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String Quartets On the Web? 228

rueger writes "Lots of people love iTunes. I'm partial to Ubuntu comes pre-equipped for Jamendo and Magnatune. These are great for those of us hunting popular music — but where do lovers of classical music go to find new artists and albums, download music, and generally keep informed, up to date, and satisfied? As my girlfriend put it, 'I used to go to the big classical record stores downtown, but they're gone.' Where do people go to find the newest Ligeti String Quartet recording?"
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String Quartets On the Web?

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  • iTunes doesn't suck (Score:4, Informative)

    by Bayoudegradeable ( 1003768 ) on Monday August 02, 2010 @11:35PM (#33119382)
    iTunes carries a pretty good classical catalog for a casual listener as myself. If you can't find what you want online maybe you could contact the artists/label directly? I can only imagine the website sells the cds if they aren't selling digitally through another outlet.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by jandersen ( 462034 )

      Certainly if by "Classical" you mean "the usual suspects" or the "popular tunes" (a concept that is certain to make the real connoisseur shudder - not that I am one). Personally, I am a big fan of renaissance lute music, and for a specialised area as that, you have to attend the fora that exist for that sort of things; people there will know where to go and find what you want. Probably.

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by Vintermann ( 400722 )

        Magnatune has a pretty OK selection of that sort of thing (renaissance lute music). There are rather many performers of early music compared to listeners, forcing some to try new avenues like Magnatune.

        • There are rather many performers of early music compared to listeners

          Hmm, this may be because modern and classic (or should I say "newer classic"?) music are more "elitist" in many ways - although most people could probably learn to play it moderately OK-ish, there is a huge gap up to the professional musician. On the other hand, renaissance lute music is more balanced, in a way, in the sense that it is technically quite complex, but still not so difficult that most people couldn't achieve great satisfaction from playing, and the distance up to the very best lutenists doesn'

          • It's not classical, and it's even rather cheesy, but consider Ritchie Blackmore's jump into starry-eyed romantic renaissance-inspired music with his wife:

            Too many stars for one sky to hold,
            some will fall, others are sold
            as the fields turn to gold
            down at the renaissance faire.

            A not-very subtle way of saying he didn't care about popular or critical success anymore, he just wanted to have fun making the music he liked, and go to creative anachronism-events.

            It looks to me the basic reasoning is similar in "

    • by Netssansfrontieres ( 214626 ) on Tuesday August 03, 2010 @01:59AM (#33120108) Journal

      IMHO: iTunes is (or at least was ... I stopped looking last year) pretty pathetic. Here's why. Suppose you want to listen to Bach suites for solo cello. Sure, they've got a version or two, but I want a version played by a master on a great instrument. Casals? Check, but old. Rostropovich? Nope, sorry.

      Or, I want to listen to something (a lot) more current: Kronos Quartet? Some. Alarm will sound? ok. Bang on a Can? Nope, sorry.

      It *does* seem to have both Glenn Gould recordings of Goldberg, which is an improvement (and, yes, they're very different).

      This, especially the latter observation is surely connected to the recent /. discussion about use of computer-controlled instruments. It seems to have taken iTunes a very long time indeed to understand that two recordings of the same piece, by different ensembles or performers, using different instruments, under different circumstances, reveal the piece in entirely different ways. They're not the same thing.

      • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

        by jonadab ( 583620 )
        > It *does* seem to have both Glenn Gould recordings of Goldberg,

        I'm not a big Glenn Gould fan. Does it have Feltsman's performance of the same piece? What about BWV 1079 and 1080, does it have Feltsman on those? Hector Olivera? What about the Munchinger string ensemble adaptation of both pieces? For that matter, do they have a string ensemble adaptation of the Goldberg variations? What Susanne Lautenbacher recordings do they have of Bach pieces?

        Meh. I'll just buy the CDs and rip them. The qualit
    • by arose ( 644256 ) on Tuesday August 03, 2010 @10:23AM (#33123124)
      Please consider supporting Musopen [].
  • by GameGod0 ( 680382 ) on Monday August 02, 2010 @11:37PM (#33119410)
    Jamendo and Magnatune are great for finding popular music?

    Seeing as I'm pressed to find any Top 40 tracks on either website, I would say that they're good for finding obscure music.

    (And so we're staying on topic here: I can find tons of classical music on Magnatune. String Quartets aren't out-of-mainstream enough for Magnatune or what?)
    • Ligeti string quartets are out-of-mainstream enough for anyone. Most of the people who want to listen to such things are performing it themselves - although in this case, I'm not sure it's possible, since a string quartet requires four people.

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by CRCulver ( 715279 )
        What tosh. I've seen Ligeti's string quartets performed in several cities and it never fails to draw a decent crowd where most people are not musicians themselves. Sony Classical and DG have never let their Ligeti recordings fall out of print because they do sell rather well. In contrast to other mid-century modernists, the film 2001: A Space Odyssey has delivered a steady stream of new listeners wanting to check this weird guy out.
        • It was tongue in cheek, in case you didn't notice. I know that as modern classical composers go, Ligeti is rather popular. Especially the bits that don't sound like a swarm of depressed bees.

    • Count me as another banner add for magnatune. If more classical ensambles would distribute through them they would add to the great momentum Magnatune already has, and would likely get more money than any other electronic distribution method given the very generous terms Magnatune gives its artists. Ensambles could also still sell CDs at their concerts and maintain old recording contracts (provided the old company contracts aren't insistent on exclusivity).

  • Depends what you're looking for, of course. The major works are pretty well represented.

  • I don't know if you've ever checked out Magnatune's offerings or not, but you're a lot more likely to find what you're looking for there than you are to find anything resembling popular music.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday August 02, 2010 @11:47PM (#33119454)

    Try eMusic. They have tons of classical, and it's probably a bit cheaper than Amazon in some cases. Although there is one annoyance - if a track is longer than a certain length, you might have to download the whole album to get it, which sucks if you already have different versions of the rest.

    ie You find an album with a symphony and a overture piece, but you have the symphony already (perhaps a different group, or same group just different album). If the overture is over some length (I don't remember how much, something like 7 mins or so), you'd have to get the symphony anyway, burning 12 credits rather than just one. Before that, you could get some long symphonies (Bruckner...) for just 1 credit per movement.

    You can also try . I used to be a member, but I let it lapse. That was before the new site though, and I've considered going back. (Before, they only had public domain performances, stuff put up by the groups themselves, etc, and a crapload of MIDI)

    • by ryanov ( 193048 )
      I was going to say eMusic. The author of the question says he's partial to it, but apparently it doesn't fit the bill? Don't know why. I've gotten everything I've looked for in terms of classical lately from, but I don't recall how pop/non-pop any of it was.
  • I'm kind of partial to Baroque and Renaissance music, especially when I have difficulty sleeping[1]. So I found some obscure corners of the web that had streaming audio and everything was as fine as Vivaldi's spring day.......until the day that my PC caught a nasty virus, probably through Windows Media Player. They didn't offer other streaming formats, so please don't suggest Linux.

    If you only download MP3 files directly, things may be a little safer than streaming, but content files can contain malware als

    • Re: Be Careful (Score:5, Informative)

      by Black Parrot ( 19622 ) on Tuesday August 03, 2010 @12:47AM (#33119822)

      I'm kind of partial to Baroque and Renaissance music is a non-commercial Classical station that favors the early stuff more than any other that I've come across.

      They're not NPR, so they play music around the clock, but they do have the regular NPR-style begathons to keep donations coming in.

      I introduced myself to Beethoven in high school, and my interests have kept creeping earlier and earlier. I'm a big fan of Renaissance music now. Presumably Medieval is next...

  • Academic libraries (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward

    My classical collection has been built through the following method:

    1. Get borrowing privileges at your local university library. (These are generally available to the general public for a small fee.)

    2. Check out classical CDs.

    3. Burn and/or rip.

    If you are a student or faculty, then you also have access to interlibrary loan for the rare stuff.

  • Ironically I have been following this topic for a while. Today EMH Classical has launched 6 of their newest and most popular recordings as exclusive iTunes releases. A classical first. []

  • ArkivMusic or Naxos (Score:5, Informative)

    by Rhuragh ( 215240 ) on Monday August 02, 2010 @11:59PM (#33119558)
    First off, mp3 is simply not good enough for Classical. If you must buy digital, go for 320 kbps or lame alt-preset-extreme equivalent. As a giant Classical snob (I listen to Classical exclusively), the only way I buy music is physical CDs, and then rip to FLAC once it arrives.

    For purchasing physical media, I enthusiastically recommend ArkivMusic []. They have a pretty damn good selection, and a really good sorting method where you can browse by composer, conductor, orchestra, soloist, et al., in a very granular fashion. I too checked the local brick-n-mortar stores in Atlanta when the recent re-release of Golijov's Passion of St. Mark hit the shelves only to find no one carrying it. I ended up ordering it from ArkivMusic.

    Naxos [] also has a pretty decent online presence. You can buy from their comprehensive catalog on their site, as well as pay a subscription fee for unlimited mp3/radio quality streaming off their site from their entire collection. While the performers on Naxos aren't always the highest quality, I'd be willing to bet that Naxos has the most comprehensive Classical catalog of any publisher on the planet. Considering the breadth of their collection, if you just want to try new music, the streaming subscription is a pretty damn good deal, poor to middling quality or not.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by rnturn ( 11092 )

      "First off, mp3 is simply not good enough for Classical. If you must buy digital, go for 320 kbps or lame alt-preset-extreme equivalent."

      Agreed. I find 192Kbps fine for folk/pop/rock but classical definitely needs as high a bit rate as you can manage. I don't hold myself to be any sort of "golden ear" but I was able to hear the difference between 192 and 320 Kbps in an MP3 I made of a Glenn Gould recording; especially when listing with headphones or earbuds and the outside noise is minimized. When listen

    • The parent is right. Listen to a harpischord recording at 128kbps. It's awful. Or a soprano. If you can't hear any effects of MP3 encoding, you're not trying hard enough. Perhaps 256 or 320 is fine, but Amazon doesn't sell them.

    • by mcgrew ( 92797 ) *

      First off, mp3 is simply not good enough for Classical. If you must buy digital, go for 320 kbps or lame alt-preset-extreme equivalent.

      Digital does NOT mean "compressed". "Digital" means that the music is a string of binary numbers representing voltages recorded at fractions of a second (with CDs it's 44k samples per second).

    • by Toonol ( 1057698 )
      Not true. A high-bitrate MP3 can easily reproduce audio with fidelity better than your ears can detect. Your admonition should be only against crappy, low bitrate mp3s.
  • Just a thought... (Score:3, Informative)

    by online46 ( 1133363 ) on Tuesday August 03, 2010 @12:01AM (#33119570)
    Interested in unknown, but accomplished classical musicians? Check out wedding musicians. My wife manages a string quartet. They play mostly weddings and events. These women all have post graduate degrees and they are excellent classical musicians. I suggest if you search wedding musicians in your area and check out their websites, you may discover some excellent classical musicians right in your backyard and they may even perform in public as themselves or as part of other groups. Almost all of them will have recordings on their websites or otherwise available.
  • CBC radio 2 (Score:3, Informative)

    by Maglos ( 667167 ) <> on Tuesday August 03, 2010 @12:03AM (#33119584) Homepage
    CBC radio has a bunch of fantastic classical options, especially for those who don't know what they want and its free(unless your Canadian, in which case its tax dollars well spent).
    • Come on man...think globally for a second. The CBC is not even known beyond Canadian borders! Sheesh!

    • Also check out KDB Radio at Monthly advance listings are where to look. Pretty good signal for internet radio. Annoying plugin, but i beleive that's an acceptable trade, see this next bit:

      Here you go: []

      sure, it's "programmed music" i.e. to fit their day plan / style, but i've never heard an interruption to any piece.

      This is /., so that static page & those track play timings listed in the last 5chars following a parens without a space, and those schedule sep
  • by khallow ( 566160 ) on Tuesday August 03, 2010 @12:04AM (#33119590)
    How about YouTube? Seems to me that you're more likely to run into new, cutting edge stuff (or old, obscure stuff) there than on a site that is trying to sell you things. Sure, you might run into say, drunk frat boys humming an ear-bleeding rendition of "Aria on a G String" with kazoos, and the recordings are frequently poor, snippets, or abominations. But it does have the advantage of being a great place to scout stuff out. If you run across something interesting, then you can check it out for real on a more sophisticated site.
    • This is actually a good suggestion (not just funny, mods). There is in fact a lot of extremely rare stuff on youtube.

    • by Rich0 ( 548339 )

      I think that if you're looking for concepts, youtube is a great place to look. If you're looking for execution, it is a lousy place to look. Plus, if you do actually find anything you want to keep you get to try to extract the FLV and extract its audio track so that you can listen to it on something other than your web browser. What fun - especially if you have to transcode it (either to another format (lossy), or to FLAC (lots of space and most players don't support it))...

  • It's a bit grim (Score:5, Insightful)

    by HalfFlat ( 121672 ) on Tuesday August 03, 2010 @12:23AM (#33119684)

    ... if you're not in the US, and you don't use a Mac or Windows PC. Amazon does not sell MP3s to Australians; iTunes is Mac/Windows only. Personally, I've had most success with, but as the querier has noted, their range is limited.

    I really miss being able to walk into a store with a large classical range, have a listen, chat with knowledgeable staff, and have the chance of a serendipitous discovery. The web can theoretically provide the equivalent and more besides, but is hobbled by overly restrictive domains and copyright paranoia.

    • Only what's hip and popular is represented well in web commerce. Classical music, being this obscure genre of music that nobody really listens to anymore, gets marginalized. There's just not enough demand to justify trying to negotiate with the publishers to offer any more than lip service. If you want a particular piece (or movement thereof) that's relatively popular, most places may have some obscure recording. But if you're looking for a particular performance, which classical music aficionados tend to d

  • Deutsche Grammophon (Score:5, Informative)

    by malzfreund ( 1729864 ) on Tuesday August 03, 2010 @12:24AM (#33119688)
    Obviously one of *the* labels for classical music. The awesome thing about their web store is that, in addition to 320kbps MP3s, you can buy FLACs. Very appropriate for fans of classical music which are often crazy about sound quality.
    • by poptones ( 653660 )

      DG did an early digital (Philips) recording of Tchaikovsky's 4,5 and 6th as performed by the Berliner Philharmoniker and conducted (of course) by Von Karajan. This was, for me, "the" recording ever since I was a teen and first heard it. Anyway, you can buy even those recordings on their site. It's not as if they just have new stuff, or just have giant classics (although that recording was important in many ways) - they've been moving toward having EVERYTHING in their catalog online. And once you buy it, it'

  • As a non-casual "classical" listener, I can heartily recommend the Naxos Music Library. This is a little different from suggested above: only has recordings from the Naxos label, while the NML includes many sister labels (including some great ones, like Wergo). They add about 1000 CD's every month, about 40 a day. I've rapidly expanded my knowledge of new composers, and great recordings of old composers. They have multiple recordings of the Ligeti string quartets, including the Arditti Q
  • I listen to WQXR [], a classic station native to New York City. Its my portal to classical music and they feature a great variety. Their website has a live stream.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      Same here, except for KQAC [] streaming 24-7 from beautiful Portland, Oregon. And these two aren't the only ones. There are a whole bunch [] of live streams that one can listen to while connected. In many ways, streaming has brought back classical, jazz, and other musical formats that, a few years ago, were in danger of being lost when public radio was transitioning wholesale to news. HD allowed alternate streams to be played over the air and streaming them to the internet connected them to a whole bunch of l

  • And not emusic? (Score:3, Informative)

    by jmitchel! ( 254506 ) on Tuesday August 03, 2010 @12:29AM (#33119722)
    I don't follow classical regularly, but emusic seemed to be well stocked. Their supply of obscure free jazz impressed.
  • Trance music? (Score:2, Offtopic)

    by antdude ( 79039 )

    How about trance music? I only have [] for homemade audio tunes. What about commercial trance music videos? :(

    • Just buy one 12 track compilation CD and copy it a million times with the tracks in a different order each time. That'll be all the music you ever need, and it will be "different" each time.
  • My fiancee is going to hate you. I go through periods of different genres of music. She dreads my classical kicks, and I have a feeling this thread will certainly set one off.

    • My fiancee is going to hate you. I go through periods of different genres of music. She dreads my classical kicks, and I have a feeling this thread will certainly set one off.

      Call off the engagement while you have the chance.

      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by WillDraven ( 760005 )

        Ah yes, I can see the conversations with our son now.

        "Daddy, why aren't you and Mommy married?"

        "Well, you see son, every 6-8 months I listen to classical music for a few weeks and Mommy doesn't like it very much." ;-)

  • Passionato (Score:5, Informative)

    by NeverWorker1 ( 1686452 ) on Tuesday August 03, 2010 @01:19AM (#33119988) [] It's an online classical music store offering a nice catalog in both mp3 and flac. Lots of 25% off sales. But seriously, ftw.
  • France Musique.
    They have exactly what I'm looking for, with lots of not-necessarily-on-the-shelf, mostly classical music []
    There is also a high-quality stream; but my place of work has a lousy connection, and so has my ISP.


  • I'm a big fan of KUSC (, particularly their evening show. Jim Svejda does some pretty obscure stuff at times, and I find his interviews and commentary particularly insightful. Too bad he's on so late on east coast time. Also for really avant-garde stuff, there's John Schaefer's New Sounds on WQXR (turned me onto minimalism back in the early 80s.)

    But at home, I've ripped my CD collection and stream via iTunes, Airport Express/AirTunes and an FM transmitter with enough power to reach th

    • I'm tempted to make some lame joke about Sackbutts, but I suspect that I already did. How-evar... I'm a recent convert to the wonderful sound of Citterns... I don't suppose you know which shady alleys might serve my deviant tastes in music?

  • Many classics (Score:4, Insightful)

    by b4upoo ( 166390 ) on Tuesday August 03, 2010 @04:20AM (#33120708)

    It is not just the Mozart and Bach type of classic that is missing. Things like Dixieland jazz and Rockabilly also are quite hard to come by. Our musical heritage is being lost. A lot of this loss is caused by the copyright nuts. If they would let outfits like Stream Tuner alone much music could be preserved. As it is many of the tunes could not be properly recorded when originally created as machines did not exist that could do the job. So what we are left with are people in the 1950 era playing the old tunes and re-issuing that music. That creates that copyright nightmare all over again.

  • Classics Online [], owned by the decidedly non-RIAA Naxos label, is by far the best source I've ever found. Not only do they have *everything* from Anonymous Four onwards, but they're not Evil, don't have any DRM, give away a free track a week, and frequently have "samplers" of composers you'll never have heard of, where you get ~20 tracks for £2/$2. I'm not affiliated with them, but I am a rather satisfied customer.
  • There are thousands of radio stations acessible via Streamtuner and these can of course be saved with Streamripper.
  • Honestly, find a few labels that carry the stuff you know you like, and sign up for their newsletter or just check the release schedule on occasion. The other alternative, as someone mentioned, was to find a group of similar minded individuals and join their forum (Google can help you with that).
    Aside from that, you can try the usual streaming suspects ( and Pandora, etc..) but you might also try some off the wall streamers like [], etc.

    Is MySpace still an e-venue for bands trying to do promotio

  • Deutsche Grammophon has a DRM-free web store (predictably at Once you register with them, you can always go back to your account and re-download stuff you've bought, and the content is delivered as high-bitrate MP3s with no DRM, so you can move them between devices without difficulty.

    I am not affiliated with these folks, I'm just a satisfied customer, and also slightly mystified that a DRM-free music store isn't more widely known.

  • I don't expect to find classical on the net any more than at most record stores. The demand's too small, and if they have any at all, it's usually by crappy little eastern Europe orchestras at bargain prices.

    If you're anywhere near a big city, public libraries often have tastefully chosen recordings; often they show little wear. There are also quite a few classical stations listed in iTunes; many of them have PD's who know their music. MN Public Radio has long had an excellent station.

    Once I hear something

  • Granted, this is a local public radio station in upstate NY, but you can stream it anywhere. WXXI is one of the vanishing breed of predominantly Classical radio stations here in the US. They have some jazz programs, and a little bit of news (and you have to put up with the occasional Public Radio fundraisers), but it is probably 90% high quality classical music programming: []

    (The station has been around for something like 40 years, so it's the station I grew up on!)

  • Ubuntu is equipped. Not pre-equipped.

    Pre- turns a noun into an adjective. "Civil War" is a noun. Pre-Civil War is an adjective that we can use to describe things from before the Civil War. Pre means "chronologically before" not "in advance". Heated is not an event, but if it were... then a pre-heated oven would be ROOM TEMPERATURE. Unless it was a gas oven and the pilot light gave it some additional warmth.

    Descriptivist excuse making in 3... 2....

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