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Thread: classical music

  1. #1
    simon silverdollar Guest

    Default classical music

    i know nothing about it. what should i listen to? how should i listen to it?

  2. #2
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    - Guerdjeff & de Hartmann
    - Arvo Pärt
    - Gorecki
    - Erik Satie

    What I have listed above, is not at all 'classical' classical music (actually its contemporary music). By the rather minimalist, circular and thus often repetitive structure of the work of these composers, all are actually very accessible though -which is an asset for people not used to listen to classical music- but fortunately do not have the dullness of say resto-classical music ā la Vivaldi.

    If you're looking for good classical music -in the classical sense of the word- I'd absolutely recommend Bach. Not very original probably, but he's simply the most complete composer ever. His cello suites, for instance, are pure genius. Same holds for his organ music and his adaptations of the John and Matthew Passions.

  3. #3
    simon silverdollar Guest

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    thanks. yes, i like Satie very much-but as you say, that's probably because it's very accessible, for some-one (like me) who is coming from a background of listening to loop based music.

    i also like Gorecki, but again that might be because the discord and drama of it is actually quite accessible- i think i hear it more like sonic youth-ish, branca-ish dense noise than anything else. i'm probably missing the point of it there, though.

    i will definitely check out the Bach you mentioned.

  4. #4
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    Yes, definitely Bach, really in a league of his own. When you've gotten into him, everything else seems almost irrelevant. The cello suites are indeed amazing. Also try Kunst der Fuge, the B Minor Mass, the cantatas, the piano music... Well, just go ahead and try whatever you find, it's usually dirt cheap, and he's practically always great. And theres so much, it's unbelievable.

    Some other personal favorites: Leos Janacek, a very odd figure, at once proto-modern and with a lot of influences from slavonic folk and church-music. The opposite of awfull national-romantic classical. Equally good at operas and chamber music. Check The Cunning Little Vixen, From the House of the Dead, the Concertino, Capriccio and Rikadla.

    Wagner - a bit hard to get into, probably, but it's worth it.

    Bartok and Shostakovich - they're pretty obvious, but it's well deserved.

    Right now I'm listening to a lot of Mahler, and getting into Shumans piano music. Would recommend both.

  5. #5
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    Well, there's so much good stuff that it's hard to know where to start. On the plus side, the nice thing about classical music is that a lot of the obvious stuff is also good.

    Beethoven, Bach, and Mozart spring to mind for the older stuff, Ravel, Debussy, Mahler, Nielsen, Bartok, Shostakovich, Britten, Stravinsky and Webern for the late 19th - mid 20th century.

    A random few personal picks would be the Bach B minor mass and unacompanied cello suites, Mozart 19th piano concerto 19 (iirc) , Beethoven 7th and 9th Symphonies or 4th piano concerto, Brahms 4th symphony, Mahler - Das Lied Von Der Erde, Ravel - Mother Goose Suite, Stavinsky - Petrushka, Bartok - Rhaposodies for Violin and Orchestra, Messaien - Quartet for the End of Time. But that's a pretty wide range of styles, so getting some idea of what appeals to you is probably a good idea.

    As for how to listen to it - I find that to really appreciate something properly you have to either see it live or sit down somewhere non-noisy, turn off the lights, and listen to it loudly (classical CDs tend to have none of the compression of pop, so the quiet bits really are quiet). On the other hand, listening to it as background music seems to help me to get familiar with something and then get more out of it when I do listen properly.

    To get an idea of roughly what you like on the cheap, you can find a lot of good stuff in charity shops for one or two pounds a throw, or (if you're in the UK) just stick on Radio 3 and see what they're doing... on the other hand, once you've got something you like, it's probably worth doing some research to find a really good recording, either by checking reviews or one of the big guides (eg the Penguin Guide to Compact discs, which a lot of classical shops will have hanging around anyway) or by just asking the people in the shop.

    Oh, and if you're anything like me, you might find that there's some stuff that you only 'get' once you've 'got' stuff that's a bit similar to it, particularly in old classical and baroque and very modern music, which often take a while to come to terms with the limitations or lack of limitations of the style, whereas romantic / post romantic / impressionist stuff is often fairly straightforward for a modern listener. So don't write stuff off if it doesn't grab you immediately.

    Christ, that was longer than I anticipated. Sorry if any of it was overbearing / patronising...

  6. #6
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    from the fact that you prolly like modern electronic music, I would start exploring the 20th century composers. I listen to classical when I'm sick of everything else / in a clear mind / to keep a clear mind.

    minimalists obvious place to begin - Steve Reich, Terry Reiley, La Monte Young, (but Phil Glass should be avoided at all costs).

    and as other mentioned: Eric Satie, Morton Feldman, Arvo Part. - all immediately get-into-able.

    later you can venture into the Ligetti's and Nono's of the world.

    ______________________

    incidentally, one of the holy grails of recorded modern music - La Monte Young's Well Tuned Piano - for the longest time the only available second hand copy of which costs $500 on Amazon, has just been put up for free download on this blog:

    classicalconnection.blogspot.com/

    scroll down to first post.

  7. #7
    foret Guest

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    I'd go along with all the Bach that's been mentioned, and the Beethoven. Janacek's Sinfonietta and Arva Part's Tabula Rasa (ECM do a nice CD with other stuff) are favourites. Don't think anyone's mentioned Sibelius yet; I like his 5th, 6th and 7th symphonies.

    Someone talked about listening to classical music as background music - it may be sacrilege, but Bach is great for working to, and I found it the easiest way to get into long and complex works like the Mass in B Minor.

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    I kind of got into classical by following Jarrett - Goldburg Variations - which led me onto Gould and this just opened up a whole bunch of others, mainly piano based

    Lots of recommendations for Bach which i would agree with. I would also add Mahler and Debussy as two who you can sink your teeth into really quite quickly. At the other end of the spectrum - i love Tallis (this of course leads neatly, although in a roundabout way into people like part/ taverner/ xenakis), love those voices.

    i tend to find i cope better with smaller group pieces though than full blown symphonies/ orchestral works - things like Mozart's quartets/quintets for strings and wind are really accessible with proper choons but, as is probably clear from this post i am no expert on this area and rely heavily on recommendations and luck

  10. #10
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    listening to Cornelius Cardew's Memorial Concert right now... speechless.

    rare for things to be this smart and beautiful at the same time. it's like a lingerie model with a PHD in Cultural Anthropology and Masters in Linguistics

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    given your love of all things tech i'd totally suggest Steve Reich's Music for 18 Musicians. If only all classical were this polyrhythmic and lush!

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    Music For Large Ensemble is a bit of a blinder as well.

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    I have a question on this topic as well, to those in the know, where is the "cutting edge" of serious/classical/art music/modern composition (or whatever)-- what lies beyond post minimalism/ totalism at the moment (or in the last 10-20 yrs).... is it all dead or are there pockets of incredibly exciting, mind blowing stuff being created...? (I'm obviously including academic electronics here as well-and have they moved beyond Dockstader/Stockhausen etc?)

  14. #14
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    did anything become of generative music?

    in about 2000 an accademic who used to be in Test Department gave me a CDrom, claiming it was the first ever generative CD ie the compositions were different every time.

  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by m99188868
    If you're looking for good classical music -in the classical sense of the word- I'd absolutely recommend Bach. Not very original probably, but he's simply the most complete composer ever. His cello suites, for instance, are pure genius. Same holds for his organ music and his adaptations of the John and Matthew Passions.
    Bach is a really great place to start. I'm very fond of the keyboard music myself, esp. the French Suites and the Goldberg Variations. I personally think that keyboard works are a much easier classical music gateway than larger scale pieces because they tend to be smaller in ambition and thus easier to follow. This might be an irrational suggestion on my part. Another place would be Beethoven's Moonlight Sonata (particularly Vladimir Horowitz's recording) because it's impossible not to appreciate. Also, seconding (or thirding or whatever) Satie.

    Then move to Mozart's symphonies which are pretty straightforward.

    I realize that this initial list isn't very sexy, but classical music is somewhat teleological in terms of its development over time and it kind of makes you appreciate the sexier 20th century stuff even more when you get to it. Maybe I'm a fuddy-duddy though.

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