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32 Variations on a spherical theme – a football playlist for the 2018 FIFA World Cup™

Football and music: not always an easy alliance. Liverpool supporters in England do very well with "You'll Never Walk Alone", though, and fans in Latin lands can swing their hips to Nelly Furtado's "Força". But what can classically inclined football-lovers listen to? Here's the ultimate World Cup playlist on IDAGIO: a classical piece for every team – 32 variations on a spherical theme.Read more…

We take you from Group A to Group F and begin, of course, with the hosts. Musical atmosphere is more important than suitability for clapping or singing along (there's enough of that already in the stadium). Generally composers from each country are given preference over unofficial national anthems; so Spain is represented by Manuel de Falla rather than 'Carmen'. But there are exceptions when it makes musical sense: we pick Liszt to represent Switzerland, and Bernd Alois Zimmermann makes an appearance for Brazil. The flipside is that Germany is represented by a Finn (but not Sibelius). Belgium looks back to the renaissance, while a lament seemed about right for England.

There's no shortage of national clichées; football without stereotypes is no fun. World-famous works rub shoulders in the line-up with abstruse rarities.

The history of classical music is eurocentric. In some countries, above all in the southern hemisphere, the role of classical music has been secondary to important homegrown culture and music. That means there's a bit of free association for some nations, with certain African countries represented by their national animals: Nigeria is symbolised by the Eagle, Senegal by Lions. For Tunisia we look back to ancient times with an appearance of Carthage. And there's a final exception with a surprise appearance for Morocco by a Norwegian composer, played by an Icelandic orchestra.


RUSSIA: Modest Mussorgsky: Sorochinskaya yarmarka (The Fair at Sorochyntsi): Hopak (Arr. N. Rimsky-Korsakov for Orchestra)

SAUDI ARABIA: Joelle Khoury: Arabian Fantasy in Blue

EGYPT: Anton Stepanovich Arensky: Egipetskie nochi (Egyptian Nights) op. 50

URUGUAY: José Fernández Bardesio: Piezas uruguayas; 3. Candombeando



PORTUGAL: Joly Braga Santos: Symphony No. 5 “Virtus lusitaniae”; II. Zavala. Moderato

SPAIN: Manuel de Falla: El amor brujo: No. 8 Danza ritual del fuego (Arr. for Euphonium and Piano)

MOROCCO: Harald Saeverud: Peer Gynt op. 28; 7. Blandet Selskap (På Marokko-Kysten)

IRAN: Henry Dixon Cowell: Homage to Iran for Violin and Piano; IV. Con spirito



FRANCE: Jean-Philippe Rameau: Les fêtes de l'Hymen et de l'Amour RCT 38: Air gai (Act III)

AUSTRALIA: Peter Dodds McCormick: Advance Australia Fair (Arr. for Piano and Orchester) "Fantasy on an Anthem"

PERU: Louis Moreau Gottschalk: Souvenir de Lima for Piano op. 74

DENMARK: Carl August Nielsen: Sidskensang (Siskin Song) FS 40 CNW 348



ARGENTINA: Gabriela Montero: A la Argentina. Improvisation for Piano

ICELAND: Jón Leifs: Iceland Cantata (Íslandskantata) op. 13; No. 6 Allegro furioso

CROATIA: Dora Pejačević: Blütenwirbel op. 45

NIGERIA: Benjamin Britten: The Eagle has Two Heads: Fanfare



BRASIL: Bernd Alois Zimmermann: Alagoana, Caprichos Brasileiros; IV: Caboclo

SWITZERLAND: Franz Liszt: Années de pèlerinage. Première année: Suisse S 160; 2. Au lac de Wallenstadt

COSTA RICA: Ernesto Lecuona: Un amor vendrá (From the film 'Carnival in Costa Rica')

SERBIA: Béla Bartók: Duos for 2 Violins BB 104 Sz. 98 - Vol. 4; 39. Szerb Tánc (Serbian Dance)



GERMANY: Einojuhani Rautavaara: Praktisch Deutsch, Motet for Declamatory Chorus; 1. Hotel

MEXICO: Carlos Chávez: Cantos de México for Orchestra

SWEDEN: Wilhelm Peterson-Berger: Svensk lyrik (Swedish Lyricism) Series 1, Book 6 “Gullebarns vaggsånger”; 2. Mumla tumla humla

SOUTH KOREA: Isang Yun: East-West Miniatures for Oboe and Violoncello



BELGIUM: Guillaume Dufay: Bon jour, bon mois

PANAMA: John Philip Sousa: The Pathfinder of Panama March

TUNISIA: Hector Berlioz: Les Troyens (The Trojans) H 133; 17. 'De Carthage les cieux' (Chorus of the Carthagians)

ENGLAND: Poul Ruders: Concerto in Pieces: Purcell Variations for Orchestra (1995); Variation VII. Andante lamentoso




POLAND: Witold Lutosławski: Little Suite (Version for Orchestra); 2. Hurra Polka

SENEGAL: Bohuslav Martinů: First Orchestral Suite from the Ballet 'Špalíček' H 214a (Arr. M. Říha); 3b. In the Magician's Palace: Dance of the Lion

COLOMBIA: John Carmichael: Latin American Suite for Piano four hands; 2. Joropo (Venezuela-Colombia)

JAPAN: Ikuma Dan: Six Songs for Children; 4. Saury Fish


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