Classical/Orchestral Music?

Discussion in 'Music' started by Ryan&Amber2013, Nov 1, 2018.

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  1. Ryan&Amber2013

    Ryan&Amber2013 Puritan Board Junior

    So, I picked up a few classical CDs, and I'm trying to get into the style of music. I have a Bach CD, but honestly, it's almost too jumpy, fast, and filled with running scales for my taste. I have a Mozart CD as well, and so far I've really enjoyed that. Do you have any recommendations? Feel free to paste a YouTube link.

    There are some qualities I'm looking for:
    1. Catchy melodies that stick.
    2. Depth and ability to move emotions.
    3. Generally a full orchestral sound.

    Dr. Strange, if you read this, I would love to hear from you as well, as I know you have a good knowledge of classical music. Thanks guys!
  2. hammondjones

    hammondjones Puritan Board Sophomore

    Look for something from the Romantic period. Tchiakovsky would be a good place to start, there is a good "best of" on youtube. Also try Die Moldau by Smetana, a most excellent symphonic poem. Maybe Holst's The Planets, too. I'm also a big Rachmaninoff fan, and if you like piano concertos his #2 and #3 are definitive.
    Last edited: Nov 1, 2018
  3. Stephen L Smith

    Stephen L Smith Moderator Staff Member

    I love Franz Haydn, especially his Emperor String Quartet op76 no 3 slow movement

    I also love Haydn's symphony's.

    Here is a helpful book on the music of Haydn "Playing before the Lord: The Life and Work of Joseph Haydn", by Calvin R. Stapert.
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  4. Taylor Sexton

    Taylor Sexton Puritan Board Junior

    My undergraduate was in music, and I have a special love for music theory and history. So, I will try to express my opinions helpfully.

    In terms of the major musical movements since, say, the 1500s, there have been roughly five: 1) Renaissance, 2) Baroque, 3) Classical, 4) Romantic, 5) Modern/Twentieth Century.

    • The Renaissance period was characterized by combining melodies is an extremely strict but quite beautiful way. This is called counterpoint. This was, in my opinion, the golden age for vocal music. If you want haunting melodies sung together to make the most harmonious and gripping music you've ever (or never) heard, stick with the Renaissance period, the premier example being Palestrina. The music of this period sometimes seems directionless, because we have not yet hit the "functional harmony"—i.e., the music that has chords that "lead" to one another into a cadence, or finish—that was mastered in the Baroque period with men like Bach.
    • The Baroque period took the voice leading and counterpoint techniques of the Renaissance (which we extremely complex, mind you), simplified them into a few voice leading rules, and really focused on perfecting what we call "functional harmony," as well as giving music more complex forms. I picture Baroque music (my personal favorite era) as being very analytical. The reason why you felt the way you did about Bach (he is the figure head of this era) is probably because the music of this time period was really, REALLY focused on sticking within a very strict set of music forms and harmonic structures. Some of these musical forms are far more complex than the "ABA" styles we are so comfortable with today. A good example is the fugue, which to the untrained ear sounds like nonsense in terms of form. Where is this piece going? we might ask. In reality, the fugue, like most Baroque music, is probably one of the most thematically tight-knit and coherent forms of music ever devised. it is just hard to hear, which is why a lot of people find it boring. (I personally find it very exciting and gripping.)
    • The Classical period is when we find some expansion in the harmonic strictness of the Baroque period. We see some composers begin to stretch what "common practice" and "functional harmony" can do, all while still "playing by the rules." What we really notice about the Classical period, at least to me, is the solidification of music forms we still recognize today. The most recognizable is probably the sonata and with it the sonatina, which are really just big, sometimes complex "ABA" forms of music. The popular ear can more follow along with this kind of music. Furthermore, the music tends to be a little more emotion driven than the analytical music of the Baroque. Mozart and Beethoven are good examples of this; Mozart (like his teacher Haydn) could be very playful, and Beethoven could be quite dark.
    • The Romantic period is when we really begin to see composer stretch the limits of tonality (by this I mean music that has a certain key or center, "home" pitch). We see this a lot in people like Richard Wagner (of whom we actually hear a lot in Looney Tunes). In fact, he is often credited with breaking the first barrier on the road to Modern music with its emphasis on atonality. It is also in this era that composer really begin to abandon form and structure for the sake of ripping at the emotions. Again, Wagner is a good example of this. If you want gripping melodies and fantastic harmonies, go listen to his Prelude to Tristan und Isolde. You have some composers, though, who still want to hold onto Classical forms and structures, all the while still experimenting with newness in melody and harmony. Brahms is a good example of this. (He actually viewed himself as a musical opposite of Wagner, et al.)
    • The Modern era is where, essentially, all bets are off. Most composers begin to kind of just o what they want. Some composer lose all interest in seeing to it that their music has a recognizable key or pitch center. A good example of this "atonal" music would be Arnold Schoenberg (one of my all time favorite composers). You probably won't like it, though. It is in this period where the variety of music is near endless. You have many composers who, like Brahms, try to stick to older forms and structures found in previous periods; you have some who are still self-bound to tonality, but still want to experiment with wild harmonies and melodies; and then you have others who try to be as experimental as possible, even to the point of having no music at all. (Funny story: There was actually a piece of "music" written in the twentieth century that instructed the performer to throw a live hand grenade into the audience. The piece has obviously yet to be performed. The name escapes me, but it's in my music history textbook, if I remember correctly. That is how nuts modern "music" got.)
    My advice: If you want all three of the characteristics you listed above, I would stick with mid- to late-Classical and Romantic periods. I mentioned Mozart, Beethoven, Wagner, and Brahms. Other good ones would be, as one said above, Tchaikovsky, and any of the other Russian composers of this era (Mussorgsky, Rimsky-Korsakov, etc.). These Russians had a particular gift for writing very catchy and beautiful melodies, and they were simply masters of orchestration. Any of the Italian composers like Rossini and Puccini would be great, as well. I highly recommend Dmitri Shostakovich, even though he is technically Modern; he is one of the conservative "hold outs" that I mentioned, and because of his historical situation his music tends to be very emotional.

    I hope this helps. Please feel free to reach out personally if you have more questions.
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  5. Ryan&Amber2013

    Ryan&Amber2013 Puritan Board Junior

    Here are some of the styles I'm thinking of. I know they are from movies, but the songs are so beautiful, moving, and memorable.

  6. py3ak

    py3ak They're stalling and plotting against me Staff Member

    If you like Mozart (as you certainly should!), other composers who would probably be pleasing include:

    Johann Christian Bach

    Franz Joseph Haydn

    Johann Nepomuk Hummel

    Luigi Boccherini

    Giuseppe Sammartini

    Johann Baptist Vanhal

    Jean-Joseph de Mondonville

    A lot of these composers have considerable variety in what they composed. The list could easily be made twice as long. It's often easier to enjoy the orchestral sound than pieces for smaller ensembles. It's also often easier for people to enjoy instruments than voices. Mozart is a particularly sweet spot musically, and for many people, because he believed in music that delighted without hurting, and was brilliantly successful at that. On the YouTube channel "Composers by Numbers" you can find a huge trove of Mozart. Some of his early pieces that one hears only very rarely are absolutely astonishing in their loveliness.

    Baroque music is wider than J.S. Bach. If you find him hard to get along with, then it's quite possible that G.F. Handel, Antonio Vivaldi, Arcangelo Corelli, Jean-Philippe Rameau, or Henry Purcell will be more enjoyable for you. Especially if you like singing, this is quite a golden age for Baroque vocal performers, and many worthy but neglected composers are being recovered.
    Last edited: Nov 2, 2018
  7. Alan D. Strange

    Alan D. Strange Puritan Board Junior


    I've written several things on music in my denominational magazine New Horizons that I've linked to here in the past so I won't repeat that.

    I won't repeat, in fact, what a lot of the good brothers here have said, only to note that your second and third items (in your desiderata) seem to have been not properly attended to. Beethoven is the foundation of the Romantic (in his Third Symphony one sees the shift to that from Classical), but the apex of that, in my view (apart from Rachmaninoff and some other great Russians, also mentioned; don't neglect Shoshtakovich, especially his Fifth Symphony), is Anton Bruckner and Gustav Mahler.

    If you want something to move the emotions and a full orchestral sound, you cannot better these two, though their music is long and not necessarily "catchy." You might like to start with Bruckner's 4th, 7th, or 9th Symphonies and Mahler's 1st, 2nd, and 5th. I just heard an amazing Mahler 3rd at the CSO and then the Bruckner 6th, the latter conducted by Bernard Haitink in his American swan song. You'll need some time and patience for this but I know of nothing more moving and a fuller orchestral sound.

  8. Hamalas

    Hamalas whippersnapper

    A few recommendations that may fit your tastes:

  9. sc_q_jayce

    sc_q_jayce Puritan Board Freshman

    Do you have much experience in counterpoint? I've started to try to read Gradus ad Parnassum by Johann Fux for part of my music lessons.
  10. timfost

    timfost Puritan Board Junior

    Then listen to Debussy's fun little piece with the same name! (Well, "Doctor...")
  11. Southern Presbyterian

    Southern Presbyterian Moderator Staff Member

    Almost anything by John Williams.
  12. Taylor Sexton

    Taylor Sexton Puritan Board Junior

    I took a sixteenth century counterpoint class in music school, but that was around six years ago. It’s probably more than fuzzy. I am much better with eighteenth century.
  13. Stephen L Smith

    Stephen L Smith Moderator Staff Member

    I appreciated your comments Taylor (I admit I have only given selected quotes becuse of space but your whole post should be read together). I hope Reformed music critics write more on this - it has worldview implications, as well as been relevant re debates over music style etc.
  14. timfost

    timfost Puritan Board Junior

    Some favorites:

    Rachmaninoff 2nd and 3rd piano concertos

    Ravel piano works (2nd piano concerto for left hand is great, too!)

    Beethoven symphonies, esp. 7 and 9

    Franck Prelude, Chorale and Fugue

    Mahler Das Lied Von Der Erde
  15. Elizabeth

    Elizabeth Puritan Board Sophomore

    Calm Radio(free to use with ads that aren't overly troublesome, available as an app both for android and apple) has an absolutely stellar line-up of curated classical stations.

    It's a great way to explore lots of different composers/musical eras, etc. Their Renaissance and Sacred Choir stations are among my favorites.

    I am linking to Tune-In just so you can see some of the variety offered on Calm (to see the line-up on Calm, you need to register).

    Subscriptions to Calm(no ads, higher quality streaming) are reasonable and very much worth the cost to the true classical music lover.

    Did I mention their Cantata station? Ahh..bliss
  16. Reformed Bookworm

    Reformed Bookworm Puritan Board Sophomore

    Classical, modern classical, and jazz are my favorite forms of music.
    Two modern pianists/composers that are phenomenal are Maxence Cyrin, and Ludovico Einaudi.
    Nocturnes (Solo Piano):

    Chopin Complete Nocturnes performed by Brigitte Engerer is beautiful.

  17. jwithnell

    jwithnell Moderator Staff Member

    Italian Baroque and Chopin are easy to like as are many of the adagio movements such as what is found in the Beethoven 7th and Mendellsohn's 4th symphonies. Bach wrote so much specifically for worship, you'll likely recognize some pieces.
  18. Ryan&Amber2013

    Ryan&Amber2013 Puritan Board Junior

    That is a crazy music video. The man saves the woman and gets killed doing it?
  19. Ryan&Amber2013

    Ryan&Amber2013 Puritan Board Junior

    So far, I think Beethoven has been the composer I've enjoyed the most.
  20. Reformed Bookworm

    Reformed Bookworm Puritan Board Sophomore

    I guess I've never watched the videos. I usually just listen to the album playlist in the background on Youtube Red.
  21. Tom Hart

    Tom Hart Puritan Board Junior

    Clearly, you are a man of exceptional taste.

    Beethoven is my favourite composer. His 3rd Symphony I love the most. It has an interesting backstory, which, for me, makes it so much more exciting. With any work by Beethoven, look for recordings with Herbert von Karajan as conductor.

    Bach's organ works and choral works are incomparable. See the Mattäus-Passion and the Johannes-Passion which are basically sung Scripture interspersed with arias, hymns, etc. Bach's cantatas are deeply theological as well. A favourite of mine is "Ich hatte viel Bekümmernis" ("I had great sorrow").

    Wagner. Don't forget about Wagner. Start with something like the Tannhäuser Overture.

    If ever you have the opportunity, do see a live performance sometime.
    Last edited: Nov 18, 2018
  22. py3ak

    py3ak They're stalling and plotting against me Staff Member

    Schroeder from Peanuts acknowledged the merits of others, but there's a reason his closet is full of busts of Beethoven. The big works are some of his better known, but I find that some of his smaller, quieter, charming pieces are still unforgettable -- like this one.

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