How to Stop Road Rage Before it Happens By David P. Stearns

You’re driving home on your evening commute. There’s a wreck on I-95. The driver in front of you is texting behind the wheel and weaving around like a jerk. You have every reason to be angry.

It’s a familiar setting and a setup for road rage. It can happen to the most evolved, genteel person. But do you want to stay out of jail?

The first suggestion is to eat chocolate. But the next one is cut the punk rock or heavy metal on your automobile sound system. It encourages your aggressive side. You need something that’s going to make you want to be stuck in your car for hours longer than you planned.

Here are five suggested classical-ish recordings.

Strauss: Four Last Songs. These sublime, lushly-orchestrated songs were found on the composer’s desk when he died in 1949. Most of them are set to poems by Hermann Hesse, and exude the serenity of old age. Yes, they’re also about death, but that’s not a bad thing to keep in mind while driving. All you need is a lapse in concentration and these may be your four last songs. Suggested recording: Elisabeth Schwarzkopf and George Szell/EMI.

Haydn: Symphony No. 94 (“Surprise”). The 18th-century Franz Josef Haydn was perhaps the most even tempered of all of the great Viennese composers. He more or less invented the symphony as we know it and was never better than in the last 12 he wrote. This one has a second movement that strolls along at a pleasant pace but periodically has, out of blue, a nice loud chord to make sure you’re not asleep at the wheel. Suggested recording: Eugen Jochum/Deutsche Grammophon.

Brian Eno: Music for Airports. This was among the first – and stands as one of the best – examples of ambient music. It’s not quite music in the foreground sense but doesn’t entirely fade into the dashboard like background music. It’s somewhere in the middle. Not a lot of melodic interest. Nothing that will have you tapping your toe (good, if the toe is on the accelerator). But it makes you reasonably happy to be where you are. Suggested recording: Bang on a Can/Point.

Schubert: Trout Quintet. No, this isn’t about fish. One of the movements of this genial, outdoorsy chamber music piece is based on a song that Franz Schubert wrote about a trout. You don’t need to know anything more about that aspect. Just be assured that this is some of the sunniest, friendliest music ever written. No way you’ll rage at anybody while this is playing. Suggested recording: Frank Braley et al/Erato.

Prokofiev: Romeo and Juliet (complete ballet) Russian music is always engaging, though Tchaikovsky is too suicidal, Stravinsky too primal. Prokofiev’s bright orchestral colors and action-packed Shakespeare-based narrative keeps you wondering what’s around the next musical corner and has no dull moments. Suggested recording: Alsop/Naxos.
Categories: Social
; ;