Mrs. Sell's Blog of Household Management

Ultimate classical music

I was going to try to make an impassioned argument as to why we should listen to classical music and expose our children to it. Instead, I’m going to show you this:

I was struck both by the wide range of ages enjoying the music, and by the obvious familiarity of the listeners with the piece being performed. I believe that pieces like this with such historic and artistic value are something that enriches us as people and as a culture, and that we should made the effort to improve our lives and our children’s by enjoying them.

Unfortunately, most of us don’t get surprise street performances of great classical music. And if you have toddlers, even going to the symphony is out of the question. (Just a few more years!) But there are many recordings, both audio and video, of great performances of great works that we can enjoy in our own homes. If you have a fancy sound system, why restrict it to just action movies and sports games? Hook up the CD player and enjoy some of the world’s great music.

When I was pregnant with my first child, I decided that I HAD to have a big library of classical music for her. (Pregnant women do funny things. I knew a girl who planned out all her daughter’s summer vacation trips for seven years before she was even born.)

I was lucky enough to find this on Amazon.

decca ultimate box set

Decca has produced a long series of boxed sets of classical music, and this gargantuan set included 25 of them. At four or five discs apiece, that’s… Well, it wasn’t cheap. And there have since been new ones released, so I need to fill in the gaps in my collection. But I highly recommend this series as an introduction to classical music. This particular set isn’t currently available, but that’s okay! For most people, it’s probably better (and cheaper) to build a collection slowly.

This set included: The Ultimate:

Bach, Beethoven, Chopin, Dvorak, Liszt, Mendelssohn, Mozart, Rachmaninov, Schubert, Strauss Family, Tchaikovsky, Verdi, Vivaldi, Wagner,

AND

Cello Classics, Classical Guitar, Classical Piano, Piano Concertos, Violin Classics,

AND

Ballet, Baroque, Classical Chill Out, Classical Relaxation, Classics, and Opera.

As you can see, each set features either 1) a composer, 2) an instrument, or 3) a style or category of music.

Each one is far from comprehensive, especially for the more prolific composers whose work would encompass this many discs all by themselves. But each one has a large amount of some of the most well-known pieces in each genre, perfect for someone just starting to enjoy classical music.

For the most basic overview, I would recommend Ultimate Classics. It features major composers that most people have heard of, and pieces that a lot of us have been exposed to at least a little. Of course, if you already have a preference for a certain composer, instrument or style but aren’t overly familiar with the works, you can pick and choose which ones you want! Buying the whole set forced me to listen to things I wouldn’t necessarily have chosen myself, and I’ve discovered new favorites that way.

From a personal perspective, I also recommend Chopin, Bach, Beethoven and Mozart. And I can’t wait to improve my collection with Berlioz, Brahms, Haydn, Puccini, Russian and French Classics, and Classical Dreams and Spectacular!

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