One of my fun projects the past several months has been to increase my understanding and appreciation of classical music.  Going in, I knew a small amount about the overall sweep of classical music, and a few "big-name" works (e.g., The Overture of 1812, Beethoven's 5th), but I really wanted a framework to help me grasp the depth of this art form.  In addition to Wikipedia (heavily linked throughout this site), the best resource I've encoountered is Phil G. Goulding's Classical Music: The 50 Greatest Composers and their 1,000 Greatest Works.  I cannot recommend this book highly enough.  It is extremely well-written, detailed yet accessible, and full of interesting anecdotes about the lives of these great composers.  The introductory chapters do a wonderful job setting the musical and historical context, and the penultimate chapter is a fantastic overview of what an orchestra is.  

Goulding organizes his book in order of importance (admittedly a somewhat subjective model), but I learned more from rearranging the artists he discusses into chronological order (by birth year).  This allowed me to see (or, rather, hear) the development of ideas and influences over the musical generations.  That is how I've chosen to organize this site: for the sake of simplicity, I've broken history up into epochs, which I've chosen and delineated solely for my own organizational convenience.  Feel free to argue with me over whether, say, Karl Maria von Weber truly belongs in the "True Classical" epoch or Early Romantic epoch.

A final note about my method in listening to these works.  I spent approximately 1 week listening to the work of each composer while at my desk at work.  Some artists I didn't love, so I moved on in less than a week, some I spent more time on.  Of course, some weeks at work were busier than others, so it's entirely possible I paid less attention to some composers than others.  That's life.  If you feel I slighted someone, let me know!  Or, if there's someone who doesn't appear that should, let me know that too!  I've included a handful of composers that Goulding didn't list that I nonetheless enjoyed, and more are always welcome!  Enjoy!

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