Eric Whitacre top 10 headphone albums

Eric Whitacre was described by The Daily Telegraph, London as “that rare thing, a modern composer who is both popular and original.” His virtual choir was an internet phenomenon and demonstrated both his unerring ability to compose for human voices and his pioneering sensibility. He has a new album scheduled for early 2012.

Here is his top 10 headphone album playlist.

Eric Whitacre top 10 headphone albums

The Beatles: Abbey Road
Listen to: Golden Slumbers
My desert island disc. Can’t count the number of times I’ve listened to this.

Peter Gabriel: Us
Listen to: Secret World
Every song is a gem. The perfect album.

Part: Passio (Hilliard Ensemble)
Listen to: The entire piece, without interruption.
Easily the most influential piece on my own writing style.

Emerson Quartet: Debussy/Ravel String quartets
Listen to: ii. Assez Vif, Très Rythme
I love how each of them wrote just one quartet, mastered the form, and moved on.

Thomas Newman: American Beauty
Listen to: Any Other Name
One of my favorite film scores. Haunting and heartbreakingly beautiful.

Marc Maron podcast
Listen to: The Carlos Mencia Interview
Twice a week comedian Marc Maron delivers the funniest, most poignant podcast out there. Brilliant.

Frou Frou Details
Listen to: Let Go
The quintessential modern pop album, smart and timeless.

Ligeti: Atmospheres (Rattle/Berlin)
Listen to: Atmospheres
Can’t imagine how Ligeti was able to conceive music like this. Utterly transforming.

Bjork: Greatest Hits
Listen to: Bachelorette
Breathtaking in its inventiveness.

Sondheim Sunday in the Park
Listen to: Finishing the Hat
My favorite musical, and the single best dramatic representation of the artistic process.
Eric Whitacre top 10 headphone albums


  • Geoff Forgie says:

    I love the way Haydn, Mozart and Beethoven all mastered the string quartet and produced heaps of them!

  • Hugo says:

    I’ve got to go with Opéra sauvage (1979), by Vangelis. Track 2 – “Rêve”. This piece always takes me to a secret place within my head where all is warm, calm and loving. (sample)

    My 2¢, FWIW…

  • James says:

    I have to respectfully disagree with Marc Maron’s podcast being on the list. While I do agree that it’s well recorded I there are other albums that deserve a place. For example The Wall or Dark Side of the Moon buy Pink Floyd would be worthy.

  • Steve Bartlett says:

    I can’t find a Ligeti Atmospheres with the BPO and Rattle. With Jonathan Nott, yes but not with Rattle. Is there a new recording?

  • John Roy Garrod says:

    Mr Whitacre, you are easily becoming one of my favourite composers of all time…..

    Thankyou for reinstating in modern composition.

    P.s Glad you like Imogen Heap, I would be surprised if you didn’t.

  • John Roy Garrod says:

    Faith in modern composition*

  • freesteve says:

    Loving the B&W Speakers… enjoy the music

  • Knud Labohn says:

    Most of all: Thank you for the music! As five of my favourites rank as the first on the list I guess it is allright to suggest some rather unknown, but brillant stuff, emmitting some of the ambience from these.

    Choir Of Young Believers: Hollow Talk :
    Heartbreakingly beautiful, awareness and loss, faith and doubt. piano and voice almost imploding, finally exploding.
    Palle Mikkelborg: Girl With Her Hat: So warm and soft you can’t help smiling and dreaming. Lead by trompet.
    Mari Boine Persen: Gula Gula:
    Singer of the Same People, the ancient inhabitants of Northern Finland and Sweden. You don’t understand a word she sings and yet your gut feeling is you understand it all. As the Virtual Choir amazingly brings forth voices from the presence, this almost seems to do it vertically: Down through hundreds of generations.
    Stina Nordenstam: Little Star. How small can a voice be and yet be great?

  • Marti Dawson says:

    I have two favorite ensembles you might like to enjoy: In the San Diego, CA. area, Ruben Valenzuela’s “Bach Collegium”, who can sing Eric’s music as well as anyone!!, and I was just sent a video of “Anuna”, the Irish National Choir, led by composer, director Michael McGlynn. Check them both out…websites of same names & on youtube.Go VC3…I’ll be taking the leap very soon!!

  • Dan DePriest says:

    Glad to see Eric is a fan of Thomas Newman, my favorite movie score composer.

  • Marybeth Mank says:

    How funny that Eric Whitacre likes Frou Frou/Let Go. Zachary Braff used that on the soundtrack to his movie ‘Garden State.’ After watching that movie, I bought the soundtrack from iTunes. I have listened to that particular song probably over 1000 times…LOL!!!! It was also used briefly on the soundtrack for ‘The Holiday,’ too.

    For some other recommendations for headphone music, I suggest Andreas Vollenweider, Tangerine Dream, the score to ‘The Holiday’ written by Hans Zimmer, and my all-time favorite band RUSH, most especially ‘Moving Pictures’ and ‘Snakes and Arrows.’ For something a little different, Godsmack’s lead singer Sully Erna released an absolutely beautiful solo CD entitled ‘Avalon.’ Some of the songs on this release are haunting and thought-provoking – so completely opposite what he does with Godsmack. Happy Listening!!!!!!

  • J Michael Horak, Prague says:

    Love some of your headphone choices (e.g. Ligeti) while some are new to me. Just wanted to suggest Sibelius’ “Swan of Tuonela” as an ethereal masterpiece. I had this on a Walkman tape years ago, walking
    on the crest of Mt Pilatus (near Luzern, CH). Just as the piece started, a cloud enveloped me in thick fog, so I had to stand still or risk falling. It lasted and lasted … sent me floating in my mind … and the fog lifted at the very same
    second the piece ended. An almost religious experience … blew me away.

  • Tbone says:

    It’s very interesting that you list Thomas Newman’s score for American Beauty; your music has often reminded me of Newman’s score for The Shawshank Redemption. There are several specific points of harmonic influence in your composing that I hear directly in Newman’s work (he being my favorite composer for film). Very interesting stuff.

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