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Celeborn Skywalker Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Nov-17-05 03:01 PM
Original message
Classical recommendations
Every time I pass by classical music on a radio station I leave the dial where it is and enjoy the experience. The problem is that I want to start a classical music collection but don't have a clue of where to begin or even specifically what type of classical it is that I like.

Does anybody have any recommendations on some good classical music and composers to start off with?

Thanks in advance.
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Lydia Leftcoast Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Nov-18-05 07:15 PM
Response to Original message
1. There's no right way or wrong way to start with classical music
I began by attending recitals and concerts on campus and buying recordings of pieces that appealed to me. If I really liked a certain recording, I would try to find others by that same composer or performer, or perhaps other music from that same era.

Classical stations usually have playlists on their websites. If your local station carries Performance Today, that's a great program for a beginning classical music collector, because they not only have recordings of live performances from around the country but also interviews with musicians, discussions of musical terminology, and contests and quizzes.

Just start with pieces that "grab" you and go from there. No one's going to give you a hard time if you don't have certain canonical pieces.

My own collection is heavy on choral music, and I don't have very much Beethoven. But there's nothing wrong with that.

Your mileage may vary.
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tjwmason Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Nov-21-05 08:25 AM
Response to Original message
2. As Lydia says - there's no right way.
To consider classical music to be a single genre is highly misleading - there's an enormous variety out there from rennaissance polyphony, to grand opera, to minimalism &c.&c. Finding which of these appeal(s) to you most is probably the first task.

Radio stations can be very good for this - if you start to consider which pieces you enjoy, and what you enjoy about them. Orchestral, single instrument, voice, choral &c. Composers will indicate a period, so if there's somebody that you like I'm sure that folk here could suggest others who are likely to appeal to you.
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GoddessOfGuinness Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Nov-22-05 04:59 PM
Response to Original message
3. Are there performing groups in your area?
Attending live concerts is the best way to get to know the repertoire, and find out what you like. Your local college may offer some wonderful programs at affordable prices. And music majors' recitals are usually free and open to the public.

If you're ever in the DC area, let me know, and I'll see if I can score some comp tickets for you!
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CBHagman Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Jun-23-06 09:21 AM
Response to Original message
4. Start with what you like.
There are several ways to go about this.

1. The next time you are listening to a classical station, note what you've enjoyed and wait for the piece/performer to be identified. You can also check the station's website to see if there's an online playlist.

2. Check the schedules for your local PBS station and make note of upcoming classical performances. Tape, DVR, and/or watch them live.

The sad thing is that there appears to be less and less classical music, dance, and serious drama on TV, despite the proliferation of cable channels. All those things are still there, but you have to look for them.

3. Check out Classic Arts Showcase. I watch it on one of our county colleg stations in Maryland. It's clips of opera, orchestral, vocal, and instrumental soloist music, plus dance, jazz, and movie clips, all of which are worth checking out and something to flesh out your cultural experiences.

Classic Arts Showcase runs everything from extremely vintage clips (e.g., rare John McCormack) to recent (Bryn Terfel in his various recitals and operatic performances). It's an addiction.

http://www.classicartsshowcase.org /

4. Go to the library and check out their classical CD/DVD/video collection. There's bound to be something in the standard repertoire -- operas by Puccini, chamber music by Mozart and Mendelssohn, etc.

You can obviously play around with music clips on all the various websites, such as the AllMediaGuide, Amazon, AllMusic, etc. There's also information on various composers and performers on those sites.

http://www.allmusic.com
http://www.allmediaguide.com
http://www.amazon.com


5. Locate reference/introductory books (library, bookstore, etc.) on classical music, either for background information, suggested recordings, or enrichment. Some music stores will have a copy of the Penguin guide to classical music for reference purposes. It contains reviews of CDs and is a pretty solid guide, though obviously it's not flawless.

Ticket to the Opera by Phil G. Goulding is an enjoyable book for people who want to get their feet wet in the world of opera. It's got history, gossip, and a lot more.

6. Yes, go to local performances.


Good luck!
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Lydia Leftcoast Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Jun-27-06 10:14 PM
Response to Reply #4
6. If the OP has digital cable, then Ovation, which carries a lot of
BBC arts programming (although they have too many repeats), is a good source.

For example, tomorrow's (6/28) schedule

http://www.ovationtv.com

has a documentary about contemporary English composer John Tavener, a performance of music by Rachmaninoff, and a bio film about Dmitri Shostakovich.

On Friday is a performance of Elgar's Dream of Gerontius and an episode of Howard Goodall's Choir Works. (All of Howard Goodall's music documentaries, including Organ Works, Choir Works, and Big Bangs--which details breakthroughs in the history of Western music, such as the invention of notation--are interesting and accessible).
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spindrifter Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Jun-23-06 10:11 AM
Response to Original message
5. BBC has some good intro
to classical material on its website. Just go to Music and you will see!

Guide to the Orchestra is fun:

http://www.bbc.co.uk/orchestras/guide /

They have such a wealth of music on their site. My other love is the International Music section.

You can also listen to a lot of music on their various streaming radio stations.
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longship Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Jul-25-06 03:30 AM
Response to Original message
7. Some basic standards.
Edited on Tue Jul-25-06 03:36 AM by longship
Here are some suggestions, by no means complete.

Baroque Era:
------------
Lots of good Bach. Brandenberg Concerti, especially #1 and #5 are my favs. Glenn Gould's recording of Bach's Goldberg Variations is a mandatory. Also, Suites for orchestra. Any number of secular and sacred chorale works. Check out the "Coffee Cantata" for something interesting.

Handel: Water Music -- Baroque orchestration at it's absolute best.

Vivaldi: the mad redhead priest. Four Seasons violin concerti. "Gloria" chorale music at its best.

D. Scarlatti: Keyboard sonatas. Simply wonderful stuff there.

Classical Era:
-------------
Mozart: The great Symphonies, the last four. Just about any piano concerto. Piano sonatas. Clarinet concerto!! Wonderful operas, esp "Le Nozze di Figaro" and "Don Giovanni". Posthorn Serenade. Requiem. "Gran Partita" Serenade.

Haydn: The big "named" symphonies, especially that later ones (can't go wrong there). Haydn String Quartets (he all but invented this genre).

Beethoven: Symphonies (any of them) esp the odd ones. String quartets (all are great). Piano sonatas (any, esp #8, 14, 21, 23, 29).

Romantic Era:
-------------
Berlioz: heavy stuff here. Symphonie fantastique. Harold in Italy. Overtures.

Bizet: Carmen (opera) L'Arlesienne Suite.

Borodin: Symphony #2. Polovtsian Dances.

Brahms: Four wonderful symphonies. Ein Deutsches Requiem!!! Hungarian Dances. Piano Concerto #2 (super wonderful).

Chopin: Nocturnes for piano.

Dvorak: Symphonies (Kertesz conducting!!!), Quartets, esp the "American". Slavonic Dances.

Granados: Piano music (Alicia de Laroccha!!!)

Grieg: Piano concerto. Peer Gynt.

Liszt: Piano Concerto #1. Hungarian rhapsodies (Bugs Bunny conducing??? ;-)

Mendelssohn: Symphony #4. Missummer Night's Dream!! Andante and Rondo Capriccioso for Piano. Octet!!!

Rimsky-Korsakov: Scherherazade.

Saint-Saens: Symphony #3 "Organ"

Schubert: Symphonies (esp #8, #9). Sonatas for piano. Striog quartets (esp "Trout").

Schumann: Symphonies (esp 1 and 3).

Smetana: Ma Vlast.

Tchaikovsky: Many like his Symphonies. I don't. Ballets. Piano Concerto #1

Wagner: Opera overtures and orchestral excerpts from "Der Ring" (Kiw the wabbet; Kiw the wabbet!, etc.), Tannhauser, Tristan und Isolde and others.

20th Century:
-------------
Bartok: Concerto for Orchestra. Piano Concerto #3. String quartets #3, #4. Music for Strings, Percussion and Celesta. (dissonant stuff here)

Berg: (Berg is *very* dissonant, an acquired taste) Lyric Suite. Violin Concerto.

Bernstein: Dances from West Side Story. Candide overture. Chichester Psalms.

Britten: Passacaglia and Four Sea Interludes from "Peter Grimes". War Requiem.

Copland: Appalachian Spring (complete for string ensemble) Fanfare for the Common Man.

Debussy: Images for Piano. Images for orchestra (esp Iberia). La Mer!!!

Gershwin: American in Paris. Rhapsody in Blue.

Gorecki: Symphony #3

Hanson: Symphony #2 (You'll remember this from the movie "Alien")

Holst: The Planets!!

Ives: Three Places in New England (dissonant)

Mahler: Symphonies (BIIIIG symphonies. Try #1, #9, #2, #3, then the others) Das Lied von der Erde.

Orff: Carmina Burana

Prokofiev: Piano Concerto #3 (Wild and wonderful), Symphony #5, Romeo et Juliet (ballet).

Rachmaninov: (I love Rach music ;-) Symphony #2!! Piano Concerto #2!! and #3!!! Symphonic Dances!

Ravel: Daphnis et Chloe (ballet). Piano music (all good),

Respighi: Fountains of Rome. Pines of Rome. Church Windows.

Shostakovich: Symphony #5, #7, #10. String quartet #8

Sibelius: Symphony #2!!! Four Legends from The Kalevela (esp the Swan of Tuonela). Finlandia.

Strauss, Richard: Also Sprach Zarathustra. Don Juan. Waltzes from "Der Rosenkavalier".

Stravinski: Sacre du printemps. Petrouchka. Firebird.

Vaughan Williams: (I love this stuff) Symphonies, esp #2, #3, #5!!, #6!!. Lark Ascending for Violin and Orch. Five Mystical Songs!!! Serenade to Music!! If you want more, try A Sea Symphony.

Modern Era
----------
(just a couple of suggestions. Kind of difficult to recommend these since it's very much a matter of individual tastes.)

Glass: Koyaanisqatsi. Low Symphony.

Hovhaness: Symphonies, esp #2 "Mysterious Mountain"

Ligeti: Atmospheres (2001 a space odyssey!).

Part: Tabula Rasa. Fratres.

Rautavaara: Symphonies.

Varese: Deserts. (Frank Zappa's favorite composer)
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spindrifter Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Sep-06-06 10:15 PM
Response to Reply #7
10. What a great list!
Thanks for posting that.
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Rabrrrrrr Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Sep-06-06 10:49 PM
Response to Reply #7
11. I'd suggest "And God Created the Whales" for Hovhannes
instead of Symphony No. 2.

And I'd add Reich: Music for 18 Musicians and Tehillim under "Modern Era".

But otherwise, hell yeah, good list! :thumbsup:
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tjwmason Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Sep-07-06 05:51 AM
Response to Reply #7
12. Perhaps also going a little earlier.
For the Renaissance I'd give a nudge towards:

Palestrina Missa Papae Marcelli (alledged to have saved Church-music in the West)

Victoria Officium Defunctorum

Tallis Spem in Alium

On the bridge between Renaissance and Baroque

Monteverdi Vespers of Our Lady
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Celeborn Skywalker Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Apr-11-07 12:29 PM
Response to Reply #7
14. That's a very comprehensive list
Thank you!!
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Rabrrrrrr Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Jul-25-06 11:42 AM
Response to Original message
8. I suggest also that you subscribe to the BBC Music Magazine
http://www.bbcmusicmagazine.com /

Each issue comes with a CD, with a somewhat varied reportoire - they seem to like Elgar a fair amount, but they're British, so that's what you get. Each issue has a featured composer (from the 1500s to Steve Reich, just a couple months ago), pages and pages and pages of reviews, articles on classical music of all periods and times, and whatever music is on the CD gets its own article with listening hints and tips and the track times for when you should listen for specific cool things (like return of a theme, change in key, or etc.).

It's a WONDERFUL way to get acquainted with the vast selection and possibilities of music available, as well as current recordings and to keep up with news on performers, festivals, and etc.

I've been subscribing for years.
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Lydia Leftcoast Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Jul-29-06 10:52 PM
Response to Reply #8
9. I second the recommendation
(I used to subscribe until I ran into financial problems and had to let the subscription lapse. Somehow I've just never picked it up again.)

But yes, it's very educational.
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Celeborn Skywalker Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Apr-11-07 12:29 PM
Response to Original message
13. It's a year and a half late
but thank you guys for the recommendations!!
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radfringe Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Jun-01-07 03:32 AM
Response to Original message
15. the way I started was to buy compilation albums
variety of composers and pieces gives a little "taste" of everything

from there I would buy "best of" albums by the composers I liked and expand my collection



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Lithos Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Jun-30-07 03:22 AM
Response to Original message
16. A site devoted to that
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