Hello there gentlemen,

Throughout humanities courses, living with a priest this summer, and my own searching over the past few years, I've developed a sincere desire to explore classical music more deeply.

I think classical music is important for men to understand. I appreciate the nuance, the depth, and the "epic-ness" of classical music. My understanding is that classic means that whether you like it or not, it's around, and you have to know something about it.
It feels pretty good to hear one of those classical tunes playing in the background that everyone has heard, but you're the only one who can name it (ex. Vivaldi's Spring http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iSw7CcAXPWk ). Part of the fun of getting into classical music is hearing the other 30 minutes or so of Strauss' Also Sprach Zarathustra that wasn't played in 2001 A Space Odyssey ( http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6mmuNxYLxTs ). Listening to all the all the movements in a symphony is a spiritual stretching experience. By that I mean, these composers take their audiences through a wide spectrum of thoughts and feelings, which is something we don't get in media today. I always walk away from a piece with a wider vision and a clearer head.
Some of this music has been around centuries, so while you're listening to it, you know you're experiencing something that countless gentlemen have enjoyed throughout history. Don't you want to participate in something like that?

So I want to ask you who are some of your favorite (manly) composers and how did you get into them?

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I'm no connoisseur, but there are a few works that I can think of off the top of my head (and that are pretty accessible to the ear of a brute like me). I'm sure they will to some extent or another, be familiar to most people even if the names are not:

-The Planets, by Gustav Holst
-On the Beautiful Blue Danube, Johann Strauss (also in 2001: A Space Odyssey)
-I Quattro Stagione, by Antonio Vivaldi
-Brandenburg Concertos, by J.S. Bach
-L'elisire D'amore, by Gaitano Donizetti (the entire opera)
-La Nozze de Figaro, by W.A. Mozart (entire opera)
Personally I thoroughly enjoy the Russian composers of the late 1800s and early 1900s.
It was an era of stoicism and patriotism and it's about as manly as it gets.

Personally my love springs from bein a pianist. I believe you can't appreciate a piece properly until you have actually played it.

What does sadden me about classical music is the stereotype that men hate it and get dragged along by their other halves to concerts ad operas. In my experience, I have been the one dragging my lady friends along! Unfortunately the number of young women who appreciate it in today's society is dwindling.
I'm a traditionalist and like Beethoven and Dvorak. Good for you getting into the classics! You know they sound best when blasted from your car stereo at full volumn and at low speeds ;)
To each his own, I guess.

It just seems kind of pretentious to assume that something is superior simply because it's old. I don't understand why I should "appreciate" it any more than any other form of music.
I suggest getting familiar with it because of the depth and history (not just the contracted composers for royalty, either).

But you brought up the pretentiousness... I was dating a girl that was a classical snob. Being a hormone-crazed teenager, I was the one that did the changing, and I learned to appreciate classical music, even though she never made an effort to appreciate my music. Anyway, she complained that classical music is an art form, and it takes years to compose a symphony. A long time after that conversation, I had something that I could have thrown back at here: Brahms composed a symphony in six weeks, hated it, carried it around with him for a couple of years before he made it public. Meanwhile, Led Zeppelin took two years to make "Physical Graffiti". Time makes it better? AGE? Neither.
Another good example for that is Guns N Roses Appetite for Destruction. Appetite for Destruction is one of the most well known albums. That took roughly 5yrs to compile onto one album. Most of the music in that album you can hear in Axl's 2 bands from the early 80's (GNR started in the mid 80's, Appetite for Destruction came out in 1987), L.A. Guns (Which is still around) and Hollywood Rose.

But, as for the classical music. I think its great. Although I do have some of the genre, and listen to it often (especially when I do cardio), I don't have an extensive knowledge of it. Most of the music I have is very well known amongst society, like Bethoven's Moonlight Sonata. I still like to get more in depth with it.
Just an interesting bit of knowledge regarding Brahms. He took close to 20 years to write his first Symphony. His second he composed over 4 months.
Just because some have found that classical music is fulfilling to the individual is no reason to to sling insults at them. Nobody but you has made the claim that classical music is "superior" to anything else, the topic is about those who found the music to be satisfying and a request to share that experience.
A few "manly" classical recommendations:

1) Gustav Mahler - first one to check out is Symphony #5 if you're "new" to Mahler. Oh, it will also give your stereo system a better workout than what the kids down the street are playing. ;-) Here's a YouTube of the Philadelphia Orchestra playing Mvt. 1:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-Lp5CQO2QdI

2) Anton Bruckner - I'm partial to Symphony #8 as a 'beginning' work. Here's a YouTube video of a performance by the NY Philharmonic:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DQaFHakTrGY

3) I've always been a fan of catching the Vienna Philharmonic "New Year's Concert" for a performance of approachable classical music. (Plus the Vienna Phil. is also remains a very unique sounding ensemble in the classical world). Here's a 2008 performance of the "Sport Polka" celebrating Austria hosting a World Cup event, complete with cheesy "Yellow Card" being flashed at the viola section:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RnIwbpjVE3A

4) ... and support your local classical music scene. It's interesting to ask a date if she would like to attend the local orchestra concert... "I have season tickets". ;-)

[HINT: some orchestras host special events that are some of the most fun/interesting "gentlemanly" social events you can attend - such as after-concert New Years' parties, etc.]

5) Bach's Cello Suites. A sampling:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LU_QR_FTt3E

[ASIDE: Interesting book if you want to further appreciate Bach: Gaines' "Evening in the Palace of Reason"

One Sunday evening in the spring of his seventh year as king, as his musicians were gathering for the evening concert, a courtier brought Frederick the Great his usual list of arrivals at the town gate. As he looked down the list of names, he gave a start.

"Gentlemen," he said, "old Bach is here." Those who heard him said there was "a kind of agitation" in his voice.


http://books.google.com/books?id=sEp5a6jRadMC ]
The Vienna New Year's Concert is pretty much the world's hardest ticket to get. There's a lottery to buy tickets, and I entered last year (and lost, of course) . But seeing it live is one of my life's ambitions.

I should have also added Tchaikovsky to my list. Most people will recognize at least some parts of the "Nutcracker Suite", but much of his stuff is great. Very accessible. Symphony No. 1 in g minor is worth a listen, too.
@John: "Just because some have found that classical music is fulfilling to the individual is no reason to to sling insults at them."

Slinging insults wasn't my intention, so I apologize. After re-reading through the OP and subsequent comments, I can see that I must have been reading into them a bit.

I admit that I have a bit of a chip on my shoulder when it comes to this. In my experience, classical music buffs tend to have an air of superiority when it comes to their preference for complex instrumental music. I like it as background to a dramatic cinematic moment, but I don't personally derive any satisfaction from classical music or see any great depth to it. I find simple acoustic guitar and deep, thoughtful lyrics to be head and shoulders above any instrumental music.

But again, this is my personal taste. Sorry for reading pretentiousness into a conversation that had none.
Jamie, I agree with where you are coming from. I grew up with classical, played it through college, every couple of years I get the urge to go listen. I don't really find it deeper, more sophisticated, or better though.

Some of my favs

Smetana Ma Vlast

most of Beethoven
Holst's Planets as well as Symphony for Wind Band and Hammersmith
most of Tchaikovsky
Dvorak

Not a big fan of Mozart or Bach

Always wondered what some of these guys would have written with our modern guitars, technology, etc.

Give me someone like Cross Canadian just out there jamming every night, watching their chords and notes weave in and out, is just as great as watching the "greats"

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