Funeral Music - Classical - Instrumental, Choral and Vocal

Lesley writing here: We have recommended other types of funeral music on other pages, either traditional hymns or popular songs. The links are at the bottom of this page. Quite often pieces of classical music are played as people are arriving or leaving the funeral service, and a piece of classical music that the deceased loved one enjoyed might be played during the service. If you are lucky enough to have an organist or even a choir, there is a much larger range of music you can choose from.

See my suggestions below. . .

I studied music when I was younger and sang in lots of choirs in London. We often sang at funerals and there are many wonderful choral works that would be really suitable for a farewell service or memorial. Even if you don't have a choir, you could still play some of these pieces on a CD player or music system.

When my father died, I decided I'd like to try and sing something. I wasn't sure I'd manage it, as the voice is the first thing to go when you are stressed and emotional. So I chose a piece that I had sung in a recording. Coincidentally, Dad had put this CD on only 3 months before he died while I was at their house for Christmas. I was singing along with him in the house. So I had sung it for him so recently. When the service happened, we put the CD on the sound system, but in the event, I somehow managed to sing along with it. I'm so glad I did. The piece was In Paradisum by Faure from his Requiem. 

Don't forget though, that whatever piece you choose will forever be linked in your mind to that day when you buried or cremated your loved one.

It is amazing how many times I've gone into a restaurant since and heard that piece. We were in Bali, in a beautiful outdoor restaurant celebrating my 50th birthday and my brother's birthday in the same week, when the piece came over the sound system. We were immediately in tears, and our poor Balinese friend who was with us was quite alarmed until we explained why. But it was a lovely way to remember Dad and imagine he was there celebrating with us. Mind you, the Faure Requiem tended to have me in tears even before I'd sung it at Dad's funeral!

I've put together some ideas below of suitable funeral music, but try to choose something personal to the loved one, and your family. This is your loved one's special day. What would he or she have wanted? What was his or her taste in music? What was your own special tune? My nephew played “Somewhere over the Rainbow” on his saxophone and my brother and partner sang too. My Dad would have been so proud of us all.

Only you can choose your loved one's favourite music. Do it for them.

Here are a few ideas that I have got together for you. 

Funeral Music – Instrumental 

These are pieces which are ideal for arrival or departure music for funeral or memorial services.  Some are suitable to be played by an organist, others will be better played on a CD.  (See below for choral and vocal music)

  • Albinoni: Adagio
  • Bach: Prelude no. 1
  • Bach: Adagio from Toccata and Fugue in D minor
  • Bach: Sheep may safely graze
  • Bach: Jesu, joy of man's desiring
  • Barber: Adagio for strings (played at Einstein's funeral!)
  • Debussy: Clair de Lune
  • Dvorak: Symphony no. 9 – Largo
  • Elgar: Nimrod from Enigma Variations
  • Gluck: Dance of the Blessed Spirits
  • Handel: Air from Water Music
  • Mozart: Piano Concerto no. 21 “Elvira Madigan”
  • Pachelbel: Canon in D Major
  • Ravel: Pavane pour une Infante Defunte
  • Saint-Saens: The Swan from Carnival of the Animals
  • Satie: Gymnopedie No. 1
  • Vaughan Williams: The Lark Ascending
  • Vivaldi: Four Seasons

Listen to examples of Funeral Music on Amazon Unlimited

Funeral Music Album Cover with Yellow Flower

Funeral Music - Choral or Vocal for a Choir, Soloist or to play on CD

  • Bach: St John's Passion – Ruht Wohl (Rest Well)
  • Brahms: How lovely are thy dwellings fair (A German Requiem)
  • Byrd: Ave Verum Corpus
  • Byrd: Mass for Four voices – Agnus Dei
  • Durufle: Requiem – Pie jesu
  • Faure: Requiem – Pie Jesu,
  • Faure: Requiem - In Paradisum
  • Faure: Requiem - Requiem Aeternum
  • Franck: Panis angelicus
  • Mendelssohn: I waited for the Lord
  • Mendelssohn: Oh for the Wings of a Dove
  • Mozart: Ave Verum Corpus
  • Mozart: Requiem – Lacrimosa
  • Puccini: O mio bambino caro (oh my dear child)
  • Purcell: Dido's Lament (When I am laid in earth)
  • John Rutter: Requiem – Pie Jesu
  • Schubert: Ave Maria – (Sung at JFK's funeral)
  • Sir John Tavener: Song for Athene (played at Lady Diana's funeral)
  • Wesley: Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace

Check out lots more ideas and listen to samples here

Related Pages:  

Funeral songs

Funeral hymns

Get lots more advice on planning a funeral here

How to Stay Calm at a Funeral

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