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Essential Relaxing Classical Hits


Essential Relaxing Classical Hits is a piece about the destruction of the self in the twenty-first-century written by Laurence Osborn for Polish singer Agata Zubel and Ensemble Klang. We live in a world in which our selves are constantly manipulated, commodified and sold. Corporations mine our personalities and preferences, turning our selves into profit; we are kept in a state of constant anxiety and envy, coerced into dogmatic cycles of self-assessment and self-optimization. Jia Tolentino has described the self as ‘capitalism’s last natural resource’, and like all natural resources, the self is a precious, finite thing.

The music for Essential Relaxing Classical Hits is built from fragments of existing pieces, including Pachelbel’s Canon, Air on a G String, and Au Clair de Lune. Sometimes these pieces are recognisable, and sometimes they aren’t. Like our selves, these ‘essential relaxing classical hits’ have been stripped of meaning and identity and re-sold to us: in playlists, advertisements, and guided meditation discs. The lyrics for Essential Relaxing Classical Hits were written quickly and angrily. At times they refer to mindfulness scripts, advertising copy, and clickbait.


  • Premiere 13 Nov 2021, November Music Festival (Den Bosch)
  • UK Premiere 20 Nov 2021, Huddersfield Contemporary Music Festival (UK)