Chicago-based author Sara Paretsky is known for her crime and detective novels, particularly her series about the fictional private investigator V.I. Warshawski. The Washington Post named Paretsky’s newest novel in the Warshawski series, Brush Back, one of the best mystery books of 2015. Paretsky, a longtime fan of classical music, continues to incorporate elements of music in her novels.
Here are her favorite pieces of classical music that have an air of mystery about them.
1. Rolf Martinsson’s Double Bass Concerto No. 1
“I always love low instruments. I think there’s an erotic quality to that deep tonality, so that’s why I gave V.I. a lover who plays the double bass. I found the piece just by looking online for bass repertoire for him to play, and I really love it.”
2. Stravinksy’s L’Histoire du soldat (The Soldier’s Tale)
“I had a chance to take part in a performance of Stravinsky’s The Soldier’s Tale a few years ago, and I played the devil which was very fun. When you perform it, you really understand what’s going on in the piece. It’s mysterious, dangerous.”
3. Mozart’s Requiem Mass in D Minor (K. 626)
“Especially from the beginning of the piece to the Dies irae, you feel this early modern awareness of death and Hell in this music.”
4. Shostakovich’s Symphony No. 5 in D Minor, Op. 47
“I actually heard this piece the other week on WFMT; the beginning of this symphony is haunting and fits this mysterious context perfectly.”
4. Stevie Wishart’s Zephyr
“Stevie Wishart is a composer who is interested in early music, and she composes contemporary music with an early music sensibility. Since a lot of the music isn’t fully composed, there’s a lot of room for interpretation. It’s very ominous in a higher pitch – you feel like you’re listening to glass breaking.”