Howdy prospective classical music fans. Today I want to write to you about the wonderful classical music podcasts that are out there, and which are a great way of adding to your knowledge of classical music, who the composers were/are, and just what some of the jargon used actually means.
For me, getting into classical was made all the easier because of various podcasts that recommended music for me to listen to it, and telling me just what was happening during the lives of the men and women who wrote the music. So I guess the best thing for me to do would be for me to just get on with the first recommendation.
COMPOSER OF THE WEEK
This is a regular show on BBC Radio 3 where Donald Macleod will take a composer and will examine their lives or certain periods in their lives through the music they wrote over the course of a week. So during the week, you can listen to the program which plays the music in question, but then at the end of the week, the BBC release a podcast version in which the week’s program is condensed with snippets of the music.
Why I recommend this podcast is simple, we are all voyeurs to a degree and love to know something about people. It isn’t really important to our appreciation of their music, but it can build up our understanding of what we are listening to if we know for example why they wrote it. It is the same as knowing for example that Norwegian Wood was John Lennon’s way of admitting to having an affair with a newspaper writer, can help us to really understand what the song was about, but it really doesn’t add to whether we like it or not. Which is really the point I want to make time and time again about classical music. It is just the same as all other music. You don’t need to know much about it to like it.
Listen to the Podcast here.
Produced by Joshua Weilerstein, the conductor and brother of Alicia Weilerstein the world-famous cellist. This is a real gem of a podcast because it really helps you understand the nature of classical music. Not only does it break down famous pieces of music to give you an insight into the music and what the composer did. But then there are lovely episodes when Joshua interviews some of the big names of classical music. Episode 11 is one of my favourites when Itzhak Perlman and his wife Toby are interviewed. It is amazing listening to one of the foremost names in classical music talking so casually about his art. Episode 13 is also another excellent episode which discusses Baldur Bronnimann’s “10 things to change about classical concerts,” which I think you will find interesting. Anyway, I really recommend that you give this a listen.
This is a newer podcast, made again by BBC Radio 3 and hosted by Clemency Burton-Hill as she curates a classical playlist for a number of well-known music fans from other genres. It follows on from the book that Clemency released last year called A Year of Wonder. What I like about this podcast is that it is made for people who want to know about the genre and who don’t know where to start. It is the theme of this blog, so yeah, I really recommend that you listen to this because you might get to hear something that you will like, but also, it shows you that you need not be overwhelmed by the idea of trying to get into classical music.
THE LISTENING SERVICE
This is a bit deeper than the other podcasts because it doesn’t just tell you what music to listen to, nor does it a biographical podcast that tells you about the lives of the composers. Instead, this is an exploration of the theory and ideology behind classical music. It explains things for you so that you don’t need a PhD in music theory, but after a few episodes of this you will be able to talk about classical music like a boss, and even better you will understand what you are saying.
Tom Service is a great host and has done some great documentaries for the BBC about composers, and he delivers here on this Radio 3 podcast. Definitely, one that you will enjoy if you want to go beyond just listening to the music to get a deeper understanding of the genre.
So there you are, four podcasts worth listening to as you continue on your classical music exploration. Enjoy.