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How Slow Can You Go?

What happens when musicians slow the music way down?
What happens when musicians slow the music way down?

These are the dog days of summer. It's dry. The sun is hot. Vacations are lingering. All good reasons to slow it down a notch. Time to leaf through that slow-food cookbook for a good recipe. Time slow down the music too — to channel your inner adagio molto.

But how slow is too slow? Tempos are crucial in classical music. Play Chopin's funeral march too fast and it sounds like you're at a fiesta; conduct the famous Allegretto from Beethoven's Seventh Symphony too slowly and it can collapse under its own weight.

Below are examples of musicians who take the idea of slow to new and fascinating extremes. Have a few favorites in the "how slow can you go" department? One of ours is conductor Sergiu Celibidache, who late in life embraced his inner snail. Let us know yours — but don't rush — in the comments section.

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Tom Huizenga is a producer for NPR Music. He contributes a wide range of stories about classical music to NPR's news programs and is the classical music reviewer for All Things Considered. He appears regularly on NPR Music podcasts and founded NPR's classical music blog Deceptive Cadence in 2010.