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Classical Essentials


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Initial post: Sep 16, 2008 11:53:21 PM PDT
I was a lousy student way back then - and missed out on the basics of classical music.Regretted it ever since.

What about an 'Introduction to Classical Music'? Not just in book form but in Audio form. A - very brief - introduction of the essential composers, one at a time, with samples of what made them different, great and 'essential'?

I couldn't possibly be the only one wondering about this.....

In reply to an earlier post on May 16, 2009 9:05:56 AM PDT
I'm an avocational writer on classical music and am with you 100%. I'm going to search for an entry point and see if I can submit an introduction to classical music. I then would like to prepare a primer on Georg Philipp Telemann, my favorite baroque composer. He's also an admirable artist from a philosophical perspective. He could point the way to a rebirth of classical music in our time - for special reasons that I'd like to introduce.

Regards, Frank Manheim

Posted on Jul 14, 2009 1:33:17 PM PDT
Lucio says:
Baroque music is truly the most complete and sophisticated classical music genre. Unfortunately, it has been underrated and forgotten with a very few honourable exceptions: J.S. Bach (Undoubtely the best composer that has ever existed), Vivaldi's "The Four Seasons", Handel's "Water Music" and a few others. When you analyze the thousands of great composers from all the different countries (Italy, Germany, Austria, France, England, Poland, Spain, Latin America, etc.) where great music was being written and played, that all these gems are ignored and substituted in peoples minds by Roccoco and Romantic music, very little of which is really good music.
Why is Baroque music so difficult to enjoy and understand? Mainly because it demands a very rational approach to listen and understand it. To enjoy Baroque music you have to give your whole attention to what you are receiving through your senses. Roccoco and Romantic music do not demand this involvement with to what you listen to. They are truly music to eat by or to have a nice conversation while listening to it.
I hope the rebirth of Baroque is near at hand, otherwise we will be penalyzed with another 40 or 50 years of opera!

Sincerely, and with my best regards:

Lucio Lancaster.

In reply to an earlier post on Sep 2, 2009 9:13:00 AM PDT
Classical music is an incredibly broad discipline spanning hundreds of years. You asked a good question, but the answer is complicated - it's impossible to intuit what makes great composers great, essential, and different without hearing enough music in the genre to be able to feel the differences between all of them.

There are a number of ways to go about getting yourself a background. You might consider going chronologically through the history of music. This is interesting because you get an understanding of how music has evolved over the past few hundred years.

That said, the danger of starting at the "beginning" is that you will try to force yourself to gain some perspective, which will be frustrating and counterproductive.

In my experience, a lot of classical music is an acquired taste - I didn't always like chamber music or opera.

I would recommend that you find something you know and enjoy and branch off from there, and/or figure out a 'classical top 40'.

I'll do my best to put together a list of classical music that I think appeals to a wide audience.

Rachmaninov Symphonic Dances
Dvorak symphonies 7, 8, 9 (especially 9)
Berlioz Symphonie Fantastique
Bizet Carmen Suites #1 and #2 (you'll definitely have heard at least a third of these tunes)

Those are all interesting, exciting works, so even though there's no electric guitar they should keep you entertained. But your question was about the classics.

If you understand a fraction of the genius of Beethoven's 3rd (Eroica), you'll figure out why Beethoven has stuck around.
Brahms' symphonies are great, but I recommend "Ein Deutsches Requiem" (A German Requiem) to really get a big picture of the style of Brahms.
For what Bach to listen to, it depends on your preferences, but I emphatically recommend

J.S. Bach: Das Wohltemperierte Clavier, Book 1 - my one complaint is he takes most of them fairly slow. That said, the Bach/Lehman temperament makes these sound awesome, and the pedal harpsichord adds a new dimension to the work (it's a period instrument).

It's really tough to give you a "this is what you need to listen to" guide, because there's just so much content. Find something you like - movies are awash with old classical music - and branch off from there. I promise - once you find just one classical work that you love, you will quickly begin to start loving more.
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Participants:  4
Total posts:  4
Initial post:  Sep 16, 2008
Latest post:  Sep 2, 2009

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Armed Forces by The Attractions (Audio CD - 2007)
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