Relax with 8 Hours of Classical Space Music: From Richard Strauss & Haydn, to Brian Eno, Philip Glass & Beyond

If I had one piece of advice to pass on to a younger gen­er­a­tion it would be this: lis­ten to more space rock. The 60s/70s sub­genre of progressive/psychedelic rock gets its name as much from its sub­ject mat­ter as from its loose, hyp­not­ic, futur­is­tic son­ic character—“Third Stone from the Sun,” “Space Odd­i­ty,” “Inter­stel­lar Over­drive,” “Dark Side of the Moon,” “Sil­ver Machine”… you know…. It mel­lows you out, man, some­thing every­one could use right now, and inspires visions of a groovi­er future, though not with­out the occa­sion­al dystopic edge.

Alter­nate­ly, I would rec­om­mend that every­one acquire a col­lec­tion of cos­mic jazz, the Afro­fu­tur­ist genre pio­neered by Sun Ra and John and Alice Coltrane. But maybe you don’t like space rock or free jazz, yet you still dream about space? Maybe you pre­fer more clas­si­cal, min­i­mal­ist, or ambi­ent fare? Nev­er fear, we’ve got a sound­track for you—one sure to mel­low you out and inspire you, who­ev­er you are.

Cre­at­ed to cel­e­brate Stephen Hawking’s 75th birth­day this past Jan­u­ary, the “Space-Themed Clas­si­cal Music” Playlist below draws togeth­er pieces you’ll rec­og­nize from clas­sic sci-fi films, like Richard Strauss’s Also sprach Zarathus­tra; pieces writ­ten espe­cial­ly for such films—such as John Williams’ E.T. score and Jer­ry Goldsmith’s main title for Alien; and music inspired by space themes, such as Bri­an Eno’s “Under Stars” and Judith Lang Zaimont’s Jupiter’s Moons. The Spo­ti­fy playlist con­tains a total of 75 tracks of space-themed or inspired clas­si­cal works. (If you need Spo­ti­fy’s free soft­ware down­load it here.) The YouTube ver­sion at the top only has 62 of those tracks.

The com­pi­la­tion does give a lit­tle nod to space rock with the inclu­sion, at the very end, of Pink Floyd’s “Keep Talk­ing” from The Divi­sion Bell. And the penul­ti­mate track nods to the very space-inspired genre of trip-hop, with John D. Boswell’s Carl Sagan- and Stephen Hawk­ing-sam­pling “A Glo­ri­ous Dawn.” I don’t know about you, but Sagan’s mel­liflu­ous voice—autotuned or no—never fails to bright­en my mood and make me more curi­ous about what’s out there.

Of course, apart from sci-fi sound­tracks, there is a long tra­di­tion of com­posers writ­ing space-inspired music, stretch­ing back before sci­en­tists like Sagan and his Russ­ian coun­ter­parts helped send astro­nauts and satel­lites into orbit. Clas­si­cal sta­tion WQXR has put togeth­er a list of 11 such com­posers: from the 18th cen­tu­ry Franz Joseph Haydn to the 20th cen­tu­ry Karl­heinz Stock­hausen.

Then there’s Gus­tav Holst, who wrote a suite about all 8 plan­ets between 1914 and 1916—before Pluto’s dis­cov­ery (and lat­er dis­qual­i­fi­ca­tion). I’ve always been par­tial to the bom­bas­tic “Jupiter,” above. Even if you haven’t heard it, Holst’s suite will sound very famil­iar, hav­ing inspired every­thing from video game music, to the Rug­by World Cup theme, to the score for Brave­heart. It has also—showing that clas­si­cal space music is a bona fide sub­genre in con­ver­sa­tion with itself—directly influ­enced John Williams’ Star Wars music and the main theme of Bat­tlestar Galac­ti­ca. In what­ev­er form it takes, I think we could all do with a lot more space music in our lives. Lis­ten, for exam­ple, to the excerpt from Alan Sil­vestri’s score for the 2014 Cos­mos reboot, below, and tell me oth­er­wise. For anoth­er fla­vor of a space­man’s sound­track, check out’s “Astro­naut’s Playlist” here.

Relat­ed Con­tent:

The Clas­si­cal Music in Stan­ley Kubrick’s Films: Lis­ten to a Free, 4 Hour Playlist

Pink Floyd’s “Echoes” Pro­vides a Sound­track for the Final Scene of Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey

The His­to­ry of Spir­i­tu­al Jazz: Hear a Tran­scen­dent 12-Hour Mix Fea­tur­ing John Coltrane, Sun Ra, Her­bie Han­cock & More

Josh Jones is a writer and musi­cian based in Durham, NC. Fol­low him at @jdmagness

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Comments (3)
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  • David says:

    How do I trans­fer these play lists to Spo­ti­fy?

  • Marco says:

    The tra­di­tion of Space music goes on! There’s a beau­ti­ful song (in Eng­lish) by French band After Mar­i­anne, ‘Space’.
    At the end of the song they have even insert­ed an orig­i­nal reg­is­tra­tion from a NASA astro­naut.
    Their whole EP “It’s a Won­der­ful Place to Be (Over)” is inspired by Space (and it is avail­able in the US).

  • April Norton says:

    I like space music relax­ing music nat­ur­al music echo music did you have a num­ber I can call and I can’t cat­a­log my num­ber is 313–854-2455

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