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Apr 11, 2019, 10:50 PM
G.F. beurling
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How do you know you won't like it until you try it?

Have you ever had somebody at one time or another for any particular reason tell you, "How do you know you won't like it until you try it??" . Well such just could be the case for you to give classical music a try.  It turned out to be a very welcome and enlightening discovery for me, for which I was only too sorry that I had waited so many years later to discover it when I was already into my late 40's. For most of my life I had mainly appreciated a diverse array of rock & pop music by the likes of Led Zeppelin, Bob Dylan, Yes, Queen, The Who, Joni Mitchel, Nirvana, Prince, and many others, before discovering the world of classical music. And it happened quite by accident. What happened was one day some years ago my curiosity got the best of me when I was reminiscing about my youth. I decided at that moment to try and hunt down and to locate a particular classical music composition I hadn't heard since I was about 10 years old. I remember being that 10 year kid sitting in the back seat of the family '61 Chevrolet Biscayne while my mother just happened to have the classical music station playing on the AM radio. At that tender age I was hearing one particular song coming out of the radio that must have mesmerized me. I suppose what had also intrigued me was the accommodating commentary from my Mom to go along with it, telling me something to the effect; "This was Adolf Hitler's favorite composer". (My parents were the WW2 generation, with my Dad having been the radio operator in a B-25 in the Pacific Theater) Wanting to go back and revisit that one day from my youth, all those years later I decided to try and find out who that composer was, and what song I had heard in the family Chevy that day back around 1964. Well, it didn't take long to research the net and find out that Hitler's favorite composer was German born Richard Wagner. I listened to a slew of Wagner's compositions available on the internet and VOILA !!..... I found the song !!  I recognized it to be the "Tannhauser" Overture that was still seared in my memory all these years later. But while in this process of uncovering Wagner and his Tannhauser, I also inadvertently discovered a lot of other great classical music, and what I had been missing for so many years. My Lord, what a hidden treasure trove of some really fantastic classical music in studio recordings and live concerts I discovered were available to me at the click of a youtube video link....for my free listening pleasure!! I was hooked and went exploring for more great composers and their music. I'm 65 now, but still all these years later while surfing through youtube I'm still occasionally discovering more fine classical music that is new to me.

Try it. You just might like it.
Below are just 5 classical music selections that I chose and believe that most folks new to classical music will find at least one or more of the selections enlightening and worth their time. Included is Wagner's Tannhauser Overture that I just talked about having discovered when I was only 10 years. (....and being 10, just before I was swept into the spell of Beatlmania. LOL)

Beethoven's 2nd movement of the 7th symphony
is a popular composition that you likely are already familiar with. It is one of the all time greats. But most people who are not classical music listeners are not even aware that Beethoven's 7th symphony consists of 4 separate songs or "movements"  that make up the 7th Symphony. Many have never even heard the 1st movement.  For some reason, mention of Beethoven's "7th symphony" has become synonymous with the 2nd movement only, while the other 3 movements often get ignored. In particular the 1st movement is GREAT!! . If you are not familiar with the 1st movement, listen to the youtube video I provided below. The late great Carlos Kleiber starts conducting the 1st movement  at 34 seconds into the video. You will know by the climax into the 1.5 minute mark if you like it. The 3rd movement is fine too, but doesn't compare with the 1st & 2nd. (and the 4th is meh IMO)

The great Carlos Kleiber conducting the 1st movement of the 7th Symphony. Give it up to the 1.5 minute mark to know if you'll like it;
Carlos Kleiber Beethoven Symphonies 7 (Complete) / Concergebouw Orchestra (35 min 41 sec)

Then listen to the 2nd movement starting at 12:15 in
, which is commonly referred to simply as "The 7th Symphony"

But nothing compares to the composer Richard Wagner!!
  Wagner has composed more popular songs used in movie and advertisement background scenes then you may have realized. (like "Ride of the Valkyries" helicopter scene in the movie Apolcolypse Now)  Rienzi is my favorite composition by the great Wagner. But it's long and not for everybody.  In particular James Levine's CD with the Met Orchestra is superb, and this link for the YouTube version of Levine is almost as good as that CD that I have. Just to mention a historical trivia fact, the long C note played on the trumpet that starts this Rienzi composition is the same C note that the Roman Army played on their bugles to  serve as the rallying alert before their onward assault.This composition was written by Wagner for the play by the same Rienzi name, and it starts with the sound of the long C note. You will also hear some dark and mysterious cello playing before beautiful melodic music starts at 1.5 minutes in. The composition steadily transforms from melodic to become very vigorous, loud, and militaristic. Listen to how the C note disappears and reappears during the composition.The whole piece from beginning to end is structured purposely and with incredible Wagner genius. It is my favorite Wagner piece.

Wagner's incomparable Rienzi, and another 3rd Reich Favorite. Give it 1.5 minutes before you judge it,.... and up to the 3.5 minute mark. Don't let the long and suspenseful beginning fool you. This composition is anything but boring as it transforms into a loud and militaristic backdrop for a play! ;  
Rienzi: Overture (Part 1) (7 min 1 sec)

The test I suggest; listen to the first 1:34 minutes to see if you like it. The composition evolves increasingly louder from beginning to end, when at the end it finishes with an exciting climax. Don't let the long C note and the quiet first couple of minutes fool you into thinking it's long and boring. The whole composition is all one continuing suspenseful build-up until a climatic end. 

    Wagner's Tannenhauser, IMO, is the best  beginning 3 1/2 minutes of ANY classic composition ever composed.(.....or that any 10 year old kid sitting in his '61 Chevy Biscayne ever heard. LOL) This may sound funny, but It has the same structure and waves of a multi-climatic orgazm. During the climax which builds up during the first 3 minutes, listen to the reverberating and weeping strings in the background. (yes, like  human crying) Unfortunately, it's the other remaining 13 minutes which is too long for me and just doesn't compare to the first 3.5 minutes. It's all good, but IMO the first 3.5 minutes are incomparable and greater then anything else ever anybody. Here is the late Herbert Von Karajan, the old card carrying 3rd Reich nazi party conductor doing one of the best versions of Tannenhauser . 

Herbert Von Karajan, the composer who performed for Hitler. Give Karajan the first 3.5 minutes. If this does nothing for you, then I might start to think that perhaps you have no ear for classical music. LOL     
KARAJAN Wagner Tannhäuser Overture Salzburg 1987 1 2 (9 min 56 sec)

A more modern 1995 video of Tannhauser being performed with somewhat better sound quality by the great conductor Claudio Abbado can also be viewed on youtube. Enter "Tannenhauser Abbado 1995" into the search there.

Have you heard of Austrian composer Gustav Mahler?Listen to his 9th Symphony, 4th movement conducted by the great but recently deceased Claudio Abaddo. It's my #1 favorite composition of all classical music and composers.
I wasn't surprised to read of polls that rate it in the top all time 10 compositions ever written. Trivia; Hitler had the playing of Mahler's music forbidden in Nazi Germany and it went unnoticed for many years until well after the war when it was rediscovered and became popular. It didn't matter to Hitler that Mahler was an Austrian Jew who had converted to Catholicism and had already been dead for 3 decades before the 3rd Reich.This symphony is often defined as Mahler's musical expression of death and his having to face his own mortality. He died soon after, never completing his 10th symphony.Mahler; The 4th movement of the 9th Symphony starts at 57 minutes into this video. Claudio Abaddo's conducting is the best I have heard of Mahler's 9th Symphony. The first movement is good (but long), the 2nd is better (but long), the 3rd is OK (but long), and the 4th is the "icing" of all 4 movements and just gorgeous! But don't try to listen to his first 3 movements or you may give up on him before you ever hear the incredible 4th.                                                                      

Mahler's 9th Symphony, 4th movement, is rated in the top 10 of all time classical compositions by many classical music connoisseurs. I agree. Scroll video to 57 minutes.
Mahler - Symphony No. 9 - Abbado - Lucerne Festival Orchestra 2010 (1 hr 35 min 8 sec)

Enjoy! And if you have discovered anything new from my efforts here, I'd be happy to hear from you about it. 
Last edited by G.F. Beurling; Apr 12, 2019 at 12:15 AM.
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