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Pet Project: Yannick Nézet-Séguin’s Classical Playlist for Animals

Posted by:  The Philadelphia Orchestra on April 26, 2019

While known to many as music director of The Philadelphia Orchestra and Metropolitan Opera, Yannick Nézet-Séguin also holds the title of self-proclaimed animal lover. Yannick and his partner, violist Pierre Tourville, share their lives with three adorable cats: Rodolfo, Melisande, and Rafa. After noticing how exposure to classical music positively impacted the behavior of their cats, they were inspired to create a playlist of works for other animals, especially those waiting to find their “furever” homes.

Yannick paid a visit to the Pennsylvania Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (PSPCA) headquarters in North Philadelphia on Wednesday, April 3, to debut the playlist, which now plays on a loop at the shelter to create a soothing environment for the animals.

Yannick’s “A Cat’s Music Playlist” is available to stream or download on Apple Music and Spotify. Along with the playlist, he provided a personal note with each selection to provide insight into why he chose the work.

“A Cat’s Music Playlist” Companion

Chopin: The Nocturnes by Claudio Arrau–“Ideal for afternoon pet naps … Once in a while, I will even play some Nocturnes on my Pleyel piano at home so my cats can hear it live!”

Debussy, Fauré & Ravel: String Quartets by Quatuor Ébène–“French music is a favorite of our three cats, and the sounds of string instruments remind them of Pierre playing his viola at home.”

Schubert: Lieder by Franz Schubert, Renée Fleming, Christoph Eschenbach–“Animals have great taste when it comes to the human voice—and our dear friend Renée’s voice always casts a spell on them!”

Destination Rachmaninov: Departure by Daniil Trifonov, The Philadelphia Orchestra, Yannick Nézet-Séguin–“Our cats are great romantics; they love passionate music. This one is for early evenings, with some adrenalin rushes before a good night’s sleep.”

Mahler: Symphony No. 5 by The Philadelphia Orchestra, Yannick Nézet-Séguin–“Our cats each have their favorite movement: Rodolfo indulges in the first movement, Melisande purrs during the Adagietto, and Rafa revels in the Finale!”

Mendelssohn: Symphonies 1-5 (Live) by the Chamber Orchestra of Europe, RIAS Kammerchor, Yannick Nézet-Séguin–“This is clearly morning music: lots of energy and good for playful moments!”

Mozart: Le nozze di Figaro by Luca Pisaroni, Chamber Orchestra of Europe, Yannick Nézet-Séguin–“As you may notice, our cats have operatic names and, fortunately, they love listening to opera. This great Mozart masterpiece is one of their favorites!”

Richard Strauss: Tone Poems by Herbert von Karajan, Berlin Philharmonic–“Even with his Italian name, our Rodolfo is a big fan of German music, when it is bold, full, and rich, like this great collection.”

Wagner: Parsifal by Sir George Solti, Vienna Philharmonic–“Our first cat was named Parsifal, and his love for Wagner’s music was second to none. Parsifal was a real connoisseur and would listen (and nap) during the entire opera (close to five hours!).”

Debussy by Seong-Jin Cho–“Once upon a time, we had a Pelleas next to our dear Melisande, and the sounds of Debussy at the piano would be the soundtrack to their cuddles.”

Bruckner: Symphonies Nos. 1-9 by the Orchestre Métropolitain, Yannick Nézet-Séguin–“It might seem like an odd choice, but Bruckner’s symphonies are a big hit with all of our cats! I believe this to be cosmic music, and it touches the harmony of the earth and nature, and therefore … our pets!”

Stravinsky / Stokowski–The Rite of Spring / Bach Transcriptions by Yannick Nézet-Séguin, The Philadelphia Orchestra–“When our cats need to burn some energy—sprints, marathons, mouse-toy hunting—this is the perfect soundtrack!”

Rossini: Cats’ Duet by Elisabeth Schwarzkopf–“Well, ‘of course’ our cats can sing this ‘better’ (in their minds), but they still enjoy when humans try to imitate their unique vocabulary.”

Speaks Volumes by Nico Muhly–“Our pets have long and tiring days. After all, a commitment to napping takes much energy! This collection of pieces from our dear friend (and pet lover) Nico is sure to be restorative.”

Higdon / Tchaikovsky: Violin Concertos by Hilary Hahn, Royal Liverpool Philharmonic, Vasily Petrenko–“Our dear friend Jennifer Higdon is Philadelphia-based, a true animal lover, and one of the great composers of our time. Our cats can discern how special her music is!”

Brahms: The Hungarian Connection by Andreas Ottensamer–“Our close friend Andy wouldn’t disagree; the clarinet is the perfect cat instrument! Our little friends LOVE to listen to clarinet music, and Brahms’s Clarinet Quintet is ideal for lullabies before the night (or before another nap!).”

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