The Personal Website of Mark W. Dawson


Containing His Articles, Observations, Thoughts, Meanderings,
and some would say Wisdom (and some would say not).

Classical Music Appreciation

An Introduction for those that know little or nothing about Classical Music.

For more on Classic Music please refer to my articles
Classical Music Lists, Classical Music Chirps, and Classical Music Recommendations.

I must confess that I have never written about music, never studied music, and never played a musical instrument. I don't know the difference between an allegro and an adagio, I am unfamiliar with scales and tempo, and a musical score looks like a Rorschach test to me. Having presented my credentials I should also inform you that I have extensively listened to Classical Music for almost fifty years. I come to this discussion not as an expert, but as a lover of Classical Music. I have definite likes and dislikes, and these are based only on what I have listened too for the past fifty years.

Much has been said and written about the importance of dead white men in regards to modern times. Much has changed in the last fifty years. However, the basic human emotions (love, happy, hopeful, sad. angry, scared, insecure, suspicious, jealous) are still with us. As long as these emotions are with us composers, artists, and writers who expressed these basic human emotions are relevant. They help us to understand these emotions, and the conflicts within us as a result of these emotions. Exploring what they say about these emotions and conflicts is exploring the human soul. And exploring the human soul is always relevant. The settings and society may be different today but the emotions are the same. Therefore, as Classical Music explores these emotions Classical Music is still relevant.

So why did I decide to write something now, and more important is what do I have to contribute to Classical Music appreciation? In my interactions with others, in regard to Classical Music, I have noticed an attitude in the general public that Classical Music lovers were highbrow and snobbish to those who did not appreciate Classical Music. Although this is true for many lovers of Classical Music it is definitely not true for most lovers of Classical Music. Most Classical Music lovers tend to remain silent on the subject of Classical Music unless they are asked for an opinion, which they then discuss with the questioner. I have also noticed that many people remark on a piece of music that they have heard in a television or film, or within a commercial, etc. that they liked and wanted to know what it was. Often this music is an excerpt from a Classical Music piece. There is also a great appreciation for film scores among the general public without the realizations that many film scores are the cousinsof Classical Music and share many of the attributes of Classical Music. I, therefore, believe, that if Classical Music were presented properly there would be a much greater interest in Classical Music from the general public. This paper is an attempt to stimulate that appreciation so that many more of the general public will at least sample Classical Music and gain an appreciation, if not a larger interest in Classical Music. I do this by presenting my knowledge of Classical Music Appreciation and as a guide of the most popular Classical Music that would be of interest to the general public.

The best way to appreciate Classical Music is to listen to it. But as there is so much Classical Music Appreciation,that varies from great, to good, to average, to mediocre how can the general public focus on the great and good so as to not waste their time and monies.This paper will guide you in your pursuit by directing you to the great and good pieces of Classical Music. This leads to the question as to what are the great or good Classical compositions and Classical composers. I believe that Classical Music is a means of communication between the composers, performer,and listener. What they communicate are emotions. So, therefore, the greatest composers and compositions are those that communicate emotions the best. That is my only criteria for greatness or goodness – the ability to communicate at a high level the emotions intended.

This leads us to another question - What is the difference between good and great music? I once saw an interview with Isaac Stern (a great Violinist of the 20th century) by Dick Cavett. He (Dick) asked Isaac Stern what the difference between playing a piece of music good and greatly.Isaac responded by saying it was easier to demonstrate than to explain. He then picked up his violin and told Dick that he was going to play well. He then began to play an excerpt from Tchaikovsky's Violin Concerto. After he finished Dick commented that that was very beautiful. Isaac said yes it was, but that now he was going to play it great. He then proceeded to play the same excerpt greatly. Both Dick and I immediately sat on the edge of our seats to listen.After Isaac finished playing he said the difference between playing something good and great was the difference between asking someone to listen to you play and demanding that they listen to what you play. Therefore, the difference between great and good is the demand for attention to a piece of Classical Music. This is my criteria for judging greatness and goodness.

Top Tier ComposersTop

The next question is "Who are the greatest composers of all time, a.k.a. “The Immortals?". I believe that there is only one way to answer this question. This way is by listening to the music of the composers to determine how well and deeply they impact the listener. Given this, the answer to the question who the best composer of all time has only one answer - Ludwig Van Beethoven. Beethoven reaches into the center of a person's soul and demands that you listen to what he has to say. Mozart, Brahms, and Bach come close to this, but not always, and only when performed greatly. Beethoven performed both well and greatly demands to be listened too. Beethoven always reaches for your soul, and always grasps your soul. I, therefore, believe that the only answer to the greatest composer of all time is Ludwig Van Beethoven. Having said all this, I would tier rank the top sixty-six greatest composers in the following alphabetical order (clicking on the composers name will take you to the list of recommended compositions of the composer):

First Tier
Beethoven

Second Tier

Bach
Brahms
Mozart

Third Tier

Bruckner
Chopin
Dvorak
Stravinsky
Tchaikovsky
Wagner

Fourth Tier

Bizet
Debussy
Liszt
Mendelssohn
Prokofiev
Rachmaninoff
Rimsky-Korsakov
Rossini
Schubert
Sibelius
Strauss, Richard
Verdi

Fifth Tier

Berlioz
Borodin
Copland
Franck
Grieg
Handel
Haydn
Mahler
Mussorgsky
Puccini
Ravel
Saint-Saens
Schuman
Shostakovich
Smetana
Strauss, Johan II
Vaughan Williams
Vivaldi

Sixth Tier

Albeniz
Albinoni
Barber
Bartok
Boccherini
Britten
Chabrier
Corelli
De Falla
Delibes
Delius
Elgar
Faure
Gershwin
Gilbert & Sullivan
Gluck
Gounod
Ippolitov-Ivanov
Khachaturian
Monteverdi
Offenbach
Paganini
Purcell
Rameau
Respighi
Satie
Scarlatti
Telemann
Walton
Weber

To Listen and To HearTop

The next question is how to best get to know Classical Music. For this, you have to know the difference between listening to Classical Music and hearing Classical Music. To listen to Classical Music, you must make a commitment of time. You must allocate the time to listening too and only listen to the music. No interruptions, and no performing any other tasks when you are listening. All your concentration must be on listening to the music. Hearing Classical Music requires that you train your ear to distinguish all the instruments that are playing, and what each instrument is playing. During a full orchestral performance, you may have up to a dozen instruments playing differently. Your ear (and mind) must be able to distinguish each of these and combine them into hearing everything that is being performed. The only way to accomplish this is to learn what each instrument sounds like as presented in the Orchestra Instrument Families YouTube video. You can then go on to listen to Benjamin Britten’s The Young Person's Guide to the Orchestra, Sergei Prokofiev’s Peter And The Wolf - a Children's Tale For Narrator & Orchestra, as well as Camille Saint-Saens’s Carnival of the Animals - to start with. Then when you are listening to a performance concentrate on hearing each instrument. You may have to listen to the performance several times to distinguish all the instruments and then listen to the performance one final time after you can distinguish all the instruments. Fear not, however, that this will be required of all the performances that you listen to. Once you learn to hear each instrument you can then apply this ability to all the performances (including new performances) that you are listening to. It is also important that you start your exploration of Classical Music in the proper sequence. The greatest composers require the greatest knowledge of hearing. I would, therefore, suggest that you start learning Classical Music by listening to the lesser composers. This can be done by working up the list of great composers that I previous ranked, as well as other composers that I will suggest. The next question many people have is what are the Classical Music pieces that are essential to your appreciating this genre. For this, I have prepared a list that all lovers of Classical Music should know. Given that Classical Music has spanned several centuries, several hundred composers, and tens of thousands of compositions, a few hundred pieces is but a fraction of what is available to you. I have chosen these pieces by what I enjoy listening to time and again, as well as what I have stored on my music player.

It should also be noted that several of these pieces can be performed in various manners. These include as a soloist piece (piano, violin, flute,horn, etc.), a combination of instruments, chamber, band, string orchestra, and a symphony orchestra. I would suggest that you sample all manners of performance (usually starting with the soloist and working your way to a symphony orchestra) to obtain a full appreciation of these pieces. I should also note that while listening to a recorded performance is very important and satisfying, attending a live performance will immensely enrich your experience of Classical Music. So, therefore, go to a concert whenever you can arrange to do so.

Finally, while learning Classical Music may involve a considerable amount of time and effort I can assure you it is well worth your time and effort. The lifelong enjoyment of listening to Classical Music will immensely enrich your life and provide you with a sense of fulfillment that few other experiences in life can provide.

Not Your Father’s Classical Music

For most of the time prior to the 21st century Classical Music was the domain of European-American males in both composition and performances. In the late 20th century this began to change. More female performers have become mainstream, followed by other races and ethnics. Today, in the 21st century, diversity is the norm. Much of this diversity is also reflected in age. Many young people, of all types of diversity, are involved in Classical Music. The two lesser areas of diversity are in Conductors and Composers. However, this is starting to change, and I expect that these areas will become more diverse in the coming decade. Classical Music has truly become universal and appreciated by all members of the human race.

What is the difference between a band and an orchestra?Top

An orchestra is a sizable instrumental ensemble that contains sections of string, brass, woodwind, and percussion instruments. A band is usually a smaller group of musicians, often with no stringed instruments, while an orchestra may have up to hundred or so members. Bands have existed for centuries, as they accompanied armies in the field and were used as signaling devices. Thus they tended to focus on loud instruments such as brass and percussion. More modern bands used primarily for entertainment, have come to include some of the quieter instruments.This can be heard by an orchestral performance of Modest Mussorgsky - Night on Bald Mountain versus a band performance.

Periods of Classical Music

Music historiographers generally classify the periods of music by stylistic differences:

  • Before 1400 – Medieval – characterized by Gregorian chant, mostly religious.
  • 1400-1600 – Renaissance – increase of secular music, madrigals, and art song.
  • 1600-1750 – Baroque – known for its intricate ornamentation.
  • 1750-1820 – Classical – balance and structure.
  • 1820-1900 – Romantic – emotional, large, programmatic.
  • 20th Century and 21st Century – limitless stylistic forms.

20th Century and 21st Century Classical Music can be broken down into even smaller periods.

  • Impressionist: 1890 – 1925
  • Expressionist: 1908 – 1950
  • Modern: 1890 – 1975
  • Postmodern: 1930 – present
  • Contemporary: 1945 – present

However, these sub-genres are normally lumped into one large category since there are so many diverse and opposing styles.

MusicNotes Now has a brief History of Musical Periods: The History of Classical Music that serves as an introductory guide to these periods.

On the Difference Between Music Education and Music AppreciationTop

Most people are exposed to Classical Music when they are required to take “Music” courses during their K-12 education. This “Music” instruction is naturally given by teachers who have been musically educated and trained and already have a great love of music. They draw upon their own experience and training to prepare and deliver music courses. However, it is important for a teacher to adapt their instruction to the students in the classroom. They need to remember that most students are not that interested in learning music and therefore pay little heed to the teachers’ instruction. As any good teacher will admit the first step in good teaching is to get the student interested and motivated in the subject matter. This is true for “Music” as well as any other subject matter. Therefore, a music teacher needs to start with “Music Appreciation” rather than “Music Education”. The difference being that “Music Education” is about the means and techniques of creating and performing music, while “Music Appreciation” is the understandingof the nature, meaning, quality and effect of music on their lives. That is why I believe it is more important to have “Music Appreciation” classes in K-12 education, with “Music Education” courses reserved for those students who are motivated to pursue music. For those that respond that we should do both simultaneously, or we are doing both simultaneously, I would respond that this is not working. My own experience is an anecdotal proof of this. I had the traditional music education in K-12 with my being totally disinterested in music. Only by attending a re-release of the movie “2001: A Space Odyssey” and being dazzled by the Classical Music utilized in the movie did I begin to seek out and appreciate Classical Music. I had to learn Classical Music the hard way, by trial and error, but I found my way to Classical Music and other music appreciation. In my dealings with other people about music I have discovered that this is generally true. Very few of them had a positive remembrance of their “Music” courses in the K-12 environment. Most of them had a neutral, and some of them had a negative, remembrance of their “Music” courses. This needs to change to foster more “Music Appreciation” with the general public. We need “Music Appreciation” in K-12 education so that more interest in all forms of music is generated. And it needs to be taught in a non-traditional manner to achieve this goal. I would start with current popular music appreciation and proceed backward in reverse chronological order. All genre of music should be covered to demonstrate their interrelationships and dependencies. The material should be focused on the composers and their historic times, the meaning of the composition, and if time allows information about the performer(s). Of course, you need to play the composition without interruption, followed by a class discussion on the composition. Only then can we create a generation of music appreciators.

Final Thoughts

Appreciation and listenership of Classical Music have decreased significantly in the last fifty years. The number of Classical Music radio stations has significantly decreased, attendance at Classical Music concerts are down, and sales of Classical Music recordings have substantially decreased. Even streaming music Classical Music stations do not have a significant share of the audience. In my opinion, this is due to a lack of Classical Music appreciation that is the result of several factors. While there are many factors that contribute to this decline I wish to focus on three factors that may help alleviate this problem. For more on Classic Music please refer to my articles Classical Music Lists, Classical Music Chirps, and Classical Music Recommendations.

Classical Music SamplerTop

Given the above I have compiled a list of a representative sample of each composer, which demonstrates the depth and breadth of the composer's art. It is not a list of the greatest hit of the composer – just a means of giving you a taste of each composers’ music. If you listen to this list I believe that you will appreciate (if not fall in love with) Classical Music. Clicking on the composers’ name will direct you to the Wikipedia article on the composer, while click on the composition will direct you to a YouTube video. For more recommended compositions of the composer, with associated YouTube videos, please visit my other web page Recommended Classical Music.

Albeniz, Isaac - Granada
Albinoni, Tomaso - Adagio
Bach, Johann Sebastian - Fugue in G Minor (The "Great")
Barber, Samuel - Adagio for Strings, Op. 11
Bartok, Bela - Concerto pour orchestre - Finale
Beethoven, Ludwig Van - Egmont Overture
Berlioz, Hector - The Damnation of Faust- Rakoczy March
Bizet, Georges - Carmen Suite No. 1
Boccherini, Luigi - Overture in D Op. 43
Borodin, Alexander - Polovetsian Dances 
Brahms, Johannes - Academic Festival Overture
Britten, Benjamin - Variations on A Theme of Purcell Fugue
Bruckner, Anton - Symphony No. 4 - 3rd movement
Chabrier, Alexis-Emmanuel - España Rhapsody
Chopin, Frederic - Waltz in A-Flat, Op. 34, No. 1 “Valse brillante”
Copland, Aaron - An Outdoor Overture
Corelli, Arcangelo - Gigue
De Falla, Manuel - El Amor Brujo - Danza ritual del fuego
Debussy, Claude - The Girl with the Flaxen Hair
Delibes, ClementPhilibert Leo - Coppelia, Ballet Suite
Delius, Frederick - On Hearing the First Cuckoo in Spring
Dvorak, Antonin - Scherzo Capriccioso
Elgar, Edward - Salut d'amor
Faure, Gabriel - Pavane
Franck, Cesar - Psyche et Eros - Part III
Gershwin, George - An American In Paris
Gilbert & Sullivan - Modern Major General
Gluck, ChristophWillibald von - Dance of the Blessed Spirits
Gounod, Charles - Ballet Music from Faust
Grieg, Edvard - Peer Gynt Suites No. 1 & 2
Handel, George Frideric - The Arrival of the Queen of Sheba
Haydn, Franz Joseph - Serenade
Ippolitov-Ivanov, Mikhail - Caucasian Sketches: Procession of the Sardar
Khachaturian, Aram - Masquerade Waltz
Liszt, Franz - La Campanella from Paganini Etude No 3
Mahler, Gustav - Symphony No. 5 (Adagietto)
Mendelssohn, Felix - A Midsummer Night's Dream - Overture
Monteverdi, Claudio - Domine Ad Adjuvandum
Mozart, Wolfgang Amadeus - Eine Kleine Nachtmusik I - Allegro
Mussorgsky, Modest - Pictures at an Exhibition- The Great Gate at Kiev
Offenbach, Jacques - Orpheus in Hades Overture
Paganini, Niccolò - Caprice no. 24 in A minor
Prokofiev, Sergei - Romeo et Juliette Selections
Puccini, Giacomo - La Boheme - Che gelida manina
Purcell, Henry - Trumpet Voluntary
Rachmaninoff, Sergei - Vocalise
Rameau, Jean Philippe - Les Boreades
Ravel, Maurice - Alborada del Gracioso
Respighi, Ottorino - The Pines of Rome (selection)
Rimsky-Korsakov, Nikolai - Russian Easter Overture
Rossini, Gioachino - Overture to La gazza ladra “The Thieving Magpie”
Saint-Saens, Camille - Danse Macabre
Satie, Erik - Gymnopedie No. 1, 2, & 3
Scarlatti, Domenico - Keyboard Sonata in D major, K.96
Schubert, Franz - Ständchen
Schumann, Robert - Traumerei
Shostakovich, Dimitri - Waltz No. 2 from Jazz Suite No. 2
Sibelius, Jean - Karelia Overture
Smetana, Bedrich - The Moldau
Strauss, Johann II - Emperor Waltz
Strauss, Richard - Salome - Dance of the Seven Veils
Stravinsky, Igor - The Firebird Finale
Tchaikovsky, Pyotr Il'yich - Romeo and Juliet Overture
Telemann, Georg Philipp - Overture in D Major, TWV 55 D15 - Gigue
Vaughan Williams, Ralph - English Folk Song Suite
Verdi, Giuseppe - Aida - Gloria all' Egitto, Triumphal March
Vivaldi, Antonio - Sinfonia in G Major
Wagner, Richard - Prelude to Act 1 from Die Meistersinger
Walton, William - Crown Imperial - Coronation March
Weber, CarlMaria Von - Invitation to Dance Op. 65 

Classical Music Snippets

Snippets are a collection of excerpts of great Classical Music to highlight a topic. They are also an excellent means to whet your appetite for Classical Music. Some of the better ones are:

For more Classical Music snippets I would suggest you visit the YouTube channels Melodious Heart and Classic FM.

Popular Operas

Below is a list of 50 popular Operas with the year they were composed. To listen to an Opera usually require two to three hours, and you may not be satisfied (if not bored) during stretches of the performance. Besides, Opera is better seen and heard,rather than just listened too. I have included selections from Opera in my Classical Music recommendations so that you can get a flavor of Opera music,and if you like them you may want to attend or obtain a DVD of an Opera performance. Clicking on the composers' name will take you to the Wikipedia article about the opera. Clicking on the ballet name will take you to a YouTube video of the opera.

Beethoven: Fidelio (1805)
Bellini
: Norma (1831)
Berg
: Wozzeck (1925)
Bizet
: Carmen (1875) (Act I, Act II, Act III, Act IV)
Debussy
: Pelleas et Melisande (1902)
Donizetti
: Don Pasquale (1843)
Donizetti
: Lucia di Lammermoor (1835)
Donizetti
: L’Elisir d’Amore (1832)
Donizetti: La Fille du Regiment (1840)
Gluck
: Orfeo ed Euridice (1762)
Gounod
: Faust (1859)
Leoncavallo
: Pagliacci (1892)
Mascagni
: Cavalleria Rusticana (1890)
Massenet
: Manon (1884)
Massenet
: Werther (1892)
Mozart: Cosi Fan Tutte (1790)
Mozart
: Don Giovanni (1787)
Mozart
: La Nozze di Figaro (1786)
Mozart: Die Zauberflote (1791)
Mussorgsky
: Boris Godunov (1873)
Offenbach
: Les Contes d’Hoffmann (1881)
Ponchielli
: La Gioconda (1876)
Puccini
: La Boheme (1896)
Puccini
: Madama Butterfly (1904)
Puccini
: Tosca (1900)
Puccini: Gianni Schicchi (1918)
Puccini: Manon Lescaut (1893)
Puccini: Turandot (1926)
Rossini: Il Barbiere di Siviglia (1816)
Strauss, R.: Elektra (1909)
Strauss, R.: Der Rosenkavalier (1911)
Strauss, R.: Salome (1905)
Verdi: Aida (1872)
Verdi: Un Ballo in Maschera (1859)
Verdi: Falstaff (1893)
Verdi: La Forza del Destino (1862)
Verdi: Otello (1887)
Verdi: Rigoletto (1851)
Verdi: La Traviata (1853)
Verdi: Il Trovatore (1853)
Verdi: Don Carlos (1871)
Verdi: Simon Boccanegra (1857)
Wagner: Lohengrin (1850)
Wagner: Der Meistersinger von Nurnberg (1868)
Wagner: Das Rheingold (1869)
Wagner: Die Walkure (1870)
Wagner: Siegfried (1876)
Wagner: Gotterdamerung (1876)
Wagner: Tannhauser (1875)
Wagner: Tristan und Isolde (1865)

Popular Ballets

Ballet, like Opera, is better seen and heard, rather than just heard. A Ballet performancecan vary greatly in duration, so you may listen to a Ballet in its entirety in a shorter time than Opera. I personally enjoy listening to an entire Ballet asit makes more musical sense to hear the entire Ballet. I hope that you will enjoy Ballet as much as I do. Below is a list of 20 popular Ballets with theyear they were first performed. Clicking on the composers' name will take you to the Wikipedia article about the ballet. Clicking on the ballet name will take you to a YouTube video of the ballet.

Adam, Adolphe: Giselle (1841)
Bizet, Georges: Carmen (1949)
Bournonville, August: La Sylphide (1836)
Delibes, Clement-Philibert-Leo: Coppélia (1870)
Delibes, Clement-Philibert-Leo: Sylvia (1876)
Massenet, Jules: Manon (1974)
Mendelssohn, Felix: A Midsummer Night Dream (1964)
Minkus, Ludwig: Don Quixote (1869)
Minkus, Ludwig: La Bayader (The Temple Dancer) (1877)
Prokofiev, Sergei: Cinderella (1945)
Prokofiev, Sergei: Romeo and Juliet (1938)
Pugni, Cesare: La Esmeralda (1844)
Rimsky-Korsakov, Nikolai: Scheherazade (1910)
Stravinsky, Igor: Petrushka (1911)
Stravinsky, Igor: The Firebird (1910)
Stravinsky, Igor: The Rite of Spring (1913)
Tchaikovsky, Peter Ilyitch: Swan Lake (1895)
Tchaikovsky, Peter Ilyitch: The Nutcracker (1892)
Tchaikovsky, Peter Ilyitch: The Sleeping Beauty (1890)
Wheeldon, Christopher: Alice's Adventures in Wonderland (1964)

A Note to Classical Music DJ's:

I would like to recount a story from my life, that a first blush seems inappropriate, but as you will learn is very appropriate. It is a fishing story. My mothers family was born a raised in northern Minnesota, but most of them moved to other parts of the mid-west, and unfortunately, many of them have now passed away. Starting in the early 1960’s and about every 10 years or so thereafter, they would have a family reunion at their homestead in northern Minnesota. I have attended a few of these reunions and the one in the early 1970’s is the basis of my fishing story. I knew my mothers’ family were avid fishermen (as most Minnesotans are) and that we would be going on a fishing trip during this reunion. Not being a fisherman, I obtained a library book on freshwater fishing, so I would not, hopefully, make a fool of myself. The day of the fishing trip began in the early morning from a pontoon raft that someone had lent the family. We motored to a bank of the lake to start our fishing. Everyone started casting except for myself. I had decided to observe the lake and shore before I began fishing (as it was a new experience for me). When my Uncle Louie ask if I was afraid to fish I responded, facetiously, that I was just trying to figure out that if I were a fish where I would be swimming. He laughed at me. I then, therefore, pointed to a spot in the lake and said that was where I thought a fish would be. I then miraculously cast to the exact point that I had pointed out. Much to Uncle Louie’s amazement as soon as the lure hit the water I hooked a fish, which I then reeled into the pontoon raft. Uncle Louie looked at me in amazement and said: “You lucky S.O.B.” at whichpoint I laughed at him. The point is that, through my readings, I knew my equipment, I had practiced casting with my equipment the previous day, I knew the lure I needed to catch the Northern Pike fish we were aiming for, I knew something of Northern Pike fish behavior through my readings, and I knew how to reel in the fish. I was the first one to catch a fish that day, and I caught more fish that day than any other member of my family (I also helped that I was a lucky S.O.B that day).

And so, it is, with Classical Music appreciation. Know Classical Music, know which Classical Music would be appreciated by the general public, know how to appeal to the general public tastes, lure them with popular Classical Music, then hook them by playing popular Classical Music, and then reel them into Classical Music appreciation. Once they are caught then you can then educate them on Classical Music. I know you can do this as during your fundraising appeals the majority of the Classical Music played during fundraising is what the general public appreciates. But I am afraid that most Classical Music DJ's suffer from a common affliction - a need to dazzle their audience with the breadth and depth of their repertoire, and their extensive knowledge of esoteric classical music. I am speaking specifically about your selection of what classical music to program. You seem to be using an eclectic method in deciding on which music to play, rather than what your audience needs and expects. You seem to be “Preaching to the Choir’ while the congregation is fleeing. Most of the general public when listening to Classical Music are doing so for relaxation purposes, not for educational purposes. They want Classical Music to make the day go faster and more pleasant. They do not need to hear much unfamiliar and unappealing Classical Music. I also suspect that sometime in the future you will be interested in having them purchase Classical Music or attend a concert of Classical Music. These purchases and attendance will probably not happen given your current programming, as the general public will not expend the time or monies to attend a concert or purchase a recording in which they are unsure of their gratification. Concentrate at least two-thirds of your Classical Music programming on popular Classical Music and you may achieve the goal of increasing Classical Music appreciation and listenership. I believe that this suggestion would be welcomed by most of the listeners of your station. I also believe if you take my approach you could assist with the revival of Classical Music appreciation, but if you continue your present course you are assisting in the funeral of Classical Music.

I would, therefore, recommend that you adopt and follow every day the following mission statement:

"To bring Classical Music Appreciation to the General Public,
in such a Manner that they will Enjoy and Love Classical Music."

A Note to Streaming Music Services:Top

With the advent of on-demand internet music stations comes another challenge to Classical Music appreciation. Most, if not all, on-demand internet music stations treat each movement of a multi-movement Classical Music composition as separate entities and do not play them contiguously. This reduces Classical Music appreciation as a Classical Music piece should be played in its entirety from beginning to end to be fully appreciated. They need to “join” a multi-movement Classical Music composition into one entity that is played in its entirety so that it is appreciated properly. Failure to do this fractures a Classical Music composition and is a disservice to the listening public.

A Tribute to Carlo Maria GiuliniTop

Carlo Maria Giulini was an esteemed Italian conductor, an idealistic maestro acclaimed for his refined and insightful accounts of the standard orchestral repertory and for several now classic recordings and is my all-time favorite conductor. I literally have hundreds of his recordings and have enjoyed every performance. It was Maestro Giulini recordings of Beethoven and Brahms that led me to discover the true meaning and beauty of Beethoven and Brahms. Many conductors are passionate in their conducting, many are perfectionists. Maestro Giulini combined both passion and perfectionism in his conducting. It is one of my greatest disappointments in life that I never was able to attend a live performance of Maestro Giulini. Maestro Giulini was an Italian conductor born May 9, 1914 and died June 14, 2005. I shall miss him, but his greatness and music lives on through his recordings. More information on Maestro Giulini can be found at Wikipedia, ClassicFM, and his obituary at The New York Times.

Further Readings

The Books on Classical Music Music that I would recommend for more background information on Classical Music are:

  • Classical Music - The 50 Greatest Composers and Their 1,00 Greatest Works by Phil G. Goulding
  • The Classic FM Guide to Classical Music by Jeremy Nichols
  • The Lives of the Great Composers by Harold C. Schonberg

TED also has some interesting talks on Classical Music. They Are:

Web Sites

The YouTube channel “Inside the Score” has an introduction on "How to Listen to Classical Music". These short multi-part guides are an excellent way to understand how to get THE MOST out of Classical Music listening and appreciation.

The Classic fM website has a section on "Discover Music" and a web page "Glossary of Musical Terms" that is a very good resource to learn more about Classical Music.

Naxos Records has an extensive Glossary of Musical Terms for those interested in exploring Classical Music terminology in detail. They also have an extensive list of Classical Music Composers and Artists biographies.

The Khan Academy also has a very good section on Classical Music. Their web pages I would recommend for your review are:

I have created a Basic List of Classical Music Terms (hopefully understandable to non-musically trained persons such as myself), that may be helpful in understanding Classical Music terminology. I have also created some interesting lists in regards to Classical Music that can be viewed here.