If you don’t play an instrument or sing in a choir, you may feel put off by classical music; you may have heard some pieces and not liked them or you may feel that it doesn’t speak to you or your life.
There is not one single type of ‘classical music’; just because you don’t like one kind, it doesn’t mean you won’t like another.
Try to listen to all sorts of different things, at different times of day and when you’re in different moods, and you will almost certainly find something that you like.
- If you hear something you like as the soundtrack to a film or TV programme or even an advertisement, try to find it online and listen to it as a whole
- Try Classic FM, which was set up to make classical music more accessible. Explore the clips and information on the website or have the radio on in the background while you’re doing something else
- Listen to the ten pieces recently recorded by the BBC especially to introduce secondary school pupils to classical music
- If you know someone musical, ask them for their suggestions; they’ll probably be delighted to share their favourites
The Agnes Classical playlist
O mio babbino caro A beautiful soaring piece by Puccini, sung here by Russian star Anna Netrebko – sunny and uplifting
When I am laid in earth When you’re in the mood for something a bit more tragic, you can’t beat the great Jessye Norman and Dido’s Lament by Henry Purcell
Pearl Fishers Friendship duet Men get good tunes too, especially if they’re in love. This beautiful duet by Bizet is one of the most famous in opera
Steal Away Michael Tippett’s beautiful arrangement of a traditional spiritual, part of a pacifist piece composed during the Second World War
Ode to joy You may well recognise this famous and uplifting piece from Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony- we offer the FlashMob version
Zadok the Priest Republicans may want to look away now, but this coronation anthem by Handel is a fabulous piece of full-on choral music, with a great instrumental introduction. Or you could try Handel’s Hallelujah Chorus, sung here with huge passion and verve and at a speed to satisfy the most impatient of teenagers
Rhapsody in Blue George Gershwin’s 1924 piece combining classical and jazz as never before. Enjoy this exciting, high-energy performance – and if you can play the piano like Yuja Wang, do let us know
Meditation Massenet’s reflective, moving, piece for violin – here in an intimate version accompanied by piano rather than the original orchestra
Gymnopédie No.1 Meditative, atmospheric piano piece by Eric Satie
Adagio for Strings Emotional, moving piece by Samuel Barber, often used as the soundtrack to films; we’ve given you the original string version, but you can find the more popular orchestral version here
Symphony from the New World – Lush, emotional orchestral music written by a 19th Czech visiting the USA and full of an almost tangible longing. Our link takes you to a clip of the most famous section, but if you like it you can find the whole symphony here