Help for a Classical Music Neophyte

Although I enjoy classical music, I am woefully ignorant about it. At this point, my knowledge and exposure is pretty limited to Mozart, Beethoven, Handel, Tchaikovsky and Bach, but even my exposure to them is rather rudimentary. So I am turning to others to assist me in expanding my classical music horizons. The recent gift of a 60GB video IPod as a graduation gift has fueled my desire to expand my classical music library, so what suggestions do those of you who have more knowledge than me ( = just about anybody) for where to begin adding to my collection?

9 thoughts on “Help for a Classical Music Neophyte”

  1. Here is a website I recently discovered myself, it has free mp3’s of classical music pieces.

    There is a pretty good variety of composers and styles, and while missing some notable pieces it will certainly get you started.

    Christine Myers

  2. The Chopin Concerto #2, especially as played by Arturo Rubenstein, is particularly nice. The Rachmaninoff Concertos (any of them) are wonderful as well.

    You didn’t ask about vocal music — but Opera can be a lot of fun to listen to, even without knowing the words.

    Lastly, the British magazine “Gramaphone” sends out a sampler CD to all subscribers with each issue. It’s a great way to be exposed to music you wouldn’t otherwise have ever known about.

  3. Christine,

    Thanks for the helpful link; I’ll have to dig around there a bit when time permits.


    Thanks for the suggestions. I tend to prefer non-vocal pieces. I’ve been to the opera once, and while I enjoyed it, I tend to listen to classical when I am working / writing / thinking, so I prefer no lyrics to distract. But maybe I’ve just not come across something that grabs me yet 🙂


  4. Samuel Barber’s Adagio for Strings – the New York Philharmonic version – is highly recommended.

    The Grand Canyon Suite is good for early-morning stirring.

    On the T4G blog, a few days before the conference began, Mark Dever listed some things he was listening to. I always though he had very good taste in music – so you may want to check there

  5. Even if operas themselves might not work, you might try some opera overtures. You can get collections of Rossini’s and Mozart’s overtures, which are very delightful. You can also get collections of Wagner’s overtures and preludes, which is some of most powerful and beautiful music ever composed.

    In terms of non-opera, Haydn’s symphonies and string quartets are accessible, enjoyable, and (if you want to think some about the art of musical form) educational.

    You might also look for some of the conductor-defined collections to expose yourself to many composers. I would recommend there Bernstein, Szell, and Solti, and if you want to stretch your tastes, Boulez.

  6. I have Brahms Requim if you want to borrow it. Conducted by Michael Tilson Thomas. Just give me a call ahead.

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