Dance Revolution. It may help a piano player learn the finger positions, but, even if you are not, it is interesting to watch.

6. “Ode to Joy” by Beethoven


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It’s a dramatic and joyful-sounding piece, a prelude to the final movement in Beethoven’s 9th and last symphony.

The video performance of “Ode to Joy” was done flash mob style in Sabadell, Spain and is sung in Catalan. It really is a joyous performance, beginning with a single bassist who is joined by more and more strings, a bassoonist, timpani, a brass section and a choir. It’s great to watch the reactions of the people in the courtyard, particularly some of the children.

7. Overture to “The Barber of Seville” by Giacomo Rossini


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I confess that I was first introduced to music from The Barber of Seville by Bugs Bunny cartoons. As a high schooler, I was reminded of the overture on a classical radio station and have loved it ever since. What’s even more wonderful is that, in my hometown, my father and brothers visited a real life Italian barber who sang opera to them as he gave them their cuts and shaves. That must have been quite an experience.

The video performance is of the St. Petersburg Philharmonic Orchestra with Yuri Temirkanov conducting. At 3:23, there’s this wonderful floating sound chased by a tripping little rhythm. It seems perfect for a cartoon, a movie score or some other visual presentation. At 3:50, there is this lovely, gentle swaying and swelling melody that builds into a rapid, dance-like sound suitable for cartoon rabbit shenanigans.

8. “1812 Overture” by Tchaikovsky


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Tchaikovsky wrote his “1812 Overture” to commemorate the 1812 Russian victory over Napoleon. The piece was originally written to include such unusual instruments as church bells and cannons, 17 of them.

The video outdoor performance by the Amsterdam Concertgebouw Orchestra does not have cannons but does use rifles at 12:38 and what looks to be a carillion, visible at 13:35. The part at 11:38, during one of the gentler segments, sounds a bit like Russian folk music to me. At 14:53, you can hear a little piece of the French national anthem, “La Marseillaise,” which makes sense when you consider the event commemorated by the piece.

9. “Romeo and Juliet Overture” by Tchaikovsky


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The performance in the video is by the London Symphony Orchestra conducted by Valeri Gergiev at the 2007 Proms. At 7:56 begins the repeated theme you often hear in movie or TV show scenes where characters fall in love, sometimes in cases where it’s meant to be overly dramatic and comedic. I enjoy the beautiful harp at 4:04 and the building tension at 4:36. With a story like Romeo and Juliet, involving feuding families and a double suicide, there ought to be some tension.

10. “Hungarian Dance No. 5” by Johannes Brahms

Source: Wikimedia Commons


I first became familiar with “Hungarian Dance No. 5” in high school when a couple of my classmates played the piece as a piano duet for a competition. It’s been a favorite ever since. I remember getting tense at this dramatic point where things get a little louder and the tempo get faster, just as some would at a sports event, because I wanted my classmates to compete well. Like so many classical pieces I love, it seems to alternate between loud and soft, fast and slow, in ways that are dramatic.

11. “Hungarian Rhapsody No. 2” by Franz Liszt


Photo by Daniel Olah on Unsplash

This piece of music has so many associations for me from Bugs Bunny (again) to the comedy piano performance by Victor Borge. In the video in my playlist, Valentina Lisitsa plays it seriously, without any dancing rabbits, silly showmanship or stunts, and she doesn’t need it.

She has a wonderful touch, caressing those keys and knowing just when to tickle them or give them a little more force. I love how she manages this bit that begins at 1:49 and again at 4:09. It’s wonderful to watch her and see how dexterous her fingers are. In comedy, a concert pianist always begins by dramatically stretching and flexing their fingers. This makes you believe that might actually be necessary.

Classical Favorite Playlist