17 Beautiful Pieces of Classical Music for Sleeping
Sleeping with headphones on whilst listening to calming, Classical Music has been proven to have many positive benefits to your health. We have collected 19 Beautiful Pieces of Classical Music for Sleeping to help you de-stress at the end of a difficult day.
If you are looking for the best way to experience this music, take a look at our Best Headphones for Classical Music review.
1. Debussy – Claire de Lune
Debussy’s Claire de Lune, or ‘Moonlight’ in French, is one of his most famous compositions and has featured in countless films. Listen to it below, and you’ll see why. It conjures up images of lazy days floating down a river on a raft, the sun dipping below the horizon as evening falls.
2. Beethoven – Piano Sonata No.14 in C Sharp Minor “Quasi una fantasia” (Moonlight)
The title of this Beethoven’s 14th piano sonata may have you thinking of its famous predecessor, but the mood is much more serene than the stormier Moonlight Sonata. The opening movement is undoubtedly an exciting piece to listen to before you hit the hay, but it’s in the slow middle motion that the real magic lies.
3. Debussy – Nocturnes
We’ve already had Debussy on our list, so we couldn’t resist adding his Nocturnes to our list too! Whilst they are written for Piano, they are also performed with orchestral accompaniment, and sometimes even with just the strings. Whilst there are three Nocturnes, we’ve chosen to feature No 2: “Sérénade interrompue” or Interrupted Serenade below.
4. Bach – Air on a G String
This beautiful, serene piece is an excellent addition to the classical repertoire and is guaranteed to send you off into dreamland. It’s often used as background music for films and TV shows too!
5. Mozart – Piano Concerto No.21 in C Major K467 “Elvira Madigan” Adagio
Mozart’s Piano Concerto, No 21 in C Major K467, gets its nickname from its use in the 1967 film Elvira Madigan, a romantic drama about the short life of a Danish amateur photographer who falls in love with her teacher before dying accidentally from a gunshot wound. It’s a wonderfully romantic piece of music that makes for perfect late-night listening!
6. Sibelius – Valse Triste Op.44 No 6
This beautiful piece was written by Sibelius in 1892 for Piano and orchestra, taking inspiration from his own ‘Valse sentimentale’ Opus 51 and ‘Valse-caprice’ Opus 34. Jean Sibelius himself later orchestrated it in 1893. It is a piece that has been used by many films as background music – most famously in Peter Jackson’s The Fellowship of the Ring when Galadriel first appears to Frodo. This gorgeous piece of music is sure to have you swooning into your pillow!
7. Tchaikovsky – Waltz of the Flowers from “The Nutcracker Suite” Op 71a
This deliciously dreamy waltz is perhaps most famous for its use as background music for Disney’s Fantasia, and it is easy to see why it was used so widely when you listen to it! When you close your eyes, you can almost picture yourself being whisked away on a puffy white cloud.
8. Grieg – Morning Mood from Peer Gynt
This delicate piece of music is made up of light, fluttering notes, and is an excellent accompaniment to a lazy Sunday morning in bed. The piece was first written for solo Piano in 1875, before being arranged in 1887 for full orchestra. It was also used as the central theme for the 1997 film “Good Will Hunting“.
9. Handel – Water Musics HWV 349a (from “Acis & Galatea”)
Handel’s Water Music is a series of orchestral movements that were later compiled into an orchestral suite. It was composed to accompany a royal visit by George II and Queen Caroline on the Royal Barge to Greenwich on 17th July 1717 and it was an instant success. Whilst we have included the movement ‘Alla Hornpipe’ on our list (and you can listen to it below), there are many other beautiful movements in this suite – it’s worth listening to the whole thing!
10. Brahms – Lullaby Op.49 No 4 “Wiegenlied” (aka Cradle Song)
Brahms’ famous lullaby is one that is familiar to most people, whether they’re into classical music or not! It’s often used as background music for films and TV programmes too, as it has such a lovely, dreamy quality to it. You might even recognise this piece from a certain scene in Harry Potter!
11. Bach – Jesu Joy of Man’s Desiring from Cantata 147
Bach’s beautiful arrangement of this famous 16th-century choral melody will no doubt send you drifting off into dreamland. If you like this take, Bach also arranged it for another four-part choir and orchestra. You can listen to that below. Enjoy!
12. Rachmaninoff – Vocalise Op 34 No 14 (Der Schwanendreher) [Piano]
This beautiful piece for Piano was composed by Rachmaninoff in 1910 and became one of his most famous compositions. It is based on a vocalise written by Rachmaninoff’s teacher, Alexander Scriabin. The composer only wrote one version of this piece for Piano. Still, when he performed it at a recital in Berlin in 1910, he asked his friend Sergei Rachmaninoff to provide an arrangement for solo violin. You can listen to that below.
13. Tchaikovsky – Serenade Melancolique Opus 26 No 1 “Serenade Melancolique” in C Minor [Piano]
This lovely, melancholy piece is a beautiful example of Tchaikovsky’s ability to create music that is both dramatic and evocative. It was composed in 1877 and has since been arranged for violin, flute, clarinet, bassoon, and cello. You can listen to the original piano version below.
14. Pachelbel – Canon in D
The beautiful Canon in D is one of the most famous classical pieces around – it has a timeless quality about it that means it never dates! The piece was first written for three violins and basso continuo, but it was later arranged for other instruments including keyboard instruments and guitars. It is perhaps most well-known for its use in the wedding scene from Four Weddings and a Funeral, but don’t let that put you off listening to it as background music! It will undoubtedly help you dream about your perfect wedding day.
15. Mendelssohn – Wedding March from “A Midsummer Night’s Dream”
This beautiful piece of music is one that most people will instantly recognise, as it is commonly used as the music for the bride’s grand entrance at weddings! It can be heard at the end of many films and TV shows too, often during a romantic or sentimental scene.
16. Rimsky-Korsakov – Flight of the Bumblebee from “The Tale of Tsar Saltan” Op.57
This energetic piece is one of Rimsky-Korsakov’s best-known works and was written in 1899. It was written for a piano to be played by a young female student – the composer wanted it to be played as a virtuoso piece to showcase her skills and show off what she had learnt so far. The piece follows a flight of a bee rather than an actual bumblebee, hence its title!
17. Holst – Mars from The Planets Op.32
This piece from Holst’s suites for orchestra is one that you might recognise as background music from films such as Star Wars or Mars Attacks! It was initially composed to feature against a short silent film called The Heart of a Negress. Still, it was later used in many other movies and TV shows including Doctor Who, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Monty Python’s Flying Circus, and The Simpsons. It’s also used to such significant effect in the opening sequence of Ridley Scott’s iconic film Alien. The piece is an excellent accompaniment to a late-night drive – it feels like you’re taking a journey to another planet!
If these aren’t for you and you prefer something a little darker, take a look at our Gothic Classical Music list.