My Favorite Music

  • The Best

  • Johann Sebastian Bach - Die Kunst der Fuge (1749, unfinished) [Walcha (1956)]
  • Ludwig van Beethoven - Symphony No. 9 (1824) [Karajan (1963)]
  • Ludwig van Beethoven - Große Fuge (1826) [Klemperer (1956)]
  • Gustav Mahler - Symphony No. 9 (1910) [Walter (1961)]
  • Charles Mingus - The Black Saint and the Sinner Lady (1963)
  • The Red Crayola - The Parable of Arable Land (1967)
  • Captain Beefheart & His Magic Band - Trout Mask Replica (1969)
  • The Residents - Meet The Residents (1973) [mono mix (1974)]
  • The Residents - Not Available (1974?)
  • Robert Wyatt - Rock Bottom (1974)
  • Alfred Schnittke - Concerto for Piano and Strings (1979) [Orbelian (2000)]
  • Joanna Newsom - Divers (2015)

  • The Rest

  • Guillaume de Machaut - Messe de Nostre Dame (~1365) [Vellard (1990)]
  • Thomas Tallis - Spem in alium (~1570) [Cleobury (1989)]
  • (Attributed to) Johann Sebastian Bach - Toccata and Fugue in D Minor (~1710) [Biggs (1960)]
  • Johann Sebastian Bach - Brandenburg Concerto No. 3 (~1721) [Pinnock (1982)]
  • Johann Sebastian Bach - Musikalisches Opfer (1747) [Münchinger (1976)]
  • Johann Sebastian Bach - Mass in B minor (1749) [Klemperer (1967)]
  • Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart - Symphony No. 40 (1788) [Karajan (1970)]
  • Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart - Symphony No. 41 (1788) [Karajan (1970)]
  • Ludwig van Beethoven - Symphony No. 5 (1808) [Kleiber (1974)]
  • Ludwig van Beethoven - Piano Sonata No. 32 (1822) [Denk (2012)]
  • Franz Schubert - Symphony No. 8 (1822, unfinished) [Kleiber (1978)]
  • Franz Schubert - Symphony No. 9 (1826) [Dohnányi (1985)]
  • Franz Schubert - String Quintet (1828) [The Borodin Quartet, Milman (1995)]
  • Charles Ives - Symphony No. 4 (1916) [Stokowski (1965)]
  • Dmitri Shostakovich - Piano Quintet (1940) [The Vermeer Quartet, Berman (2000)]
  • Olivier Messiaen - Turangalîla-Symphonie (1948) [Chailly (1992)]
  • Karlheinz Stockhausen - Gesang der Jünglinge (1956)
  • John Coltrane - A Love Supreme (1964)
  • György Ligeti - Lux Aeterna (1966) [Franz (1968)]
  • Frank Zappa & The Mothers of Invention - Absolutely Free (1967)
  • The Velvet Underground & Nico - The Velvet Underground & Nico (1967)
  • The Velvet Underground - White Light/White Heat (1968)
  • King Crimson - In the Court of the Crimson King (1969)
  • Frank Zappa & The Mothers of Invention - Uncle Meat (1969)
  • Terry Riley - A Rainbow in Curved Air (1969)
  • The Stooges - Fun House (1970)
  • Soft Machine - Third (1970)
  • Tim Buckley - Lorca (1970)
  • Carla Bley & Paul Haines - Escalator Over the Hill (1971)
  • Dmitri Shostakovich - Symphony No. 15 (1971) [Sanderling (1979)]
  • Faust - Faust (1971)
  • Can - Tago Mago (1971)
  • Popol Vuh - In den Gärten Pharaos (1971)
  • Popol Vuh - "Aguirre" (1972)
  • Popol Vuh - Hosianna Mantra (1972)
  • Klaus Schulze - Irrlicht (1972)
  • Can - Future Days (1973)
  • John Fahey - Fare Forward Voyagers (Soldier's Choice) (1973)
  • Faust - Faust IV (1973)
  • Gong - Flying Teapot (1973)
  • The Residents - "Six Things to a Cycle" (1976)
  • 15-60-75 - Jimmy Bell's Still in Town (1976)
  • Steve Reich - Music for 18 Musicians (1976) [ECM release (1978)]
  • Pere Ubu - The Hearpen Singles (1975-1977)
  • Arvo Pärt - Tabula Rasa (1977) [ECM release (1984)]
  • Pere Ubu - The Modern Dance (1978)
  • Pere Ubu - Dub Housing (1978)
  • Pere Ubu - New Picnic Time (1979)
  • The Pop Group - Y (1979)
  • Chrome - Half Machine Lip Moves (1979)
  • Meredith Monk - Dolmen Music (1981)
  • Steve Roach - Structures from Silence (1984)
  • György Ligeti - Études: Book 1 (1985) [Denk (2012)]
  • Steve Reich - Six Marimbas (1973-1986) [Nonesuch release (1986)]
  • Constance Demby - Novus Magnificat: Through the Stargate (1986)
  • Royal Trux - Twin Infinitives (1990)
  • György Ligeti - Études: Book 2 (1988-1994) [Denk (2012)]
  • Joanna Newsom - Ys (2006)
  • Joanna Newsom - Have One on Me (2010)
  • Dawn of Midi - Dysnomia (2013)
  • Richard Dawson - Nothing Important (2014)

Oh Scaruffi your corrupting force is enveloping the whole of the internet.

But your list is a good and tasteful one and reminded me that I still really gotta listen to Terminal Tower, Hosianna Mantra, and Parable of Arable Land damn bad...

I actually considered Not Available, Terminal Tower, The Modern Dance, and Trout Mask Replica to be in my top ten favorite albums years before I had heard of Scaruffi. I only found his site when I did a Google search one day of ' "greatest albums" "pere ubu" ' to see if there was any record list out there that included my favorite band at the time (and still are).

Any suggestions are welcome!

Currently listening (and re-listening) to:
Mahler - Symphony No. 9
Wagner - Tristan und Isolde

I’d recommend Symphony No. 3 (1983) by Witold Lutosławski and Music for Strings, Percussion and Celesta (1936) by Béla Bartók. I think you will find the third movement of Music for Strings to be especially interesting – it was even used in The Shining!

Will listen to those next week. Thanks for the suggestions!

I’d recommend you to check out the music by György Ligeti. I have been listening to the ‘Clear or Cloudy’ box set and it’s been one masterpiece after another. He’s unbelievable!

Already listened to it about three times now :) I like to make at least five before I rate.

Interesting list.

Have you listened to any of Beefheart's other albums?

Yep; all of them.

Besides TMR, which ones did you like?

Safe as Milk, The Mirror Man Sessions, and Lick My Decals off, Baby get regular plays by me, and once in a while I'll listen to Shiny Beast, Doc at the Radar Station, and Ice Cream for Crow.

Besides TMR, I like Doc (which actually is almost as good as TMR IMO, and I keep switching them around as my fave Magic Band album) and Safe as Milk the most. Mirror Man, Lick My Decals Off, Shiny Beast, Ice Cream for Crow, and Strictly Personal are brilliant too. Spotlight Kid and Clear Spot are decent albums too.

Great list :) Are you much into movies?

Not really. Most movies (and literature) require many prior experiences (such as knowing a language, cultural literacy, relatable scenarios, etc.) in order to fully appreciate them, and I'm more into trying to find "culture-fair" works of art, that can be emotionally powerful no matter what one has previously experienced in their lives. However, there are some exceptions; Welles' films (Citizen Kane and Touch of Evil in particular), through his use of non-traditional camera angles and pacing, really stand out to me as visual experiences that would be emotionally powerful on their own. 2001: A Space Odyssey can also hold that claim as well.

My preference for "purity" in things also explains why I am a mathematician and philosopher of logic as well.

Interesting take. I've never really found much of a difference in cultural knowledge needed between movies and music appreciation - maybe some though... I totally agree re: Welles. Just incredible :)

What do you mean by "purity"?

Wow, this is what i'm searching for in art. Purity, logic, structure.

You'll love A Man Escaped. It's the definition of "pure".

Great list. Made me want to check out Coltrane's Ascension.
May I suggest an album ? Considering your taste and the fact that you're a mathematician, I think you'll enjoy Don Caballero's first 3 records, particularly "What Burns Never Returns".

Checking them out right now. BTW, though it didn't quite make my list, I completely agree that Monster Walks the Winter Lake is amazing. It is probably my second favorite Pere Ubu-related album, after The Modern Dance.

Since you mentioned "Meet The Residents" I've downloaded it, listened to the full album 8 times and listened to the individual songs many many more times. My opinion of the album has slowly changed from "interesting weirdness" to "probably a masterpiece". This album is a treasure, a full universe to explore. It's one of those rare enigmatic records that are worth repeated listening, and it's been really rewarding up to now. For now, my favorite moment is the disillusioned/hilarious "Uh, It's Christmas, but there ain't nobody raising much of a fuss!" and my favorite song is "Rest Aria" with all it's wonderful creepiness.
I'm sure my opinion will change after this, and I'm sure I'll find more magical moments in this album.
Thank you. Your suggestion was SUPERB! I Haven't had this much fun with an album since "White Light/ White Heat".
Have you written any review/analysis on "Meet the Residents"? If no, do you know of a good one? What's your favorite song?

Sorry for the late reply,
I am glad you are enjoying it! I have written about it a little bit, but I honestly cannot express fully in words why I like it so much. It is possibly a combination of the incredible amount of timbres present, the unique composition style, and the feeling of the album as a cohesive whole, from the warped-tape beginning of "Boots" to the "Go home, America" fade-out. As for my favorite song on it, I really cannot decide. My favorite sequence is the Rest Aria/Skratz/Spotted Pinto Bean section of side one. Rest Aria is just completely beautiful, Skratz has one of the most chilling horn parts ever, and on Spotted Pinto Bean the female chorus/piano combo is breathtaking. More often than not, I consider it my favorite work of music ever.

I used to have it on my list, but somehow it got removed and I forgot to re-add it. Thanks! Do you have any other suggestions?

BTW, I just got done listening to a crapload of Bernstein interpretations of my favorite works. I was completely taken away by the emotion of most of them; so much that I can't really listen to any others without going back to him. His output in the 1960s in unparalleled IMO.


Richard Wagner: Die Walküre (1856) [Solti (1965)] [I love this opera mainly for the 3rd act, but the entire opera is great, as well as the rest of the Ring. Die Walküre is one of my top 3 favorite works - the other 2 being Verdi's Requiem (1874) & Bartók's Music for Strings, Percussion and Celesta (1936).]

Igor Stravinsky: Symphony of Psalms (1930) [Stravinsky (1930)]
Robert Schumann: Fantasie in C Major (1839) [Richter (1961)]

Franz Schubert: Symphony No. 8 in B Minor “Unfinished” (1822) [Bernstein (1963)]
Franz Schubert: Symphony No. 9 in C Major "The Great" (1828) [Furtwängler (1951)]
Krzysztof Penderecki: Threnody to the Victims of Hiroshima (1960) [Penderecki (1972)]

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart: Requiem (1792) [Marriner (1990)]

György Ligeti: Lontano (1967) [Nott (2001)]
Antonín Dvorák: Symphony No. 9 in E Minor "From the New World" (1893) [Talich (1954)]
Claude Debussy: Études (1915) [Uchida (1989)]

Claude Debussy: Préludes (Books I & II; 1910 & 1912) [Gieseking (1953)]

Hector Berlioz: Symphonie Fantastique (1829) [Davis (1974)]

Ludwig van Beethoven: Symphony No. 5 in C Minor (1808) [Kleiber (1974)]

Johann Sebastian Bach: Toccata and Fugue in D Minor, BWV 565 (1707) [Walcha (1965)]

P.S. I don't know what music you've already listened to outside of your list.

I agree with you on Bernstein. He is truly one of the greats. Scaruffi also seems to agree. Some critics, however, have accused Bernstein of being overly sentimental. As if it were a crime to bring out the utmost emotional intensity in music.

Faust and The Residents certainly never struck me as "emotional music", but to each his own. :-D

They definitely elicit strong emotions in me. I can't listen to Faust, Meet The Residents, or Not Available without getting chills down my spine.

I had to move Meet The Residents to the top spot. The reason I had it lower before is because I hadn't listened to it in a while and for some reason thought I had overrated it. I listened to it again a few times in the past couple of hours, and I can't deny my feelings anymore: it is my favorite work of music ever. My iTunes listen count for it is approaching 1200 plays (admittedly, some of those come from having it on repeat while I sleep) and it still has not diminished in quality for me, only increased. It is everything I enjoy about music: the creativity of arrangement, the sculpting of sound, the onslaught of emotions from joy to despair, the combined comedy and tragedy of it all. Some people may think I'm crazy for this opinion, or that the album is an elaborate joke, but I don't care. As far as I'm concerned, it is a masterpiece.

EDIT: Changed my mind again, lol.

Good to see this list. Here is one of the greatest compositions ever written and I can't stop listening to it. - Mozart's Requiem

What a cool list! Wow ...

Wow, guess I should revisit Art of the Fugue then?

Bach's Die Kunst der Fuge is the most expressive work of art I have ever experienced, in both scope and intensity. It is incredibly simple in its scoring, with four or fewer parts in each fugue or canon, yet astoundingly complex in arrangement. It is fragmented into separate pieces, each with their own moods, but unified by a single theme. It is possibly the most logical work ever composed, and at the same time, one of the most emotionally intense.

Previously, I had Fretwork's performance for viol consort as my recording of choice (I had listened to at least a dozen other recordings on many different instruments, including harpsichord, piano, string quartet, brass ensemble, and mixed chamber), but after experiencing Helmut Walcha's 1956 recording on organ, I was convinced that this was THE ONE. To begin with, the recording is absolutely pristine - it is unbelievable that it is almost 60 years old, considering the quality of the sound and lack of hiss. But above all, Walcha was a master of performing fugues. Learning each part independently, he understood how and why they fit together. The difference between Walcha and most chamber ensembles can be likened to a jigsaw puzzle: in the latter, each member has their own pieces which they drop into place in their own way, making the puzzle complete, but not neat; Walcha meticulously puts the puzzle together in a uniform way, making sure the pieces interlock perfectly.

When considering the quality of the work combined with the quality of the performance, I have not heard another recording of any work in any genre that this does not surpass, and it does so by a large enough margin that I feel it deserves its own tier on my list.

Awesome, I'll check it out when I get going again on classical. It's always been amazing to me, but it sounds like you've found a version that just might be the one to return to.

Emotion in reading this message. I share it in each word.

If suggestions are well-accepted, try to enjoy some other Bach masterpieces.
The Musical offering, for instance: in scope and intensity is not less valid than the art of fugue. Anyway i love it expecially for the Ricercar a 6, one of the most accomplished and complex keyboard piece ever written.
If u quote BWV 565 i hope u didn't listen to the Well tempered clavier yet.
There are plenty of pieces that, once listened, u will easily forget BWV 565.
For Beethoven: i suggest u some minor works (so considered by the press) that are among my favourite gems in the whole repertoir: WoO 80, Op. 34 and 35 and Bagatelles Op. 126.
If u love the Art of Fugue we shall consider these little pieces a favourite of yours.
Mozart: not forget the quintets, expecially K 515 and 516.
Above all: u quote many composers of the XX centuty (pop, rock and classical ones) but u forget the two greatest (imho): Strauss and Schoenberg.

Another suggestion: visit youtube and try to listen to Symphony No. 4 by Valen.

I don't know how I forgot to list the Musical Offering and WTC, I thought for sure I had those on there. I'm going to figure out my favorite recordings and add them.
I'll listen to the Beethoven and Mozart suggestions this week, as well as Valen.
A bunch from Strauss and Schoenberg are going to be added soon.

Thanks for the suggestions!

Very surprised to see Radios Appear here. I've always assumed it's just a good little record but I've only listened to half of it many years ago. Gotta listen to the whole thing sometime. What do you like most about it?

It is simply an excellent set of rock songs. I really like the complexity in them, such that they hold up very well after repeated listening.

A nice dose of punk rock is always good for the soul :) By the way, I've started to appreciate Pere Ubu much more than before. Listened to the New Picnic Time and my jaw was dropping during many part, specially One Less Worry. What a glorious mess!

I've been trying forever to find a download link for Jimmy Bell's Still in Town but can't seem to find anything. How did you get the album?

You can get it here:


Hey have you heard the new Pere Ubu album? They released it yesterday. I haven't heard all of it yet but the first song sounds freaking great!

I bought it a couple days ago, but haven't listened to it yet. I really liked Lady from Shanghai, and what I've heard from this I like even more.

Yep, you're right, Walcha's Art of the Fugue is amazing

Whoa, a new #1! How would you describe it? Which work of art, if any, would you relate it to?

Well, it's not technically #1, just first chronologically. I previously had it on my "The Rest" list, with a recording by Jeremy Summerly and the Oxford Camerata, but then I heard the recording that I currently list, that includes the Gregorian Propers, and it blew me away. Closest thing I can relate it to would be "Vuh" by Popol Vuh (side 2 of In den Garten Pharaos).

Thanks, sounds like its incredible -- and a mere 6 centuries apart. Silly me, I've always thought the top entries on your list were organized qualitatively even though it should've been obvious.

What would you say are the 5 selections (or even 10 if possible) from "The Rest" that are the closest to "The Best"

...and you are required to answer this 3 times, each from using a separate algorithm to make your selections

Brahms 4
Schubert 9
Hosianna Mantra
In Den Garten Pharaos
Tago Mago
Rock Bottom
Not Available
Jimmy Bell's Still in Town
Half Machine Lip Moves

Thanks, I need to give Jimmy Bell another shot. I tried it awhile back but got busy with some things while I was listening and didn't give it the proper attention. The rest of those are all favorites; hope Jimmy Bell joins the party :)

Great to see recognition of Richard Dawson's Nothing Important!

I've listened to it repeatedly for the last three days. It is a serious contender for my "Best" list, but I want to give it some time first. Holy crap is it good.

Yes, me too. I've been careful/tentative before each new rating, only to have it force me to upgrade it over and over again.

Aaaaaand it's there. Too soon? Eh, I can always move it down later if needed. As of this moment, I totally think it deserves that spot though.

Kaboom! Hard to argue with that! For me, its been bouncing between 9.1, 9.2, and for two listens, perhaps even 9.3 ... All of which seems close to where you're ranking it. Cool to see such a generally unheralded work getting its due!

You remind me a lot of HexNash... What did you do with him!?

Seriously though, love the new name. Wish Id thought of it :)

Don't forget MJongo!

Oh gosh, that's right, I lose track... Is there any way to see the name-lineage of the members here?

I am intentionally withholding myself from Nothing Important at the moment, to see how well it holds up right after Ive revisited my other 9s and 8.5s -- or at least a good number of them.

Holy cow, you weren't kidding with Moondance!

So then ... Dysnomia is pretty good?

Changed my mind a bit too hastily lol

Still, you and Amir have inspired me to revisit it more than I would have otherwise. Hoping it opens up for me the same. I've heard it twice and on the 2nd listen I could see the potential for a higher rating.

I'm digging the new format! Interesting to see the various qualitative separations between albums, even when so minute. Do you intend to breakdown the 8 - 9.5 section too?

Yep, but it is going to take a while. I haven't listened to some of these in months and I want to give them a fresh listen.

This process sounds familiar :-)

Just listened to Große Fuge.



Lol :) oh wait ... Is the 11/10 category real?

It isn't possible to rate Metal Machine Music anything other than 11/10, so yes I'm assuming it's real.

Pretty sure it might be an April Fools joke but then I wanted to make sure.

I'm really disappointed to see that it was an April Fools joke, for a while there I thought I'd found another fan of MMM and ITAOTS. Oh well.

Still interested in what ResidentUbu's real opinion on MMM is though.

Yep, the plausible selections of Aeroplane and Beethoven's Unfinished 10th made it fairly easy to believe actually (especially if April Fools had already run its course for some of us), and the Metal Machine Music choice added a compelling twist, but alas, it was not to be. Good joke though, made me look twice at the release date of the 10th (which was 2084), then chuckle :-)

I actually like MMM, just not enough to make this list.


I must be crazy, but I cannot keep that 2.5 minute song from climbing my list...

It's really really cool, but 9.75 what

I think I listened to it on repeat about 1000 times during that week lol

I dont know if its recent or not, but very cool to see some agreement on Roxy Music's self-titled!

Happy to see Fun House in that top spot. Should we reconsider your vote for the Dogbowl album on the tournament?

Already did :p

Listening to Mark Hollis' self-titled for the first time right now.

I just noticed your upgrade of Newsom's Ys. That's an album that, over the years, has spent many weeks bouncing between 9/10, 8.5/10 and 8/10 for me. What about it improved for you?

I don't know if I could say anything about it improved. The way I rank/rate music is on a relative scale compared to other works, not an absolute scale, so a 9/10 just means I like the album more than 8.5/10s but less than 9.5/10s on average. Things just shift around all the time for me, and right now, I feel that its current position is where it should be.

Ok cool, that makes sense, thank you for the clarification. Ys is an amazing work. One of the best -- if not the best -- albums of the 2000s/2010s.

Yep. I can't wait until Divers comes out in October.

Yeah, Ive heard one of the songs and it sounds really good. I wonder if she'll manage to do the "impossible" and release what would possibly be the first 9/10 since the 90's (though imo Have One On Me might already be one too -- and there's still plenty of candidates I haven't heard and that may not reveal themselves for years to come).

What would you say makes Divers the best Joanna Newsom album and among the best ever?

The structure of the compositions, the intensity and range of emotions expressed, the cyclical nature of the album, and the philosophical lyrics about humanity's place in space and time (and I normally don't care at all about lyrics) are simply incredible to me. Here is an interview that illuminates some of it: