Masterworks of Classical Music

The classical repertoire contains over 500 years of music to explore, a fact that might leave Classical Tyros feeling overwhelmed. How do you know what to listen to? Where should you begin? How do you weed out the good from the bad?

First, I recommend not letting that massive amount of music get in your way. There’s so much to enjoy that almost anywhere you begin will lead to something you like. Also, keep in mind that trying to learn anything new — knitting, golf, a foreign language — takes a little time and effort. You have to begin with the basics, and that’s what I’ve provided on this page — a list of masterworks (the basics) to help you begin the journey.

The list on this page could easily have been ten times longer, and I apologize for neglecting anything you might already enjoy. I wasn’t trying to identify the “greatest” pieces in music history. I wasn’t even trying to list my favorites. I simply wanted to provide a few pieces that I think you will enjoy if you are new to classical music. At the very least, my list should help you begin to develop an ear for different types of music from different historical time periods.

The list should also serve as a springboard to discovering other pieces of music. If you listen to Mozart’s
Piano Concerto No 21 and like it, you should then search for Mozart’s other piano concertos. (You won’t be disappointed.) Listen to Beethoven’s Symphony No. 5 and you will probably want to hear his other symphonies. (Try the Third, Sixth, Seventh, and Ninth.) I hope this list is simply another tool in helping you understand and appreciate classical music.

So plug in your headphones, turn up the volume, and begin exploring the music listed on the page. Keep in mind that most pieces will sound better with repeated listenings. Dare I say that some of them might even become addictive?

Baroque Era, 1600-1750

Orchestral Works

Concertos
Chamber Music
Solo Keyboard
Sacred and Choral Works
Opera
Classical Era, 1730-1820

Orchestral Works

Concertos
Chamber Music
Solo Keyboard
Sacred and Choral Works
Opera

Romantic Era, 1800-1910

Orchestral Works

Concertos
Chamber Music
Solo Keyboard
Sacred and Choral Works
Opera

Modern Era, 1900-1945

Orchestral Works

Concertos
Chamber Music
Solo Keyboard
Sacred and Choral Works
Opera

Postmodern Era, 1945 to the Present

Orchestral Works

Concertos
Chamber Music
Solo Keyboard
Sacred and Choral Works
Opera
All links on this page connect to YouTube videos. For longer works I have linked, when possible, to a single movement or short section of the work. If any of the links are not working or the videos have been removed from YouTube, contact me via email or Twitter (@NMJim), and I will update the list.