An Introduction to Classical Music

Maybe you've never really listened to Classical Music but are curious about whether you'd like it, or what type you'd like. This list of some of my favorite works includes different styles of Classical Music from different periods, so you can get an idea of what you might like. Each has a YouTube link so you can listen to the work for free online; I don't necessarily think very highly of all of these performances that have been posted to YouTube, but they're a decent introduction to the work. Each work also has an Amazon link to my favorite performance of that work, which I highly recommend. You would be amazed just how different various recordings of the same piece of work can be. There might be cheaper choices or more easily available choices, but believe me, I have compared several dozen performances of many of these works and the ones I've linked to on Amazon are my highest recommendation based on artistic interpretation and sound quality. I link to Amazon only for convenience; I gain no benefit if you buy there. If you're going to buy, you can buy it from wherever you like, just be sure to get the performance I've linked to if you intend to trust my recommendation.

The names in the Amazon link refer to a soloist (if any), then the name of the orchestra, the name of the conductor, and the date of recording. Any comments in the text which follows the line of links refer to the version in the Amazon link; remember, the YouTube link is only there to give you a free sample of the music, best versions are typically not available there, and even if they are, sound quality is often poor, and sometimes there are commercials jammed right in the middle of the music.

When you sit down to listen to classical music, you really should commit yourself to the total time of the work, which is typically between 30 and 60 minutes. Classical music isn't like popular music, made up of unrelated 3- or 4-minute tracks of which you can listen to a few today, then the rest tomorrow. That would be like trying to watch a movie over a 5-day period, 20 minutes per day. A work of Classical music is typically made up of 3 or 4 parts called movements, each between 5 and 30 minutes. The movements of a work are related to each other, though that might be difficult to perceive when you first listen. My primary request here is that to give Classical Music a decent chance, you close yourself off from the rest of the world and just listen to a work from start to finish. If you find you like that first hearing, then after you do this a few more times and have grown accustomed to the melodies and themes of the music (after all, 60 minutes of music is a lot to absorb), you might find you really love a work and decide to acquire the recommended performance of it.

Please bear in mind that music is an extremely personal thing. It is certainly more likely that you will dislike my favorite music than like it; otherwise all that music which I dislike would never have been listened to or even made. But that's OK, if only a few readers find something they really like then I'll have accomplished something good. By way of introduction, I favor melodic tonal music, and enjoy complex harmonies.

If you'd like a more comprehensive list, see Jeff's Favorite Classical Music.

If you find any broken links or items that are no longer available to buy, please email me so I can fix or update the link.

The Baroque Period (1600-1750) (I don't enjoy this period of music, but here's a popular sample in case you do.)

The Classical Period (1750-1820) (I don't enjoy this period of music, but here's a popular sample in case you do.)

The Romantic Period (1800-1910) (now we're into the good stuff, in my opinion. The music becomes emotionally charged.)

The Post-Romantic / Modern Period (1890-1960) (this is my wheelhouse)

The Contemporary Period (1950-present)


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