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Classic Music Newbie

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Initial post: 24 Aug 2011 10:30:20 BDT
I am a complete classical music newbie, and have no idea where to start. I don't know what I like and what I don't, and so I am ideally looking for a 'best bits' CD that will give me an overview.

Any pointers?

In reply to an earlier post on 24 Aug 2011 10:39:58 BDT
Emma Gale says:
I would suggest any of the Amazon 99 Essential Pieces of...... There's one for general classical music which might be a good place to start.


Posted on 24 Aug 2011 10:42:31 BDT
Last edited by the author on 24 Aug 2011 12:27:09 BDT
This is a difficult one as everyone has different likes and dislikes. I started by listening to LPs my brother had bought, in particular a 12 LP set called 'Festival of Light Classical Music. It contained short pieces by a number of composers with Tchaikovsky being the principal contributor. Classic FM have released several multi-disc albums containing short pieces and excerpts and they could be a good (and inexpensive) place to start. When you hear a piece you like , try listening to more by the same composer and build up that way. Don't be discouraged if you hear a piece that bores you but is by a famous composer, your tastes will change as you hear more and there may be composers you will never like, however experienced you become. Try this: -

Classic FM Hall of Fame - The Great Composers

Posted on 24 Aug 2011 12:07:03 BDT
Lez Lee says:
Start by listening to Classic FM itself before you start buying anything. Yes the adverts are irritating but you get a good cross-section of composers and styles. If you're able to listen at lunchtime you might enjoy the requests programme.

Posted on 24 Aug 2011 12:23:22 BDT
Nugent Dirt says:
Go on Spotify and check out the most famous stuff you might've heard of like Beethoven's 5th Symphony, Tchaikovsky's 1812 Overture and Holst's Planets. With Spotify you can hear stuff in full not just 30 second snippets.

Posted on 24 Aug 2011 12:30:22 BDT
Everyone likes The Planets and The Four Seasons, so you might as well get them out of the way as quickly as possible :-)

In reply to an earlier post on 28 Aug 2011 10:07:13 BDT
enthusiast says:
Don't go for a sampler. The Four Seasons is a good recommendation. Listening to Classics FM is a good idea. A Beethoven symphony (the 5th?) might work if you are looking for something seriously deep and dramatic. Vaughan-Williams' Lark Ascending and Tallis Fantasia if you want something more pastoral (... but then there is Beethoven's 6th!). Personally I wouldn't go for Holst - it may be familiar but I doubt it will take you very far. My own first listening was Mozart - Symphony 40 - and it can be a great choice, too. You'll know the start from phone ring tones!

In reply to an earlier post on 2 Sep 2011 17:43:35 BDT
Last edited by the author on 22 Sep 2011 15:06:41 BDT
Ahmad says:
Hi Miss,
exploring classical requires some sacrifce, especially, money. You may invest in a couple of "best of" albums. Start with shorter tuneful compositions. Don't get intimadated by a long work; just listen to it as background music, and repeat listening to those movements that you like.

I suggest that you check the following low-budget priced albums list, which includes compilations, in addition to a couple of "complete" accessible works. If you happen to like a particular piece, you can search for the complete work from which that piece was extracted, and then buy that complete work:

Famous Overtures
Famous Adagios
Spanish Guitar Music: Essentia
The Best of Chopin
The Best of Mozart
Tchaikovsky: Ballet Suites
Vivaldi: The Four Seasons/Concertos
Handel: Water Music & Fireworks Music
Beethoven: Für Elise
Paganini - Caprices
J Strauss: Waltzes/Blue Danube
Rimsky-Korsakov: Scheherazade
Dvorak: Slavonic Dances.

I avoided larger works like symphonies and concertos, and chamber music.

Good Luck..

Posted on 12 Sep 2011 16:07:49 BDT
radio 3 not classic fm
no inane dj burbling and just better all round - essential classics, composer of the week, library recommendations, etc..

In reply to an earlier post on 12 Sep 2011 16:16:01 BDT
Nugent Dirt says:
Not sure about that. R3 may be fine for CM enthusiasts but for dabblers like myself and newbies it's a bit dry and hard going. CM's got a light touch and is very accessible. On the subject of which the Classic FM CD label is very good. The best known stuff in attractive packaging at budget prices. What's not to like?

In reply to an earlier post on 12 Sep 2011 17:20:24 BDT
Mondoro says:
I agree. Although R3 isn't quite as forbidding to neophytes as it was in the sixties, Classic FM is more welcoming, and through stages (working through excerpts, the Hall of Fame etc) you can get to the evening concerts of complete works (or indeed, Radio 3 itself) when your tastes have become established. The adverts are quite short (unlike television) and one can put on a kettle (eg) when thery are on.

In reply to an earlier post on 13 Sep 2011 10:03:17 BDT
Trevor says:
Miss Boden,Go Live!
I got into Classical 2 years ago when I saw RLPO perform Beethovens 5th...there is nothing quite like a live gig for experiencing the whole dynamic of the music.

Posted on 13 Sep 2011 21:06:32 BDT
Tony Mynard says:
To test out what sort of thing you like and what you don't, you could do worse than "111 Years of Deutsche Grammophon" - 111 tracks on 6 discs for less than £10, with generally excellent performances.

Posted on 20 Sep 2011 17:09:50 BDT
Last edited by the author on 21 Sep 2011 09:43:32 BDT
Oyarsa says:
I agree with most of recommendations here: radio, some compilations, very well-known pieces... I would add Dvorak 9th (From the New World) as a rewarding first listening experience. At least it was for me :-)

Also, in parallel to listening, I would recommend to read some book about History of Music, something light to read but informative that enlights your knowledge about the different music periods: Baroque, romanticism, etc... I found that it was something essential for understanding opera, especially from the Baroque period (at some point Handel or even Mozart were boring for me, not anymore!). I have a book in mind but it's in Spanish and I'm not sure if an English translation exists. I suppose so since the book was written in French. Will post it later.

EDIT: Found the book but it seems that an English version is not available (Una Historia de La Musica - de Los Origenes a ...; in french Une histoire de la musique (Bouquins)). Anyway, it might be better if you have a look at some books in a shop so you can have an idea of the content.

Posted on 21 Sep 2011 11:25:00 BDT
Plantlife says:
I think concertos are probably a good way to start - in the right pieces, you will have dramatic orchestration, great tunes, and a lead instrument to focus on - often playing dazzling virtuoso music.
Beethoven's 5th Piano Concerto ('Emperor') is magnificent, beautiful and glorious.
Grieg Piano Concerto
Mendelssohn Violin Concerto
Tchaikovsky Violin Concerto
These are all popular classics for a good reason.
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Participants:  14
Total posts:  15
Initial post:  24 Aug 2011
Latest post:  21 Sep 2011

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