I’ve already admitted that my listening habits can be a bit sporadic, but I do have a very clear project for this blog that should keep me focused for quite some time. I stumbled upon this wikipedia article a year or two ago. It shows the results of a poll conducted by an Australian Classical Music station called ABC Classic FM. Listeners were asked to vote for their three favorite symphonies and the top 100 were broadcasted over a week.
Of all the forms of classical music my favorite must be the symphony. The composer has no greater canvas to freely express himself on than the symphony. The history of symphonies; their metamorphosis from the early pieces by Haydn to the romantic works of Beethoven to the epic songs of Mahler, is nearly as interesting as the pieces themselves. I discovered this list wanting to discover more symphonies and trying to figure out where to start, so it only makes sense as a jumping off point for this blog. Some of the pieces on this list are familiar to me, but some I will be listening to for the first time. My plan is to give each symphony a week, listening to it at least once a day. I don’t expect to post a new symphony every Monday so I will be supplementing with entries on other pieces in between. It can be difficult finding time to truly listen to a symphony the way it deserves to be heard, especially with some lasting 90 minutes. Aaron Copland felt he wasn’t familiar with a piece until he could sing it from memory. In some cases that’s like having Monty Python and the Holy Grail memorized in it’s entirety; a difficult feat, but by no means impossible. If you hang around with the right caliber of college student long enough you’ll see what I mean.
There will also be the matter of tracking down each piece. I have a fair few already, there are some public domain performances available for download, but for the rest we will be relying pretty heavily on the library.
Incase you have any interest in listening along and are too lazy to click the link above, we’ll be starting with Haydn’s Symphony No. 100. You can actually find a free download here (get the MP3 of Record Side A), so no excuses… other than “I don’t care” I suppose.