Classical music lovers, recommend me some classical music!

I like the stuff thats melodic and uplifting, but not too plinky-plonky. I like Mozart but sometimes he gets a bit plinky-plonky for me.

I also don’t want anything too melancholic or heavy.

I’m pretty new to the whole classical music thing so I hardly know any composers - just the famous ones. I also quite like Mahler, but its not what I want to listen to right now…

If you haven’t been listening for a while chamber music is the most accessible. You can’t really go wrong with some Chopin. I suggest picking up the Nocturnes for solo piano. He isn’t too heavy, his music is very expressive, and it doesn’t have that four square Mozart sound. I bet you can find a nice recording by Vladimir Horowitz of them.

You could go for lighter music like the classical guitar. Here, I would go more with performers rather than composers simply because I am picky. William Kannengeiser is pretty expressive and does a wide range of music. John Williams is great but I prefer Julian Bream. Pepe Romero is a speed demon. For them, I would suggest some Albeniz or Villa Lobos. Pretty much anything by either of those composers would fit the bill.

I wouldn’t suggest string quartets, symphonies, or operas because they tend to be a little more esoteric for a novice listener. Plus, if you ever wanted to listen to any of those, the local classical music stations don’t play much else. I would make exceptions for Ravel. You can’t really go wrong with his symphonic (or piano) works (except for Boleros which is just an orchestration exercise). I personally would rank him as the top orchestrator so far in history. Many other people will agree with me. If you listen to his orchestration of Moussourgsky’s Pictures at an Exhibition and then compare it to Moussourgsky’s original and less played orchestration you can really see Ravel’s genius.

There are also a ton of choral ensembles. The Hilliard Ensemble (for early music especially) and Chanticleer both have some wonderful albums in varying languages that have wide appeal. Both of the groups have exquisite tone and artistry.

Try “Water Music” by Vivaldi or other baroque music. It’s pleasant listening and was sort of an archaic form of jazz, in that many of the solos were improvised to some extent.

Wynton Marsalis has a good album of baroque music called “Gabriel’s Garden”, which of course is mostly trumpet.

Lotsa threads here in CS on this subject. Search for “classical” in the title.

Check your local library to see if they lend CDs. Listen to classical stations, local if you have one or over the web.

The BBC site has some pieces you can listen to with notes. Here’s one example:

“Water Music” is by Handel.

Right now I love Vivaldi concertos specifically piano concertos. However, there is a recorder concerto I heard that I’ve not been able to get a hold of. It was so beautiful that I couldn’t get out of the car until the last note was played:

Vivaldi Recorder Concerto in A Minor, RV 445.

If, by chance, anyone knows where I can find this I’d be very grateful.

I find the five Beethoven concertos endlessly refreshing, tuneful, quirky, delightful.

If you like Mahler, you might also enjoy some symphonies by Bruckner. Try #4 conducted by Karl Bohm or #8 conducted by Jascha Horenstein or Wilhelm Furtwangler. Similarly, check out tone poems by Richard Strauss like Also Spake Zarathustra, conducted by Fritz Reiner or the Alpine Symphony, conducted by Christian Thielmann (afterwards, compare the first few minutes of the Alpine Symphony to the very opening of the movie The Sound of Music and hear how the latter is clearly modeled after the Strauss.)

How about the amzingly tuneful Symphony #9 by Franz Schubert, conducted by George Solti or Herbert Blomstedt? Or that same composer's limpid and lovely Trout Quintet, played by Andreas Schiff on the Decca label or Alfred Brendel on Phillips? Check out the rambunctious Spring Symphony ( Symphony# 1) by Robert Schumann, conducted by Leonard Bernstein on Deutsche Gramaphone or George Szell on Columbia.

You can't go  wrong with the Nordic beauties of the Grieg Piano Concerto (the Stephen Kovacevich, Murray Perahia, or Radu Lupu recordings are probably the best versions). 

For an astral experience, how about The Planets by Gustav Holst, which certainly influenced John Williams' Star Wars(Bernstein or Charles Dutoit's versions are memorable)? Or the noble strains of the Pomp and Circumstance Marches or the Enigma Variations by Edward Elgar, conducted by Andrew Davis or Simon Rattle, respectively?

Finally, for a more local flavor, don't overlook the open-prarie, Americana sound of Aaron Copland's ballets, such as Billy the Kid or Rodeo or Appalachian Spring, all conducted with brilliant idiomatic flair by Bernstein.

In short, there's an incredible amount of wonderful music to be heard. Listen to the radio or visit your library for a risk-free way of introducing yourself to a wide array of composers. Have fun!

D’oh! ::wipes egg off face::

Don’t sweat it. Some of it sounds like it was composed by Vivaldi [sub]not a compliment[/sub].

For Handel that sounds like Handel and makes him look deserving of that huge whacking scary statue he got in Westminster, I like his Chandos anthems.

(edited to include link to scary statue)

I’ve always liked the pieces from the movie Fantasia. They would probably be a good place to start since they may already be familiar to you.

Yeah, I meant “Four Seasons”, which is also pleasant listening.

Some pieces that I really enjoy that I think are very accessible.

Dvorak: Serenade for Strings. Very lush and melodic.

Liszt: Hungarian Rhapsodies. You’ll recognize a lot of these melodies and will find yourself singing them at odd times.

Rachmaninoff: Piano Concerto No. 2. You’ll recognize this (probably) as well.

Joaquin Rodrigo: Concierto de Aranjuez for guitar & orchestra. I adore this piece of music. It is gloriously melodic and it also could be in the soundtrack for a spaghetti western, which is an unbeatable combination!


Wow thanks guys, i’ll go and check some of those out. :slight_smile:

BTW, dorkusmalorkusmafia - chamber music - isn’t that like the King’s private entertainment like Greensleeves and all that stuff?

Chamber music refers to classical music done by a soloist or a small ensemble. The king’s private entertainment would fall into that category. :slight_smile:

If you want light composers I would stay away from Mahler and Bruckner and a lot of the Romantic period symphonies. They are absolutely gorgeous but it sounded like you wanted music more from the classical period and before with maybe a little bleed over.

Chamber music refers to classical music done by a soloist or a small ensemble. The king’s private entertainment would fall into that category. :slight_smile:

If you want light composers I would stay away from Mahler and Bruckner and a lot of the Romantic period symphonies. They are absolutely gorgeous but it sounded like you wanted music more from the classical period and before with maybe a little bleed over.

What an interesting topic! I’m sure it hasn’t been covered before.


When I was in college, I got a couple of cheap tickets for the opera Prince Igor (by Borodin). I had never been to a full-scale grand opera before, just a few operettas. I wanted to go to this one, though, because I was familiar with some of the music. I asked my girlfriend to come along with me, and she agreed only because she knew it would make me happy. As we were waiting for the performance to start, she apologized in advance, saying that classical music wasn’t her thing, and that she hoped I wouldn’t be too offended if she fell asleep. As soon as the overture began, though, she was hooked. She fell in love with opera right then and then (as did I), and she accompanined me to many more performances after that.

My point in bringing this whole story up (aside from recommended anything by Borodin) is that attending a live performance makes quite a difference. I really enjoy opera, but I have a much harder time getting to know and love a piece unless I have seen it performed.

So if there is an opera company or a symphony orchestra near year, get ahold of some cheap tickets and go! You many not see as well as the upper-crust snobs, but you’ll hear everything just fine.

I definitely agree that live performances are most exciting and musical. The point was brought up that large scale symphonic works, while terrific, are often boring to new listeners, which is true. To get started on symphonies, try some with a bit more foreground material such as:

Berlioz, Symphonie Fantastique
Beethoven, 5 and 7
Dvorak 5 (9) New World
Schumann 1 and/or 2
Sibelius 2

If you’re ambitious, Mahler 1 or maybe even 5, or Hindemith’s Mathis der Maler. If you’re interested in large-scale classical works Brahms 4’s 4th movement might be a good place to start.

Also on this topic, and don’t answer if you have perfect pitch:

In large scale works based on classical forms (eg Brahms symphonies), how much does modulation effect how you hear the piece?

1 Modulation?
2 A little
3 Modulation is a major cause of musical tension and resolution.

My music theory class was trying to decide whether tension caused by tonal shifts is apparent to everyone on a subconscious, primal level, or if we only hear it once we’re trained to.