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Classical 101

Boyce Helps to Build Your Music Collection

In a recent article for an on-campus publication at Ohio State, I was asked "How Can I Start A Music Collection?" It also came up at a concert a while back because someone's young daughter was interested in finding some things to listen to and didn't know where to begin. My answer to that question which is, of course, very subjective. One addition to the list: if you're looking for symphonies, look no further than Beethoven. The trip from No. 1 to No. 9 is in a category all by itself!

What composers would make a perfect "top five" starting point for listeners who wanted to immerse themselves in the genre and why?

  1. At the risk of getting in trouble with Bach or Vivaldi fans, I’ll pick Handel from the Baroque era.His choral music is fabulous, his orchestral writing fits so many different occasions, and there are GREAT stories about his personality.>However, you can’t go wrong with the other two, either.
  2. Next, Mozart.You’ll hear Haydn’s influence in his music, as well as Bach’s, so you get more for your dollar.His operas are a great beginning point for stepping into the opera world, because most will agree he never wrote a bad melody.No matter what of Mozart’s music you listen to, you can’t go wrong.He was a great violinist, so his five concertos belong in your collection, but he really loved the keyboard, so you also need his twenty-seven piano concertos.Then there are his sonatas, symphonies, variations: just buy it all!
  3. Now Mendelssohn.He revived the music of J.S. Bach, held Handel in high esteem, wrote music which reflected his education and his travels all over Europe, taught at the prestigious Leipzig Conservatory and conducted at the Leipzig Gewandhaus, highly respected centers of musical education and performance.  He did all of this in a life which, like Mozart, ended much too early.
  4. Then Schubert.He explored the human voice in a magnificent way.Schubert wrote over 600 songs, along with his nine symphonies, his famous Trout Quintet, a number of string quartets, piano pieces, and much, much more.However, it’s his songs that will melt your heart! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OR9Yy7dqh4o
  5. Tchaikovsky.Even those just beginning to listen to classical music have heard something by Tchaikovsky.Swan Lake. Sleeping Beauty. The Nutcracker. All classics. His Capriccio Italien, March Slav, and the Romeo and Juliet Fantasy Overture are standards on our radio station.And who hasn’t heard the 1812 Overture?

Those are the big five, for me, but there is an addendum: