Wandering through classical music

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Wandering through classical music

So, I'm on something of a journey through classical music.

Started as a teenager with Vivaldi's four seasons because my friends and I thought it looked sophisticated (ha!). Got a box set of Beethoven symphonies and fell in love. Moved on to Mozart symphonies and piano sonatas.

In my 20s I enjoyed some Prokofiev and Bach particularly Glenn Gould's Goldberg Variations/preludes and fugues. Chopin also appeared.

Late 20s got lost in house music/britpop.

Early 30s returned to Beethoven but the late piano sonatas. Discovering Richard Strauss' 4 Last Songs through the proms felt like a major turning point. On to Brahms symphonies, so stirring and inspirational!

Elgar's Sea Pictures - what beauty!

Sibelius 1 and 2!

and now in my 40s, to cap it all, I have discovered the Mahler symphonies and it feels like a whole new world has opened up. Mahler seems to have everything.

I guess I've ended up here because none of my peer group share the interest.

So where next? What journeys have everyone else been on?



RE: Wandering through classical music

If I might suggest a next destination on your journey, try Schoenberg - and if you want to stay on the train as it crosses the border into a new world, Ligeti.

RE: Wandering through classical music

On the way to Schoenberg have a stop over at Bruckner, Janacek and Bartok. Don't be in such a rush!

RE: Wandering through classical music

A long journey,for sure.Maybe a lifetime not time enough.

The port of call for me at present is music from France.Getting to know the keyboard works of Debussy.Ravel to follow. A unique sound world that I find completely captivating.The chamber pieces of Faure has the same effect.Must have been something in the water, as french composers looked at Wagner and made up their mind"not going there".

For some listeners,me included, Romanticism begins to wear a bit thin.The only Mahler symphony I ever play these days is the 9th.Which I do admit to loving.The rest is like having sugar in tea,makes me pull a funny face!

I agree with post that Schoenberg is worth investigating.A lot of the music is not as difficult as people think.

RE: Wandering through classical music

My suggestion is to make sure you cover the basics. So, cover plenty of Bach. Bach is the music, as some old professors used to say.

Haydn is another Master you have to explore to get into this kind of Music. Mozart and Beethoven's Chamber Music is of the utmost interest and significance.

Finally, you seem to have missed so far Schubert and Mendelssohn as well as Schumann. All these are major composers, absolutely necessary to help you form your perception about the Classical Music.


RE: Wandering through classical music

Haydn and Schubert, yes indeed, lovely stuff.  More fine classical:  Johann Nepomuk Hummel, unjustly neglected now, considered in his day the equal of Beethoven.

I see you already know some Bach.  I was going to say, don't be discouraged if you can't get on with him.  Personally I find a huge turning point somewhere around 1750, after which music speaks to my soul and before which it sometimes speaks to my mind but often does nothing for me, with rare exceptions.  The two great exceptions that I recommend to you if you want to go backwards rather than forwards in time, are Purcell and Monteverdi.

RE: Wandering through classical music

I would give a hit at all of Rachmaninoff piano concertos at once plus "Corelli Variations" and why not some Scriabin? "Vers la flamme" is a must:


RE: Wandering through classical music

Schoenberg and Ligeti will just make it seem like a long journey.

RE: Wandering through classical music

Thank you for you for your responses, it's good to get a little nudge in another direction. I do seem to be stuck on the romantics at present. I have greatly enjoyed the Rachmaninov piano concertos in the past, and have some Schubert sonatas. I do enjoy what Bach I know - Goldbergs / preludes & fugues / brandenburghs / double violin concerto for it's structure and energy.

I will probably be shot down in flames for this but...Mahler (symphonies) seems to have more narrative and depth, I find I am taken through a greater range of emotions...although I appreciate their length provides greater opportunity.

Can anyone suggest where to go with Mahler after the symphonies?

RE: Wandering through classical music

macca wrote:
Can anyone suggest where to go with Mahler after the symphonies?

I assume you know Das Lied von der Erde already - to me it's the absolute highlight of his oeuvre, and it's sometimes ranked among the symphonies (after all, Mahler himself called it a "symphony for voices and orchestra" and it's said that only his superstitious fear of labeling a symphony "the ninth" (after which composers tend to drop dead) prevented him from giving it that number.)
I'd say, go for the Klemperer or Horenstein versions, both very different but equally satisfying. Or the much underrated Paul Kletzki, in the alternative version for tenor and baritone - with a wonderful Fisher-Dieskau.

Then there are the various song cycles, from early in his career (Lieder eines Fahrenden Geselles and the symphony-length cycle of Wunderhorn-songs) and halfway through (Ruckert-songs and Kindertotenlieder) which are a must-hear.
I'd say, go for Janet Baker as a soloist in all of of these, you can't go wrong.

There's also his first major work "Das Klagende Lied", written when he was 20, but with an originality and maturity far beyond his age. Chailly's recording of the complete piece (Mahler later dropped the first movement and edited the rest) is my favorite version.

Talking about early Mahler, if you like his style, check out the Symphony in E major by Hans Rott, Mahler's close friend. This piece was written even before Das Klagende Lied, but it has stunning premonitions of Mahler's symphonic style, up to the point that many commentors wondered if Mahler had committed plagiarism when the symphony was rediscovered after being forgotten for over 100 years.
Specially the scherzo of the symphony is a revelation: without exaggeration one could call it the first truly modern symphonic movement, predating anything of Mahler, Strauss, Wolf, Debussy and others.

It's worth reading a bit about Rott's tragic short life (he died at age 24 in the madhouse) since it gives a lot of insight in how the war between the conservatives and Wagnerites in Germany caused careers to be ruined while other prospered. It also features Brahms in a very ugly role as Rott's nemesis, and Bruckner in a noble and sympathetic part as Rott's teacher and protector.

RE: Wandering through classical music

excellent, cheers - no, other than Janet Baker, all new to me although a quick dip in to Youtube and you've hit the nail on the head with Hans Rott. More money on it's way to Amazon...

Reverend Bong I did listen to a little Schoenberg this afternoon. Hmmm, a bit tricky for an un-educated ear like mine - maybe when I hit my 50s? Although I had earmarked Wagner for that decade ;-)


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