9 votes

Where to start with Mozart?

Reading the excellent "Cave in the Snow", a biography of Tenzin Palmo, I learned of her love for Mozart and it got me thinking. For whatever reason my classical knowledge is limited, mostly leaning towards more experimental contemporary composers (Cage, Pärt, Reich etc) and so I know very little about what you might call the classical heavyweights (Mozart, Chopin, Bach). With that said, where is best to start with Mozart?

12 comments

  1. [2]
    nacho
    Link
    There's an incredible amount of different classical music. Different times, styles, compositions of instruments played together, with or without vocals/soloists, languages, happy/sad/pensive...

    There's an incredible amount of different classical music. Different times, styles, compositions of instruments played together, with or without vocals/soloists, languages, happy/sad/pensive moods, pieces driven by melody lines or multi-instrument harmonies, and on and on.

    Therefore, I really recommend starting with curated music. Best-of albums, top 100 songs of ____ category and so forth. Published albums or online lists will generally be good. See what you like in terms of instrumentation, styles of pieces, different composers and so on. Then delve in from there. Otherwise you stand to be overwhelmed. Where do you start? What do you learn you like (and importantly don't like) when you're listening more randomly?

    If you go with radio, or composer by composer, you'll encounter a lot of things you don't like. There's also a reason some pieces have stood the test of time and are therefore played a ton.

    You'll likely also recognize a lot of famous pieces from movies, pop culture etc. if you go with best-of albums. It's a way of getting an overview.

    When you listen to a jazz station on the radio, that's meant for people who are already into jazz. There'll be a lot of niche content that they'll be willing to listen to, but someone uninvolved with the genre will likely find less than engaging.

    5 votes
    1. milkbones_4_bigelow
      Link Parent
      Mining the best of seems like a good approach, I'll give that a try, thanks for taking the time to respond.

      You'll likely also recognize a lot of famous pieces from movies, pop culture etc. if you go with best-of albums. It's a way of getting an overview.

      Mining the best of seems like a good approach, I'll give that a try, thanks for taking the time to respond.

      3 votes
  2. [2]
    Akir
    Link
    Rather than limit yourself to Mozart, I would consider listening to a wide range of classical composers to broaden your tastes. The easiest way to do that is to listen to your local classical...

    Rather than limit yourself to Mozart, I would consider listening to a wide range of classical composers to broaden your tastes. The easiest way to do that is to listen to your local classical music radio station. And if you don't have one, I would recommend KUSC, which streams at their website kusc.org. They mix together classical with opera and occasional contemporary philharmonic and film scores, so if you keep it on the background things will eventually start to click for you.

    4 votes
  3. [2]
    blitz
    (edited )
    Link
    For classical music I found the Program Record Review to be helpful in exposing me to loads of recordings and composers I wouldn’t otherwise have found myself. They also do a segment where they...

    For classical music I found the Program Record Review to be helpful in exposing me to loads of recordings and composers I wouldn’t otherwise have found myself. They also do a segment where they compare multiple performances of the same piece and it helps illustrate how varied different interpretations of the same music can be.

    3 votes
  4. [2]
    acdw
    Link
    I'll tell you what not to do: I tried listening to the entire K catalogue in order. It did not work out for me. Probably doing the greatest hits would be better.

    I'll tell you what not to do: I tried listening to the entire K catalogue in order. It did not work out for me. Probably doing the greatest hits would be better.

    2 votes
    1. milkbones_4_bigelow
      Link Parent
      I've tried similar things in the past, I always burnout. Good reminder though.

      I've tried similar things in the past, I always burnout. Good reminder though.

      3 votes
  5. [2]
    cardigan
    Link
    Don Giovanni is Mozart's masterpiece, and was enormously influential in the music and literature that was to follow. Any recording will do. I would set some time aside for that.

    Don Giovanni is Mozart's masterpiece, and was enormously influential in the music and literature that was to follow. Any recording will do. I would set some time aside for that.

    2 votes
    1. milkbones_4_bigelow
      Link Parent
      Listening now, thanks! Pretty epic opening there.

      Listening now, thanks! Pretty epic opening there.

      1 vote
  6. [2]
    DanBC
    Link
    My suggestion would be to watch the movie Amadeus. It's enjoyable, it has a bunch of short snippets of music and they're all listed in the Wikipedia page. It isn't particularly historically...

    My suggestion would be to watch the movie Amadeus. It's enjoyable, it has a bunch of short snippets of music and they're all listed in the Wikipedia page. It isn't particularly historically accurate though. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Amadeus_(film)

    My other suggestion is to try different recordings of the same piece. Here's an example of a bit of Bach by two different orchestras, and they sound quite different.

    St Matthew Passion (Karajan) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ImPB3T1X3LM

    St Matthew Passion (Brüggen) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N-0fmsT3ODM

    (I much prefer the second one because it's much pacier).

    2 votes
    1. milkbones_4_bigelow
      Link Parent
      Added to my "to watch" list, appreciate the recommendation.

      Added to my "to watch" list, appreciate the recommendation.

      2 votes