Does anyone listen to this stuff?


3. Dez. 2006, 20:18

So I believe I should like classical music: I like to think I'm not a neanderthal.

Most of the recordings I've listened to seem a little weedy, but when I've seen/heard live orchestras playing the likes of Rachmaninov, things seem a lot better.

I think I lean towards the apocalyptic rather than the beautiful - Wagner has been suggested previously because of use of suspension and discord, but I don't know where to start. And there must be others that come recommended!
Classical radio seems to favour the easy listening side of things, but I'm not a fan of background music. So...
What's a good piece? What's a good recording?
What could I look out for in Modern Classical?

Here follows a list of composers, so the right people can help me out!
Bach Schubert Mozart Beethoven Schumann Verdi Chopin Elgar


  • digitalsnow

    If you haven't listened to Beethoven's Ninth Symphony or Bach's St Matthew Passion, do so.

    3. Dez. 2006, 21:58
  • Ramez05

    Philip Glass is probably the greatest modern composer of our time.

    3. Dez. 2006, 22:34
  • DudeTheMath

    So you want (as Laurie Anderson puts it) difficult listening hour. You want to think about what you're hearing. Good place to start! Benjamin Britten, William Walton, Gustav Mahler, and Ralph Vaughan Williams are a good place to start (I see you're in the U.K., so I leaned heavily that way). Not too difficult, but not Eine kleine Nachtmusik for the forty-leventh time. For American, there's Aaron Copland and George Gershwin, just to name two. But if you've got a decent local orchestra that's willing to put challenging pieces on the program (such as The Florida Orchestra here in Tampa), by all means, go hear live music. Recorded music is great for study, but orchestral music doesn't work too well in the car or on an iPod in the Tube: the dynamic range is too great. And a good local choir (such as The Master Chorale of Tampa Bay) can be a great asset to an orchestra; all of the composers I've listed above have written for voice and orchestra. Most of all, try to read about the composer and the work before attending the concert; you really will get more out of it. Enjoy!

    3. Dez. 2006, 22:51
  • RileyWest

    Do you like orchestras or separate instruments? I listen to a lot of solo piano classical(my charts won't show it). Chopin's nocturnes are some of my favorite classical pieces. Specifically Nocturne in G minor is my favorite classical piece. I don't listen to any modern composers though, sorry.

    4. Dez. 2006, 0:45
  • xuelee

    Contemporary classical music... Wow, there's simply too much to name. You have so many movements and so many styles. And it depends on whether you define 'modern music' as 'anything 20th century' or 'stuff that was composed post-45'. There's minimalism, serialism, electronic music, chance music... and a lot of compositions that are a mish-mash of those styles above. And lots more, of course. A lot of composers don't really fall into those categories. But to start you off, I'm going to recommend Olivier Messiaen, Arvo Part, John Adams, Steve Reich and Thomas Ades. Those few are more... contemporary. Post-45, anyway. Good performance can mean a lot of things. Whether it's ensembleship, musicality, technique or interpretation... There's a lot of things to look at. And sometimes, it also depends on how you like your piece to be performed. For example, some people like Beethoven performed in the more Romantic sense, and some people like Beethoven performed period-style (performed in the style of the 18th-century). You can try reading reviews when you're listening to recordings, if you need some kind of yardstick. Most of the time, you can't really go very wrong with the distinguished orchestras, but sometimes conductors also tend to do really stupid things, so that's not a guarantee anyway. Some soloists, conductors and orchestras are also well-known for performing the works of a certain composer (for example, Bernstein is extremely famous for conducting Mahler, Rattle for the performance of modern works), so you can also start from there. Also, you can try listening to live recordings. Those performances are usually more immediate, and also closer to the concert setting. Whether the sound is good or not depends on both the sound engineers as well as your sound system. :)

    4. Dez. 2006, 1:46
  • lankybadger

    Impressed by comments, thanks everyone - some great advice. Will try to head down to the library, I think and try some stuff out. There's a lot of great general advice in there - what about personal recommendations? Favourite CDs? Favourite movements?

    4. Dez. 2006, 20:53
  • xuelee

    I personally love Mahler's Tenth Symphony, but that's not exactly the best Mahler symphony to start with, espcially since it was left unfinished at Mahler's death and later completed by a lot of people. But Simon Rattle's 2001 recording (with the Berlin Philharmonic) is one of my favourite classical recordings. I also love Jacqueline du Pre's recording of Elgar's Cello Concerto. The one with Sir John Barbirolli and the London Symphony Orchestra.... I think it's the LSO. Either that or it's the London Philharmonic.

    7. Dez. 2006, 3:36
  • Schubert958

    Try to get your hands on a recording of the F. Busoni Pianoconcert in C-maj. It's harmonically not too 'strange' but there is always that unsettling tension just below the surface. No, it's not 'apocalyptic' but it is a dark work, very gloomy, as if you're walking through black glue - if that makes any sense. I'm just randomly mentioning some composers but maybe you could look for some Xenakis. That man wrote some very strange stuff and it always makes for a 'profound' listening experience, so to speak ;) Look for his Metastasis or Synaphai, these are 'symphonic works'. I'm not sure if this music can be called apocalyptic but I can tell you one thing..this is heavy, scary, dissonant stuff that at times will make you feel very, very uncomfortable. Especially the string sections, just sick stuff [in a good way]. Or, for a more convential approach to music, try Paul Hindemith's 'Symphonic Metamorphosis'. It's 20-th century, so to speak, and it is a very uplifting work, not too difficult, just incredible fun to listen to! Well, as for my personal favourites.. What about Schubert's Unfinished Symphony? Now, thats a great piece of art and it actually has kind of an eerie feel to it. Yes, it IS beautiful music but not in the corny-sense of the word. Very mature work. Listen to the opening of the first movement when you're in the cd-shop and you'll hear what I mean. All time favourite!! I can go on and on but I think you have a nice list of recommendations now. The problem is, when it comes to 'classical' music, there is just so much. You need to find your own way in the spider's web. But the joy will last you a lifetime! Oh, and as a previous commentator said, from every piece there are lots of interpretaions. The best way to go about it is to just go to your local shop and listen to the available interpretations, there will be certainly one that you like. Succes man!

    7. Dez. 2006, 3:51
  • donnyIDK

    apocalyptic rather than the beautiful - i take it you mean emotionally powerful, aggressive even? rather than sweet, quiet, nice? i'd recommend for someone just getting into classical/art music to go with beethoven for moody, powerful music. it's all brilliant, but a good way of finding beethoven's fiercest stuff is to check the key - C Min usually suggests that kind of feel for him. wagner also is a good guy to turn to for that apocalyptic feel, plus any of the romantics or post-romantics really will get you in that direction. more modern music tends to avoid overt emotionalism i find, so i don't think it's the closest starting point for someone such as yourself. however, don't let that dissuade you - it's all fantastic, but just as a starter, i'd recommend beethoven above all else (well actually, for anyone interested in any kind of music i'd recommend beethoven above all else, but here especially his style(s) fit)

    8. Dez. 2006, 19:48
  • ugen64

    I am a *huge* fan of Ravel's Daphnis & Chloe - the recording by Charles Dutoit and the Montreal Symphony Orchestra is my favorite so far (it's $10 in the iTunes music store). Also his chamber music is somewhat good - his Piano Trio and String Quartet are both great. Mahler is a classic example of apocalytic music - for example, his 2nd symphony happens to be called Resurrection. Go figure. Anyway, that's my favorite Mahler symphony - the Zubin Mehta + Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra recording is my favorite. A good starting place is Gramophone ( They have a section under Reviews called Recommended Recordings. Lots of people don't like the (subjective) recommendations, but more importantly, they list the most important (or popular) pieces for each composer.

    9. Dez. 2006, 1:44
  • xuelee

    [quote]Lots of people don't like the (subjective) recommendations[/quote] For a start, the British conductors can pretty much do no wrong.

    9. Dez. 2006, 11:37
  • lankybadger

    Excellent, thanks everyone A veritable goldmine of information! I have no excuse now...

    9. Dez. 2006, 12:48
  • pytrbob

    Apocalyptic... Igor Stravinsky's Rite of Spring? Fairly familiar to Disney fans... How about Mussorgsky's Night on Bald Mountain? I recommend Arnold Schoenberg- Not the world's easiest listening, but interesting enough for my tastes. John Cage did amazingly innovative prepared piano work earlier this century. There's always Apocolyptica... Four cellos doing Metallica covers.

    14. Dez. 2006, 8:02
  • Schubert958

    Yes, Rite of Spring is definitely a good recommendation!! You can also try Stravinsky's 'Firebird', a work in the same vein as R-o-S. There are multiple orchestral versions of the work besides the original 'Ballet-score'. I think the 1919-suite for orchestra is the most 'well-known'. Heavy stuff!!

    16. Dez. 2006, 14:54
  • Nachtmusic

    Try listening to Dvořák's 9th Symphony 'From the New World'. I don't know anyone who doesn't love that one.

    10. Apr. 2007, 14:53
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