Classical Music, where to start?
Nov 30, 2008 at 2:08 AM Post #31 of 42

hightreason

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Quote:

Originally Posted by ukrneal /img/forum/go_quote.gif
Interesting. I would almost NEVER recommend a chamber work. Although it is easier to hear the individual voices of a chamber work, they are usually harder (in my experience) for the neophyte to understand. Large scale works are easier in that sense, in that you can often follow a melody. By this logic, it would be easier to recommend a piano piece, but some can be very difficult if you don't understand enough.

Most recommended symphonies have lots of recognizeable melodies and are large scale (read: loud) and this sometimes is an entrypoint. And there is no rule you have to listen to the whole symphony at once (or in order for that matter).

Incidentally, I partly agree (shorter pieces), which is why I think Rossini overtures are one of the ideal ways to get familar with classical music. IN fact, I should add some Verdi overtures from Naxos to my list!



At the risk of hijacking this thread I'll respond
darthsmile.gif


While I certainly agree about challenging sparseness of many solo piano works (which are not chamber music.) I still think that chamber music presents the interplay of voices, melody, harmony etc. in a readily-intelligible way.

And the accessible works (most of the pre-20th century stuff is pretty accessible) provide easy to grasp melodies. In fact, of the composers that the OP mentioned (Beethoven, Schubert, Mendelssohn) I think that all wrote some very hummable, tuneful chamber works.
 
Nov 30, 2008 at 8:32 AM Post #32 of 42

ukrneal

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Quote:

Originally Posted by hightreason /img/forum/go_quote.gif
At the risk of hijacking this thread I'll respond
darthsmile.gif


While I certainly agree about challenging sparseness of many solo piano works (which are not chamber music.) I still think that chamber music presents the interplay of voices, melody, harmony etc. in a readily-intelligible way.

And the accessible works (most of the pre-20th century stuff is pretty accessible) provide easy to grasp melodies. In fact, of the composers that the OP mentioned (Beethoven, Schubert, Mendelssohn) I think that all wrote some very hummable, tuneful chamber works.



There are always exceptions (Schubert comes to mind with Trout Quintet for example). And I would also agree that for some people they may make a good entry point. But I don't think this is so for most people. Of course, perhaps I am bringing my own bias to the topic as I never liked chamber music as a kid (it was too much like elevator music) and only began to appreciaite it later.
 
Nov 30, 2008 at 3:17 PM Post #33 of 42

jsaliga

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Well, I for one think a small survey of what classical music has to offer would be appropriate to recommend to someone new to the music. The world of music tends to be populated with very egocentric and passionate listeners, to the extent that people seldom are willing to step outside the box and suggest something that doesn't fit within their own musical world view. The idea isn't to propagate your own personal tastes and priorities in music. The goal should be to expose new listeners to the classical music experience and let them make their own discoveries and decisions.

With that said, I would like to suggest to a new classical music listener a few of the following:

Symphonic Works:

Beethoven Symphony No. 5
Dvorak Symphony No. 9
Brahms Symphony No. 3
Haydn Symphony No. 94
Mozart Symphony No. 41
Shostakovitch Symphony No. 5
Mahler Symphony No. 2
Tchaikovsky Symphony No. 4

Orchestral Pieces:

Holst - The Planets
Handel - Water Music
Rimsky-Korsakoff - Scheherazade
Grieg - Peer Gynt

Concertos:

for Violin - Sibelius Violin Concerto; Bach Violin Concertos
for Piano - Brahms Piano Concerto or Greig Piano Concerto
for Cello - Dvorak Cello Concerto or Elgar Cello Concerto
for Clarinet - Mozart Clarinet Concertos

Chamber Music:

This is a wide field so I would suggest Beethoven, Dvorak, or Mozart string quartets as a great starting point. You can't really go wrong with any of them.

Music for Solo...

Piano:

Chopin - Ballades, Waltzes, Mazurkas, and Polonaises. There are a lot of nice single or two CD sets out there that will give you a good feel for his music.
Bach - The Well Tempered Clavier Books 1 and 2
Bach - The Goldberg Variations
Beethoven - Piano Sonatas
Debussy - Images I and II or Preludes I and II
Ravel - Gaspard De La Nuit

Violin:

Bach - Violin Sonatas and Partitas
Paganinni - 24 Caprices

Cello:

Bach - Cello Suites

You can't talk about this subject without discussing the sort of investment in time and money it takes. If you live in a metropolitan area you can probably find nearly all of this music at your local public library. If you don't have that resource then perhaps a one or two month subscription to an internet music service such as Rhapsody might be worthwhile.

Otherwise, listeners will have to pony up money and buy the content. And putting together a large list is not going to serve anyone other than the people making recommendations who like to see their lists in print as an affirmation of their own exceptional taste in music -- which to me is self indulgent and defeats the purpose. So if you are stuck with buying, then I would suggest picking one title out of each group above. So, for example, I might choose something like the following for my first order of CDs:

Mozart - Symphony No. 41
Holst - The Planets
Brahms - Piano Concertos
Beethoven - Late String Quartets
Bach - The Goldberg Variations

This won't cost too much money. And you can build from there. If I didn't care for The Goldberg Variations then I might try a Chopin disc, and if that didn't work for me then I might put down solo piano works for the time being and concentrate on the classical music that I find appealing. There will always be time to give something a second chance later.

--Jerome
 
Feb 10, 2009 at 1:35 AM Post #35 of 42

sniks7

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Someone recommended Classic FM: it's by far the best way to get started. Great tunes and once you've got started you can work out for yourself who plays them best.

As soon as it sounds like someone put eighty-five too many spoons of sugar in your coffee it's time to move on and search head-fi for specific composers.
 
Feb 11, 2009 at 4:24 AM Post #36 of 42

GuruSY

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Lot of great recommendations. I have always loved classical but I am still very much a noob. That list you posted Tyson is awesome!

The one thing though that I recommend above all else is: Get dressed up and go see a symphony live! The symphony in my city had a night where they did a kind of "review" of small snippets of all of the performances in the upcoming season. It was fantastic!
 
Apr 18, 2014 at 3:39 AM Post #37 of 42

Destroysall

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One piece of classical muisc I've always loved is Handel's Sarabande that was used in the movie Barry Lyndon but the downside is that it is only just over 2 minutes long. Why write such a great piece of music and only make it last just over 2 minutes?


Sarabande is my favorite suite from Handel. I've always complained about it myself, but it goes to show how great the piece is.
 
May 3, 2014 at 6:51 PM Post #39 of 42

edgeworth

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I don't know if this hijacking but I would recommended going to a live orchestral concert by the best orchestra near you.  I had never appreciated classical music growing up till I attended a live performance of the Beethoven violin concerto from a good seat in the house.  We were somewhere in the 10th row more or less and the experience totally blew me away.  Since then I've never been fully able to separate sound from music.  Though many aficionados say sound doesn't matter, I strongly disagree.  I believe that Mahler became popular partly because his big recordings coincided with the widespread acceptance of modern stereo.  So I do recommend hearing both a large scale symphony and then also going to a recital (perhaps piano) in a smaller venue.  I believe having a live reference will give you a better appreciation of what you're hearing (and what you obviously are already starting to enjoy).  Then it will inform your learning and also give you something to imagine so that you can read more into the recordings you're hearing.
 
Oct 4, 2014 at 10:08 PM Post #42 of 42

BillJGW

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There are many great suggestions already posted in this thread about how to acquaint yourself with classical music and some of the more famous works.  A couple of folks beat me to my two ideas: perusing the public library and listening to a good classical music radio station.
 
Because I'm a bit older than some of you, what I also did was look for a book or two to educate myself on some of the composers.  I decided on two books after reading many reviews:
 
1) Classical Music The 50 Greatest Composers and Their 1,000 Greatest Works by Phil G. Goulding, 1992.  Gives not only historical background on the big hitters but does so with some dry wit as well.  The author also talks about the various periods in classical music, the "also-rans" or those that didn't make his list, and describes/defines some terminology used throughout the book when talking about the composers' use of sound.  Includes recommendations for a starter kit, top ten, and master collection for each composer.  A very informative and enjoyable read.
 
2) Mine is not current anymore, but I purchased what was then the current edition of the Penguin Guide to CDs for Recorded Classical Music.  It's not foolproof but it gives you a good starting point for not only performance evals but also sound quality.
 
I still have these books in my library today even with the web available.  I am going to have to check that Naxos website out though.
 

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