Q: I’m interested in classical music, but it’s a bit intimidating for a neophyte. Are there any resources on the web for someone like me?
Data Directions Inc. / Frank Kostek
A: There are indeed. Sprinkled amongst the four trillion Lady Gaga and Maroon 5 sites are some excellent resources for classical music lovers of all experience levels, and I’m just the PropellerHead to help you get a Handel on them. So sit Bach and I’ll give you a quick tour.
First, check out Classical Net (www.classical.net). You will find numerous resources and links to classical sites, but one of the most useful features is the “Basic Repertoire List.” This includes a section entitled “Where do I begin,” which was written for you.
Another useful resource is the “Introduction to Classical Music” at Naxos (www.naxos.com/education/introduction.asp). This extensive guide covers everything from a brief history of music to pointers on attending a live performance. You can also find biographies of many composers, including some of the more obscure, like Marcel Poot (a Belgian composer known for “short melodic themes”). It gets my vote as the best overall introduction to classical music on the web.
Once you have your classical music education foundation, it’s time to start listening and maybe collecting some of your own. Classicfm (classicfm.com) is a great place to start. I like their 100 Classical Music Recordings You Must Own (bit.ly/2D8ClqO). You may need to supply a valid UK postal code for access.
If you are an Amazon Prime member, you have already paid for access to music of all sorts. Their classical music collection is so vast you might not feel the need to buy anything and just stream. It’s a great place to refine your tastes. You could start by listening to their classical playlists (amzn.to/2RKBzpm).
There are several online music stores that specialize in classical music. My favorite is ArkivMusic (www.arkivmusic.com). Their prices are generally less than “brick and mortar” stores, and they have frequent sales.
But if you like a bargain, you can get even better deals at the Berkshire Record Outlet (www.berkshirerecordoutlet.com), which “sells mainly closeouts and overruns of classical music labels at bargain prices.” Their stock is limited to whatever they have on hand and the turnover is pretty high. But the prices will have you singing the Hallelujah chorus.
Finally, to keep track of new releases, surf online review sites. One of my favorites is Classics Today (www.classicstoday.com) which rates CDs and DVDs with a logical numerical scale. The best releases are rated 10/10 and are highlighted in a special section, but you can search thousands of reviews with their powerful search engine. You can also browse decades of reviews at Gramophone (www.gramophone.co.uk) if you register (it’s free).
I hope that these resources will help get you started on a lifetime of musical discovery. Come by when you have a chance and I’ll let you listen to my Poot collection.