In an effort to have a more eclectic blog, I promised to review stuff like music and movies in my Review Policies. I thought I’d start by finding out if there are any classical music lovers here. And if not, I thought I’d try to persuade some of you to give it a try. Hence the title of this post.
When I was a kid, my father listened to classical music, but it didn’t really rub off. It wasn’t exactly cool. Then, sometime in the 80s, a friend of mine brought over Amadeus to watch. I was absolutely spellbound. It lit the fire. I wanted more. But where to begin?
I bought recordings, but you have it easy. You have YouTube. This is an introduction, so I’m going to stick to major composers.
I began with Mozart. And I think you should too. You already know much of his music without even realizing it. That snappy tune that they play in the movie trailers for every romantic comedy ever released? That’s Eine Kleine Nachtmusik, which means A Little Night Music. The opening theme to Amadeus is his Symphony 25 in C Minor, which you’ve also probably heard. His best-known piano sonata is also known as Rondo Alla Turca, or Turkish March. If you read sheet music, it’s fascinating to listen to this while following along.
Start by following the above links, and then follow the “related” video links. And you’ll get some nice exposure to Mozart. He wrote a lot of stuff, and I do mean a LOT, so you could entertain yourself for quite a while. I could do an entire blog post on Mozart, but I won’t, at least not yet.
Mozart belongs to the Classical era of Classical music. There are several eras. Here are the distinctions between the major eras.
Baroque. This is the early stuff. Bach and Handel both belonged to the Baroque period. It is often heavy organ music (Bach’s Toccata and Fugue in D Minor), but also can be string ensembles. There is often a harpsichord. Here is the Hornpipe from Handel’s Water Music, which is one of my favorite pieces from this period. Another huge favorite is Vivaldi’s Four Seasons (here is Summer). And of course, Pachelbel’s Canon, which every musician learns, but which almost every musical snob hates. And I probably did a disservice to Bach here, who composed tons of music, from dance music to church music.
Haydn preceded Mozart in the Classical era, and he sounds much like Mozart, in my opinion. I don’t know a lot of Haydn’s work, but I do have Jacqueline DuPre playing his Cello Concerto. And here is a trumpet concerto.
But what’s a concerto? An orchestra with a soloist.
On to Beethoven. Where to begin? Start with the 5th. Just start up the video, turn out all the lights, and do nothing but listen. Especially listen to the melodies going on in the background. There’s a reason why it’s a classic.
Then, you really must give the Moonlight Sonata a listen. What’s a sonata? One or two instruments. In this case, the piano. Often, a sonata will have a star instrument with a piano as accompaniment. I think of the first movement of the Moonlight Sonata as watching a moonlit lake. The second movement (or part) is very brief and light–a dance by moonlight. And the third movement? It’s like being chased by a werewolf!
Beethoven could also be playful. Try Rage Over a Lost Penny (played by a 10-year-old!).
Wow; this took a lot of time. Since I’ve given you a lot to listen to, I’m going to split this in several parts. Please let me know what you think!