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Random Thoughts on… Classical Music

Classical music has had a big influence in my life. My parents are both lovers of classical music. (Probably my dad more than my mom, but I’m not too sure there.) It was pretty much all we had on at home growing up. Lots of ::wikipedia(“Bach”):: and ::wikipedia(“Beethoven”):: all the way through ::wikipedia(“Rimsky_Korsakov”,”Rimsky-Korsakov”):: and ::wikipedia(“Igor_Stravinsky”,”Stravinsky”)::. I started playing the piano at age 7 and thus entered a bunch more classical music. I played lots of Bach, Chopin, Beethoven, Debussy, and Grieg. I really enjoyed it. I was the nerdy kid who at age 12 listened to a NPR program where they compared two new recordings of Rachmaninoff’s Vespers, and enjoyed it. But I digress.

It’s hard to say which composer or era is my favorite. I love the Baroque for Bach (Das Wohltemperierte Klavier) and Handel (The Messiah, Water Music). I dig the classical and romantic periods: the beauty of Mozart, the intensity of Beethoven, the breadth of the piano works of Chopin. I about wore out a tape of Haydn Cello Concertos whilst growing up, and Dennis Brain’s legendary recording of Mozart Horn Concertos is never far from my iPod’s playlist. But then you get to Rachmaninoff. Of all the composers, I adore Rachmaninoff. I fell in love with his second Piano Concerto in my teens, managed to learn enough to hack my way through the easier bits of it, then in college reacquainted myself with Vespers and more of his solo piano works. They’re ridiculously difficult to play, but remain my favorites. And don’t let me forget the French guys like Debussy and Poulenc.

I have to confess that my appreciation for “classical music” written in the later parts of the 20th century wanes quite a bit. I have yet to develop the love for Stravinsky that my father has. Neither am I real fond of Ives, Barber, or Bartok. Aaron Copland is on my “love him” list, though, as is Ralph Vaughan Williams. As for real modern stuff, I’m not really current on it. I’ve heard a bit of Alan Hovhaness that I liked. By the time you get the late 20th century, the orchestral stuff I really enjoy has mostly been written as film scores by guys like John Williams, John Barry, and James Horner.

So, more than you wanted to know about my tastes in classical music, right? Feel free to leave comments below.

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  1. I have such a love/hate relationship with Chopin.

    I’d add Saint-Saens, especially Piano Concerto no. 5 too my list in addition to what you have there. Also Vaughan Williams “The Lark Ascending” is what got me totally hooked on his music.

    Shostakovich is another of my favorites. Something about those Russians and the way they write music, I’m tellin’ you.

    I’ve never been a fan of instrumental classical music though, piano’s my one true love. But I will gladly listen to the Beethoven cello sonata’s, or a Brahm’s trio for cello and clarinet!

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