I really like the book Year of Wonder, written by a British classical music commentator, author and announcer named Clemency Burton-Hill. In fact, I have spent a lot of time with this book since it was published back in 2018. (Note that Ms. Burton-Hill is now the Creative Director of WQXR in New York.)
If you don’t know Year of Wonder, here is how it works. Ms. Burton-Hill has picked a piece of classical music for you to listen to on every day of the calendar year. In the book, she offers a one-page commentary about each selection. Her comments are invariably informative, fresh, and unstuffy. Plus, she departs from the trodden path when making her selections, so you are likely to discover works you didn’t know before. That happened to me on June 19th, when Ms. Burton-Hill urged her readers to listen to “der Fischerknabe,” a song by Franz Liszt, and again on September 21st, when she suggested “Autumn Crocus,” a song by the British composer Billy Mayerl.
Note that Year of Wonder is available on Amazon.com as either a hardcover book ($14.48) or as a Kindle edition ($10.99). I have been reading the hardcover over the last year, but I have just downloaded the Kindle so I can easily carry it around and integrate my listening into my daily routine.
How Can You Listen to Ms. Burton-Hill’s Daily Selections?
When publishing her book, she partnered with Apple Music and posted a playlist there that includes all the selections from Year of Wonder. So that is a convenient, pre-organized way to dive into the daily listening.
Because I am the writer for Classical Archives, however, it might not surprise you to know that I have been listening to many of her recommended pieces right here on Classical Archives, which often offers not just one, but several, different performances of the selections she recommends.
How you listen is, of course, up to you.
But please allow me to kick things off for you, by letting you know that Ms. Burton-Hill’s selection for January 1st is the Sanctus from Bach’s Mass in B-Minor. You really cannot come up with a better selection than that for starting off the new year. I really like a recording on Classical Archives from the Dresden Chamber Choir, but that’s just me.
My best advice is for you to get a copy of Year of Wonder and let Clemency Burton-Hill lead you through a year of wonderful listening. You really cannot go wrong.