Self targets

March 26, 2020, 3:00 AM · Hello
I have recently decided to start listening to classical music on a more regular basis (a couple of hours when I get home from work in the morning before practise starts).
All of the major symphonies, quartets etc. just so I am familiar with them. I'm fed up of people asking "oh do you know xxxx?" And having to say no.

Have any of you guys done something similar? I've started this week with Brahms (never been able to get into symphonies until my teacher suggested a conductor and orchestra he thought I'd like)

Replies (18)

March 26, 2020, 3:27 AM · I have never listened to anything but classical, although my love has been mainly towards concertos and solo pieces for violin and piano. I would like to get into orchestral works but the closest I’ve gotten to chamber works are quartets&quintets.
March 26, 2020, 3:46 AM · Concertos are good. At least with the violin (and piano) there are a crap ton of them aha. With the viola, I had to do some exploring outside of the "big 3" (Bartok, Walton and Hindemith)
Edited: March 26, 2020, 4:56 AM · Back in the 70s I had the Guarneri Quartet's Bartok string quartets on vinyl in a box set, and I tried listening to them over and over again, so that I could recognise any passage or quartet. It didn't work, lol.

I have a bad memory, and I have spent the best part of 6 decades listening to the 3rd Programme and Radio 3, as it was renamed. But my ears turn off whenever I hear announcers, so I have probably heard just about everything in Classical music, but I don't know the names of any of it!

March 26, 2020, 4:00 AM · Lol Gordon that is a shame
March 26, 2020, 12:38 PM · Most days I find it rather difficult to sit through an entire symphony / concerto / quartet / whatever, listening by myself at home. On the contrary, I feel like I could spend a week straight living in a concert hall. The experience of seeing a live performance is another level of enjoyment that is sadly unavailable right now...
Edited: March 26, 2020, 12:40 PM · I don't know if this would work for everyone, but when I took piano lessons my wonderful teacher permitted me to play my way through keyboard history, starting with Frescobaldi and stepping my way through time. In a couple of years I got to Beethoven, at which point I quit, which was my loss. :-( Not only did I play the music, but I listened to it, read about the composers and their contexts, etc. I learned a lot about keyboard history and music history both.

I guess you could do something similar, maybe working through the history of quartets, or music for full orchestra, or something . . .

Edited: March 26, 2020, 9:56 PM · "From My Life"
has taught me that "goals" or "targets" work best if you set them yourself. In lieu of that, if they are set by someone else but you can make them your own they can work just as well. I think it took me almost 2/3 of my life to mentally realize these things as an approach - even though I was acting as though I knew them for 60 years.

For a guy who did not get good grades as an undergraduate, but who "aced" his final final exam in his major I was lucky; to get my dream job (subject-wise; none of my fellow students wanted to take a job in a government laboratory) and go to grad school at the same time. I had a wonderful boss in that first job who gave me "wings." Between working in that and closely-related professions for others for 35 years and for myself (as a consultant) for an additional 15 I feel I was always able to launch myself into new projects on my own terms, want to work on those projects, to envision what the result would be (how I would know the project was finished or the problem solved and what it would look like).

Back in my mid-teens, after my cello teacher performed the Haydn D Major cello concerto with our community orchestra, I asked him if I could study it. I had been taking cello lessons for only one year by then, but he approved and that became the goal of our lessons for almost a year, but it worked. During those same months I was also working on Beethoven's Violin Concerto - another "act of will" (that's what I call it, but "self targets" works just as well.

"Obsession?" My wife probably calls it that, especially when she hears (through a closed door) me trying to improve on violin and cello, or to learn viola, decades after I started to "dis-improve."

But I think it is great when a person's will sets them on a desired path and they can follow it toward the place they envisioned when they started.

March 26, 2020, 7:15 PM · Michael I always read the preface (a lot of people I know don't) to get the general context but not full bios etc (I have a recent thread about that). Getting better though as I have a number of bios on order currently
March 26, 2020, 9:06 PM · A good strategy is to listen a lot to the music you're assigned by your teacher -- different violists, etc. And then listen around it. Listen to other works by the same composer, other music in the same genre, etc.
March 26, 2020, 11:15 PM · When I was in my mid-teens, I got more keenly interested in listening to classical music and eventually listened through the Time-Life Great Composers series, which had a couple of cassettes per composer of greatest hits. During college, I would study in the university's music library listening room, listening to several hours of CDs in the background every night. Even so, I sampled only a tiny fraction of the available repertoire.
March 27, 2020, 1:12 AM · Lydia I have got recordings of complete symphonies of Shostakovich, Brahms, Tchaik, Schubert, Mendelssohn, Beethoven, Schumann, Sibelius, Bruckner and Haydn plus a number of concertos for various instruments. So plenty of listening aha
March 27, 2020, 2:22 AM · I don’t know what’s a good starting point for a symphony, I don’t have much time so maybe a short one would be nice. Any recommendations?
March 27, 2020, 2:40 AM · I really enjoy Haydn's symphonies. Nos. 1, 20 or 26 are personal favourites
Edited: March 27, 2020, 3:11 AM · Here's my not-at-all-exhaustive list of symphonies I think are good for people just getting into them -- mostly under 40 minutes (many under 30 minutes), all following the standard 4 movement form, all fairly melodic and not overly heavy.

Haydn No. 100 ("Military")
Haydn No. 103 ("Drumroll")

Mozart No. 25
Mozart No. 40

Beethoven No. 1
Beethoven No. 4
Beethoven No. 5
Beethoven No. 7

Schubert No. 4 ("Tragic")
Schubert No. 5

Mendelssohn No. 3 ("Scottish")
Mendelssohn No. 4 ("Italian")

Schumann No. 1 ("Spring")

Gounod No. 1


Borodin No. 2

Dvorak No. 8
Dvorak No. 9 ("From the New World")

Tchaikovsky No.2 ("Little Russian")

Kalinnikov No. 1

Prokofiev No. 1 ("Classical")

Edited: March 27, 2020, 6:42 AM · Jake, one of the interesting things about the way I did it was that I got very good at recognizing composers, and the skill began also to generalize and expand into later music, too. Unfortunately, I still can't name the pieces. :-)

I think my educator wife would say the experiment's success was due to reinforcing the learning from different directions both active and passive: auditory, tactile, reading, etc rather than just listening.

So maybe you should learn to play the opening of each piece or movement on some instrument, for instance.

March 27, 2020, 6:41 AM · Andrew has some good picks there
March 29, 2020, 2:35 AM · Having "done" classical music pretty much all my life and long since given up any prospect of becoming a violin virtuoso my self-target now is to play like Frank Sinatra
April 2, 2020, 7:53 AM · Hi all.
Based on the above, I finally finished listening to all 4 of Brahms' symphonies. Took almost 6 years to get there, but I did it!

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