Which composer would you recommend as an introduction to classical music? Explain your reasons for your choice.

Which composer would you recommend as an introduction to classical music? Explain your reasons for your choice.
I'd start with
81% (121 votes)
Haven't a clue
19% (29 votes)
Total votes: 150

Reader "max" says he has a young friend who "wants to try classical music, but does not know where to start." Which single composer would you recommend to introduce someone to classical music? And why?

Tim K's picture

Mozart. That was easy.

Dave Bennett's picture

Vivaldi or Mozart.

Paul J.  Stiles, Mtn.  View, CA's picture

I'd have to know about the person to whom I was making the recommendation. I could recomment what I like but that may be doing a disservice to the person asking.

xanthia01@gmail.com's picture

Mozart—people know some of the music and it has the complexity to hold attention.

Rimas's picture

Bach. His music captivates and does not sound banal.

Johannes Turunen, Sweden's picture

Vivaldi. Rythmic and melodic music. Easy on the ear and easy to whistle!

Dimsord's picture

J. S. Bach, but more importantly I'd get the classiccal virgin along to a large scale performance of something huge like Mahler's 8th<?SUP> with decent orchestra, conductor and decent acoustics. The reality of the dynamic range and tonal richness of such an experience may not instantly convert the innocent but it could acquaint them with the (sad?) truth that no high-end system has ever reproduced such sounds realistically.

chris's picture


Teresa Goodwin's picture

Modest Mussorgsky as he is, IMHO, the most accessible and understandable Classical composer by non-classical music listeners. I would start with Rimsky-Korsakov's orchestration of his Night On Bald Mountain followed by Ravel's orchestration of his Pictures At An Exhibition. These works are great enough to get anyone hooked on classical music.

S.  Chapman's picture

Well, the first thing to do would be to explain to your friend that "classical music" isn't some arcane, unapproachable art form that you need to study before you can appreciate it. Rather, this music has survived for hundreds of year and continues to thrive today because people love it. Take your friend to a symphony concert and suggest that she listen to the local classical FM station. In other words, stop reading and start listening, and you'll quickly find composers that you like.

Jason Stroud's picture


Nick's picture

Mozart. Start with early compositions and finish off with the Requiem. If you are not interested in classical music after that then check your pulse.

Sam Tellig's picture

Tchaikovsky, because that's where I started and it's easy to get caught up in the sweep and drama, also tonal colors. Then go on to Beethoven Symphony 5.

macksman's picture

Beethoven. As it is good enough for Alex Delarge, it will likely be good enough for max's young friend. Plenty of variety in a large body of work.

Doug Crawfort's picture

Aaron Copland. He's a modern composer with very approachable tunes and a young listener would have already heard many themes in ads and other places.

DanielC's picture

Chopin. His music is varied and accessible to a broad range of musical experience.

MyronC's picture

The most obvious: Beethoven, and start with his Fifth Symphony.

Dr.  Herzenstube's picture

Georg Frederic Handel, hands down. Handel's is just such "ear-friendly" music. Melodic, happy, accessible. Almost any of his music is something that someone with minimal classical music experience can listen to and immediately "get", whether it's the concerti grossi, the organ concerti, or basically any of his operas or oratorios. It's just fun stuff doggone it! Mozart is the prototypical "intro to classical" composer and all well and good but can't beat Handel for just a simple, friendly slap-you-on-the-back "hey friend, welcome to the party" intro to "classical" music.

R.  Fisher's picture

Mozart, because he is to easy to listen to.

Steve Rogers's picture

Tchaikovsky. Not my favorite composer, but he was a master of melody (you can hum along to the tunes) and there is some fun stuff. Also a lot of his compositions will be recognized by the new listener because they are so ubiquitous

Bruno's picture

Easy choice; J. S. Bach. The easiest composer to love and at the same time one of the great geniuses of all times. If someone doesn't like Bach, I wouldn't spend much time on his musical education.

Jared Gerlach's picture

It may seem to be a rather dull choice by some, but I think Mozart (W.A.) is the absolute best choice for a couple of reasons. First, Mozart's music is everywhere—it's in movies, plays, operas (obviously), and has been resurrected through pop culture during the last century many times. One example is the "electrified" clarinet concerto used in the the film American Gigolo about 1980. It's easy to show the classical newbie that Mozart's contribution was huge and survives still in today's world. Second, Mozart's music is so even-tempered and balanced that it's fairly easy to digest (I can feel eyebrows raising and expletives escaping from lips as I write this). It is the very definition of the classical period. Because of this, I feel it's highly accessible to the new classical listener.

EG's picture

When faced with this question, I always ask the person what musical instrument they like the best. Depending on the answer, I will recommend a piece that highlights that instrument. Chopin or Beethoven for piano, Mozart for the human voice, Tchaikovsky for violin, and Sor or Giuliani for guitar.

emiser's picture

Vivaldi, or Bach. I think they are the easiest to just enjoy and most people already know many of the melodies from pop culture

Douglas D Bowker's picture

Mozart of course—genius, yet fun and did every conceivable configuration possible. If you like piano, great; big symphonies, ditto. You name it, he did it and it's always good.

Lawrie Allen's picture

Bach, easy to get into but can take you a long way.

Jim Dandy's picture

Copland. Billy The Kid & Rodeo make for a great start.

E's picture

Beethoven, because he left an excellent body of symphonies, sonatas, concertos, and chamber music to choose from. There are more composers of classical music but Beethoven is the only one that spans the subcategories with dominance.

Tom's picture

Beethoven, because of the universality of the message and the humanity of the music.

Mike Molinaro's picture

Mozart. Perfect music forever.