Mark Westcott Artist, Piano Teacher, Lecturer, Author

A Basic Library of Symphonic Music

A parent can hardly expect a child to be musically inclined in an unmusical environment. Having dropped the ball, the public schools offer little or no incentive or exposure for younger children to classical music. However, we have finally learned that a musical environment at home can have profound and lasting effects on a child's intellectual development. Also, how can we expect 'Johnny' to want to practice with little or no regular music in the household. Somehow he needs to be excited and pulled forward towards something that will make him want to practice and improve. It only need be part of the basic home environment. Not at all structured and with no demands for attentive listening. Just regularly playing from time to time.

To help this process along, a while back I made a little list of basic classical fare for parents. It can serve as a good beginning for a basic classical recording library. Regardless of where music study takes the child or where you think their goals may take them, classical is always the way to start for both listening and training. Daily listening is a large part of the musical success for any child.

I strongly urge a good set of speakers over headphones. Beware of the dismal sound offered by most computers. I collect older stereo equipment because I think it has far superior sound to the newer smaller stuff available. Bozak is the best. You can find various sizes, from bookshelf to the size of refrigerators. See craigslist etc. or go to your used stereo stores and start hunting and listening. Always bring a couple of symphonic recordings (Beethoven or Brahms) to choose speakers, remembering that whatever sounds best on classical will be far superior for pop and other things in your collection. Also if CDs are a little expensive for your budget, with the help of your used stereo store get some equipment in which a reasonable quality turntable is a part and start looking for used record stores. In my area we have huge used CD stores that have big LP areas and tremendous savings, sometimes 50 cents a record, barely if ever used. I have purchased many collections for friends of mine. LPs are a great, inexpensive way for a kid to become master of his on musical universe.

Here is the list.

Good shopping and good listening.

  • Bach-Brandenberg Concerti
  • Bartok-Concerto for Orchestra
  • Beethoven-9 Symphonies (try 3,4,7,9)
  • Brahms-4 Symphonies (try 1 and 4)
  • Debussy-La Mer
  • Haydn-Many Symphonies (try "the London", #101)
  • Elgar-"Enigma" Variations
  • Handel-Royal Fire Works Music, Water Music
  • Liszt-Les Preludes
  • Berlioz-Symphony Fantastic
  • Mandelssohn-"Italian" Symphony & incendental Music to Midsummers Nights' Dream
  • Mozart-Many Symphonies (try jupiter" #41, "the Haffner" #35, "the Linz", #36 and #40 in g minor)
  • prokofieff-Romeo and juliet, Symphony #4, Classical Symphony
  • Ravel-Several shorter works ie, Bolero on a collection
  • Schumann-Symphony #3
  • Schubert-Symphony #9 "the Great"
  • Tchaikovsky-Symphony #4, #5 or #6
  • Wagner-a collection of overlures to the operas
  • Stravinsky-Rite of Spring, Firebird
  • Vivaldi-Four Seasons
  • Some nice Concerti:

  • Beethoven-Piano Concerto #5 "Emperor"
  • Brahms-Piano Concerto #1, #2, Violin Concerto, Triple Concerto
  • Grieg-Piano Concerto
  • Liszt-Piano Concerto #1, #2
  • Mendelssohn-Violin concerto
  • Dvorak-Cello Concerto
  • Prokofieff-Piano Concerto #3
  • Ravel-piano Concert in Gand Concerto for Left Hand
  • Rachmoninoff-Piano Concerto #2, #3
  • Schumann Piano Concerto #2, #3
  • Tchaikovsky-Violin Concert0, piano Cpncerto #1 in B flat minor
  • Orchestra and Voice:

  • Mozart-Requim
  • Strauss-Salome, der Rosenkavalier (highlights)
  • Beethoven-missa Solemnus
  • Faure-Requim
  • Verdi-Requim, Falstaff
  • Brahms-German Requim
  • Bach-any Cantata
  • Some Great Chamber Music:

  • Beethoven-String Quartets, Piano Trios (very special)
  • Brahms-Piano Trios, piano Quartets, Piano Quintet
  • Frack-Violin, Piano Sonata
  • Mozart-2 piano Quartets, String Quartets
  • Schumann-Piano Quintet
  • Tchaikovsky-Piano Trio







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