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Getting into classical music

DodgeBlanDodgeBlan Registered User regular
edited August 2010 in Help / Advice Forum
Hey classy gentlepeople of the internet. I've decided it's time to like classical music. What should I get?

I'm kind of an album person, so any sort of classical experience that runs for 40 minutes to an hour (or longer?) would be nice. I don't really know anything about classical at all so I can't really provide more information.

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Posts

  • ScalfinScalfin __BANNED USERS regular
    edited August 2010
    Find out all the upcoming performances by high schools and colleges in your area and annotate the fuck out of the program. Try to attend every free performance by your city's orchestra or the orchestra of a city you're visiting (if you're in Boston on the fourth of July, just be near the Charles and turn a radio to the station they tell you or get a spot under a speaker).

    George Gershwin is incredibly accessible, as is early Copland (his programmatic stuff didn't go nuts as quickly, though). As will everyone else, I recommend Dvorak.

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  • DelzhandDelzhand motivated battle programmerRegistered User regular
    edited August 2010
    Read this, not only for perspective, but because it is funny.

    http://forums.penny-arcade.com/showthread.php?p=12308055#post12308055

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  • Cedar BrownCedar Brown Registered User
    edited August 2010
    Go find some cheap compilation cds. Vivaldi, Handel and Bach for Baroque music. Mozart and Haydn for classical. Beethoven, Chopin and Liszt for Romantic. Then go from there from what you like.

  • FatsFats Registered User regular
    edited August 2010
    Delzhand wrote: »
    Read this, not only for perspective, but because it is funny.

    http://forums.penny-arcade.com/showthread.php?p=12308055#post12308055

    That thread certainly lived up to its title, jesus.

    Honestly, there are so many different styles that it might be difficult to recommend you anything in particular. I like Samuel Barber, his most famous work probably being Adagio for Strings. I'm also fond of Krzysztof Penderecki, but he might not be for you. You're probably best off just going to youtube, searching for classical and seeing what tickles your fancy.

  • MayGodHaveMercyMayGodHaveMercy Registered User regular
    edited August 2010
    Go find some cheap compilation cds. Vivaldi, Handel and Bach for Baroque music. Mozart and Haydn for classical. Beethoven, Chopin and Liszt for Romantic. Then go from there from what you like.

    This was absolutely a great starter for me. Four Seasons is a wonderful stepping stone into the world of classical.

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  • proXimityproXimity Registered User
    edited August 2010
    Personally (and this is just my opinion), I'd skip most of baroque (1600 to 1750) and classical (1730–1820) music, even though that includes such famous people such as Bach, Vivaldi, and Mozart. Check out music from the Romantic period, and early 20th century music. With the lengths you're looking for, you'd probably be best served by full symphonies and the like, but don't disregart shorter works. I'll list some composers/pieces that you should check out, with special recommendations in bold.

    Barber, Samuel:
    -Adagio for Strings: Probably his most famous work, hauntingly beautiful and used often for somber scenes in movies (fairly short piece though)

    Bartok, Bela:
    -Concerto for Orchestra: Many big exciting parts, quite accessible, while showing off then entire range and flexibility of a full symphonic orchestra

    Beethoven, Ludvig Van:
    -Symphony No. 5 and No. 9- Overplayed, yes, but still great in the own right, they'd give you a good starting point with some music you're probably already familiar with.

    Copland, Aaron:
    -Like Scalfin recommended, I'd check out some of his works like Appalachian Spring, Rodeo, and maybe something like A Lincoln Portrait.

    Hindemith, Paul:
    -Symphonic Metamorphosis: A bold piece, and pretty easy to listen to.

    Holst, Gustav:
    -The Planets: Easily some of the most popular and most played "classical" music, parts of it are heard everywhere, Mars and Jupiter in particular, but don't overlook the even better parts like Saturn or Uranus.

    Mahler, Gustav:
    -Symphonies 1, 5, 8: Big, loud, exciting music, especially 8: the "Symphony of a Thousand" which means, yes, it is regularly played with combined orchestral and choral ensembles of over a thousand artists.

    Orff, Carl:
    -Carmina Burana: Many will groan at this, as the opening/closing section, O Fortuna, is what many people know as "Generic Epic Music", but the rest of the piece is quite good too.

    Rimsky-Korsakov, Nikolai:
    -Scheherazade: A dazzling piece based on some tales from One Thousand and One Nights.
    -Russian Easter Overture: Possibly my favorite work of classical music of all time, so I must recommend it.

    Saint-Saens, Camille:
    -Symphony No. 3 "Organ": A hugely popular piece, it is a symphony with included organ. A little oddly structured, you'll probably find the most excitement from what could be considered the fourth mvt, or technically the second part of the second mvt.

    Sibelius, Jean:
    -Symphony No. 2: Probably my favorite symphony of all, it is lush, haunting, tumultuous, and eventually triumphant.

    Strauss, Richard:
    -Tod und Verklarung (Death and Transfiguration), Also Sprach Zarathustra: Tone Poems, vs real symphonies, they are a bit shorter, but extremely vivid and evocative in their imagery, especially if you read about what they're supposed to be portraying

    This is by no means exhaustive, and I've left out many fantastic composers, such as Brahms, Dvorak, Elgar, Prokofiev, Rachmaninoff, Stravinsky, Tchaikovsky, really, too many to name, but this should give you a good start.

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  • BelruelBelruel naw Registered User regular
    edited August 2010
  • MolybdenumMolybdenum Registered User regular
    edited August 2010
    dude. no.
    Bartok and hindemith are the exact opposite of accessible (well alright symphonic metamorphosis isn't that bad)
    In fact I have my orchestral music divided into 5 playlists ranked by accessibility, and Bartok is almost exclusively a 4.

    Easiest ~40 minute pieces to get into classical music with: Alpine Symphony (Richard Strauss), New World Symphony (Dvorak) Scheherezade (Rimsky-Korsakov) (2, 2, and 3, respectively).

    Before all of that, though, I have a bit of a rant - well, actually this probably isn't the time and place. Let's just say that it sounds like you are interested in Orchestral music, and while that includes "classical" it can also include soundtracks, jazz, folk/western, and Phillip Glass. Unless you know for a fact you are interested in long-form symphonies, don't lock yourself into an "album" mindset here. Look around youtube (links below provided for some starting variety) and get back to us with what you like/don't like. (Brahms was a swell guy, I'm sure, but his work is the planet's greatest natural sleep aid).

  • Vater5BVater5B Registered User regular
    edited August 2010
    I think it is easier to start with modern wind ensemble and orchestra music and work backwards personally. Since everyone else recommended most of the standards, I'll suggest some newer stuff:

    John Mackey - Asphalt Cocktail (Ignore the stupid video, the music is good)
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SuZkLEHmqeE

    Frank Ticheli - Vesuvius
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uznUeuhngkE

    Samuel Hazo - Ride
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b9XPLxeUrRE&feature=related

    Eric Whitacre - Equus
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2ilQaKuWWBs&feature=related

    David Maslanka - Symphony No. 5 (movement 1)
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nh9GVhzosaw

    If you dig this stuff, check out other works by these composers. After that, work back through Copland and Gershwin. Also, one of my favorite pieces that is never mentioned in these threads:

    Kabalevsky - Colas Breugnon Overture
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VReNyFlBaY0&feature=related

    [EDIT] Molybdenum beat me to Asphalt Cocktail... :(

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  • MolybdenumMolybdenum Registered User regular
    edited August 2010
    I am a born winner :p

    also the only reason I didn't suggest Rhapsody in Blue is that I don't remember how long it is.

  • lemongrenadeslemongrenades Registered User regular
    edited August 2010
    Maybe not the best place to start, but I'm into Frédéric Chopin.

  • L Ron HowardL Ron Howard Registered User regular
    edited August 2010
  • saggiosaggio Registered User regular
    edited August 2010
    Just listen to Shostakovich, and you won't need to listen to anything else ever again.

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  • BartholamueBartholamue Registered User regular
    edited August 2010
    I absolutely love Chopin. That is all.

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  • The_Glad_HatterThe_Glad_Hatter Registered User regular
    edited August 2010
    listen to classical radio from time to time and note down the names you like.

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  • ScalfinScalfin __BANNED USERS regular
    edited August 2010
    I'm also fond of Chevalier de Saint-Georges.

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  • KhavallKhavall Registered User regular
    edited August 2010
    Yeah, this is kind of hard to do.

    What kind of music do you like to listen to now? And what do you mean when you say "Classical"? And why are you interested in listening to classical music?

    Because, well, "Classical music" is like, a billion things. Most people when they talk about Classical music are talking about the Baroque, Classical, and Romantic periods of music. Technically there is a specific period referred to as the Classical period, and Contemporary music can also be defined as "Classical", and in fact is sometimes referred to as "Contemporary Classical"

    So first, let's assume you mean "Classical music" as most people refer to it as, which is the Baroque, Classical, and Romantic period. If you want the nice big impressive shit, go with the ruskies, because they're all about big and fancy.

    Stuff like:
    Spoiler:

    Or maybe you want a little more low-key pretty sounding stuff, in which case, there's no better place to look than the French romantic composers

    People like
    Or maybe you're looking for more boring stuff, in which case, to the classical period!

    Also pretty boring, but still about a billion times better than the Classical period: The Baroque period!

    Those are the three big periods of "Classical music", and they'll get you started. However, there is more interesting classical music out there. Again, it sort of depends on what you're looking for in terms of why you're listening to classical music.

    Personally, my favorite period of music is the Early music. Pre 1650ish, when all the "rules" of music and all the standardization of music were still in flux. This is where we have some goddamn awesome stuff going on. However, if you, say, want to listen to classical music because you just like the way it sounds, then this is going to throw that all out of whack.

    We'll start slow, in the Renaissance! This may be, in terms of sound and structure, my favorite period of music ever. I love this shit so much.
    If you want to go earlier.... well, prepare your ears for some "What the fuck" In fact, never mind what I said about Renaissance, this is the best period.



    However, maybe you don't like all this old shit, and want newer, snappier, more ridiculous music. Well, modernism can be a bitch, so get ready.

    That's a pretty good start in "Classical music" I left several names out, but if you have a specific period or general idea of what you're looking for, I could get more inclusive, that's just a sort of smattering of "Classical music" There's also cinematic and other program music but that sort of fits in with what we already have-ish.

  • HamjuHamju Registered User regular
    edited August 2010
    If you enjoy film scores like John Williams' stuff look into:

    Gustav Holst - The Planets

    and everything by Respighi. That's how I got into Classical music is through Respighi. Look into: Pines of Rome and Church Windows especially.

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  • TofystedethTofystedeth veni, veneri, vamoosi Registered User regular
    edited August 2010
    proXimity wrote: »

    Orff, Carl:
    -Carmina Burana: Many will groan at this, as the opening/closing section, O Fortuna, is what many people know as "Generic Epic Music", but the rest of the piece is quite good too.

    Extra fun can by had with Carmina Burana by reading the translation while listening.
    Spoiler:

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