Intro to Classical Music*

Discussion in 'Music Corner' started by john greenwood, Jan 13, 2012.

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  1. john greenwood

    john greenwood Senior Member Thread Starter

    The Classical Music Corner Thread has been going strong for a number of years. Every so often the participants are asked for advice as to where to begin. I thought it might be worthwhile to assemble a public playlist on MOG to use as a starting point. I asked the participants in that thread to nominate works and performances. I took their suggestions, ran it against the rather quirky MOG search engine, and developed the two playlists set out below.

    A few comments. My primary guiding principle was variety. The lists include orchestral works, piano works, chamber music, choral music, opera and electronic music. They were composed over nearly a millenium. I have tried to include a wide range of conductors and performers.

    I have separated vocal from non-vocal only out of necessity. MOG limites playlists to 500 tracks. I have over 600, so I could not create a single playlist.

    Each list is roughly chronological. The main exceptions are the last two items in the non-vocal list, which were add-ons for various reasons. MOG makes it difficult to reorder multiple items in a playlist this long. Also the Caruso and Callas recordings are by a number of composers.

    For those who don't know where to start, let me offer the heretical suggestion that you try listening in shuffle mode. When something strikes your fancy make a note of it. If it's a section of a larger work, try listening to the entire work. If you dislike what you're hearing, hit >>| quickly, and you will probably find something quite different.

    If you want to know more any of these pieces or have any other questions, please post here on in the Classical Music Corner thread. We love to help.

    MOG Non-Vocal Playlist.

    MOG Vocal Playlist.

    Contents of Non-Vocal Music Playlist

    Henry Purcell - Chancony in G minor - Les Violons du Roy
    Marin Marais - Pieces de Viole Book 4 - Jordi Savall
    Archangelo Corelli - Op. 6 Concerti Grossi. - Academy of St. Martins in the Fields/Neville Marriner
    Antonio Vivaldi - Mandolin concertos - Europa Galante
    Geoge Frederick Handel - Water Music - Philharmonia Baroque/Nicholas McGegan
    Johann Sebastian Bach - Brandenburg Concertos - The English Concert/Trevor Pinnock
    Johann Sebastian Bach - Tocatta and Fugue in d - E. Power Biggs
    Johann Sebastian Bach - Goldberg Variations - Glenn Gould
    Domenico Scarlatti - Sonatas - Vladimir Horowitz
    Franz Joseph Haydn - Symphony No. 94, "Surprise" - Royal Concergebouw/Colin Davis
    Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart - Piano Concerto No. 20 - Murray Perehia/English Chamber Orchestra
    Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart - Overture to La nozze di Figaro - London Philharmonic Orchestra/Georg Solti
    Ludwig van Beethoven - 5th Symphony - Vienna Philharmonic/Carlos Kleiber
    Ludwig van Beethoven - Pathetique Sonata - Artur Rubinstein
    Ludwig van Beethoven - Piano Concerto No.5 - Leon Fleisher/Cleveland Orchestra/George Szell
    Ludwig van Beethoven - Quartet Op. 132 - Takacs Quartet
    Luigi Boccherini- Quintet in E, Op. 11 no. 5 - Smithsonian Chamber Players
    Niccolo Paganini - Caprice no. 24 - Midori
    Franz Schubert – Piano Sonata in G D.894 - Paul Lewis
    Franz Schubert - Piano Trio No. in B Flat - Beaux Arts Trio
    Franz Schubert - Symphony no. 8 in B Minor, "Unfinished" - Boston Symphony Orchestra/Charles Munch
    Robert Schumann - Piano Concerto in A minor - Lupu/London Symphony Orchestra/Andre Previn
    Felix Mendelssohn-Bartholdy - Midsummer Night's Dream - London Symphony Orchestra/Andre Previn
    Frederic Chopin - 4 Ballades - Ivan Moravec
    Frederic Chopin - Scherzos- Artur Rubinstein
    Modest Mussorgsky - Pictures at an Exhibition - Chicago Symphony Orchesta/Fritz Reiner
    Johannes Brahms - Piano Concerto No. 2 - Sviatoslav Richter/Chicago Symphony Orchestra/Erich Leinsdorf
    Antonin Dvorak - Symphony No. 9 'From a New World - Budapest Festival Orchestra/Ivan Fischer
    Anton Bruckner - Symphony No. 4 - Dresden Staatskapelle/Eugen Jochum
    Pyotr Tchaikovsky - 1812 Overture - Minneapolis Symphony Orchestra/Antal Dorati
    Pyotr Tchaikovsky - Violin Concerto - Jascha Heifetz/Chicago Symphony Orchestra/Fritz Reiner
    Edvard Grieg - Piano Concerto - Stephen Kovacevich/BBC Symphony Orchestra/Colin Davis
    Claude Debussy - Preludes - Arturo Beneditti Michelangeli
    Edward Elgar - Cello Concerto - Jacqueline Du Pre/London Symphony Orchestra/John Barbirolli
    Gustav Mahler – Symphony No. 2 - New York Philharmonic Orchestra/Leonard Bernstein
    Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov - Scheherazade - Chicago Symphony Orchestra/Fritz Reiner
    Sergey Rachmaninov - Preludes - Vladimir Ashkenazy
    Sergey Rachmaninov - Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini - Shura Cherkassky/Cologne Rundfunk Sinfonie Orchester/Zdnek Macal
    Charles Ives - Holidays Symphony - San Francisco Symphony/Michael Tilson-Thomas
    Maurice Ravel - Suite No. 2 from Daphnis et Chloe - Chicago Symphony Orchestra/Jean Martinon
    Maurice Ravel - Bolero - New York Philharmonic Orchestra/Pierre Boulez
    Erik Satie - Gymnopedes, Gnosiennes and Nocturnes - Pascal Roge
    Jean Sibelius - Symphony No. 2 - Philharmonia Orchestra/Vladimir Ashkenazy
    Ralph Vaughan Williams - Fantasia on a Theme by Thomas Tallis - Academy of St. Martins in the Fields/Neville Marriner
    Igor Stravinsky - The Rite of Spring - Columbia Symphony Orchestra/Igor Stravinsky
    Francis Poulenc - Sextet - Berlin Philharmonic Wind Quintet/Stephen Hough
    Leos Janacek - Sinfonietta - Czech Ohilharmonic Orchestra/Karel Ancerl
    Arnold Schoenberg - String Quartet No. 2 - Schoenberg Quartet
    Alban Berg - Violin Concerto - Anne-Sophie Mutter/Chicago Symphony Orchestra/James Levine
    Anton Webern - String Quartet op 28 - Emerson String Quartet
    E.J. Moeran Symphony in G minor - New Philharmonia Orchestra/Adrian Boult
    Aaron Copland - Appalachian Spring - New York Philharmonic Orchestra/Leonard Bernstein
    Dmitry Shostakovich - Symphony No. 14 - NHK Symphony Orchestra/Vladimir Ashkenazy
    Bela Bartok - Music for Percussion, Strings & Celeste - Chicago Symphony Orchestra/Fritz Reiner
    Serge Prokofiev - Romeo and Juliet - Scottish National Orchestra/Neeme Jarvi
    Gyorgy Ligeti - Musica Ricercata - Fredrik Ullen
    Iannis Xenakis - Habiki Hana Ma - Polytope of Cluny
    Steve Reich - Music for 18 Musicians- Steve Reich Ensemble
    John Dowland - Lute Music - Nigel North
    Johan Strauss Jr. - Waltzes and Other Works - Berlin Philharmonic/Herbert von Karajan

    Contents of Vocal Music Playlist

    Hildegarde von Bingen - The Origin of Fire: Music and Visions - Anonymous 4
    Josquin Desprez - Stabat Mater and Motets - La Chapelle Royale/Philippe Herreweghe
    Palestrina - Pope Marcellus Mass - Tallis Scholars
    Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart - Die Zauberflote - Karl Bohm, Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra, Evelyn Lear, Roberta Peters, Fritz Wunderlich, Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau, Hans Hotter
    Richard Strauss - Four Last Songs - Jessye Norman, Kurt Masur, Gewandhausenorchester Leipzig
    Giacomo Puccini - La Boheme - Herbert von Karajan, Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra, Mirella Freni, Lucianao Pavaratti
    Carl Orff - Carmina Burana -Eugene Ormandy, Philadelphia Orchestra, Janet Harsanyi, Harve Presnell
    Enrico Caruso - Selected Recordings
    Maria Callas - La Divina - Selected Recordings
    Campbell Saddler likes this.
  2. john greenwood

    john greenwood Senior Member Thread Starter

    Can a Gort change the title to Intro to Classical Music
  3. wolfram

    wolfram Slave to the rhythm

    Berlin, Germany
    No one posted in this great thread yet? This is madness!!


    Attached Files:

  4. wolfram

    wolfram Slave to the rhythm

    Berlin, Germany
    Maybe a good idea.
  5. TimM

    TimM Senior Member

    This is a great idea for a thread and I will use it. Thanks.
  6. jhw59

    jhw59 Forum Resident

    Rehoboth Beach DE.
    no Mozart symphonies?? Good overthiew though.
  7. wolfram

    wolfram Slave to the rhythm

    Berlin, Germany
    I think the idea was not to have too many of the same composer and to avoid the too obvious pieces (Beethoven's 9th & Moonlight Sonata, Vivaldi's 4 seasons, Mozart's 41st).

    And it seems there aren't that many fervid Mozart fans in the Classical Music Corner. :shh:
  8. john greenwood

    john greenwood Senior Member Thread Starter

    Thanks for reviving this (and thanks to the Gort who corrected my title). I was actually going to post a link today when the thread on the Mercury and RCA box sets drifted towards a broader discussion of best intro to classical, but that thread is mostly about those two boxes.

    And, yeah, I had to beg for some Mozart. The Haydn I contributed, myself.
  9. Rmac58

    Rmac58 Member

    Hopewell, VA USA
    I wouldn't know where to begin. If there is a classical music station in the area, tune in.
  10. DaveN

    DaveN Music Glutton

    Apex, NC
    This is a great idea! That list is really well done with great representations from different periods and styles.
  11. NorthNY Mark

    NorthNY Mark Forum Resident

    Canton, NY, USA
    Based on my limited knowledge, I think the list you've assembled looks really great. As you said, it's very broad in scope. The only really iconic composer who seems to be missing is Wagner. A couple things from the Decca set that made a big impression on me that you might consider for future inclusion were Messiaen's Turangalila and Britten's War Requiem--the first sounds like a modernist development of Debussey and Ravel, with an early synthsizer (the ondes-martenot) added intriguingly to the orchestral mix. The second might be an interesting 20th century addition to your vocal section--apparently it was a surprisingly huge seller when it debuted in the '60s, at a time when contemporary classical compositions were rarely huge sellers.
  12. ChrisWiggles

    ChrisWiggles Well-Known Member

    This is really cool, I will definitely be making use of this to explore. Thank you for the efforts, I waded through some of those classical threads and they are super intimidating to a novice, and just so long.
  13. Scott Wheeler

    Scott Wheeler Forum Resident

    Terrific list but it might be a bit long for a true beginer. i think a short list of highly accessable pieces might be good for those starting out at ground zero.
  14. Scott Wheeler

    Scott Wheeler Forum Resident

    Stravinsky and Shostakovich are among my favorites but not sure they would be for beginers.
  15. Steve G

    Steve G Senior Member

    los angeles
    Oh it's a good list- I could quibble with this or that here and there - I would pick the C Major Quintet over any other Schubert, or at least the second movement, and Five Pieces for Orchestra #3 over the Air of Other Planets - and in the age of downloads I might recommend movements over entire works - but that's nitpicky - really it's a good list!

    Nobody will be worse off for making their way through it and seeing what suits their fancy.
  16. Tangledupinblue

    Tangledupinblue Forum Resident

    London, UK
    Lists like this should be comprehensive, the listener has plenty of time to decide which of this is/isn't his/her cup of tea.

    We've got 70 pieces of music there, not a daunting amount - by a similar token if someone pretty much new to popular music had listened to nothing but jazz and/or classical, and I was limited to a playlist of 70 essential albums to recommend, I'd throw in a few key hip-hop, punk, heavy metal and electronic albums (even if someone better versed in popular music hates some of this kind of stuff, it doesn't follow that someone new to it would) along with the usual classic rock favourites. Same reason that this list IMO should include some of the more challenging (but by no means inaccessible) stuff like Bartok, Ives, late Shostakovich etc.

    My only additional suggestion to a newcomer (as this list is more or less in chronological order) would be to copy the instrumental list up to and including the Rachmaninov Paganini Rhapsody, make a few blind selections from that, dip your toes into the vocal music and then if you like what you hear so far, explore the deeper waters of the 20th century stuff and whatever else takes your fancy you missed from earlier eras. It's literally a lifetime of wonderful discoveries spanning across many centuries, and once you get into it it should be an immensely fun, rewarding and emotionally and intellectually fulfilling experience.

    BTW good to see at least three of my original choices come up in that list (from Classical Music Corner #32):

  17. BlueSpeedway

    BlueSpeedway Forum Resident

    Fab lists. I think there should be a Wagner on the vocal list though. I think there's plenty of people who don't necessarily become opera fans who are big Wagner fans. Maybe Barenboim's Tannhäuser, easy to get, well-recorded, powerful but not overwhelming like Tristan or Parsifal.
  18. yasujiro

    yasujiro Forum Resident

    No Takemitsu?:) There are quite a lot of good recordings of his works these days.

    And Gershwin should be included.
  19. NorthNY Mark

    NorthNY Mark Forum Resident

    Canton, NY, USA
    I prefer a longer versus a shorter list, in part because different beginners will be coming from very different musical places--the very things that make a work more "accessible" to one listener may make it less so to another. For example, I am new to Classical music, but come from an interest in progressive rock, especially its more experimental forms. So to me, the most "accessible" classical music is the avant-garde leaning stuff like Schoenberg, which reminds me of Bruford-Wetton era King Crimson. Bartok was also a big influence on Fripp, and would be quite "safe" sounding to KC fans. On the other hand, I find Mozart and Haydn to be rather "challenging" in the sense that it sounds too controlled and "pretty" for my tastes. I have to open my mind and listen differently to try to understand how someone could find any profundity in it--but I believe the effort will pay off in the end.

    My point is that a collection for newbies should be broad enough to include a wide rage of periods, styles, degrees of apparent accessibility, etc. Anything else becomes an interpretation that will work for some biases, but not others. I think the OP did a great job. He's trying to give a broad overview so you can figure out on your own what you like and what you don't.
  20. NorthNY Mark

    NorthNY Mark Forum Resident

    Canton, NY, USA
    I had to do a search on Takemitsu, as I hadn't heard of him--what I read has me very intrigued! Many thanks.

    I have mixed feelings about whether Gershwin needs to be included, though. On the other hand, I'd rather see him than Copland. In general, I don't think "pops" stuff should be in a classical list, but in the spirit of diversity, it can't hurt.

    Now, I need to start exploring some Takemitsu! :cheers:
  21. GregM

    GregM The expanding man

    Daddyland, CA
    I love this Takemitsu BIS recording of How Slow the Wind. A little wet and reverb-heavy, but an excellent reading.

    I find it hard to recommend classical titles unless I know the tastes of the person who needs the recommendation. That will usually give me a sense of whether they're better indoctrinated with chamber music, full orchestra, romance, impressionist or modern.
  22. john greenwood

    john greenwood Senior Member Thread Starter

    If you like Debussy, you should definitely check out Takemitsu.
  23. GregM

    GregM The expanding man

    Daddyland, CA
    Absolutely, but someone new to classical wouldn't know they like Debussy. :)
  24. GregM

    GregM The expanding man

    Daddyland, CA
  25. BlueSpeedway

    BlueSpeedway Forum Resident

    The Rite of Spring is don't you think? Which is the one they've recommended.
    In my lifetime it's one of the most commonly owned/liked classical works by non-classical fans. I'd recommend the Gergiev to a starter though, as it's so malevolent, almost shocking.
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