At home in Aspen: A comforting playlist for stressful times from Aspen Music Festival’s Alan Fletcher |

At home in Aspen: A comforting playlist for stressful times from Aspen Music Festival’s Alan Fletcher

Alan Fletcher on stage at Harris Concert Hall following Daniel Hope's performance of Fletcher's violin concerto.
Courtesy photo

Some years ago, Aspen Music Festival and School President and CEO Alan Fletcher was part of a medical study, conducted through the University of Pittsburgh’s Center for Pain Research, investigating whether listening to your favorite music could ease physical and emotional pain.

Researchers studied his vitals while he was placed in an MRI machine. The piece he chose was Mozart’s Piano Concerto No. 23.

Along with looking at whether music had a stronger easing effect on anyone in pain, it studied whether professional musicians like Fletcher – a pianist and composer – felt the effect more strongly.

“It does, and they do,” Fletcher said of the findings.

Such studies have provided conclusive evidence that music eases painful sensations and eases stress.

As the coronavirus upends daily life in the Roaring Fork Valley and around the world, and people look for ways to practice self-care and mental hygiene, we asked Fletcher for a playlist for comfort and peace.

These are his suggestions, search them out yourself or find our links below:


The piece was Fletcher’s choice when he was among the subjects of a Pittsburgh Center for Pain Research Study. Along with these picks, he suggested listeners steer their ears away from tragic compositions like “La Boheme” and “La Trviata.”


“Really concentrate,” says Fletcher, who annually listens to the piece on Holy Saturday. “Among other things, it’s about coming through a crisis!”


“Both sublime and very cheerful.”


“Brahms’s Piano Quartets are endlessly beautiful, especially the one in C Minor,” Fletcher suggests. His recommended recording is by the Guarneri Quartet with Arthur Rubenstein, who was part of the inaugural Aspen Music Festival.

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