Help with a jumping in point.

mtaylor -- Tue, 10/28/2008 - 15:27

Guys I need help on where to get started in Classical. I bought a box set of the Brahms Piano concertos with Gilels playing piano years ago and played it to death. So, I do like those pieces a lot. In other words there must be some hope for me and this music.
Being basically a rock of all kinds fan (inc Bluegrass and Americana music), over the years I have not listened much to classical and find that I lose concentration quickly when I do try to listen to it. Realise this may be a character flaw you understand.
Is there one composer or even just one symphonic piece that might get me hooked ?
I feel like I'm missing out on something that is certainly a major thing.
Thanks for any guidance that anyone might offer.

RichTeer -- Tue, 10/28/2008 - 16:10

Musical tastes are of course very personal, but one of my favourite composers is Beethoven (I'm thinking especially of his symphonies). Holst's The Planets and Vivaldi's Four Seasons are faves of mine.

I have an old Dvorak and Strauss piano and violin LP on Sheffield Lab. I like piano and (massed) violins, but that particular records bores me to tears!

ARQuint -- Tue, 10/28/2008 - 20:30

I can't recommend highly enough TAS contributer Ted Libby's book, The NPR Guide to Building a Classical CD Collection, which now has more than 150,00 copies in print. In the course of things, Libby actually names his 20 "core works" and then moves on from there. It's a great start and, frankly, a good self-assessment tool for those who know and love classical music but may have missed some key works in certain genres along the way

Andy Quint

krt -- Wed, 10/29/2008 - 05:39

Without having read Mr Libby's book (or any other book on the subject for that..), I' be inclined to say that "getting hooked" and "assembling a core collection" of classical music is quite two diffrent things! (Which might walk hand in hand for some, but not always! :wink: )

When I started out listening to "Classical" as a kid (with a real short attention span), it was often suites from ballets that cought my ear, like Prokofiev's Romeo and Julliet and Shostakovich's Ballet Suites (as assembled by Lev Avtomian), later, stuff like Orffs Carmina Burana and Holst's Planets caught on.. To be honest, the thing that loured myself in to classical was the Dutch group Ekseption, they did a pop-version of Beethovens Fifth that made the 5 year old KR spinn that vinyl like mad! My parents Lenco turntable might not have been high-end, but it sure could make that music swing... :D :D

Neeme Järvi has recorded both Prokofiev and Shostakovich suites for Chandos, my favourite Carmina Burana is Blomstedt (on Decca, seems to be OOP) with SFSO and the undisputable Planet's reference ( :wink: ) is Sir Adrian Boult's 1976 version with the London Philharmonic.. (All four with very good recorded sound!)
(I'm sure You can get alternate sugestions for all four!)

If something of this catche's your attention, you might want to try some more Brahms' (Serenades or Symphonies) and perhaps some classical period Piano Concerto's (like Mozart's nos 19 through 24 or Beethoven's three first). And Prokofiev and Shostakovich wrote tons of interesting music to find, Orff and Holst are more or less one hit wonders! (unless you have a specialist interest)


Karl-Rudolf Thomsson Independent Graphic Artist and Music Geek

Tom Martin -- Wed, 10/29/2008 - 15:51

There is a related thread on this in the forums. Here's what I wrote in that one:

One other suggestion: start by buying a few discs in different classical styles to determine what gets you into the music. "Classical" is a lot like "Rock": it is a term that covers so much ground that it is almost meaningless.

I would try:

1. Bach Goldberg Variations (piano)

2. Mozart 40th

3. Beethoven 7th (or Piano Concerto #5)

4. Schubert Lieder (songs)

5. Dvorak New World Symphony

6. Puccini Madama Butterfly (opera)

7. Vaughn Williams Symphonic Dances

8. Rachmaninov Symphony #2

9. Mahler Symphony #2

10. Stravinsky Rite of Spring

I think you could buy this list for less than $150 in the best available recordings, less than $100 if you pick great older performances. You'd get a perspective on periods (baroque, classical, romantic, early 20th) and forms (piano, song, symphony, opera). That may focus further work.

The rest of that thread is here:

Also try:

It covers chamber music to start with (one form my earlier list skipped).

CEO and Editorial Director, Nextscreen LLC

Jim Hannon -- Fri, 11/28/2008 - 12:10

I can fully appreciate how you might have worn out your box set of Gilels playing the Brahms pianos concertos. When I first got my own stereo in high school, I did the same thing playing some inexpensive Brahms piano concertos with Leon Fleischer on the Odyssey Label, Van Cliburn playing the Tschaikovsy Piano Concerto #1 on RCA, and Rubinstein playing the famous Grieg Piano Concerto  (RCA) until they were all but worn out.
Gilels was a "titan" of the piano and one of my all-time favorites. You might also try his Beethoven piano concertos (there are five). Gilels plays the "heck" out of them. For something even more dramatic, try his Tschaikovsky Piano Concerto #1 with Reiner and the Chicago Symphony on RCA, too.

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