why classical?

Discussion in 'Classical Music' started by bottleneck, Mar 16, 2005.

  1. bottleneck

    bottleneck talks a load of rubbish

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    What got you into classical music?


    Over the last 6 weeks I've changed my radio alarm clock in the morning from a conventional pop station to classic FM.

    I now wake up with a smile and relaxed instead of a bit grouchy* (my usual state!)

    Interestingly though, classical music has become to 'make sense' more. I've wondered if listening to the music in a semi-comatosed state has helped it to get into my head sublimally, or perhaps familiarity has made it more pleasurable, or maybe even Im understanding the musical structure more now with repeated listening.

    This whole thought process just leads me to ask the classical buffs, what made you get into classical music? - and has your taste in classical music changed over the years?
     
    bottleneck, Mar 16, 2005
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  2. bottleneck

    Dev Moderator

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    No idea Chris. Heard it on the radio and liked it. Now while driving I listen to ClassicFM. I remember hearing Beethoven's 5th when I was very young and I still like it. I can't say if my taste has changed. I still like the sort of music I used to like a couple of decades ago, Classical or otherwise.
     
    Dev, Mar 16, 2005
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  3. bottleneck

    michaelab desafinado

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    I was brought up with my parents listening to it :) .

    Michael.
     
    michaelab, Mar 16, 2005
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  4. bottleneck

    McLogan

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    I was confined to bed with the flu when I was around 14. The announcer on the portable radio said that for the next 40 minutes we would be listening to something called the Emperor Concerto by someone named Beethoven. I felt too rotten to lean over and switch this rubbish off so it stayed on for the whole 40 minutes. And I loved it - the whole thing made so much sense. My interest progressed and widened from there, but I still have an affection for this particular work over and above anything else. It was played by a one-name pianist called Solomon, and since then I've worn out two vinyl discs of his recording. Testament issued it on CD not long ago so now I don't have to worry. Also, I had this vision of operatic singers being fat and ugly elderly men and women producing what I thought were artificial strangled sounds. Then I saw an early Mario Lanza movie an realised how wrong I was. In regressing to my childhood I recently bought a Lanza CD, and reminded myself that this was potentially a great voice. A pity that he never took the final steps in learning how to use and preserve it.
     
    McLogan, Mar 17, 2005
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  5. bottleneck

    griffo104

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    For a change. At the time I was a bit of a headbanger but all the new bands were sounding like G'n'R and Metallica had sold out to stadium rock (rip) so I fancied trying something else.

    Bought Dvorak's 9th (cos it had a cool title - symphony from the new world) while purchasing Clash albums on CD (for the first time, sadly not the last) in a sale at WHSmiths. Got home finally got round to playing the symphony. I'm sure the only reason I continued to listen to it was recognising the fact it had the old Hovis ad tune in it but it got me hooked and I went out finding more - at a fiver a shot the Naxos discs were worth a gamble especially considering how much I spent on my music habit.

    The first serious major label discs I bought were Shostakovich 10, Mahler 6 and La Strada (Nina Rota - absolutely stunning disc).

    Still headbang but am amazed at some of the extreme sounds from some modern composers and some of the beautiful sounds from the old school (especially Bach and Haydn). Although I think the appreciation has come with maturity as most classical music can be enjoyed once you have the time to sit and enjoy it.
     
    griffo104, Mar 17, 2005
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  6. bottleneck

    badchamp Thermionic Member

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    So was I - but that only had the effect of turning me against it :D , however, had been increasingly looking for more and more challenging rock music (i still think that some of the more epic "prog" rock is a good lead in to orchestral)and decided to check out some orchestral stuff. Bought a copy of Brahms Symphony no.2. Couldn't get on with it. Then when I was about 27 I met a bloke at one of my badminton clubs who was a studio manager for radio 3 who encouraged me to keep on with it and who also recommended some other composers. Gradually I got the "hang" of some of the more popular pieces and went on from there. Interestingly at the same badminton club we had the timpanist from the LSO !
     
    badchamp, Mar 17, 2005
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  7. bottleneck

    tones compulsive cantater

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    Happy St. Pat's everyone!

    My late father played in a flute band (very popular in Northern Ireland). As well as leading the Orangemen to the Field every 12th July, the more sophisticated bands would have as contest pieces Rossini overtures, excerpts from Mozart, Strauss (Viennese) and so on. (A frequent adjudicator in these contests was a former band alumnus, one J. Galway). So, I grew up with light classical stuff. My first venture into deeper stuff was a record of Beethoven's 6th "Pastoral" in a record library up near Queen's University. I liked this so much I wanted more.

    For years, I stuck to the classical/romantic stuff. It was a friend who sang in Melbourne's best choir that introduced me to Bach. That and hearing a new recording of Cantata BWV140 "Wachet auf, ruft uns die Stimme" (Sleepers, awake) while working under the car one Saturday afternoon. It took a while to "get" Bach, but I did eventually, and now, while I still love Beethoven and the rest, I'm more a baroque lover. That Melbourne Choir also gave me my first listen to what has become my very favourite piece of music, the Monteverdi 1610 Vespers.

    Having gone backwards in time musically, I tried going forward in time. Alas, I confess to conspicuous failure there. While I have no problems with Shostakovitch, anything non-melodic or atonal, I can't handle at all - so no (later) Schönberg, Stockhausen, Boulez, etc. I can't relate to this stuff at all, although I will admit to its value for scaring away the neighbourhood cats.
     
    tones, Mar 17, 2005
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  8. bottleneck

    Joe

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    Having been forcibly 'exposed' to classical music at school, a guaranteed turn-off, I finally got into it properly after hearing Vaughn Williams' 'A Lark Ascending' on the radio late one night.

    My tastes are fairly conservative (small-scale work by Haydn, Mozart, Schubert feature heavily in my collection), but are broadening, though not, as yet, as far as opera.

    What has made a difference here is improving my hi-fi. The first classical record I bought was Friscay conducting the BPO in Beethoven's 3rd and 5th symphonies. On my then system, it sounded mediocre and muddled. Having recently dug it out of a cupboard and played it on my current system I can enjoy the performance despite still being aware of the weaknesses in the recording. Solti conducting Mahler's 1st symphony, where both performance and recording are examplary, is jaw-droppingly good. String quartets and solo piano can sound reasonable on mediocre systems, but big orchestral and choral works IMO need something bigger/better.
     
    Joe, Mar 17, 2005
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  9. bottleneck

    NickM

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    My parents didn't listen to much music of any kind, but when I was 6 (in 1963) my father bought a cheap and primitive little record player and started to acquire occasional World Record Club classical LPs. But it was me that played them; the music was so obviously much BETTER than the stuff my playmates listened to. The first ones to make a real impression were Rachmaninoff's 2nd concerto, Beethoven's 3rd concerto (played by Solomon), Tchaikovsky's violin concerto (Milstein), Scheherazade... and my own very first purchase, bought with my 7th birthday money: the 1812 overture, split over two sides of a 7" EP. The record player wouldn't go loud enough for my liking, so I would listen with one ear right up to its tinny little speaker...

    The Beatles (and the various other popular music combos of the time) seemed pretty feeble after this... although Rolf Harris's "Sunaround" LP and the soundtrack of Mary Poppins did hold my attention for a while. Well, I was only 7!
     
    NickM, Mar 17, 2005
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  10. bottleneck

    NickM

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    Me neither, but I wouldn't worry - having tried and failed to get anything out of that Emperor's-new-clothes kind of stuff I have long since come to the conclusion that it isn't music. It bears the same relationship to music as the likes of Damien Hirst do to art :rolleyes:

    I know somebody who studied under Stockhausen. Her opinion of the great avant-garde master? A con man.
     
    NickM, Mar 17, 2005
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  11. bottleneck

    alanbeeb Grumpy young fogey

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    I got into classical by chance. A chap I shared a flat with in 1989 bought a cheap hifi with a CD player (still a bit of a novelty then) and a Classical Experience CD which I listened to a lot and decided I wanted to hear the rest of the piecees. At the same time my dad had bought a new midi hifi and some random classical CDs including Tchaikovsky's 6th which floored me. I was hooked from then on.

    Listening to classical music is different to pop or rock - its not just the immediate thing that you are hearing, you are unconsciously relating what you are hearing now to what you were hearing seconds or minutes or even hours ago, and listening forwards to what you are anticpiating to come in the music. This is why most good music sounds better 2nd and subsequent times.... the anticipation of what is still to come is part of the experience.

    Listening to a good sympony, concerto, quartet etc is a similar experience for me as watching a play or reading a novel, in terms of the emotional and intellectual payload it delivers.

    I started off liking the usual big romantics, especially the Russians like Tchaikovsky, Rimsky and Rachmaninov. After a while I found them too easy and wanted more challenging music, so along came Mahler, Bruckner, Brahms etc.
    After that I spent a pretty much wasted year working in the classical music dept. of a big record shop (Tower in Glasgow) where I could play whatever I wanted most of the time and I was exposed to a vast amount of music.

    Since then my tastes have spread outwards in several directions. I rarely listen to Tchaikovsky or Rach without wanting to shout "pull yourself together!" at it as they are a bit over-emoting and melancholic. Rach's later works are much better though.

    Bach provides just about all the baroque music I need, and I rarely listen to anything previous to him, although recently discovered a great disc by the Palladian Ensemble of Marais and Rebel. Oh, and Pergolesi's Stabat Mater.

    Mozart and Haydn have only come to me in last 8 or 9 years, at first I dismissed Mozart as too much froth and frilliness but now see the hidden depths of humanity in his music. All the great German/Austrian composers and Dvorak too are favourites, but most especially Brahms who I keep coming back to - he can do more in 40 minutes in terms of emotional distance travelled, without hysteria, than Mahler can do in 90 with his constant "look at me! look how I suffer!". I wouldn't want to be without Mahler though... but often find myself listening to selected movements from his symphonies rather than the whole thing. Another corrective to over-Mahlerdom is my other favourite - Sibelius.

    I used to be able to sit through complete Wagner operas but no longer have the mental or intellectual stamina. In fact I've rather gone off listening to opera at home nowadays as find it too offputing to try to follow the music and a printed libretto. If I was going to the opera I'd prefer it to be by Puccini, Wagner (with intervals), Debussy or Britten. I can't stand the music in Verdi.

    I find now that an awful lot of my favourite music comes from the years 1914-1950, from about the end of Mahler & Puccini's careers, the cultural divide of the First World War. In this period there were so many styles of classical music trying to find their way while at the same time classical music itself was losing its importance in a world of mass communication and entertainment. Berg, Stravinsky, Prokofiev, Bartok, Vaughan Williams, Walton, Britten, Tippett, Shostakovich, Szymanowski and many others make this period one of the richest.

    I try to make an effort with modern and contemporary music, with mixed success. I worry about the fact that so much time is spent listening to music written by people who died a long time ago - what does it say about our modern culture, or what does it say about our attitude to modern culture?

    I've greatly enjoyed Maxwell Davies's symphonies and Worldes Bliss is a masterpiece. James MacMillan's music I find a bit erratic but I reckon the Confession of Isobel Gowdie, the percussion concerto Veni Veni Emmanuel and his 2nd symphony are enduring works that will still be played for years to come. I bought his 3rd Symphony on CD yesterday and quite enjoyed it last night but his 2nd made more impact. Other contemporary (or only recently dead) composers whose work I enjoy are Dutilleux (Cello Concerto especially) Lutoslawski (3rd and 4th Symphonies), Holmboe, Aho, Jennifer Higdon, Sally Beamish, Ades, Berkeley and others.

    A couple of years ago I discovered John Adams.... before I had dismissed him as one of the boring minimalists like Reich and Glass whose music I have little time for (who knows I may have changed my mind on that in 10 years :) )
    I find his music anything but minimalist, and Harmonielehre and Harmonium are massively brilliant works that totally grabbed me.

    None of these composers could be described as avant-garde. In all of them you can hear the heritage of the music stretching back to earlier models and other composers. I think that is part of the appeal of classical music - playing spot the influence!

    I've tried to get on with more abstract modern music - Boulez makes lovely sound but I don't get the music. Same with Carter, Cage and Lindberg (though I may yet soften to the CD I have of "Aura" by him). I enjoyed Birtwhistle's Earth Dances, but more as sound than music.

    Whatever, I would encourage people not to dismiss modern music, sure a lot of it is inaccessible to most of us but there is good music that makes sense still being written, and not just the stuff on Classic FM (Einaudi, Jenkins etc). If we don't listen to things because they are new, then all we will have left will be museum pieces.
     
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    alanbeeb, Mar 17, 2005
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  12. bottleneck

    pe-zulu

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    When I was rather young, I was sent to pianoteaching and went with my parents to concerts - almost only romantic music - ,
    attending names like Kubelik,Fricsay,Ormandy,Brendel,Kempff and the like. At home we listened to recordings by Klemperer,Fricsay,van Beinum,Rubenstein,Gilels,Grumiaux among others. But the decisive events for me was hearing Helmut Walchas recording of Bachs 6. Partita, and later the WTC, and also Karl Munchingers first set of Brandenburgs. From that time (i.e. when I heard them, ca 1962) I started to investigate Bach in particular, but also historical music as a whole. To day I don't listen any more to much romantic music, and Beethoven is the only romantic composer ,I definitely don't want to miss. I have tried to get accustomed to modern music too, but I have failed, only Bartok can keep my attention alert. I think it is a mistake to regard historic music as museal, most of it has got the same actuality to day as when it was written, the question is only if you understand the style, just in the same way e.g. Shakespeare and van Gogh always will be relevant.
     
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    pe-zulu, Mar 17, 2005
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  13. bottleneck

    michaelab desafinado

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    Me too, how could I have forgotten to mention that? :eek: . Have been playing "the old joanna" since the age of 5. At first coerced by my parents and I hated it but by the age of 15/16 I was glad they'd put me through it because I grew to love it. Playing the piano kept me sane through boarding school :MILD:

    Michael.
     
    michaelab, Mar 17, 2005
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  14. bottleneck

    lordsummit moderate mod

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    Why classical what an interesting question. Have been meaning to get round to this all day, but you know life just gets in the way sometimes.

    For me it was all because I started playing the violin at the age of 8, and something about that clicked. My mum says before that I always used to love things like Strauss waltzes, Tchaikovsky and Mozart, and would dance around to it. We had no telly till I was about 12, and we used to listen to a lot of radio. They weren't musical, but both liked a good tune. so that was what I was used to. The violin opened my eyes to other stuff, and as a spent the next 16 years trying to make a career as a musician, but failing I guess I developed a pretty good understanding of classical music, not just an appreciation.
    Anyone who knows me will know that Wagner, Schubert, Bach and Mozart are my favourites. particularly Wagner, and all the ultra-romantics especially so. Like most I think I find the academically inspired music and the avant-garde tedious. I find that even knowing how they did and why hasn't increased my appreciation any. IN fact I'd go so far as to say music classical music lost it's way in the 20th century. Their is really no cohesive music. Mind you that's Wagner and Richard Strauss's fault.
    I'm glad now performing as a career never happened, I'm not single minded enough, I like to have time for myself to sit and listen, and sometimes just sit to paraphrase pooh bear. I was very depressed 10 years ago when I gave up the ambition, but I'm so glad I did now. I appreciate music more, and am happy to do other things. I've been asked to play piano in a jazz band, and am pestered constantly to MD musicals and light opera for am-dram societies, I find it really refreshing not to have to do things, but only do what I want to do. I sitll do play the fiddle, but not very much, it probably comes out far too infrequently.
    So classical is just part of my musical listening, but a big part. Probably 75% of what I listen to is classical. I love the thrill of finding new, but most of all I love buying cheap records and uncovering gems, I found I had 6 copies of Ariadne auf Naxos recently, but I've still not decided which of them I'm going to give up. Ultimately I appreciate the beauty in classical music, going for I suspect what could be termed the aesthetic spurning the academic. That is what I would encourage anyone to do
     
    lordsummit, Mar 17, 2005
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  15. bottleneck

    bottleneck talks a load of rubbish

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    So then, basically 'music for pleasure' ?

    Definately my motto, the alternative I guess being 'music for pain' ! (no thanks)

    One comment on classic FM.
    Is it just me, or is the play list limited? - I lack the breadth of knowledge of classical music to know this for sure.
     
    bottleneck, Mar 17, 2005
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  16. bottleneck

    pe-zulu

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    Remenber:

    Music, music for a while
    shall all your cares beguile

    (John Dryden, music by Purcell)
     
    pe-zulu, Mar 17, 2005
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  17. bottleneck

    lordsummit moderate mod

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    Indeed music for pleasure is a very good motto. I'm glad my post made sense to somebody.
    Classic FM is very limited, and dare I say it rather easy listening. They seldom challenge. If anyone wants recomendations please follow the beginners guide, or just ask. Perhaps we should start a 'If you like this try......' thread where we can post what we've enjoyed and get recomendations of the same ilk?
     
    lordsummit, Mar 17, 2005
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  18. bottleneck

    alanbeeb Grumpy young fogey

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    Classic FM is very limited.... it has pleasant tunes on it all day, the same ones again and again ad nauseum. Try radio 3 sometimes, especially when they have got concerts on, and Record Review on Saturday mornings.
     
    alanbeeb, Mar 17, 2005
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  19. bottleneck

    PeteH Natural Blue

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    Why classical? Because nearly anything else frankly seems tame and pointless by comparison. As something of a tiresome classical music evangelist, I think the more pertinent question is: why not classical? :)

    I was lucky enough to receive a decent exposure to classical music from my parents and siblings while growing up, though I've ended up the most obsessive listener / record collector of the family by some distance. I've found that my early experiences of music have produced curious effects when I've rediscovered works that I must have heard at length aged 6 or whatever - for example, a tune that I just took for granted and assumed everyone knew is actually, I was amazed to discover some years ago, the last movement of Brahms's double concerto.

    Taking up the violin shortly before turning 7 was pretty formative, particularly playing in various youth orchestras and things. The first recording I really got obsessed with was, I think, Grumiaux's version of the Mendelssohn violin concerto, and I spent a very long time trying to play the first movement the way Grumiaux did (except obviously I was much better :rolleyes: :D ). I don't play terribly seriously these days, but I've been left with a particularly soft spot for really good violin playing - Frank Peter Zimmermann's breathtaking set of Ysaye's solo violin sonatas is a CD I'm especially fond of partly just because it's the most awesome display of flawlessly clean sustained virtuosity I've ever had the pleasure to hear.

    Discovering new music is a constant delight - as I type I've just opened my recently-purchased Rattle set of Szymanowski's opera King Roger, and f*** me it's gorgeous :eek: - and then of course there's also the often-fascinating experience of comparing different performances of one's favourite works. I think my tastes have probably just broadened over the years, rather than actually changing - aged 15, I couldn't understand how anyone could possibly like Shostakovich's quartets...

    The way you say that, it sounds almost like the two are mutually exclusive. Which of course they're not :)
     
    PeteH, Mar 18, 2005
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  20. bottleneck

    lordsummit moderate mod

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    Indeed they're not, but I won't listen to something because it's academically pleasing, but a right earache to listen to
     
    lordsummit, Mar 18, 2005
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