Top 10 Albums of Each Year Part 1 - Intro and 1900s-1940s

5개월 전

I've always wanted to do something like this but I didn't know what to do with the really early stuff, so instead of doing all 10 for each year (the early years don't even have 10!) my plan is as follows: the best for 1900s and 1910s, top 3 for 1920s and top 5 for 1930s and 1940s. Then it will be the top 3 of each year for the 1950s and 1960-1964.

They should be fun and I shouldn't get burned out. I will start the top 10 proper in 1965, as that's when we start getting more variety with stuff like the Beatles and Led Zeppelin. Exciting! Of course, I don't want to make myself listen to countless things I don't really like so that's why I'm not doing this 'properly' right at the start. I will be using rym for its charts to see which albums are at the top. The rym userbase is much more rock/metal/hip-hop-focused so a lot of these early ones will have a low number of ratings and so will be a bit 'inaccurate'.

A couple quick notes: rym ratings are out of 5, but you can rate half stars, so I convert my scores to out of 10 but I don't convert the rym overall rating. They stay at out of 5. Also, when listing genres, primary genres will be normal and secondary genres will be in brackets.

The 1900s:

The Nutcracker - Palace Theatre Orchestra/Herman Finck

Composed by: Pyotr Tchaikovsky and Marius Petipa

Number 1 for the 1900s (obviously).
The first piece of commercial music (I think)! It was released in April of 1909. I'm not sure if it's even available in full anywhere, I could only find a few pieces in a youtube link on the rym page. Either way, The Nutcracker is so full of iconic pieces, it's really cool. No rating as I feel that wouldn't be fair. Nonetheless, people have rated it on rym: 3.43 from 40 ratings.
Genre: Romanticism, Orchestral

The 1910s:

Symphony No. 5 - Berliner Philharmoniker/Arthur Nikisch

Composed by: Ludwig Van Beethoven

Number 1 out of 2 for 1910s.
Good ol' Ludwig Van Beethoven! This particular release is on Spotify so I can actually give it a listen. This was released in February of 1914. I'm not really that into Classical music but this is pretty cool. The first part (Allegro con brio, whatever that means...) is super iconic and I'm a fan of that bit. The rest...I just find symphonic classical a bit boring I think, and the dreadful recording quality of the time doesn't help.
Released in February 1914
RYM Rating: 3.55 from 43 ratings.
Genre: Symphony, Romanticism

Couldn't find the exact recording for the other 1910s release.

The 1920s

Piano Sonata No. 14, "Moonlight" - Wilhelm Kempff

Composed by: Ludwig Van Beethoven

Number 1 for 1920s.
Released in 1925. This is more like it! Beautiful piano is always a great time and not too long either! Part 1 is really great and iconic, part 2 is good and part 3 is amazing! Wow. It blew me away when it started up. Really beautiful fast-paced impressive piano playing. This is quality stuff. Bravo Beethoven, you've got me back on board.
RYM Rating: 3.97 from 93 ratings.
Genre: Romanticism

Piano Sonata No. 8, "Pathetique" - Wilhelm Kempff

Composed by: Ludwig Van Beethoven

Piano Sonata No 8.jpg

Number 2 for 1920s.
Released in 1925. More beautiful piano playing. I like the second part the most with the third part second. Fast-paced is better :)
RYM Rating: 4.05 from 18 ratings.
Genre: Romanticism

Symphony No. 5 'From the New World' - The Philadelphia Orchestra / Leopold Stokowski

Composed by: Antonin Dvorak

Number 3 for 1920s.
Released in 1927. here. Although I still find symphonic classical music a bit boring, this is quite good, it's very dramatic and bombastic with at least one iconic melody as well. I really struggle to listen to classical for 40+ minutes at a time though so...
RYM Rating: 3.86 from 16 ratings.
Genre: Symphony, Romanticism


A Symposium of Swing - Various Artists

A Symposium of Swing.jpg

Number 1 for 1930s. Number 1 for 1937 (obviously).
Sing, Sing, Sing is really great, with a lot of cool rising and falling of intensity. There's an awesome drum solo too. It's a very fun song. Blue, Turning Grey Over You is another one of my favourites, with great piano elements in it. The rest of the pieces are also pretty good. As my first Swing album, it's very enjoyable!
My Rating: 7/10
RYM Rating: 3.91 from 54 ratings.
Genre: Swing, (Big Band)

Negro Sinful Songs - Lead Belly

Negro Sinful Songs.jpg

Number 2 for 1930s. Number 1 for 1939.
Unfortunately the bad recording quality does have a noticeable effect on this album and makes it worse to me and so Lead Belly is very hard to hear because of it. The songs are very repetitive (especially the work songs) and boring and so I didn't finish this album.
My Rating: 3/10
RYM Rating: 3.51 from 308 ratings.
Genre: Acoustic Blues, Work Songs, (Field Hollers)

Artur Rubinstein - Nocturnes, Volume I

Composed by: Frederic Chopin

Nocturnes Volume 1.jpg

Number 3 for 1930s. Number 2 for 1937
Nocturnes, Volume 1 consists of three Nocturnes: Op. 9 Nos. 1-3 and they are all beautiful piano pieces. No. 2 is used in part in the Muse song United States of Eurasia + Collateral Damage and so I knew it already, it's a fantastic piece and probably my favourite here, but they're all really great, as I've mentioned.
My Rating: 8/10
RYM Rating: 3.86 from 34 ratings.
Genre: Romanticism

The Wizard of Oz - Judy Garland / Victor Young and his Orchestra

Wizard of Oz.jpg

Number 4 for 1930s. Number 2 for 1939.
A true classic, but not really that great to me. Somewhere over the Rainbow and Munchkinland are soothing, atmospheric standouts but the rest are fairly repetitive and silly.
My Rating: 5/10
RYM Rating: 3.52 from 108 ratings.
Genre: Show Tunes, Film Soundtrack, (Traditional Pop)

Artie Shaw Plays an Album of Popular Music - Artie Shaw

Number 5 for 1930s. Number 3 for 1939.
Some more entertaining Swing music. It's just pretty good. Nothing amazing or bad.
My Rating: 6/10
RYM Rating: 3.60 from 44 ratings.
Genre: Swing, (Big Band)


Le sacre du printemps - Philharmonic-Symphony Orchestra of New York / Igor Stravinsky

Composed by: Igor Stravinsky

Number 1 for 1940s. Number 1 for 1940.
Pretty cool classical music that I guess tells a story? My biggest complaint here is that the volume of the music peaks really loudly and troughs really quietly and makes it annoying to listen to at times. There's some stuff I really enjoyed here though, like Games of the Rival Towns and Mystical Circles...This music reminds me a lot of Star Wars music, especially the prequels. It is pretty good.
My Rating: 7/10
RYM Rating: 4.16 from 61 ratings.
Genre: Modern Classical, Orchestral

Piano Concerto No. 2 in C Minor - The Philadelphia Orchestra / Leopold Stokowski / Sergei Rachmaninoff

Composed by: Sergei Rachmaninoff

Number 2 for 1940s. Number 1 for 1946
Some great soothing piano music but it's a bit long-winded and thus not overly exciting. Some of my favourite symphonic stuff so far is in part 3 which is nice.
My Rating: 7/10
RYM Rating: 3.99 from 74 ratings.
Genre: Concerto, Romanticism

Southern Exposure: An Album of Jim Crow Blues Sung by Joshua White - Josh White

Southern Exposure.jpg

Number 3 for 1940s. Number 1 for 1941.
Well this is really nice. Joshua White has a fantastic voice and is great on the guitar. The songs have enjoyable rhythms and the whole atmosphere just draws you in. This album isn't overlong either, coming in at a respectable 18 minutes which is just long enough for everything to be appreciated! The cover art is really cool too. This is really great stuff.
My Rating: 8/10
RYM Rating: 3.67 from 106 ratings.
Genre: Blues, Acoustic Blues

"The Midnight Special" and Other Southern Prison Songs - Lead Belly and the Golden Gate Quartet

Number 4 for 1940s. Number 2 for 1941
Better than his other album but still not great. I really like The Midnight Special which has great guitar playing and backing vocals but I'm not a fan of the repetitive vocal-only work songs, they just bore me (Pick a Bale of Cotton excluded, that's a great one with an intriguing glimpse into black culture at the time).
My Rating: 6/10
RYM Rating: 3.66 from 121 ratings.
Genre: Work Songs, Acoustic Blues, (Vocal Group, Spirituals)

Billie Holiday - Billie Holiday

Billie Holiday.jpg

Number 5 for 1940s. Number 1 for 1947
Entertaining Traditional Pop with some great backing instrumentation. Billie Holiday's voice is excellent too. The album is a bit samey overall but still quite solid!
My Rating: 7/10
RYM Rating: 3.66 from 94 ratings.
Genre: Traditional Pop, Vocal Jazz, (Blues)

There we have it, the best releases for the 1900s and 1910s, the top 3 for 1920s and the top 5 for 1930s and 1940s. The music was actually quite a bit better than I expected! I enjoyed most of the albums and some of them (the piano stuff especially) were really great! Next time I will be starting the 1950s.

Thanks for reading! Have you heard any of these oldies?

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I like this format. It's quick, informative and to the point. I suppose I envy brevity, as it is something I do not posses.... Anyway....

Yes! That old classical shit is the way to go! I grew up playing classical piano and LOVED those old dead guys. Sure, a lot of stuff is just 'pretty' or 'melodic'... but oh my damn! A LOT MORE of it is just ... well, piano-hardcore. LOL!

I've not heard of pretty much anything passed that (aside from the obvious)... but will probably seek out a few and give a listen.

Excited for the 1950s!


Thank you so much! As I said in the post I don't usually listen to classical music but some of the piano stuff is stunningly beautiful! Piano Sonata No. 14 Part 3 was by far my favourite to listen to for this post.

Thanks again!


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Awesome post. I’m always tempted to write posts like this, but I think I’d struggle to find a lot to say about music pre-60s. Enjoyed reading this and ready to see what comes next. The cosmogramma cover you use as your picture makes me know we’ve most likely got some commonality.

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Haha thank you! Cosmogramma isn't my favourite album, I just adore the album art, still really great though!

Oh boy! When you told me you were going to do this I was really looking to following it as it progressed. You have not disappointed!

Excellent stuff. Can't wait for the next one!

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very well researched and written , looking forward to the rest of this series, gotta love some beethoven and chopin as a piano player :)


Thank you I had fun doing it! I'm looking forward to doing the rest as well!

Cool content, just followed you

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Hello! A pleasure ♡

My favorite is Nocturnes, I had the opportunity to hear it from my grandmother, I loved music with romance a lot! The piano really gave it a special touch...

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