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Learning to Love Classical Music

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The goal of this class is to teach you to love classical music. 

I was first introduced to classical music in high school. At the time, I knew absolutely nothing about music. I had played soccer instead of learning an instrument, I never sang in the choir, and I had no idea what the little dots and lines meant on a page of music. I was the definition of non-musical.

When I reached my junior year, however, I had to take a music appreciation course from the band teacher. The band teacher was not a terribly exciting teacher – but he did know a lot about music. More importantly, he loved classical music.

My first cassette.

I still remember him putting on a recording of one of Mozart’s symphonies. I was mesmerized. I had never heard music like that before. This was the late 1980s, so I had grown up listening to rock ‘n’ roll on the radio or cassette tapes. Unlike kids growing up in the 1950’s or 60’s, classical music wasn’t a part of our home.

In the course of the year, he introduced us to all the great composers: Bach, Mozart, Beethoven, Schumann, Brahms, and many more.  I met people and music I didn’t even know existed.

It was revelatory.

I next remember going out and buying a cassette tape of Mozart’s 40th and 41st symphonies. It was conducted by Rafael Kubelik and the Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra. At the time, I had no idea who these people were. But the music was heavenly. I listened to it again and again.

That was the start of my relationship. During college, I graduated to a Compact Disc (CD) player and bought hundreds of CDs. It was then that I began to realize different conductors performed the same work in different ways, sometimes better, sometimes worse. This meant I might need multiple recordings of the same piece of music.

Imagine this times 50.

My library exploded. Eventually it was space that made me stop at 1000+ CDs. At this point, I was now living on my own and so could attend symphony concerts both in the US and overseas (I spent a number of years living in Europe).

By the early 2000’s, however, digital music arrived on the scene. I could have thousands of albums that took up very little space. My acquisitions continued through the early 2010’s and reached into the thousands of digital albums.

Yet I kept looking for a better listening experience. A friend convinced me I was missing out not listening to classical music on vinyl records, so I bought a vintage turntable and stereo setup. Again, it was revelatory what I had been missing. Of course, my CDs and digital albums were now useless, so I started the happy climb up the hill of classical LP’s (for Long Playing record). I’m a bit ashamed to say that my collection has already broken 1000…

Boxes for Bach, Haydn, and Mozart.

I have felt for a long time that I wanted to share my love of music with students. That’s what this class is: it is an introduction to the greatest composers and the greatest music ever written. My hope is that you will find new companions for yourself for the rest of your life.


Thomas Purifoy Jr. (Founder of Compass Classroom)