a classical music primer -or- how do i get into classical music?

Discussion in 'Archived Threads 2001-2004' started by Kevin T, Dec 5, 2002.

  1. Kevin T

    Kevin T Screenwriter

    Joined:
    Jul 12, 2001
    Messages:
    1,402
    Likes Received:
    1
    i have a difficult question. is there any type of sample cd's or site where i can download classical music clips? i'm interested in purchasing some classical music but i honestly don't know who plays what. sadly, i'll recognize a piece from a movie or even a commercial sometimes but i don't know the name so i can't rightfully come on here everytime and say "hey guys...what's the name of that piece harrison ford is listening to in k-19?" for the most part, i've noticed i have a affinity for piano and strings. i know some of the major ones like 1812 overture and beethoven's 9th but that's really about it. is there any type of compilation disc or even disc set that has the more pivotal pieces? thanks for any input you can provide.

    kevin t
     
  2. Seth_S

    Seth_S Second Unit

    Joined:
    Oct 12, 2001
    Messages:
    335
    Likes Received:
    0
    Kevin T,

    Don't buy any of those compilation CDs. Classical music isn't meant to be experienced in 3 minute clips. The best thing to do is buy a lot of budget CDs. In the world of classical CDs, there is no correlation between quality and price. Budget CDs are cheap either because the recordings were released a while ago (10-40 years) and the label has profited off them enough at full price, or the orchestra/soloist recorded didn't charge an outrageous recording fee. In fact, many budget lines contain pure gold.

    The NAXOS label is the best place to start. Since they don't have big name orchestras or soloists, they can get away selling their CDs for about $6 since they don't have to pay large recording fees. Performances range from good to very good, sound quality is very good, and the discs come with extensive liner notes. After (or with) NAXOS, the next place to look is Sony Essential Classics. It's primarily made up of recordings by George Szell/Cleveland Orchestra and Eugene Ormandy/Philadelphia Orchestra. Many of these recordings remain unsurpassed. Szell was one of the century's two or three great conductor's and Ormandy's Philadelphia was (and remains) one of the best sounding orchestras (his recordings of the Russian repertoire with them remain unsurpassed). Sound quality is good, performances range from very good to excellent and the discs come with fairly good liner notes. Price is about $7.

    I recommend just buying a lot of budget CDs, with a wide range of genre (mass, symphony, concerto, solo instrument, and opera) period (as in baroque, classical, romantic and 20th cen) and composer. Don't just buy a lot of Beethoven symphonies. You'll get a much greater exposure to classical music this way at a low cost then any compilation CD can offer. And if you don't like the CDs, you'll have a much easier time selling them used then a compilation disc.
     
  3. Kevin T

    Kevin T Screenwriter

    Joined:
    Jul 12, 2001
    Messages:
    1,402
    Likes Received:
    1
    thanks for the input...the only reason i was wanting a compilation was just so i could learn composer / piece title so that i might seek out the full version elsewhere. i'll try to check out the naxos label you mentioned in the meantime. thanks again.

    kevin t
     
  4. Seth_S

    Seth_S Second Unit

    Joined:
    Oct 12, 2001
    Messages:
    335
    Likes Received:
    0
  5. DanaA

    DanaA Screenwriter

    Joined:
    Nov 21, 2001
    Messages:
    1,843
    Likes Received:
    1
    Kevin,

    I'm certainly not the classical authority and I think you're on the right track with the CD sampler, but, as an alternative, what I'd do is go to the public library to check out or ask a friend to borrow some whole pieces of work. I think Seth is generally right, listening to three minute clips isn't going to do it, any more than reading three lines of a Shakespearean sonnet would enable you to fully appreciate his work. Much of classical music has a formal structure and is best heard in context with what happens musically both before and after the passage being listened to. Once you get a general idea of what you might like, look at a guide or reference to what is considered to be a very good recording of the piece of music. Then, listen to that recording quite a few times and really get to know it. Classical, like blue grass or any type of music sounds pretty much all the same to new ears. When you really get to know a piece, its individual nature begins to take hold. That's why so many classical music buffs might have several recordings of the same symphony. Each is unique unto itself, although the score sheets might be the same. If you really end up appreciating that piece, you might use it as a core to build out of...perhaps other music by the same composer, ie. if you liked Beethovan's fifth, you might also enjoy his ninth or other noted music of his contemporaries. As I said, I'm no authority, but that's one possible way to do it. It's really no different than if someone was new to rock. He might listen to a few albums, maybe deciding he liked one by the Beatles. He might then expand to other Beatle albums or to contemporaries like the Stones and expand out from there. It might be too chancy or too much a push of an initial expansion to move from the Beatles to let's say Metallica.

    I might also say that, until recently, I have never really enjoyed opera, couldn't even understand what people saw in it, but now, for whatever reason, something has really piqued my interest in this type of music. Maybe it's my age or maybe it's that my current system sounds really good with this type of music, but my way of being indoctrinated as it were is to have a friend who probably has over 10,000 such recordings pick out what he'd think I'd like and either lend it to me or, if I want, buy me a copy. Thus far, I've purchased three: a Tevaldi performance of Puccini's La Boheme, a Maria Callis performance of Puccini's Tosca, and a Sutherland performance of Verdi's Rigoletto. I've listened and enjoyed each at least 10 times over the last month. As we work together, he asks my impressions over morning coffee, then tells me the fine points and nuances of each production and performer. Once I'm familiar enough, he'll bring me different interpretations of the same music and, for once, I'm beyond the point of not being able to recognize the subtleties of each. Hope this helps. I'd personally just enjoy the journey you might now embark on.
     
  6. Zane Charron

    Zane Charron Second Unit

    Joined:
    Jul 19, 2000
    Messages:
    458
    Likes Received:
    1
    I fully agree with DanaA about listening to each piece/CD many times. Classical are often long and many listenings are required to really get to know it well and hear all the nuances and structures. I have probably 50 'classical' discs in my collection, and certainly prefer certain composers/pieces to others, but they are all enjoyable, and some of them breathtaking, especially on a good system in quiet conditions.

    I think it would be difficult to find bad recordings on any record labels. Uninspired musically or recording poorly, yes. But bad, no.

    Good listening.
     
  7. Seth_S

    Seth_S Second Unit

    Joined:
    Oct 12, 2001
    Messages:
    335
    Likes Received:
    0


    You'd be surprised.
     
  8. Zen Butler

    Zen Butler Producer

    Joined:
    Jan 24, 2002
    Messages:
    5,536
    Likes Received:
    18
    Location:
    Southern, Ca
    Real Name:
    Zen K. Butler
    Kevin this will be a fun time for you. You are literally opening a treasure chest, which will turn into some very personal experiences of wonder and disappointment. Rather than blurt out specific composers, you should really learn the general eras and their composers. I found this for you...
    Classical Timeline
    You may find yourself partial to some periods and composers.
    Understand that this list is very general, but the composers they list are some giants. I will second the NAXOS label. You are safe with their recordings. It's a great label for you to start. There are many places on the net to sample pieces. OK one blurt "there is J.S Bach, then everyone else" My opinion of course.
     
  9. Allen Hirsch

    Allen Hirsch Supporting Actor

    Joined:
    Jan 29, 1999
    Messages:
    532
    Likes Received:
    0
    Kevin-
    if you have one of the newer, bigger Barnes & Noble stores near you, try their music section. The new one near me has listening stations that are terrific. Take a CD from the rack, scan the code, and play samples - and the electronic screen also gives you mini-reviews at the same time, plus influences on that artist, other music in that same style/genre, etc.

    Could be a good way to "sample" a wide range of classical music for free, if you have the time.

    I have a book with recommended classical music that I used to deepen my collection. Can't put my hands on it at the moment, but these are most of the "must haves" I added to my collection from it (and all have been worthwhile):

    J.S. Bach: "Organ Favorites" - Naxos/Pacific Music
    J.S. Bach: "Mass in B Minor" John Eliot Gardiner, Monteverdi Choir, and English Baroque Soloists - Archiv/Polygram
    Beethoven: "Symphonies No. 5 & 7" Carlos Kleiber, Vienna Philharmonic - Deutsche Grammophon
    Faure'/Durufle': "in paradisum requiem" - Deutsche Grammophon
    Yo-Yo Ma: "Simply Baroque II" Amsterdam Baroque Orchestra -Sony Classical
    Mozart: "Piano Concertos" Ivan Moravec, Sir Neville Marriner, Academy of St. Martin in the Fields - Hanssler
    Sergie Prokofiev: "Romeo & Juliet" Seiji Ozawa, Boston Symphony - Deutsche Grammophon
    Artur Rubinstein: "Chopin Collection" - RCA Red Seal
    Schubert & Mozart: "Piano & Clarinet Quintets" Marlboro Music Festival - Sony Classical
     
  10. Dennis Nicholls

    Dennis Nicholls Lead Actor

    Joined:
    Oct 5, 1998
    Messages:
    8,936
    Likes Received:
    347
    Location:
    Boise, ID
    Real Name:
    Dennis
     
  11. Rich Malloy

    Rich Malloy Producer

    Joined:
    Apr 9, 2000
    Messages:
    3,998
    Likes Received:
    0
    Start with the masters, and go from there. As said, you can get quality (and quantity) inexpensively. Here's my recommendation for an excellent recording of a really wonderful performance of Beethoven's Sonatas for Violin and Piano, Petr Messiereur and Stanislav Bogunia (1994-5/Calliope FR), a 3-disc set for only $14.99 at towerrecords.com:
    http://www.towerrecords.com/product....2744992&cc=USD
    You might even be able to find it for less!
     
  12. DanaA

    DanaA Screenwriter

    Joined:
    Nov 21, 2001
    Messages:
    1,843
    Likes Received:
    1
    One thing I forgot to point out that you definitely should do is to see some good classical music LIVE. When I was in high school, I was lead clarinet in orchestra. Neither I, nor the orchestra, was very good, except for two brothers who were crack violin players. They got invited to attend a classical music institute in Hidden Valley, right outside of Carmel, CA. This place invited some very fine national talent. Anyway, I got to stay with them during the summer, kind of as a mascot. I never attended reheasals, but kind of used that time for teenage activities in the area. When it came time for their summer performance though, I was stunned. They played Berlioz's Symponie Fantastique and the sound, especially of the violins, just washed over you. It was amazing!!! After that, I started going to places in L.A., like the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion, and, each time, I was floored. I never had realized that hearing classical music live could be such an exciting, emotional experience.
     
  13. Allen Hirsch

    Allen Hirsch Supporting Actor

    Joined:
    Jan 29, 1999
    Messages:
    532
    Likes Received:
    0
    Great point, Dana.

    There's something about the acoustics, AND the visual of all those bows moving in unison that really can stir a soul. I had exactly the same experience the first time I experienced classical music live, in college.
     
  14. Kevin T

    Kevin T Screenwriter

    Joined:
    Jul 12, 2001
    Messages:
    1,402
    Likes Received:
    1
    thanks guys! i really appreciate the input. i'll run down to my local b&n tomorrow to browse their music selection. hell, i might even hit the library. can't really remember the last time i said that.

    kevin t
     
  15. Seth_S

    Seth_S Second Unit

    Joined:
    Oct 12, 2001
    Messages:
    335
    Likes Received:
    0
    If there's a (large) Tower Records in your area, go there first. Their prices aren't so great, but their larger stores tend to have a superb selection of classical CDs. The opera section alone of their center city Philadelphia location is larger then most music (and book) stores' entire classical section. They also have a very large budget section.
     
  16. andrew markworthy

    Joined:
    Sep 30, 1999
    Messages:
    4,762
    Likes Received:
    12
     
  17. Justin Doring

    Justin Doring Screenwriter

    Joined:
    Jun 9, 1999
    Messages:
    1,467
    Likes Received:
    0
    I have not yet contributed to this thread, but while I most certainly agree that classical music is not best experienced in short samplings, for a beginner I think this might be the best introduction, simply because the amount of music available is immense, and it would take a very long time and a great sum of money to sample the complete versions of various works. For example, should someone buy and sit through The Ring only to discover that he or she does not like the music? That would be an investment of hundreds of dollars (well, at least $150 if you go with Solti’s box set) and hours of time. I would highly recommend some inexpensive samplers to get an idea of what you like, and then go from there.

    Once you’ve moved passed the samplers, Naxos, as mentioned above, is a superb way to build an excellent collection. Many of their earlier recordings (pre-1992ish) were not very good in terms of either performance or sound, but much of their work since then has been superior to the big budget labels, in my opinion. There are, of course, a number of dogs in terms of both performance and sound quality, but there are some gems, especially in regard to British works and Bruckner.

    In terms of actual pieces, a beginner might begin with a few popular pieces by key composers, such as Vivaldi’s “Four Seasons,” some of the more famous Bach pieces, several of Haydn’s, Mozart’s, and Beethoven’s more important symphonies (others can be of more help here, as the Classical Period is not my particular forte), Berlioz’s Symphonie Fantastique (this ushered in the Romantic Period), Tchaikovsky’s ballets and shorter pieces, Piano Concerto No. 1, Symphonies Nos. 5 and 6, Dvorak's Symphony No. 9 "From the New World," Elgar’s “Enigma Variations,” Holst’s “The Planets,” some of Vaughn-Williams’ shorter pieces, and Copland’s ballets.

    Classical music is a large and deep ocean that can seem daunting to a beginner, but it can be successfully navigated with some work on your part and help from others. By posting here, you’ve shown excellent initiative.

    NP: Patrick Doyle’s/Ivor Novello’s Gosford Park
     
  18. Tomoko Noguchi

    Tomoko Noguchi Second Unit

    Joined:
    Nov 23, 2000
    Messages:
    459
    Likes Received:
    0
    I know you didn't mean to, Andrew, but Dvorak and Smetana need to be included in the romantic period. Dvorak at least for his Symphony No 9 and Smetana for MA Vlast. Those fit into the romantic field. Also, Sibelius and Rachmaninov don't really fit under the modern umbrella because they were more romantic or post-romantics, but do not fit into any of what we think of modern music.
     
  19. Seth_S

    Seth_S Second Unit

    Joined:
    Oct 12, 2001
    Messages:
    335
    Likes Received:
    0
    here's are some more romantics off the top of my head, (some have been named already)

    Schubert
    Berlioz
    Mendelssohn
    Schumann
    Chopin
    Liszt
    Bruckner
    Mahler
    Brahms
    Rossini
    Verdi
    Dvorak
    Smetna
    Weber
    Wagner
    R. Strauss
    The Russians
    Debussy
     
  20. Kevin T

    Kevin T Screenwriter

    Joined:
    Jul 12, 2001
    Messages:
    1,402
    Likes Received:
    1
    ok. here's what i've heard thus far and liked.

    beethoven: fur elise
    grieg: peer gynt - suite no.1: morning
    vivaldi: four seasons - winter: largo
    mozart: clarient concerto - adagio
    strauss: tales from the vienna woods
    borodin: polovtsian dance no. 17
    rachmaninoff: rhapsody on a theme of paganini: variation 18

    these were on some classical discs my friends had. keep in mind these probably weren't the full versions. the borodin was only 1:34. of course, some were over 8:00. being so green to it all, i'm sure that the borodin wasn't complete but how long are most pieces? if anybody's interested....i'll post as i find more that appeal to me. thanks again.

    kevin t
     

Share This Page