Over my many years of reviewing, Ive often been asked for advice from newcomers to classical music, people excited by what theyve heard, and eager to hear and to learn more.
Naturally, I urge those exploring classical music to find out whatever they can. Yet Ive found that many people assume that knowledge of the art form is a prerequisite to appreciation. Newcomers to other performing arts, like theater or dance, dont seem to feel this level of intimidation. Id encourage those who are curious to just go to a performance and see what they think. A symphony orchestra program or an opera, or a piano recital is not an exam. Its an escape, an adventure, an enrichment.
Still, let me offer a bit of advice, by answering some of the questions Ive received.
What exactly is classical music, and what differentiates it from other musical genres?
Ah, that inevitable question. Labels can be problematic in any field; classical music especially so. One complication is that music history refers to the years from roughly 1750 to 1825 as the classical period, when Haydn, Mozart and Beethoven achieved their glory. But in a broader sense the term ...