Classical Music
[ Issue 6 ]

Classical Music keeps Emily Bronto occupied for hours

Permit Bikwil to reveal the delights of Classical Music

Classical Music

In his Web Line column for Issue 6 Tony Rogers explores some sites devoted to classical music.

He concludes with some bloopers by students reluctant to remember anything whatsoever from a course in music appreciation.

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Web Line — Tony Rogers


Classical music on the Internet? Sure thing.

Just bear one point in mind. As the Net becomes more and more commercial, many music sites are there just to sell you something, CDs mainly, but occasionally sheet music and even T-shirts. We’ll ignore those here, unless they offer something extra — i.e. free.

So, where to start, then? By logging on to the Yahoo search engine, natch. Luckily for us, one of Yahoo’s sub-categories is Entertainment/Music/Genres/Classical. When we arrive there we find that, in addition to an annotated selective list of sites we can visit, our sub-category has been conveniently further subdivided for us. Some of these subsections include:

awards and competitions
early music
symphonic orchestras.

A relatively new site is Classical Insites. This superb site comprises, among other things:

Hall of Fame (including a featured artists, and biographical information on the major composers, together with recommended recordings and sound samples to listen to)
Conservatory (educational environment for students and professionals)
Fountainside (interactive area that features recommended listings given by renowned musos)
Performance Center (including a FM radio station for classical music).

Of special interest is the Bernstein Studio, the official site celebrating the rich legacy of Leonard Bernstein (photos, scores, letters, articles, audio and video clips).

Another site I like is Classical Net. This provides its own searchable index, plus the following:

basic repertoire list
classical CD buying guide
recommended classical CDs
composer data
reviews & articles.

It isn’t much to look at, but Classical Music Composers does provide some quite well-written biogs. And despite its name, there are entries for many performers also, like Beecham, Domingo, Helfgott, Kreisler and Zukerman.

In case you were wondering if the Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians has an Internet site, the answer is yes — up to a point. Like other reference works that feature on the Net — the OED or Britannica, say — the full Grove is not there free of charge. (If that were the case, not even libraries would buy them in book form.) What you do get, however, are some incomplete sample articles for immediate viewing, and some complete ones for downloading if you register. There’s no charge for registering.

For you MIDI musicians, the best place to get classical music for playing on your synthesizer or sound card is Classical MIDI Archives. There are literally thousands of MIDI files to download. Admittedly, a few are bloody horrible, but most are very good. The most striking of these has to be the just-about-complete MIDI performance of Scarlatti’s keyboard Sonatas. Well played by John Sankey, all 525 of them, plus some “liner notes” by him. CMA is a site that is improving all the time. I thoroughly recommend it

We can’t leave our topic without a reference to America’s Favorite Classical Music Bloopers, maintained by a music appreciation teacher at Clemson University.

An example or two (language errors retained):

The Haydn piece [string quartet] was nice, but not very moving or memorable. I understand that that is one characteristic of classical music.
What did Bartok do to promote the folk music heritage of his native land? He advertised on Public Television.
Define 'tempo rubato'. The tempo usually reserved for a rumbha discovered by Chopin on a swing through South America?
[The announcer's] voice was rather soothing. For some reason I had expected a pretentious and pompous male voice. She showed none of these qualities and seemed like a very real person. Being a very real person myself this lended to her credibility . . .

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