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Gustav Mahler
Symphony No. 5 (Adagietto)
At the turn of the century, Mahler’s career was firmly taking root...
Gustav Mahler
Symphony No. 5
At the turn of the century, Mahler’s career was firmly taking root...
Gustav Mahler
Symphony No. 5
At the turn of the century, Mahler’s career was firmly taking root...
Gustav Mahler
Symphony no. 6, 4th movement
Sometimes referred to with the nickname “Tragic,” Mahler’s Six...
Gustav Mahler
Symphony no. 6, 3rd movement
Sometimes referred to with the nickname “Tragic,” Mahler’s Six...
Gustav Mahler
Symphony no. 6, 2nd movement
Sometimes referred to with the nickname “Tragic,” Mahler’s Six...
Gustav Mahler
Symphony no. 6, 1st movement
Sometimes referred to with the nickname “Tragic,” Mahler’s Six...
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Welcome to Classical Connect - the free classical music site!

If you like classical music, you’ve come to the right place! Classical Connect is your virtual concert hall, featuring thousands of recordings of classical music. If you love piano music, just go to the Browse by Instruments section and access the thousand-plus piano recordings available in our library. If you prefer the violin or the flute, you won’t be disappointed either – in fact, we have music for practically every instrument! If, on the other hand, you’re interested in a particular composer, you can Browse by Composer and select your favorite.

Where do we get our music? Our site allows independent musicians to upload their own recordings, or we may do it on their behalf. Musicians value the special opportunity Classical Connect offers because it allows for their music to be heard around the world. Several hundred musicians have already joined our site. We also have arrangements with several labels, festivals, programs and orchestras, allowing us to use some of their material.

As a visitor to our site you can listen to the first three minutes of any recording. However, by joining our site you’ll have access to all full-length performances. Joining is easy and has many great benefits. You’ll be able to create playlists, comment and vote on recordings, share music with friends, listen to our special programs, and more.

The music you hear upon entry was randomly selected from our library - what we call our Serendipity list. You can always pause it or jump to the next piece. You’ll be able to change the content of these initial selections once you’ve signed in.

To help you navigate the site and use its features, we’ve also created a Help page.

In the meantime, enjoy the music!

The Classical Connect team

April 21, 2014.  Prokofiev and Torelli.  Sergei Prokofiev’s birthday is this week: he was born on April 23rd (new style) of 1891.  Prokofiev was not only a composer of huge talent, he was also a wonderful pianist (his recording of Mussorgsy’s Pictures at an Sergei Prokofiev, 1918Exhibition, for example, is one of the best).  He premiered all but one of his piano concertos, even though some of them are among the most difficult works for the instrument (his concerto no. 4, for the left hand and written for Paul Wittgenstein who lost his right arm during WWI, was never performed during Prokofiev’s lifetime).  Prokofiev wrote his first concerto in 1911-1912, while still at studying at the St-Petersburg Conservatory.  The premier took place in Moscow in August of 1912.  Two years later he submitted the same work for the Anton Rubinstein competition, which was to determine the best pianist in the graduating class.  At the time Prokofiev joked that as the work was new, the judges wouldn’t know whether he was playing it right or not.  We don’t know if that was the reason, but Prokofiev indeed won the competition, even if Glazunov, the head of the jury, was rather reluctant to award him the first prize.  The first piano concerto is in one movement and the shortest of the five he’d eventually write.  It’s full of energy and youthful charisma.  Here it is, in the 1952 performance by Sviatoslav Richter with what used to be called the Moscow Youth Symphony, the orchestra, which one year later became the Moscow Philharmonic Orchestra.  Kirill Kondrashin, its music director of many years, is conducting.

Prokofiev started working on his second piano concerto almost immediately after completing the first one, in 1912.  He finished it in 1913 and dedicated it to Maximilian Schmidthof, his friend from the Conservatory, who committed suicide in the spring of that year.  The work was premiered in Pavlovsk, outside of St.-Petersburg, in August, in a concert for the Russian Musical Society.  The public was scandalized.  Viacheslav Karatygin, a critic, reported that the concerto “left listeners frozen with fright, hair standing on end.”  Another critic called it “a cacophony of sounds that has nothing in common with civilized music.”  During the Revolution of 1917 the orchestral score was lost, and Prokofiev rewrote it in 1923, changing it considerably in the process.  By then Prokofiev had emigrated from Russia, married a Spanish singer, and was living in Paris.  He played at the second premier in Paris in 1924, with Serge Koussevitzky conducting, and the reception was not much better than that of 10 years earlier in Russia.  These days it’s considered a classic.  The concerto is technically extremely challenging.  Prokofiev himself stopped playing it shortly after the premier. Sviatoslav Richter never played Piano concerto no. 2, even though he considered it one of the most fundamental in all piano literature.  Martha Argerich didn’t play it either.  We’ll hear it in the performance by Evgeny Kissin, technically one of the most gifted pianists of his generation; the Philharmonia Orchestra is lead by Vladimir Ashkenazy.

Giuseppe Torelli, a minor Baroque composer, was born on April 22nd, 1658 in Verona.  He studied the violin, but ended up composing a large number of trumpet concertos (he also wrote many concerti grosso).  Here’s one of them, a very pleasant Trumpet concerto in D Major.  Alison Balsom is playing the trumpet, the Deutsche Kammerphilharmonie Bremen is lead by Thomas Klug.

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Welcome to our Virtual Concert Hall

We started Classical Connect with a mission to provide independent musicians with a new venue for their performances. Hundreds of classical musicians have taken advantage of this opportunity, sharing their music with listeners across the world.

We encourage you to join and upload your performances. Once signed in, you’ll be able to create a personal page with your bio, photo and other promotional materials. Since all the recordings on our site are streamed, your performance cannot be downloaded without your permission. In the future, you may also benefit from our plan to introduce fees for certain downloads. These fees will be shared with you, the musician.  If you have a video of your performance on YouTube, you can link it to your personal page: go to Upload or Link Your Performance and paste the YouTube URL in the appropriate field.  Your video will play on Classical Connect alongside your audio recordings.

Also, we have created a new feature called Concert Schedules, which allows you to enter your future concerts. Once your event has been entered, two things should happen. First, the concert is displayed on your personal page, below the bio. Second, the concert appears on the combined front-page Concerts Calendar. Moreover, for two days – the day before the concert and the day of the concert itself – there will be a message announcing your concert on the front-page News and Updates tab. This is the very first tab presented to all logged-on users.

On the technical side: our site accepts MP3 and MP4 files, so if you have a CD recording, you can rip and upload it in this format. For better quality, we recommend using a bit rate of 128 kbps, an audio sample rate of 44 kHz, and a two-channel (stereo) format.

To upload, enter the complete title of the piece, including its key, number, opus, etc. For example, the title of Beethoven's Sonata No. 21 would be identified as Sonata No. 21 in C Major, Op. 53. "Waldstein" is optional.  Also, we encourage you to leave comments about your performance or the composition.

If your performance was recorded on several tracks, then upload each one with a different title. For example, Sonata No. 21, part 1, Sonata No. 21, part 2 and so on. Please let us know and we’ll merge these different movements into one complete performance with the appropriate title.

Please do not upload parts of a composition. Think of Classical Connect as your virtual concert hall: only upload the things you would play in a real one.

If you have any questions, please contact us by clicking here and sending us an e-mail. We'll make every effort to respond as quickly as possible.

The Classical Connect team

Benefits of Joining Classical Connect

There are many advantages to joining Classical Connect. The first, and most obvious, is the ability to listen to complete performances. We have more than 2,000 different pieces of classical music, some of them as long as an hour and 50 minutes (yes, that’s how long Mahler’s Third Symphony is!). Once you’re logged in, you can listen to every one of them from start to finish – that’s if you like the performance, of course.

You can also create personal playlists. There’s no limit to how many pieces each playlist can include. You can read more about playlists here. In addition, you can comment and vote on any piece of music in our library. The grades / rankings go from 1 (lowest) to 10 (highest), but please only reserve 10s for the truly great performances and use 1s sparingly!

Another advantage includes sharing performances with your friends. Click the Share button on the Player and send a message to your friend on Classical Connect, or simply copy/paste the link into an e-mail. Your friends don’t even need to be members of Classical Connect; they can simply click on the link and listen to the complete performance the same way you do.

Also, you can actively participate in Forums only if you’ve joined the site.

Finally, as you set up your profile, you can select the content of the initial musical selection or omit it entirely.

Joining is easy. Just click here and follow the instructions.

Enjoy!

The Classical Connect team


April 20, 2014.  Happy Easter to all!

Resurrection, Piero della Francesca

Here, to celebrate, is one of Bach’s Easter cantatas, Christ lag in Todes Banden, BWV 4.  Concentus musicus Wien is conducted by Nikolaus Harnoncourt.

The fresco, above, The Resurrection, is by Piero della Francesca and was painted around 1463-1465.  Aldous Huxley called it “the greatest picture in the world.”

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April 14, 2014.  Ockeghem.  Johannes Ockeghem was one of the greatest composers of the Franco-Flemish school, and, therefore, one of the greatest composers of the early Renaissance, as Burgundians dominated the European musical scene in the 15th Johannes Ockeghemcentury.  The date of Ockeghem’s birth is very much in doubt, some researchers suggest 1410, other – 1425.  He was probably born in the town of Saint-Ghislain, not far from Mons, the capital of the county of Hainaut.  Two famous composers, Gilles Binchois some years earlier and Orlando di Lasso a century later were born in Mons.  It’s possible that Ockenghem studied with Binchois, and it’s even more probable that they met at the Burgundian court later on.  In 1443 Ockeghem was a chorister in Antwerp, and between 1446 and 1448 served at the court of Charles I, Duke of Bourbon.  The dukes were of an old noble family that would eventually rule all of France (king Louis XIV was a Bourbon), but at the time of Ockeghem the French kings came from the House of Valois.  Ockeghem would serve them as well: he moved to Paris around 1452 and was hired as a singer at the court of King Charles VII (according to contemporaries, Ockeghem had a beautiful bass voice).  Several years later he was given the title of Maistre de chapelle de chant du roy.  He also became a canon of the cathedral of Notre Dame de Paris.  In 1460 Gilles Binchois died in Soignies and Ockeghem wrote a “Déploration” (Lamentation) on his death.  You can listen to it hear.  The Laudantes Consort is led by Guy Janssens.

After the death of Charles in 1461, Ockeghem continued at the court of his son, King Louis XI.  By 1475 the One Hundred Year’s War was over.  Louis XI signed a treaty with the English and went to battle his other sworn enemy, the Burgundians.  Two years later Charles the Bold, the Duke of Burgundy, was killed in a battle, and Louis XI took possession of many of the Duchy’s territories, including Burgundy itself.  Lois XI died in 1483; Ockeghem continued at the court of Charles VIII, but eventually left Paris.  He spent some time in Bruges and then went to Tours, where he held a prestigious position of the treasurer of the St.-Martin Cathedral.  He died in Tours in 1497.  Many “laments” were composed at his death, just as he did when Binchois died.  The most famous of these funeral chansons was written by Josquin des Prez.  You can listen to it hear, in the performance by Laudantes Consort with Guy Janssens.

Compared to his predecessors, Guillaume Dufay, John Dunstaple or Gilles Binchois, Ockeghem’s textures seem to be richer and more sonorous.  He wasn’t a very prolific composer: his extant output consists of 14 masses, 10 motets, and several chansons.  Here’s  Kyrie from his L'homme armé Mass.  It’s preceded by the famous tune itself, which is later user throughout the mass, usually in the tenor part and slow development, so it’s not easy to hear it directly.  Oxford Camerata is lead by Jeremy Summerly.  And hear’s an amazing motet Deo gratias, for four nine-part choruses – thirty-six parts altogether, in a virtuoso performance by the Huelgas Ensemble.  It’s lead by Paul van Nevel.

The anonymous picture above is often considered a portrait of Ockeghem with members of the choir.  He’s the one wearing the glasses!

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April 7, 2014.  Rachmaninov and Stradella.  We missed the birthday of Sergei Rachmaninov, and probably by more than one week: according to the new calendar, he was born on April 1st of 1873 - but back then Russia was still using the Julian calendar, so Sergei Rachmaninov by Konstantin Somovcontemporary documents state that Rachmaninov was born on March 20th.  As talented as he was anachronistic, he wrote 19th century music well into the 20th.  But do we really mind if so much of it was so good?  Rachmaninov’s life was divided in two by the October revolution: he left Russia at the end of 1917 for a concert tour and never returned.  On November 1, 1918, after a series of concerts in Scandinavia, he and his family boarded a ship to New York.  He lived in the United States for the rest of his life (Rachmaninov died in 1943 in his home in Beverly Hills).  In this second part of his life, he concretized a lot (he was, after all, one of the greatest pianist of the 20th century) and composed rather little.  In 26 years he wrote just five major compositions: Piano Concerto no. 4, Variations on a Theme of Corelli, Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini for piano and orchestra, Symphony no. 3 and Symphonic Dances.  The Russian half of his life was much more productive: three piano concertos, two symphonies and the symphonic poem Isle of the Dead, several operas (none of them very successful, except probably Aleko, which he wrote as a graduation work at the Moscow Conservatory) and a large number of piano pieces.  The Piano Concerto no. 3 was written in the summer of 1909 during his stay at the much-loved family estate of Ivanovka (it was lost during the Revolution).  One of Rachmaninov’s masterpieces, it’s technically one of the most difficult compositions in the piano repertoire.  Rachmaninov brought it to his tour of the United States, and premiered the work in New York on November 28, 1909.  Walter Damrosch conducted the New York Symphony orchestra.  Several weeks later Rachmaninov played it again, this time with Gustav Mahler conducting.   We’ll hear it in the 1955 performance by Emil Gilels, one of the greatest interpreters of this concerto.  André Cluytens is conducting Orchestre de la Société des Concerts du Conservatoire.  The portrait of Rachmaninov, above, was painted by the Russian artist Konstantin Somov in 1925.

The Italian Baroque composer Alessandro Stradella was born on April 3rd, 1639.  The legends surrounding his life are spectacular, even if we cannot vouch for their veracity.  He was of  noble descent, probably a Tuscan.  In 1669 he moved to Rome, where Queen Cristina of Sweden became his benefactor (later she would offer patronage to Arcangelo Corelli, Alessandro Scarlatti and many other musicians).   Alessandro StradellaHe attempted to embezzle money from the Church, had multiple affairs and eventually had to leave Rome.  He went to Venice where Doge Alvise Contarini hired him as a music tutor to his mistress, Agnese Van Uffele.  Uffele and Stradella fell in love and fled to Turin.  Contarini sent two assassins after Stradella; they found and attacked him but Stradella survived.  He then fled to Genoa where he continued composing and cuckolding local nobility.  He met his end at the hands of yet another pair of assassins, this time craftier ones: they stabbed him to death in the center of Genoa, on Piazza Banchi.  Stradella was 42.  The murder was never solved but it was rumored that a local nobleman hired the killers.  While engaged in all these shenanigans, Stradella also found time to compose music: he wrote almost 300 compositions, operas, oratorios, sonatas and other incidental pieces.  His “sonatas” for solo instruments and a small orchestras became precursors of concerto grosso, later perfected by Corelli.  Here is one of such sonatas, Sonata di viole.  It’s performed by Orchestra Barocca della Civica Scuola di Musica di Milano, Enrico Gatti conducting.

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March 31, 2014.  Haydn and Rachmaninov.   The great Austrian composer Franz Joseph Haydn was born on this day in 1732.  All musicians of the time needed patrons, and the main ones in Haydn’s life, princes Paul Anton and Nikolaus Esterházy, were exceptional.  The Esterházys were an old Hungarian noble family who, through their Franz Joseph Haydnloyal service to the Habsburg emperors and opportune marriages, acquired land and wealth comparable to that of their sovereigns.   They had several residences; the main was Schloss Esterházy in Eisenstadt, Austria, and that’s were Haydn spent the first years of his employ.  One of the palace’s rooms served as a concert hall.  Today it’s called Haydnsaal and is considered acoustically one of the finest concert halls in the world.  The second residence, the magnificent Esterháza, was founded by Prince Nikolaus in 1762 and not completed till 1784.  It cost 13 million gulden to construct (to compare, Haydn’s initial annual salary was 400 gulden).  The palace had 124 rooms and two theaters, one for the opera (it was inaugurated with the performance of Haydn’s opera Lo Speciale) and one used as a marionettes theater.  The Esterházys usually stayed there during the summers and from 1766 to 1790 Haydn had a separate four-room apartment in the servant’s quarters of the palace.

Haydn was hired by Prince Paul Anton in 1761 as a Vice-Kapellmeister: formally the title of Kapellmeister belonged to Gregor Werner, a minor composer, but from the start Haydn took over most of his duties.  The prince was an amateur musician (as well as a Field Marshal); after appointing Haydn he went on to hire a number of virtuoso musicians.  That greatly improved the quality of his private orchestra, which Haydn much appreciated.  Paul Anton died one year later, just 51 years old, and his younger brother Nikolaus, who inherited the title of the prince, became the head of the family.  Like Paul Anton, Nikolaus was very musical: he played cello, viola da gamba, and baryton, a large string instrument somewhat resembling bass viola, which could be played with a bow or plucked.  It practically disappeared since the end of the 18th century, but Haydn wrote a large number of pieces for baryton to entertain Nikolaus, especially after a reprimand from the prince who commanded him to write more music for this instrument (many baryton trios survive but are rarely played today).  Nikolaus valued Haydn very highly: after Werner’s death in 1766 he promoted him to full Kapellmeister, paid him well, and kept Luigia Polzelli, a second-rate soprano, on the payroll after learning that she is Haydn’s mistress.

From 1762 to 1790, the year of Nikolaus’s death, Haydn wrote a large number of string quartet and more than 60 symphonies.  His orchestra was small, but the musicians were good (the prince paid well).  Importantly, it was fully at Haydn’s disposal, so he could rehears and experiment at will.  One of the symphonies, no. 45, became known as "Farewell."  It was composed during the long summer residence at the Esterháza in 1772.  Musician’s families stayed back in Eisenstadt, so musicians were getting lonely and wanted to go home.  Haydn was famous for his sense of humor which he could express in musical terms, and in his new symphony he made a veiled suggestion that it’s time for them to go.  Here's how it was done: in the last part of the final movement, Adagio, musicians in different sections are given a little solo to play.  When it’s over, they snuff out the candle illuminating the music stand, and leave the stage.  Other musicians follow them.  In the end, only two violin players remain on the dark stage (in the original performance one of them was Haydn himself).  Apparently, Nikolaus got the hint: the very next day the court moved back to Schloss Esterházy.  You can hear the Farewell symphony in the performance by the Academy of Ancient Music, Christopher Hogwood conducting.

Sergei Rachmaninov was born on 20th of March old style, or April 1st, new style, of 1873.  We’ll commemorate his birthday next week. 

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Mach 24, 2014.  Bartók and d’Indy.  Béla Bartók, one of the greatest composers of the 20th century, was born on March 25th of 1881.  Last year we celebrated him with one of his last compositions, the Concerto For Orchestra, which he wrote in the US in 1943 and revised the year of his death, 1945.  The last years of Bartók’s life were difficult: his Béla Bartókhealth was failing, he couldn’t adjust to the life in a foreign country, and his family was in financial dire straits.  Today we’ll turn to a much brighter period in his life, from the late 1920s to the late ‘30s, when his art had reached its maturity and he produced a number of masterpieces.  Much of Bartók’s music is intimately related to his activities as an ethnomusicologist.  Together with Zoltan Kodály he collected a vast number of authentic folk melodies, not just Hungarian, but also Romanian, Slovakian, and Bulgarian.  He even went to Algeria and Turkey to study the folk music of those countries.  Bartók assimilated many of the tunes and tempos of old melodies into his own music, producing highly original and sophisticated pieces.  During this period he wrote several String quartets, two Piano concertos, a composition for chorus and orchestra called Cantata Profana, a number of vocal, violin and orchestral pieces based directly on folk tunes, and one of his best-known compositions, Music for Strings, Percussion and Celesta.  It’s scored for an unusual set of instruments: the percussions include a xylophone, different drums, and a tam-tam.  There’s also a piano, which is used more or less as a percussion instrument.  And of course, such a prominent use of celesta, which looks like an upright piano but produces the sound when the hammers strike pieces of metal, is a rarity (it’s probably best known from the Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy in Tchaikovsky’s ballet The Nutcracker, and Mahler used it broadly in his symphony, no. 6).  You can hear Music in the performance by the Philadelphia Orchestra.  The conductor is a fellow Hungarian, Eugene Ormandy (Ormandy, famous for his long and productive tenure in Philadelphia, was born in Budapest in 1899 and moved to the US in 1931).

The French composer Vincent d'Indy was born in Paris on March 27, 1851.   The d’Indys were an aristocratic family from Ardèche, and carried the title of counts.  Vincent started piano lessons at an early age (his grandmother was his first teacher).  Later he studied at the Paris Conservatory with Cesar Franck.  He was critical of the teaching methods at the Conservatory, and in 1894 became one of the founders of a private music school called Schola Cantorum de Paris.  The Schola became a very important French musical institution.  Among his students there were Isaac Albéniz, Joseph Canteloube, Erik Satie, Arthur Honegger, Darius Milhaud and many other prominent musicians.  Later in the 20th century Olivier Messiaen and Darius Milhaud taught at the school.  Influenced by Wagner, Berlioz and his teacher, Franck, d’Indy was a very conservative composer.  He lived to 1931, but none of developments in modern music, not even Impressionism, ever affected he work (he did conduct a number of works by Debussy, though).  In addition to composing and teaching, d’Indy did much to revive some of the forgotten works of Palestrina, Monteverdi and the forgotten operas of Vivaldi.   One of his more popular compositions is the poem Symphony on a French Mountain Air for piano and symphony orchestra.  You can listen to it here, in the 1958 performance by the same Philadelphia orchestra under the baton of Eugene Ormandy.  The piano soloist is Robert Casadesus, a major French pianist of the 20th century, and one of the greatest interpreters of the music of Ravel and Debussy.

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