Classical Music Recommendations

  • Thread starter Thread starter DonaNobisPacem
  • Start date Start date
Not open for further replies.


I have a 7th grade boy who LOVES to listen to classical music. Can anybody make some recommendations as to where to start with classical music??? What is good listening for his age, etc??

He doesn’t like “opera” music, so I take this to mean no vocals, just orchestral in nature.

Thank you everyone!!
I recomend some Bach or Motzart, they are both really good. Sousa is really good if you want a march style. Hope that helps.
If he doesn’t like opera fine, but don’t dismiss sacred vocal music! Do a google for Ave Verum Corpus with John Rutter directing the Cambridge Singers on many William Byrd compositions. Awesome! Or check out some Josquin.

Instrumentally, get him a copy of Beethoven’s Missa Solemnis.

Classical music, eh?


That one song I can’t remember right now
The surprise symphony
Chariots of Fire is pretty cool 👍 😉
Get this, I’m a professional musician. You know what really turned me onto music?

The original STar Wars soundtrack. No kidding. The first one. I found out later it was inspired by Holst The Planets (which is also a great thing to listen to - maybe you could have fun comparing the final battle music of star wars to the Mars section of The Planets 😉

That’s where I’d start, anyway.
There are inexpensive cassettes or CDs with titles such as “Greatest Piano Concertos”, “Favorite Symphonies”, “The Best Opera Arias”, “Mozart’s Greatest Hits”, and so on. Go to and search under CDs or cassettes for classical music, symphonies, piano, Mozart, Bach, Baroque, etc. There are also several good classical music tapes and CDs made especially for kids (for example, “Classical Kids” series, “Pavorotti’s Favorite Arias Made Easy”). Again, search Amazon for them. I would suggest you get two or three tapes or CDs to get a feel for what he likes. If he isn’t playing a musical instrument, maybe he would like to. Piano perhaps?
Bach, Vivaldi, if he plays an instrument, anything for that or a similar instrument.

Bach string music.

Did I mention J.S. Bach?

And P.D.Q. Bach is kind of fun too. 🙂
I might recommend going in a chronological progression and seeing what music most appeals to him:
baroque - Bach (e.g. Brandeburg Concertos) and Vivaldi (e.g. The Four Seasons)

classical - Mozart (any except of course his operas), Haydn, Beethoven (any - but start with his symphonies)

romantic - Debussy (The Sea), Chopin (any), Berlioz (Symphonie Fantasique) - I wold stay away from Wagner if he doesn’t like opera

20th century - Stravinsky (Rite of Spring), Gershwin (An American in Paris and Rhapsody in Blue)

You may be able to find sampler style CD’s that cover some kind of chronological cross section with 1 or 2 selections from various compoers - and from there be able to expand within an era or specific composer. There are of course many pieces and many composers so getting at stuff he likes (and even getting him to listen to stuff he doesn’t just so he knows his tastes) seems like a good strategy. Hope this helps.
Even if he doesn’t like opera (vocals in that are an acquired taste) don’t overlook the instrumental parts of operas. The march from Aida, lots of Carmen will be familiar already lots of Wagner (the “kill the rabbit” tune is from **Die Walkure **- “Here comes the Bride” is from Lohegrin
Yeah!!! I love this one!!!
My son is 2 and can’t go to bed with out the classical music going. He asks for that before asking for water. If that’s the kind of crutch he needs to sleep, so be it!
We are lucky enough to have a classical station that we can listen to anywhere.
I like the music to Carmen. While some of the score does have vocals, however, you can get the instrumental portions.
I suggest an album of Rossini overtures! As someone else mentioned, he’ll get a kick out of recognizing much of the music from Bugs Bunny cartoons!

Soundtracks to both of the *Fantasia * movies would be good, too – or rent the movies to see what he responds to.

And you can’t forget Bach’s Toccatta and Fugue in D Minor, which is the song always associated with one of the old *Phantom of the Opera * movies.

For sheer spine tingling effect check out *Carmina Burana * by Carl Orff – you’ll recognize the opening notes as soon as you hear them.

Save yourself some money- take him to the library! Most good ones have recordings of at least the basics of classical music. He can try out anything he wants and get a taste for all the different styles and periods. :whistle:

(Personally, you should try Antonio Vivaldi, but don’t limit yourselves to just the Four Seasons. Go for Baroque! :whacky: )
I agree with lots of folks here that Bach is great, but I think a real appreciation comes with age. For a teen you might need something more programmatic and/or engaging.

Looking back on my own tastes at that time (and from talking to others) I would suggest 19th- early 20th century Eastern European and Russian composers, starting with Dvorak’s New World Symphony. This is a great period for very engaging music, and it seems like it is very often ignored for “purer” music that kids might find boring. Rachmaninoff, Prokofiev, Shostakovich (maybe a little abstract) all pack a punch. For some really punchy tunes, check out Hindemith, too.

He may not like opera, but that’s just a sliver of vocal music. If you know that he likes classical, look around for Renaissance polyphony (which includes a lot of sacred music). The King’s Singer’s Madrigal History Tour (profane) is a good intro. Others have suggested Tallis, Byrd, Palestrina and Monteverdi. The Hilliard Ensemble has an impressive recording of Tallis’ Lamentations of Jeremiah, a real gem of the period, and of the English couner-reformation as well (a little history lesson you could mix in!).

For something a little more “current,” look for a recording of Handel’s Messiah on period instruments, which also usually means the choir will be smaller and singing in a straighter tone (as opposed to a more bombastic opera style, which is hard to tune and is really hard to listen to, IMHO).

Finally, think of this as an opportunity to educate yourself, as well. There’s a lot of great, inspirational stuff out there. Have fun, and good luck!
Leonard Bernstein once did a recording of Prokofiev’s Peter and the Wolf for children; although it is aimed at a level below that of a seventh grader, it is fun for people of all ages, particularly those new to classical music, because it introduces the instruments one by one.

Gustav Holst’s The Planets may also be exciting: it is program music for the imagination’s journey from planet to planet. It helps that it sounds like a lot of “movie music.”

I am a huge fan of classical music, but never cared much for opera either. The one opera I would recommend however which might appeal to a young person’s idealism is Beethoven’s only opera, Fidelio. In it a journalist is a political prisoner condemned to death; his wife conspires to save him, and great paeans are sung to God’s love, truth, and justice throughout. I like John Vickers as Florestan.
Lastly, my first introduction to classical music which helped me to love it from the first day I heard it was the J.S. Bach Brandenberg Concerti (with Yehudi Menuhin) and the Beethoven fifth -“Emperor” - piano concerto (with Rudolf Serkin.) The latter was on eight-track! I’m not too old …
Mozart – Mass in C Minor ( yeah its part vocal, but it willknock jis socks off anyway. This is what God listens to)

Prokofiev – Classical Symphony, Peter and the Wolf

Beethoven – Archduke trio, Symphonies 7 and 8

Bach – Brandenburg concerti
I know Wagner can be a little heavy, but the operas of the Ring are wonderful, especially if he can learn the story. I know you said that he doesn’t like opera, but is he aware of the stories of some of the operas? Gianni Schicci (sp?) is a hoot. Maybe he can give it a try.
Instrumental tonal colors are very attractive to young people. Look in the library for videos of the Leonard Berstein Young Peoples Concerts. They are very good. Also, check out the music of Respighi, especially “The Pines of Rome”. It is very descriptive, colorful, and exciting. Take a look at this BBC site for a very good look at the goings on of an orchestra.

Consider starting your son on an instrument. Piano is good, also talk to a band or orchestra teacher about a good choice.
I second the library suggestion - depends on where you live though! We are blessed with a fantastic library system. We love to go and check out a handfull of cds just to see if we like them. If we don’t, we’re not out any money. If we do, we can purchase a copy. We’ve found so many interesting pieces. There was one that was a classical collection of ‘scary music’ that both my kids loved. My kids also thought they didn’t like opera until they started listening to crossover type artists: Sarah Brightman, Opera Babes, etc. Our library also carries the Music Masters series (also found in many homeschooling catalogs) which intersperse narration of the life of a composer with his music. If they really like the snipets of that composer’s music, we search out the full piece.
Don’t push the opera. The singing style carries a lot of baggage that a boy of this age won’t be into. When he does aquire a broader taste in music, try a live production. Many opera companies and college music depts. offer educational abridged versions to inform and entertain. Somebody mentioned “Carmina Burana” by Carl Orff. It’s a popular piece but with very salacious texts. Don’t go there. . .

Another source for free listening is Classical Music Archives, . They have a lot of stuff and you can listen to 4 or 5 files a day for free.
Not open for further replies.