One of the most important times to have the mood just right is a wedding. Classical music from all eras is a fail-safe way to keep the ambience, well, classic. From Gabrieli to Perri, here are some tried and trusted wedding pieces spanning the last five hundred years.
Early music: Canzona per Sonare No. 28 (Gabrieli)
As Bernard Gordillo of Harmonia notes, for sheer grandeur it's hard to beat the instrumental works of this Venetian School genius. (JG)
Baroque: Canon in D (Pachelbel)
There's a reason for classics- they bring to mind the occasion they represent, and none other fits quite so well as Pachelbel's Canon. Some may call it a cliche, but the fact is that most little girls (or boys) have Pachelbel's Canon ringing in their heads when they picture wedding bells. If you're looking to go the traditional route, look no further. (CT)
Classical: Eine kleine Nachtmusik (Mozart)
One of the most well-known of Mozart's orchestral works, the first movement of Eine kleine Natchmusik captures the essence of Mozart. The melody sings strong and it's great to trot out a jig to on the dance floor, even in this day and age. People say Mozart's genius stems from the sheer joy of his music, detaching from the trivialities and darkness of humanity to soar into the heavens. The entire Eine kleine is a little slice of bliss suited to accompany the special day that is your wedding. (CT)
Romantic: String Quintet in C Major, D. 956 (Schubert)
Somber and elegant, this quartet tugs at the heartstrings and is a change of pace from other traditional wedding ensembles. At times lively, at times mournful, the contrasts are written to feel the highs and lows in the bottom of your stomach. Romantic in both era and soul, Schubert harnesses brilliant riffs and interlacing rhythms to weave a tapestry of passion. (CT)
Modern: String Quartet No. 3, "Mishima" (Glass)
A wedding is a joyous occasion, but part of the beauty of a marriage ceremony is its solemnity. Though this string quartet is derived from music Philip Glass wrote for a film about the life and tragic death of the Japanese writer Yukio Mishima, it has passages that are among the most profound Glass ever wrote. Consider this music to help heighten the emotional tone as your guests are seated. (JG)
21st Century: "A Thousand Years," the Piano Guys arrangement (Christina Perri)
The Piano Guys' minimalistic rendering of Christina Perri's pop ballad is a modern-day wedding favorite. The neatly resolving chords each strike a note that lingers on the tip of the tongue. The instrumental track for the popular love song gives couples the best of both worlds when laying out the track for a wedding. (CT)
Clara Wang is a writer and musician living in Shoreview, Minn. Jay Gabler is a digital producer at Minnesota Public Radio.
Interested in writing about classical music for American Public Media? Have a story about classical music to share? We want to hear from you!