JUST LISTEN

The Day's music writers share their playlists.

Oscars watch (or listen): Sometimes the music tells the story better than, say, Ryan O'Neal can

Since films are sounds and motion, sometimes the use of some great music does the trick just fine for story-telling.

Milton Moore: The most appealing contemporary composer that you've (probably) never heard of ...

Valentin Silvestrov is immensely popular and often-performed in his Ukrainian homeland and across the former Eastern Bloc, with haunting, meditative scores for voice and for orchestra.

Milton Moore: Our musical connections bring us a new Bunch of stuff

It always feels like a gift from the sky to hear a new piece of music that sticks with you, but better still is knowing who gifted it. We've already met Kenji Bunch in person, and now this ...

Milton Moore: The small man who thought big, very big - Anton Bruckner

Anton Bruckner was an odd, awkward little man who wrote huge grandiose symphonies in the late 19th century. Like his student Gustav Mahler, there's more than a hint of megalomania in the sheer size of his conceptions, symphonies that run to 80 minutes.

Milton Moore: Even a cellphone captures Hahn's Bach artistry

Each of us has a preferred method for listening to music, whether it's earbuds on a smartphone, or headphones at a desktop computer, or loudspeakers hooked up to an old-style component stereo system. For some, high fidelity is crucial. For others, convenience trumps fidelity.

Milton Moore: A little respect for American music – Happy birthday, Richard Rodgers

I'm perplexed by how the classical music world receives American music of the 20th century. Why is Puccini's “Nessun Dorma” considered one of the great, inspirational arias, and Richard Rodger's “You'll Never Walk Alone” considered some sort of Velveeta cheese?

Milton Moore: The music of Schumann deserves a celebration

I don't necessarily remember what I had for lunch yesterday, but I remember grade school. And for nearly as long as I can remember, Robert Schumann's music has been part of my life. Few composers (perhaps only Bach) have stayed on my playlist so long.

Milton Moore: A vivid fortnight to celebrate favorites. First, Edward Elgar …

The concept behind “Just Listen” was for The Day's music writers to share favorites. Composer birthdays make convenient way points to focus the topic (so much music!), and the next 10 days contain birthdays for three composers who are always on my active rotation: Edward Elgar, Robert Schumann and Richard Strauss.

Rick Koster: 2014 -- It's Halfway Through the Year and These Songs Are Your Friends

Why, we're almost halfway through 2014! It's time, then, to take stock of music that's been released so far this year and quantify the Good Stuff and make sure that you – the Sainted Listener – are aware of it all.

Milton Moore: Happy birthday to Sergei Prokofiev, The Natural

Prokofiev was, quite simply, The Natural. He began writing music before anyone taught him how to write musical notation, and he had that same gift of endless melody as the likes of Mozart and Tchaikovsky. Whenever Prokofiev would get stuck, he had a tune. But he was also a Modernist, and he relied time and again on motor rhythms to drive music forward. When proselytizing on classical music with rock music fans, I often start with Prokofiev.

Milton Moore: The lesser Brahms compositions may hold the biggest pleasures

The Brahms I enjoy most is perhaps his least serious, not the “masterpieces” but the more purely recreational fare. The Brahms I listen to most often are his string quintets and string sextets, music that is free and flowing and as songfully melodic as Schubert.

Rick Koster: Hey, Ears? Meet God! Neil Finn in New Haven!

The Deity known as Neil Finn brings his Dizzy Heights solo tour to New Haven's Shubert Theatre Thursday.

Milton Moore: The mysticism, melody and madness of Scriabin

If you attend a recital by a Russian pianist, you'll probably hear some Rachmaninoff, Schubert, Liszt, Chopin and Scriabin. Scriabin? Who? If you're Russian, you know who.

Milton Moore: A happy birthday to the Papa of Classical music, Franz Joseph Haydn.

We like to envision artists we admire as having lived vivid, melodramatic lives, starving in garrets, battling personal demons, struggling against the Philistines in a world not ready for them. It's a compelling narrative. That's probably why you'll never see a biopic on one of the greatest of all musicians: Franz Joseph Haydn.

Milton Moore: Happy birthday to the musical godhead, Johann Sebastian Bach

Who was the greatest musician who ever lived? A dumb question, for sure, but if you just say “Bach,” no one will think you're stupid.

Milton Moore: When baroque music crashes into post-modernism – Meet Alfred Schnittke

With a name that sounds like sneeze and a body of work that's willfully weird and unsettling, composer Alfred Schnittke was the most unlikely of musical heroes. Yet at the time of his death in 1998, he was the world's most widely performed and recorded living composer.

Rick Koster: RORY GO BRAH!

If it's St. Patrick's Day, the home stereo, office stereo and car stereo of Rick Koster reverberate with the astounding musical buffet known as Irish Tour 74 .. by the late but immortal Rory Gallagher

Milton Moore: A nice warm soak in musical beauty

Sometimes you just need to immerse yourself in beauty, like a soothing soak in a tub. For me, there's no substitute for the voice – and for composers who understand the power of the voice to touch us as no man-made instrument can.

Milton Moore: When you add a guitar to the mix ....

When you stand next to a giant, it's hard to get noticed. When music lovers look back the height of the Classical era, the musical expression of The Enlightenment of the 18th century, we tend to notice the two giants: Haydn and Mozart. And then there's Luigi Boccherini, born on this day, Feb. 19, 1743 …

Milton Moore: The greats were classic recyclers

My mom grew up the The Depression, and a common phrase in her household was "Use up, make do, wear out." Back in the days before recordings (that is to say, for most of human music-making), musicians and composers used to recycle freely. And the music they were recycling often wasn't their own.

Milton Moore: Happy birthday, Franz Schubert!

It's hard for me to hold the music of Schubert at arm's length to assess it, because his music is the most personal, the most narrative, the most descriptive of a living character of any composer I know. So on his birthday, Jan. 31, 1797, I offer this playlist (embedded below) with a sense of how arbitrary it is. Of my thousands of CDs at home, my Schubert stack is the biggest.

Milton Moore: Happy birthday, Wolfie!

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart was born 258 years ago today, and what more can we say about one of the greatest and most admired musicians ever? So much music to enjoy: 41 symphonies, 27 piano concertos, 36 violin sonatas, 23 string quartets, and, oh those operas! If Mozart had written only operas or only piano concertos or only symphonies, he would still be beloved today.

Milton Moore: Who says classical music has to be relaxing?

It annoys me to hear classical radio stations tout their music as “relaxing.” Does anyone ever call a book or a movie or a painting “relaxing”? To me, the best in music is exciting or, at least, transporting. If something written by Beethoven or Mozart or Brahms relaxes you, you’re probably not paying attention.

Milton Moore: Sandrine Piau's “Handel - Opera Seria,” an incomparable desert island disc

Baroque opera is a stranger in these parts, meaning most of the United States.

Milton Moore: The Lou Gehrig of chamber music, Johann Nepomuk Hummel

I often listen to the music of that wonderful second-rater, Johann Nepomuk Hummel. As a composer living in Vienna in 1810, this talented musician was doomed to be viewed as B-List by the presence of a couple fellow residents:

Milton Moore: A Strauss waltz improved (really!) by Arnold Schoenberg … trust me on this one!

New Year's Day in Vienna means one thing: the world's hottest concert ticket, the annual Vienna Philharmonic waltz fest, broadcast worldwide, live in our late morning here.

Rick Koster: Farewell to honky-tonk giant Ray Price

Ray Price, maybe the greatest honky-tonk vocal stylist ever, passed away Monday at the age of 87.

Milton Moore: Bach's Goldberg Variations, with no plain brown wrapper

A few years back, I was driving across the Gold Star Bridge and turned on WMNR. After a couple measures of solo piano, I was baffled. What the heck is this weirdness?

A taste of 'Messiahs' great and small

Handel's "Messiah" is America's best-loved chorale work for so many reasons … First of all, the text is in English, second, it's tied to the Christmas season, when music fills the air, and third, Handel is one of the finest composers for the voice who ever lived.