The History of Classical Music on 100 CDs (100CD)

Deutsche Grammophon
Current Stock:
Various Artists

For some it will be the ultimate reference tool; for others a great place to start on something they always wanted to know about. Either way, the idea is to present a comprehensive history of Classical Music from its origins to the present day, covering all periods, including all major composers, accompanied by a stimulating guide to the music in the form of a 250-page book.

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• It starts with Gregorian Chant and Machaut chansons and ends with Gorecki and the Minimalists.

• The greatest composers have as many as five CDs devoted to them (Bach, Mozart, Beethoven);

• 20th-century music is well represented with no fewer than 20 CDs.

• Operas and major choral works are represented by highlights, but otherwise the edition presents, as far as possible, only complete works throughout.

• Altogether, there are more than 80 composers in the set, with over 400 works for a total of around 120 hours of music

• As an aid to the user, the clearly-numbered CD sleeves are colour-coded according to musical periods, and a portrait of the composer appears on each sleeve

• For each CD there is a short biographical outline of the composer plus brief comments on the works themselves, plus a portrait of the composer (cf. CD sleeves)

• This is a Joint Venture with Bärenreiter Verlag of Kassel, whose worldwide distribution network we can tap into – details to follow.

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As the box is intended for the non-expert, the repertoire is centrally based around the Classical and Romantic composers.

Here’s the rundown:

CD 1 – 20 take us from Gregorian Chant to the sons of Bach, Carl Philipp Emanuel and Johann Christian, with the great names of the Baroque – Monteverdi, Purcell, Charpentier, Rameau, JS Bach, Handel and Vivaldi all featured

CD 21 – 33 are devoted to the Viennese Classics: Haydn, Mozart and Beethoven

CD 34 – 49 cover the early Romantic composers, from Schubert, Paganini, Berlioz, Chopin to Liszt and Schumann

CD 50 – 69 comprise the later Romantics – Brahms, Bruckner, Dvořák, Grieg and Tchaikovsky, plus Verdi and Wagner highlights

CD 70 – 78 bring together turn-of-the-century composers, including Mahler, Debussy, Richard Strauss and Puccini

CD 79 – 100 includes 20th-century masterworks from Stravinsky to Messiaen, Boulez and Gorecki, taking in Holst, Rachmaninov, Sibelius, Ives, Janacek, Ravel and many others on the way.

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It reads like a cornucopia of the great, good and glorious. Look out for:

• the Orlando Consort’s forays into Gregorian Chant and Machaut;

• John Eliot Gardiner’s Bach;

• Minkowski’s Charpentier and Rameau;

• Trevor Pinnock’s Handel and Vivaldi;

• Karajan’s Creation;

• Anda’s Mozart Piano Concertos;

• Beethoven at the hands of Bernstein and Karajan;

• Rossini with Abbado;

• Chopin and Liszt Concertos with Argerich;

• Fischer-Dieskau’s Schubert and Schumann;

• Barenboim’s Chopin Nocturnes;

• Gilels’ Brahms Second Piano Concerto;

• Kubelik’s Dvořák;

• Mravinsky’s Tchaikovsky “Pathétique”;

• Karajan’s Mahler Five;

• Kleiber’s La Traviata highlights;

• Abbado’s Ravel, Prokofiev and Stravinsky;

• Boulez’s Schioenberg and Webern

• the Messiaen Turangalila Symphony and Gorecki’s Symphony no. 3!