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5 classical works for new, young listeners

The world of classical music can be intimidating for a new listener. You might be wondering, where do I start? I was in the same boat not too long ago. This mix of contemporary and classic pieces helped me dip my toes in the water, and they might help you, too.  

American composer Virgil Thomson said it best: “Try a thing you haven't done three times. Once, to get over the fear of doing it. Twice, to learn how to do it. And a third time to figure out whether you like it or not.”

So give it a try.

‘Fracture,’ by Stephan Moccio

Stephan Moccio is a Canadian composer known mostly for his soundtrack work on Fifty Shades of Grey in 2015. This piece is at the top of my list because piano compositions are my absolute favorite. But also it is relevant to the world because it was inspired by COVID-19 and the rekindling of relationships since quarantine, he said in a 2021 interview with Vevo.

‘Rideaux Lunaires,’ by Chilly Gonzales

This 2012 work lives on every playlist of mine. If learning how to trust had a melody, this would be it. The effortless sound of each chord goes through the trial and tribulation that comes with learning to trust. Chilly Gonzales’ real name is Jason Charles Beck, and he’s a Canadian musician based in Cologne, Germany. He is widely known for his collaborations with Feist and Drake.

18 Nocturnes, by John Field

John Field was an Irish composer in the 1800s and he is known for inventing the nocturne, a short composition that suggests romance or dreaminess. Some classical music listeners say Field’s compositions were foreshadowed by composers such as Ludwig van Beethoven and Franz Schubert, considering they all rose to fame in the same time frame. This work is a great place to start listening to classical music because it is soft and elegant. It is the perfect background music while reading your favorite novel.

‘Surprise Symphony,’ by Joseph Haydn

This work is the first in the list that includes strings. It’s an unpredictable work, which makes it easy to appreciate. It is fueled with emotion that carries over to the listener. Joseph Haydn was an Austrian composer and was Beethoven’s teacher. Haydn is known as the Father of the Symphony and the Father of the String Quartet. His unique style is what makes him one of the most celebrated composers in Europe.

Nocturne No. 20, by Frédéric Chopin

This is an agonizing, yet charming, piece. It was written as a piano solo, but some conductors harmonize the piece with violin and it is wonderful to the ears. Frédéric Chopin was a Polish composer in the 1800s who started his career during the Romantic period of classical music. If you go on to listen to more of his works, you will hear that communicated in his music. Chopin is a notable composer because he was one of the first to dedicate himself to only the piano.

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