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There was a great thread at TOS for classical music posts that was a terrific source for classical music.  I'll start by posting my favorite symphony: Symphony No. 94 in G Major by Joseph Hayden.  It is commonly referred to as the "Surprise Symphony".  It was written in 1791 and first performed March 23, 1792 at Hanover Square Rooms in London.  This is what Hayden said about the symphony:

Haydn's music contains many jokes, and the Surprise Symphony includes probably the most famous of all: a sudden fortissimo chord at the end of the otherwise piano opening theme in the variation-form second movement. The music then returns to its original quiet dynamic as if nothing has happened, and the ensuing variations do not repeat the joke. In German, the work is referred to as the Symphony mit dem Paukenschlag, or, with the kettledrum stroke.

In Haydn's old age, his biographer George August Griesinger asked him whether he wrote this "surprise" to awaken the audience. Haydn replied:

No, but I was interested in surprising the public with something new, and in making a brilliant debut, so that my student Pleyel, who was at that time engaged by an orchestra in London (in 1792) and whose concerts had opened a week before mine, should not outdo me. The first Allegro of my symphony had already met with countless Bravos, but the enthusiasm reached its highest peak at the Andante with the Drum Stroke. Encore! Encore! sounded in every throat, and Pleyel himself complimented me on my idea.[1]

 

 

I can only imagine how wonderful it must have been to be at the "premier" and to hear the "surprise" for the first time. 

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  • 9 months later...

Well it sucks that nobody on Surly is refined enough to listen to some classical music, but here I am drunk on my porch still listening to Hayden’s Surprise Symphony. I don’t really care if I’m the only one in the world listening to it or not, but goddamn it’s beautiful!

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Wife and I are headed to the Hollywood Bowl in a bit to see the Budapest Festival Orchestra perform Mozart's Requiem (the one he wrote while slowly dying and never finished.  And he never really dictated it to Salieri, but it made for a good story).  We have my boss' box, and will have a nice meal and wine then the concert.  Summer classical at the bowl is always legit.  LA Phil is vastly superior than this Budapest outfit, but it should be nice.  I could use some culturing anyway.

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This thread needs more love.

I now travel too much to make any commitment, but I used to buy 2 or 3 symphony season tickets every year. Having the extra ticket forced me to find someone to invite - sometimes it would be someone far more educated about the music than me, other times it would be introducing classical to someone new. Both were hugely rewarding. I always enjoyed the pieces in the schedule that I <didn't> recognize, or thought would be "meh" - forcing myself into the full season opened my horizons past what I'd typically listen to. Getting to see various guest conductors during a season was great; I always listened a lot but often couldn't really get a grasp on the differences a conductor makes; seeing it visually really helped me there.

Saw Rudolf Buchbinder years ago, still the most effortless, powerful sound I've seen to date from a piano.

Now I try to find small concerts, recitals, chamber music, in whatever city I happen to be in. While the level of talent varies widely, a decent performance of most classical music is still an enjoyable live experience. Most schools have regular recital schedules and are free or very cheap to attend. I'm not a regular churchgoer, but I've also gone to church to hear the organ many times. I also find the podcast of Performance Today an excellent and enjoyable listen for learning about music and learning new pieces, and hearing fresh takes on old classics. (If my memory is correct, the Satie Gymnopedies mentioned above got the strongest user feedback to Performance Today in their history.)

 

My favorite single format is chamber music. To me, it distills classical down to the core - where in a symphony you can have a few players not be perfect and never notice, in a quartet or trio there's nowhere to hide. The players need to be in perfect sync and constant communication with each other. Each player is the only one playing that part; a mistake is owned by one person. There was a fantastic article years with video graphics showing the communication in a Kronos Quartet performance:

https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2014/09/22/arts/music/kronos-quartet.html

Another group I like is the Danish Natl Chamber Orchestra, for playing pieces that were not part of any repertoire (mining ancient folk music, for example), and for their tongue in cheek humor, vs the staid traditions of a traditional classical performance. Here they eat ghost peppers and try to play:

https://www.foodrepublic.com/2014/11/07/symphony-eats-ghost-chilis-attempts-to-play-instruments/

 

Tangent from that comment on "traditions of a traditional classical performance" - I welcome the trend in live performance now to allow or encourage clapping anytime. The traditions of live classical can be stifling, and at the least, intimidating, to a newcomer, and in this day and age, classical cannot afford to NOT be as welcoming as possible to a newcomer. Witness the number of high profile symphonies that have gone bankrupt in recent years. My local symphony has children's concerts where parents are encouraged to bring young children and random noise outbursts and crying are expected. I remember my parents bringing me to performances when I was very small, and it was a very intimidating experience, the suits, the quiet, needing to be on absolute best behavior. Not the best way to encourage young, new fans of the genre. It's a constant debate:

https://www.apnews.com/9cc22bdea9214ca68e233c956139e0ae

 

My guilty pleasure? Pachelbel's Canon. It's what kept me playing flute for years, I got yelled at by my instructors for not giving a shit about practicing other pieces, but I'd play any variation on Canon. Many moons ago, I manually dubbed a cassette tape to repeat it endlessly on both A and B sides just so I could leave my tape player playing nonstop. CDs solved that problem with Repeat1. When I was buying season tickets and the sales people would ask me for feedback, I would request it in the symphony repertoire. I'm sure everyone from the salesperson up to the conductor rolled their eyes and groaned (if the suggestion even made it that far - I wouldn't be surprised or offended if the salesperson just threw that suggestion in the trash). My ears always perk up when I hear it and I stop and listen, whether in shopping centers, random weddings, or background music in a lobby (and notably in the background of a porno scene).

Recently, I've spent some time listening to video game soundtracks for mega-budget RPGs, they're the closest thing to modern "classical" music composition I can find (besides the obvious movie soundtracks). The Final Fantasy, Witcher, Skyrim all have great soundtracks.

 

This may put me in old-fashioned or conservative music or "get off my lawn" territory (and I'm aware the preference for old, traditional music is opposite to my preference above about disliking some of the traditions around a classical performance), but I find a lot of "modern classical" to be unenjoyable to listen to. Items like John Cage 4'33 are brilliant art, but are shitty music, and I'm ultimately a classical fan for the music. I have to be in a distinct frame of mind to listen to Arvo Part and enjoy it; likewise with Philip Glass. Doesn't mean I don't feel they're brilliant artists, it's just not what I'm looking for in a musical performance.

Tangent: (I'm similarly "get off my lawn" when it comes to modern gastronomy - I've eaten a bunch of well regarded modern and molecular gastronomy, and while I appreciate the art and artistry, it isn't what I think of as "food.")

 

Bucket list? I'd love to attend one of the big classical music festivals in Prague. No tangible reason for it vs any of the big festivals in Europe, other than I sat next to a couple during one of the abovementioned season ticket performances who raved about experiencing classical in Prague every year.

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23 hours ago, Continental Op said:

Do film scores count?  Bernard Herrmann was damn good at those:

And, of course Psycho, which was ripped off by 80s horror flick Reanimator:

 

Absolutely film scores count.  I particularly love the Shawshank Redemption soundtrack.

 

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I’ll start contributing to this thread more soon, as I’m really pleased to know there are people out there that are getting drunk and listening to Hayden!

Although it will hurt my odds of winning, I’ll share that registration for the 2022/23 Vienna Philharmonic New Years concerts is open until the end of February. Info: demand is so high for these concerts that for a long time now they have conducted a drawing to select who is able to buy tickets. I’ve done this for many many years and if I’m ever selected, the family knows we are booking a European Christmas vacation that will make Clark G blush.

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On 3/22/2021 at 4:56 AM, Sam Lin said:

ClassicFM shared this, I was amused. Wiener Cello Ensemble plays Ravel's Bolero. Together. All on one cello.

They do other pieces also if you browse their channel.

 

 

Uh...heh heh heh...you said wiener.

But seriously, don't know if this should be cross posted on the Rick Beato thread, but I found this interesting:

 

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I watched Fantasia and Fantasia 2000 with my kids a thousand times when they were young.  This version of Rhapsody in Blue popped up in my feed a few days ago and I watched and became enamored with Khatia Buniatishvili.    Those hands and that hair.    The second piece for almost 2 minutes starting at 7:45.  Gotdamn!

 

 

 

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  • 7 months later...

In.  First off, it’s Haydn.  No E.  Yes, 94 is fantastic.

 My tastes are a little eclectic and I’m biased because my son is a decent cellist, but here’s a few of my favorites:

 

Du Pre’s recording of Elgar Cello Concerto.

 

Rostropovich recording of Dvorak Cello Concerto

 

And I never miss watching the Vienna philharmonic play Strauss.  The TV version has gotten kind of dumb for new years but it’s still fantastic watching the Radetzky March with everyone stomping their feet and clapping to it.

 I am a huge Wagner overture fan.  His operas are over long and get exhausting but his music for the overtures is first class.

Lastly, I really enjoy Bach in all forms but especially string ensemble.  He is possibly the most mathematical of the composers.

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The opening Prelude to Bach's English Suite no 3 in G minor. A great example of Glenn Gould's technical wizardry. He keeps a consistent detached portamento touch from beginning to end at very rapid tempo. It's a great listen.

 

 

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On 10/27/2022 at 8:34 AM, Hefeweizen said:

In.  First off, it’s Haydn.  No E.  Yes, 94 is fantastic.

 My tastes are a little eclectic and I’m biased because my son is a decent cellist, but here’s a few of my favorites:

 

Du Pre’s recording of Elgar Cello Concerto.

 

Rostropovich recording of Dvorak Cello Concerto

 

And I never miss watching the Vienna philharmonic play Strauss.  The TV version has gotten kind of dumb for new years but it’s still fantastic watching the Radetzky March with everyone stomping their feet and clapping to it.

 I am a huge Wagner overture fan.  His operas are over long and get exhausting but his music for the overtures is first class.

Lastly, I really enjoy Bach in all forms but especially string ensemble.  He is possibly the most mathematical of the composers.

I cook a fantastic steak and risotto when the New Years VP concert is aired and we sit down as a family and watch every minute of the PBS broadcast. It’s definitely cheesy in parts but overall quality family time and the kids kinda like being told that I guarantee they are the the only ones of their friends who are watching it.

Regarding your Bach/math comments, buy Gödel, Escher, Bach: An Eternal Golden Braid. I am still tackling sections of it piecemeal after 10 years and I’m a pretty good pianist and my job is 99% math. It’s a super hour-long-at-a-time diversion.

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Regarding Gould, he was a fascinating classical music communicator. Here he is taking about Bach and Hindemith and then playing Hindemith with a former UT music professor:


Speaking of great communicators, if you have about six hours, the Bernstein Norton lectures are thought provoking. The musical/linguistic ideas he discusses turned out to be mostly nonsense at least taken as literally as he does, but it’s still worth the time to think about.

Lecture 1: 

 

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