Feeling unmotivated at work and looking for the next trick to boost your productivity? Read on for the best classical music for work.
To listen or not to listen – that is a question. Some research shows that we perform and learn worse when we have music on. On the other hand, music helps us [literally] tune everyone out, particularly important in this era of open offices and diminished personal space. It also makes us feel good, which in turn rouses us mentally, makes us more creative, and boosts our productivity.
So what is the takeaway from this? It turns out the type of music for work you listen to also matters; you might be able to file invoices to heavy rap, but when you need to be focused, think creatively, and synthesise knowledge, verbal music is particularly distracting. It impedes our concentration and ability to process information. The sweet spot is music familiar or unassuming enough to stay in the background, but engaging enough to give you that mood boost or mental arousal.
Lyric-free classical music is the answer. Its complexity optimally balances between energizing and mellowing, engaging and disengaging. It is even reputed to improve our cognition. The genre is making a decisive comeback in APAC, with help from viral Asian-Australian violinists Twoset Violin who have to the public a whole host of other APAC musicians.
Here is a list of Classical music for work, curated to challenge the genre’s “boring” reputation and acquaint you with the region’s rising stars, all while boosting your productivity.
The best start to the morning is something upbeat that gets you out of bed, but also sets a relaxing and calming tone for the coming day.
You’ve gotten your coffee and settled in for a productive morning session. Here’s a whole album of treasures to work to. Listen to legends and old friends Itzhak Perlman and Martha Argerich in this once-in-a-lifetime collaboration. A mix of baroque and Romantic sounds, the tracks have the 60-beats rhythm that characterizes baroque music and puts us in a state of attentive calmness, while dramatic Romantic elements keep us engaged and aroused.
Played by the titan of piano, Daniel Barenboim this is the perfect music for work. We associate Beethoven with extreme grandeur and passion, but this work is sober and clean while retaining sufficient drama and excitement.
Played by the incredible Japanese-American violinist Midori, the piece starts slowly and is relatively non-interfering, but quickly ramps up in stimulation.
Concertos are optimal for a focused morning work session: they are long, so that once you’re in their world and settled into their sound, they can fade into the background. But being a narrative journey, they are also enough of an emotional ride to keep you activated mentally. Listen to legendary Anne-Sophie Mutter play Brahms.
Julia Fischer’s rendition of this concerto is virtuosic, immersing you in a transcendently sensitive way she adds character and inner gentleness to each bar.
Played by German-Japanese pianist Alice Sara Ott, this Schubert sonata has a magical grandeur built from a profusion of shifting colour, dynamics, and harmonic strokes, out of which individual phrases and paragraphs illuminate your musical journey, holding you in a thrall and allowing you to go into a trance-like focus.
Fight the Post-Lunch Slump
The quick tempo of this Rachmaninoff piece immediately captivates and energizes you, while the deep and rich sound puts you at ease. Chinese piano star Lang Lang gives the piece a heavy lyricism, and in his textured playing you can almost hear all the instruments of an orchestra. Also check out the different but equally mesmerising version by fellow Chinese star Yuja Wang.
Every section of this piece is sure to rouse you from post-lunch sleepiness and boost your mood as you listen in awe.
Taiwanese-Australian violinist Ray Chen plays these sections of the Bruch with an energetic drive to the finish that prods you along in your work, while his suave sounds will keep your spirits up.
Rushing an End-of-Day Deadline
Perlman plays the Zigeunerweisen with a contagious intensity that sharpens your own focus on your work.
Restless and dancingly bright, this is the perfect background track to give you some fire for an intense burst of work.
If you’re still not done with your assignments, listen to Taiwanese rising star Benny Yu-Chien Tseng’s rendition of the Carmen Fantasy pieces.
Still need some more work inspiration? Here are four more tracks to boost your work productivity and last you until the end of your day.