Western Classical Music

Parsi Times brings you our monthly column promoting Western Classical Music by leading connoisseur, Khushroo Suntook, Chairman of the National Centre for the Performing Arts (NCPA). Mr. Suntook re-acquaints you to the joys of this unparalleled form of music and invites us to relive its melodic splendour by taking us on a journey into exploring and falling in love with the great Western Classical Music form.


The preferences for listening to music often springs from your family surroundings, your friends and, most importantly, the initial impressions of concert going that the privileged few are exposed to at a young age. Learning to play the piano was so widespread, particularly in Mumbai and Pune, that familiarity with the music of Chopin, and early Beethoven, was, in the growing up stage, imbedded in our minds. This is not an Indian phenomena but universal. People would flock to great concerts by Mozart and Beethoven, and in Italy, to the operas of Verdi, Puccini, Rossini etc.

I am suggesting that, while you may start with works which interest you in the first place, you explore the composer further for more masterpieces, and then after having heard most of the works of a particular composer, try and seriously listen to composers who have succeeded the earlier masters. The prime example would be an immersion into the music of Beethoven and then moving on to Brahms. If you like romantic music from the Eastern part of Europe, start with the popular works of Tchaikovsky’s Piano Concerto No.1; Violin Concerto and Symphonies 4, 5 and 6, and move onto Dvorak and Janacek.

You have now plenty of music to start with, and of course, the availability online is a great advantage you have over the elderly persons who learnt it the hard way! If you can develop the habit of reading the notes given with, say LPs if you are playing them, CDs and if you are listening to either streamed music or have a habit to do so on your computer, do investigate the origins of the music and the circumstances in which the composers took up their pens. Reading, of course, is essential to get into any area of a musical genre, and there may be some need to guide the reader. Towards that end, in the next article that I put up, I will suggest some reading material allied with listening suggestions.

Till the next time, happy listening!

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