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Topic: Definitive Orchestral Works - please suggest

  1. #1

    Definitive Orchestral Works - please suggest

    Hey all. I've just somehow received a free trial from a download site with 50 free songs. I'm familiar with the site from my college years and know that (if it's anything like it was, which seems likely) the actual premium membership is more or less worthless. But still, I can't say no to 50 free songs so...

    I'm looking for some advice from the more knowledgeable individuals here on the forum. If I were to scour this site for the most enjoyable and "profitable" (i.e., good for instruction) works for orchestra, what in your opinion should I be looking for? Just spout out the first thing that comes to mind and I'll add it to the list for now or next time I get an opportunity like this.

    This is my current collection, just to give an idea of what I WON'T be needing. Please let me know if you see any glaring gaps, i.e. "your classical collection just can't be complete without [name of composition]"


    I'm not just asking this question for myself. Hopefully a thread like this can remain both as a beginner's tool and an insight into the proclivities of some forum-dwellers here.

    -Chris Plorán
    There is the music of Johann Sebastian Bach. Therefore there must be a God. You either get this one or you don't - Kreeft & Tacelli
    The will to achieve is not sufficient. Some things should not be achieved. - Rimsky-Korsakov
    Musicians are just these guys that want to make music. Okay, they want to have a wonderful lifestyle, but the majority just want to make really great music. - Jon Anderson

  2. #2
    Senior Member Steve_Karl's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2004
    Pittsburgh, PA 15206 USA

    Re: Definitive Orchestral Works - please suggest

    Well, this is my "biased" list of favorites.

    Any Sibelius Symphony or all 7 if possible. If only 1 then the 3rd.

    Any Shostakovich Symphony or all 15. If only 1 then the 5th.

    Dvorak - 1 thru 9
    Walter Piston - All Symphonies or 2 thru 8 ( I believe No.1 has never been recorded )
    Bartok - Concerto For Orchestra

    Prokofiev - Waltz Suites - and all Symphonies
    Tchaikovsky - 1 through 6 and Manfred

    Respighi - Roman Trilogy

    Copland - Billy the Kid and Rodeo

    Deems Taylor - Through the Looking Glass

    Stravinsky - Firebird, Petrouchka, Rite ... - My Favorite Performances are when Stravinsky is conducting.
    The Boulez left me flat after hearing them Conducted by Stravinsky.
    Many claim Stravinsky was a terrible conductor but I think it's obvious in the orchestra's balance on these performances that he knew exactly what he wanted. They're noticably different than the other 2 versions I've heard.

    Carl Nielsen - 1 thru 6


    You can also get a petty good list of composers and their works and a time period from Wiki if you just click around a bit.



    Also ... here are some free downloads of some pretty nice performances.


  3. #3

    Re: Definitive Orchestral Works - please suggest

    I'll chime in with a few of my own:

    Sibelius, Symphony no.7 (in one movement)
    Barber, Symphony no.1 (again, in one movement)
    Rachmaninov, Symphonic Dances (don't think of this as "simply more romantic music")
    Schuman, Symphonies no.3, 4, and 5
    Copland, Symphony no.3
    Harris, Symphony no.3
    Bernstein, Symphony no.3
    (what IS it with all these no.3 symphonies???)

    Schostakowitch, Symphonies no.10, and 14
    Szymanowski, Violin Concerto no.1 and no.2
    Berg, Concerto à la mémoire d'un Ange
    Corigliano, Piano Concerto
    Ravel, Concerto pour la main gauche
    Martinu, Double concerto for strings, piano, and timpani (in my opinion, his masterpiece)

  4. #4

    Re: Definitive Orchestral Works - please suggest

    John Williams - Star Wars Suite

  5. #5

    Re: Definitive Orchestral Works - please suggest

    Also just off the top of my head-

    Henry Dutilleux - anything

    Gyorgy Ligeti - Atmospheres; Chamber Concerto

    Jan Sandstrom - Motorbike Concerto (concerto for trombone)

    Mark Anthony Turnage - Three Screaming Popes

    Bela Bartok - Concerto for Orchestra; Second Piano Concerto; Prince of the Pagodas; Music for Strings, Percussion and Celeste

    Benjamin Britten - Four Sea Interludes; War Requiem

    Dmitri Shostakovich - Violin Concerto no.1; All 15 Symphonies

    Sibelius - The Swan of Tuonela; All 7 Symphonies; Incidental music to the Tempest

    Nielsen - The Six Symphonies

    Stravinsky - Petrouchka; Firebird; Jeu des Cartes; Apollon Musagette (for strings only, but the most awesome string writing ever)

    Liszt - Faust Symphony

    Rachmaninov - All 4 Piano Concertos

    John Williams - Any Star Wars soundtrack; ET; Close Encounters

  6. #6

    Re: Definitive Orchestral Works - please suggest

    I'd suggest any orchestral work from RICHARD STRAUSS. Any symphonic poem: Also Spracht Zaratustra,... or any symphony.

  7. #7

    Re: Definitive Orchestral Works - please suggest

    Beethoven - anything Obvious but with good reason

    Barber -Adagio for strings (just beautiful)

    Mozart - See Beethoven

    Edward Elgar - See Beethoven

    Tchaikovsky - See Beethoven - 1812 a definite

    One More

    Leonard Bernstein - West Side Story
    Last edited by Paul Stutt; 12-27-2007 at 05:24 AM. Reason: One More

  8. #8

    Re: Definitive Orchestral Works - please suggest

    I know popularity does not necessarily equal quality, but this is a place I look sometimes for my next purchase:


    If there are one or two too many Elgars and Vaughan Williams in there for your taste then there is a trans-atlantic sister site:


    Or for opera:


  9. #9
    Senior Member rpearl's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2005

    Re: Definitive Orchestral Works - please suggest

    Yeah, what everyone else said! I'd add the Ravel orchestration of Mussorgsky's Pictures - if you are looking for orchestral music that is illustrative/instructive.

    Shostakovich - Symphony #5.
    Ron Pearl





  10. #10

    Re: Definitive Orchestral Works - please suggest

    I nearly forgot

    Takemitsu - almost anything for orchestra

    Lutoslawski - likewise

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