I’ve never really thought of myself as a big fan of classical music. Whilst there are certain pieces such as Beethoven’s Moonlight and…… a few others which I love, I’m not an avid listener of the genre. It’s the same for rap and heavy metal, there’s a few songs I like, but generally I steer clear of it. There are however some amazing orchestral film scores which I would say could be perceived as Classical Music, but at the same time are primarily film scores, James Newton Howard’s score for The Village is one of those and is also one of my favourite film scores, so why don’t I listen to classical music?
I think the problem is that there is just so much of it that I’ve never known where to start. When I first started listening to film scores I had a similar problem. The first three soundtracks I bought were John Powell’s The Italian Job, Marco Beltrami’s Hellboy, and Hans Zimmer’s The Ring/The Ring 2. I bought them because I absolutely loved the music that was featured in the films, but after that I just went a bit crazy and bought every soundtrack I could afford. As a result I ended up with a lot of music that was… pretty average. But sifting through the mediocre allowed me to find composers that I really liked.
However, with classical music, I never really had that crazy phase. Every now and then I’d turn on ClassicFM and found most of it… pretty average! And I’d also look up classical artists that featured on soundtracks, such as Renee Fleming who featured on The Lord Of The Rings soundtracks. But whilst her voice is amazing, I couldn’t really find anything of hers that was in anyway similar to The Lord Of The Rings, it was all opera, which is another genre altogether.
Over the past few months though I’ve really been getting into classical music. There is an app for the iPad called The Orchestra, where conductor/composer Esa-Pekka Salonen (who recently featured in a host of iPad adverts) has chosen exerts from six famous classical works, plus one of his own compositions. The app shows you the score for each exert as well as performances by the Philharmonia, and includes a write up about the piece, as well as conductor/performer commentaries, and much more. This allows you to really listen to the music and open up your understanding of the piece, and of classical music in general.
I’ve found that The Orchestra has really sparked in me an interest for classical music and motivated me to explore this incredible genre. But I still feel like I need some guidance in my exploration and thankfully there is plenty out there.
TouchPress who created The Orchestra app also have three other apps which explore classical music. One for Beethoven’s 9th Symphony, one for Liszt’s Piano Sonata in B Minor, and their newest one which covers Vivaldi’s Four Season’s and includes Max Richter’s re-composition of the piece. The iBook Store also has a great interactive book about the work of Mozart. And lastly I’ve enrolled in the free online course “Introduction to Classical Music” hosted on Coursera.
So it turns out I do like classical music. I simply needed a guiding hand to show me what there is to discover. Therefore, I’ll leave you with a piece I have discovered through The Orchestra app, “Prélude à l’Après-midi d’un faune” by Claude Debussy.