Trump goes down in history

Susan Cooke


Even if President Trump wins his border wall or whatever else he’s making children and parents at our borders suffer for, he’ll surely have created for himself a reputation that even de-nuking North Korea won’t be able to wipe away. In addition to being cruel he seems astonishingly ignorant about the mental health effects, now and in the future, on the families.

He’s always sounded quite interested in being known as the guy who was the best or the first in history to do one thing or another he sees as important. I think he will go down in history as the most self-involved and heartless U.S. President. He’ll also be remembered for his rudeness, lack of empathy, ability to lie easily with no self-judgment, and lack of even decent manners toward longtime allies. I doubt a Nobel prize is in his future, not now. Even if he won a Nobel, many people would still think of him as a destructive President and not a very nice human being. “Sad.”

I’m back (somewhat)

Susan Cooke


Dear readers,

I’ve just finished a necessary milestone on the road to getting Stress in the American City published, but there’s more to do. Meanwhile I’ll try to post here a little more often than  have in the past couple of months.

Thanks for visiting!   —Susan

Why no new posts just now

Dear readers,

I’ve paused in writing new posts because I’m trying to finish a formal proposal for publishers for my book Stress in the American City. Will be back soon, and thanks so much for checking out my blog!  –Susan

Why Do Some of Those Bent on Suicide Kill Many Others?

Susan Cooke

I’ve been wracking my brain trying to understand why some people who aren’t the usual terrorists but who want to kill themselves feel the need to use a truck (or guns or bombs) to mow down a lot of other people first. I understand there must be a severe mental problem in most who want to kill themselves, yet most don’t take a group of innocent strangers with them. All I’ve come up with so far (not being a a psychologist) beyond mental illness such as severe depression is that in this age of media attention, which offers some fame to those who might not otherwise feel they’ve made their mark on the world, mass killing is a surefire way to get that attention, maybe even worldwide. But what the people who do this don’t realize is that the attention often lasts a few days at most, and then their names are forgotten. Meanwhile they’ve destroyed life and happiness for hundreds–the victims and all their families and friends who loved them. If there’s a God, he/she probably would appreciate the person much more for doing good for humanity than for massive destruction of life. Even if the good performed is only within a small personal sphere, the person will be loved and appreciated in life by many, and after life in reputation.

Being appreciated by just a few dozen people at most isn’t enough for some, however. Yet it can take a lot of work or money to get really famous for doing good. Since most people who do a lot of good don’t become famous, what is it they get out of it? Research says a much happier life than many others, and that theory is part of what I bank on when I urge people to incorporate more kindness into their everyday lives, even if  they aren’t Mother Teresa. Not only does kindness help everyone they come in contact with, it makes their lives much better than if they don’t practice it. I’m not talking about saving the world, just small everyday kindnesses.

But can this be enough for the fame-hungry? Many people today are so hellbent on success or the fame or money associated with it they may find the notion of accepting an un-famous life hard to swallow, even if it’s a mostly good, happy, healthy life. I’m not saying all those people would kill a lot of others for fame of course, but I do wonder how much the worship of fame–even for those not quite aware they worship it–makes these crimes more likely.

For most of us, accepting a non-famous life might be one of the best gifts we can give ourselves. It can help us get off that treadmill that drags so many down with exhaustion, anxiety, and even addiction (which all that stress may make more likely, and make harder to recover from). Carrying this lighter emotional load would make more of us healthier, happier, and better able to enjoy the life we have.

Meanness, Cruelty, & Guns Continue

Susan Cooke

To riff briefly on my former post, “Guns, Killing, &  Kindness,” what is it that causes a Fox news host to insult one of the Parkland massacre survivors, and is it the same perverted thinking that causes the shooter to receive armloads of “fan mail” from around the world? What causes police to mow down a man holding a cell phone in his grandma’s back yard? How crazed and cruel has the world become, and what do we all intend to do about it? It still seems clear to me that acceptance of guns everywhere, and killing, maiming, and ridiculing the innocent seems to be making other barbaric behavior seem fine to many, along with help promoting meanness from social media. Again it’s been shown that places where there are more guns experience more violence.

Look at this quote (and please try to read the entire excellent article if you have time–it’s a real eye-opener) from reporter German Lopez, Here’s the link:

“The US has nearly six times the gun homicide rate of Canada, more than seven times that of Sweden, and nearly 16 times that of Germany, according to United Nations data compiled by the Guardian. (These gun deaths are a big reason America has a much higher overall homicide rate, which includes non-gun deaths, than other developed nations.)”

To end on a positive note, it’s also clear the world is full of good, kind, and caring people. I hope you’ll join me in celebrating those people and condemning these instances in which we see some of the worst of human behavior. We need to publicize and spread more news about the good that many people spend their lives doing, and keep trying to get to a new place where caring about each other is the top priority. But we also need to be smart about our actions, and accept that our country has a severe problem with guns that must be remedied now. Otherwise the deaths will continue.

Be on the Mountain

Susan Cooke

My attempts at meditation have been spotty. I tried it on and off for some time, and even took a class at the Benson Institute in Boston where they try to help people with physical and/or emotional issues by teaching various forms of meditation, a little yoga, and a good deal of cognitive therapy (where they ask things like “Do you really think that person hates you or do you think maybe they were just having a very bad day?” which is certainly helpful to know about.)

It appears most of us can benefit from some of these practices, especially Americans in our chaotic cities, trying as we must to navigate the many days per year that are stressful for so many reasons. This post though is specifically about something I chanced upon while navigating my own super-stress not so long ago. I was fighting a terrible depression that arose from one of the usual suspects–a prolonged traumatic experience. My trauma was caused by a town tyrant bullying my family out of its few remaining funds as we tried to downsize and move from another city to our tiny new house in the new town. I was afraid through the weeks it continued that we’d end up homeless since our funds were draining fast as we tried to pay rent in the first town where we were living temporarily (and where I knew no one, which made me more vulnerable), and pay the mortgage on the very small house we’d built in the new town. My more resilient husband got some support from colleagues at his office, so luckily he got through the crisis in better shape. I won’t go into details here, but we finally in desperation hired a lawyer who within days he stopped the bully. But it was too late for me. A couple of weeks earlier, I fell one day–or my brain did–into a terrifying dark canyon. I could not eat, and could barely talk. This, I learned, was depression caused by extended traumatic stress. I thought I’d been depressed somewhat at times in the past, but I had no idea it could be like this.

I couldn’t physically tolerate the meds–they dried my eyes so severely I got corneal abrasions. We read books on depression and tried what we could to get me back to something like normal. I discovered after beginning to try meditation and finding it upsetting, that some experts believe it’s not always good to meditate when you’re deep in a depression, and better to wait till you’re climbing out a little. I did the other things they recommend: exercise, being out in sunlight, and being with people more (difficult since I didn’t work in an office and all the coffee shops’ music was so loud I couldn’t last in most more than two minutes). So I was more isolated than was healthy, and while I added more exercise in the sunlight because I knew it would help later, it didn’t feel like it was helping for a long time.

When I felt ready I tried CDs of guided meditation, other CDs that are supposed to help you sleep if that’s part of your problem (it was), and CDs of massage music since I knew some of that might be relaxing. Most didn’t help much, and some made me agitated. Finally I stumbled on some music that used combinations of sounds I found soothing–Native American and Asian flutes, some Eastern-sounding delicate cymbals, and crickets! It all seemed to transport me to a new place where there was a little relief. I’d read it’s helpful to have a restful place in our minds to help us feel calmer, especially when we’re upset, but had wrestled with figuring out what that was for me. This music made it easy to visualize such a place, and once I did I realized it was the only place where I could imagine this music being heard.

I didn’t think about the place much, other than when I imagined it during those few minutes on days when I tried to do something like meditation. But weeks later I noticed that sometimes when I couldn’t relax or felt depressed again, that I was telling myself something new:  “Be on the mountain.”  I realized the place the music had conjured up had become part of me. It was on a mountain, a wide mountain ledge in Nepal (why? I’ve never been to Nepal!)  It was spring or summer, twilight but late enough that stars had begun to appear. Below was a small town with cafes and lights, and a small harbor leading to the ocean. Little boats rocked gently in the harbor, moonlight shone on the waves, and there was a gentle, warm breeze. Behind me on the ledge was a beautiful garden filled with fragrant plants and trees, then more mountain above it. The music came from below, and was played every night so that everyone around–in the harbor, the town, and on the mountain, was at peace, with themselves and with everyone else. Next to me were several much-loved animals–my childhood collie, a horse I rode in the Colorado woods for two summers, two cats who adopted me, the fawn and the lamb I held in my arms both on the same day, and the goat with soulful eyes at a rescue zoo in Maine who never left my side for nearly an hour.

When I am on this mountain, I feel calmer on some nights than others, but the miracle is that I feel calm at all. For a constantly whirling mind this is a great gift. I’ve accepted that it’s okay that this isn’t any particular kind of meditation, as far as I know, and I don’t know if it’s helping my brain a lot or a little, but I’m much better off going there fairly often than I am never going at all. I didn’t think it was possible for this to happen to me, that is, I look forward to those few minutes, whether it’s 3 or 20 or more.

I wish everyone could be on this mountain at least occasionally, feel what I feel there, then take it into their stressed out crazy lives and let it change them a little. In my imagination there is no place or need on the mountain for frantic speed, vast wealth, hatred, violence, gun protection, or cruelty. People are terribly considerate, and love and protect animals and each other. They find ways to live in the modern world that don’t cut them off but are the most peaceful possible, so everyone is soothed by nature every day  (without leaf-blowers and with many fewer aircraft overhead, or at least quiet aircraft which I hear is becoming possible!)  Relieving suffering and creating ways to live a peaceful, healthy life are  also priorities on this mountain. No one goes hungry because there are fruit and vegetable farms everywhere. There are no gas-powered machines of any kind–they’re all electric and quiet–so you can hear the wind in the leaves, and if it’s nighttime focus on the beauty of the stars. The lack of fumes means you can smell the jasmine, lilies, and roses in the gardens.

That’s not so impossible, not so very far from where we are if we put some group effort into getting there, is it? The human body isn’t designed to hear loud motors and smell fumes most of every day–it’s just too stressful, even if you think you’re used to it. Nor are our brains immune to the chronic stress caused by seeing or just knowing that others are suffering. We’ll all be happier and healthier if we live where nature without noise is available to us most of the time, and where we know all who suffer are getting help. For example we need to know our city, state, and country are helping the homeless and hungry right now, all day and every day—that wellbeing is a priority for all leaders. In my ideal place there is just no room left for selfish, narcissistic, or non-caring leaders.

I know I sound naive to many, but I can’t help believing these things are possible because we are as close to being there as we are to being in a much worse place. So why not go for the best one? So I wish for us all that soon we’ll have only caring people in power. I wish for you that soon you find your own mountain (or forest or seashore) and spend some time there.

The CD:

World Flute Lullabies, Native American & Asian Flutes for Sleep Therapy, by Lullaby Tribe (“ioda” seems to be the brand.). Not every cut is perfect, but on the whole it’s the best collection for me, and the third one is about 20 minutes long and one of my favorites. That one is good also if you’re looking for one meditation period about that long. I had to buy 2 copies because the first would not play. I took it off my ipod and use a cd player now for it because it took up too much room (80 minutes) but you could pick the cuts that do the most for you (if this turns out to be the right album for you) and just buy those. This group has made some other albums as well.


Guns, Killing, & Kindness

Stressed Americans not so Happy

Susan Cooke

Why aren’t we Americans higher on lists of countries in which people are the happiest and healthiest? This is in essence what much of my book is about, but let’s just look at a few things for now.

One problem common to many of us is cascading stress and worry that can begin at any time, but often occurs because we haven’t slept enough. Among other bad things this does to us it usually means we’re late for work which just adds to the stress load. Stress and worry often are the reasons why we couldn’t sleep, so if they’re still bothering us on the way to work, we add even more to our stress load.

Maybe we were worrying because we felt we had to finish something for work that seemed an emergency so we didn’t  go to bed near on time. Or we went to bed but woke up at 2 am worrying about the work or the job itself, or about how to get a less stressful job that might pay less but would at least pay the bills (but what would people say?) or worried about our kid(s), spouse, friend, or a conflict we had with someone. Or we might be in physical pain and the pain keeps us up but we don’t want to take too many painkillers, or we desperately need a vacation or some kind of downtime and how can we possibly get it or afford to go much of anywhere even if we do get it, or how can we get the neighbors to stop using leaf-blowers so much so we can enjoy our own yard more and not be so constantly desperate to get away to someplace quiet, etc.

Once we’ve made it to work we have to hurry to get in gear and produce even though we’re tired from so little sleep. We have to be sure not to snap at someone just because we’re worried and exhausted.  We wish we had a job that didn’t take so much out of us or a boss who believed in a less arduous schedule, but who has time to find one and would our commute be even worse than it is now?

For many of us in our country, this is daily life. It probably is similar in other countries in which people live our lifestyle or try to. Many of these issues feel even worse in our chaotic, loud, crazy cities than they might in more rural areas, though those not in cities go through a lot of this too.

One thing my research has revealed to me is that it’s much harder to slow this whole process of living at high speed and often near-panic when many people around us are living at the same pace. Yet if we don’t slow down our levels of stress hormones such as cortisol are likely to remain high, making a slew of illnesses more possible for us due to the inflammation caused by stress. (You probably know this already, but inflammation seems to be the source of many of our illnesses.)

I write a great deal about the staggering effects of stress on people, and I find that Americans seem to have a unique brand of stressful lifestyle and approach to life that’s extra tricky and tough to battle. Not that we all willingly choose to live this way. Many of us are simply infused with a work ethic that seems oriented toward acquiring fame or power or at least being near the top of the competition most of the time (in addition to more money, that while up to a certain number of dollars is helpful, may in fact be unnecessary in larger amounts for us to be happy. Yet we’re not necessarily aware, or maybe we forget sometimes, of how trapped in this vortex we can become. We’re too busy just trying to get through it all.

The need for fame or wealth beyond what’s practical or pretty okay may come partly from a completely understandable craving to matter in this world, to be known as someone who walked this earth and made something happen that was good or useful. But there are many ways to be good and useful without shortening our lives from stress in the process. It helps to accept that not every one of us can be high-profile. Certainly most of us can’t be super-wealthy. So if we turn out to be one of the majority who are not going to be famous or wealthy, we can reduce our stress and our constant speeding through life to get wherever we’re trying so hard to go by accepting that and getting on with the business of living a meaningful life that makes us and a few others happy. I absolutely believe this is possible, though it would help us all if we got a little support from government and businesses. They can help by learning about what helps people become happy and healthy, and a big part of what I try to do is show them the research on this. It can help them help us to thrive.

Here are not all, but a few things, most suggested by research, that can help us and help our leaders help us:

Access to nature close to home most days (without industrial noise)–so more quiet local parks and gardens not filled with traffic noise and fumes

Access to safe places to move and exercise outside in bright light, away from traffic & other industrial noise & fumes

Access to many easy places to meet and socialize with those living near us, places such as coffee shops and cafes, ideally including outdoor seating, and ideally away from traffic, near home so we can walk to them

Noise and fume laws that are well enforced, so that wellbeing doesn’t continue to plummet due to bullying by thousands of leaf-blowers and other loud, unhealthy lawn equipment (leaf-blower fumes especially are truly dangerous to our health due to their particulates highly suspected to cause cancer, and leaf-blower noise is extremely bad for mental health, causing misery for millions around the world)

Access to abundant healthy organic plant food for all in even the poorest neighborhoods, through stores, farmers’ markets, and community gardens

Highest quality efficient transportation services so we can get where we need to go without added cascades of stress hormones

Higher minimum wage, and more time off for everyone; Americans are absurdly and dangerously overworked, and many are absurdly and dangerously underpaid. These are both recipes for extreme stress and shortened lives.

Homes for every single person. There are many exciting and innovative ways to do this. It can be done and we must do it. No more homelessness is necessary.  Look at Los Angeles for starters.

Drastic reduction of firearms across the country. The U.S. gun prevalence is absurd, barbaric, cruel, and beneath the dignity of a supposedly advanced country considered (at one time) to lead the world

Good health care for everyone including the homeless (who we’re going to house ASAP, right?)

Tax breaks and other aids and incentives for everyone to have a garden, large or tiny

Education (especially for the President and EPA) and directions for all in taking immediate steps to stop pollution and global warming, using gardens, green roofs, conservation in general, solar panels in more places (with more help in paying for them), more parks, more trees (again more nature also does wonders for our wellbeing, too, but it must be away from industrial noise and fumes to work the most magic, and we need to drastically reduce all such fumes to help global warming anyway)

Kindness and respect for others’ desperate need for quiet and nature. Caring for others’ peace of mind–why they need some quiet–includes such thoughtful acts as not turning on speaker phones or shouting into phones so everyone in the cafe or park must listen to only that person and is forced by them to stop their own conversation, reading, or thinking. In other words not invading each others’ sound space which we do throughout our current society indoors and out to a degree that everyone’s stress hormones must surely be at way above normal levels most of the day. We cannot close our ears the way we close our eyes, and most of us can’t carry around noise-cancelling headphones, nor should we feel forced to wear them just to keep our own stress levels down. Public service announcements would help a lot with this problem since so many people seem unaware of the damage they’re doing to fellow citizens.

I’ll write more on noise later–it’s a huge problem–but it helps to make sure our government leaders know the World Health Organization (WHO) considers loud industrial noise to be so damaging that it calls it a worldwide health emergency.


De-Stressing Music you can Work to

Susan Cooke

*My favorite feel-good-while-working music (as opposed to wild-and-crazy-while-working which I know some people prefer!) includes a selection of jazz, classical, and a few surprisingly wonderful European accordion street music albums, and I thought I’d pass a few of them along to you. Today’s list is some samples of classical music only, and can help you both relax and read, write, think, or sweep the kitchen floor. Many are from the Baroque period (about 1600-1750), whose music I often find especially calming yet energizing, and helps me to do whatever needs to be done. Later in another post I’ll list some jazz and a couple of those accordion selections that do the same thing for me, but which I usually listen to later in the day. I’ll try also to list some pieces from my relaxing jazz list.

I’ve added a few notes for some  selections. Also, I cut and pasted the titles into this post from my iTunes list so sometimes it’s a little confusing due to long titles in other languages. You see the title first, as in “Concerto a Due Cori No. 3, HWV 334,” then the movement and length of that piece I selected, as in “Allegro 2:57,” then the group and conductor, followed by composer (Handel in the first one–“HWV” is the short name for the catalogs of Handel’s work). In some cases after that is another umbrella title such as “The Masterworks.” You can find many other performances of these pieces by other groups that are also very good, but these are some of my favorite groups. The speed, acoustical character, and other aspects of the recordings of this music will often vary with the group. Some groups play some Bach pieces much faster than others for example. I prefer not too fast so I can hear all the wonderful moments clearly.


CLASSICAL LIST — Mostly from Baroque period, some from Classical period


1. The first piece is performed by one of the best Baroque music groups in the world, and one of the best conductors of (and experts on) the composer Handel, Christopher Hogwood. Handel’s Concertos a Due Cori are for strings and two wind groups (due cori is Italian for two choirs, but there’s no singing).

Concerto a Due Cori No. 3, HWV 334: 2a. Allegro 2:57 Academy of Ancient Music & Christopher Hogwood Handel: The Masterworks

2.  A trio sonata is played by three instruments. This is another star Baroque performance group. There are two selections below from HWV (works of Handel) 405:

Trio Sonata for 2 Recorders and Continuo in F, HWV 405: I. Allegro 1:56 Academy of St. Martin in the Fields, Denis Vigay, Elisabeth Selin, George Malcolm & Michala Petri Handel: Complete Wind Sonatas

Trio Sonata for 2 Recorders and Continuo in F, HWV 405: III. Allegro 2:37 Academy of St. Martin in the Fields, Denis Vigay, Elisabeth Selin, George Malcolm & Michala Petri Handel: Complete Wind Sonatas

3.  The album listed below is full of wonderful music by Vivaldi and I love most of it though I’ve just given you one example from it. Here is yet another great conductor of Baroque music (Sir Neville Marriner), and again the Academy of St. Martin in the Fields, as is no. 2. “La Stravaganza” (The Extravagance) is the name Vivaldi gave this group of pieces for mainly solo violin and orchestra.

12 Violin Concertos, Op. 4, “La Stravaganza,” No. 2: I. Allegro 4:24 Alan Loveday, Sir Neville Marriner & Academy of St. Martin in the Fields Vivaldi: “La Stravaganza”

4.  Yet another group of lovely Vivaldi pieces under a different title, with several conductors and same performing group as nos. 2 and 3. “L’estro armonico” is another group of concertos, this time for string instruments. There’s a wonderful short essay on this group of pieces (and some other interesting stuff related to it) at

12 Concertos, Op. 3, “L’estro armonico”: Allegro 2:41 Alan Loveday, Sir Neville Marriner, Academy of St. Martin in the Fields, Carmel Kaine, Christopher Hogwood, Colin Tilney & Robert Spencer Vivaldi: L’estro armonico

5.  I am in love with oboes, and especially the “oboe d’amore,” and listen often to many pieces featuring them. I also love the related instrument, the “English horn.” I’ve listed a few pieces with these instruments for you throughout this list. These wind instruments, in the hands of the right composers and performers, are magical. One of the world’s great oboe players, who plays on several of these albums including the one below, is Albrecht Mayer.

Suite No.11 In D Minor, HWV 437: Sarabande (Arr. For Oboe, Oboe d’amore And English Horn By Andreas Tarkmann) 2:40 Albrecht Mayer, Vocalise

6.  Concerto for Oboe d’amore (From, BWV 209): I. Allegro 6:07 Albrecht Mayer & The English Concert Voices of Bach (Works for Oboe, Choir & Orchestra) Classical

7.  Concerto for Oboe, Strings and Basso Continuo In D Minor, TWV 51:d2: I. Largo 4:05 Albrecht Mayer, Berliner Barock Solisten & Rainer Kussmaul Sinfonia Melodica – Works By Telemann Classical

8. I’m mainly a classical singer but for some time planned a concert career as a violinist. I studied violin for twelve years, and still love to play and to hear it. I very much enjoyed playing Bach and Vivaldi, and there are several Vivaldi pieces featuring the violin on this list as you’ve seen. Vivaldi is such an interesting character, a musician who was ordained as a priest, and due to his red hair was known in his town as The Red Priest. He couldn’t perform masses due to health problems, so he turned to composing and teaching music in an institution that provided training for trades for orphaned boys, and music training for orphaned girls. He was appointed Master of Violin there but composed for all instruments.The most talented of the girls performed in an orchestra so good it became famous worldwide. He wrote most of his great works for these girls, and they must have been extremely well taught by him since much of this beautiful music requires considerable technical skill to play. (Thanks to for some of these details.)

Giuliano Carmignola is one of the best performers of Vivaldi violin pieces, and often performs with the Venice Baroque Orchestra, another great group.

Concerto In B Minor for Violin, RV 389: III. Allegro 4:34 Andrea Marcon, Giuliano Carmignola & Venice Baroque Orchestra Vivaldi: Violin Concertos

9. Again from Vivaldi’s “L’estro Armonico,” and featuring four violins

Concerto X In B Minor for Four Violins: Allegro 3:44 Arcangeli Baroque Strings Vivaldi: Six Concertos from L’estro Armonico, Opus 3

10. Part of another concerto for oboe, by Bach. (Oboe is one of the many instruments Bach studied and played.)

Concerto for Oboe in D Minor, BWV 1059: I. Allegro 5:52 Christian Hommel, Cologne Chamber Orchestra, Helmut Müller-Brühl & Lisa Stewart Bach: Concertos for Oboe & Oboe d’amore Classical

11. A concerto for entire string orchestra by the composer Albinoni. He was mainly a singer and violinist but wrote a number of fine oboe works, and some of those are also on this album.

Concerto for Strings in F Major, Op. 9, No. 10: I. Allegro 3:35 Collegium Musicum 90 & Simon Standage Albinoni: Double Oboe Concertos and Concertos for Strings, Vol. 2

12. Below is more Bach, part of a group of pieces for lute.

Suite in E for Lute, BWV 1006a – 1000: I. Praeludium 3:50 Eduardo Fernandez Bach, J.S.: Lute Suites

13. I love the harp, and find it enchanting to listen to as well as calming.

Harp Concerto in C: III. Allegro 3:56 Elizabeth Hainen Harp Concertos

14. Telemann is another famous and prolific Baroque composer. This album features more of Albrecht Mayer and other great soloists.

Triple Concerto in E Major, TWV 53:E1: I. Andante 3:28 Emmanuel Pahud/Berliner Barock Solisten/Wolfram Christ/Albrecht Mayer Telemann Concertos Classical

15. Gabrieli wrote many of these beautiful pieces for groups of brass instruments. He was born in the middle of the 16th century, and was a composer during the time music was moving from the Renaissance style to the Baroque. The Empire Brass is one of the most famous brass ensembles.

Canzon Duo Decimi Toni 3:33 Empire Brass The Glory of Gabrieli (Antiphonal Music for Brass Choirs) Classical

16. A concerto grosso is a piece featuring various solo instruments that alternate with the full orchestra. Many Baroque composers wrote them, and the one below is by Handel, who wrote many great ones. He worked in his native Germany, then Italy, and finally London where he lived for many years and was very much loved and celebrated. He was famous as a landmark opera composer as well.

Concerto grosso in B-Flat Major, Op. 3, No. 1: I. Allegro 2:58 English Chamber Orchestra, Raymond Leppard, Leslie Pearson & John Constable Ultimate Handel Classical

17.  Fasch was a Baroque composer and contemporary of J.S. Bach and Georg Frideric Handel. He’s not as well known as some, but wrote lots of music I was delighted to discover him for myself with the help of our local classical radio station WCRB, here in Boston. He lived from 1688 to 1758 mostly in Germany. The performing group The English Concert and its conductor Trevor Pinnock are both well known and widely respected.

Concerto In D Major FWV L: D. 14: I. Allegro 3:10 The English Concert & Trevor Pinnock Fasch: Concerto and Orchestral Suites Classical

18. Another composer you might not have heard of is William Boyce, an English composer who lived in London during much of the 18th century. Among his best works are church music and a number of symphonies.

Symphony No. 1 In B-Flat: I .Allegro 2:54 English String Orchestra & William Boughton Boyce: The Eight Symphonies

19. The piece below is one movement from a concerto by C.P.E. Bach on an album of his and Mozart’s music. C.P.E. (Carl Philipp Emmanuel) was one of J.S. Bach’s sons, well-taught by his father to follow in Dad’s footsteps. There’s a fascinating essay on the two at

Concerto for 2 Harpsichords, Strings and Horns in F Major, Wq. 46: I. Allegro 9:17 Haydn Sinfonietta Wien, Manfred Huss, Alexei Lubimov & Juri Martynov C. P. E. Bach & Mozart: Double Concerto and Symphonies

20.  “Il Gardellino” is a performance group founded in Belgium. They play a lot of Baroque but also some later music. The Oboe D’amore concerto movement below is by the two 18th-century composers, Carl Heinrich Graun and his brother Johann Gottlieb Graun, again not so well-known to me at least until relatively recently.

Oboe D’amore Concerto In D Major: I. Allegro 6:11 Il Gardellino Graun: Concerti

13. Below is another concerto movement from L’estro armonico by Vivaldi. Iona Brown (1941-2004) was a British conductor and violinist.

12 Concertos, Op. 3, “L’estro armonico”: Allegro assai 3:01 Iona Brown, Sir Neville Marriner, Academy of St. Martin in the Fields, Carmel Kaine, Roy Gillard, Christopher Hogwood, Colin Tilney & Robert Spencer Vivaldi: L’estro armonico

14. A solo harp piece by Carlos Salzedo, “Quietude,” from an album of harp composers. The harpist is Jennifer Swartz

5 Preludes: No. 1. Quietude 2:49 Jennifer Swartz Grandjany – Hindemith – Lizotte – Salzedo – Tailleferre: Solo Harp Music

15. I love trumpet and oboes together in this movement from an album of a group of composers. I chose the piece because I liked it but cannot find a clear composer name on the album. Kehr and Zickler appear to be two of the performers.

16. More trumpet, this time by Telemann. I’ve found some impressive recordings from this group, Latvian Philharmonic.

Trumpet Concerto In D Major, TWV 51:D7: II. Allegro 2:08 Latvian Philharmonic Chamber Orchestra & Pierre Kremer Orchestral Music (Baroque) – Handel, G.F. – Bach, J.S. – Pachelbel, J. – Corelli, A. – Purcell, H. – Vivaldi, A. (Baroque Orchestral Masterpieces)

17. Trumpet and oboe again, in a movement from a set of albums called The Art of the Baroque Trumpet. This double concerto is by Johann Wilhelm Hertel, (1727-1789), again relatively new to me.

Double Concerto In E Flat Major For Trumpet And Oboe: Allegro 4:55 M./Telemann Handel/Haydn The Art Of The Baroque Trumpet, Volume 4

18. An unlikely but beautiful combination of trumpet and organ, from the album The Italian Trumpet.

Concerto en Ol Mineur Pour Trompette Et Orgue: I. Vivace 1:28 Marc-André Doran & André Henry Italian Trumpet (The)

19. A movement from one of my favorite keyboard players, Murray Perahia (pronounce like pariah), part of one of the many celebrated Bach keyboard concertos.

Keyboard Concerto No. 5 in F Minor, BWV 1056: III. Presto 2:58 Murray Perahia, Academy of St. Martin in the Fields, Jeanne Dolmetsch & Marguerite Dolmetsch Bach: Keyboard Concertos Nos. 3, 5, 6, 7

19. One movement from one of the many beautiful Mozart piano works, Concerto no. 25. The concertos are accompanied by orchestra. Mozart is from the Classical period, which came after the Baroque,

Piano Concerto No. 25 in C Major, K. 503: III. Allegretto 8:38 Orpheus Chamber Orchestra & Richard Goode Mozart: Piano Concerto No. 25 & No. 9

20. Also from the Classical period, a movement from a symphony by Haydn, who wrote many of them.

Symphony in B-Flat, H. I:68: I. Vivace 4:29 Philharmonia Hungarica & Antal Doráti Haydn: The Complete Symphonies

21.  Most of Bach’s oratorios (such as The Messiah) include an overture. This is the beautiful overture to the Easter Oratorio, and the overture is called a “sinfonia” in this case.

Easter Oratorio “Kommt, Eilet Und Laufet”, BWV 249: I. Sinfonia In D Major 4:51 Pro Musica Chamber Orchestra Vienna & Ferdinand Grossmann Bach: Easter Oratorio & Magnificat

22.  “Tafel” music was “table music,” meant to be heard at feasts and banquets. Telemann labeled some of his collections of compositions “Tafelmusik.” This is a movement from one of them. “Basso continuo” means “continuous bass” and is an accompaniment to the solo instruments made up of a bass line and harmonies, usually played on a keyboard and sometimes also on a lower instrument such as the cello.

Tafelmusik, Part 2: no 4, Trio Sonata for Flute, Oboe and Basso Continuo in E minor, TV 42:e2: I. Affetuoso 3:11 Salzburg Chamber Quartet Telemann: Table Music Suite Part 2, No. 4 – Trio in E Minor

23. Another movement of a piece for Oboe D’amore, by Telemann.

Concerto in A Major for Oboe D’amore: II. 3:14 Sarah Francis & London Harpsichord Ensemble Telemann: Oboe Concertos (Vol. 2)

24. Everything these two violinists play on this Vivaldi album by the Venice Baroque Orchestra is dazzling. I’ve put one movement of one of the Vivaldi pieces for two violins here. The violinists are Viktoria Mullova and again Giuliano Carmignola, listed earlier as the performer of a solo piece by Vivaldi.

Concerto for 2 Violins, Strings and Continuo in G Major, R. 516: I. Allegro Molto 3:41 Viktoria Mullova, Andrea Marcon, Venice Baroque Orchestra & Giuliano Carmignola, Vivaldi: Concertos for Two Violins

25. The Marsalis family of musicians is now legendary, and trumpeter Wynton is one of the finest classical trumpeters in the world. I’ve listed a movement below from a concerto by Johann Friedrich Fasch, including Marsalis along with two oboes and string orchestra.

Concerto In D Major for Trumpet, Two Oboes and Strings: I. Allegro 2:06 Wynton Marsalis & Raymond Leppard Wynton Marsalis Plays Handel, Purcell, Torelli, Fasch, and Molter


*These come from my longer curated music lists at my service Sonia Music. I’m giving readers this short list as a gift because I want more people to RELAX and get happier and healthier now!



Classic movies for a good mood

Susan Cooke

If you’re stressed, depressed, or anxious, these movies are a joy and might help. I’ll post more here later as I think of them. I bet you’ve never heard of some of them! I list movie first, then main actor(s):

My Man Godfrey—William Powell & Carole Lombard

The Voice of the Turtle—Eleanor Parker & Ronald Reagan

Lucky Partners—Ginger Rogers and Ronald Coleman

Desk Set—Katherine Hepburn and Spencer Tracy

Vivacious Lady—James Stewart & Ginger Rogers

I Love you Again—William Powell & Myrna Loy

Biography of a Bachelor Girl—Ann Harding, Robert Montgomery & Edward Everett Horton

Hands Across the Table—Carole Lombard

Miranda—Glynis Johns

You’ve Got Mail—Meg Ryan & Tom Hanks

The Runaway Bride—Julia Roberts & Richard Gere

My Big Fat Greek Wedding—Nia Vardalos (& edited by my cousin Mia Goldman!)

When Harry met Sally—Meg Ryan & Billy Crystal

Double Wedding—William Powell & Myrna Loy

The Talk of the Town—Cary Grant, Ronald Colman, Jean Arthur

The Shop Around the Corner—James Stewart & Margaret Sullavan

Never Say Goodbye—Errol Flynn & Eleanor Parker

Easy Living—Jean Arthur, Ray Milland, Edward Arnold

The Devil and Miss Jones—Jean Arthur, Robert Cummings, & Charles Coburn

A Foreign Affair—Jean Arthur, Marlene Dietrich, John Lund

The  Doctor Takes a Wife—Ray Milland & Loretta Young

The More the Merrier—Jean Arthur, Charles Coburn, Joel McCrea

Key to the City— Young & Clark Gable

The Ex-Mrs. Bradford—Jean Arthur & William Powell

More than a Secretary—Jean Arthur & George Brent

Mother is a Freshman—Van Johnson & Loretta Young

Come to the Stable—Loretta Young & Celeste Holm

People will Talk—Cary Grant & Jeanne Crain (only partly a comedy but wonderful)