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Classical music for funerals


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Discover the best classical funeral music, including religious funeral songs and uplifting classical music for funerals.

If you’re planning a loved one’s funeral, or thinking about your own send-off, you may want to include funeral music in the service. Classical music is a popular choice for funerals, from famous classical music and funeral hymns, to beautiful funeral songs written by world-renowned composers.

Be inspired by these 20 beautiful pieces of classical music for funerals:


  1. Time to Say Goodbye – Andrea Bocelli and Sarah Brightman

Based on the Italian song ‘Con te partirò’ (‘With you I shall leave’), this English rendition by Bocelli and Brightman touched hearts the world over, making it one of the best-selling singles of all time. The powerful melody and moving lyrics has made it a popular choice for classical funeral music.

  1. Variation IX, Nimrod – Edward Elgar

Taken from his masterpiece Enigma Variations, this adagio is one of the most famous pieces of classical music and the perfect funeral song for a beloved friend or partner. Elgar wrote this piece in honour of his close friend, Augustus J. Jaeger, who helped Elgar through a period of deep depression.

  1. Adagio for Strings – Samuel Barber

This string orchestra piece has become synonymous with grief and mourning. It was played at the funerals of Albert Einstein and Princess Grace of Monaco, as well as on the radio at the announcement of Princess Diana’s death. Its appearance in classic war film Platoon has made it instantly recognisable, but no less powerful.

  1. The Lark Ascending – Ralph Vaughan Williams

One of Britain’s most famous and well-loved pieces of classical music, the Lark Ascending was inspired by a George Meredith poem of the same name. With a beautiful, uplifting melody, this song has become a favourite for funerals.

  1. Canon in D – Johann Pachelbel

This classical funeral music is one of the most recognisable classical pieces in the world. Used for everything from weddings and military ceremonies to funerals and memorial services, Canon in D is as beautiful as it is famous.

  1. Ave Maria – Franz Schubert

This famous religious song is often sung at funerals. There are many different versions of Ave Maria, but Schubert’s composition is arguably the most famous. Pop artists like Celine Dion and Beyonce have also covered this beautiful funeral song.

  1. Adagio in G Minor – Tomaso Albinoni

This moving adagio from Italian composer Albinoni has been used in lots of films and TV shows, so you may recognise its melody, even if you don’t know the name. The mournful tone of this classical song has made it a popular choice of classical music for a funeral.

  1. Pie Jesu – Andrew Lloyd Webber

This religious piece of classical music is often included in Requiem Mass. Lloyd Webber’s 1985 version has been performed by famous classical singers such as Sarah Brightman and Charlotte Church.

  1. Sheep May Safely Graze – Johann Sebastian Bach

Written in 1713, Sheep May Safely Graze is often played at weddings and funerals, but was actually originally written in celebration of a Duke’s birthday. The lyrics paint a picture of blissful tranquillity and peace, making it a touching funeral song for a loved one.

  1. Second Movement, Largo – Anton Dvorak

From the Czech composer’s ninth symphony, this movement was inspired by Native American and African-American spiritual songs. The second movement was adapted into a song called ‘Goin’ Home’ by William Arms Fisher in 1922, with heartfelt lyrics that would make a powerful funeral song.

  1. Air on the G String – Johann Sebastian Bach

Another instantly recognisable melody, Air on a G String is one of Britain’s favourite pieces of classical music. Beautiful and moving, Bach’s composition is a popular choice for funeral music.

  1. Raindrop – Frédéric Chopin

Prelude Op. 28, No. 15 is known as Raindrop, thanks to the gently repeating piano notes that sound like rain. It is thought that Chopin wrote Op. 28 after dreaming of a rainstorm, and the resulting prelude makes for a stirring and sorrowful funeral song.

  1. Angel’s Farewell – Edward Elgar

From ‘Dream of Gerontius’, this song is based on a Catholic poem by Cardinal Nerman. It tells the story of a man’s soul travelling through purgatory to Heaven. In this part of the music, an angel appears to reassure the man that he will reach everlasting life with God.

  1. Cantus in Memoriam Benjamin Britten – Arvo Pärt

This simple but striking piece of classical funeral music was written by Pärt after the death of fellow composer Benjamin Britten. The song expresses Pärt’s deep sorrow at losing an artistic inspiration and personal hero.

  1. Piano Concerto No. 2 in C Minor – Sergei Rachmaninoff

This is one of Rachmaninoff’s most popular and loved piano concertos. The melancholy melody slowly builds to an emotional crescendo – a moving funeral song for anyone who will be missed.

  1. Sono Andati – Giacomo Puccini

This heart-breaking duet comes from Puccini’s opera La Boheme. In this scene, Rodolfo is saying farewell to his dying love, Mimi. She sings to him: “I have so many things I want to say to you…You are my love and my whole life.”

  1. Largo – George Frideric Handel

This slow and uplifting aria is taken from the opera Xerxes, and is often sung at weddings and funerals. Sheltering in the shade of a plane tree, Xerxes sings, “May thunder, lightning, and storms never disturb your dear peace.”

18.Un bel dì vedremo – Puccini

Written in 1904, Puccini’s tragic opera Madame Butterfly is still performed the world over. In this beautiful aria, Butterfly is watching the horizon, longing for her loved one to return. The heart-breaking hopefulness of the song has helped it become a favourite to say farewell to a loved one.

  1. Dido’s Lament – Henry Purcell

This aria expresses the grief and pain of losing a loved one. Dido sings to Aeneas: “When I am laid in earth, may my wrongs create no trouble, no trouble in thy breast.”

  1. Chanson Triste – Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky

Literally meaning ‘sad song’, Chanson Triste is a simple but powerful piano piece from legendary Russian composer Tchaikovsky. The melancholy sound of the lone piano makes it a beautiful piece of classical music for a funeral.

When you buy an Avalon funeral plan, you can record your funeral wishes, including what kind of funeral music you want. Find out more about our range of funeral plans.