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?

Gary L's picture

It all kind of started with Mozart, so that would be a logical place to start. However, I prefer Beethoven and his piano sonatas.

Noe's picture

Haydn, then Beethoven.

Herbert Von Gobsdrivel's picture

Maurice Ravel: Bolero. Beethoven's 9th Symphony. Good popular classics

Jack Alans's picture

Holst, namely The Planets. The piece is shocking in depth, range, and...oomph.

Mike Agee's picture

Though Haydn, Boccherini, Glass, or Part come to mind, Beethoven seems like a good choice. You could lure a person in with recognizable pieces like familiar movements from the 9thth symphonies, go to the 6th Symphony or other individual movements that are lyrical and pretty, then into dazzlers like the middle-period quartets, the Triple Concerto, or the 7th symphony, then the profound depths of the late quartets, and finally revisit the whole 5th and 9th symphonies to see how the surface familiarity hides further depths. It's always seemed like the main theme of the 5th could be effectively preceded by a Led Zeppelin piece like "When the Levee Breaks."

Brankin's picture

Gosh darn, same answer as last week! Beethoven and his 9th<?SUP> Symphony. Timeless, good tune & melody, the power of a full orchestra and even some massed choral singing. If this turns you off —so be it, you are hopeless (smiling)! From Wikipedia: Beethoven composed in various genres, including symphonies, concerti, piano sonatas, other sonatas (including for violin), string quartets and other chamber music, masses, an opera, and lieder. If you can't find something from that list go find some Bach, Mozart, Hayden or Vivaldi. If your young friend likes video game music get him Carl Orff's Carmina Burana. My 12-year-old son highly approves of this selection!

MC's picture

Ahh, Bach, to quote Radar O'Reilly. "When you say Bach, you've said it all."

joe s.'s picture

Shostakovich, you get a bit of everything.

Jim's picture

It really depends on the listener's temperament. Someone that really dug "Sugar, Sugar" might not like Ives, while a fan of art-punk might be bored out of his mind by Mozart.

Russell Finnemore's picture

Beethoven. Probably his symphonies and concertos first. He was the first composer to dramatize sonata form so vividly that even people who can't hum a tune can get off on his music.

danielk's picture

Bach, Mozart, Haydn. After that he will find his way.

TIAN's picture

i do believe that the highest and also the most difficult level any composer is able to achieve is to make their music easy-listening and also widely beloved and accepted by people. in most situations, the music which sounds so simple and joyful does not mean it was easy to be composed! music is used to entertain people, no matter it can make people jump and dance, cry, feel sad, or whatever. Classical music does not have a big market share as pop or R&B, so choosing the right composer to start with is crucial as it can greatly determine whether the person who has the first touch of classical music will love the music for a long long time or would never bother to listen it anymore. Mozart is without doubt the very first choice to start with.

Lionel's picture

Beethoven. The "odd-numbered" symphonies (3, 5, 7, 9), the Violin Concerto, the last two Piano Concerti (4, 5). Just about the most universal classical composer there is. Mozart would be a close second, but the sheer mass of compositions can be overwhelming unless you're guided to specific works, and often, specific recordings. Bach, even more so. You just about can't go wrong with one of the Beethoven works mentioned above, regardless of performer.

Tim Bishop's picture

Bach, no more needs to be said!

Chris Meyer's picture

Start with Vivaldi. He writes so tunefully, sometimes programatic, and evokes common emotions.

Nick A.'s picture

Mozart: Symphony No. 41 (Jupiter) Mozart: Rondo in D, K. 382. Handel: Israel in Egypt, "He Gave Them Hailstones" (Chanticleer: Sing We Christmas)> Brahms: Concerto in D major (Op. 77), 3rd Movement Praetorious: 6 Dances from Terpsichore.

WalkerTM's picture

Beethoven, a lot of his works are very familiar, plus he has very broad range within his music.

BobD's picture

Mozart, John Field, Vieuxtemps, Beethoven, Haydn, Bach, Telemann, Vivaldi, Chopin. Lots and lots of beautiful, easily-accessible music in there.

Yun Tao's picture

PHASE 1: Mozart, Vivaldi, Chopin, Tchaikovsky, mid-Beethoven, Stravinsky (yep!), Verdi, Puccini, Dvorák, Adams, Debussy, Bruch, Gershwin PHASE 2: Haydn, Brahms, Rachmaninoff, J.S.Bach, Liszt, Prokofiev, Bartok, Scarlatti, Wagner, Copland, Berg, Grieg, Bruckner, early-Beethoven, Ravel, Sibelius PHASE 3: J.S.Bach (again), late-Beethoven, Shostakovitch, Feldman, Schoenberg, Webern, Ives, Mahler, R.Strauss, Scriabin, Schubert

Simon's picture

Beethoven. The most face value and the most depth.

stephen w sweigart's picture

A music history course in college.

mike eschman's picture

Stravinsky. Accessible to the modern ear, stunning quality of craft, and more variety of style than any other modern composer.

George L.'s picture

Tchaikovsky, because of the colorful orchestrations and immediately appealing melodies

Merlin Emrys's picture

Beethoven. The passion and emotions are sure to captivate listeners!

Eric Shook - Raleigh NC's picture

Tchaikovsky (even though technically romantic). I hate to admit it but, I'd say go with a Classical Thunder compilation. Most people don't realize how much classical they have become familiar with through TV & movies.

David L.  Wyatt jr.'s picture

What does the potential seducee listen to? For a rocker, I'd go with Beethoven. For a folk person, maybe Copeland. For a person who listens to mellow jazz, Chopin or Eric Satie. There is no one answer to that question.

Al Marcy's picture

Mozart. The catalog is so big, it will encourage others.

Mark's picture

For younger people, I would start with John Adams. Naxos has a CD that includes performances of "Shaker Loops" and "Short Ride in a Fast Machine". These are modern compositions with a more contemporary sound that would be very accessible to a younger person. It would also show that classical music isn't just something from the past but a creative, vibrant field of music here and now.

JG's picture

Mozart. Remember that scene in Amadeus where that young priest didn't recognize Salieri's piece, but when Salieri played something by Mozart, a smile came to the young priest's face and he instantly recognized it?

Arun's picture