Exciting Finishes in Classical Music

In Houston we are blessed when we go to a concert to see and hear our great Houston Symphony Orchestra in Jones Hall, they have this pre-concert talk, “prelude”, about 45 minutes before the beginning of the concert.  We really look forward to those informative and many times humorous presentations of the composers and pieces we are about to hear on the concert program. 

I still remember this one prelude talk, many years ago, we were really blessed when Hans Graff himself, the director of the Houston Symphony Orchestra at that time, gave the talk. When it was time for questions , someone asked why he chose to play a certain piece on the program.  Maestro Graff, said with a big smile, “I must be honest with you. We conductors are human, too.  We really like to conduct those pieces which have those big exciting and loud climaxes, that will bring the crowd to its feet with a big ovation.”

Maestro Hans Graff

While there are many, many pieces that I could have chosen, I decided on these five pieces with an exciting finish: a violin concerto and four epic symphonies.  Every piece has a stirring, exciting finish that I think would have you on your feet giving a big ovation to the orchestra with shouts of Bravo, if you were in the concert hall.

The violin concerto I chose is from the great Russian Romantic composer, Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky.  It is one of the greatest violin concertos ever written in my opinion. This concerto is unique as it not only has an exciting finish at the end of the final third movement, but it has an exciting end to the first movement.  In fact, we saw the great Joshua Bell perform this years ago in Jones Hall and for the first time in our years of concert going, we saw the audience at Jones Hall give Joshua Bell a “standing ovation” after the first movement.  As this post is called exciting finishes, I will have the third movement’s exciting finish that ends the concerto.

My favorite composer, the classical/Romantic German composer, Ludwig Van Beethoven, had many of selections I could have chosen for exciting finishes.  I chose the finale to his Symphony #5. This symphony certainly has one of the greatest stirring, triumphant, exciting finishes that will bring concert goers to their feet in a loud ovation.  I remember after seeing a great performance of Beethoven’s 5th Symphony, the conductor [I cannot remember who] would signal for certain sections of the orchestra to stand for the applause, then for the whole orchestra to stand, and then he picked up the score of music from Beethoven and pointed at it.  When he did that and to hear the thunderous ovation from the patrons, it gave me goose bumps. 

Also, I hope you enjoy the final exciting finishes in Mahler’s Titan Symphony, the exciting finale of Shostakovich’s 10th Symphony, and the final movement of Tchaikovsky’s 4th Symphony.

So, please turn up the volume and enjoy these pieces with exciting finishes.

P. I. Tchaikovsky: Violin Concerto in D Major, Movement 3, Allegro Vivacissimo:

Dmitri Shostakovich: Symphony # 10 in E minor, Movement 4, Andante-Allegro:

Gustav Mahler: Symphony #1 in D-Major, “Titan”, Movement 4, “agitated – energetic”:

P. I. Tchaikovsky: Symphony #4 in F-minor, movement 4, Allegro con fuoco:

L. V. Beethoven: Symphony #5 in C minor, Movement 4, Allegro:

2 thoughts on “Exciting Finishes in Classical Music

  1. Great list! I would add Mahler 2, which closes on a moment of sheer ecstasy that I have never seen a conductor fail to be drained by that climax. Check out the video of Bernstein’s in-church performance. The Tchaik violin concerto is a personal favorite, although I think the ending of the first movement bests the finale. Most audiences burst into applause after the first movement for that very reason, me included! That’s especially true when taken a Heifetz-like clip (only recording sub 16 minutes) rather than the 20-ish minutes most contemporary violinists take.


    1. Thank you so much Ethan, I really appreciate it!! And yes you are right I was undecided on the Mahler first or Second symphony and you make a good case for #2! Thanks again for your great comments.


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